Brandt has acquired a number of nicknames. “Bitty” because he’s so little. “Chipmunk” because he makes all sorts of chuntering noises. “B” for obvious reasons. He’s earned a new moniker in the last couple of weeks.
Brandt is colicky. One evening, he screamed (not fussed, not cried, not whimpered, but wailed like he did when he had blood drawn) for four entire hours. When he’s in this mode, nothing consoles him. He screams while he eats. He screams when the bottle is taken away. He screams when we hold him this way or that way or the other way. He screams when we walk. He screams when we sit and rock. Scream, scream, scream, scream, scream.
It’s… wearying. I feel awful that he’s suffering and I can’t help him. Also, that kind of noise drains my capacity for rational thought quickly. And after night after night of colicky crying, I found myself living in dread of when the screaming would start again. Every time I woke Brandt from a nap, every time I fed him, every time I played with him, I wondered, “Will this set him off? Is he about to start wailing again?”
It broke my heart that I wasn’t enjoying the baby so long awaited. In fact, I started to accuse God of being unfair. “Really, Lord? I endured infertility. We survived Brandt’s prematurity. Now we have to deal with colic, too?” Colic is of course the most minor of all the sufferings we’ve faced, but it felt like the proverbial back-breaking straw.
The colic and my response to it are an ongoing struggle. But God is giving grace. Friends have encouraged me, prayed for me, made practical suggestions for Brandt’s care, and helped me to gain conviction about the unbelief that this challenge revealed in my heart. Scripture passages like Philippians 4:11-13 remind me that Jesus will strengthen me to be content in “any and every circumstance,” whether I am “brought low” by endless colicky crying or partaking in the sweetnesses that “abound” in having this dear baby.
On a recent Sunday at church, we sang “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” a hymn that I often sang to Brandt in the NICU. The words, especially to the second and third verses, were just what I needed to hear.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth.
Has thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.
My desires for a child have been granted, in God’s kind providence. Now I can be confident that he reigns even over Brandt’s colic, and that he will gently sustain me as I do the work of caring for my son. Colic may be a part of daily life for now, but goodness and mercy daily attend me now and always. Why? Because God with His love has befriended me through the atoning work of His Son.
Does this look like the face of a Screamy McScreamerson?!