Sunday, October 15, 2006

Little Miss Fussypants

Late last week Genevieve had some extremely fussy episodes. Her piercing screaming spells have not returned since I eliminated dairy and chocolate, thankfully, but she spent most of Thursday night awake and unhappy, alternately wanting to nurse every hour and fussing inconsolably for long periods--like, from three to five a.m. when the rest of the world was sleeping, for one.

Friday, despite having barely slept the night before, she refused to sleep during the day, settling down for a nap for only 20 minutes in the morning and another 30 for the rest of the afternoon. By evening, she was in such a state that I succumbed to the car ride strategy once again, hoping it would finally knock her out for a good sleep. Well, it didn't, and our exhaustion peaked along with our confusion about what was going on with her. We spent all weekend studying her behavior, and it's starting to dawn on us that perhaps she has infant gastric reflux. It seems to fit: the increasingly chronic fussing, especially after eating; the extreme burping and spitting up, the distressed swallowing and coughing after she nurses, punctuated by her expressions of distaste; the immediate thrashing and groaning upon being laid flat to sleep after finishing a nursing session; the love-hate reaction to the idea of nursing at all: I'm hungry, give me more; I'm sick, get that nipple away from me.

It's pretty sad and pathetic, and it's weird how it seems to have come on gradually, and also suddenly. A month ago she rarely cried or fussed at all; then she started to scream every other night; then I gave up trigger foods and the screaming abated; but then all this weird fussing and agitation and unwillingness to go back to sleep after overnight nursings began and increased so slowly we didn't notice a pattern for a week at least. Luckily, we go to the pediatrician tomorrow for Genna's two-month well-baby checkup, so we can run all this by the doctor and hopefully get some relief.

With all this going on, it couldn't have been a better weekend for my parents--Julia and Genna's Nonna and Boppa--to come for a visit. Hallelujah, someone else to take over the rocking, soothing, holding, jiggling. Someone else to mind the babies while I bathed, ate, cooked, or sat on the sofa reading old issues of People magazine. And these were people who didn't even MIND the fussing and crying! Does it get any better than that?

In addition to bringing all sorts of treats from up north--apples from their tree, squash and pumpkins from a friend's garden, homemade banana cake, piles of new-baby presents from various thoughtful family friends, non-chocolate Halloween candy for me--they also brought with them the nonplussed air of seasoned baby-handlers, the sense of unworried acceptance in the face of relentless baby distress that only grandparents with decades of experience soothing fussy infants can muster. Christopher and I, on our second baby now, no longer panic over the harsh cry of a newborn, but let's face it: it gets really old, really tiring, and really frustrating to deal with a very fussy baby for hours on end. So it's nice to be around other people who take it in stride.

Not only did my parents handle Genevieve's distress like the baby-raising pros they are, they actually kicked Christopher and me out on Saturday night to go to a late movie at the multiplex in the next town. I mean, we put Julia to bed, left a couple of bottles of pumped breast milk, and actually drove away by ourselves after dark to do something recreational. Involving buttered popcorn!

To know what a big deal this was, you have to understand that this was only the second movie out that Christopher and I have seen together since our first baby was born over two years ago. Yes, we're one of those couples who are total wimps about leaving our babies with others. And since we don't have family nearby to babysit, nor can we afford the $8-$10/hour babysitting rate in our town (which should we choose this month, pay the water bill or go out for an evening without the babies?), get the idea. On the other hand, we're also of an apparently anomalous breed of couples who don't particularly crave "date nights," who are very content staying in with our babies, spending our time together without an overriding need to carve out "quality couple time" outside our lives as a family. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a whole lot of fun to go to the gigantic 21-screen mega-theatre at 9 p.m., gorge ourselves on popcorn, and see a great movie ("Little Miss Sunshine"--LOVED IT). Especially because not for a second did I worry one bit about how the girls were doing at home; I was 100% reassured in knowing that even if Genna screamed bloody murder the entire time we were gone, even if Julia woke up and wondered where we were, that my mom and dad would know what to do, and wouldn't even be bothered by it.

We all had a great time this weekend: Julia decorating child-sized pumpkins with magic markers, Genevieve ceasing her fussing to show off a few choice grins, the rest of us eating apple crisp and playing Scrabble and making plans for Thanksgiving. We even all made it out for a big family lunch to see my grandma and introduce Genevieve to my aunt and uncle who were in town for the day.

Now that our company is gone, the beginning of the new week feels kind of anticlimactic, but fortunately we have more fun to look forward to: my sister and her family arrive on Friday for a quick visit. It'll be a joy to watch 28-month-old Julia and her 21-month-old cousin Gabe run around together. I wish we all lived closer to each other!

Anyway, have a great week, all. I'll let you know what Genna's doctor says.


Donna said...

Four words: Grandparents are a godsend!!! 'Nuff said.

Shan said...

Amen to that!