Around mid-October of last year, my next door neighbours brought home a pink, screaming baby. And it’s been screaming ever since.
This particular situation would not normally be my business, but it just so happens that the baby’s nursery shares a thin, uninsulated wall with my bedroom.
You can see where this is going, I’m sure. For the first couple months of the baby’s arrival, I responded to this screaming with a good-natured empathy for the parents. Poor new parents, I thought, that’s rough that the baby screams all night every night, which I know because I lie awake next door listening to it scream all night every night.
I mentioned it casually to my landlord after a couple of weeks and he murmured something about what great parents they were and what a shame it was that the baby had colic. I did some reading about colic and saw that this generally resolves itself after three months, and tolerated the screaming.
But now it is mid-March and the baby is five months old and still screams and screams and my empathy for the parents has eroded as my sleep deprivation has accumulated. I started grumpily complaining about the baby to friends and family, all of whom instantly responded with empathy for the parents.
The parents! I thought grumpily. They CHOSE to bring that screaming demon baby into the world. It needs an exorcism, I thought more than once, lying awake at night as it screamed over and over. I did not choose to bring a baby into the world and yet here I am. Moreover, I reasoned with fraying mental capacities, the parents could leave the room, shut the door, and walk away from the screaming. They could comfort the baby to stop the screaming. I have nowhere to go and no way to stop the screaming.
As a renter, I have only this one room in all of Dublin to myself. Before this baby came into my life, my room was my safe haven from the hustle and bustle of this busy city. But a baby’s screams are designed to upset and unsettle and, sure enough, every time the baby starts screaming, I find my jaw clenching and my nails digging into my palms. Here are some of my coping strategies:
While the baby is screaming in the evenings, I go for long walks and listen to LeVar Burton Reads. The dulcet tones of Burton’s voice soothe my frayed nerves and he starts each short story by taking slow, deep breaths. Designed to calm and soothe, plus I was a huge fan of Reading Rainbow when I was a kid, and Star Trek TNG as a teenage; perfection in a podcast. http://www.levarburtonpodcast.com/
I’ve never been one to blast music (I’m extremely averse to loud noises), but if I’ve exhausted myself, I find the Fleet Foxes an ideal way to drown out the screaming. I’m recently obsessed with them, especially:
Helplessness Blues (perfect)
White Winter Hymnal
And of course the angelic voices of the Staves
In the long run
And of course, Tired As (language warning!!!)
I hope this helps anyone in a similar position to me!