Against the wind

Living

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

It’s amazing what you forget about newborns.
On Séimí’s first night home, Aisling asked me to wind him after she had finished feeding him. I looked at her with a face that must have started off with puzzlement before realisation hit, and then panic set in.
How could I have forgotten about winding? How had my mind managed to forget it as we looked forward to the new arrival? Because, for the third time, I can confirm that winding a baby is one of the most frustrating parts of the newborn stage.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure, let me try to paint a picture.
Winding a baby is basically burping them after a feed. It’s essential, but far from simple. Babies might have different amounts of wind depending on how they’ve been feeding. They might get a burp up and you think you’re out of the woods. You put them to sleep only for them to wake up half an hour later, and as soon as you lift them up, the cause becomes clear – a big, hearty burp that was laying there undiscovered by your winding efforts.
Try too much and your winding efforts might lead to them vomiting, undoing the good work of the feed – trust me this is a good outcome for precisely nobody involved. I’ve been there, worn the T-shirt, and washed it.
There’s a technique to winding – the straighter their back, the better. You can do it with them sitting on your lap or put them up on your shoulder.
Sometimes Séimí will get his wind up straightaway. It’s a mighty relief to hear a big, loud burb, akin to a man during a feed of pints. The ruder and louder the better.
But sometimes you could be half an hour looking for it. The whole world stops turning while you are trying to wind the baby. Very little else can be done, but assuming he’s got all his wind up is an assumption fraught with peril.
Because, take it from me, if a baby wakes early from a nap because of wind, there’s no guarantee he will get back to sleep straightaway, and often you’re back down at the bottom of the hill again.
Wind is common in the first three months as a baby’s little digestive system matures. Of course it goes both ways – not just out of his mouth!
One of the fears we faced in recent weeks was the dreaded colic, which can go on for weeks on end. We exhausted every possible avenue of professional advice we could get.
From our insight into Séimí’s colic-like few days, it seems like an absolute nightmare. You’re never certain if the crying is tiredness, hunger, wind or the overarching colicky symptoms.
It turned out all he was missing out on was a good ‘constitutional’. A movement in the baby bowels, and the relief was palpable, especially for the little man himself. The uncontrollable crying stopped, and it was a much happier house again.
When it comes to winding though, I think that is one battle that we will have to endure rather than conquer.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.