My sweet amazing baby had a scary thing happen 2 days ago and she is still processing it. It can feel so odd and confusing with a small baby but now I know this work and understand how healing it is for our babes to cry hard while we listen to them. I know this is what they NEED to do in order for the healing to happen. It is so clear this time around, her diaper is dry, she has a full belly, I hear the difference in her cry between being tired and needing to get some things out. I saw her get scared today a couple of times, things startle her, how can they not? She is so new and working hard to figure out this new world.
What is fascinating to me is most times she looks me right in the eye as she cries and then….after some time…she is done. She looks at me, she smiles, her way of thanking me for giving her the gift of full expression, and she often drifts off. More times then not, it is at the end of the day, like right now that she needs a big cry before bed. She has been a pretty great sleeper since the beginning and on the day she fell, she woke up over and over and over all night needing to cry hard. I would listen for a few minutes and then nurse her and help her get back to sleep. I knew she was not “done” that the feelings were still in there, but I also knew we needed to get some sleep. Her feelings would continue to wake her up until they were all gone, I knew this too, but it is hard to do this work in the middle of the night and I didn’t want our son to be woken up. So I just followed her lead, she would wake, I would listen for a little while, then we would go back to sleep, over and over and over. Every time helping her to chip away a little bit more of the fear.
With our son, we did everything we could to STOP the crying- we were “the happiest baby on the block” parents- opps!! The crying will stop once the hurt is healed and it gets healed through crying, crying releases a stress hormone in the body and helps it return to it’s natural healthy state. No baby cries for no reason, there is much to cry about for some. It is a delicate dance for infants and we always want to lean on the side of nurturance, but we also need to listen and tune in rather then offering the breast right away. Our loving arms, ears and presence is often what they are really needing and with our help, everything can heal. I am so happy to have these tools from day one this time around, the difference is profound and it has only been 3.5 months.
Sleeping Through The NIght – Blog post on babies, sleep and emotional healing.
Helping Your Child Sleep – online self study course from Hand in Hand parenting
* Staylistening is the process of listening to our child’s emotional upsets, allowing them to cry freely until they feel better. You can read more stories about the healing power of staylistening here
Brooke March is a Parenting by Connection instructor based in Santa Cruz. Follow her on Facebook here where she shares wonderful anecdotes about life as a mother of two, all about staylistening with an infant, and how she helped her son adapt to having a sibling.