Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so anything I say about colic is simply out of personal experience and the little research I’ve done on my own. Also, I feel compelled to say that I by no means intend for this to come off as complaining about my child or motherhood. Both of my children are my biggest blessings and I am ever so grateful to be their mother through all the ups and downs. I recognize many parents have babies with much more serious challenges. I can only speak to my own reality.
The Easy First Child
My first child was a fairly easy baby. Maybe my memory is blocking parts out, but mostly she was a great sleeper from very early on, didn’t cry very much, switched between nursing and bottles with no problem (not the case with baby #2) and exceeded developmental milestones on a monthly basis. This “easy baby” was all I knew. Sure, life with an infant was tiring and I still faced difficult days. But it was all within my pre-baby, dreamed-up, picture-perfect life of motherhood.
I was warned by some, “not all babies are this easy.” Even still, when I became pregnant again, I was confident in my husband and my parenting abilities. We’ve got this! We know what we’re doing! We’re doing a great job with Adeline, surely we just need to repeat the process and all will be smooth sailing!
My pride was standing tall like a giant, blocking my view from what was to come.
When my second daughter was born, everything felt different. Not in terms of labor and delivery, which was a very similar experience to my first and thankfully relatively easy (praise God for epidurals), but my emotions and lack of feelings of connection with this newborn took me by surprise. Diving deep to reflect on those emotions is a post for another day. Instead, I want to address a major trigger word for me and maybe some of you: colic.
Those first several weeks at home with my two girls, a 21-month old and a newborn, were long and filled with swinging emotions on behalf of all of us. At first, the newborn’s cries didn’t seem out of the ordinary. But as the days passed, and her inconsolable cries did not, my husband innocently commented, “I think she has colic.”
The word stung me. Of course, he wasn’t saying anything at all that I should have taken personally or been offended by. But as the protective mama bear to our extra fussy bundle of joy (ha!), I couldn’t help but defend her. There HAD to be a direct cause and solution for this discomfort, and to my knowledge, colic is just one of those things babies will outgrow without a clear explanation.
What does colic mean anyway?
According to WebMD, “The term [colic] applies to any healthy, well-fed infant who cries more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.”
I really didn’t think she was crying for more than three hours total each day, but I wasn’t about to start timing it. Instead, I spent every nursing session Googling possible explanations or causes for her crying. I took the idea of her being “colicky” personally like it was somehow my fault and I was determined to fix it.
We saw the pediatrician when she was about six weeks old who told me more about colic and also reflux. He suggested I eliminate dairy from my diet and give her Zantac. We made sure to stock up on gas drops too.
I will say, some of these things did help, at least temporarily. But when this girl got upset, she got UPSET. She went from zero to sixty in a split second and her shrieks let you know she demanded to be held, fed, be put down, or simply was going to cry just because she could.
We had some good days sprinkled in, but I became more and more accepting of the fact that Parry was a difficult baby and there might not be a cure. With God’s strength and a lot of patience, I continued to have faith she would outgrow this soon enough.
Funny enough, as I was being humbled and challenged by this tiny new addition to the family, she managed to steal my heart in her own unique way. No matter how hard the day was, without fail I could at least count on her being calm and happy for bedtime. Nursing her quietly in the dark, then rocking her as she drifted off to sleep always filled my heart with so much love, in the way only moms can understand.
Finally a Happy Baby!
Here we are about nine months in and this difficult baby of ours has turned into a much happier, squealing, smiley baby. The combination of her learning to sit up on her own, finally starting to like solid foods, and getting through the pain of cutting her first two teeth has done wonders. I can see the light and have a much better perspective on motherhood because of these last nine months.
If you’re in the thick of it with a “difficult baby” like I was, know you are not alone. Social media can easily trick you into thinking otherwise, but it’s not always reality. Take one day at a time and trust that you will get through it.