The Dark Lord Colic, the Witching Hour, and a Strange Dream

It’s strange how life changes once you’re subjugated to a little bundle of joy. For one, your vocabulary expands. I’ve said the word fussy more times in two months of parenthood than I had in three-plus decades of a previous existence, an existence when the only he-who-shall-not-be-named was Lord Voldemort, when I lived blissfully unaware of the existence of the Dark Lord Colic. It’s not that I hadn’t heard the word colic before. I just confused it with cholera, a disease that modern medicine has mostly conquered. Thus, I didn’t spend much brain power pondering colic, believing health care professionals had everything under control. 

However, after Thomas set a high-water mark for tears, I studied up on the dreaded term colic. My wife asked me, “Do you think he’s got it? He’s been crying for over three hours.” Though I hated to admit it, the evidence was pointing in that direction–fed, burped, and diapered and he was still red-faced and screaming. 

I’ve since learned that, like the number of licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know what causes colic because doctors have thrown up their hands and given up on curing it. Now, they more or less give you a rain slicker and tell you to batten down the hatches. “It gets better,” they say, usually after week eight. And sure enough, it did. In fact, I wouldn’t consider Thomas a colicky baby. He had a collicky week in which neither pacifier, nor bottle, nor swing, nor rocking chair, nor sweet lullaby, nor pleading parent could separate him from the love of God-awful wailing. 

The Witching Hour

The witching hour, a colloquialism for the prefered hour in which a baby decides to go bonkers, usually started for Thomas around 5 pm. Thereafter, to hear Thomas tell it, he had more blues than B.B. King at a Memphis nightclub on a Friday night. He would wail away for hours, with us feeling as helpless as he actually was. And then, for reasons beyond our comprehension, he would just cease crying and then smile and act as happy as can be, as if he hadn’t just spent the last few hours practicing for the time in his life when he’ll have to pass a kidney stone. And then the next day, he would do it all over again. 

This lasted for a week, though it felt like a good forty days and forty nights of continuous outbursts. And then, for no perceivable reason, the skies cleared, a rainbow appeared, and a dove descended with an olive branch, metaphorically speaking. 

This week, in fact, I’ve actually gone from daydreaming about dreams to actually dreaming. Last night I had an old recurring dream: I was being chased by tornadoes again. Usually, I classify this dream, in which menacing twisters follow me in my rear-view mirror, as a nightmare, but this time I got out of the car and walked up to the tornadoes and gave them a big hug, like I was welcoming home some long lost friends. 

Is This a Picture of an 'Intense Supercell with a Mass of Tornadoes' in  Kansas?

14 thoughts on “The Dark Lord Colic, the Witching Hour, and a Strange Dream

  1. My grandson, Mak is close to the same age as your Thomas. At 3 months, his colic is getting better but he still has his moments. He is sleeping through the night which is a blessing for my son and daughter-in-law. I remember being the parent during those early days but I’m glad to be the grandma now and not the responsible one. I can stand back and honestly say, “It’s payback” for many sleepless nights in the past.

    1. Thomas is going about 4 hours between feedings right now, so we are able to catch a little bit of sleep before he reawakens us. One silver lining to the days when he has had a bad crying spell is that he seems to tire himself out and sleep a longer stretch at night. Here’s hoping that stretches continue to grow longer for both Thomas and Mak 😉

  2. Congratulations on Thomas first of all! Just so y’all don’t feel like the ‘Lone Ranger and Tonto’, mine too had colic for the first 3-months! Wouldn’t have taken a Million Dollars for his swing, as that seemed to be only thing he tolerated. We did, however, end up going to a lactose free formula and that helped too.
    Love reading your posts!

    1. Thanks! We got him a swing, and he is slowly growing to love it. At first, he seemed scared of it, but now he will sometimes fall asleep in it, which is great. We’ve switched to Similac Sensitive and that seems to have helped, and the Dr told us to put a little karo syrup in it too. He still has bad days, but at least now there will be a few good days in between.

  3. Nearly 40 years ago, my daughter had colic while we were stationed in Korea. The military doctor said we just had to wait until she got through this stage as there was no cure. My wife took her to a Korean doctor who prescribed these little round silver pills about the size of a pen nib. We were told to put one of the tip of the bottle when she took her formula.
    After the first one, she started passing gas and burping and then there was silence, a warm encompassing silence. The colic was gone forever. When I told the military doctor what had happened, he ordered me to bring one of those pills in. He had it tested and told me it was a minute does of barbiturates. He told me that I had probably destroyed my daughter’s brain.
    My little girl grew up and graduated from high school with a 3.96 GPA (and never had colic again).

    1. I can’t say the idea hasn’t crossed my mind to spike the bottle with something. My wife’s grandma is eighty-four and she said she remembers giving babies a “sleeping draught,” mostly alcohol. None of her children had destroyed brains either and grew up to be good citizens.

  4. I’ve heard horror stories of children being colicky for years and was grateful our daughter was only occasionally fussy. At least, that’s what I can remember. I do recall visiting my in-laws and having my mother-in-law say one morning, “She’s so good! I didn’t hear her at all last night!” All I could think was, “That’s because I was up all night keeping her happy.” Of course, that’s the point. If she’d been truly colicky, I wouldn’t have been able to do that no matter what I did. 🙂

    1. I do remember the first time she slept through the night. Somehow we’d turned down the monitor and so didn’t hear every little sound. But when I woke up after a semi-full night’s sleep with no crying, I was horribly afraid something dire had happened!

      1. It seemed like every time my parents or my in-laws would come to visit so far he would miraculously be sleeping or behaving fine. Secretly, I was kind of glad when they finally got to experience one of his raging crying fits and realized we weren’t just being over-dramatic. He actually slept one night this week from 12 to 7, which is the longest stretch he’s ever had so far, so maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 🤞

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