Last night our whole family went out to do some service work. We took everyone with us, including our youngest, who is still a baby. Even though I wanted to help the rest of the family with the work, our youngest wasn’t willing to be happy with anyone else but me, so that’s the “chore” I got “stuck” with. Everything was rolling merrily along until about 7:30 pm or so. I had to help my husband with something, and gave the baby to an older child. When our youngest was brought back to me 15 minutes later, she was beside herself: screaming her lungs out with real tears, body going rigid (as if she had gas or a gut ache), refusing to nurse yet making all the signals that she was hungry and additional body language that denoted teething pain. I checked and changed her diaper, tried many times to feed her, tried singing and rocking… Basically she was exhibiting all the signs of being over-stimulated, hungry and tired yet suddenly and unexplainably was in too much in pain to be able to do anything.
Though I’d tried everything I could think of to calm her down, when nothing worked I thought maybe the surroundings had upset her and she’d only be okay once we were back home again in familiar surroundings. However, she continued to scream at home. It didn’t matter when we did the whole “time for bed” routine. She was inconsolable. I tried to do the “I Love You” colic massage which Dr. William Sears teaches, using olive oil, and the essential oils of lavender and ginger. We tried to eliminate any over-stimulation she might still be getting by turning down the lights. She still wasn’t calming down. We were starting to get concerned, because by then, at 9:00, she’d been screaming for an hour and a half.
I started to think really hard… it was more like half brainstorming, half praying for help… and what came to my mind was what I’d learned in my Family Herbalist course studies about catnip and fennel. These two herbs are used for colic and upset stomach, and are typically administered in tincture form. Well, I knew we didn’t have any tincture, but I knew we did have fennel. I’d packed up the catnip when we moved from our old house, but I figured it was still packed with most of my other herbs. I knew we also had Fennel essential oil from Young Living. Following my gut, this is what I did:
I asked my husband to make me up some fennel and Red Raspberry leaf tea. I applied fennel, neat, to my daughter’s gums and re-massaged her stomach in the same “I Love You” pattern using olive oil and Fennel essential oil. I applied Peace and Calming essential oil in a carrier base of olive oil to the bottom of both her feet (all the reflexology or Vitaflex points, since I had no idea what was upsetting her), as well as to the back of her neck and shoulders, and the top of her head: places I knew she couldn’t reach and gum on. By then the tea had steeped long enough and had cooled enough to drink. My husband brought it in to where we were.
What’s weird is that our daughter attacked the mug when she saw that I was drinking something. My theory had been to drink the fennel/RRL tea so she’d eventually get some of it, if she ever calmed down enough to eat. .. but seizing on the opportunity, we spoon fed her as much tea as she would take, and she took a lot more than I expected that she would. She must have been thirsty but too uncomfortable, upset or in pain to eat because she finally started to calm down. I turned off all the lights again, and put her back into the belly-down football hold again, and just tried to comfort her by rocking her in my arms while she cried. When that become uncomfortable, I tried burping her again. FINALLY she started showing signs of wanting to fall asleep at 9:45, and she was in a full, deep sleep within 5 minutes.
She only woke up once to nurse, and slept past 8:30 this morning. Though there were a combination of factors involved, I sincerely believe that the God-given gifts of fennel tea and fennel essential oil were last night’s heroes… especially because she had a significant BM when she woke up: proof positive that the root problem last night was gastrointestinal, probably aggravated by teething.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever,
and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care…
– Away In A Manger, verse 3