The Best Advice

by heirtoblair on November 2, 2012

He screamed.

He thrashed on the bed & wailed as I simply tried to pull on yoga pants with one hand, another hand trying to keep a paci in his mouth. A paci that never soothed him because nothing soothed him. I grabbed my video camera & flipped it on, his red face filling the screen & my shaky voice saying, “Momma just needs to get dressed, buddy. Shhh-shh-shhh.” Sweat poured down my back & I hurried out the door with a diaper bag on one shoulder & a baby carrier on the other. He cried for the entire twenty minutes to the pediatrician, but “cry” wasn’t even the correct way to describe the painful ear-piercing screams that I had been living with for weeks.

My baby had reflux & I was getting sick in my own little head & we were a bad team in those moments.

I sat in the pediatrician’s office & begged him to help & I showed him the video of my crying baby with my frantic voice. He recommended new formula & a new medicine to help calm the reflux & then he looked at me & asked me what I was doing for myself.

I said in a small voice that sometimes I put him in the crib for five minutes & walked away but it wasn’t enough & I was the worst mother ever. Not only did I need to put my baby down, but five minutes was never enough to calm my nerves & get me set.

He squatted down beside me while the nurse held my baby & said, “Mom, that’s not long enough.” I stared at him & stuttered how the books & everyone said to tend to my baby, to put him above me, to be selfless & how I would create distrust in our relationship if I walked away. “No way,” he said. “Listen, the biggest thing past getting this reflux under control is getting you to take a few breaths. Make sure he’s dry & fed & clean. Then put him in a safe place – preferably his crib – & then you get the hell out of dodge for fifteen minutes. Twenty if you need them. Get in the shower or go sit on your front porch but get somewhere that you cannot hear him cry.”

It felt wrong the first time I laid him in his crib after feeding & changing him & he still screamed. But I knew I was at a tipping point & I walked away from him. I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes & I climbed in the shower where I sat with my arms curled around me & I couldn’t really hear him over the water. At the timer, I got out & found my baby right where he had been – dry, fed, & still screaming but with a momma that felt a little more calm.

Maybe it’s not advice for everyone & maybe it’s not what the books say, but in that moment, his words bought me a little more time before the tipping point.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lacey November 3, 2012 at 12:11 am

During the first few months my twin girls were born I was always showered. Not because I had my crap together. But because it was the only place I couldn’t hear them. I feel your pain and understand the constant question of “being a good mom”. I still beat myself up sometimes for the time I let one cry for 15 min. Things got better and I stopped showering as often. :/


Nicole November 3, 2012 at 1:46 am


i am so happy that you had a good doctor. i myself get frustrated by some old-school doctors that have no compassion for situations like you described. it’s nice to hear a good (well…you know what i mean) story like that. yup, you had to go through a lot worse before you got better, but having a medical proffessional tell you that you’re a good mom, a good person, and that ITS NORMAL and REQUIRED to take a break… well that truly is the best advice.


justine November 3, 2012 at 5:04 am

i think the *problem* with the books is that they don’t take the individual child into account. they generalize and as anyone who has ever pushed a child out knows, there is nothing general about children. we had no issues to work through. she ate, only cried when she needed to, and i didn’t struggle with any PP-anything, but i had moments where she was clean, dry, warm (but not too much so) and i needed something, and she cried in her crib. not for long, of course, but enough time to get clean or relieve something….ehem. (and we were semi-attachment). it is great that you had a medical professional who understands the link between a healthy, happy momma and a kid who will be well cared for. and kudos to you for being brave enough to post this.


Ashley Gurski November 3, 2012 at 10:35 am

Ok, I commented last night but here I go again. This is word for word. seriously. I’ve been in this exact same moment so many times. it hurts like hell to put them down and walk away while they are screaming. but here he is today, 3 years old, happily running trucks over my feet while humming to himself. and i know he’s ok. despite how i was 100% positive i was screwing him up for life. i constantly have to remind myself that he’s not made of glass and my nerves aren’t made of steel. i do believe that sometimes the best advice is also the simplest….just walk away. hugs to you momma!


samantha November 3, 2012 at 10:35 am

my mom gave me that same advise when i called her sobbing in the wee hours of the morning with a baby who wouldnt settle at night and it had been weeks since i had more than an hour of sleep at a time. she said “make sure she’s clean, fed, burped and in a safe place- be it a bouncer, a swing, her crib-wherever and then take yourself outside for 10 mins and just breathe and if you can still hear her cry- well then good, a crying baby is a baby thats alive. it was the best advise i could ever have gotten. and i’ve followed it ever since then.


Stephanie November 3, 2012 at 11:38 am

Yep, I agree. I’ve stalked your blog for a little while and thought I’d comment. My second baby had reflux. Horrible. He’s just three months and we are finally out of the woods, but sometimes that’s the only thing you can do is to put your baby down and walk away for a bit. But it’s so hard because the mommy guilt sets in. Just a question – does this experience with your first make you a little nervous to have another baby? I only ask because I went through PPD with my first and thought I could handle it this time because I’d been through it before. Well, I was wrong. After a trip to the ER and severe anxiety, my husband actually quit his job to be with me. Something to be proud of, right? Aren’t all moms supposed to do this on there own?? Maybe, but thankfully I have a husband to see how serious PPD can be. I know the reflux issue added a whole new level to all of this, but sheesh, talk about scary stuff. Sadly, this will make the decision for us to not have anymore babies. I’m thankful for my two, and I can’t put myself or my family through this again. Thanks for being honest.


Jane November 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

Not sure I’ve ever commented before, although I’m a longtime reader. But this one made me wonder: why are you rehashing this? I don’t know about other people, but when I remember stuff in this kind of detail, it’s like I’m reliving it, and it drags up lots of bad feelings.

Just don’t like the idea of you torturing yourself, you know?


heirtoblair November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hey, Jane! In a way, rehashing it is like therapy for me. Going through it, thinking through it on “the other side” when I’m not emotionally in the thick of it. It helps put those times in perspective & it lets me share it with another momma who might be going through the same thing. So it really isn’t HARD to talk through – it’s actually really nice to say “Okay, this sucked in the middle of it but this is how we survived & this is a perspective from the other side.”

I think a lot of therapy is like that, whether it’s written or verbal :)

But I do appreciate your thoughts. Truly.


Andi T. November 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Now, that is a doctor who knows what he is talking about ;)


Rebecca November 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

What a relief to hear another mother write about things like reflux! We had the same issues with my son. Turned out to be a milk protein allergy too. It was awful. I remember the thoughts of being a terrible mother as I threw my hands in the air as a sign of giving up when nothing seemed to work.

My grandmother in law finally offered the same advice as your doctor when my son was three months old, lay him down in a safe place, dry and fed. Go take a bath or a shower and blast some music for a few minutes, calm down and breathe then go back and check on him. It was just what I needed, and a good cry while I was at it. And well there he was safe, dry and fed when I returned. Eventually we got the meds right and the formula right and then he still found his crib as a place of rest and sort of a safe haven, still feels the same at 3 years old about his bed. It is his santuary as much as it was mine!

Thank you so much for blessing me with your honest posts! As I am pregnant with our second boy I am terrified of those sames feelings creeping back, but I remind myself they are temporary and “this too shall pass”


Sara November 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Such good advice!! I was lucky with my baby who didn’t cry much, but now that shes a tantrum throwing toddler I’m learning how to do just this. Put her in her bed, a safe place, with a toy or two and walk away to calm myself.
Love your honesty!!


B November 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Hard babies are hard. To add to this, I found walking away helped him learn to sleep. I would put him down for a nap attempt and just go straight to the shower. I have myself the time it took to shower to get my shit together. When I got out, I would check the video monitor. 8 out of 10 times? Asleep. But if I had listened to him, I would have been pacing and crying for the few minutes he cried. So I was clean, sane and had a napped kid. Everybody won.


Jen November 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I also wonder why you’re posting about this at this point given it’s been 3+ years. I would love to see more posts about parenting a toddler/pre-schooler and less about fussy newborns. :-)


Beth Anne November 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Prompts chosen by Huggies :) They decided they wanted to focus on the first 3 months of life. This is the last month of it, though. whew.


Brandi November 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I am dealing with my 2nd reflux baby…I feel your pain daily with her.


Julia Reed November 6, 2012 at 6:38 am

I totally agree with your doctor. It is not what books say, but moms will understand it. As you say, after you return 10 minutes later, he is still fed and dry and clean, but you feel better. Sometimes the pressure of “being a good mom” can be more than a person can stand. Just taking a few breaths does not mean we are bad moms. It is all about healthy motherhood.


heirtoblair November 6, 2012 at 10:29 am

YES. “It is all about healthy motherhood.” I love that.


Laura November 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm

That is very good advice your Dr. gave you. My son did not have reflux, but he did have colic, so I can relate to the screaming.all.the.time. I still think about it, and it makes me second guess if I could handle the newborn stage again. My son is 3 now and everyone is asking “when is the next one coming?”

Sometimes we just need a few moments to ourselves to rethink, regroup & a couple deep breaths.


Allison November 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

It’s refreshing to read such truth and honesty from a blogger. My husband and I are TTC and although – parenting is scary – sometimes you get caught up in the glamour stories of clothes, toys, photo shoots and forget that under all that is REAL LIFE.

Your honesty makes everything so real and for that I’m thankful.


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