The Best Worst of Sensory Overload

“How can you tell if a baby is colicky?” I asked at our son’s first doctor’s appointment, not quite three weeks after his complicated-yet-healthy birth. The doctor, younger than this Advanced Age Mother, dismissed the notion: Crying is how newborns communicate their needs, and if he was truly colicky, I wouldn’t need to ask.

A week later, at his one-month check-up — same doctor, infant, and parent in the same examination room — I again described the incessant crying and inconsolable nature of our son from 4-7 p.m. each day. “Oh, that’s nothing to worry about, he’s just colicky and that’s the witching hour. It should go away in about two months.”

In my exhaustion-fueled exasperation, I thought, “This is what it feels like just before your head explodes.” Somehow, I calmly asked this JV pediatrician why the symptoms I described one week earlier, when he denied there being any chance of colic, now qualified this as a textbook case. “It’s not colic until three weeks of age,” he replied dramatically. “Three weeks to 3 months, like clockwork. He was too young for me to call it ‘colic’ then. Anyhow, his system is immature — sensory overload. He’ll outgrow it soon.”

I wasn’t sure if I was more relieved to have an answer, or more annoyed to endure this doctor’s indifference…and another eight weeks of my own sensory overload. Thankfully, our son was also a delight to the senses, full of adorable gurgles and coos. He was early to laugh and smile, and filled our house with enough love to get us through that sonic madness. Predictably, the colicky cries disappeared at three months, though I’d already found a new pediatrician by the time that check-up rolled around.