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Screaming baby syndrome is highly contagious

I know how it makes us sound when my husband and I tell the baby to shut up. It makes us sound like parents.

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Oh, shut up already.

Oh, shut up already.

Flickr/Chris. P

Today I confessed to my husband that I yelled at the baby.

Oh, shut up already. (Flickr/Chris. P)

I’m sure the baby couldn’t hear me, as he was much louder than I was, but what they say about the sound of a baby crying being calculated to a certain pitch that drives you insane is true. I don’t typically yell as a way of expressing frustration but it had been a rough couple of days. Our kid’s not even that bad in terms of crying; most of the time we can figure out what it’s about and, blessedly, most of that time can do something about it.

But our kid hasn’t yet figured out how to modulate his requests. Everything is an emergency — dire and desperate — and everything merits a scream at full volume. Somehow this one-month-old doesn’t understand when I tell him, “I will feed you shortly! I just need to finish making your bottle!” He goes from sweet and sleepy to full-blown tantrum, which is hard to handle all day and all night. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and scream “I’M HUNGRY I’M HUNGRY I’M HUNGRY I’M HUNGRY NOW NOW NOW WAAAH!!!” even as you saw your food approaching the table, now would you? Also, this kid hates being naked almost more than he hates sitting in his own filth. You wouldn’t go “I’M COLD OW OW OW OW OW I HATE THIIIIIIS!!!!” while you were using the restroom, would you? I sincerely hope not.

Fortunately, my husband didn’t judge me when I told him that I did not react maturely to the baby’s fifth fit of the day. In fact, he told me that he was worried he had woken me up the other night as he gave our baby a piece of his mind as well.

I know how I sound as I confess that my husband and I tell the baby to shut up. (We’ve also called the baby an a-hole and a sh*t, and we frequently mock him. Steve does a good impression of the way the baby furiously shakes his head back and forth before eating his own hand.) It makes us sound like abusive mean insane parents.

Unless you have a newborn that only makes tiny dainty noises when he/she is in discomfort (in which case, please keep it to yourself), the language barrier between new parents and kids — paired with the lack of sleep — can quickly make you nuts. There you were just a few months ago, lovingly folding baby clothes and looking forward to welcoming this new life into your world. Then your tiny new alien rewards you by throwing fits as you try to keep it alive — and attempt to engage its brain, nurture it and bond with it — while also trying to take showers, see friends, write blogs posts and whatnot.

I love the baby (see: this earlier post) but I won’t mind when he’s learned to express himself differently — or at very least has learned to smile at more than just his dreams.

In the meantime, just like at work, talking smack about “the boss” can really help you feel sane. I’ll be the first to say that our baby looks like Jackie Mason, that he has a terrible attitude sometimes, that he’s a fart marchine, that he’s a disgusting eater. We even have something of a “slam book” about the baby: We are still keeping track of how much he eats, sleeps and poops, and the records we use have a comments section. Comments left behind have included notes like “Worst baby ever!!” or “Baby 4 sale” and “Evil baby from nightmares.”

But we can say these things, because he’s ours, and because for the time being, he can’t understand what we’re saying. Because he’s yelling so loud.

Postscript: Of course, after I wrote this the baby proceeded to have a nice, quiet night and is being a complete angel this morning. I think that this is how they get you — they break you down.

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