Babies unfortunately don't come with instruction manuals! I bet I am not the only parent that wishes the midwife had presented me a binder full of all my baby's likes and dislikes post-birth but alas this doesn't happen.
Babies aren't simple creatures. Yes the books will tell you lots of reasons that a baby may cry: hunger, a full nappy/diaper, because it is tired etc but there are often times in a baby's day in which it will cry for no obvious reason at all and this can be both frustrating and upsetting. It can give you a throbbing headache too!
Whilst I may be a little less clueless about my baby's needs this time in comparison to last, there are certainly moments when I feel the need to just say ''what is it you want from me?'' to my baby. If only he could answer! I think the difference second time around is that this lack of certainty is no longer a surprise. It was expected. Second time around I know that babies often cry before they fall asleep, a kind of last effort to fight the inevitable. I know that phases of constant jerking of my baby's legs often implies he has wind and I don't panic at his rather loud vocalisation of whatever is happening to him, as I know there are various tricks to calm a baby and I go through the motions to find out which will work.
Alfie is reaching his seventh week now and I still feel unable to predict what is coming as the evenings draw in. I know that he has his evening crying period (all babies seem to have this) just around Milo's bedtime (bedtime is not a peaceful experience in this household) and the 3 of us manage to get through this (mostly thanks to Milo's not being bothered about being read a bedtime story whilst his mum is jiggling a crying baby in her arms). Once Milo is in bed, I try and keep Alfie quiet as best I can for 10 minutes or so to let Milo drop in to a deep sleep and than I put him down to make my own bed. He will often cry through this and again, it is not a relaxing time in our day but as he is co-sleeping with me right now, the bed has to get made (I sleep on a sofa-bed that has to be made each evening) and so I go about it as quickly as I can.
Getting Alfie to sleep, and the ease or difficulty in which we both achieve this is, varies quite greatly right now. A few nights he has somehow managed to just moan lightly to himself, laying beside me, until he's fallen to sleep. Other nights the task is much more difficult and he'll need to suck on my little finger for what feels like an age or to feed before reaching the land of nod. Some nights he'll be off with the fairies and I won't hear a peep until he stirs for his first feed of the night, other nights he'll wake up over and over again until I finally go to sleep beside him (he's most settled when I do this). It's a bit of a lottery at the moment.
I think what stops me getting frustrated thankfully is the reality check I have from having done all this before. I knew it was coming, I expected it and I wasn't shocked when my predictions came true. In fact, having had a difficult sleeper first time, he is still an absolute angel in comparison. My toughest nights so far with Alfie pale in comparison to those with Milo and whilst we may have nights of more regular wake-up calls than I'd like, he at least goes straight back to sleep post-feed which I didn't get last time. He doesn't cry through the night (he wakes me up with grumpy moaning noises instead) and he's generally a quiet sleeper which means I can get periods of deep sleep beside him.
I may be able to deal better with the unknowns second time around but I still wish there were such things as baby instruction manuals. A mum can dream!
A quite concise list of reasons babies cry and methods to soothe them can be found on Babycentre here.
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