About The Arsenic Hour

Sometime back in June, when Jacob was only a couple weeks old, I had a friend come over to visit and meet him. She left around 4 p.m. and it seemed like Jacob went bonkers after she left. He was awake from 4-8 and cried off and on, no matter how we tried to soothe him. It was the strangest thing, and it was flat out exhausting. I thought maybe he'd gotten overexcited from having someone new holding him and talking to him.

And then it happened the next day. And the next day after that. It was as if, at 4 o'clock on the dot, Jacob would go nuts. Nothing would calm him down. No amount of rocking, bouncing, shushing, white noise, singing, vibrations, holding, swaddling... Nothing!

Some friends stopped by to drop off gifts and we explained it to them. "Ahh... The witching hour. Yeah, our girls were like that." I was shocked that someone else had the same weird experience. "They cry like crazy and there's nothing you can do."

Holy crap, yes! That's exactly what was happening!

We were out walking Jacob early one evening and ran into some other friends. We explained that it was "crazy baby hour" so we were taking Jacob out on a walk in the hopes of getting him to chill out. They made reference to the witching hour, too. I couldn't believe this was really a thing!

A coworker also knew exactly what I was talking about when I said that Jacob was crazy in the afternoon/early evening. She called it the witching hour, too. It was such a relief to know that other parents knew what the heck we were dealing with... but, man, was it still stressful! I would dread when the clock would strike 4, knowing that we were in for a few solid hours of fussy, cranky baby. 

I went to my OB for a postpartum checkup and took Jacob with me. It was midmorning, so he was asleep in his car seat for the whole appointment. The doctor looked at him and said, "I bet he sleeps like an angel all the time, doesn't he?" 

"Not from 4 - 8 p.m.," I replied.

"Ahhhh. The arsenic hour," the doctor said.

Hold up. REALLY?! THIS IS REALLY FOR REAL A THING? (It is totally for real. Google it. You know I Googled it like crazy after hearing about it so often.)

The doctor went on to explain that they called it the 'arsenic hour' back in the day because kids would be so cranky the parents would consider giving them arsenic to poison them or something. Then, like other parents and friends had done, she reassured me that there's really nothing you can do. It turns out that it's just a phase that some newborns go through. This knowledge made it slightly easier to deal with, but it's still rough knowing that no matter what you try, your kid's probably not going to calm down, at least not for awhile. 

The good news is, it does eventually get better. I think it only lasted a couple weeks. I guess Jacob eventually outgrew it. But man, it was a rough couple weeks!

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