Lesbian and Gay Parenting book coverIn a Family Way

A column by Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Surviving Colic Part 2

Posted By on July 1, 2009

Surviving Colic: Part Two
By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

From two weeks of age, lasting well into his fifth month, my infant son screamed. He screamed for most of every day. He hardly ever slept; his naps lasted about twenty minutes. He insisted on being held all the time and relentlessly screamed any time you put him down for a minute. Going to the bathroom became a luxury I could ill afford. He woke up at the sound of a light switch two rooms away. His little body refused every formula on the market, except for stuff that cost $20 a can. He pushed his body away from our comforting hands. And he screamed and screamed and screamed.

I was so exhausted I found myself nearly falling asleep while driving, not to mention the difficulty of sitting with my clients. I would take catnaps while the microwave heated up my lunch. I gave up all nonessentials like haircuts, dusting and balancing the checkbook. I rocked and held and got accustomed to saying, "I am sorry I just cannot meet that deadline. Honest, I’m not usually like this." I called my partner at work, interrupting important business meetings screaming into the telephone, "I can’t do this. It was a mistake. You must come home now." To her credit, she often did.

My love life consisted of one thing: having someone to hand the baby to who I trusted would not hurt him; something I did not fully trust with anyone else given the loud, unending nature of his yelling. Although my relationship became less than satisfactory, for the first time in my adult life, I had no interest in discussing it. Having no communication, no private time together, seemed like a fine way to live–I appreciated for the first time my partner’s ability to avoid dealing with difficult issues.

Every attempt we made for a few adult hours together was thwarted by sickness either the baby’s, one of us or the babysitters. It became a joke that just offering to stay with our son might render one incapacitated for days with strange strains of the flu. The one time we got away for an overnight, we spent the first 3 hours comforting the babysitter on the phone while the baby screamed in her arms. Then we slept for 10 hours straight. As unbelievable as it may sound, the only thing we wanted to do when finally woke up was go to Toys R’ Us and buy presents for our children.

We have survived. He is now a happy, talkative, crawling baby nearing his first birthday. He has a funny sense of humor, eats regular food, cuddles, allows himself to be held, and joy of all joy, sleeps for at least 8 hours most nights. We are beginning to catch up on our sleep, have gotten our much grayer hair cut and folded the laundry. We have survived colic, and I will never again underestimate the power of a screaming infant to completely immobilize two radical dykes.