Let me tell you about the extremes I used to go to to quiet my colicky baby. But first notice that I used to and to right beside each other in the last sentence. Amazing, huh?
My son started crying at one month and didn’t stop until seven months. Maybe I should clarify that. At one month his default mode was crying unless I came up with ways to get him to stop.
If I stood up and did this little “mommy” step (instinctive to all mothers except the one in church yesterday), he’d stop crying. If, however, I sat down and continued the same exact motion with my upper body, he’d cry. How could he tell the difference? I would stand and gently bounce him until my legs ached, then I’d sit and he’d immediately commence crying like someone had flicked a switch. Stand up – stop. Sit down – cry.
I used to sit in the back seat with him while my husband drove us to wherever we were going. He DID NOT want to be in that car seat, but of course it was the law. When your inside a giant metal box such as an SUV, crying is irritation times two. It’s like having an amplifier – like someone recorded a baby having a screaming fit and cranked the volume all the way up to 32.
It was weird being chauffeured, but I made the best of it. I’d snap my fingers and say, “Drive on, James.” My husband’s name isn’t James, and he never thought it was funny. He’d give me dirty looks in the rear view mirror. When I wasn’t playing rich society lady, I’d attend to my duties as the “keeper of the crying at bay.” I would hold a Binkie in my son’s mouth – not by force or anything. He’d just work it out every five seconds, which was a reason for him to start squalling. I’d fish it out of the valley between him and the car seat and put it back in his mouth, which made him happy until he’d do whatever he did that caused it to fall out. If I simply held it in place – no pressure – I’d let my hand hover over the Binkie, it wouldn’t fall out and we’d have peace and quiet for a few minutes.
If we were going on a road trip, eventually he’d fall asleep in the car. Sometimes the baby would also fall asleep. Ha Ha – a little joke to show how exhausted my husband and I were. When the crying stopped and that sweet peace descended on the vehicle, nobody moved. If we had to go to the bathroom, we held it. There was NO WAY we were going to cut the quiet short by stopping the car. If we were lucky, we’d get up to two hours without noise.
At home I had all kinds of tricks to have cryless interludes. One was to run water. I put my son in the little baby carrier on the kitchen counter and turned on the tap water. He could be twisted and contorted in the awfulest misery – eyes squeezed shut, fists in tight balls, legs kicking – and when the water started, he’d stop cold. He’d get this look of calm wonderment, like “ooo, what IS that marvelous sound? I LOVE IT!” Meantime I’m freaking about the water running, but I figured it was a small price to pay. After about five minutes, the calm would disappear and the crying would start again.
He had this wind up swing someone gave me for a baby shower gift. I’d turn the crank several times – it sounded like rusty gears grinding against each other, then the swing would start. He’d go forward – click – and then back – click – and forward – click – and back – click. It was like a giant windup grandfather clock. With the motion and the steady clicks, he’d soon be asleep. I’d put the swing in front of the bathroom with the door open and dash in there to take the fastest shower on earth. I’d dry off, wiggle into whatever fat clothes I had that were clean, and dash back, just in time for the swing to wind down. If I was lucky, I could wind it back up for another fifteen minute reprieve, but usually all the racket from winding woke him up and he didn’t like it, not one bit. Oh he’d cry!
Another thing I did was put him in his carrier and rest him on top of the dryer. That was good for loading the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen counters – if I moved at warp speed.
If we were out in public and I forgot his Binkie, I learned an emergency move from his pediatrician, Dr. Ferre. I’d put the tip of my little finger in his mouth and he’d latch onto it like an octopus. Really, I don’t know how something so small could Hooverize a fingertip like that. Sometimes I worried he’d suck a hickey on my finger.
I’m remembering how TIRED I was from all that baby pacifying I used to do. If that baby fell asleep I’d curl up right next to him and try to make up for the ZZZZ’s I lost walking him in the night so my husband could get some sleep.
Luckily, around six or seven months the crying tapered off, just like the pediatrician said it would, thank goodness!