29/03/2011 07:26 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Big Mouth For Mummy: Cry Me A River

"AAAAAAHHHHWAHHHHHHAAAAA...OOOOLLLLAAAAAAA...LAAAA... cough cough, splutter...WAAAAAAALLLAAAAAR!" Oscar's little face is purple, veins throb in his forehead and his mouth is a wide gummy hole. His whole body jerks, his hands claw the air and he coughs and splutters. His entire head has become an alarming shade of puce.

Sometimes, no sound comes out at all, but there is no doubt that he is merely gathering strength for the next onslaught, or perhaps he is so overwrought he cannot even summon the voice, so his body does all the talking.

As far as he is concerned, the worst thing in the world is happening and he is entreating, nay, screaming to the gods of mercy above, to anyone, that it's all just bad, bad, bad. And wrong. And oh, yes, he might be hungry as well. Or he just needs a poo. Or perhaps he just feels a little bit hot.

It's my job, as his mother, to work out what the problem is, and I need to work it out, fast. Generally, at this point, swiftly plugging him onto one of my boobs shuts him up and calms him down almost instantly.

And I'm starting to learn that different cries tend to mean different things. The "Oooh Laars", as P and I have taken to calling them, accompanied by some piglet-like snorting, mean, "I need food". A more rhythmic grizzling that builds to a crescendo fairly quickly if his needs are not met, seems to denote tiredness. I think.

But I'm really not sure, ever, if I'm doing it right. His incessant crying cuts me right to the core, eliciting reactive panic, demanding my response. If I have trouble getting him to stop I feel terrible.

I am a BAD MOTHER, I think to myself grimly, after trying several soothing techniques (cuddles, shush shushing, rocking, cooing) that fail to have any effect whatsoever. The boob plug has become a default response, and I feel hideously guilty about not realizing until after he has fed for 40 minutes that his nappy is soaked.

I have become a hermit – not difficult, really, if you have to sit in your breastfeeding chair for hours and hours on end, stripped to the waist and sore. It seems my only break is to visit the lavatory, or, if I'm lucky, to eat some food, which had long before gone cold on my plate, lovely spaghetti bolognese cooked by my mum cooled into a congealed lump. But I'm so hungry I don't care, and I eat it anyway.

The process of going out has become a military operation, packing the huge baby bag full of useful and then rarely used items (save the nappy bag – that gets plenty of action), dressing him and changing his nappy, only for him to have an accident, soiling his entire outfit, necessitating starting all over again, by which time he is hungry again, or he needs his nap. Sometimes I just give up and hope for better luck tomorrow.

I know he's only three weeks old, and people keep telling me it will get better, but will it? Why does he cry all the time? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not better at this??