THE COLIC HYMN – A True Story

My great nephew first visited me when he was only two months old.  He’s the grandson of my sister who is one year older than me, he’s her daughter’s son.  The three of them came so I could see him  because I couldn’t wait to see the next newborn in the family.  They were both hesitant about bringing him because of his discomfort with colic, they said he cries a lot because of the pain.  It is hard to even imagine what an infant can be going through at that age.  They brought him anyway and at last I could feel their suffering.  Dear God, it is cruel that there is no pain relief strong enough for colic that isn’t too strong for an infant, it is clear that what they do have for it is not strong enough.

His crying seemed endless, and when I saw him trying to form his lips to pronounce words while he laid in the arms of my sister, looking into her eyes so seriously, it wasn’t hard for me to understand his need to communicate as perfectly as he imagined possible, needing to express his desperation for the pain to go away.  I can remember my first asthma attack, it’s the only part of my infant age I can remember, I couldn’t hardly breathe, and my sister sitting up in the bed with me trying to play with me, by bumping the bed, or jumping up and down making the bed move as it was aggravating my desperate need to take in air.  I so wanted her to stop, and I can remember not knowing how to tell her or make her aware.  I don’t remember what happened after that.  I believe it was then my visit to the emergency room for asthma.  So, my eyes couldn’t cry fast enough for my heart, as I saw my nephew trying to communicate.  I’m sure those tears rushed behind my eyes and dived directly into my heart.  My sister turned at looked at me as all of our eyes began to water, I turned and looked at his mom, and my sister said, “now you see what we’re going through”.  We all sat listening to his cries as if we were in some kind of suspended animation.  Seemed there was nothing we could do.  He had already taken what medication he could take.

This baby needed to sleep.  That’s what they do when they first get home from the hospital, they sleep and grow.  He was desperate for rest.  I placed my hand on his little tummy and I could feel the popping, it was like firecrackers going off inside of him.  I took him out of my sisters arms and stood up, I began pacing back and forth, from the living room to the kitchen.  A hymn came to mind, as I started doing it, I became creative with it until it was complete with notes I always found soft and comforting that I like to hear.  I kept doing it as his cries got louder trying to reach above me.  However, since his head was well rested on my bosom, the sound got his attention, because he acknowledged it was coming from inside me.  His crying began to silence little by little, because he was trying to listen.  After a few slow paces back and forth, he fell into a deep sleep.  I have to admit, maybe the hymn was like a pleasant cry of pain for him, but it rested his need to cry and finally he could sleep.

Two weeks later, it was really weird, when I spoke to my sister over the phone and she told me he makes these sounds when he trying to go to sleep.  I said, “what sounds”?  She said, “long tones, like he’s trying to sing”.  I said “he’s remembering the hymn, and he’s aware of how it comforted him, sing it to him, I’ll show you how it goes”, she said “but I can’t sing it for him, I don’t know how to sing”.  Though I thought it should be simple, they’re just notes, no words, but she insisted neither her or her daughter could do what I was doing.  We thought about a tape. Didn’t happen, because as time passed he was growing out of it, sleeping better.   Also they found some gentle and soft music for him to listen to while he sleeps.  So if or when I’m able to share the “Colic Hymn” anyone is welcome to use it.  It might just happen to be magically only for infants suffering colic, well, and just maybe it can put anybody to sleep.  Right now it’s still a hymn I remember, stored away in my memory, and sometimes I sing it to myself, just to be able to never forget it.  But no baby should suffer such severe pains like that.

Author: Cosima

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