You’re Normal, Sweetie

by Eric Storm
California, USA

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.

You're Normal SweetieJust 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.

Originally published as HeroicStories #796 on April 29, 2010

5 thoughts on “You’re Normal, Sweetie”

  1. Incredibly, nobody teaches us to be parents; therefore we struggle with all the new things a baby brings home.

    Those struggles are far more common than they seem to be, but all of us who have now grownup kids can keep an eye on the young couples when they are having their first baby. We can lend a hand or have a talk, or lend a shoulder when things seem to crumble down, but mainly we can listen and reassure them they can do it and it will get on track.

    …we all can be that friend.

  2. Hopefully, somebody from CPS also spoke with the Doctor and he learned a valuable lesson as well.

    Do you have a follow-up on this story?

  3. 43 years ago, my 5th child had COLIC for 6 months. I know her feelings well. The ONLY things that helped this precious little soul were: Holding her SUSPENDED in warm water, for most of 3 or more hours every night, over the one side of the double kitchen sick. It is a wonder I never fell asleep and dropped her into the water, but it DID help her. Me, not so much.

    The other WONDER mechanical thing that helped, was to put this tiny infant, tucked in with several towels/blankets/diapers into a BABY SWING, that I had to clickwind up every 10 minutes, if it even faltered, she would start crying again……I guess now, they have battery operated ones, but those two things kept my sanity. Thank God I never “threw the baby out with the bath water.”


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