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Monday, October 16, 2017

Someone in your life needs to hear this

4:16am. Our seven-week old daughter, Waverly, woke me up crying. Sleepily, I carried from her bassinet next to our bed, into her room to change her, feed her, cuddle her back to sleep. However, she had other plans. She howled through the changing (even with the heated wipes), and through the very messy bottle (turns out when you cry and suck on a bottle, it gets all over your PJ's) and even through the attempted cuddle, she cried.  And cried. She was inconsolable.

In one of the parenting classes we took, we were told that the nighttime changes weren't supposed to be fun. Keep the lights low, try not to talk too much. Get to business and get the baby back in bed so she doesn't expect the nighty intermissions to resemble a party. That is what we try to do. So, last night, I tried to soothe her and put her back to bed but she refused to lay down. I checked her diaper. Dry. I inspected her fingers and toes (we were told that when a mom has long hair, a hair can wrap around a baby's finger or toe and cut off circulation). Her digits were fine. I patted her back. I paced down the hallway. I tried another bottle. The wailing continued. She was at this point sweaty from crying so hard. I took off her onesie and wrapped her in a light muslin blanket. She cried harder.  She held her breath. She was exhausted and cranky.

I was exhausted and cranky too. I collapsed in her rocking chair. I unwrapped her blanket and unwrapped my robe. I laid her against my chest and wrapped the robe around us.  We were both in tears. As I rocked, I held her and whispered "I love you. You're OK. I got you." In the quiet of her room, we rocked as I said over and over like a mantra, "I love you. You're OK. I got you. I love you. You're OK. I got you. Iloveyoureokigotyou. I loveyouyoureokigotyou. . ." It became one word, a sound that seemed to soothe something in her. She became quiet, her breathing steady. I thought she was asleep so I stopped speaking. She started to cry. OK, I whispered "Oh, Wave, I love you. You're OK. I got you" over and over. She fell asleep. We stayed like that, just the little one and I, as I listened to her breathing, peaceful, happy.

She stayed asleep as I put a new onesie on her and carried her back to our room. I placed her in her bassinet, climbed in bed and pulled her bassinet close to me. I laid there listening to my daughter breathing, with her knowing that I loved her, she was OK and I had her.

As I was falling asleep, I was grateful that I was able to figure out what she needed. I had such a fear when I became a mother, that I wouldn't know what my daughter needed. I don't know if she understood what I was saying. Perhaps the syllables were melodic. Perhaps the softness in my voice made her feel loved and safe. Perhaps something in her understood what I was saying to her "Little one, you are so loved and you are OK and we will always have your back and protect you."

After our mini-battle against sleep / bad dreams / tummy upset was conquered by a hug and the comfort of knowing someone understood her,  this morning, I  realized that this is something that can work with friends and others as well. How many other people need to hear that they are loved and that it will be OK?  Sometimes it's uncomfortable to see someone's emotional side, especially if they are typically unemotional. The truth is, people are very good at hiding pain, especially the emotional kind. My grandmother once told me that everyone is fighting battles. Some you can't see. Some people want to go to battle alone but most people do best when they have someone by their side.

A friend of mine (a guy) is about as unemotional as you can be. He doesn't share his soft, vulnerable side. Ever. I wondered if he had one. Then something awful happened in his life and he tried to keep it together. I didn't want to hurt his feelings by letting him know that I could see his was falling apart so I didn't say anything. We both ignored the elephant in the room. I regret not saying something. What I should have said when he was going through that terrible time was "I love you. You're OK. I got you." I wonder if I had said that to him, would it have helped? Would he have taken comfort knowing he could let his guard down and let someone take care of his hurt heart for just a moment, giving him a moment, until he was his strong self again? I wish I had tried.

After last night's experience, I realized that one time or another in life, every single one of us needs to    know that if we need to melt down / take a step away from a situation / cry, that someone is there to love them and that if it's not OK, it will be. It will.

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