Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Witching Hour

This is my child by day
This is my child at midnight
Well Rhett has been home one week, and I'm starting to understand some of his patterns. One pattern that's particularly maddening is that every night, starting between midnight and one, he cries. And then screams. And then quiets down for ten minutes and then starts screaming again. This goes on for about two hours every night. After this time, he conks out and sleeps for a good five or six hours.  It's not his normal crying that signals that he wants something. He's always fed, changed, warm and being snuggled when this goes on. I spent a few nights in near-tears trying to figure out whats wrong with him. I've considered gas, sickness, that he misses Josh (who's working this week), allergies to something I'm eating... but the regularity of these crying spells made me think it was something else. He's a very satisfied baby for twenty hours  day. It's just this time every night that he freaks out.

So of course, I consulted Dr. Google and learned about something called "The Witching Hour". It seems to describe exactly what Rhett is going through--a long period of inconsolable crying and the same time every day, followed by a long stretch of sleep. Apparently babies can get really wound up from sleeping all day and they need a way to expend all of their energy before going to sleep for the night. So they cry. I felt much better after reading about this, because it made me realize that it's not my fault. I'm doing everything I can to sooth him at night. He really just needs to let it all out. So last night when he started up, I didn't walk him around the house, put him in his swing, shush him or re-swaddle him a dozen times. I just held him close and tight until he was done. And then he slept. It was much less stress on me--trying to fix an nonexistent problem with a baby is draining! So I didn't try to fix it--I just stayed with him and tried to make him feel loved through his crying fit.

Listening to my baby scream for hours is emotionally exhausting. It's really hard to do it by myself at night (I have no idea how single mothers survive. Like, for real). I just love him so much and when I can't make him happy, I feel like a failure. But last night was better. I'm hoping this is a phase that will pass quickly and his daytime happiness will stretch into the nighttime hours. Having my husband around next week to take some of the pressure off me will also be a big help. I am so blessed by my family, even through bad spells and difficult phases.

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