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March 5, 2000 - Sunday
Although we have no experience raising other babies, anecdotal evidence suggests that Harry is a delightful child. So, perhaps today was some sort of cosmic payback that we had coming, but it was Harry's worst day so far. Essentially moving between whining and wailing for the better part of four hours - save a 45-minute nap in the car - he give his mother and me a special experience that probably only parents can appreciate, all coinciding with a family gathering at a restaurant.

Harry's never come close to such an episode before. His 25 minutes without mother at 10 days old is probably second and that was easy to understand. This was not and set his mother and I through the mental wringer trying to figure why he was upset and what would make him happy, or at least calm. Unfortunately, Harry chose to share his adventure in misery with his aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Since the trouble began before we left, it's unlikely that the outing had much to do with his distress, but being away from home took away certain familiar comfort measures. And, though a baby crying at a family-style restaurant is no mysterious event, his relatives did not see Harry at anything close to his normal self.

Harry actually woke up cheery as ever and was his usual smiling morning self until about 9:45am when his mother was trying to feed him. The trouble was that he seemed hungry, but refused to eat what was on the proverbial plate. In hindsight, I suspect his stomach was not in full agreement with his mouth and mind on the matter, because Harry was fighting with himself for long after that. However, since I've had daddy duty in the mornings lately, Harry's fussiness didn't seem that abnormal. But for a question of degree, I often watch him fight a losing battle against his morning nap. Sometimes it takes a just little milk and sometimes a full bottle to get him to sleep, and sometimes he waits until after his nap for food. I figured he was just tired and his upcoming car nap would probably set him right. His mother and I tried to ignored the robustness in his dissent and hastened our departure, but the questioning, analyzing, figuring, hoping, and wishing had already begun.

Fortunately, the car worked like a charm and he quickly fell asleep. Unfortunately, the drive was an hour and Harry’s morning naps are usually 45 minutes. Still, fussing the last 15-minute stretch seemed logical enough and all should have been well with nursing before going to the restaurant. Harry saw things differently, refusing all but a token nibble and worse, complained to his mother and the world through entire effort. A false lull got us in the car, but the 10-minute ride to the restaurant had Harry back in high gear. His aunt and cousin, riding with us, sportingly made conversation between Harry’s peak moments, but his mother and I were too busy figuring hypothetical causes and reasoning potential solutions to add more than pleasantries. The wind distracted Harry on the way into the restaurant and he was quiet as we got to the table, but the reprise was short-lived and from then on his mother and I took turns away from the table trying to find even a temporary solution for Harry's discomfort. We did not share much dinner conversation with the others, nor did we experience the relaxation of a restaurant meal. Lunch was strictly utilitarian. In an interesting and commonly rumored aside about parents, I had no trouble recognizing Harry's cry emanating from some distant part of the restaurant even though I had noticed another toddlers present. Though I never asked, I suspect his mother heard him, too.

At one point, I took Harry for a 10-15 minute walk outside, during which time he was mostly thrown off his wayward course with new sights and more wind, but he never turned the corner toward true comfort. His favorite songs were also something of a distraction, but not fully soothing. Then, mercifully, going back into the warmth of the restaurant, Harry fell asleep in position on my shoulder. While others back at the table offered to take him, it seemed wise - if not unquestionably obvious - to let him stay where he lay. Oddly, my right arm, which had borne his weight during the walk and now still as he rested at the table, felt no pain or fatigue.

While the car ride home - this time the three of us alone - was again troubling, Harry finally returned from his personal mystery trip once we got back to great-grandpa's house about 2:00pm and after finally eating a decent meal. We stayed with the family long enough for others to see Harry smile, offer a few of his endearing vocal sounds, and win praises, but his mother and I were just relieved. But, what a tremendous feeling of release and joy it was when Harry finally smiled.

Something was clearly disturbing Harry, but we just don't know what it was and that was frustrating. His refusal to eat strongly hints at some disagreeable food his mother ate, but there's no way to know. At the end of the day, it occurred to me how it's been easy for Harry's mother and me to go through somewhat mechanical day-to-day motions as we try to handle the logistics of Harry, with less time for ourselves and our own emotions. Today we shared a unique hardship and it was anything but mechanical. Yet, in a strange way it renewed the closeness of our relationship and as we sat together on the couch while Harry slept, we had a full conversation about the days events without saying a word.

Comments, opinions?