This was the second year that Kim from Parentwise magazine had me back for a fathers day article. I really like writing for this magazine because it challenges me in a whole different way. I don't just get to crank out my usually inappropriateness. :) I also try to tackle something a bit more meaningful that might connect with someone. Anyway, here is what I wrote for the June issue:
It was six and a half years ago I became a father. My wife and I were ready; we had discussed it at great length considering it took time and a team of scientific experts to get pregnant. We read all the parenting literature available. We were level headed adults who felt everything falling into place.
Then the baby cameâ¦ November 26th, 2001, a day early. That doesnât sound like a big deal, but my wife knew something wasnât ârightâ. An early Dr. visit turned into an emergency C-section. We almost lost our little girl. Had we waited another day, we would have most likely would have. The surgery saved her and brought into this world a perfect little girl. Within a few days were home and starting our new life as young, proud, optimistic parents. After about 4-5 days our daughter started crying, kept crying and seemed as if it was never going to stop. The crying started on November 30th at about 6pm and lasted until August of 2002, about nine months! We had given birth to a colicky monster. I donât think anyone can fully grasp the intensity of colic unless they have lived it. We looked for every solution on earth. Our doctors had no answers; they would just calm us down and tell us it will pass. We bought ever gimmick known to man to help; gas drops, special blankets, clothing, swings, mood cdâs, special lighting, and even a vibration machine that attached to the springs of her crib. Driving helped somewhat. We spent the better half of the year just âdrivingâ.
During this time I was on my first year of an exciting radio job in Dallas. My co-workers had no idea we were falling apart at home. It seemed out of line and selfish to tell anyone, including friends, what was going on. My wife and I could slowly see each other unraveling. Everything became a fog with the lack of sleep. My wife and I were as worried about each other, as much as the baby, but we would both faked being âo.k.â I wanted so badly to let my wife sleep through just one night, but she was determined to breast feed the first year, but was only able to pump far enough ahead so that I could cover one feeding, occasionally. My wife, a person who has always had every single aspect of her life in order, was starting to look very, very scared. She knew the difficulties I was having at work and would try to let me sleep from midnight til 4:30am. I recall her on several occasions waking me up at 4:15 and asking me if she could just sleep for 15 minutes before I left. We hardly recognized each other. She was barely able to eat enough because she was always walking in circles, comforting the baby. My diet had gone to hell out of convenience. Translation; I was porking out, she was withering away. We were desperate, tired, confused and going insane. One thing that we understood was why there are so many stories of shaken babies in the news. We werenât ever going to hurt her, but we understood that temporary insanity truly does exist. I remember one of my friends calling from Austin, the baby was wailing and I said to him âDonât EVER have sex with a womanâ¦ EVER.â Then I held the phone up the crying. Throughout my life I have always been able to find humor in just about any situation. This was the last time I would be funny for awhile.
As my wife and I slip into pure lunacy, I came home with the news I had just been fired. I was offered my job back in Austin. I packed a suitcase and moved into a LaQuinta in SW Austin. A hotel was no place for a crying baby and two barking dogs. My wife stayed behind in Dallas to show the house to realtors. I would spend the day trying to get my job back to normal and the evenings trying to talk my wife off the ledge. I needed to get them to Austin a.s.a.p. I found a house that was just âo.k.â and offered full asking price. I offered the woman more if she could be out in a week. The day we walked into our new house we wanted to cry because it was such a project, there was almost no way we could move into it. We now had a crying baby, two dogs and house full of workers every day.
At about nine months the crying stopped. For the first time, we felt like we could venture out of the house and re-acclimate ourselves to society. Slowly, and I mean SLOWLY, we started to realize everything was going to be o.k. We hadnât given birth to Satanâs child after all. Our daughter is six and a half now and an amazing well adjusted child. We felt guilty for so long because of all of the tension and worry she had to pick up from us. It took us years to shake it. This made us realize just how vulnerable our mental health is and what people can take for granted. We didnât go âover the edgeâ but we got an awful damn good look over it. Whenever we meet someone who tells us that they have or have had a baby with colic, I feel an instant connection. If they are going through it right then, I want to hug them and cry with them. Others wonât understand like we do. I would take in a complete strangerâs baby for one night if it meant then could get ONE nights sleep. The closest I have ever come to killing another person was a âknow it allâ guy who explained to me that âColic is a western culture problem and that if you just do the right thing, the problem doesnât exist.â I considered killing this guy. Doing hard time and getting some rest didnât seem so bad. My wife and I shared years later that we secretly wished for an illness or injury to hospitalize us during those nine months, just so we could get some sleep. I know all parents feel like their child is âspecialâ. Very few âspecialâ children almost KILL their parents. We survived! We have grown stronger. I feel like seeing our daughter happy is twice as rewarding because of what we went through. Parenthood is an amazing thing. I donât know if I would change a thing if I had to do it all over again. I like the way our little girl turned out and maybe the crying had something to do with it. Weâre different too. I think we have more understanding and empathy for others. When we talk to new parents and ask if the baby is sleeping, we are genuinely happy when you say yes. Itâs not just meaningless chit chat. If they say no, our hearts go out to them in a way thatâs immeasurable.