Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cam's War

Sometimes, when he cries, I wake with a jolt. As if I am Frankenstein's monster, my bed is the operating slab, and his cry is the immeasurably powerful lightning strike. Fast asleep to full alert in the 0.014 seconds it takes for the sound to travel from his mouth to my ear.

A fully alert brain doesn't translate to a fully alert body. Several full seconds pass before my limbs and joints can be convinced to join in the party. His lungs are now in full swing, gulping in air and converting it to pure anguish. The sound of being alone, of waking up to a world still so new to him that his brain needs to recalibrate every morning, but mostly the sound of doing battle.

His invisible enemies torment him through the day and through the night. They wriggle, they move, they prod and push, though they don't yet protrude. Dentin Soldiers: milk teeth. Waging war on our tiny boy, whose only defences are copious saliva, chewing on his own hands and those heart wrenching howls of agony.

By the time my recalcitrant hips have been coerced into action my wife is already up and soothing him, the soft shushing is designed to comfort, but to my ears also holds notes of concern and helplessness. What use are we to him? What relief can we give? All the quiet reassurances that he's okay mean nothing to him, or to the tiny incisors moving ever closer to eruption. We can not lull them to sleep any more than we can him. I stay in bed. We are zero help whether we are one or two.

Distraction proves impossible. He is lifted and embraced, held tight in my wife's arms and snuggled to her chest. Rocked and swayed. Regardless, the screams continue, the tears roll and leave their salty trace, the limbs thrash.

He comes into our bed, nestled between us to prevent the rolling over he has recently perfected. A moment's peace as his brain once again recalibrates to his new position, then the crying is back. Was it a moment or an hour? I'm not as alert as I thought. How long have I been asleep and allowing my wife to bear the brunt of this? Too long. Now it is my turn. I pick him up, offer him what I can: the sound of my voice, my finger to chew, my arms and chest to hit in frustration.

My tired brain is convinced he has filled his nappy. We return to his room and begin the changing process. There is no poo. But while I'm changing him from one clean nappy to another he is smiling. We play a little and all seems right for a few minutes. I sense a change which could mean this part of the war is over. I reinsert him in his 2.5 TOG cocoon and lay him back in his cot. Awake but calm I leave him. He is yawning. I am yawning.

Battle recommences within an hour. Feelings of pity and concern for him mix with a notion that we must be doing something wrong. Surely we ought to be able to help him? There is some trick we are missing and we are failing him by doing so. Whatever it is, we can't work it out. So he gets our best shot: 5ml of sugary analgesia poured into his gaping, angry mouth.

I'm given the go ahead to return to sleep. I need to be able to function to some degree when I go to work tomorrow. Today. In three hours. Doggedly, my wife continues to sit with him, singing a lullaby over and over. A statement of her love for him which carries through the air and sends me to sleep.

My battle is over for tonight.


  1. Aaw mate :( Remember those days well, love, hugs & copious amounts of caffeine to you! x

  2. Feel for you. Have you tried Ashton and Parsons teething powder? For him not you!

  3. I love this the words brought a year ago to today! I have to say that the shock wake ups don't go away even after teeth arrive! Joys of being a parent!

  4. God I'm so there right now... My LO has just started teething big time. It's not fun. I think I'd like to sleep somewhere else for a few weeks ;)

  5. What a wonderfully written post! I really feel for you, we have has absolute teething hell with Paige and at times like you describe, I'd end up downstairs watching tv with her, just to break the situation and take her mind off it. Ibuprofen, teetha granules and an amber bracelet have been great. Gel has helped at times. Anbesol is what a lot of people swear by, but I can't find any! @mugofdecaf

  6. Great post and so true. Hope this bout of teething passes quickly. Definitely baby nurofen worked best for H, didn't eliminate the pain totally but seemed to at least take the edge off. H is 9 months and has 8 teeth already so I relate to feeling how you do. Especially when 4 of the teeth arrived over the course of 2 days. Poor baby was just miserable. I just continue to tell myself "this too shall pass"...

  7. Excellent post. I remember those days all too well.

  8. You are doing nothing wrong. You guys are doing great. It will come and go in phases. We had a good few months of uninterrupted nights but now the molars are coming I think. I was sat in his chair rocking the boy from 2-4am this morning and he is nearly two. It never lasts though and you just have to hope that although they are in a lot of pain at the moment they won't remember it. Good luck dude. *Yawns*