But my own baby's cries will be music to my ears
July 15, 2016 11:32 AM   Subscribe

My husband is incredibly sensitive to noise, in particular any sound that disrupts his sleep. I am nervous about how he will react to our future child's cries and concerned that he has unrealistic expectations around quieting a baby. He disagrees. How can I calm down about this in advance and/or help in the future?

My husband and I are very excited about the birth of our first child in January. My husband is a very calm, patient guy but one thing that really sets him off is noise that he can't control (i.e. noise from adjacent rooms when we're traveling; birds; children screaming/crying; overhearing other people in restaurants, etc.). To me, some of this falls into the category of "life noise," and is not worth focusing negative energy on; to him, it's often disruptive to the point where we will end up changing hotel rooms, moving tables in a restaurant, changing location in a park, etc.

I've become nervous about how he will react to the inevitable cries (and possibly occasional screams) of our child. I know that there are a range of normal behaviors and noises from babies, and while I certainly am on board with trying various methods of quieting our child, there is a part of me that just accepts it may be out of our control at times. Husband has been reading a couple books that suggest methods like swaddling and having the baby sleep next to your bed for the first few months to significantly reduce crying; again, totally fine with me, but I'm not at all expecting this to ensure a mostly quiet baby.

I've expressed to him a few times that I'm concerned he might be setting himself up for unrealistic expectations regarding crying and that I'm worried he'll be frustrated with the baby (and by extension me) for not being able to stop crying. We had a disagreement about this yesterday, for example, and then this morning he was up at 4:30 banging windows and opening doors to try to quiet birds outside. He assures me that he will not have the same response to our child because it will be "different."

Does anyone have any similar experience with noise sensitivity and how to manage it with a new baby? Do you think it is true that his reaction may change based on it being his own child? Are there ways I can approach this without being so accusatory but instead be helpful to him?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've expressed to him a few times that I'm concerned he might be setting himself up for unrealistic expectations regarding crying and that I'm worried he'll be frustrated with the baby (and by extension me) for not being able to stop crying.

I'm a little concerned by the implication throughout and in this sentence especially that stopping the crying is your job. Presumably if crying needs to be stopped, it would be his job, too, and if it can't be stopped he should be equally frustrated with himself, if he's going to be frustrated.

Has your husband had his hearing checked? It almost seems like there might be something off about his hearing that would cause such sensitivity. When I temporarily lost some hearing, I found that those noises I COULD hear drove me crazy. From your description it sounds less like he's less tolerant than you of noise and more like he must experience the noise differently.

It sounds like he's investigated possibilities for reducing crying, but baby gonna baby, so there needs to be a solution on the other end too. Obviously he can't sleep with ear plugs, but during the day when the colic is out of hand can't he put some ear plugs in or headphones with music to try to drown out the noise that bothers him? This will work less well with a toddler, since you actually do want to listen to what they're saying, even though occasionally what they're saying will be an ear-piercing shriek. I think you should ask him to investigate and plan solutions that will help him even when he needs to attend to a screaming child, because that will happen sometimes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2016 [20 favorites]


What about avoiding the topic of whether or not the baby will cry, but his reaction to the child.
-is it your responsibility that the child is quiet? Why?
-does he need to leave the room or house? Every time? Or just if he's overwhelmed?
- what if you're both tired and frustrated and the baby is crying? Then what?
- what will he do if he doesn't have a solid night's sleep in 6 months?
- what if the child is colicky and just cries a lot? What will he do?

Maybe you will end up with a baby that rarely cries. It's not worth debating that because it's out of your control. But will you do if you get a more sonorous baby? Because that's out of your control as well.
posted by raccoon409 at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


I'm pretty sensitive to noise. Barking dogs, people opening candy in a movie theater, people talking while I'm trying to read, etc. We have a bunch of antique clocks we got from my late father-in-law. All but one of them is not running because the ticking is like torture to me. I sit on the quiet car on my train ride to and from work each day and if I sit on any other car it's like that scene in the movie where they're on a bus in a third world country and it's packed with chickens and screaming people.

I am your husband. Not really, of course. That would be sorta weird. But I can relate to his noise issues.

When my son was a baby his crying never bothered me beyond the usual "Jesus, that kid's got a set of pipes and I need to sleep."

The thing is, in almost all cases you can eventually quiet a baby down. There are times when you just can't, and you're both up all night trying everything you can think of, but those times are rare for most, but not all, children.

After you get to know your child you get to know the different cries. The hungry cry, the tired cry, the I-just-made-a-giant-poop-and-you-get-to-clean-it cry. You can fix the cry. Usually. And when you do, it's a pretty great feeling and you're proud of your parenting skills.

In other words, in most cases, you have control. Some control, anyway. I'm sure people will disagree, and maybe I was just lucky, but that was my experience. This is not a baby crying in the next hotel room, or a jerk talking in the movie theater, this is your baby and you can get up and go do something about it, or at least try.

I've expressed to him a few times that I'm concerned he might be setting himself up for unrealistic expectations regarding crying

There will be enough things to deal with and worry about. Try not to worry about things that haven't actually happen and may not happen.
posted by bondcliff at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2016 [37 favorites]


Adding to a comment above:

If baby is gonna baby, hubby is gonna have to adult and get some ear plugs or switch rooms or do ANYTHING that will take the burden of his annoyance with the noise away from you, and onto him, where it belongs. Period.

I would gently ask him to make a list of comfort strategies to soothe himself while you're busy soothing the real baby.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2016 [27 favorites]


My partner has such a hard time with noise, especially random uncontrollable cacophonies, but he legitimately does not mind when the baby cries -- almost to a fault, according to my "drop everything and save the offspring!" instincts. I'm not sure continuing to debate this is going to be helpful, but one thing that made me feel better while pregnant was making sure he understood that setting the baby down and taking a break was always the right answer over getting frustrated and potentially hurting her. Obviously don't frame that as something you think he's particularly likely to do (!), just really focus on internalizing it for both of you and any other caregivers. The Period of Purple Crying is a good, non-judgmental source.

(As it happens, we do have a very calm, low-crying baby, and my preparations on this front were overkill but it gave me something to do besides going in unproductive circles.)
posted by teremala at 11:47 AM on July 15, 2016


It sounds like he's not as concerned about it as you are. (albeit, I think he's probably in for a bit of a surprise). But it seems there's not a lot you can do.

Were I in your shoes, I would explain to him that when he's stressed by noise, that stresses you. It sounds like maybe he doesn't understand the pressure it puts on you when he's bothered by a noise. Maybe you can work through some potential solutions for when noise does bother him, so you know he's got some tools in his back pocket. He may think he won't need them, and hopefully he's right.
posted by hydra77 at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


When I was pregnant I had some fears about the unknowable future that I got very anxious about and ended up picking fights with my husband about. I would gently ask you: even if the worst case scenario comes to pass (you have a colicky baby and your husband does find the noise intolerable), what specific goals do you hope to accomplish by raising your fears with your husband? It sounds to me like he's trying to reassure you and you're not comforted. Is there something specific he could say that would convince you this will be okay? If not, you may need to let him off the hook here and learn to just hold the idea that this is a fear of yours, and it may happen, but there's nothing you can do about it until it comes to pass (or doesn't come to pass).

I am embarrassed to now admit that I found it too easy to take out my anxiety about the huge changes that were coming on my husband, and to get angry when he couldn't magically make my fears go away. At the time I didn't see the dynamic for what it was, but with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had handled it better. I was so convinced I knew my husband well enough to predict where he was going to fall down on the job--and I was wrong about 80% of it, and even the stuff I was right about either ended up playing out differently than I expected, or was not made any better by picking fights about it months before it happened.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


I don't have solutions for you, but I am the mom of an almost 4 year old. The crying and screaming does not stop after infancy. You cannot control the sounds that come out of another human, short of holding your hand over their mouth which I don't recommend. You help the child learn to express their emotions rather than act them out but this is an ongoing, long project. I say this because I agree with you your husband sounds unusually sensitive and his reaction of holding you responsible and banging things around are not healthy. I would suggest cognitive behavioral therapy for him. Good luck (and congrats!)!
posted by JenMarie at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


Our son was a challenging baby, possibly from colic, or he was just cranky, who knows. We swaddled. We co-slept. We tried pacifiers, he hated them. He mostly hated the baby swing. He cried, quite a lot, sometimes maddeningly so. The only thing that could quiet him was putting a boob in his mouth, and even that didn't always work. You can do all the supposedly right things and maybe still the baby will cry.

Neither of us is particularly noise sensitive, but my child's cry hits my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. The cries of every other kid in the world roll off my back now, because they're not mine, but even at 6 years old, my kid crying gets my adrenaline going . I can't speak to whether it hits my husband in the same way, maybe it's a mom thing.

I think your husband needs to do some work on coming up with some strategies to mitigate his own response, and he needs to recalibrate his expectations. That's his responsibility, not yours, and it's not your job to make the baby stop crying so your husband doesn't flip out (sorry, not to imply that he'd flip out, but it sounds like he's setting himself up for disappointment if he thinks that swaddling and co-sleeping are guaranteed to stop crying).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Have you heard of misophonia (sensitivity to certain noises)? There are several treatments for this - CBT, tinnitus therapy, medication. Even if he's okay with your baby, the other stuff is still going to bother him, and the stress won't be good for any of you.
posted by AFABulous at 11:55 AM on July 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


My husband is a very calm, patient guy but one thing that really sets him off is noise that he can't control (i.e. noise from adjacent rooms when we're traveling; birds; children screaming/crying; overhearing other people in restaurants, etc.). To me, some of this falls into the category of "life noise," and is not worth focusing negative energy on;

I suffer from ADD, anxiety and depression. I, like your husband, have a tremendously difficult time with noise I can't control. It isn't "life noise" to me. I am not choosing to focus on it or expend energy on it, it is truly all my mind can focus on. Public movie theatres are a living hell for me because hearing other people whisper to each other and eat their popcorn becomes all my brain focuses on and I am unable to pay attention to the movie. (I no longer go to the movie theatre.) Similarly, when I lived in apartments, the sound of the people in the apartments adjacent to mine drove me to distraction and sometimes tears. And I don't mean crazy loud thumping music. Sounds of them walking around upstairs. Their tv. etc.Chaos and uncontrollable situations in general are difficult for me and have triggered some pretty severe panic attacks.

So step one for you really should be for you to not see this as a choice he is making. If he is like me, he isn't doing this deliberately, he isn't being a baby (as some posters have implied). He almost definitely isn't choosing to focus negative energy on it. If he is anything like me he probably desperately wishes he was able to just ignore it. I sincerely envy people who can tune stuff out, but my brain does not work that way.

I have a kid. Technically he's my stepson but he's my kid. Kids make noise. A lot. A lot a lot of noise. And yes, it can be absolutely overwhelming and multiple times the constant noise has forced me into the bedroom to have a proper cry from the anxiety and stress it causes me. I know it isn't my kid trying to upset me, I know it isn't his fault, so I am outstandingly careful to never take it out on him. I will ask him to play more quietly or go outside for a bit to burn off some of his loud energy, but sometimes that isn't enough.

What works for me is:
- sleeping with earplugs
- managing my stress and anxiety in general so that the noise doesn't become the straw that breaks the camel's back. If I'm mentally and emotionally healthy to start with I am generally more able to deal with the noise.
- "going to get groceries" (or some other errand that requires I leave the house, alone, for a while. I only do when my husband is available to watch the kid, and it is a bit of a last resort thing, but sometimes I have to remove myself from the situation.
- taking a bath. I can still hear the noise and chaos, but the bath relaxes me and at least semi-shields me from it. a 20 minute bath does a tremendous amount for refreshing my ability to cope.

and in truth, my ability to cope with my kid's noise is much much higher than the noise made by anyone else. So feel encouraged by that.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


and then this morning he was up at 4:30 banging windows and opening doors to try to quiet birds outside.

this is really disrespectful to you if you were sleeping while this was going on. he needs to find ways that deal with his frustrations that are less rage-y.
posted by nadawi at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2016 [94 favorites]


and i say that as someone with misophonia and ocd reactions to it. it's still his responsibility to mitigate his expressions about it.
posted by nadawi at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2016 [32 favorites]


My spouse is much more sensitive to ambient noise than I am and this has affected our choice of apartment, etc, in the past. It has had minimal effect on his parenting, because babies are just noisy and he knows that, plus he adores the noisy little guys. He did put in earplugs now and then, but only while he was actively engaged in trying to feed or soothe the kiddo.

I will say he gets slightly irritated with our kids (now 5 and 2.5) when they get shouty in the car, but that usually manifests more as a "Guys! Inside voices!" and not anything else.

I do take issue with the idea that it will somehow be your job to keep the baby quiet. Both of you should be actively involved in comforting your baby and addressing his/her needs, unless the baby is hungry and you're breastfeeding. Inevitably both parents will have moments of "I need a time out" and the other person should step in, but there's no reason that he should somehow need to be shielded from the weaponized acoustic output of your beloved infant.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:00 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


We had a disagreement about this yesterday, for example, and then this morning he was up at 4:30 banging windows and opening doors to try to quiet birds outside.

What.

That is out of line. I can see why you might have some additional anxiety though I do agree with iminurmefi that as one processes their own anxieties about impending parenthood that it's easy to spiral and spend too much time ruminating on what-ifs and what-abouts. There's a hormonal component, too.

Specifically about this issue: other baby's/kid's crying is more annoying to me than my own child's crying. You know those parents in restaurants who have the gall to have a noisy child? I now know that some part of that is that they don't totally "hear" their child being "horrible." Their child's noises are more tolerable to them. Plus the noises are on a spectrum of fine to tolerable to child needs assistance to child needs to leave this area immediately because meltdown. Civilians are often "child noises" = "intolerable!" Those folks are over-sensitive.

Another thing for the future... for both of you. When your child is crying and you are having a hard time with it, watch a clock. With lack of sleep and stress, I would often find my anxiety going into overdrive with some kinds of crying and if I looked at the clock, I could see that the baby had only been crying for 10 seconds and that it was my response that was "too much" not the baby. I would often tell myself, just chill for 1 minute and see where baby is at. Often, baby would quiet herself or I would have provided the needed whatever in that time or it might go a little longer and I'd be doing the shush-and-walk routine for a full 3 minutes! If I ever felt my anxiety getting a little high during a cry-fest, invariably a quick glance at the clock and checking in on the reality of the situation – that we wouldn't all die in a fireball if the baby cried for a full 30 seconds – was enough to keep it together.

You've voiced this to your husband and he has responded that he'll be okay. Now voice to him that it is not cool to wake up a pregnant woman to bang doors at the birds. Earplugs and/or noise cancelling headphones by his bedside may help... your bedside, too!
posted by amanda at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


My husband was also super sensitive to noises before we had our kid (now 4 years old). He HATED being near children and babies while travelling or in a restaurant... it really really got to him. He wasn't judgmental about others' parenting or anything, he just had a physical reaction where it was very difficult for him to block out the noise. (Also, he has OCD which probably played a role.)

Anyhow, after we had our daughter she cried like any normal baby. And as she has grown up she is just as loud as any other kid. It hasn't bothered him at all (well, no more than any person would be bothered). In fact, he is now much more tolerant of ANY kid/baby noise even if it's not from our kid.

So.... in our experience anyway, it really IS different when it's your own child.
posted by barnoley at 12:03 PM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


My husband is a very calm, patient guy but one thing that really sets him off is noise that he can't control
I'm not really sure what you're afraid of. Part of that is that we don't really have a good sense of what "sets him off" looks like. You give the example of trying to drive birds off, but I feel like that's not really analogous to dealing with a tiny human who cannot be sent off, avoided or reasoned with. What's the worst case here? Do you think he would up and walk out of the house if the baby was too loud for too long? Do you think he'd leave for good? Do you think he'd be violent somehow? Those are just three possibilities, that I think demand different strategies for dealing with.

Others have already covered that fact that it will be BS if he gets frustrated with you for the baby crying. But I can't really see the problem with him getting frustrated with the baby. Because you will both be frustrated with the baby, quite a lot, because they are demons that you love.

Anyways, it seems like he's doing some of the right things -- anticipating a problem, doing research, discussing, (with you) ways that might help mitigate the problem, etc. One thing that might help overall is if he looked into some mindfulness or meditation techniques that could help him remain present in the moment when noise is stressing him out. Because it's ok for him to feel anger or frustration at unwanted noises -- the trick is that he needs to react to those feelings in a way that is good for you and your family.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2016


Kids are loud. There is a phase around 1-year old that we lovingly refer to as the pterodactyl phase (before they can talk but when they are trying to talk and sometimes they just shriek to try to figure it out.)

I'd prepare for the immediate future (small babyhood). I'd try and talk to the extent that you can before you know the baby about the nitty-gritty of early child care.

E.g., I tend to take late night wake-ups and my husband early morning ones (e.g., me - 11pm, 1am, him, 4:30am). If ones of us is running low on energy, the other person takes the entire night of wakeups.

At one point, we agreed to setup a pack-and-play on another level so if the baby got fussy for long time at night one of us could take the baby to the living room and the other could get some rest.

If you have the energy (pregnancy is hard), I'd try to point out instances when they happen of times when his reactions to noise are over the top and isn't OK (if you haven't talked to him about this plainly.) Not so much because of the noise, but because you will really need the communication practice. There's so much to talk about with kids and how you raise them and it's good practice.
posted by typecloud at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2016


And for what it is worth, my husband isn't like me and can absolutely tune things out. He doesn't understand why I can't just ignore something or not pay attention to it or tune it out, and he doesn't understand why it makes me so upset. However, his not understanding hasn't stopped him from doing what he can to run interference on it. For instance, when I am having a particularly bad/difficult day and things in the house are chaotic and loud and crazy he will either go on a boy outing with the kid (so that I get some quiet alone me time) or he will encourage me to go run errands or go to the gym or basically do whatever I need to do to feel better. On the flip side, I have taken the kid and had outings with just the two of us to give my husband a reprieve many of times as well.

so basically, while you will likely have to run some interference on this, it doesn't give him a free pass to check out every time the kid is crying or loud or upset etc. The door slamming thing with the birds was not only a bit nutsy, it was pretty disrespectful to you, and that sort of "I'm miserable and I don't care if I make EVERYONE ELSE miserable too" stuff isn't okay when it comes to parenting or relationships or frankly life. When some sound wakes me up and KEEPS me up, I don't crash around and make life hell for my husband. I quietly get out of bed and relocate myself.

ALso, white noise generators are the bomb. We sleep with one on every night. If my husband is snoring (or just breathing loudly) it can prevent me from falling asleep, so the white noise generator is an absolute godsend. It also muffles the noise my kid inevitably makes when he gets up at 6am and shuffles about to the living room to play minecraft. Without the white noise generator I'm a wreck. Get a white noise generator. One for the baby's room, and one for your own.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I have misophonia but I am also an adult, and I would strongly suggest that you hold your husband to the highest standard of adulthood which means a) brother better find himself an occupational therapist to learn some coping skills b) and should understand in no uncertain terms that you will not stand for even the most indirect of threats toward you or the baby and he should pursue therapy and anxiety remediation pronto c) nor will the baby's development be stunted or curbed in any way to accommodate his grown-ass discomfort with baby sounds.

This is a person who doesn't understand how birds work, or other human beings, especially pregnant people. You're going to end up with either police or CPS involvement when your child hits the pterodactyl stage if an intervention is not performed early and with vigor.

(After the bird thing, I'd seriously consider making him move out until he gets a hold of himself. That's not rational.)
posted by Lyn Never at 12:07 PM on July 15, 2016 [28 favorites]


up at 4:30 banging windows and opening doors to try to quiet birds outside

Is it possible that he's only calm and patient as a result of masking his feelings, and that this noise is cracking his façade? So, this banging windows and doors (instead of putting on earplugs or headphones) is an outlet for anger?

If so, uh, that's a problem. Really. One time being scary around or to a small child (let alone really losing it and screaming at the kid) can traumatize it; three or four times or more can have a really bad effect. Especially if he's got a forced calmness going on -- kids can pick up on this, even if they don't know what it really means.
posted by amtho at 12:10 PM on July 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


Oh and so much this:

When your child is crying and you are having a hard time with it, watch a clock.
posted by typecloud at 12:14 PM on July 15, 2016


You are right that that sometimes baby soothing won't quiet your baby, and he is right that he will be more tolerant of his own baby's cries than he has been of other people's in the past. You're both going to want the baby to stop crying and be up to and beyond the point of tears with frustration many times. But you'll also have a baby that (it is likely) will fill you with joy (who sometimes makes you insane).
posted by mzurer at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I found the bird episode upsetting, as did a few others here. That went beyond being sensitive to sounds. It was irrational and a bit scary;you can't quiet the birds outside by slamming doors and windows and that kind of rage is not going to be good for a crying baby or mom either. He may not intend to react this way to a baby crying and be sorry after he calms down, but by then it will be late. He needs to get some kind of help to deal with what is his problem, not yours and certainly not the baby's, hopefully before the baby arrives.
posted by mermayd at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's much more likely that your husband will somehow become mysteriously deaf to the baby's cries (while you do all the night parenting) than that the crying will bother him. Sadly, that's the way dads go (often).

That said, it does sound like he has some anxiety and stress issues that will definitely come out one way or another in early parenthood, so he needs to work on those. And also: he needs to not wake up his pregnant wife at 4:30AM yelling at birds, sheesh!

Also, I have borderline misophonia (including raging at birds at 4am, so I am sympathetic). But other than dealing with those few "pterodactyl phase" weeks (thanks typecloud), I never found baby or kid noise to trigger it.
posted by yarly at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


He will need earplugs, maybe a white noise machine (a nice thing sometimes for babies too to help them sleep), and a guest bedroom he can escape to on difficult nights if you guys are going to prioritize his sleep over yours, like if he's got a meeting and the baby's sick or going through teething or just being a baby.

I think it's good that he's showing interest in how to calm babies, and being close to the baby/responding quickly to a hungry or wet baby and swaddling can help a lot ime, but there are times when babies are going to keep crying and nothing's working and your husband has to prepare for that. We used an exercise ball a lot for those long nights keeping a fussy baby happy, but a good rocking chair would have worked too and given us more of a break physically. We also had a liberal "tap out" rule, like if I had tried to feed baby and baby was fed but still awake/upset and I was losing patience/had been woken up several times already I could wake up my son's father to take over, we played musical beds a lot too to maximize sleep.

Your husband's strong avoidance of noise could indicate a bigger issue and/or a need to work on accepting reality more often, especially when his behavior affects you. I'm sensitive/noise sensitive fwiw.
posted by lafemma at 12:37 PM on July 15, 2016


"the inevitable cries (and possibly occasional screams) of our child"

Hahahaha, hahaha, haha, ha! So, I have two kids (9,7), and between them (although I'm sure its happened), I cannot recall a single day without tears of some variety...

Falls; invisible scratches; sibling fighting; tired but don't want to sleep; witches; spills on shirts; she's looking at me; not-the-show-i-wanted-to-watch; i-don't-want-to-eat-that; showers; baths; bedtimes; mornings; and pretty much any and every damn thing.

I guess what I'm saying is that tears and loud noises are not something babies/toddlers/children tend to grow out of quickly; but rather something their parents must grow into accepting.
posted by axismundi at 12:37 PM on July 15, 2016 [20 favorites]


I'm with nadawi and other commenters: WTF is your husband doing waking up his pregnant wife at four in the morning with a door and window slamming tantrum? This guy needs to go see a doctor and probably also an anger management counselor, because semi-violent tantrums like this aren't acceptable behavior in a partner and definitely not for the parent of a newborn.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


I can't speak to the loud noise issue, but my husband would get VERY flustered when our son was a newborn and would scream. (Husband is used to it now, heh.) In the moment, he would have a hard time remembering what to do to make him stop. He wouldn't get angry, he just wouldn't be able to think of what to do besides tagging in mom. After a few times of him waking me up because the baby was crying and then answering no when I asked if he fed him, changed him, rocked him, I found a checklist online and posted it on the wall. He said it was helpful and once we got more expert at babycare, didn't need it anymore.
posted by Aquifer at 12:50 PM on July 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


You know what would be good practice for him learning to handle his noise frustration before the baby comes along? Learning to do it in every other situation, starting right now.

Even if it is 'different' with the baby, he needs to get a grip on everything else anyway, or that baby's going to grow up with a childhood of not going to noisy kid-friendly places, constantly having to up and leave somewhere because there's talking nearby, and being woken at 4.30 by slamming doors and windows because Daddy can't handle birdsong. That's not fair.
posted by Catseye at 12:57 PM on July 15, 2016 [29 favorites]


The thing about caring for an infant, especially a newborn, is that you're constantly running at full speed on an empty tank. It doesn't stop, and you don't get time to fully recharge. So imagine what you and your husband are like when you're at your most exhausted: how you talk to each other, what slips by the wayside, what pushes your buttons. That's what you'll be working with, or against, for the first few months.

The time for him to work on his response to stress is now, while he has time to think and practice and have constructive conversations with you, not when you're both in the weeds with a baby. There is absolutely zero harm in starting this moment. Same goes for you, if there's anything you want to improve about how you function under stress.

He may get used to the noise, but it's not like flipping a switch. It's more like developing a callus: through repeated friction in the same spot. Best to prepare for that irritation.

And add me to the list of people concerned that your husband was slamming things around in the middle of the night. My interpretation is that he was trying to make enough noise to drive the birds away, rather than slamming stuff out of rage, but even with that charitable interpretation I'm surprised he apparently wasn't thinking about the possibility of waking you up. Or perhaps he prioritized his need for comfort over yours? Still, that episode suggests a level of intolerance that is interfering with his life and yours, and will not go away on its own, baby or not.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yes, his reaction to his own baby's noise will be different. It will be ten times WORSE. Because then it's not just a noise, it's a noise connected to emotions, hormones, deep rooted instinct, and anxiety about whether the baby is uncomfortable or sick or wet or hungry or cold or hot or something else that you can maybe FIX. A parent is programmed, both mothers and fathers, to help their baby, to fix the problem, to stop that awful noise - which sounds so much worse when it is your own kid. Babies are programmed to make god-awful noises so they get help because they are helpless. And lots of their noises are for no discernible reason - they can't be fixed and made to be quiet when you think they should be. You do EVERYTHING, and then do it once more, and they are still CRYING. I can totally ignore baby/toddler noises now - because it somebody else's child and somebody else's problem. But when my own kids were babies/toddlers I could hear them fart from the other side of the house.
posted by molasses at 1:15 PM on July 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


So, on the one hand, magnesium has helped members of my family with their noise sensitivity. On the other hand, my ex was very sensitive to smell and really couldn't deal with poopy diapers. He would change peed in diapers, but poopy diapers were a really big deal for him and once I realized this was true, I just handled the poopy diapers if possible.

But, I would consider the possibility that your worries are (at least partly) a hormonal pregnancy thing. The last three days before my first child was born, I couldn't pick anything up in the apartment without cleaning it. So, some of what we do during pregnancy is kind of compulsive and it is rooted in the biochemical changes of pregnancy itself.

Promise yourself that if this really turns into a problem, you will do another Ask after the baby is born and the problem is actually happening to find answers for how to deal with it at that time, when you can give details as to what the actual (as opposed to currently hypothetical) sticking points are. Until then, try to watch movies or play games or do something to occupy yourself other than obsess about this.
posted by Michele in California at 1:18 PM on July 15, 2016


You asked what you could do to prepare. There are things you can do to prepare (other than therapy!).

- The checklist mentioned above: print it out, find a great place to keep it (maybe both in the kid's room and the kitchen), maybe memorize it, maybe make a song out of it to help with memorization :)

- Also learn some stuff about ignoring noises. If your husband would be willing to look this up, he can probably find 3-5 "dealing with stress" things that he thinks might work for him.

- Find one or two parenting resources (books, web sites, videos, whatever) that address this issue.

- Find some podcasts and/or music to play when the baby is keeping you guys awake. Set up a podcast station near the baby-holding place (couch, rocking chair) so that they can be played with one finger.

- Set up a respite place (maybe a nearby cafe, maybe a room in the house) and plan time for both of you to use it.

- Talk about expectations for handling different situations that might arise. Look to the parenting resources you found for inspiration on this.

- Plan to have a conversation about these kinds of things sometime when your husband is _really_ tired (but doesn't have anything to do the next day). People have trouble imagining how they'll react to things when they're in a different state; actually being in that state would make a difference. Plan a treat for the next day to make it bearable.

- Find multiple helper options. Parents, friends, neighbors whom you trust, professional services, etc.. This can help reduce stress.

- *** You, by yourself, can plan some strategies for contingencies like: husband is completely losing it; baby won't stop crying for hours; you need to leave the house and husband is too tired to deal with baby; etc.
posted by amtho at 1:39 PM on July 15, 2016


OP, can you tell us if the bird slamming incident was... indicative? Of the way he behaves when an uncontrolled noise happens?

Because IN GENERAL, prior sensitivity to noise is not something that really makes a difference in dealing with your own baby. (In my case, not only was I fine dealing with my own babies' shrieking (for the most part), I actually became able to handle other people's babies, like on planes, a lot better too.) (This patience in no way extended to adults, animals, music, etc; I'm getting worse about that stuff every year.)

HOWEVER. That scenario with the birds. If he feels like that is an ok way to act, then you've got a different problem. And he needs to learn coping skills in general, and it would be fair to sit him down and insist on it. There is no "sensitivity" that justifies waking up your pregnant wife in the wee hours so you can have a tantrum.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


As someone that has a sensitivity to noise in that I overload if there is too much stimulus. I was surprisingly Ok with my niece & nephews crying. Now bored & noisy at the age of 3 or 4, trapped in a house on a cold wet winters day, now that is torture.
posted by wwax at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just a thought: is your husband perhaps on the autistic spectrum? Noise can be a sensory trigger in very much the way you're describing - it is for me. This page has a good overview.
posted by parm at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


If the bird incident is indicative of his general behavior, I would suggest looking at this article from the Times: The Sound (of the Crying Baby) and the Rage (of the Exhausted Mother).
As a generally super calm person, who loves her two children dearly, this line, "I don’t think I knew what real anger was until our daughter arrived" has always struck me as very very true.
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 2:00 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a baby, and we did swaddling and co-sleeping, and generally, I feel bad whenever the baby cries so we do whatever it takes to cheer (and incidentally, quiet) the baby whenever possible. (For instance, we pull the car over and feed the baby in the backseat on the side of the road.)

There is still PLENTY of crying. The time it takes to get to the next exit or for mom to get out of the shower to feed the baby can be interminable. There is also screeching; high-pitched, loud, birdlike squeaking; groaning; and many other interesting noises. He's been moving through the vowels, from moaning "ooooooooo ahgooooo" (rhymes with "ew") to squawking "aa aa aa" ("aa" as in "at").
posted by slidell at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2016


Agreeing with Bondcliff on all counts. I, too, am noise-sensitive (and work most of the day with earplugs and sleep every night with them and even carry a compressible pair in my wallet for noise emergencies). I never do what your husband has done by trying to quiet birds but I have complained about dogs, slept with earplugs AND headphones AND my head under pillows when a car alarm was going off, and I do avoid certain public places because they're terrible with noise.

Then we had a kid! He was a screamer. For months. Loud, loud screams. All day, seemingly. Beyond all expectation and even beyond the experience of my mother-in-law who had five kids of her own. I love that little bugger but it was really, really hard to take. I chose to sleep in the other room sometimes. I did feel like it was somewhat resolvable, though it might take longer than I would like. I didn't take it out on the kid or my wife, but I did experiment and learned that I could blow a stream of air in his face and he would shush for a bit and that we could blow the hair dryer (on cool) on him when he was getting a diaper change and he would shush then, too.

But the key point is that the love for my wife and son -- and knowing that we were all three in this together and that his cries meant we were ALL THREE unhappy, not just me -- made it more acceptable and a whole different kind of noise from, say, the idiot neighbor who runs into the the house while the kids he has left in the car turn the car alarm on and off over and over and over. BEEP BOOP. BOOP BEEP. BEEP BOOP. BOOP BEEP...
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:13 PM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is he worried about what you need as much as you're worrying about this? Because this can be dealt with when you have a baby in a number of ways. One of those ways, however, is not "make baby be quiet by having middle of the night tantrum", nor is it "worry my pregnant wife to distraction over my misophonia." Everyone has the right to address their needs but you are at the beginning of a looooooong renegotiation of whose needs take primacy at any given moment. Believe you me, nobody gets to be #1 at all times except the new baby.

You will find that babies feed on a schedule, generally speaking. That means you can decide between you to do things like, you can pump a bottle or use formula and all feedings before 1 am will be your responsibility, and all feedings between 1 and 5am will be his. It means you can decide you'll take all overnight feedings while he sleeps in another room. It means you can nurse and sleep all day in the bed if you want to, and he will take the baby for a couple of hours here and there so you can shower and go outside and get fresh air. He can even be afforded the privilege of using earplugs for the parts of the day or night while you're in charge. But babies cry a lot just because. Their digestive system wakes up and BOOM. There's lots of seemingly mysterious crying. They cry when they're tired. They cry when they want attention. They cry because...thats what they do. It happens and it will pass.

But truthfully, i think your husband is having some control issues here. Babies cry. It's the only way they can tell you they need something. They have zilch control over their bodies for a little while. They need to be able to cry, you need to be able to not worry that your co-parent is going to flip out if the baby cries.

If I were in your shoes? I would tell my husband to get thee to an audiologist or ENT doc or somebody for a recommendation on a suitable noise dampening device that he could use if he's really feeling stressed. Then, I'd talk to a therapist about stress management during pregnancy and during the first year, because you are both going to need it if this is how you respond to stress right now, before you even have a newborn.

Then, I'd focus on getting the baby's room together, enjoying how good food tastes during pregnancy, getting plenty of rest, having as much sex as possible, and doing things like going out whenever you want and doing whatever you want while you want to for as long as you can. It's really not fair of him to put this issue in front of all that.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 2:13 PM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you can afford it, get new windows and soundproof your home as much as possible. I recently did and I am so much more tolerant of everything now that I do get some quiet space from time to time. I also have noise cancelling headphones that I put on when it all gets to be too much. If he doesn't have any yet, get some for him.

Super sonic hearing can be genetic. Plan ahead by getting a white noise machine (I use a hepa filter) for the baby's room.

You don't have to co-sleep to have your baby cry less. The co-sleep helps because it allows you to respond to baby faster. Babies who don't need to cry much don't cry much. But, so long as you are close and can respond pretty quickly, you don't need to give up your personal space to achieve this. And since he will be able to hear when the baby starts to move in the next room, he will be able to respond before baby cries. You should be fine using a nursery.

If baby has colic, baby will cry. Nothing will stop this. It can last for weeks. It isn't a big deal. If it bothers your husband, put headphones on him and send him for a walk. Remind your husband to not react when the baby becomes a toddler and starts squealing. The reaction is the payoff and the toddler will do it more. If your husband can ignore it, the toddler will stop.

I'm very quiet and my girls have picked up my habits. We can all be at home and it sounds like an empty house. It is weird for Americans, I know, but it is what works for us. Children adapt to their environment.
posted by myselfasme at 2:38 PM on July 15, 2016


My baby basically never cried. If it did cry, it was because he wanted something. Husbands are often SOL because nursing is the magic easy button to stop a young baby crying. Oh, if you don't nurse expect a lot more crying. They tell you an average baby cries for 4 hours a day and if you don't nurse this may be more realistic. Otherwise like almost none. Although my kid got held a lot. Where is your husband going to go when your baby is sick and cries every 45 minutes at night? This lasts at least until 2.5 years old. You can sooth the crying, but it will return in 45 minutes. Who is going to help you when baby is up every 45 minutes. Discuss these things with your husband. Note that child will be sick and do this at least 100 times in the next three years due to illness and teething and wonder week. If my husband weren't willing to do a good chunk (like a third) of these wake ups, he'd be fired as my life partner. Oh wait, I did fire mine.
posted by Kalmya at 2:43 PM on July 15, 2016


You say that uncontrolled noise "really sets him off". Does that mean he is unable to sleep or ignore the disturbance, is he simply annoyed, frustrated, and motivated to alter the environment to mitigate the noise? Or does it mean that he is enraged? Does he have dark thoughts? Does he imagine poisoning the barking dog, shooting the birds? Does he shout at the noisy neighbors? Does he display violent behavior or have violent thoughts?

There is a big difference.

If uncontrolled noise is a rage trigger for your partner, you are right to be concerned. It may not simply be a matter of him learning to exercise adult control over his reactions, and it being "his baby" may not make the difference he expects it to make.

In my experience, it worked out, but not without difficulty and sacrifice. Memail me if you want the details.
posted by rekrap at 2:53 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Your husband does seem to have a real problem (for whatever reason) handling noise.

I have a problem too: I'm have a specific phobia. Before my 2yo was born, I knew that at some point in the course of parenting I would have to deal with my triggering situation. I was well aware that my irrational fears would be a problem in that circumstance, and might even prevent me from parenting adequately, so I made a plan. The plan involved medication, informing others of the exact help I might need, keeping certain supplies around so they would always be available to me, etc.

You can't know ahead of time whether your baby's cries will upset your husband, but the responsible thing to do is to assume that they will, and for him to build a plan to handle his issue. I suggest having noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, a white noise machine, and a clear communication plan set up so that he doesn't abdicate all responsibility ("the baby's crying, so I'm gonna leave") but he does have an out ("I'm not handling this well and I need to calm down - could you take over please?").

For what it's worth, my son didn't cry all that much, but his crying set me on edge like nothing else in the universe. When he cried, I was laser focused on helping him and I couldn't think of anything else. Also, I could hear him through 3 closed doors and earplugs, and even now, I can literally hear him breathing from two rooms away at night. SO, at least in my case, the crying of a child wasn't something I could ignore.
posted by Cygnet at 3:22 PM on July 15, 2016


Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to respond so far. I want to clarify a couple of points in defense of my husband who is not a scary rageaholic or a danger to me or anyone else. My description of his reaction to a bird at 4:30 am probably reads a bit hyperbolic to most - his opening of windows and doors was not accompanied by anything remotely bordering on dangerous behavior, though he did agree the next day that it was disrespectful. There were also a couple comments earlier in the thread about my husband expecting me to be the only one to soothe the baby - that's not the case at all.

I am finding your suggestions on how to bring up the stress that his stress causes me to be helpful, as well as reminders to relax on this point until the baby is born. Just wanted to try to not get distracted with more comments speculating on my husband's anger level - that's not the issue here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:34 PM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


When my sister was pregnant, my brother predicted that her baby would spend some time around his dog, who can get upset by certain noises. He looked into the concept of purple crying and spent some time playing audio files of babies crying around the dog to try to get her used to it.

The nice thing about the purple crying idea is that it emphasizes that it's a phase babies grow out of. It still sucks when you're in the thick of it. I have a ten week old and something that I've thought of doing is making a short list of things I can do when she starts crying - obviously, I start by making sure she ate recently and doesn't need a new diaper but after that, I can try rocking her or bouncing her or just going to a different room. I do a lot of shushing. Sometimes my husband just picks her up and literally runs around the room with her - it throws her off enough that she stops crying momentarily, if not longer. Having a list is helpful because in the moment, it reminds me that there are things I can do. And it's important to know that, worst case, you can put the baby down someplace safe, like her crib, and just walk away for a few minutes.

Another thing to know about babies is they make non-crying noises that can make someone who is noise sensitive stress out too. Our baby is healthy but still, she'll whine and whimper and chirp and fuss. She groans and shrieks and strains when she's working on a bowel movement - that's almost harder for me to deal with than crying because she seems so uncomfortable but I don't think there's much I can do because girlfriend just needs to poop.

Don't be deceived if your baby is pretty quiet at first. Our baby was really quiet for the first few weeks of her life. She's still a good baby but the first time she really cried for an extended period of time, my husband and I were both like, is she dying? Did we break her? I don't think we have broken her yet but she is definitely noisier at ten weeks than she was at two weeks.
posted by kat518 at 3:49 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think every baby cries and sleeps differently, and every parent deals with (lack of) sleep and crying a bit differently as well. And having a baby can quite dramatically change ones own sleeping style.

The one thing I wish I'd figured out earlier with my baby would have been to kick my husband out of our room to let the baby sleep with me. As it was, we did (do) co-sleep, and my baby was having none of this separate surface thing - I think we would have all been happier with me and the baby in our bed and husband in another one for at least part of the night, particularly during those first weeks/months. (We only did this later when a cold went through the household.)
posted by vunder at 4:09 PM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have totally had reactions like your husband to noise especially in the middle of the night or early morning. I am so not proud of it but the overwhelming bombardment of uncontrollable noise is a big trigger for me, and more so when it disturbs my sleep. My first kid wasn't much of a crier but my second had colic and screamed for hours a day for months on end. It was horrible. I didn't always handle it well. I had to leave him screaming in the crib while I went into another room to calm down many times (like, daily) and that was the better moments. It didn't matter that it was my kid; the noise was grating and infuriating and made my head literally ring at times. I coped as best as I could, and as my kids have gotten older I am better able to handle the typical noises, especially as my oldest is a chatterbox who sings at the top of her lungs anytime she is not asking why. I've learned to ask my kids to stop talking when I am having a hard time with all the noise, instead of screaming at them. I take steps to protect my auditory inputs - I turn off or turn down music, fix rattling appliances, and use white noise religiously. I sought help for a sleep disorders as being tired makes it much harder for me to adult with regards to noise.

I hope it's true for your husband that his own kid's noise won't bother him but I wouldn't count on it. I wish I had taken steps like sleep training myself or learning some coping strategies before I had kids. Being awoken by birds would be preferable to many of the nights I had in the last 18 months - and I wouldn't feel guilty about having a tantrum at a bunch of birds the way I feel guilty about having a tantrum at an infant.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:18 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm just like your husband with noise. Drives me fucking crazy. My kids' noise does not. I can shrug it off or tolerate it pretty easily. So it's possible for people to hate noise but not be nearly as bothered by noise from kiddos.
posted by jpe at 7:28 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


OP, I'm glad your husband regretted his early morning bird rage. That bodes well to me. So much about parenting in the early years is about coping, adjusting to new "normals" and just being flexible. You will lose and find your footing again and again. Find all the good tips in here and try them out now. Read up on baby soothing strategies but also parent self-care. Try to establish a good network of friends you can turn to for venting and suggestions. Most of all, best of luck! Talking through this stuff together is a good sign that you two will be okay when the baby comes. You're going to need to be an Amazing Race style team to do it but you don't have to have it all figured out now.
posted by amanda at 11:31 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think it's good that you're thinking about this ahead of time.

My dad had a problem with unexpected noises, too, growing up and I seem to have also inherited it. (I have really sensitive hearing in general. I hear EVERYTHING and the unexpected noises are often hard to filter out.) I don't think my dad's behavior could ever be considered "rageful" but, yes, he would get angry and, quite honestly, acted like a giant man-baby whenever something was too loud or repetitive. I think it actually got worse or he got less patient the older he got. Outside of the noise issue, he was generally a pretty peaceful person, also.

Things I remember from dealing with dad's sound-problem:

-Almost daily, hearing him yell "turn it down!!!" from across the house when he thought the television was too loud. Then, after lowering the volume, everyone having to strain their heads toward the TV to hear anything (and sometimes still without success). Sometimes this would prompt yelling matches between mom and dad or sister and dad.

-Not being able to hang up clothes if my dad was trying to sleep. (The closet shared a wall with his room.) Apparently the hanger noises were just too much to deal with. This sounds like an esoteric one, but my dad worked the night shift so he was sleeping while all the rest of us were living.

-Calling the police on the neighbors when they played loud music on the weekend. Half the time I couldn't even hear whatever it was they were playing until I actually went outside the house.

-Asking my sister to be quiet, often. She would do the dumb things kids do like making clicking noises or just making random noisy noises and it was annoying to him. It was annoying to me too, so I was actually glad for that. But my sister and dad don't get along that well and, reflecting on this now, part of the reason might be that most of their communication was, and still is, only of the "you're too noisy/can you stop doing that" variety.

Obviously, I can't remember how baby-noises might have fared, but as a kid and teenager, it made the rest of our lives less live-able.

I haven't lived with my parents for a handful of years now, but my younger sister still does and says he is constantly yelling about how noisy things are, even now that he works afternoons and not nights. I guess a new one is my sister talking on the phone and my dad can hear her down the hall.

He did take steps toward sound-proofing his room, which included putting plywood boards over the windows with some insulation and a garbage bag over that because of light sensitivity, and running a fan even during the summer when the AC was on and the whole house was probably 60 degrees. Thankfully, his room didn't face the street because it gave a really unsightly crack-house effect. And this still didn't completely solve the situation, and basically converted that room into a functional crypt, but he did stop getting angry about birds and other outside noises.

I think you should ask your husband to really think about what effect 18+ years of unexpected noises might have on him and if he realizes this small human will, likely, bring with them a world of noises. I think you should really suggest some kind of gradual exposure therapy to babies crying and birds and other annoying sounds. It seems like a small thing, but if his personality is as stubborn or immature as my dad's, it can turn into an issue that ends up effecting the quality of life of the rest of the family and his relationships with them.
posted by sevenofspades at 11:46 AM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


He should consider getting a Xanax prescription. Loud thundering walking over my head stresses me out tremendously and taking a Xanax when it happens helps a lot.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:03 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes yes yes to co-sleeping with hubby sleeping in the other room. My baby would make just the slightest sound and I could roll over and quickly begin nursing, before he ever woke enough to even start crying. Bear in mind that I am a light sleeper (and, as it turns out, the person in the family who is sensitive to sound). Hubby was two rooms away and had no idea that baby ever woke at night. Now I sleep with headphones, and the monitor on the lowest setting. I still hear the monitor over the headphones, but if I had noise cancelling ones I doubt I would hear the baby at all. One way or the other, dad is going to have to make some concessions, because as the comment was made above, baby gonna baby.
posted by vignettist at 8:20 PM on July 16, 2016


I agree with those above who mention how your husband's noise issues could affect your family's quality of life far after the baby phase. I have misophonia issues myself and I understand how strong the compulsion can be to flee unwanted noise. However, if your husband is constantly relocating your family at restaurants, changing hotel rooms, and generally operating with very low tolerance when it comes to noise, that's gonna be a stressor for your kid for years.

The onus is on your husband to get to a point where he can tolerate noise without destabilizing routine family activities. Again, I personally understand how hard this is, but for the sake of a non-eggshell-walking family life I think it would be well worth the effort to at least seek mild improvement in that area.
posted by delight at 11:33 PM on July 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I also have a sensitive-to-noise husband, who bizarrely prefers to work at night and sleep during the day. Because he can only work when it's really quiet. But oftentimes I'm at home with our kids during the day, and there are screams of joy, tantrums, doors slamming etc.

What's worked for us is for him to STFU about his sensitivities for the most part. Sorry, I know that sounds awful, but once you have actual kids your tolerance for complaints about adult sensitivities will go way down. And he knows that. I'm certainly tired and exhausted with the kids a lot too, and while we are certainly a team, we recognize our own limits when it comes to solving the other person's problems.

ALSO--and this is the most important thing--you need to start not giving a shit. I know you love him. Believe me, I adore my husband. He's a wonderful partner and father. Yet, when he wakes up, stumbling out of bed, asking "What was going on this morning with all the tantrums?" I have learned to not let my blood pressure rise, not look at as an accusation, but say "Yeah, I know, the kids make a lot of noise sometimes." And then let it go. Even when he says, "Yeah, I was up since 7am, so I only got a few hours of sleep." My answer: "Hmmmm."

Good luck. So much of parenting is figuring out how to co-parent. You guys are going to do great, most people do.
posted by tk at 4:49 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a new baby and an almost 5 year old. They only get louder and more intrusive not less.
My kids cries actually bother me a lot more than anonymous ones.
Your anecdote about the birds is very upsetting and worrisome. You are right to be worried.

Set expectations and ground rules about childcare. Who does what? and when? and what things can you say or not say to each other in moments of babystres? I've seen a lot of couples say things to each other in those moments late in the night that eventually destroyed their marriage. Can't un-hear things ya know.
posted by French Fry at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2016


I have a 10yo who has hyperacusis AND misophonia. She's also on the autistic spectrum and has ADHD.

I'm not going to speculate about your husband/baby. He might be able to cope fine, it might drive him mad. The baby might barely cry or might scream for 22 hours a day (my 10yo did that for four months). There is literally no point fretting about it because you can't know until it comes and fretting won't fix it anyway. There MAY be a forest ahead, you WILL find you way through it, all of you. Facing the unknowable is a part of becoming a parent, it's deeply uncomfortable but you get good at it quite quickly.

Anyway my 10yo has several things which help. She has a sound ball (white noise machine) she sleeps with at night. It has various sound settings, "brook" is her favourite, i like hearing "rain" through the wall when she uses it. It helps because the brain is listening to that so it doesn't go "OH HEY A NOISE!!" when something else audible happens, it was already "aroused" and it is the initial arousal of that particular bit of neurology which causes the adrenaline, the shock, the anger, at a given sound (actually everyone has this - you probably jump is a balloon is popped behind you, it's just that with misophonia the brain doesn't become used to "normal life sounds" and continues to hit the "it's a tiger!" button at every wee noise).

During the day she wears oticon hearing aids with tinnitus attenuation. The microphones are off (her hearing is super-perfect, she can hear down below the normal threshold for human hearing in both ears) but the tinnitus attenuation provides ongoing background white noise (it's an ocean/beach it's set to, but you can change it for cracking fire etc.), again, this stops the brain having an "OH A NOISE!" reaction, which is what causes much of the distress/rage. I don't know where you are or what your options are for this sort of treatment, but it works much better than earplugs/ear defenders/noise cancellers (which we used for the 9 years up until she got proper treatment) and it actually helps to retrain the brain too, so after a few years her misophonia should be hugely reduced. Hopefully you can look back on this thread IF (and it's a BIG IF) you need a strategy for your family/husband to cope with crying/kid noise down the line.

In the meantime i would suggest you accept that, along with 100000 other things you will face as a parent, this is something you cannot predict and is not therefore worth worrying too much over.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 9:26 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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