As a new mom, everything is scary and overwhelming. Blame it on hormones, blame it on being thrust into a full-time job that no amount of babysitting, being a sibling, or reading can prepare you for, blame it on sleep deprivation, blame it on the phase of the moon, whatever suits your logic. But you know the most overwhelming thing of all? Your baby’s crying. I don’t mean a fussy hour or day, but nonstop -nothing-helps-red-in-the-face-hoarse-voice-crying that lasts for hours every single day. (Colic is defined as three hours of crying 3 or more days per week.) Starting at 3 weeks old, our daughter decided to start crying from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. without fail, without a break. It quickly escalated to crying that began before 8 a.m. and lasted until 9 p.m.
Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter who you are, how strong you are, or what you are capable of, nothing breaks your spirit faster than colic.
I’m a problem-solver, planner, Type-A to a T kind of person. We rocked, we swayed, we nursed, we went to the doctor, we snuggled, we got on reflux medicine, we learned all sorts of tricks (like how to balance a baby on your chest and then balance your lunch on top of the swaddled baby without spilling anything) to try and get through. Nothing really helped. My daily relief came in two forms: loading up a screaming baby and her fur brother in the car, driving to a Sonic 30-minutes away, and getting some caffeine (the long car ride usually let my daughter take a quick snooze, and I could enjoy the ride back from Sonic in relative peace); and my husband coming home to take a shift with the crying baby so that I could get in the car and go for a drive, take a shower, or sit in the closet across the house from the nursery with the doors closed in the dark and quiet.
My daughter’s colic lasted 8 weeks. I don’t remember what we ate for dinner, how we cleaned our house, watching TV, or doing anything much during those 8 weeks except holding, rocking, swaying, and bouncing a very fussy baby. And crying. And being beyond stressed. The baby cried, I cried; lots of tears were shed during those 8 weeks.
At the same time of this colic, we learned our daughter had a rather severe milk sensitivity AND I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for her. So we switched to a super-expensive, liquid gold formula. So there was quite a bit of added stress there. It took 3 tries to get the right kind of reflux medicine to help her GERD. I started to have some issues, which we learned a year later was gall bladder related, so just pile that on too. When it rains, it pours, right?
So how did we survive?
1. Apart from leaning heavily on each other, we were blessed to have parents and grandparents we could call and simply say “I need a break tomorrow,” and they could take off of work and come over and help. USE YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM, mommas and daddies, especially if they have experience dealing with colicky babies. Do not be afraid to ask.
2. We also got our daughter adjusted 3 times by a chiropractor. It worked wonders for her little system.
3. Live for those little happy moments. I remember crying when our daughter would look at me between screams and smile. I lived for those smiles. Some days, it was all that got me through.
4. Speak up. When it gets to be too much, tell someone. I remember honestly looking at my purse one day while I was out running errands and doing the math to see if I had enough to get on a plane and go somewhere by myself. I tried for too long to keep it all inside. Don’t be proud. Ask for help. If you need medication to help you get through, ask for it. If you need help, ask for it. Your family needs you, and if you are trying to pour from an empty, cracked cup, well, you aren’t going to get much.
Colic is an awful phenomenon that I would not wish on anyone. It’s not just crying. And I realize it seems dramatic, but it did change our lives. My husband and I are an awesome team, thanks largely in part to how we had to deal with colic. My faith is stronger; “this too shall pass” seemed like 4 really inadequate words while in the midst of colic, but I vividly remember when we were on night 5 of NO COLIC after 8 long, miserable weeks, and it clicked. It had passed. I wish I could say my patience grew tenfold after colic, but it did not. I do have more patience, but not an incredible amount. If your baby doesn’t have colic, count your blessings. If your baby does have colic, for however short or however long, realize this: you are not alone. It happens. It WILL end. You WILL survive, although it may not seem like it at the time. It’s okay to hate it and to feel like you are failing because you can’t comfort your baby, but you are NOT failing. This too shall pass.