The M Word.
August 05, 2010

After Charlotte cut her first milk teeth, it seemed like she was always cutting some tooth or another.  She wasn’t, of course, but a two-week break between bicuspids never really seems like it lasts long enough.  At least, my nipples certainly didn’t think so.  It took my daughter the better part of FOUR MONTHS to stop using my boobs as a teether.

At any rate, I thought that I knew what teething was about.  I thought that I had Teething’s number.  I never did find a way to relieve the pain of cutting a couple fangs (either for momma or baby), but we had a sort of system worked out.  And that system was: give the pooping machine adorable munchkin a frozen washcloth or a barley biscuit and ignore the screaming.

I know that sounds harsh, but what else can you do?  We do not give Charlotte medication and the only time I rub her gums with alcohol is to disinfect a spot where a tooth has poked through and then receded.  I do not believe in getting the kid drunk, but I am also not a big fan of being the mother who brings her child to their first dental appointment with a raging infection.  I do not feel particularly comfortable with the active ingredients in Hyland’s tablets, nor have I been able to figure out what I am supposed to do with those damned amber bracelets people keep giving her.  They just look like choking hazards to me.

So we have fallen back on frozen shit, hard biscuits, and hearing loss.

A couple weeks ago, Charlotte began to cut her molars.  And, hello fellow parents, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?  How did you let me bitch and moan about my daughter cutting a couple of measly front teeth?  Why didn’t you stop me and say OH HONEY, JUST YOU WAIT?!  Because it turns out that I had no idea what I was talking about.  I had no idea that molars would make me feel about five billion times more helpless, that my child would be in an astronomical amount of pain, that cutting bicuspid is like eating popsicles and cutting molars is like choking down snake hearts coated in tar.

If there is a special Hell for parents, it’s probably filled with molars.  THAT is how bad molars are.  Not only have molars turned my precious child into a bundle of unpredictable moods, all smiling one moment and wailing in agony the next, but they are also taking their sweet time finishing up.  Why they can’t just cut through in a single night like the rest of her teeth beats me, but apparently molars are like the mouth’s equivalent of water boarders.

On that note, if I thought that teething killed some of my hearing, WOO BOY, wait until these molars are done.  Molars are turning me into a freaking Beethoven.  Just, you know, without the musical talent.

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  1. By Bethany on August 05, 2010

    Just curious as to why you don’t give her medicine? Do you and Donald not take medicine in general or just a thing for the baby? (Not judging, just honestly wondering! Pinky swear!)

  2. By Bethany on August 05, 2010

    I am right there with you sister. We JUST finished up on the molars (took a good month) and are now onto the eye teeth. I HATE to say this, but the eye teeth are just as bad. I know it might look a little weird, but why can’t babys be born with a full set?! It would save both child and parents a lot of agony! Hang in there!

  3. By Katie @ on August 05, 2010

    Dude.  I feel ya.  Molars are the devil.  I seriously thought I needed to take Bean to the doctor because I thought the amount of pain he seemed to be in was unnatural! 

    Molars suck. 

    ~ Katie

  4. By beyond on August 05, 2010

    ouch! poor baby… my mother used to give us frozen washcloths too. i’m sure they help.

  5. By Andrea {Gwyneth Paige} on August 05, 2010

    Frozen bananas worked well for us too.  Mad cut his first tooth at 4.5 months and it was just hell!  I know you have your reasons for not wanting to use Hylands but I would have not gotten through teething without them. (Only another mama’s opinion!) :)

  6. By Sarah Christensen on August 05, 2010

    Bethany - Don’t worry - it’s a fair question!  Donald and I, in general, try to avoid medication.  Babies have been teething for eons with natural relief like breast-milk or chamomile, so we prefer to try those methods before administering Motrin.  I wouldn’t say we’re super homeopathic or anything, but we do trust our bodies to fight and heal from most diseases/infections/injuries and we try to avoid becoming dependent upon any medicine to function properly or feel normal.  We don’t typically take pain-relief, either.  That said, we are not anti-medicine, we are more pro-getting-by-without-if-you-can.  We do believe in consulting the medical community if the need arises, we do vaccinate, I was administered morphine in labor ‘to slow things down’ and I took antibiotics to fight mastitis, and we do keep first-aid basics on hand (also an epi-pen as I’m severely allergic to bees) - it’s just a general avoidance if we can.  With teething, if it gets really awful, to the point where she is tormented as often as not, then I will likely give her medicine.  As it is, though, although she is in pain sometimes, she’s still mostly happy and if she’s really wailing, a little pumped milk in a sippy does the trick.

  7. By erin on August 05, 2010

    I would not be surviving teething if it were not for Hyland’s or infant ibuprofen or a MUCH stronger prescription of happy pills.  Oh!  And there are two-year-molars also?  I am SO looking forward to that.  Let me tell you, drugging your baby is not so bad.

    We also like frozen Gogurts.  I haven’t noticed if Trader Joe’s carries something equivalent, but I bet you could just make something like that yourself anyhow.  Like a yogurt popsicle.  Oooooh.  New summer treat for Mama!

  8. By erin on August 05, 2010

    (PS, while I am not above a little Tylenol for a headache and God knows I’d be in the loony bin without my happy pills, I am generally with you on the meds thing, just fyi.  And, bad mama that I am, I often MEAN to give Hannah something to ease her pain and then forget.  Because really, distraction works wonders for both Mama and baby and how can you focus on your achy teeth when someone is chasing you and tickling you?)

  9. By on August 05, 2010

    Something that helped us was frozen foods.  You can get these mesh feeder things (they are easy for baby to hold too) and put big food chunks in them for baby to mash without possibly choking.  We used homemade frozen baby food and my daughter loved it.  Good luck, my kids weren’t too bad with their molars but they did take forever to come in.

  10. By on August 05, 2010

    Boy, do I feel your pain.  My daughter has been working on her molars for more than a month and I’m riiiiiiiight on the verge of losing my sanity.  You’d think having three other kids I would’ve been prepared, but alas, I am suffering.  I try to keep a constant mantra in my head: “Nothing lasts forever.Nothing lasts forever.Nothing lasts forever…“ lol.  Good luck!

  11. By Beth on August 05, 2010

    I’m with you on the meds.  Although we do use Hyland’s, but rarely will we whip out the Motrin unless it’s just absolutely necessary.  Frozen bananas worked well for us.  I should note that McKenna didn’t even get her first tooth until her 1st birthday (2-3 weeks after I wasn’t able to breastfeed anymore).  Whew!  Anyways, she’s just about to turn 22 months now and I just discovered the latest saving grace for me.  Ice pops!  Yep, it’s summertime and they are my saving grace.  ;)

  12. By tracy on August 05, 2010

    Is Charlie getting all 4 molars at once? Because THAT’S a good time, let me tell you.

    Also, totally understand & can relate to avoiding medication when at all possible.

    That being said, I’m also a fan. I do not like pain, and it seems my body is a constant state of ache, in one form or another, which just gets old. 

    Also? I’d be nuttier than Sarah Palin if I weren’t on my meds. Oh, and suicidal. I struggled through every single moment of every single day of the first 26 weeks of my pregnancy before I made the life-saving decion to go back on meds (with my doctor’s approval & blessing). So for me, meds are a necessity. Even on my meds, I’m still a bundle of axiety. Maybe someday I’ll have the coping skills necessary to go through life unmedicated?

    (sorry, total tangent)

    That THAT being said, I am reluctant to give Ellis medication (motrin, tylenol, etc), just because I don’t think she’s ever been in enough discomfort to warrant it. I trust my intuition to know when my daughter needs help, as I’m sure you do, too. (that’s one of the awesome things about motherhood, don’t you think?)

    When she was cutting all 4 molars at once,though? I did give her Hylands before bed, and it made a huge difference. Poor little sugar was actually able to sleep.

    Not judging! Just my experience & 2 cents :)

  13. By tracy on August 05, 2010

    oh yes, and frozen washcloths work great!

  14. By tracy on August 05, 2010

    pps, I just saw your “friends of Odin” link & it’s not working. fyi, in casey ou didn’t already know!

  15. By Sarah Christensen on August 05, 2010

    Okay, so everyone is recommending frozen bananas.  I’ll have to give it a try and let you know how it goes!  I’d never even heard of it before…

    Tracy - In situations where meds are necessary to keep a person functioning well, as in the situation you described, I am the first person in the background giving the thumbs-up.  Science is here to help people in circumstances like that and I’m glad it is.

  16. By on August 05, 2010

    I made juice pops and then cut them up for the kiddos to eat BEFORE their meal. Seemed to numb the pain so they would actually eat. Also frozen peas and carrots (they used to come packaged together). The trouble with molars is they seem to come in 5 parts -  4 points and then the middle. This too shall pass….hang in there!

  17. By Sarah Christensen on August 05, 2010

    Tracy - Also, the Odin link is the bane of my existence.  It never works.  It should work, and when I use one of those HTML code-checkers, it never comes back with errors, so I can’t figure out what the problem is =(

  18. By Tracy on August 05, 2010

    I frequently give a silent nod to the chemists of the world for keeping me sane. But, when I can (during childbirth with no epidural, for ex.), I try to let my body do its thing. With Ellis, I’m just trying to keep my little baby as pure as possible for as long as possible :)

  19. By on August 05, 2010

    My biggest problem with not giving my baby pain meds for teething pain is that she gets the most upset in the middle of the night when its not really that easy to break out the frozen bananas! Without pain relief she can be awake and miserable for hours which is exhausting and stressful. Its hard finding a balance between what I know is right for my baby and what makes the most sense.

  20. By Meg on August 05, 2010

    I’ve heard and read that those amber necklaces/bracelets really work!

  21. By on August 05, 2010

    My Charlotte has really only had two episodes of teething, each lasting a month maybe? She likes to get eight teeth at at time! She already has 16 and she is only 16 months old.

    Anyway, she would wake up shrieking at night so we started pre-emptively giving her Motrin. Eight teeth at a time requires pain relieving medicine, IMO.

  22. By Sarah Christensen on August 05, 2010

    Jessica - Yeah, eight teeth in one go is an entirely different ballgame.  My Charlotte isn’t even playing in that league - if she were, I’d be taking preemptive measures too.  I think she’s cutting four molars right now, all at once, and she’s getting two eyeteeth buds.  But if her past is any clue at all, she’ll have the hard white buds for two or three months before the eyeteeth cut.  I don’t even want to think about what it must be like to double that.

    If I do, my brain might fall out.

  23. By on August 05, 2010

    Woah. I had no idea teething could be this awful! We had it so easy it’s almost silly compared to what you’ve written here.

  24. By Monica on August 05, 2010

    With Eliot, I never knew he had a tooth coming until it popped through, which made him give me a little grimace, and sure enough, a tooth would be poking out when I stuck my finger in. 
    Ivy, on the other hand, gave me PLENTY of warning for each and every tooth, and we are just now drawing to the end of them, though she is still gnawing on my boobs a bit. 

    Like you, I didn’t feel comfortable with giving baby tylenol for tooth pain, and tended to just spend a whole lot of time rubbing gums and handing out cold carrot stumps.  I don’t think tylenol-givers are child abusers, but since I avoided even taking the stuff myself (along with other meds that I didn’t ABSOLUTELY need…migraine…cough…cough…) while pregnant and breastfeeding, why would I give it to her directly when I could just Oh FFUN! Rub her gumss for an hour while she drooled on me.

  25. By Leslie Merlino on August 06, 2010


    I came across your blog and really enjoyed reading it, it looks like you have a great family! Your daughter is adorable!

    I help people put their stories and photos in books, canvas, calendars, cards, through digital storybooking. Its a website and SO fun and easy to use. I would love to help you as well. Take a look at my blog and let me know what you think. Thanks!! Leslie:)

  26. By Stephanie on August 06, 2010

    MOLARS. AAAAAH. Jasper has been cutting his for WEEKS. It’s ok though. He’s mostly making it through it. We actually used to give him tylenol, but stopped, and I don’t think he’s had anything since the molars started, and you know what? He basically acts the same, tylenol or no tylenol. I stopped using the tablets for the same reason, and bracelets? No no no. Definitely look dangerous to me.

  27. By Megan R. on August 06, 2010

    Oh goodie…just had Finn’s 12 month checkup today…and the pediatrician commented that her gums were all red and it looked like she was trying to cut her molars.  Now I know what I can look forward to!  Thanks!  ha!

  28. By Mary @ Parenthood on August 07, 2010

    I sympathize.  Elizabeth’s cutting molars too.  I was ready for her to be done teething weeks ago, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse.

    I blogged about what we’re doing here.

    We haven’t yet resorted to the ora-jel teething gels, but cracked out the tylenol a couple of nights ago.  It made such a big difference that I felt a bit sheepish for allowing my kid to suffer so long before that!

  29. By Marisa on August 08, 2010

    I hate giving Austin anything for teething but seriously, if we don’t, he doesn’t sleep which means we don’t sleep which = hell the next day for everyone. 
    Have you tried Boiron’s Camilia (homeopathic)?  I actually give Austin a tube of that PLUS 3 Hyland’s teething tablets.  It’s the only thing that seems to work besides motrin.

    Did a pediatrician tell you to put alcohol on the gums if the tooth goes back in after cutting?  I’ve never heard of that…

  30. By on August 08, 2010

    I think I must have forgotten all about that part of parenting! either that or it wasn’t too bad for my girls or something. i don’t ever remember giving them anything to chew on or giving them anything, maybe a couple of times, gave the teething tablets with my first daughter, but my 2nd daughter I don’t remember any of that!!!
    sorry you are going through this!
    hope they pop through soon!

  31. By dandy on August 09, 2010

    Gah!  Poor Charlotte!

    There must be some kind of support group… Mothers Traumatized by Molars or something.

  32. By amber on August 11, 2010

    Molars are hell on earth. I have no solutions, only sympathy. Maybe you could get drunk instead?

  33. By beanski on August 12, 2010

    I hate you say it but you asked: The eye teeth are WAY worse than the molars :)





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