This is bordering on a vent, but I'm actually curious to hear from others in the same situation...
I just had an intense exchange with my mother because my 10 week old baby girl has had a couple of really unsettled mornings over at her place (she usually helps me out with the kids at least one day on the weekend). It's really nice to go over there and have the help... but whenever my daughter cries, she's always going on and on about "tummy pain" and what I've eaten (I'm breastfeeding) and saying things like, "You poor thing, you're in pain" to the baby and generally making me feel as though I'm somehow torturing my child by feeding her my milk. My mother in law, whilst equally helpful, loving and supportive in all other respects does exactly the same thing.... it drives me pretty nuts!!
They are both supportive of breastfeeding.... but they absolutely cannot STAND to hear my kids cry. If either of them are holding my daughter when she starts crying, or if I ask them to hold her while I get something for her or try to get settled somewhere to offer her the breast, then they instantly let their own anxiety about it completely override my own assessment of how serious the situation is.
If I say, "she's just really tired - she should have been asleep ages ago" (which usually produces that crying that winds up and up the less able she is to settle herself and the tireder she gets) they argue with me and say, "she's pulling her legs up. She's got wind." Or, my MIL produces some 1970's book about colic and how I shouldn't be eating tomatoes and lettuce or some other cr*p.
Mostly I try and patiently talk them through what I've observed with her patterns of crying and what generally leads to a fairly intense episode like the one that happened this morning. I quote all of the usual tomes such as 'Baby Love' and parrot wisdom from our independent midwife... but they WILL NOT hear it. I can see the sound of my baby's crying hot-wiring itself straight into the anxious-mother cortex of their psyches, which seem to be impervious to any kind of calming stimuli.
Today it was too much for me. I was managing my own anxiety and upset about whether there might be something more seriously wrong with my baby - watching her carefully for anything unusual - I tried changing her position, changing her clothes, feeding her (of course) and just rocking and comforting her. I tried distraction and it wasn't working... but she didn't have a temperature, and she did manage to take small breaks from time to time before starting up again. I felt her body for any reactions to my touch and she seemed comfortable. She wasn't even pulling her legs up or stiffening her body in the way that would normally get my mum 'going'. It was horrendous, as it always is, to feel powerless to understand the needs of my child or to provide comfort from something distressing.
... So WHY in the midst of all this do I find myself dealing not only with my own anxiety, but the anxiety of these two other mothers? They have had two and three of their own children, respectively. Did their babies never cry? Do they not remember? .... or is it really my fault that I don't instantly panic and take my daughter to a doctor and demand a barrage of tests for this 'unexplained' crying. When I told my mum she was stressing me out, she said, "Well if it was ME, I'd be taking her to the doctor and checking that there's not something more seriously wrong".
(Private thought: Well, it's NOT you!)
After all of this, I put the baby in the car and drove home. As I approached the house, I felt my anxiety levels halve. I was still reasonably concerned about what had been going on, but my anxiety was my own and back to being more manageable. By the time I had got inside the house, the baby had calmed down and her dad (after hearing how stressed I was) took over holding her and talking to her, after which time she seemed completely happy and normal, eventually did a big poo and then promptly went to sleep as if nothing had happened. His observation was that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her.
So - should I be worried, or not? Are any of you dealing with something similar? ... My daughter has a reasonably long unsettled period, usually in the evening between 8:30pm and midnight. Sometimes it seems she's awake for nearly this whole time, completely unable to get settled until she's fed and cried and fussed and jiggled and burped and pooed and cried some more until she's completely spent.... and then she sleeps soundly for 4 or 5 hours and then another 3 or 4 hours until morning (which I think is fantastic for a very young baby), and then has very contented awake periods and goes very easily to sleep during the day until the evening crazy period comes around again. For the last two days she's had her crazy period in the mornings instead of the evenings, therefore it has been witnessed by outsiders and invited this speculation about her wellbeing.