Thursday, May 01, 2008
Levi: Month Two
Well, let’s get to it. Colic. I’ve mentioned it before. Colic, more than the fact that your parents will already be older than most of your friends’ parents, is the reason you will not have any brothers or sisters. Approximately one in five babies is colicky, which means that they cry (or scream) for at least three hours (try five or six) a day at least three days a week (or seven) for weeks on end. It is very difficult to try to help a baby who is screaming for no apparent reason, especially when you love that baby deeply and don’t want to see him unhappy or hurt. And especially when you try everything you can think of (and everything everyone else can think of) to distract him from screaming several hours a day. During the colicky time, it’s hard to imagine that things will ever get better, even though that’s all people ever tell you. You tell them your child screams for seven hours a day, and they say, “It will get better,” not realizing you are so frazzled you can barely figure out how to get through the day, let alone tomorrow or several months from now. All you can see is a future of crying and desperate attempts to stop the crying. You will be the only person you know with a fifteen-year-old who has to be swaddled and rocked to sleep while listening to radio static.
The one thing that really helped us was reading The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp. The title is a little misleading, because nothing was going to take a baby who screams seven hours a day and turn him into a sleeping angel sitting in his carseat at Starbucks while his mother drinks coffee and chats with a friend. That aside, Dr. Karp is a freakin’ miracle worker. His program of using the “Five S’s”—swaddling, swinging, shushing, side-lying, and sucking—would turn you from a screaming meanie into either a bright-eyed, observant little baby or even better, a sleeping baby. As long as you continued to be swaddled, swung, and shushed while lying on your side and sucking a pacifier, you were one happy dude. And your parents were exhausted.
It was during this month that you decided you could no longer sleep in the crib. After all, the crib didn’t swing. So after a few sleepless days and nights, this became your new bed:
You would only sleep if you were swaddled, danced to sleep, placed in front of a stereo which was blasting radio static at levels so high your father and I could not carry on a conversation, propped up in your bouncy seat, and sucking on a pacifier, which unfortunately, would fall out of your mouth as soon as you fell into a deep sleep, necessitating a return to the whole ritual when you woke up angry. See why colic is a five letter word for birth control? I CANNOT EVER GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN.
The best part of our day was when you woke up in the mornings. Starting around your fifth week of life, you had a good ten or fifteen minutes every morning when we would have a little conversation, me sitting on the floor in front of you in your bouncy seat. I would say a few words like “Good morning Levi!” and you would say something like “Ooooohhh” and then we’d do it all over again before the realization hit you that yes, you would have to live through yet another day, and BAM! The colic was back and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.
One of my favorite memories of your second month of life occurred one evening around 9pm. The phone rang at exactly the same moment that the tornado sirens started going off outside. Your father answered the phone: it was your grandmother, telling us that we were in a tornado watch and to turn on the radio. I was already tuning into KOMA and the first thing I heard Gary England say was, “It’s right at the corner of Blank and Blank (creative fake street names used to protect you from internet predators)!” Except, this being Gary England, he made this statement with about four exclamation points. And that intersection he mentioned? It was one mile from our house! Your father called out, “Get Levi and put him in the carseat and bring him to the hall closet!” I whipped you up from your bouncy seat/bed and did as I was told while Rick emptied the hall closet. When we were safe and secure in the closet, your father took the mattress from your crib (it’s not like it was being used anyway) and readied it in case we needed to cover ourselves. Then we listened to the radio for further information, only to find out that the “it” that was one mile away…was an area of rotation…that may or may not turn into a funnel…that may or may not touch down as a tornado…and that in fact, had already moved another few miles away from us.
The show was over before it began, Levi, but not for you. Nope. You were ready for a party and it took another hour to convince you that you would not be seeing your first tornado and to please, please go back to sleep. It was this experience, your first Gary England-inspired false-alarm tornado-drill that led your father to really, truly feel like a parent. His first instinct was not to go outside and look for the twister (which is what most Oklahomans do when they hear the tornado sirens), nor was it even to protect his wife. You were the first thing, the most important thing, the only thing on his mind.
Love you, kiddo. Hope you enjoyed the show.
We went to sleep many nights with the rocker bouncy thing next to the bed with one arm hanging over getting numb, rocking the beast. That which does not kill the parents makes them stronger.
Of course, I also spent time pondering giving her up for adoption. But that was at 2 am.
Liz in NoWhere PA