TITLE: Coping with Child Part One 23.10.2015
By Trace Pezzali
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There has to be a solution to these sleepless nights. Kelly’s forehead was bunched with tension, and tears of exhaustion made tracks down exaggerated crows feet. The slight coolness pooled in the shell of each ear. Kelly willed her body to relax, but then the infant let out another piercing scream and every nerve spasmed in response, as if she were water stung by a current of electricity. Oh, God, not again. She dragged herself from the bed, shooting a resentful glance at her sleeping husband, then half-staggered down the hall to the nursery. I’ve only just put you down, you little tinker.
Williams’ puckered red face was ugly in its demands. Kelly was at a loss as to how to help. Mentally she ran through the checklist; hungry, wet, comfort, again; it must be pain. She picked him up but knew her frustration would relay to the baby. Lord, I can’t do this. This is too much.
She counted how much sleep she’d had. Maybe two broken hours so far tonight, with only an hour to sunrise. If she was exhausted, Will must be even more so. Poor little tyke. Compassion softened her heart, and she burrowed her face into his neck, which was soon damp with her tears.
Something was wrong with Will. He dozed when comforted in someone’s arms but rarely settled in the cot. In the evening his screaming began and he was inconsolable for hours at a stretch. She’d noticed his stomach muscles rolling under his skin as he arched and wriggled in her arms. Relentless research indicated colic or wind. They’d tried numerous things and were left only with a systematic juggle of manoeuvres; Kelly would try positioning Will every which way to ease his pain. The occasional reprieve afforded him temporary chance to rest.
Kelly was still pacing the floor trying to ease his distress when her dishevelled husband walked into the nursery an hour later. He took one look at her haggard face and quickly crossed over to take Will from her arms. “Darling, up all night?” Mutely she nodded. “Go to bed. I’ll take over until I have to go to work.”
Relieved, she stumbled to bed, though shy sleep kept its distance a short while, until her mind and body quietened. Sunlight had banished night’s shadow when she roused several hours later.
Shocked into action, she launched out of bed. In the nursery, Brett was settled in the recliner, Will asleep in his arms. Her heart gave a pleasant thrum watching them.
“Brett, you’ll be late for work,” she whispered.
“That’s ok my love. I don’t want to wake him, and you need rest,” Brett answered.
“I need more than rest. I can’t handle him, Brett.”
“You’re doing a great job, Kelly. He’s a newborn. It’s what they do.”
That’s ok for you to say. Kelly’s jaw clenched. Her thankfulness at his help was swept aside by anger.
“Put him in the cot. He may transfer. You go to work,” Kelly ordered, a martyr in her self-pity.
With a sigh, Brett carefully nestled Will into the cot. The baby roused, and Kelly held her breath until Will settled back into slumber. Looking down, Kelly savoured his sleepy sweetness a moment, before she sank into the recliner and closed her eyes.
When Brett returned, dressed in a suit and tie, Kelly accepted a kiss on the cheek. The emptiness in her heart deepened when he left.
Searching yet again for how she could help her son, Kelly had scoured the internet, re-read medical journals and parenting books for what she may have missed, and had now reached the depressing verdict that there was no solution to these sleepless nights. Twisting off a jagged fingernail sliver with her teeth, she stared dumbly around the messy lounge room until she lit upon the tattered bible on a shelf. She crossed the floor and took the small book in her hand, out of habit caressing the embossed pattern on the worn leather cover. Kelly always enjoyed the rustling crinkle as she rifled its thin pages. Randomly she stopped at Psalms.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Her foggy mind considered the truth that nibbled at the corner of consciousness. After a pause she flickered again through the pages.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Startled, Kelly’s mouth opened in an ellipses of surprise. She’d been relying on the words of man, rather than on instruction from God. Taken on-board, much advice from child-rearing experts had burned with accusation, demanded a hardened heart, or questioned her instinct. Vastly different opinions had confused her. She wondered how much in the world was feeding the guilt she entertained; all these things she failed to do or did incorrectly.
It was time to start relying on the Holy Spirit; depending on the promise of wisdom. With this resolution, a light calm whispered along each jangled nerve, and settled the chaos of her thoughts.
That night, Kelly spoke in a rush as she described her day to Brett.
“And then, after that, I had to race around getting us ready for the six-week Doctors check-up, and he confirmed that Will is lactose intolerant. I’ve been trying the new lactose-free formula since late morning and he’s already so much better.”
“That’s great news,” Brett replied, enveloping her in a warm hug. She held on to him for a long time.
“Thank you,” she whispered, “I know how much you try to help me.” His kiss replaced the use of words.
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