The Crying Game

There is nothing more heart wrenching than to hear your baby cry. Often, I start crying with my baby - a physical reaction I cannot control. I blame it on the hormones. My hubby does not have the same reaction. When speaking with my mama friends, they understand the crying (and leakage!) and their husbands also can remain stoic as they collapse.

I am quite relieved that my hubby does not have the same reaction as me as it is better for our son to have a parent that does not also collapse with him. Since our son has hydronephrosis, we have had to put him through numerous scans and procedures since he was born. The two most exhausting were the VUR scan and the most recent - and the far worse of the two - the lasix renal scan. My son had to have a catheter inserted for both and for the latter scan, we not only had to deny him food for nearly seven hours but had to give him an IV. He was crying for food for the last couple of hours and I couldn't stand the pained and confused expression he gave me when he tried to take the breast and I denied him. The nurse noted he could smell the milk and that it was better for hubby to hold him. We tried to divert him with the aid of Larry the Llama but knew we were on a losing streak, with L becoming more agitated as the hours dragged on. Not being able to feed my hungry son was one of the worst pains I have ever felt. For me, that lasted but half a day but unfortunately for too many mothers in the world, this is a more permanent predicament. This should never be the case.

How do you explain to your child why they are in pain when they are too small to comprehend what is happening and before they can understand what you speak? For several days before L's procedure, I explained to him what was to happen to him, how he would feel and why, hoping that on some subconscious level, he would understand. When he was crying from hunger and crying from the pain of green strangers holding him down and stabbing him repeatedly with a needle - for it is difficult to insert an IV in a three month old - he looked at us imploringly to help him. What must he have felt? What must he have thought? The people that were always so loving to him, that fed, washed and clothed him, suddenly holding him down as green strangers tortured him. I was asked to leave the room as I crumbled and apparently appeared so pallid the doctors thought I would faint. The last thing I wanted was the doctors paying any attention to me, away from my son, so I left and immediately crumbled in a heap, drenched in tears, outside the room.

Both scans were done at Cornell and I have to commend them for their care, management and efficiency (now were are in the hands of UCSF, which I hear is fantastic but have not experienced yet). My son had a team of specialists looking after him both times. Despite having two pediatric anesthesiologists on the team, it took them numerous attempts to insert an IV in. They tried his right hand and after several attempts, moved onto his right foot, again to no avail- at which point I was asked to leave the room - then according to hubby they moved through his other appendages and finally inserted it in his left foot. My husband was holding him and speaking soothingly to him as they kept poking him with the needles and when it was his left foot's turn, he jokingly said, "Luca, you better relax so the doctors get it, or your head would be next."In fact, that is where they would have went. The veins in a baby's head are bigger and easier to get than their extremities. Scalp IVs are not usually the first place to go as parents tend to freak out, although nurses find they are both easier and give the child more mobility (as children move, they have to have the IV foot or hand taped to a board to render it immobile).

My son also cries when he wakes up as if he is having nightmares. I wonder what dire dreams he could be having. Did he dream the milk dried up? It's as if babies are remembering their previous life and are shocked to discover they are waking up to a nightmare - which surely it must appear to them - in which they cannot move, they cannot speak, cannot hear and see properly and generally have to relearn and renegotiate all their communication and understanding anew. Sometimes, in my more morose moments, I wonder whether he is remembering his previous deaths.

Recently my son has started crying for attention. Before, he would cry for physical reasons that he could not fix himself only -  if he were wet, hungry, cold, hot etc we would come to the rescue and rectify the situation. Now, my son understands the power of his cry and uses it to bring us to his side for no reason at all, except to just be. This can be quite frustrating if I'm attempting to get anything done (they said the swing would work!) but as soon as I pick him up and he stops crying and looks at me with such wonder and love, I melt and am all his.


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