The Four Molars of The Apocalypse.

Oh, what a day. Simone screamed—oh, sorry, that doesn’t quite do it justice—SCREEEEEEEEEAMED! for hours, and hours, and, improbably enough, more hours still. Cried and screamed and cried and screamed until she started coughing and couldn’t stop.
Last night she was up five times, with the screaming, and then after a brief respite this morning she started up again, and every time I tried to put her down for a nap she woke 20 minutes later, her head spinning upon her shoulders while an unholy wailing emanated from her milk-hole. Finally I broke down and called the pediatrician. We got an appointment for four p.m.

I was certain it was an ear infection, because of how Simone kept scrabbling behind her ears, and I watched the clock as our appointment time crept, slothlike, closer, and with it the sweet, sweet relief of ear drops. I tried giving the banshee some Motrin, but got only redoubled woe in return. Then she BIT me, and I had to set her down and take deep, cleansing breaths. Let me just say that parents of colicky babies, babies who scream like this for days and weeks and months on end, have my utmost admiration and respect. I salute you, brave mothers and fathers of the world! It’s a miracle you haven’t flung your children from the highest nearby precipice, but probably you don’t have the energy anyhow.

We left for the doctor’s office early, because I AM PRETTY SURE THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH OUR CLOCK, and then, as soon as we were ensconced in an exam room…
Simone was fine. Happy! Waving her sock at the light socket and babbling importantly, the little bastard.

As it happens, she does not have an ear infection. She does, however, have FOUR molars mumping along under her gums, struggling to breathe free, one in each quadrant of her mouth. And I have a red, angry, blood-filled bite mark on my upper arm that hurts whenever I flex (happily, I have very little use for my muscles, so this is infrequent).

My daughter and I are off to bed with Motrin and a martini, and I’m not telling who gets which.


  1. Sarah says:

    I laughed out loud reading this Alexa. I feel YOUR pain. My youngest suffered from severe reflux and he had a gastric ulcer by the time we determined what was wrong. But the screaming. Oh the screaming. It haunts me still. Enjoy the martini!

  2. jadine says:

    I am the mother of a now-12 year old boy who had colic. For 9 months, that child screamed. He would sleep for 10-20 minute increments and then resume the screaming. I was pretty flippin’ delirious. I remember (not so fondly) a moment when I was crying while he was screaming. I snapped and yelled at my beloved first-born child, “Would you just stop screaming!?!” Then I cried because I yelled at my baby.

    Turned out he had reflux (which presented in an atypical manner and was, therefore, undiagnosed…I was a nervous first-time mother, you know…and babies *do* cry, you know (rolling my eyes)). Anyhoo, he got better, and I really, really empathize with mommies when their babies scream. It’s really frazzle-making.

    Sorry about your bite :) <- smilie-face in support…not in glee that you were bit, of course.

  3. Flicka says:

    Sam screamed like that for the first six months of his life. I lost 15 pounds and cried every day. Everyone kept telling me to “blog about the baybee! Aren’t you just so happy ALL THE TIME?!” And I was happy in an overall sense but I was deeply, miserably depressed at the same time because I did not think that it would ever end. I pictured Sam at 16 going “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHGGGGHHHH! Pass the peas, Mom. AAAAAGGGHH!”

    I hope Simone’s teeth come in quickly. And that the martini helps. I’m hugging you from here.

  4. Cara says:

    I too have children who are mysteriously cured and happy once we cross the threshold of the peds office. It’s irritating as hell. “No, really, she’s a demon when you’re not around!”

    We’re in molar hell right now with our youngest. Distraction and change of scenery are the best tools I can recommend. Oh, and copious amounts of Motrin and Tylenol given back to back over and over again.

    Good luck.

  5. Leslie says:

    @Flicka I had babies who didn’t even cry all the time, and I still thought I might have to hurt the next person (almost always men) who told me, “Enjoy it now. They are so easy and fun at this age. They get harder later on.” While I loved my baby, I found her to be a huge amount of work, and very isolating (we live in the middle of nowhere, and they despised their car seats.) and even though they weren’t colicky, they still cried enough to leave me constantly frazzled. I enjoyed them so much more once they reached the 6-month mark and the crying became more intermittent.

  6. bittermama says:

    Oh, but those molars are nasty little beasts. I have a friend whose parents say her first word was “whiskey?” said hopefully in the form of a question when her mother asked if her teeth were hurting her. Apparently grandma had been babysitting. I’d say that I hope you get some relief soon, but they can take forever to come through.

  7. Kara says:

    Oh man, I really hate to say it, but I guess I’m gonna anyway. . .welcome to toddlerhood! *forced grin and martini raised to you*

    I had one of those colicky babies, but the thing is? Screaming in tiny babies vs. screaming in toddlers? Toooootally different. My screaming infant really didn’t frazzle me all that much. Sure I was exhausted. And sure I handed her over to daddy as soon as he walked through the door. But it just really didn’t make me angry or crazy or anything. But that same sweet girl, now 3 years old? When she screams? C R A Z Y. Talk about needing deep cleansing breaths.

    All of that to say, my dear: welcome to the next stage, you’re not alone. :)

  8. Megan says:

    I just seriously sat here cracking up at this post–not laughing AT you, promise. But we’ve had the exact same day, minus the molars–mine has bad reflux, and spent the day soaking me in curdled milk.

    And she did have herself an impressive fit at the pedi’s office, so they all now agree “wow, she really can yell, huh?”…um, yes. Did you think I was making that up? That she was just whimpering all day? The girl turns purple and holds her breath for maximum yell volume. Oh, and she was colicky too. :-)

    I am toasting you with my beer now, we made it through this day. Sweet.

  9. Melissa says:

    Alexa, have you tried Hylands teething tablets? We used them in between the motrin and the tylenol and had pretty good luck. We are past the first year molars and we all survived anyway.

    Good luck and hang in there!


  10. yikes, I remember those days.

    My oldest had colic for 9 months. I would do everything that worked the previous time, and it was as if his 9 month old self was saying, “muuuaahhhaaaaa, you just THINK you can outsmart me!” There were times when the screaming abated and I just would lie down on the floor right there in his room because it took too much effort to walk the ten feet to the bed. Then one day, it just… stopped. I never knew why. And he started sleeping. I had no clue babies would actually sleep.

    It really was a good thing I was too exhausted to fling.

    Hope she feels better soon.

  11. You know, when I saw your tweet about the drs appt I was going to make a breezy reply about the time lapse and how Simone’d be TOTALLY FINE by then. I have learnt from bitter and embarrassing experience: you have to take them RIGHT AWAY or look like a proper incompetent charlatan, babbling frantically about how they were REALLY ILL just an hour ago.

    Of course, it can work the other way on, too. Harry once had such a prolonged melt-down in the (young-ish) dr’s office that he rang the hospital to prepare them for our speedy arrival, disappeared to scribble a brief admission note, and returned 3 minutes later to find a smiling, gurgling, only mildly feverish baby. It was too late to rip up the note, but I feel he felt like the charlatan that day. Score!

    Biting again?! Oh, Simone! Naughty!

  12. Kristin says:

    Oh the molars. What an awful time. I was very lucky to have a kid who didn’t cry very much as an infant (no reflux or colic, thank God), and got through most of teething without a problem. But the molars, that was hell. Motrin didn’t do it for us, but Tylenol worked wonders. Good luck! Oh, and I had bite marks on my shoulder too!

  13. Pocklock says:

    Oh yes, the teething. It’s been rough for us too. It’s right up there with the reflux/colic bout we had for the first six weeks of her life (which I’m still not over). It’s similarly the same feeling of what-is-making-you-cry? Just-stop-with-the-CRYING! And then a resounding, DUH when either the burp/spit-up happens or teeth poke through.

    Babies. Mysteries.

  14. shriek house says:

    Oh my. You are probably too bleary-eyed from complete lack of sleep last night to read this, but if it’s any consolation I remember the HOURS of molar massage which probably didn’t do much more than slightly muffle the screams of my toothing baby. She’s six now so apparently we survived. I even have all my fingers!

    So: courage! You too will someday post wry remembrances of encouragement to mothers of molar-imminent children, just imagine the happy day!

  15. Aurelia says:

    Motrin and Tylenol can be used at the same time hon. And I think that although Motrin lowers the inflammation and swelling, that Tylenol lowers the pain more effectively. I know people think less medication is better, but really, not so much. Please don’t hesitate to use them!

    Why? Because babies and young children should not ever build up a tolerance for pain. If they do have a tolerance they might not tell you when something really is wrong and pain is a signal that something is wrong with the body, right?

    At least that’s what my pediatrician believes and what my local favorite NICU teaches all of it’s graduate moms.

    Also, martinis for breakfast lunch and dinner for mom. (Ok, that’s my belief!)

  16. Sarah K says:

    Bless you and Simone. I will pray for an unceasing flow of strong martinis for you until the cursed molars have broken through. I do know your pain. My daughter suffered from GERD, and I am pretty damn impressed with myself that both my daughter and I made it through her first year alive. Thanks for the props.

  17. Jenny says:

    I just have to comment because I am sure you were reliving MY day. I took my 14-month-old to the GP yesterday with the same screechy symptoms. Like Simone, he was miraculously healed once we walked through the door. No ear infection, no temp, no nothing. I honestly thought it was probably a tantrum until it happened all over again today. It must be his teeth.

    If I could get my fingers in his mouth to check for molars I would, but I risk serious injury doing that. So, can anyone tell me when the biting stops???

    Oh, and mix me a double while you’re at it.

  18. Jenn says:

    Four front teeth (top) coming in right now. It’s hell, pure hell. Anyone have any suggestions for teething-related diaper rash?

  19. Nic says:

    Jenn – I don’t know if you can get it in the US (I’m in England) but Metanium works a treat on teething nappy rash for my little one. It does stain your fingers (and anything else it comes into contact with) bright yellow, but its a small price to pay…

  20. MyTurn says:

    Your story scared me so much as to what I’ve got to “look forward” to, that I went out and got prepared. I’ve bought a “teethifier” (you should be able to find on google) that looks pretty cool, and I’ve stocked up on motrin, baby tylenol, and vodka.

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