I am new to motherhood. To date, there’s been two instances where I saw my baby in real pain and in both times I felt my heart shatter into pieces. And no, it’s not his vaccines. Surprisingly, he did relatively well in his 2- and 4-month vaccines.
The first instance was night 3. It was 2 in the morning when he woke up from his sleep, screaming and crying his lungs out. He was in his bassinet beside me so I got up in panic and took him into my arms. But that wasn’t enough to sooth him so I tried to breastfeed him. He wouldn’t feed. He continued his loud cries. To me, they sounded like cries for help. But I had no clue what for.
At that point, I started to really freak out and was about to break down myself (in my defence I’m a first-time mom and my hormones were still through the roof). So I woke my husband up. We both tried to sooth our baby. It was so painful for me to see my baby writhing in pain like that, I was losing my mind. For the first time in my whole life, I felt that sense of wanting to just take the pain off someone so he doesn’t have to go through it. I thought to myself, if only I could put him back in the womb where he’s warm, comfortable, cozy and pain-free. For what felt like years, my baby continued crying like this for hours. Not caring about what time it was, I asked my husband to call any hospital to see if any doctor could attend to my baby as soon as possible. I wanted someone to fix whatever was wrong with my baby ASAP. My husband, staying level-headed as he always does, made a few calls and realized that we already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the early morning and we could have our baby checked then.
The screaming and writhing continued on until my baby let out his first poop. Turns out that was all he was painfully crying about. Now I’m not sure if all babies go through such tormentous experience when letting out their first no.2 out in the world, but my baby certainly did. I guess it was because the sensation was something new and unfamiliar. Nonetheless, the pain that I saw him go through for the very first time was enough for me to realize that part of being a mom means not wanting to see her little baby cry out in pain. It means instantly going into “I’ve got to do something about this” mode the moment she sees her little one in any sort of intolerable pain.
The second instance was more recent, shortly after I introduced solid food. The solids I first introduced are nothing extraordinary — mashed apple, banana, pear (one fruit at a time). One day not long after he had his breakfast and second bottle of breastmilk for the day, my baby started letting out a painful cry which reminded me of night 3. Once again, my baby had stomach issues. This time my maternal instinct was telling me that it was likely due to the solids he’s been taking.
Four consecutive diaper changes later, my little baby no longer had the energy to cry; though he was still in so much pain. I knew this for a fact because his face was turning red, he was sweating bullets, he kept rolling over from tummy to back and vice versa until he just settled on his tummy and face-planted himself on his play mat. My heart broke seeing my baby like that especially because my baby is normally a super active baby. He doesn’t settle down. As long as he’s awake, he moves — whether that’s kicking and stomping his feet, shaking his hips, or throwing his hands in the air. And so to see him disengaged and sluggish like that, I knew that whatever was bothering him was getting too unbearable for him to the point that he was losing all the energy he had. At that point, my baby still had tears in his eyes, but he was letting out a silent cry until he fell asleep on his play mat with another dirty diaper on — that was his fifth one in a span of less than an hour.
I thought to myself: this one has got to be worse than what happened at night 3. One of my husband’s clients who’s a retired physician said that if babies/kids don’t even have the energy to cry to indicate to their parents that something is wrong, that’s when they are in most pain. And so once again, I had that feeling of wanting to take all my baby’s pain away. If only I could do it for him just so he wouldn’t have to feel such unbearable discomfort. If only we could continue on with that system when he was still in my womb, then he wouldn’t have to feel this.
On the other hand and interesting enough, my husband had a different take on things. He always thought that he would be someone who would worry a lot when he sees his son in pain. In contrast, in these two instances, his thoughts centred more on wanting to see our baby successfully go through it simply because this is what humans do. Everyone gets stomach issues. He thought more than anything, our baby is learning how life really is outside the warmth and coziness of the womb. His reaction was more rational, mine more emotional.
Here’s the thing: I know babies are resilient and I know these two instances are nothing compared to what my baby is likely to go through as he gets older. But I realize that this doesn’t take away the fact that as a mother, I am going to worry. I am going to want to protect and shelter my baby. I am going to want to do everything to not see him go through painful moments no matter what they are.
From what I’ve read, it’s something to do with a woman’s amygdala — a small organ in the brain that’s responsible for emotional reactions. Apparently, a woman’s amygdala opens up or grows in activity shortly after giving birth… and this is why she’s got maternal insticts, this is why she’s a constant worrier, this is why she goes into warrior mode when somebody messes with her little one. The science behind it is simply amazing.
I acknowledge these two instances are nothing compared to what other mamas or babies might be going through. My heart goes out to mamas with sick kids. I feel for you. I fervently hope that your little ones get better because I know that nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing our little ones suffer.
What’s your “baby in pain” story and how do you manage your emotions? Leave a reply or send me an email. It helps to vent/share. 🙂