Friday, April 23, 2010


I absolutely cannot let Millie have the only word on crying babies - nope, nope, and more nope.

Our preemie was a world-class crier from the day we brought him home from his stay at the Kaiser Spa and NICU.  We were anxious, exhausted parents obsessively addicted to breast pumping (milk only, boys and girls), insomnia, free-floating guilt and the usual paranoia and low self-esteem that all first-time parents enjoy.  We sang lullabies, burped, fed, changed, and otherwise amused Peter with all sorts of things.  At one point, I ran out of lullabies and began singing the Top Ten Dr. Demento hits.  Nothing worked.

This was 1982, long before we could run to the PC and Google "colic."  I was staying at home and was limited to the books I had at hand (good books but zippo on preemies with colic), so John became our information hunter and gatherer.  Off he'd go to work in the morning, bleary eyed and cranky, and insist that the other engineers he worked with MUST know what to do for a colic possessed preemie.  John worked at a local utility and his colleagues all wore white shirts, pencil thin black ties and pocket protectors.  They seemed clueless.

Then one day, Gerald, a friend of ours now for almost 35 years, came to work with a swinging chair.  I don't know if they still sell 'em, but they are just little swings hooked up to a base with a gizmo that you wind up.  The swing then swings the baby, sitting up, sorta, with a loud "tick-tock" (kinda like Captain Hook's nemesis) until the baby calms down.  At 2 am, after a diaper change, feeding, burping, another diaper change by the HazMat crew, and a good wind on the swing, I could sit in a comfy chair and read while Peter was swung into a trance.  It ALWAYS worked.

Another Pocket Protector showed John how to do the Colic Hold - certainly a wrestling move.  It's simple and is done as follows:  the papa holds the baby, prone,  on his dominant arm, baby's head at the crook of daddy's elbow, face out,  the baby's diaper end near daddy's hand so that daddy's hand can manage the baby's balance.  Then the papa walks around the house for a while, sings, hums, or even curses softly.  For some reason, Peter was soothed almost immediately.

When I figure out the complexities of blogging and locate a baby, I'll post a picture of John performing the Colic Hold.   One picture is worth a bazillion words.

Our third sure fire solution to colic was a trip around the City of Gresham in the wee hours in a Volkswagen Diesel Rabbit (must be diesel!).  Another one of John's friends mentioned that midnight runs around the neighborhood in a noisy, rattling pick-up was a cure for colic.  Well, we had the pre-requisite rattly noisy pick-up, so off John would go at 3:am with the baby strapped in his car seat in the passenger seat.  Our sainted neighbors never complained.

I think that the common denominator here was motion and noise.  There is truly nothing more soothing to a baby than a softly grumbling daddy pacing the family room with a tired baby in the crook of his arm . . . or a softly grumbling daddy driving down Eastman Parkway at 3:am . . . or a mommy reading the latest Ann Rule with feet propped and a nice mug 'o beer next to her. 

What I find amazing, to this day, is that all these tips ALL came from the "EDU" (Engineering Daddy Underground).  Don't let anybody tell you that engineers are impersonal.  Just hand 'em a colicky baby and they will come up with a solution in no time!

1 comment:

  1. Hah! Perfect! Lance tells me that the daddies of colicky babies always know one another (Bender wasn't a preemie but he was colicky). He hints at a secret club handshake, but I suspect it has more to do with the telltale signs of sleep deprivation.


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