Anchors of hope, Hyperactivity

The Upside in the Downside of a Non-Sleeping, Inconsolable Baby

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30 Seconds for Hope – Do you know a mom who is awake most nights with a wailing baby? Maybe it’s been for weeks—or maybe more? Or maybe you’re in that place right now? The arrival of a colicky baby can be quite a shock, and soon you fight despair. It takes courage to get through those unrelenting days and nights. I found courage through discerning a purpose for my pain, by discovering God’s bigger picture for my sleepless nights. Believe it or not, a season of sleepless nights can be beneficial. Discover the gain and hold on to hope!

And now the full story:

Throughout the night my slippers paced the living room floor while I held my precious bundle of—joy? Well, more accurately, my precious bundle of wailing infant. His incessant cries were bringing me closer to doing something I didn’t really want to do. Before kids, this choice would have been unimaginable.

How can a computer keyboard capture those penetrating cries from my non-sleeping, inconsolable baby? Would the keystrokes “Waaaaah” reflect it? No, not shrill enough. So maybe “Rrrrrwaaaaah? No, not loud enough. So maybe “RRRRWAAAAAAAAH”? No, not long enough. Most definitely not long enough. It was more like…

RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… Waaaaah… RRRRWAAAAAAAAH…. RRRRWAAAAAAAAHRRRR… RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… Waaaaah… Waaaaah… Waaaaah… And on and on and on…

This vacation to visit my sister’s family had been a risk. I was on a solo-parent excursion, flying with a two-year-old and a baby. We’d survived the flight, but now I paced her house, awake for the third night in a row, living in the echo chamber of a piercing wail while my nine-month old Charlie fought my embrace.

I’d nursed Charlie throughout those long hours, trying to calm his screams. I’d fought his wriggles trying to console him, and I’d paced the floor trying to sooth him. RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… RRRRWAAAAAAAAH… was his reply.

My sister couldn’t help me. She had her own eleven-month-old baby to care for, and she needed mommy sleep, just like me. Her husband couldn’t help. He was an obstetrician (of all things!) and needed his rest for the next day’s work of delivering babies to cry through the night. (Not to mention, it was unlikely Charlie would have calmed any better with them anyway.)

So the stress of that night became interminable, just like the past nine months. This non-sleeping, inconsolable event was not new. Rocking had never worked. Singing was fruitless. Music boxes, mobiles, darkness, light…all to no avail. The tricks I’d used to console my first son were nearly useless with this second child.

The pediatrician had been consulted. There was nothing wrong. “Infants cry,” that doctor had said. So true.

“And mommies don’t sleep,” I thought.

How can a keyboard describe the wall a mom hits? Would “Exhausted” do it?  How about “Drained, Fatigued, Unable-to-lift-the-baby-dog-tired”?

How about “Non-sleeping, Inconsolable Mom”?

I couldn’t hold this baby all night, every night. So, like many other nights of months gone by, I finally made the unimaginable choice and laid Charlie in the crib and watched him cry.

Was this called cry-it-out? If so, it wasn’t by design. All I really wanted was to console my infant. Oh, how I wanted to—and I hoped someday he’d know I tried. But I hit the wall of impossibility. Impossible to succeed. Impossible to go on.

Lying beside the mesh of that portable crib, I watched my baby cry—as I had so many nights before. And I even dozed while he cried. Is that unimaginable, too? Is it unforgivable? I hope not. Because the wall was real, and my body just slept.

Shortly, I woke (you can’t sleep long through wails), and I tried nursing again. He calmed at the breast, needing nourishment after all that energy expended. And I had time to reflect on this non-sleeping, inconsolable duo, my baby and me.

This prayed-for child was certainly a gift. Just not the gift I’d expected.

Yet somehow I couldn’t shake a thought I’d pondered before, that this unexpected baby had purposely been given to me. Children are a gift from the Lord, and I was positive my Creator hadn’t made a mistake.

God had chosen me to be the mother of this hyperactive, non-sleeping, inconsolable infant, and somehow I felt honored by that call. It was a high calling, and that knowledge gave me an underlying desire to give this child the patience he so desperately needed—while I faced utter exhaustion. Charlie needed me to be gentle and kind through these trying times. I’d been chosen for him, to help him and to raise him to maturity.

But surprisingly yet another thought gripped me. Not only had my perfect Creator chosen me for this baby, but he also had chosen this baby for me! My wailing son was raising me to maturity.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:2-3 NLT

I couldn’t deny that I was growing in ways I’d never imagined. I was aspiring to a patience I’d never understood. I was learning self-sacrifice to a degree I’d never known possible. And I was learning gratitude beyond my experience. The non-sleeping, inconsolable baby and the non-sleeping, inconsolable mom were a duo who had been gifted to one another. So I grasped gratitude through my tears.

Through those cry-it-out mommy tears.

While I gave thanks.

In 30 seconds for hope.

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