This week, which marks the beginning of my third trimester, has sent me a clear message: Our baby will cry, for good and unreasonable reasons alike, and often there will be little we can do about it.
The other day I came across an article in The Oregonian in the back of a coworker’s car. Tears and an ear-piercing wail are the baby’s best way to communicate and get what it wants—food, comfort, a dry diaper. That part is intuitive.
And it turns out that expecting an infant to cry it out simply won’t work because his brain is “the most neurologically immature of all the earth’s primates,” the author writes. I learned that even babies born at 40 weeks, full-term, are only functioning at a quarter capacity in terms of their brain. Neurons are there, but the synapses—the connections between brain cells—haven’t formed yet.
And how we respond to an infant’s cries can help form those connections for the better. Even when you’re bouncing and shushing and humming to no avail, “the infant is getting this message: Even when no one can figure out why I’m crying, they love me enough to stick it out with me.”
Of course, this crying doesn’t end with the culmination of the so-called fourth trimester, the first few months of a child’s life. I laughed at the random and completely irrational explanations why a little boy was captured throwing a fit in the pithy Tumblr Reasons My Son Is Crying. (“We wouldn’t let him drink whisky.” “We wouldn’t let him open the hotel door and run naked through Times Square.” “I wouldn’t let him drown in this pond.”)
I laugh realizing that our time will come, too. There will be plenty of moments when Peeper’s onslaught of tears will come from reasons so ridiculous (“The milk isn’t juice”) that humor will be the only way to stay sane.
Now if only we can remember that when we’re sleep deprived and half-deaf from the screaming in our ears.