I am an evil, evil woman.
For the last two weeks, I have been up all night with a screaming baby. Sam, who slept 24/7 the first two weeks of her life, has now started rousing at 7 PM. I can get her back to sleep for a short time between 8 and 10, but then she’s up all night, screaming, arching her back, pulling her legs up and when she can, passing gas. The symptoms are classic.
I hate colic.
Cassie had colic from the day she was born, and it made my life a living hell. For anyone who has never had to deal with a colicky baby, let me assure you that there is nothing worse to have to deal with. A colicky baby can not be soothed and will not sleep. They will scream and howl and leave you, the parent, feeling about as useless as a flat tire on a bicycle owned by a fish. There’s no way to plug the hole from which all that ungodly howling issues, except perhaps to nurse, and let me tell you, colicky infants will nurse until they suck the life out of you and they’ll still keep screaming.
I had hoped to escape this fate with Sam. She started out so sedate (or maybe that was sedated – I did have Stadol during my delivery). She was so cuddly and adorable and she never made a peep. But after her two week checkup, all that went to hell in a hand basket. After two weeks of sleepless nights and lots of screaming, I’ve joined the ranks of the evil dead, those who walk by day fueled only by decaf coffee and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
The real problem with colic is that its effects aren’t just limited to the baby. The whole family suffers, and the mom usually suffers the most. I’m suffering the most, anyway. Cassie sleeps down the hall from us, so she doesn’t have to listen to her sister wail all night. Michael could sleep through an atom bomb going off, so he’s only up when I start kicking him. But I’ve always been a light sleeper, and if Sam even sighs in the middle of the night, I’m instantly awake.
Naturally, I don’t deal well with being awake all night. I get ugly. No, not just ugly. I get FUGLY, with a capital ‘F-U-G-L-Y.’ My transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mrs. Hyde starts out at 10 PM with some minor irritation as Sam begins to thrash and grunt. I know she’s in pain, and I know what’s coming isn’t her fault. Then by 11 PM the irritation turns to snarling and a little mild swearing as I get up for the third time in an hour to try and soothe her back to sleep. The swearing gets louder and uglier at midnight as Sam’s grunting turns to screaming. By then I’m also cursing at my husband, who is either asleep or pretending to be dead. He learned with Cassie that there’s nothing he can do to calm me down, so he really is better off playing dead until I specifically order him to get up. By 2 AM, I hate Michael just for being in the same room with me. Note, he’s done nothing wrong and he’ll do anything I ask to help me out, but at this point I’m locked into battle with Sam, determined to get her back to sleep on my own. I could ask for help. I could hand Sam off to Michael at any point, but nooooooo. My stubbornness has kicked in and I refuse to accept that I can’t get this kid to sleep by myself. I know she can sleep. She slept all day, damn it, and she did it without needing to be latched on to me. By the time 3 AM rolls around, though, I’m already beaten. Sam is in the bed with me, chawing away at my breast. All I can do is mutter obscenities at my husband and calculate how much money I’m going to take from him in our divorce. She’s asleep by 4 AM and I’m forced to curl up around her to make sure she doesn’t get lost in the covers or rolled over. Naturally, I wake up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I’ve tried everything to make the situation more bearable. After the fifth night of Sam ending up in the bed with us, I asked Michael to buy a little co-sleeper bed. It’s a little padded box that fits between the two of us at the head of the bed. The theory is the baby will sleep better knowing she’s got her mommy and daddy close by, but won’t be in any danger of getting lost in the bed and suffocating. The reality is that the co-sleeper takes up so much space in the bed there isn’t any room for mommy and daddy, and Sam hates the damned thing anyway. She keeps thrashing around in it and eventually works her way back into the bed with me.
So the co-sleeper was a waste of money. I then tried putting Sam to sleep in the bouncy chair with the vibrator mode on. That worked for about fifteen minutes before the crying started again. After that, I tried massaging Sam, rubbing her little belly in circles and stroking her back. All I got for my troubles was a lot of grunting and screaming and some really loud farts, followed by more grunting and screaming and even louder farts. No matter how much gas I got Sam to expel, she still had more trapped inside her. I could massage that kid all night, and last night I did, but she’s still going to keep screaming.
A couple of times I have handed her off to Michael. The last time, I put Sam in her bouncy chair, hit Michael with a pillow and said, “She’s your f*&^%$ing child too! I quit. You deal with this &*$%.” Then I marched into the guest room where I could still hear Sam screaming.
The other night, I ended up with Sam latched on and nursing all night. By 3 AM, my nipples looked like raw hamburger meat. As I rolled over to switch Sam from one cracked and bleeding nipple to the other, I took a moment to flick Michael in the back of the head. “Ow!” he shouted. “What the heck was that for?” “For not being able to breast feed, you jerk.”
See, I told you I was evil.
Sam is usually sound asleep by 7 AM. Unfortunately, that’s when Cassie wakes up. If I’m lucky, she’ll bounce into the room happy as a lark. If I’m not, she’ll run in screaming about monsters and bad dreams and then throw a fit because she can’t climb into bed with me while I’m nursing Sam. And that really doesn’t do anything to improve my mood. I then crawl out of bed, muttering and swearing, and drag myself downstairs. My mood is so foul, you can see it coming from a mile away. I swear at my husband, I swear at the cats. I swear at anything that moves or dares to cross my path. I do my best not to snap at Cassie, but she’s a three year old and usually in a lousy mood too. She throws one temper tantrum after another as I try my best not to kill her or Michael. Then Michael leaves for work and I can’t decide if that makes the situation better or worse. When he’s around, he can at least distract Cassie, but he also pisses me off just by breathing, so I really don’t know.
Yesterday was probably the worst. I got so little sleep I couldn’t drag myself out of bed until almost eight, two hours past when I had planned to get up. Cassie came running in screaming and then screamed even louder when I told her she was not climbing into bed on top of her sister. Michael took Cassie downstairs and then let her watch an hour of TV. When I finally got up, she was so wired I thought I was going to tear my hair out. I snapped at her and argued with her all morning. By ten, I felt pretty bad about it. My lousy mood really isn’t her fault and I don’t want to be remembered as the miserable bitch she called “Mommy Dearest.” So I decided to take her to the playground. That ended up being a fiasco. We didn’t get out the door until an hour after I had planned. Then we got soaked by a sudden deluge of rain. We stayed though, and the rain let up. Cassie got to play for an hour and then howled as I told her it was time to go. I dragged her screaming back to the car and promised we’d make cookies after lunch if she would just shut up. We had to stop at the grocery store on the way home to get some ingredients for said cookies. By then Sam was awake and screaming to nurse, but I promised we’d make cookies so in we went. Then by the time we got to the checkout counter, I discovered my wallet wasn’t in my purse. Thankfully, the cashier took pity on me and took a check even though I didn’t have any ID.
We got home, made the cookies, and everybody did their fair share of screaming until Cassie went down for her nap. Then and only then did I finally start to calm down. I took a little time to figure out how I was going to handle the next night and the night after that and realized that no plans I made were going to solve the problem. I know from hard experience Sam’s colic is not going to go away any time soon. I am stuck with being FUGLY for the next couple of months or so.
There are some who would argue that I could turn my frown upside down and make it a smile. They would say that my anger and frustration are nothing but a state of mind and I could choose to be sunny and pleasant. In return I would say bite me, bitch. I ain’t called Cynical Woman for nothing.