This is what I did when my dd cried in the first months of her life (and there was a lot of crying, as I mentioned in my previous post, as well as a frequent refusal to nurse) ... First, check to see if I could identify the cause: Hungry? Tired? Hot? Cold? Wet? Gassy? In pain? Any underlying medical causes (reflux, thrush, etc.)? If the answer was no, then I felt really frustrated. What was wrong with her? Why was she crying? What was I doing wrong? Each additional moment of crying felt like an indictment of my parenting abilities (or lack thereof). DH and I went to herculean lengths to try to stop her -- hours of walking, bouncing, shushing, swaying, trying to get her to nurse, and finally I would cry, and then scream in frustration, "DO SOMETHING. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? MAKE HER STOP." Collapse on the floor in tears, dh trying to soothe screaming baby and sobbing wife simultaneously.
And then I read the article in Mothering about crying in arms. It was one of the most intense "AHA!" moments of my life. It made so much sense! After that, when dd cried, I still went down my list. When I could not identify an underlying cause, this is what I did: I took really deep breaths and tried to relax. I tried to let go of how uncomfortable her crying made ME. I tried to stop seeing it as an indictment of ME. I tried to stop making it about ME. And I stopped going to herculean lengths to silence her. Instead, I tried to open myself to her, I held her, swayed with her, made my breast available to her (she almost always refused it), and I whispered in her ear, over and over and over that I heard her, that I loved her, that she could let it all out, that I was listening to her, that she was safe and loved, that I would never reject or abandon her. Frequently, I cried too, because it pained me so much to see her like that. My instinct told me that she was traumatized from her birth experience, and it broke my heart to think of her, all alone, moments after birth, held down on a table with bright lights overhead while doctors repeatedly shoved tubes down her nose and throat, suctioning out the meconium-stained amniotic fluid. While I sat helplessly on the other side of the room, in a stupor, waiting to be stitched up, so exhausted from 3 days of labor that I hardly knew what was going on. So I would cry with her, and grieve what happened to us. I tried to hold her tight to me, but she would flail her arms and legs, hitting me. The intensity of the fury that was contained in that tiny body always took my breath away. Standing, swaying, rocking, holding her, allowing her to express her rage was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It felt so personal, like she was attacking me. It sometimes took all of my will not to get angry in return. I would remind myself -- deep breaths, relax, it's okay for her to be angry, or sad, or whatever. And after a while (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes -- although it seemed like an eternity), the crying would start to subside, and she would take deep, shuddering breaths, and she would finally, finally turn her head to my breast and nurse. And then she would sleep. Thankfully, once I started doing this, her crying subsided considerably, and we only had to do the crying in arms a handful of times.
And we also discovered craniosacral therapy (CST), which helped so much because the therapist can tell by the rhythms of the cranial fluid whether the crying is a psychosomatic release or not. So it gave me even more confidence that she WAS processing an emotional trauma, and it wasn't just me overlooking an unmet need. And now nursing is normal, and her digestion is normalizing, and the crying is practically non-existent (only when hungry or tired or hurt). And I feel really good that I am not stifling my child's emotions in order to meet my own needs (i.e., stopping her crying because it makes me uncomfortable), but instead teaching her that it's safe to express them and I will listen, and I won't judge, criticize or condemn (which is what happened to me when I was growing up).
And that is how it has worked for us. I don't withhold comfort from my child. I don't overlook needs she may have. And, I also allow her to express herself, which sometimes means I have to set aside my discomfort with her crying, and allow her to let it out -- offering comfort all the while, but not using it in a desperate attempt to silence her.