Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tummy Trouble

One of the hardest parts of being a parent of a child who can’t yet say “This hurts” are the long nights of not knowing why your child is upset.

Mihret has been an awesome child in many ways, and being friends with people whose kids have had all sorts of crazy ailments has made me grateful that one of her many gifts is the gift of wellness.

Which is to say – she is not often sick.

Of the two “illnesses” she has had, both were ear infections that responded immediately to antibiotic treatment, and didn’t immediately return. One bout, sadly, ended in a bad diaper rash, but even that was minor in the grand scheme of things.

It looked bad, yes, and was unpleasant to treat, but it eventually skipped away – leaving everyone involved mostly unscarred.

So it was with great sadness that I awoke to my child screaming in the night this last weekend.

This was concerning for several reasons.

First, Mihret is usually a slow build. We’ll get a few test whines, followed by a cry or two. And then, if she’s really tired, she’ll nod back off. And if she’s really upset, she’ll move to crying. Loudly, yes, but it’s a cry, and not a scream.

Most of the time, this is an easy fix. Change the diaper. Give a bottle to a growing girl who doesn’t know it’s 2 AM, but does know that she’s HUNGRY.

Secondly, she’s usually a pretty quick calmer. Diaper, bottle, whatever, once the need is met, she’s OK. No harm, no foul, now is the time for sleep, so let’s get back to it.

But Saturday night? Woof.

It started at ten, which was weird, because we had just put her down a couple of hours earlier. She would cry – LOUDLY – then fall back to sleep. She did this three or four times, and finally we decided to change her diaper AND give her a drink, and hopefully all bases would be covered and we’d all go off to slumberland.

It worked.

Then midnight came. And with it came the screams.

It’s tough to know, in storytelling, whether to drag something out in a horrible, scary-story-type form, or if I should just rush to the exciting conclusion where the hero wins and everyone goes back to bed.

The middle-of-the-road version is this:

She screamed for thirty minutes straight. Oh, she’d stop for a second or two, and try to sleep. Her eyes didn’t even open most of the time, making it clear that she was tired, so tired, but couldn’t sleep, because something was WRONG, so WRONG, and it HURT.

So Kara and I tried to figure out what it was.

I check the diaper – dry.

I took her temperature, which was normal. Which I figured, because she didn’t feel even remotely warm.

There was no way she could be hungry – she had consumed eight ounces of liquid less than two hours earlier.

I touched her tummy, trying to figure out if her bowels were backed up. Kara and I played the “when was the last time she pooped?” game, and easily came up with an answer, because she had done so, and spectacularly, that day.

We were stumped. Stymied. And Mihret just kept on screaming, no matter what we did.

We tried lying her down. We tried rubbing her belly. We tried holding her in a lying down position, and in an up-and-down, cuddled against the shoulder position.
I tried holding her. Kara tried holding her.

After thirty minutes, I set her back in her crib, rubbing her belly, and turned to Kara – the words behind my lips were, “Bring me the phone, we’re going to have to call Nurse Direct.”

And then, there was a noise.

Kind of like – PHHHHHT! And then, moments later, another. PHHHHT!

Mihret kicked. Once. Twice. Then she was out like a light. Problem solved.

Ladies and gentlemen, our child is not bothered by a double ear infection, but bad gas? That keeps her up at night.

Two hours later, she woke up screaming again, and I left Kara in bed. I went into Mihret’s room, picked her up like an accordion, and pumped her legs up to her belly for a minute or two, until – PHHHHHHT!

She dropped off immediately, and slept until 8 AM.

Easiest kid in the world.


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