Hi, my name is Rachel and I had a colicky baby.
I’ve thought several times of writing a post with tips how to survive, tips for soothing a colicky baby, etc. But there are many good resources already, I’m sure. However, I didn’t have time to research them during our colicky baby “adventure”. I had my hands full – literally – with a crying baby nearly every waking minute of the day. Even the non-waking moments.
So I thought today, I would write about how having a colicky baby made me feel. If you know a mom with a colicky baby, read my tips in the bullet points. Maybe they will help you understand and support your friend a little better. 🙂
Looking back, that time for me is a blur. I don’t remember much except feeling miserable and alone. Now, I look at photos of my baby girl and I see how adorable she was. In that moment, my heart swells, and I remember the love and adoration I felt when I snapped that photo of her sweet face. But then I also see that tear, still fresh on her cheek, and I remember what a brief respite from the crying that moment was. That mostly I felt in that moment sweet relief, and an anxious fear that any moment she would resume crying. I felt a desperation to capture as many non-crying moments as I could, but there were so few!
Colic is supposed to last about 3 months, but in reality, I feel like ours lasted much longer. I didn’t relax or feel like I could take a deep, easy breath until she was one year old.
I didn’t have any family in the area to help me, so I never got a break. I was alone all day with a two year old and a crying baby.
If I went out into public, baby would taunt me by being on her best behavior. I felt ridiculous, like if I told people what our days were really like, they would never believe me. Probably the reason baby was so good in public is because I typically carried her in a ring sling or wrap. She loved to be held. While you were standing. And moving. But try doing that all day long on only four hours of sleep and see how you feel!
- If your friend tells you she’s having a rough day, that her baby cries all the time, that she can’t take it anymore, pay attention. Don’t brush her off as being overly dramatic.
I don’t know how many times I tried to tell people I was struggling, and no one ever seemed to really understand the depths of my misery.
I received help just once. A friend saw a post of mine on Facebook and came over to show me some tips that worked for her colicky little guy. I was never so grateful when my baby slept for the next four hours – the longest stretch ever!! Except then the baby was up all night. I was damned if she slept, damned if she didn’t. Nothing I did mattered, nothing helped, nothing would make it better. I was at my wit’s end.
- If your friend vents on Facebook once in a blue moon, don’t EVER tell her how blessed she is to have a baby in the first place. That it isn’t as easy for some people to get pregnant. That some people can’t have babies at all. Chances are, she knows this full well, and feels like crap for not being capable enough, patient enough, or good enough to handle her own life and child.
When I had a colicky baby, I felt trapped. I wasn’t accomplishing anything, just barely surviving. My house was a mess, prepping healthy meals and snacks to get myself back to a normal pre-baby weight was nearly impossible, and I wasn’t able to do anything I enjoyed.
- If your friend smiles and tells you she’s doing ok, don’t believe her. Never give her the benefit of the doubt. Offer to take hold baby. Get the woman a cup of coffee. Of course she can do it with one hand, but she would like to feel a surge of freedom now and then. 🙂
By evening, when hubby got home, I was exhausted. But my day wasn’t over because colic gets worse in the evening. And forget sleeping soundly…my baby was fussy even in her sleep. I could hear her rustling, crying out, whimpering during the night. And then she would wake to eat more often than necessary, sometimes only 45 minutes after her last meal. She didn’t like to take a bottle, even if I actually found the time to pump her milk.
Being on call 24/7, with never a restful night’s sleep takes a toll on you mentally, emotionally, and physically!
My daughter also liked to comfort nurse – I was her pacifier! More often than not, me and my boob were the only path to happiness and harmony. This is incredibly draining (no pun intended, ha!), and puts such a great weight on one’s shoulders.
What would have helped me back then was a listening, non-judgmental ear.
I also could have used a friend who let me dash out to the grocery alone while baby napped. Someone who would hold and walk with the baby while I took a shower. I was desperate for peace and quiet, with time to do something I loved – cooking or baking. I daydreamed about cooking giant meals and decadent desserts for anyone who would come and hold my baby for awhile.
- Moms of colicky babies don’t need your judgment. They need your help to keep their sanity.
I loved my baby, but I couldn’t take her constant crying and need for attention. People would tell me, “They grow up so fast; enjoy the cuddles while you can!”. But how do you enjoy non-stop kisses and snuggles while your house falls down around your ears? When you never get to talk to your husband because you can’t hear each other over the noise? When you look in the mirror and all you see is a fat, tired, slob?
When people made those “enjoy this time!” remarks, it only made me feel guilty and even more downtrodden than I already was.
At age 2.5, my daughter is still a more difficult, dramatic child than my first born ever was. But she is also the sweetest, cuddliest little cupcake you ever did see. She is funny and spunky and full of life. And I can totally see how she was a colicky baby. She was a needy, high maintenance baby just as she is a needy, high maintenance toddler.
I wish I could have seen then what I see now, and comprehended her personality a little better. Because it all makes sense, now!
But what matters is that one way or another, we somehow made it through the colic. We all survived. And hopefully now, both you and I can help someone with a colicky baby someday. 🙂