My daughter didn’t cry when she was born. In fact, it took being poked and prodded by the midwife and pediatrician for her to let out her first yelp. The first few minutes after she came into the world felt like hours as I waited for her to open her little lungs, but eventually she produced an almighty howl. I instantly felt a rush of love, joy, gratitude, relief and excitement all at the same time. At that moment it was simply the best sound in the world. At that moment…
Then, when she started crying for real I wasn’t quite so euphoric about it. Seriously, the way she bawled in her first few weeks it sounded as though someone was mistreating her, and during some of her longer stretches I genuinely worried that the neighbours might call 911 on us. I’ve tried all the usual stuff – picking her up, feeding her, changing her, burping her, rocking her, putting her in the sling, begging… crying… but the harder I try the more she screws up her angry little face and shrieks at me. It’s difficult not to take it personally…
I’ve done my research – if you can call Google searches titled ‘For the love of god, why won’t my baby stop crying?’ research – which has thrown up a bundle of reasons for the tears, but nothing conclusive. I’ve also hightailed it into the doctors surgery, only to be assured I’m in possession of a perfectly healthy baby. It sounds terrible but at times I’ve wished there was something wrong, so it could be fixed.
Then I stumbled across The Period of Purple Crying. According to one expert, Dr Ron Barr, Professor of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, babies often go through a phase known as Purple Crying. Basically, it’s a period of continuous crying that can happen when a baby is between two weeks and three to four months. Apparently it’s a normal, yet exasperating part of a baby’s development and not something you need to fix, but rather get through (without tearing your hair out).
I know what you’re thinking. ‘purple’ crying, because the baby goes purple, right? Wrong. PURPLE is an acronym used to describe the characteristics of the baby’s crying.
P – Peak of Crying
U – Unexpected
R – Resists Soothing
P – Pain-like Face
L – Long Lasting
E – Evening
According to the official website:
During this phase of a baby’s life they can cry for hours and still be healthy and normal. Parents often think there must be something wrong with them or they would not be crying like this. However, even after a check-up from the doctor which shows the baby is healthy they still go home and cry for hours, night after night.
Just reading those words gave me comfort because I realised that my inability to soothe my baby girl wasn’t my fault, it was just part of the process.
Of course, accepting something is normal, doesn’t mean it isn’t distressing. Hearing a tiny baby cry can often make you feel drained and frustrated and sometimes all you want to do is pop on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and pretend the little one is sleeping soundly. Because of this I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms for Purple Crying. Read on for tips on how to stay calm when the purple mist descends.
Dubai might not be much of a walking city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hit the pavement from time to time. I live in a noisy neighbourhood, which might not sound particularly soothing for a newborn, but babies love background noise and I’ve found that the street ambience actually soothes my little one. Plus, any racket she makes as we walk around the block is quickly drowned out the by the din of traffic and crowds, which means I don’t have to worry about anyone staring as I push along a grizzly baby.
Cherish the calm
6-9pm is (un)happy hour in our house, so I do my best to enjoy the calm before the storm. When she is sleeping peacefully or gurgling contentedly through the day I take oodles of Instagram and Facebook shots and I’ve even printed out a couple of pictures to go on my fridge to remind me how sweet she is when she isn’t screaming the house down.
Have a sense of humour
Admittedly, when you’ve been bouncing up and down on an exercise ball with a blubbing baby strapped to you for three hours straight, you’re probably not in the mood for jokes, but laughter really is the best medicine. Why? Well, not only is laughter proven to strengthen your immune system and boost your energy levels, it’s also known to protect you from the damaging effects of stress (and babies, bless ‘em, are stressful) so whack on a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother and remind yourself what it feels like to laugh out loud.
Check out The Period of Purple Crying for more information about this time in a baby’s life.