Many babies cry before sleeping, and a litany of parenting advice books, blogs, and experts will tell you a million different things you should or shouldn’t do when your baby starts crying.
But when Dayna Mager’s newborn Luella started bawling in her crib, she didn’t hesitate to climb right into the little bed with the baby and cuddle beside her.
And when she explained the reason why, thousands were shaken by the heart-wrenching story.
One of the first times Dayna and her husband Matt had left their baby after she was born was to go to a worship concert. During that concert, there was a missionary who shared a story from his trip to Uganda, and it “shook me to the core,” Dayna remembered.
During the trip, he had visited a Ugandan orphanage. He had visited many orphanages before, and each one had a nursery. But here, he heard something he’d never ever heard in a nursery before.
“He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babies. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence,” Dayna wrote. Silence is beyond rare in any nursery, much less one with 100 babies.
So the missionary turned to his host and asked how this was possible—why was the nursery silent?
His next words burned into Dayna’s heart.
It became a moment “that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone raging, new mommy heart that had already become 100xs more fragile after meeting her [Luella].”
The host turned to the missionary and said, “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”
Dayna added, “They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in 10 minutes, not in 4 hours, and maybe, perhaps, not ever.”
And then her heart broke. “I broke. I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger. A promise in my spirit,” Dayna wrote. That night when she came home, she held Luella’s tiny little 10-pound body close and promised she would always come to her.
“At 2:00 a.m. when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.”
“Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her,” she wrote.
So weeks later, when Luella cried herself red in the face, Dayna crawled right into her crib to “soothe my screaming, teething, blush faced and tear soaked little girl.”
Her husband came home to find her in the crib with Luella, and took a picture of the two of them sleeping. When Dayna later saw the picture, she reflected on sharing it, and weeks later posted it to social media.
“Every child is different,” she wrote. “It may work for some kids/parents to cry it out. Everyone is different. And ‘coming’ to them may look different for each parent, but for me, for now, this has worked for us and it’s shifted my frustrations in those times!”
“My heart just broke I not a million pieces,” one commenter wrote.
“I cannot cry at work…This just shattered my heart and put it back together all at once. Thanks for sharing,” wrote another.
Another Facebook user said the stories were true: “My mom said she never made a peep in the orphanage because no one really cared. It’s so heartbreaking to hear stories like that.”
But one commenter summed it up: “Well I’m a crying babbling mess….. I believe your story just made me a better mom and person. Thanks for the share.”