Poorly Babies (or, ‘When even the sling won’t do’)

I may have been very disparaging about the sling to begin with, but over the past few weeks, I’ve gone through begrudging acceptance, and into holding it up as the pinnacle of modern parenting methods. Step aside, Gina Ford! Go away, Ferber! I have a sling – I am a babywearer, and my baby shall never be upset for as long as it is held against my body by a strip of fabric. 

Until last night. About half an hour after D left for work, she woke from peaceful sleep with a scream of epic proportions. I can sort-of laugh about it now, but at the time, I was on the verge of calling out the ambulance, the police, the fire brigade and the army. My tiny little human was making a sound like an animal being hurt, and nothing I did could soothe her. I fed her, I changed her (twice!), I checked every little bit of her body for any sign of a rash or cut – I even checked her babygro to make sure there was no hair or skin caught in the poppers of the sleepsuit. I cuddled her, I shushed her, I read to her, I offered a dummy, I offered Emily doll, I offered Sophie the giraffe, I put the mobile on, I put socks on, I took socks off, I tried to let her sleep, I tried to let her sit up, I did bicycle legs – if you can name it, I tried it. Half an hour later, she was still squealing unconsolably. 

Arrogantly, I grabbed the sling (after calling D in a hysterical mess to demand he told me where it was), thinking this would solve everything. Did it work? 

Of course it didn’t. Because you can set as much store by slings as you like, but at the end of the day, they’re still just a piece of fabric and some safety clips. They’re great for fussiness, great for when your baby is just feeling a bit fragile and clingy, but when your baby is full-on poorly (as we discovered she was, one poonami-to-end-all-poonamis and several hours waiting to hear from the doctor later), very little will do. 

I think the worst thing about knowing your baby is ill – I used to scoff at the idea of mother’s intuition, but you just know when something isn’t right – is the fact that you know it, but others don’t seem to. It’s an unreasonable thing to be annoyed about, because they don’t have that same intuition or knowledge of the baby, but when you know this is out of character for your baby – even at their absolute, raging colic, hungry and tired and dirty nappy and overstimulated, just-being-a-little-mard-arse worst – someone suggesting ‘colic’ or ‘just a bit tired’ can be enough to push you over the edge. 

The only thing you can do in that situation is a deep breath, and understand that people just want to help. Most of the time, they know that you have the intuition, and to listen if you know something is wrong. Most of the time, it’s a good-natured intention to make you relax, rather than jumping to the conclusion that you’re going to lose your perfect baby. So although you know that you know your baby better than anyone else, act on your instincts first – and then listen to the people who suggest alternatives. Even though your instincts may be right, they’ll do a great job of keeping you calm. 

After the epic poonami and a little bit of grizzling, she seems right as rain again today – and I know that next time, not only can I keep calm until I’ve explored all the possibilities I’ve thought of, but that there are people I can ask who may offer other possibilities I haven’t thought of. 

The moral of the post – if you’re looking for a miracle cure, the sling ain’t it. If you’re looking for something to stop baby grizzling, to keep him or her close by and to let you get on with housework/uni work/Facebooking, it’s great. 


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