"I can remember exactly when it started: the day after our friends' lovely wedding.
We had had a great weekend. Our new baby had a tiny pretty outfit and had behaved perfectly for the ceremony and the drinks and the lunch. Everyone had admired her and said how good she was. Then it began. About half past three on the Sunday she began to scream. I had never heard noise like it. She was six weeks old and up till this point had been pretty straightforward. She wasn't a good sleeper, but she was alert and cheerful, grisly sometimes, but nothing we couldn't handle. On and on she bawled, but we couldn't work out what was happening - was she in pain? No sighs of teething, was it her tummy, what? It's awful not being able to comfort your baby, but I held her tight and tried and tried to calm her. After two hours I decided something was seriously wrong; she just wouldn't stop.
So we rang NHS direct. They called back promptly and over the screaming I tried to explain what was going on. The tired-sounding doctor established she hadn't got any symptoms of illness or trauma, but I kept shouting at him hysterically: "there is something wrong with my baby!" He wearily suggested that it might be colic. "I don't think so", I replied, scornful of his trite explanation, it was clearly much more serious than that. "So take her to A&E to have her checked out". Erm, was it that bad?
I couldn't tell anymore, I was crying almost as much as the baby. We ran upstairs to speak to our landlady - a grown-up would surely know. Down she came to the flat and gently took the baby from me, speaking to her softly and kindly, "What's wrong, little girl, what's wrong?". She put her over her shoulder and patted her and the little one shuddered and gasped, hicupped a bit and went quiet. She snuggled into her neck and relaxed. "I think it is colic," our landlady said.
It was colic, as far as we could tell, either that or some existential crisis at the state of the world, and the crying didn't stop until four months. It seemed like nothing helped, so we holed up for that winter, hardly seeing anyone, never going out, listening to our baby cry. By the spring things were getting better - but by then her teeth started to come through..." (Marjorie, London)
I'm putting together real-life stories about the first year of mothering. Click on the blue link above to read the whole archive.
If you'd like to send me a story yourself, I'd love to read it: either add your story as a comment or write to me directly at Sarah DOT Bilston AT Yahoo DOT com. Don't worry about grammar, this doesn't have to be a work of art! I'm just interested in hearing other people's experiences of, for example,
- Sleep Deprivation
- Mother's (or father's, or sister's) interference
- Managing a marriage and a new baby
- Mixed feelings about going back to work
- The best thing about having a brand new baby.
Sleepless Nights - The Story Behind
The story behind the story:
Sleepless Nights is partly about my own experience adapting to being a mother. I have three children now, so I like to think I know what I'm doing... But when my first child came along I was completely, utterly clueless. I already had a job, I had a house, I was turned thirty; I was supposed to be a proper grown-up. But when my daughter came along I was thrown. I remember in the hospital praying that the nurse would keep on changing my daughter because I couldn't figure out which way round the diapers went. And it went on from there... So the novel is partly about the millions of small surprises, and partly about the 'bigger' issues most of us face - like, how on earth can I still have a life of my own and be a good mommy?