The Fussy Baby Site

An Open Letter To Partners of High Needs Babies’ Mothers

Tired mother and baby

Dear Guys,

It’s not just her. We’re all like that.

Mommies are biologically wired to respond to our babies’ needs. Crying is the only way they have to communicate with us, and when they cry, we don’t just hear it; we FEEL it. Like, deep in our soul, pulling at our hearts feel it.

Don’t know if you’re aware of this, but a lactating mom will often experience letdown if her baby cries. And usually only if HER baby cries. She can be in a room full of crying babies, but she won’t start leaking until her own baby starts wailing. This should tell you something about the effect a child’s distress has on their mother. It’s extremely hard on a mom to not be able to respond to that, and especially hard if she responds and it seems to do no good, as is often the case with HN babies. I’d go so far as to say that it is traumatizing.

Of course, this is all contingent on her being a good mom, because we all know the world is full of the other kind.

When your wife unravels a bit at the seams because the baby is crying, try to remember that you were blessed to create a child with a good woman who cares so very deeply about the happiness of your offspring that their misery is her misery. That is a treasure to be cherished in a world that can be pretty shitty.

Don’t take it personally if she dumps a bit of it on you. She’s not trying to hurt you. She’s seeking understanding and support, she just doesn’t have the emotional energy left to groom the message for your consumption. She trusts you to not hold it against her, and to realize that she’s hurting and in need of your love.

So next time she snaps, simply wrap your arms around her and ask “tough day?” Because yes, she’s had a very tough day. She needs you to uphold that promise you made to love her in sickness and in health, in good times and bad. She’s still the woman you fell in love with, but she needs your help to remember that.

She doesn’t need you to feel the same way she does. She doesn’t need you to fix it. She doesn’t need you to point out what you think she’s doing wrong. Believe me, you can’t possibly be harder on her than she’s already being on herself. She just needs a squeeze. A kiss. A “you’re doing great,” or a “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” She needs to lay her head on your chest for a minute. She needs you to breathe with her until she’s calm. She needs to know that your love for her can’t be dented just because she’s feeling overwhelmed and broken. She needs you to let her feel.

It’s not just her. We’re all like that.


A High Needs Mom


Image courtesy of ECohen under CC 2.0