Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor, nor do I have any medical knowledge on colic. I am simply sharing my experience with it last year, and some strategies I used to survive this trying rite of passage.
I will never forget the moment my sweet baby girl was first laid on my chest. She had a full head of dark brown (almost black) hair, the tiniest little hands and feet, and these curious little eyes that I just immediately fell in love with. She was a mere six pounds, two ounces, but I still remember the nurses in the hospital commenting on how she had such strong lungs. (Translation: The girl is LOUD. I don’t know WHERE she gets it…) There was a brief honeymoon period after her birth, of course, where we made comments about how “easy-going” and “laid back” she was. And then at about two weeks old, she lowered the boom on us.
Out of nowhere, she began crying more. And more. And MORE. At first, we thought it was digestive, as she spit up frequently, so we tried smaller, more frequent feedings. No dice. We tried gas drops, gripe water, introduced a formula for “persistent feeding issues.” Nothing helped.
Evenings were hell. She would start about 5pm and finally give up about 11pm when she would finally pass out for a stretch. We would swaddle her and bounce with her on an exercise ball, and that would quiet her for a few minutes at a time. I still remember many nights pacing our driveway in the backyard, patting her back, and quietly singing “Amazing Grace” to try and settle her.
On one particular night, I couldn’t handle it anymore and woke my husband up. I handed her over, and I believe I said something along the lines of, “I love her because she’s ours, but I don’t even like her right now.” I locked myself in my closet and blasted praise and worship music on my ear phones. Through sobs, I shoveled fistfuls of Lucky Charms into my mouth in an attempt to find some comfort. I thought it would never end.
Everyone told me that it would be over by the time she was 12 weeks. Well, 12 weeks came. And went. It continued on. And then, one day, she turned a corner. At four months old, we noticed her calming down and going down at night easier. The days became more tolerable as we all began to FINALLY get some more rest. By six months, our easy-going, laid back girl had returned. There were times I never thought I’d see the day when I’d actually ENJOY my baby…but lo and behold, I survived and that horrific stage of our lives was behind us.
While I wouldn’t wish colic on my worst enemy, there are a few things that I learned from it that I hope will encourage any mothers experiencing this phenomenon right now.
1) THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Write it on your mirror in lipstick. Put a sticky note on your windshield. Tattoo it on your forehead, but never EVER forget that this is a phase. You WILL survive it, you WILL bond with your baby, and you WILL sleep again. Promise.
2) TAKE BREAKS. Enlist the help of a trusted friend, neighbor, babysitter, or a family member to give you a break from time to time. Your baby will be fine, and you will be a better mom for it. Even a quick thirty minute trip to the mall or the bank alone will feel like a vacation if you’ve been trapped inside with a colicky baby all day. (Bonus points if you can swing a girls’ night out with some supportive friends.)
3) GET OUTSIDE. If the weather is nice out, put that baby in a stroller and go out for a walk. Not only will the endorphins be good for you, your baby will love feeling the breeze, watching the clouds, and hearing the birds chirp. And heck, you may even get a nap from the baby out of it!
4) DON’T BE AFRAID TO LEAVE THE HOUSE. This one was hard for me. I was petrified that I’d be the one in the grocery store with the screaming baby, and that I’d be embarrassed and just have to leave. The reality is that you might be that girl. You might have to leave if it gets ugly. But you’ll never know if you don’t try. And who knows? Your baby may like the socialization of seeing new faces and a change of scenery.
5) WEAR YOUR BABY. Colicky babies LOVE to be worn. I am far from a granola mom, but I could be found many afternoons and early evenings those first few months pacing the streets of our neighborhood with the baby hanging out in the Baby Bjorn while I chased big brother on his scooter. I’m not sure if it’s the closeness to mom, the movement, or the confinement that colicky babies love, but to be honest, I DON’T CARE. Baby carriers are your best friend, and I don’t care why. Ergo, Moby, Bjorn, K’Tan…it doesn’t matter. Just find them.
6) WHITE NOISE FOR THE WIN! I swear by noise machines. Since the day they were born, both of my babies have had this little piece of amazingness going in their rooms when it was time for sleep. My big boy now turns it on himself at bedtime, turns it off when he gets up in the morning, and even asks to take it when he spends the night away. It is compact, has a timer and a night light, and plugs into an outlet. Need I say more? You need it.
6) TRY TO ENJOY THE QUIET MOMENTS. During those few and far between times when your baby is peacefully sleeping or happily laying on a blanket, enjoy it. Notice the tiny fingers, kiss those tiny toes, and appreciate those first smiles and coos. I spent most of my girl’s first months wishing them away and begging for her to grow up, and I missed so much. Baby girl is now a wild and crazy toddler, and I’d give just about anything for some of those sweet baby snuggles back!
7) Finally, and this is a big one, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. Oh, how I struggled with this! I am very curious and a problem solver by nature, and it drove me absolutely batty that there was no reason behind her colic. I was desperate to fix her and find the root of her unhappiness, and there were many nights that I questioned everything. Had I had too much caffeine during pregnancy? Was I not drinking enough water to keep up my milk supply? Did I not give her enough attention? And here’s the thing that took me a while to realize…I did NOTHING wrong. I had cared for my baby well during pregnancy and after she was born. Colic is a FLUKE. Do not blame yourself!
Oh, and a little prayer (and wine) never hurt anyone either. 😉 Hang in there, momma!!