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One Down, Nineteen to Go (Seriously?)… What Are Your Best Teething Survival Tips?

Kaspar has never before cried as much as he did this past Monday night. I knew something was up earlier in the day when the fussiness started (obscene levels of happiness and social inclination are his M.O., so any prolonged fussing is a bit of a red flag); he also wasn’t interested in eating much, didn’t want his binky, and kept rubbing his lips together and droning “Mmmmmmm.” He’s been showing signs of teething for months (upon further reading it appears he’s in fact just been in his ‘oral’ phase), but by Monday evening I knew we were in it for real.


By the time I toweled him off from his bath that evening, Kaspar’s “Mmmm” had developed into a moan, and nothing seemed to help him. He cried while I slathered him in lotion, cried while I zipped up his pajamas. He loves books, and sniveled through a few, but by Goodnight Moon was full-on wailing. He pushed a bottle and his binky away, as he had earlier, and then just let loose, threw his head back and bawled. Now, I normally take a low-intervention approach to health stuff, but sometimes you’ve just gotta bust out the Tylenol. We did that. And we gave him some homeopathic teething tablets. And he cried on.


This was all complicated by a proliferation of saliva and snot, from the teething itself, from a ragweed allergy—he’d also been sneezing all day (when it rains, y’all…)-- and from all of the crying. So, in the midst of the crying mess, he’d intermittently gag on all of the fluid, which just upset him more. He threw up three times (everywhere. So much for the Tylenol), too, which I hoped upon hope was a result of the snot-gagging and not of pain… The last time I puked from pain, I was in labor, and by the looks of it Kaspar was similarly hitting the high notes on the God-awful-pain-scale… Needless to say, I was pretty upset by this point, too, and reminded myself repeatedly of all of our pediatrician’s assurances that, with little ones, it usually looks a lot worse than it is.


If I were crying the way he was, I might last for fifteen minutes; I think I’d then pass out, with a quiver and a sigh. Kaspar lasted for over an hour, clinging to me and crying. I held him, tried to comfort him, tried not to lose my mind. He finally passed out, whimpering, slept for a few hours, repeated the cycle, and then slept through the night, moaning every now and then in his sleep. It was bad.


I’m not sure which was more difficult—watching my perennially exultant baby suffer, or being unable to do anything about it (I’m proactive to a fault). I racked my brain, called upon mom- friends and dad-friends, and was reminded of amber teething necklaces. I’ve seen them on a number of babies recently, asked their parents about them and even made a note to procure one, but since Kaspar hadn’t done much more than drool and chew, I hadn’t gotten to it yet.


For those of you who haven’t discovered them, these necklaces aren’t intended for chewing. Instead, their stones warm against the body and emit trace amounts of oils (or something) that have an analgesic and soothing effect on the kiddos. Willing to try anything, I placed an order first thing Tuesday morning. The shipping would take five to seven business days.


Kaspar was feeling much better by then, eating more, napping, but still a bit out of sorts. I suspected that we were headed into another night of doom if I didn’t do something to intervene. So, I cancelled my plans, strapped Kaspar into his car seat, and called the store I’d ordered the necklace from—Tiny Birds Organic Baby (free shipping!)--  to let them know I’d be picking it up instead. According to Google Maps, the store is only twenty minutes away.


Kaspar cried for the entire ride there. I got lost, too, so it took almost an hour. I reached back and handed him toys, binkies and whatnot. I sang the alphabet song. He just cried harder. He smiled as soon as I pulled over to ask for directions (taking him out of the seat and into a gas station), so I was reassured that he was just frustrated to be strapped in and facing away from me, rather than in horrible pain. Of course, he started back up again as soon as we were back on the road. And he cried all the way home. I hit major traffic, so that took another hour.  I could see my exit, while sitting there at the wheel, for half an hour, with my baby crying and crying in the back seat. Kaspar was totally exhausted by the time we got home, red-faced and puffy but back to his smiley self the moment we walked in the door. Aaron took one look at me and asked, “Are you okay?” I told him I’d just had one of the worst experiences of my life, which, admittedly, sounds ridiculous (and did even ten minutes after it’d concluded), but strap a woman into a metal box with her screaming baby two feet behind her, and you’ve got a torture mechanism to trump the rest…


Kaspar slept through the night on Tuesday, a rare occurrence under the best of circumstances. I realize I should probably just credit exhaustion. He’s worn the teething necklace since—though not at night—and by Thursday was entirely himself again. He didn’t seem, later in the week, to be chewing any more than usual, and he stopped saying “Mmmmmm,” so I wondered if he’d in fact just been sick, and not in the throes of teething after all, but when he pulled my finger into his mouth this morning and chomped down on it, I felt something sharp instead of gummy. Sure enough, he’s popped a little snaggle-tooth, front and center! I'm so proud of him!


Kaspar’s also mastered crawling this week, and he can now sit himself up-- it's been a big week-- but, for some reason, I’m most proud of his tooth. There’s no way to know whether the necklace made the difference or whether Monday night was just the rough patch for this tooth, but baby man’s gonna wear that necklace until he’s twenty, if I have anything to say about it… In the meantime, I know in the back of my mind that there are a whole lot more (nineteen—I looked it up) teeth just beneath the surface, pushing their way through… Tell me, mamas, will there be an equal number of nights like this past Monday’s?


What was teething like in your house? Do you have any strategies/tools/tricks that helped to keep your babies comfortable through the thick of it? Anyone else tried a teething necklace? What else works?