by Eric Storm
In 1998 our first child suffered through months of colic. Every night from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m. we took turns sitting up with our daughter as she cried and wailed. Though neither of us got any real sleep, I at least was able to escape to work. My wife stayed home.
Just as it looked like things were improving slightly I was faced with a four-day business trip. My understanding boss tried to get me excused, but her boss made it clear I must go or face being fired. Two days into the trip things went VERY wrong at home.
My wife, Deb, took Amelia in for a pediatric visit. Our doctor had no children and little experience with colic. During the exam, my still exhausted wife was trying to explain our ordeal and commented, “I’m starting to understand why some parents snap.”
The doctor excused herself. Deb picked our baby up from the exam table, and Amelia let loose with a big bowel movement. Left alone, Deb tried to
clean the baby, herself, and the room as best she could.
A few minutes later the Doctor returned. Standing in the doorway, she informed my wife that she had called Child Protective Services (CPS) and they were sending someone over to take her to their offices to interview. My wife was floored but the doctor wouldn’t discuss the issue.
When she asked if she could go to the bathroom to finish cleaning up, the doctor said, “The police will be called if you leave this exam room.”
That was too much for Deb. She bundled up Amelia and pushed past the Doctor. She said, “I know where the CPS office is. I’m not waiting two hours for transport, I’m going there myself,” and left.
As she walked into the CPS office she must have looked a complete fright: upset, crying, covered in baby poop with a wailing baby in her arms.
She was hurried into an interview room and a nurse sat down with her. Deb recounted her story. At the end, the Nurse asked, “So you’ve got a colicky baby, your husband’s out of town, and your doctor doesn’t understand?” “Yes,” my wife answered. “You’re normal, sweetie,” was the nurse’s reply.
The understanding Nurse had also faced similar challenges with one of her kids. She told my wife how hard it had been for her, and how horrible it had felt at the time. My wife felt a great weight lift. Here was someone who validated her feelings and understood her.
A year later, my best friend had her first child and went through the same struggles with colic. We sat down and told these new parents our story: that we’d felt the same feelings of anger, pain and fear, and that we understood their problems. Hearing they were normal helped them to persevere, too. We were privileged to pass on the gift the nurse had given my wife.