I rushed around the kitchen preparing supper. My nerves were strung as tight as guitar strings. I didn’t know when it would begin, but wanted most of the supper prep done before then. Tammie, my two-month-old daughter began wailing before I had the potatoes pealed. Glancing at the wall clock I thought, “She’s starting early tonight.”
The pediatrician told me Tammie suffered from colic. He said eventually she would stop her incessant evening-into-the-night cries; cries that sounded as if she had great pain; cries that nearly drove my husband and me out of our minds.
Tammie had been born missing her fore arms and with a bleeding disorder. I was well past feeling upset about her missing bones. My fear at this point was that all her straining while crying for hours every day would cause an internal bleed. When I examined her in the mornings while she was calm, I noticed that her skin had freckles of broken capillaries from her waist on up. The roof of her mouth was bruised from suckling. Nothing was easy with this baby.
Dumping the unpeeled potatoes into a kettle with some water, I put it on the stove over a medium flame and went to scoop my infant out of the bassinet. I knew from experience cuddling, bouncing, back pats, diaper changes, sips of food or water wouldn’t calm her. Placing Tammie on her stomach on my shoulder, I trudged from one end of the house to the other. Walking reduced her crying a little, but she continued wriggling as though uncomfortable.
When my husband Arnie came home from work, I handed Tammie to him so I could put our supper on the table. Nothing he did calmed her, either. He looked confused and upset. When our four-year-old was an infant, all he had to do was lay on the sofa and place her on his warm chest. When she heard and felt his beating heart, she instantly calmed down.
For the rest of the evening, I carried Tammie back and forth in the house as long as my legs could take it. While sitting to rest, our poor baby screamed as Arnie tried to convince me to try a folk remedy for colic. With her blood disorder, I wasn’t willing to try because supplements are often blood thinners. We got into a fight over it.
At ten p.m. Arnie and I were still arguing when I put Tammie in her car seat and said, as I was walking out of the house, “Maybe a drive in the car will calm her.”
I was right. After a few miles Tammie stopped crying.
In the peace and quiet I remembered Mom once telling me, “Our family has always liked going for Sunday afternoon drives during the summer. When the other kids were little, they went to sleep during them. When you were a baby, you cried nonstop. It wasn’t until you were able to talk, that we found out you were motion-sick.”
I glanced at Tammie and smiled as I thought, “I mostly got over that and could tolerate short trips which made Sunday afternoon drives with Daddy enjoyable.” Remembering how Daddy gawked at all the fields we passed to see how the corn and oats was coming up for other farmers, made me chuckle. He nearly drove into ditches sometimes before he remembered to glance back at the road.
The quiet was so nice, I continued to drive and reminisce for another half hour. When I returned home, Arnie and my four-year old were already in bed. I tip-toed upstairs with Tammie still in her car seat. In my bedroom, I didn’t want her to wake-up, so I lifted her car seat and all into the crib.
I quickly changed into my nightgown and crawled into bed. That April night was chilly. Arnie’s body was warm and comforting. Before my muscles could relax, Tammie woke up and began to cry.
With tears streaming from my eyes, I placed Tammie over my shoulder and began walking back and forth in the hallway, wishing I could return to the Sunday afternoon oasis in the car.