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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Warning - serious topic

A tragic news article prompted me to write today.  A 29 year old mother couldn't stand hearing her young babies and toddler crying so she tried to kill them.  Now the mother is in jail facing attempted murder charges and her three little children (aged 2 and twins 6 months old) are fighting for their lives.

You think, "How could this happen?"  "What could have been done to prevent it?"

The vast majority of mothers (and fathers) would never dream of hurting their children, no matter how frustrated they are. Yet, periodically there are stories like the one above that are sobering reminders that coping strategies must be taught to parents, especially vulnerable ones.

Young children cry.  No doubt about it.  Babies cry.  They cry because that's the only way they know how to communicate.  They cry because they are tired or hungry or need a diaper change, or are too hot or too cold, or are getting sick, or teething, or in other discomfort.  During sleep they might have had a frightening dream or been startled by some noise.  Sometimes, they cry for no apparent reason.

To cope with a crying baby, consider the following -
1. Babies feel tenseness in people around them.  If their crying makes you tense and anxious, they very possibly might cry more.  Try to remain calm and soothing.  No shouting or yelling!
2. Check for the obvious reasons for the crying.  Feet and hands cold?  Cover them.  Baby sweating? She's too hot.  Remove some layers.  Change diaper.  If baby is young, try feeding him.  Check for signs of discomfort.
3. If all the above fails, soothe baby with quiet, gentle words and put her gently back in her crib and close the door. 
4. If your baby seems like she is in pain, call the pediatrician, even in the middle of the night.  All doctors that I know have answering services that can help you determine whether your baby's symptoms are urgent or can wait until morning.
5. Periodically check on her but try to avoid disturbing her.  Yes, you are not going to get very much sleep but remind yourself that this stage of your child's life is a short one. 

If you find yourself unable to remain calm and get increasingly frustrated, even angry, you need to discuss this with your doctor immediately.  She can help you with additional coping strategies.  You might be suffering from a severe form of postpartum depression.

You need to schedule an appointment with your baby's doctor also to rule out possible physical reasons for her distress.

Having a "safe" person (a friend or family member) available to call when you are at your wits end, will help you calm down and think rationally.  Talk with someone you trust and ask him or her to be that safe person for you.

If your feelings intensify, put your crying baby in her crib and close the door. Then call your safe person or the doctor.  Do not give in to impulsive actions. 

Make sure your husband, babysitters and other care givers know what to do if they feel overwhelmed by your baby's crying. Teach them if necessary.

No one likes to hear a baby cry but it's a fact of life that they do.  If you are unable to cope with your children for whatever reason, you must find help.  It's possible to learn the strategies that will help you be a calmer mother and learn how to handle your own emotions in a healthy way.

Every innocent young baby deserves to be safe and loved.


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