For the second night running, Mrs J left the flat and within minutes I was confronted with a suddenly very angry baby. Last night G ended up crying for several hours. I knew she wasn't hungry, and it wasn't her nappy either. I suppose she might have been too tired, but every time she appeared ready to drift off to sleep she woke up again, expressing what can pleasantly be described as considerable displeasure at whatever it was that was ailing her.
Apparently the big question facing parents in this situation is: does my baby have colic? I'd always assumed that colic was some kind of common baby illness, like measles or chicken pox or scurvy, until I finally got round to reading about it. Well, it's certainly common, and it definitely affects babies, making them cry a lot for no apparent reason. But that's just about all anybody seems able to agree on.
The traditional explanation was that colic was something to do with babies struggling to digest properly, although nobody really knew what exactly. That's still a popular theory, although there are a few others around, including the baby's environment, how the pregnancy went, and that there's not actually anything wrong with the baby at all. Not that any of this academic arguing is of much interest to the parent of such a child, because the hours of crying are real enough. But unsurprisingly, medical professionals have wildly differing views on what to do about the problem, ranging from nothing (because, well, crying is what babies do) to pumping a variety of narcotics with long names into your little one, which may or may not help hold back the baby rage.
The thing is, nobody can really be sure about anything, because babies can't tell you what's wrong with them. The scream for 'Ow! I have terrible pain in my stomach because of a build-up of gas!" is much the same as the scream for "I'm really bored of you daddy and your ridiculous tongue sticking-out game, what time does mummy get home?"
We're going for the narcotics option, in the form of some drops to give G before feeding to help her digest her milk, in case she's lactose intolerant like her mum. The good news about this is that it's a plausible theory for why our little girl is crying, and is easily treatable. The bad news is that it would put me into a minority of proper milk drinkers in our family. I don't much fancy a lifetime of trying to find new ways to cook meals involving goat's cheese, which is not even close to featuring in my personal list of top ten cheeses. But if G really hates ordinary milk as much as the picture above suggests, I don't suppose I've got any choice.