All Quiet in the Front pack

Low tolerance for crying

It's strange but true: I'm a mother of 12 with a very low tolerance for crying. It's also a fact that the majority of my children were afflicted with colic. If the pope only knew of my existence, he'd be sure to beatify me as a saint. On the other hand, it's more probable that I am out of my mind.

Caring for an infant with colic

During my first bout of caring for an infant with colic, I found the front pack to be my closest ally. As long as I kept my daughter in the front pack, she'd sleep. The front pack was like a second skin, or a prolonged pregnancy, an every present bump on my front as I did the dishes, the laundry, and the shopping.

She'd wake up if I tried to sit or lie down

My back developed a constant ache; it had never suspected it would have to support a pregnancy so long past the birth. The backache was a reasonable tradeoff for the cessation of my daughter's piercing cries as gas pains seized her small tummy. There was just one problem: she'd wake up if I tried to sit or lie down.

That baby is now 27 years old and has two children of her own, but my memory of this time is as sharp as ever. In particular, I remember one week in which besides the usual suffering from colic, she decided to cut her first tooth. She was inconsolable; I was exhausted. I paced through the apartment, my legs like wooden dowels, day and night, with my baby girl ensconced in the front pack. My fatigue was so palpable that I worried I would fall over and injure my fretful child with her still strapped to my chest.

I could no longer resist the impulse to sleep. I inched close to my bed, debating the wisdom of trying to lie down, just to rest my back, even for a moment, while the baby was still strapped to me. Would she sleep through such a maneuver? With exquisite slowness, I lowered my upper torso ever closer to my mattress. At long last, my head lay on my pillow.

In response, my angry baby wailed, "Waaaaa!"