Sometimes, she just needs to scream…
My three-month old daughter is in transition. Just when I thought I had her rhythm figured out, she’s changing, and I’m struggling to keep up. Monday was a hard day. She’s discovered her voice and is using it – loudly. At first, the chatter was endearing. My husband and I laid in bed at 7 am and grinned at each other as she cooed, and then when it changed to crying, I got up and fed her. My husband left for work, and she played on her mat while I made some breakfast for myself. Her vocalizations were a little louder. Not concerned or frustrated, but almost like she was singing or telling me a story.
“AAAAHH-eeeeh, Aaaaaah, Ohhhh-ahhh!”
Then she lost interest in batting at her rattles, so I switched her to her tummy for a little practice pushing up. She became frustrated pretty quickly, and her cry was a little louder. Her eyes were heavy, so I laid her down for a nap. Her nap was short, maybe 20 minutes, and then she was up again. I put her in her bouncy chair, because I was cleaning up the kitchen, and she was happy enough, but her chatter started to get louder and mildly frustrated. My mom called on Skype, so I picked her up to see Grandma, which made her happy for a little bit. Then she got wiggly and fussy, so I went to put her back down for a nap and she screamed. I realized she had a dirty diaper, so I changed it, and she was happy again, so we went back to see Grandma for a few more minutes. Finally, she was getting squirmy and fussy, so I said goodbye to Mom and tried to figure out what to do next. I realized it was time for her to eat, but she was so tired, she barely made it through both sides. I burped her and put her in her crib for what I hoped would be a nice long nap, so I could take a shower, and maybe get a little cleaning done around the apartment.
Not an “I’m in distress” sort of cry, but a stubborn, “I don’t WANT to take a nap” scream. Her face turned red and she worked herself into a sweat. I picked her up and tried to console her, which usually works, but she would not be consoled. She would not take the pacifier. She would not calm down. She had been getting progressively louder as the day went on, and it was wearing on my nerves.
I was desperate, near tears myself. I wished, for a moment, that I could just walk away, somehow escape this noise. I realized there was nothing I could do for her. I put her back in her crib and in desperation, pulled out the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming. The noise of the vacuum drowned out her crying, and for a few minutes, I had reprieve. I vacuumed mindlessly for a few minutes, and then turned it off to listen. She was still screaming. I turned it back on and kept working. In those next few moments, I felt peace – but it was not God’s peace, so it didn’t last long. Soon, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for feeling better when I could not hear her. I felt guilty for ignoring her. Like I was neglecting my child. I questioned my “mother’s heart,” questioned my instincts. I knew that what she needed most was a good sleep, but I wanted to rescue her from the pain and frustration she was in. I got to her door, and turned off the vacuum again. Her cry was not quite so frantic, not quite so angry, but still very strong. I pleaded silently, “God, what do I do?!” Since she was still awake, I vacuumed in her room. And while I vacuumed, I prayed for her. I prayed for God’s grace, for His peace for her and for me, and for wisdom. Finally, her cries subsided, and she eventually drifted off to sleep. I dusted her bedroom and ours, and finally got a shower. As I stood motionless under the hot stream, I pondered the situation. A couple of different verses came to mind:
James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Romans 5:3b-4 “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
I felt a gentle nudge from God, reminding me that pain is not necessarily a bad thing. That sometimes we need to suffer, in order to grow. That He knows best what we need – that sometimes, what we NEED does not coincide with what we WANT.
And that sometimes, she DOES just need to scream.