Friday, September 5, 2008

A mighty meltdown

When anyone tells you that babies are cute, you may want to quickly correct him by adding, 'except when cranky. Or ill. Or both'.

Sonny has been nursing what seems to be a cold for over two weeks now (we first blogged about it in 'Sonny the Showboat') but he has mostly been bearing with it heroically well. These last couple of days, however, have seen a couple of spectacular, high-volume meltdowns that sent us scurrying to the windows to see if any have cracked.

In each case, Sonny had been sniffling mightily before either dozing off or being comforted by a nice spell of suckling. Once woken up while being carried to his cot, or upon being detached from his personal drink faucet, he had gone berserk. Now, you might think that we're dramatising things (what, us?), but it seemed that Sonny's mouth expanded to allow for more crying power. His hollering reached dimensions never plumbed before. A river of tears gushed from his eyes and his limbs tightened into fixed stumps of quivering rage.

And that was just the warm-up routine. His nostrils were pretty much gummed up as something that looked like tears, but with a much thicker consistency, flowed out. His breathing half-seized, which of course threw him into a greater frenzy of distress. You see how a vicious cycle quickly took hold: The greater the distress, the wilder the wailing, which meant an even more blocked-up nose, ratcheted-up discomfort - and so a mightier outburst of crying...

We ran out of coping strategies very quickly. Silly singing, swaying, talking, shouting, a wet cloth - nothing made an impression. His baby mind had been blotted out temporarily by some all-out bawling instinct. Sheer exhaustion was probably what finally stoppered the outburst. Then, within seconds, it was back to the 'jolly baby' production, with cheery gurgling interrupted only by random sniffles.

What have we learned from these episodes (apart from a need to buy earplugs and install soundproofing)? Probably that we have to be exactingly careful when transiting Sonny from one activity to another, whether from drinking to sleeping, playing around to resting or the like. These bridging moments seem to be the instances of greatest risk, where his equilibrium is disturbed and a tipping-over to frenzy is most likely. We've heard about doctors who medicate their own children, feeding them a little something to knock them out and silence the screaming.

For fleeting moments, such drastic action actually seemed to make some sense...


JZ said...

Being a parent myself, I can perfectly empathise with you. Hold on, it will pass...meanwhile, placing him in slightly upright position (such as in a rocker), should help slightly. Hope your son recovers soon.

Cloudsters said...

Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement, Jacqy. Since we happen to have a seldom-used rocker lying about, we'll be trying out your tip.