This Runner's Trials

I don’t know what I’m doing

Right now, I’m sitting upstairs in my office while my husband cleans the kitchen. Dirty dishes in the sink and a clean load in the dishwasher are just some of the things I never got to today. Jeff thinks I’m busy writing a freelance article. And I should be. I have an insane amount of work due in the next week (which is a great “problem” to have).

The reason I’m not working? I can’t stop thinking about this afternoon. Wyatt was ridiculously cranky. Shrieking like I’ve never heard before. He wouldn’t sleep at all, did not have a temperature, wasn’t extra hungry or gassy, and I didn’t see any signs of progress with the current tooth or more teeth.


Of course it’s not unusual for a baby to cranky. Especially a baby who is seldom happy. But the degree of his crankiness was just odd. And, well, he’s going to be four months next week.

By now, most moms know their babies. Most moms know why their babies are crying. Most moms know how to somewhat soothe their babies, even if they can’t completely calm them down.

But I don’t.

Sometimes I feel like an imposter. I feel like I stumbled onto this job of motherhood without really being qualified. For someone who wanted to be a mom so badly, it’s shocking that I devoted so much time to researching infertility then birth stories, but never once considered learning about how to parent the actual human being. Well, I read the books about the shh-ing and swaddling, but seriously? That info was only helpful for a week at most.

You know how if you’re afraid of a dog you’re not supposed to show it? Dogs can sense fear, supposedly. Well, I think Wyatt got that trait from his furball brother. I swear he can sense my lack of mommy confidence.

He’s either laughing at me or bored by my pathetic attempts to entertain him.


Or he’s flipping me off or just completely miserable.


So I’m trying my best to act like I know what I’m doing. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?


Here’s hoping it works…

Comments (46) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Jen, This is my first comment on your blog, I have been reading for atleast a year! I just want to say that you are not alone in feeling like an imposter, I have a 5 year old and still feel like that sometimes, and I have a degree in Early Childhood! Each child is so different, and somedays are just so hard! Just focus on the good times, and take the rest one minute at a time. The only thing I can think of for his unhappiness is have you tried to modify your diet? My little guy was allergic to dairy and soy when he was an infant, up until he was a year old, I had to cut out all dairy and soy, that was rough, but so worth it. I just had another friend who had to do the same thing, and it helped alot! There is my unsolicitate advice of the day! It will get better, and easier and harder it is all a cycle, but so worth it!

  2. You’re not alone mama. None of us know what we’re doing. In fact, I bet moms who have several kids still feel that way even after going through it before. Every baby is different and they can’t communicate YET so it’s sometimes just impossible to figure them out. My little man is 9+ months old and he hasn’t been napping the last few days. I can’t figure him out and what’s going on, but I’ll keep trying and eventually we’ll work it out. Just like you and little W…we are a team. :) Hugs.

  3. Right there with you! Just remember he’s still trying to learn how to be a human being. I bet it was his teeth but I also wish I could read baby’s mind!

  4. I feel exactly the same. and everyone else seems to have these happy babies who, even if they’re not easy, seem to make some sense. And the books are designed to make us feel bad instead of actually helping! The advice that helped me most was even if i can’t help him, being there for him is doing some good. I find myself drawing on that a LOT.

  5. It will get better, some babies are just a little more cranky than others.
    I know you like to exercise, one thing that always got my daughter to calm down and sleep when she was cranky was going for a walk outside. Everything going on outside made her forget about crying & little bounce from the sidewalk & road made her go to sleep. It gave us both a much needed break.

  6. this is my 2nd baby and i still don’t know what i’m doing. none of us really do. my almost 4 mth old was screaming for 5 hours monday night and i had no clue how to fix him. it wasn’t until the next morning that i realized he was constipated. i can’t get him to fall asleep on his own or sleep through the night (like my 2 year was doing by now) and it is making me crazy. the point is, we just figure it out as we go. you love him, you take care of him and do you what you know you to do. you are a good mom and he loves you for it-even if he can’t tell you just yet :)

  7. Aww. Don’t feel bad. No one knows what they are doing!

  8. I am so sorry to hear he’s still not acting quite right. Its heartbreaking!

    I know that food allergies were “ruled out” by a look at the stool sample (no blood) but our daughter turned out to have such severe allergies and she has no blood in her stool either. The first place we started was the RAST blood test then followed that up with skin testing. I felt horrible that I’d put her through so much because I swore up and down she didn’t have food allergies.

    I’m only saying it (again) because something isn’t adding up. Sitting there watching your child scream in pain that you can’t seem to prevent is gut wrenching. I truly wouldn’t stop till I had the right answers. And for my kiddo, I was not content to just be told she was a cranky “colicky” baby. Nope, my gut told me it was something else….something CAUSING her pain.

    Her food allergies are off the chart and some are just a bit wacky! (Like sesame and mango, but also peanuts/tree nuts, soy, dairy etc) If you think something is causing your baby pain don’t you stop until you get some answers!

  9. You’re a wonderful mommy. Hang in there. Love you!

  10. Trust me – I’m pretty sure every mom feels this way. I know I certainly do! Hang in there mama – you’re doing a GREAT job!

  11. My son is 5 and my daughter is almost 3 and I STILL don’t know what I’m doing. I have my good days and my bad days — the bad days just remind me how fun the good days are! Hang in there mama — this too shall pass :)

  12. Hang in there! You now what’s best for your baby. I am learning so much from you and am nervous about what next month holds for me.

  13. I have been on amazon for the last two days trying to find books on how to discipline. I said I would never spank and then I encountered my 2 year old. She is a perfect angel for everyone else but every time I ask her not to do something she looks me in the eye and does it again. Then, I tell her she will go int time out if she does it again she looks me in the eye, says OK, and does it again. Then there is the teething 9 month old…
    I have asked my husband to stop asking me if I had a good day. I have decided I am going to start remembering good MOMENTS b/c a good day might just be a thing of the past :)
    All this to say that you are not alone. Hang in there and enjoy the good moments!

  14. It’ll work, hon. And it will get better… it really will! And you are doing a great job.

  15. I’m not sure if you were looking for advice, or just looking to vent as we all need to do at times. But you’re a great mom because you care about this and obviously doing a great job!

    We still use the 5 S’s with our 6 month old and they are still effective. We actually just retired the swaddle today! But, all babies are different and don’t necessarily respond to the same techniques.

    The other thing that really helped us was Dunstan Baby Language. It’s a pretty short DVD (they used to have all the lessons on YouTube, but they got yanked). I bought it for my husband when he felt like he had no idea how to help. It was pretty cool to be able to (sometimes) decipher her cries and figure out what was going on. It was especially useful because we thought, our baby doesn’t need to burp (she rarely burped when we tried). We watched the DVD and as it turns out, she was making the burp me cry and we just weren’t trying hard enough to get her to burp. The DVD taught us some new techniques and this drastically reduced her fussiness (and this weird thing when she cried in her sleep), because it reduced lower gas pain caused by swallowed air.

  16. Oh, your day must have been so hard! Hours of a crying baby is enough to make anyone feel insane! I have read your blog long enough to know that you are doing a great job! You have done everything possible to make sure that Wyatt is happy and healthy. Sometimes babies cry and it’s impossible to figure out why. Or just when you think you have things figured out, something changes. Hang in there and know that you are not alone! Every mom feels this way!

  17. hang in there – It will get better! He looks so strong from the stomach sleeping! My poor Henry will never crawl, I put him in on his tummy and he just screams. When things are hairy around here, I just start singing (while rocking/bouncing,etc.), Old McDonald, Twinkle, Twinkle, etc. I close my eyes and just try to breath and calm myself down in hopes that it will calm Henry down. Sometimes it works!

  18. Oh my goodness…I feel this way almost everyday! These babies are a tough cookie. We found out our Molly (4mo) has a milk allergy. Once we got that ironed out she is much happier but still has her moments that make me want to pull my hair out! Hang in there and we will all survive eventually (and then have teenagers…ick).

  19. Add me to the “still feel like a fake” list! Just when we discover a new quirk or win the current battle, another pops up. That’s just parenting! You are not alone. You are doing a wonderful job of being his mom.

  20. Just like the other commenters, you are not alone. All new mamas have that feeling one time or another. There is no better mommy to Wyatt than his own mama. You may think you don’t know what you’re doing but I guarantee lil W thinks the sun rises and sets in your eyes.

    This is all an amazing learning experience and though we may never master mama-hood, we’ll continue to get better each day ;)

  21. My oldest is 5 and there see days I feel like I still haver no idea what I’m doing!!!

  22. I have two things for you:
    1. Yes, you DO know what you’re doing. Don’t believe a lie. You are Wyatt’s momma. He’s part you and part your husband. You know what he needs, you’re just learning right along with him. Don’t let your mind be your biggest enemy. Start speaking differently about the situation. Instead of how you’re NOT what he needs, that you ARE. That you know what it takes to soothe and comfort and provide for him.
    2. Just make sure that you are prioritizing correctly. I think we can feel the way you’re feeling when we put things in a higher place than they need to be. Is your work or your training fighting for the #1 spot on your priority list when it should be your husband and that baby? If we are really caught up in other things and are constantly being distracted, of course we’re going to feel a disconnect from our baby and then in come the lies of inadequacy.

  23. Jen, I can’t say I completely understand because every baby is different, but my son is 7 months and I still don’t know what he wants all the time. And even though I only “know” you a little bit, I know you’re an amazing mom who works really hard and loves Wyatt really well.

  24. This could have been ME writing this post 2.5 years ago. While I was pregnant everyone told me I would be a natural (because I work with children as a profession!) but then suddenly here he was, a little newborn, who didn’t sleep, who didn’t feed well, who had reflux and I didn’t have a clue. And he always seemed so unhappy. Looking back at his baby photos now he was either crying or looking very very solemn. It seemed like all the other mothers knew what their baby wanted but I didn’t. His crying all sounded the same and nothing cheered him up. He is 3 this May and I now find myself sat next to a very cheerful toddler who is demanding I go play the mouse game with him, so I better wrap this long comment up. For me, the turning point came when he hit about 18 months and he was walking, starting to talk and we could communicate. All of a sudden there was no need to struggle and guess and what he needed, he could just tell me… “juice” “hungry” “park”. It was like a light switch being flicked, suddenly we were both much, much happier. You’ll get there in time :) for some it comes instantly and for others it’s a longe road. xx

  25. Oh honey! My 2nd baby is 5 months old and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing half the time. Sure I’ve learned some things, but she still isn’t sleeping very well. While most of the other babies her age are sleeping through the night.

  26. Hi Jen,

    This is my first time commenting, but I just wantd to pass this information along. I work at a non profit social service agency and am constantly surrounded by amazing women who work with new mothers and their babies. This is where I learned about the Period of Purple Crying, which is a normal developmental stage when babies cry more than ANYTHING. There’s a lot of research on it, and here is a link if you are interested in knowing more:
    Good luck momma! You’ll get through this.

  27. I think if parents knew what they were doing no one would think it was such a hard job. And the simple fact that you’re worried you don’t know everything is a sign that you’re a great mom – that you’re concerned about being incredibly knowledgeable and doing everything right. Wyatt’s lucky to have a mom that cares so much!! (I know a lot of kids whose parents don’t care at all – and it’s really sad.)

  28. I hope things get better for you soon! This is just a season and it will change like everything else in life. Good luck to you!

  29. Hi Jen! My good friend Lizzy just suggested I read this post. I have a 10 month old boy (who will be exactly a year older than Lizzy’s boy!) and was telling her how there really is no way to prepare for taking care of a baby and the most important thing you can learn is to trust your instincts. And I have a secret for you…no one knows what they’re doing! We still have days where my baby will cry for hours for no reason. And its incredibly trying and frustrating at times. But please don’t feel like you don’t know how to be a mom! You are keeping him well taken care of and loved, which means you are doing everything right. Some babies just scream a lot! Don’t take it personally :)

  30. Oh Jen…..I feel your pain! My 7 week old fusses a lot and most of the time I feel like i have no idea how to soothe her. And then I hand her off to my husband and she calms down in seconds! It’s frustrating. My husband says it’s because she can sense my anxiety and lack of confidence, which I’m sure to some degree is true. But I know this too shall pass, and I echo what everyone else says – NO ONE knows what they are doing! I think some people just fake it better than others :)

  31. I could have written this post myself a few months ago. My son sounds a lot like Wyatt- for the first 4 months he was a crank most of the time. I could really only keep him happy for 5-10 minutes at a time, the rest of the time he was fussing if not all out crying and generally just seemed irritable and unhappy. We never really figured out what was wrong, but now he is 5 months old and just a completely different baby. He is happy the vast majority of the time and when he fusses it is usually for a reason that we can easily figure out. It didn’t happen overnight exactly, but over a period of about weeks when he was about 4 months old the tides began to turn. Hope the same happens for you guys! Everyone told me it would happen for us when he turned 3 months old, and I felt very discouraged when it didn’t happen then.

  32. Please don’t beat yourself up over this! First of all, you are doIng an amazing job! Second, you ruled out the more serious conditions that could be causing his fussiness– he probably is still teething. Maya has been going through this needy period of only wanting to be held, eating less, sleeping less, and going from happy to hysterical crying at the drop of a hat for the past TWO MONTHS! The doc says teething, but we have yet to see a tooth poke through! She does always have her hands in her mouth, but can’t figure out how to keep a teethet there–the only thing that works is a washcloth which I wet and freeze. She can suck on that and get some relief–that, and the occasional tylenol.
    Bottom line is we all have those moments of insecurity, but you are doing an amazing job!

  33. I definitely agree with the other commenters. This feeling is very very natural and one that has to be universally shared by all mothers and fathers. My one cautionary note though is your interpretations of your baby’s responses to you. I can’t tell if you are kidding (probably are) but be very careful about overinterpreting the child’s reactions to you….

  34. Oh girl, you’re so not alone on this. I still have no idea what she’s crying about half the time. She’s been extra fussy lately and we have no clue why. I think it’s normal not to know (or at least I hope it is). While I love this age, I can’t wait until she can actually tell me what’s wrong!

    Hope it gets better for you! (((hugs)))

  35. Wyatt’s never had a different mommy. You’re all he knows. ;) I say that because I want to point out that he doesn’t have anyone to compare you to. In his eyes, you’re perfect. In reality, you might feel far from it, but that’s how every new parent feels.

    I made a comment to my husband the other day that went something like this: “You know, when I was growing up, my parents always seemed so omnipotent and wise. I’m only just now figuring out that they were completely clueless and figured stuff out as they went along”.

    To Wyatt, you’re his first and foremost learning resource in life. He doesn’t have thoughts of “Well I wish my mommy was like THAT mommy instead”.

    Also, babies go through phases. Around 4 months is – from what I read up on – an extremely fussy stage, often accompanied with sleep regression. It certainly was true for us. After 2 months of no night wakings and a happy go lucky baby, Logan started waking up 1-2 times at night again and has incredibly fussy phases. You can’t possibly know everything.. you just learn as you go along, one day at a time.

    Good luck!

  36. After 8 years and two kids, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Parenthood is really hard and kids are completely unpredictable. There is no “normal” or “standard” when it comes to kids and their behavior. Unfortunately, we all read magazines and books and blogs that make us feel like other parents have it all figured out, and we are left feeling like we don’t know anything. But, the big secret is that no parents really know what they’re doing. Everyone is just taking it one day at a time and hoping that they don’t mess their kids up too much in the process. Trust me, you’re doing a great job.

  37. This is my first comment on your blog, Ive been a reader for about a year :)
    Ive read your pregnancy journey, the birth of your gorgeous boy, and your continued journey through motherhood…
    And i wanted to say you are a wonderful mummy!
    I am a new mum too, my boy is 12 weeks old now, and I completely know how you are feeling! Some days are just CRAP! :(
    Being a parent is damn hard work! Also wonderfully rewarding too, but HARD! We are all just ‘winging’ it, and pretending we know what we are doing, and I know for me, sloooowly, it is coming to me.
    Have you ever heard of “the wonder weeks”?
    Not sure if its just an Australian ‘thing’, but if you internet search it, have a read, and see if it applies to you and Wyatt at the times when he is being extra ‘fussy’ or ‘teary’.
    I have found it to be spot on with my little one, and explains those really really hard times… And to know when to expect those times, and also why they are so grumpy, fussy, teary etc. If you read it, then this will make sense :)
    Never forget that you are Wyatts mum. And everything you do for him is the right thing. You love him to the ends of the earth, and you (and your husbans) are all he needs!
    I too am hoping that one day, (hopefully soon) things fall more into place and figuring out my son gets that little bit easier, day by day.
    Go easy on yourself :D You are a terrific mum!!

  38. While I can’t comment from experience, I have definitely heard enough friends who are moms say the same thing and given the number of comments here, you definitely are not alone! Maybe it helps to think of it like running – you have runs where you feel like you nailed your training and everything’s working and runs where you think maybe you weren’t meant to be a runner! Hang in there, one thing I know about babies is that they go through phases really quick, here’s hoping this passes soon (if not already!) :)

  39. Wyatt is totally making duckface in the 3rd photo!! So cute!

  40. I wish I had any bit of advice for you, but I’m not a mother and know extremely little about babies! But what I do know is you are a GREAT mother. I know that just from the fact that you’re worrying about it. Keep at it! It will get better.

  41. This is my first comment here… I’m a new mom too to an 8 week old n feel the same .. But this is how I know ur an amazing mom… Ur confident enough to share how u really feel.. Not afraid to be judged by ppl ( everytime i ask friends how r ur babiez the answer is always Amazing!!!! I know they r lying lol ) So be just as confident in ur motherhood and trust that ur baby won’t judge you.. Ur everything he needs!!!

  42. Read this article by dr sears… Your baby sounds like a high need baby and he has amazing advise for parents in your ( and my shoes) … I would also suggest reading his views on attachment parenting n how good it is for ou LO.. Everytime I feel like I
    Cannot hold her any longer I read his articles and feel instantly better… Love is all I have to give!!!

  43. Oh Jen, you’re a great mommy!! We’re all just doing the best we can and that’s what matters :) Wyatt is a lucky little man!

  44. You’re exactly right, fake it til you make it! I think parenting brings lots of those moments… my daughter wasn’t a very happy baby either, and it seemed like there were so many “easy” happy babies out there. It improved a lot as she got more mobile, and again as she got more independent and could talk and tell us what was going on. She’s a pretty happy girl these days, and I’m so grateful. :)

  45. Newbie to your blog! Liking it a lot. May I subscribe via email? Thanks. Marcee.

Leave a comment