Friday, January 27, 2006

The Magical Five S's

Our friends Stef and Peg have, ultimately, saved our lives. Here's a public "thank you!" to you!

They gave us a book, a couple of summers ago, long before our beloved ZeYo was even in the womb, titled The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.

It should be titled "How to get a colicky baby to stop his/her incessant, unconsolable crying."

We, literally, would never have found the book.

I also owe a great deal of debt and gratitude to the lovely BioMom for being her empirically-minded self.

So, on our about week four, we started to experience a few long nights with ZeYo. He would cry, unconsolably.

Being the experimenting researchers that we are, we tried everying, ceteris paribus, hoping to find the magic bullet.

I was unwilling to admit that he actually had collic. I was living with my brother when his second son was born and that kid would scream for hours. ZeYo, in contrast, had only screamed for two hours at a time and I, anxious to avoid any particular label, would insist that this had occured only once.

What was troubling was that we literally could not find a cause or a pattern or a reliable solution.

Maybe out of sleep deprivation, maybe out of a slight depression for having to go back to work, maybe just out of laziness, I chose to plod on, ignoring any (more) practical advice. Including said book, through which I had skimmed, focusing on just the first chapter, which I found to be obvious: Of course we should swadle, put him on his side or stomach, "shush" him, swing him and then let him suckle.

Duh. Plus, it just wasn't working

BioMom, on the other hand, started diligently plodding through until she found descriptions which seemed to match our young man's jeckyl/hyde-like behavior as the sun would fall:

Considering how exciting the world is, it's a wonder that all babies don't get overstimulated! Fortunately, most are great at shutting out the world when they need to. However, if your baby has poor state control, even a low activity levle may push him into frantic crying. He may begin to sob because of a tiny upset, like a burp or a loud nocie, but then get so wound up - by his own yelling - that he's soon raging out of control. These babies cry because they get overstimulated and then stuck in "cry mode." If we could translate their shrieks into English we'd here something like " Please. . . help me. . . the world is too big!"

This sparked an interest, so she read on until finding this:

Many of our ideas about what babies need are based on a misunderstanding about their fragility. Of course, babies are quite fragile in many ways. they choke very easily and have weak immune systems. For this reason, being told to do anything vigorously may seem as counterintuitive to you as being told that adding a slimy, raw egg to a cake will make it delicious. . . yet, it's every bit as true!

That's because, in many other ways, your newborn is a tough little "cave" baby. He can snooze at the noisiest parties and scream at the top of his lungs much longer than you or I could. Parents are often amazed at how forcefully nurses handle babies when they bathe and burp them. . . .

Parents often mistakenly believe that their job is to lead their unhappy baby into calmness by responding to his wails with soft whispers and gentle rocking. While that's a very reasonable, civilized approach, it rarely calms an infant in the middle of a meltdown. . . . .

Experienced baby "wranglers" know the more frantically a baby is crying the tighter his swaddling, the louder the shushing, and the more jiggly the swinging must be, or else, it simply won't work.

That night, we howled at each other in our attempts at "vigorousness" with ZeYo's incessant screaming.

I will attempt to describe what I saw in the lovely BioMom:

ZeYo, wrapped up tightly like a little burrito.

BioMom hugging him tightly to her as if trying to burp him, and, while on a rocker, violently tipping it back and forth while pounding his back and saying very loudly:


As weird as it was, it seems to have worked. The first night he cried for 45 minutes while undergoing our vigorous intervention. Second night 30 minutes and tonight less than 15 minutes.



thistles said...

We found this book, too, to be a lifesaver. The Niblet wasn't colicky fortunately. If you think about it, the womb is a very noisy, active place. Recreating that environment seemed to help the Niblet calm down and adjust to the outside world. It only lasted a month or so, so hang in there.

mermaidgrrrl said...

Well, thank the Goddess I have that book! Of course we're not even pregnant yet, but why should that stop me researching? I'm sure I'll be very gratefull to Dr Karp in the future.