For the first six months of her life, our daughter, Krista, suffered from colic. For those of you whose children have never been afflicted with this condition, congratulations are in order. For those who have walked this road, my sympathies are with you. For those unfamiliar with this malady, please allow me to explain it.
Our family medical bible defines colic as “acute pain in the abdominal cavity…. An attack of infant colic is usually mild, although it may look severe and be accompanied by prolonged crying, abdominal distension, reddening of the face, and legs drawn toward the abdomen.”
Our adorable daughter cried day and night as she exhibited all the above symptoms. Sucking in and expelling air, she cried plaintively, “Ah-laah! Ah-laah! Ah-laah!,” with the emphasis on the second syllable.
Sherry and I did all within our power to alleviate her pain.
After three months of Krista’s steady screeching, our family doctor felt her belly and said, “It’s as hard as a drum…a sure sign of colic.”
Gripe Water was our first remedy of choice. Sometimes it worked–most times it didn’t. We often walked through the Avalon and Village malls in St. John’s with Krista in her stroller. The steady movement helped her, but she cried her heart out whenever the stroller stopped.
My visiting sister, Karen, would ask, “Where’s the Gripe Water?” Unscrewing the cover, she would poke the dropper into Krista’s mouth. We now wonder what shoppers must have thought, Whatever are they giving that poor child to drink? It isn’t white, so it can’t be milk. If it’s water, then why is she gagging on it?
A second remedy was to place Krista on my stomach while I reclined on the chesterfield and gently rocked her to sleep. The warmth of my girth worked a temporary miracle. As long as I was in motion, she slept soundly. But the moment I stopped…”Ah-laah! Ah-laah! Ah-laah!”
I had recently returned to Memorial University to begin graduate studies. The three of us–Mom, Dad and Baby–became exhausted from the perpetual crying, lack of sleep, and study. Sherry and I were at our wit’s end.
Arriving home from class one day, I opened the door and heard the inevitable “Ah-laah! Ah-laah! Ah-laah!” Sherry, hearing me enter the house, ordered, “Burton, bring in the Castoria.”
“On my way,” I promised dully.
I knew exactly where the Castoria was located. I had grabbed it from the fridge numerous times. It had never been moved from its coveted spot in the corner of the door shelf.
In a daze, I stumbled to the fridge and yanked open the door. Without looking at what I was doing, I reached inside, located the elixir, removed the cover, and poured the requisite amount–well, perhaps a little more this time–into a dropper.
I trudged to our bedroom. Sherry was sitting up in bed, cuddling Krista, humming, rocking her back and forth, trying to sooth her. I passed her the dropper. “Here, give her this,” I said.
Sherry touched the dropper to Krista’s lip, waiting for her to adjust to the taste. The substance started to spread across Krista’s lips.
Suddenly, she began coughing, sputtering, choking, gagging. Sherry moved the dropper away from her. Krista clamped her lips, which had turned black by now.
Oh, my glory! I thought. What have I done?
I knew from experience that Castoria tasted rather pleasant. In fact, the manufacturers prided themselves on its “original root beer taste.”
“Burton,” Sherry said, with a look of horror on her face, “what did you give me?”
“Castoria, of course,” I responded.
“That’s not Castoria!” she exclaimed.
“It is,” I insisted.
“It can’t be–it’s too thick.”
“I tell you, it is. I found the bottle in the same place as a hundred times before.”
“Well, then, what is it if it isn’t Castoria?”
“It’s gravy browning!”