I wrote a post last week about The Period of Purple Crying that received a lot of response because I briefly talked about my experience with my daughter. I never expected to get the response that I did from it, I wrote the post just to educate parents. I decided to write about my story in a little more detail for those who want to know more.
We have to start before I was even pregnant. A few month before I found out I was pregnant was when my hospital started implementing teaching parents about the Period of Purple Crying, and every nurse had to go through training. We had to learn how to talk to parents about shaken baby syndrome and how to teach parents about dealing with excessive crying, usually called colic. I remember the whole time through the training, my fellow nurses and I were wondering how anyone could ever get so frustrated with a baby, a sweet, innocent baby, to want to shake them. We just assumed that this teaching was geared more towards lower income and lower educated individuals.
Fast forward almost a year later, and I am bringing my beautiful baby girl home from the hospital. I was so happy and excited. I knew that this was going to be the challenge of a lifetime, but I didn’t know just how challenging. The first couple of months were filled with their own challenges. Giving up breastfeeding, finding a formula that would work, PPD, and hubby getting a new job which led me to staying at home. I was excited to say the least. A whole new adventure and I wouldn’t have to put my daughter in daycare.
The unfortunate part is that with my husband’s new job he was away for long stretches of time, sometimes months. My family lives an hour away and my mom still works, so I had very little adult contact when my husband was gone. I am also a very proud person, so I don’t like to admit that I need help.
Then, between 2-3 months, my daughter started crying every night for hours on end. There was nothing I could do. Being a nurse and being that I knew about the Period of Purple Crying, I thought I would be fine and that I could handle it. I would still try to comfort her because I didn’t know what else to do, and I couldn’t let her cry and not try anything. I did it all, changed her diaper, tried to feed her, give her a pacifier, took all her clothes off (maybe she’s hot), put different clothes on her (maybe those were uncomfortable), wrapped her in a blanket (maybe she’s cold), gave her a bath, held her, laid her down, rubbed her belly, put her in her swing, drove in the car, and so much more. It always started around supper time, 5 pm, and lasted until she would go to bed, or later, anywhere from 8pm to midnight. It was so bad that I would eat supper at 430, just so I could eat before she started crying.
After about 2 weeks I had all I could take. When she would start I would do what I could, but I only lasted about an hour at this point. She was still waking up at night so I still wasn’t fully rested and I think that added to the frustration that it caused. Then I had to lay her down in her crib, shut her door, and I would cry. After a few minutes I would regain my composure and go get her. Then, we would cuddle until bedtime.
When she was almost 3 months old I thought the crying should be getting better, but it didn’t seem to be. There were a couple of days when I would have thoughts of shaking her. At those times I laid her in her crib and cried because now I understood how parents, even educated parents, could have the urge to shake their baby. I felt so guilty after having these thoughts.
There was even one occasion when I put my daughter in her crib, then I yelled at her:
I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT! JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT SO I CAN FIX IT!
I felt so guilty after that, I scooped her right up and cuddled with her. We cried together that night. From that point on, when I would get frustrated I would take her in her room, sit in the rocker with her, and we would cry together.
My advice for parents going through this: it does get better. It seems like your baby is crying all the time, and then one day, it just stops. I am sure that it gradually happens, but it just seems like all at once you can enjoy the evenings with your baby again. Also, never shake a baby, no matter how frustrated you get. Remember that even nurses go through this and struggle when raising their children. In the end, it is all worth it. Lastly, don’t be afraid to admit you need help, you can call a family member or friend.
You can even call the child help hotline at: 1-800-4-a-child
For more information on how other parents have dealt with their frustration, visit the purple crying site.