Over the last week we had a period of time with the baby that felt like living with a gremlin/moody opera singer. She reached octaves that I am shocked did not shatter the glass in all of our windows. I love my baby more than life, but man can she get feisty during these "phases", particularly after 4pm, the time of day my mom always lovingly referred to as "arsenic hour" (because as a parent you would almost rather drink arsenic than wrangle your screaming child, I however prefer wine over arsenic).
We have had TONS of these little stormy periods, days where you can tell the baby is just struggling with life a little. She cries more easily and harder. She doesn't stay entertained as long by things that normally entertain her. Her sleep is disrupted. She doesn't want to be put down. She falls asleep nursing and gets mightily pissed when I remove the boob from close proximity.
In other words, baby drama. And since week 1, I have been researching possible causes as to these little rough patches. And guess what I have learned from the interweb. Pretty much the first year of life, there is ALWAYS a reason for the baby dramz. Possible reasons you ask? Well let me list them.
Growths spurts (per different sources these tend to happen during week 1,2,3,6,10,12,16, and so on about every 4-6 weeks for the entire first year, and the spurts can last up to a week). If that seems frequent it's because if you do the math this basically means that your baby is going through a constant, year long growth spurt, and will be extra cranky and hungry pretty much the entire first year.
Developmental leaps/wonder weeks. These are periods when your baby learns a new skill and gets really fussy because of said learning and developing. I downloaded the Wonder Weeks app and I really like it and it's full of useful information, but there's a chart in there that looks like this.
Those storm cloud basically means time in the first year when your baby is going to be a total turd. Am I the only one in thinking that is A LOT of turd time. Even the little sunshine icons are not even full sun. They are cloudy with a teeny bit of sun peaking through. So on those days your baby is only like partly turdish. Bleak right?
Sleep regressions. This is when your baby decides they don't like to sleep anymore and any pattern or rhythm you've developed flies out of the window. This really is just universe's way of laughing maniacally in the face of the parent of a newborn who feels like they have any control at all. These also happen fairly frequently during the first year.
Teething. We haven't gotten there yet, but from what I can tell after 6 months or so there is always the possibility that your baby's crap mood could be from teething, and these moods have the potential to be absolute doozies with a drooling, in pain baby who refuses to sleep or do anything other than cry and gnaw on things.
These are the predictable issues. You can also throw in illnesses, vacations, and just general ennui as possible wrenches that are thrown in the mix of a baby's life.
And then sometimes there could be no reason at all why your baby has suddenly become a terrorist. They may just feel like it.
It is exhausting just to keep track of the reasons why a baby can go through a rough patch, let alone to manage these mood swings. It can feel like a never ending barrage, and any time your baby goes through a wonderful, happy, smiley mood it can be hard not to be paranoid and constantly looking ahead to the next challenge.
I was feeling really frustrated in the midst of Ryley's last Wonder Week/Growth Spurt/Terrorist phase. And then I realized something that shifted my perspective a little.
As hard as it is to parent an infant, it must be so much harder to BE an infant. I mean just think about it for a second. They basically experience each and every second like it has never happened before. Everything is changing, constantly, from their vision to their motor skills to their perception of things around them. And when things change for a baby they change massively and suddenly. Like think if you didn't know you had hands or feet and then one day, BOOM, you not only have these strange objects flailing around your face, but apparently you have the ability to control them, but not to the point of mastery, so you can't make them do what you want but only flail them helplessly around the place and occasionally get them to cooperate.
Noise and sound and light are all just totally mind blowing. They get picked up and whisked around in the air without any real bearings as to their physical place in the world. They can't communicate in any other way than crying, and all they hear are jumbled vowels and consonants coming out of enormous faces that float in and out of their line of vision. Plus every time anyone or anything leaves their sight, they pretty much assume they have stopped existing, and then two seconds later, BAM, person or thing suddenly exists again out of nowhere.
Now I have never taken any kind of hallucinogenic substance, but being a baby must totally be like being on LSD or shrooms right? Like the most amazing thing you've ever seen in your life is a throw pillow and you can spend hours staring at the ceiling fan. The sound of a blender has the ability to freak you out completely, and there is nothing more hilarious than a dog walking from one side of the room to the other.
Thank goodness none of us remember our time as infants, because it probably just feels like your brain is on a non-stop loop of being blown in every which direction. I get why that's more than a little tough on one's disposition.
As parents we want our babies to be "good" and "happy" all the time and stress when they're not. But that's just not realistic 24/7 (for most babies at least, some babies totally roll with the whole trippy LSD thing, these babies grow up to tour with Willie Nelson).
I for one will try to remember how hard it can be to grow and change and learn so much, all the time. That's enough to make anyone act like a turd. My job as a mom is to love my baby even more during these times, even when she's morphed into a she-beast spawn of satan at bedtime. That's when she needs me most, as well as needs some flexibility and extra love and cuddles.
Besides I can totally hold this over her head when she's an adult and I need something from her.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for the all the big and little things in life.