It’s surprising how much of the early days of fatherhood has evaded me, or left me, in the three years since Toots was born. It seems that the days go by, and there’s a gradual shift in her as she grows and learns and achieves ever more, and a shift in the way in which I am comfortable with her growth and her development into a fully functioning person – albeit, one who remains a toddler.
I mention this because I would have thought that having a second child, now around the ten week mark, would remind me of having a baby the first time. However, as it happens, it still is the case that the early days of fatherhood either evade me, or have left me, and I find it really hard to remember how awkward it was in those early weeks. It may be that they were so awful that my brain has erased the memory almost entirely, but it is more likely that it was such a blur of late nights, screaming and adjusting to a totally different family regime that individual events are difficult to pick out of the bones.
Toots was better than most, or so other parents tell me (though I remain convinced that nurture has a significant impact one way or another on nature), but it seems to me that Bub, our number 2, is having more problems than number 1 – though the lack of any clear evidence from memory is hampering any objective comparison.
At the moment, we do appear to be having trouble with colic. Bub has, rather suddenly, decided that the evenings are just not the time to be sleeping and has taken, instead, to screaming for long periods (five hours is not uncommon), resisting sleep despite being tired and looking for all the world like he has a sore tum. For the remainder of the day, he can sleep, he feeds well, he’s calm and happy and he poops like a proper kid. All the reading we have done to try and resolve the problem – reading which has come after the soothing, the shushing, the rocking, the changing of clothes, the cooling, the warming, the swaddling, the rubbing, the bouncing and the feeding, all of which has had no effect on the screaming – suggests colic.
I have to confess, as a rather dim and slow witted parent, I thought colic referred to an actual condition with a cause, symptoms and a cure. It appears, however, to have none of these things, although medical types seem to want to attribute stuff into each of those categories. Colic, it seems to me, appears to be a posh word for uncontrollable and irrational screaming in a toddler during the evening and, it also appears, this will generally go of its own accord by month 3 or 4. It allows a doctor, many of whom are consulted during these intense screaming periods, to say to a distressed parent that this thing has a name and, to some extent, relieve the suffering of the parent. So at least, in this respect, I am a little reassured that what Bub is suffering is normal enough, and that it should resolve itself in time.
However, I was also alarmed to read that colic is a significant cause of marital stress and relationship breakdown, a contributor to sudden infant death syndrome and to child abuses, the latter two coming from the parents’ distress in having to deal with the condition. I am calm enough, I think, to deal with this little episode in Bub’s short life so far, and put the current difficulties down to colic, but I can really understand the problems that it causes and the rises in certain circumstances that colic brings. And it needs a wider discussion and recognition, I shouldn’t wonder.