A Cry for Help // The doctors kept insisting that it was “only colic”

By Michelle Mond

Have you ever had to call poison control? I have. It happened on a lovely day in June, just after I’d bought the pharmacy out of every naturopathic colic remedy that people had raved about on Amazon. “It made my son stop crying immediately!” one satisfied reviewer exclaimed. Another said, “This is a must-have for every household with a colicky baby. It worked wonders for me and my neighbor. Come to think of it, it also worked for my neighbor’s cousin and her neighbor!” Okay, I’d thought to myself. I have to try this. So even though I’d already been to the pediatrician and he’d chalked up my daughter’s screaming to colic and nothing out of the ordinary, I packed a diaper bag and put my screaming baby in her car seat and drove to the drugstore.

Let me backtrack a bit. Since I had a girl after twin boys I got a lot of comments, the most common of which was, “It must be sooo easy having a girl after twins. And twin boys, no less!” At first this was true. My daughter was born right before Shavuos, and I spent an incredible chag in the hospital. She was eating well, sleeping a lot, and doing what every other baby does. Then suddenly at the age of four weeks she started crying all the time. There was nothing we could do to console her. She would eat and then cry. She would cry and then eat. For a change of pace, she would sometimes sleep and then cry. The cycle continued. Meanwhile, I became a frequent flyer at the pediatrician’s office. The doctor kept telling me that since she was gaining weight everything was fine, and the colic would eventually go away on its own.

Reading online led me to articles about lactose intolerance, and how it’s the most frequent cause of colic in nursing infants. Willing to make sacrifices in desperate circumstances, I immediately stopped eating dairy despite being fleish-a-phobic. After consulting again with our doctor, he allowed us to try a small dose of Zantac, an acid reflux medication that didn’t do any good either. I went back a month later and he prescribed Prevacid, a stronger reflux medication, which came in pill form. I was supposed to put the pill on her tongue and wait for it to dissolve. Seriously.

You can imagine how torturous it is to watch your screaming baby with a pill on her tongue that isn’t dissolving because she’s screaming with her mouth wide open. I eventually found a specialty pharmacy that was willing to turn the pill into a liquid, but again I was disappointed. After several days on the medication I saw no improvement so I discontinued it. Having read a recent “Clean Bill” in AmiLiving about a colicky baby who was cured when her nursing mother abstained from canola oil, I tried that too without success. Our baby continued to scream.

All of which brings me back to that day in June when I went to the pharmacy and bought a bottle of Colic Calm, Gripe Water, Culturelle and other assorted probiotics, all of which promised to help soothe colicky babies. In the confusion of administering different remedies (none of which worked) I realized that I’d mistakenly given the baby too much Gripe Water. I was surprised that she’d actually fallen asleep, but after I realized what happened I got nervous. Surely something was wrong! I frantically dialed poison control. The operator asked me numerous questions, among them, “Ma’am, what kind of medication are you talking about?” When I told her Gripe Water, she was clearly amused. “Listen, I’m not saying that you should do this. But you could theoretically give your kid a whole bottle of that stuff without overdosing. These naturopathic remedies don’t contain much of anything. Your daughter will be fine.” I realized that the reason she’d suddenly stopped crying and gone to sleep was that she was exhausted; it had nothing to do with the Gripe Water. And all of my later attempts to try any of the naturopathic meds had no calming effect whatsoever. The baby just wouldn’t stop screaming.

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