Note: Before I thought about starting a blog, I wanted to write a book : an actual book with palpable pages that told Julianna’s story in a linear fashion. Maybe I’ll do it one day. For now, I’ll tell her life story post by post.
Chapter 1: 0-3 months
When Alex was seven weeks old, he got kicked out of daycare. The daycare provider was very sorry, but he was too fussy and had to be held all the time. True to form, I blamed myself. It was my fault for having to go back to work so soon. We had produced a high maintenance, colicky child. No one would be able to handle him.
Tracey was our next daycare provider. She had 15 years of experience, and was a baby whisperer. (She was also from England, and is the reason our kids still say “bum” instead of something more crass. It’s awesome.) She told me that Alex was just a typical baby, and babies need holding, but I didn’t believe it completely. I worried for a while that she would eventually catch on and kick us out too. At about six months, he seemed to mellow out. All the books said that this was when colic usually stopped, so we were relieved: we had survived colic!
Julianna came two years later, and just demolished our understanding of colic. She had colic. My strongest memory of those early months is pacing at all hours with an inconsolable, unhappy bundle. If I held her and jiggled her and shushed her just right, she would stop for a while. Any deviation from approved practice would begin the crying — and my misery — again.
At around two months, we began to have problems feeding Julianna. In retrospect, this was the first symptom of her neuromuscular disease, but we chalked it up to evil colic. Even the uber-competent Tracey had a hard time feeding her. It would take 30 minutes to go through 2oz, and she would only take tiny sips before turning her head away. Sometimes she refused for long stretches. Eventually Steve found the One Magic Position that usually worked: wrapped up tight like a burrito, on our lap, on her right side, held about six inches away from our bodies. (It also didn’t hurt to throw salt over our shoulder, knock on wood and find a four-leaf clover.)
I don’t remember how long the colic lasted, but it was a slow fade. It did get better around six months, (just like the books said) but there was also high drama for years afterwards.
J has always been able to cry on (her) demand. Not just the sniffles: Hollywood close-up worthy, with copious tears. We started calling her histrionic alter ego “Carrie”. “Carrie” would storm in, do her damage, then leave just as abruptly. We would express our relief – “We’re so glad we have J back! Carrie is not as fun.” J would agree and wonder out loud why Carrie was so unpleasant.
(No offense to all the wonderful Carrie’s out there. The name came to me on the fly. Alex’s equivalent is “Ned”, as in negative “Ned.” I have one too, but the kids have not come up with a name for her yet.)
It’s ironic now, because J is sunny and happy almost all of the time. Carrie has been largely replaced by charm, bossiness and exquisite control of language.
The waterworks still make an occasional appearance, and they are quite impressive. A few months ago, I decided to find out her secret:
Dec 2015 – journal entry
M: Julianna, how do you cry so easily? I can’t do that…
J: I open and close my eyes and think of something sad.
M: like what?
J: not sharing.