My son screamed for five hours straight.
I was half deaf and mostly insane with overfull, throbbing breasts that he refused to suckle. Without fluids or food for hours, I rushed him to emergency.
I was seen quickly due to the sound of the writhing, howling monster making everyone feel worse than they were originally. The noise reverberating so close to my eardrums meant I couldn’t concentrate on what the triage nurse was saying.
‘Did you even think to check his mouth?’
I said no, the response of a mewling weakling who felt totally chastened.
Three of four molars had erupted on the same day. His gums purple with pain, the tooth on the bottom right had only a speck of white piercing the skin. The other molars had three or four points up.
‘They don’t usually come through all at once.’ The bitch in white said, looking at me like I earned the world’s worst mother prize.
He’s not one yet, I thought it molars didn’t break through until 18 months.
‘Early,’ she snapped raising her eyes to the ceiling.
Things were easier once armed with Bonjela; the saviour of sore baby mouths.
There was really only that one day in hell with his teeth.
After my second child arrived, I checked her mouth every second time she squawked.
A clever kid, at ten months old she demanded: ‘teefmecin’.
I didn’t understand, her Dad couldn’t decipher the word either. After chanting the word twelve times, he took her in his arms on a tour of the house. In the bedroom she pointed to the blue tube on the dresser, loudly declaring ‘teefmecin’.
Teeth medicine, was what I’d called it, to make her mouth better. One of those talking out loud things I did to tell myself I was an okay mother. Explaining to them what was going on, whenever I was on the edge of not coping. I didn’t expect her to understand, to take it in or repeat it when she only had eight real words in her repertoire.