Thursday, 18 August 2011

In this together

I try not to judge people for the techniques they use getting their baby to sleep. Those sleepless nights can be so hellish that if you discover your baby will only sleep on a mattress covered in Egyptian cotton held by you at a 45 degree angle, or with you laying beside her your breast 5mm from her nose, or after you singing thirty verses of Coming Round The Mountain, well you'll do it. You may have sworn you'll instigate a routine, you may have said you won't look your baby in the eye at night or interact with them so they learn night from day, but if that's what you have to do to get them to sleep, believe me you'll do it. This is because there is no sound worse to a new parent than the piercing scream of their baby, especially if it has gone on for more than, oooh, about six seconds. 

But though I am striving for non judgeyness, and that includes parents who let their child cry themselves to sleep, I just don't get people who take perverse pleasure in their baby giving someone else a hard time. I'm thinking specifically of the medical professional I was talking to recently who told me, in a conversation about soothing babies after procedures and whether it is the mum or dad who does it, that there's nothing she likes more than hearing her husband upstairs with their screaming baby while she sits downstairs with a magazine and a glass of wine smug in the knowledge that now he knows what it's like. 

Now I'm all for sharing the work, but there seem to be some people who fall into the 'if I have to suffer then he should too' camp. While this is tempting, especially when you want them to share your up-five-times-a-night pain, surely no one is a winner. I don't want my baby to scream at my husband for twenty minutes. I don't want my husband to be screamed at for twenty minutes. And I don't want to hear it myself from a distance  for any amount of time. It's the quickest way for all three of us to end up in tears. Sure, my husband might understand better what it is I do all day and why I am emotionally fragile even once the crying stops, but he and the baby are the two people I love most in the world and I never want either of them to be upset, let alone both of them. 

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