- When an infant cries inconsolably for at least three hours straight, for three consecutive days for three weeks in a row.
- A word that sends a shockwave of goosebumps across my skin and forces my girlie parts to clamp shut.
- Something other new parents now ask me about because somehow I survived.
There aren't many words that truly captivate the essence of a constant baby cry on top of extreme sleep deprivation, emotional landslides, sore, leaking breasts and a recovering lower region. Well, I can think of a few but they aren't fit for print.
I'm the first to admit that there were moments when I cried along with my baby out of pure duress. I just couldn't stand the sound of him anymore. I remember thinking, what's the point to even trying? I felt like a useless parent. Who can't sooth their own baby? And then of course, why me?
Infant colic didn't just affect my early relationship with my son and overall parenting experience. My marriage suffered too. If you don't know what I am talking about, it's really fricken hard to explain. The stress, disappointment and frustration you feel (which you cannot direct at your infant) transforms into nasty outbursts towards other undeserving targets (i.e. your hubby or mom).
Before this post turns into a huge amen sista' (for those of you who went through something similar) I actually want to focus on surviving these tough times.
In my experience, it all comes down to something very Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin-ish -- survival of the fittest. It's all about making it through to the end, where the reward is a healthy baby. There's research on supposed newborn back pain (due to sine compression in the womb), acid reflux issues, immature body parts and other potential causes. But, nothing is proven, which is why it's a scenario that's so hard to understand and solve.
Like many other families, our son's colic came out of nowhere. Eight days in, for some unbeknownst reason, Jack screamed uncontrollably, resisted his schedule and he appeared miserable. As hours lead into days/weeks my sleep deprivation amplified the situation. If he cried, I cried. I sent my husband nasty emails begging him to come home from work and save me. I dreaded certain times of the day and watched the clock breaking my sanity down into time intervals -- just focusing on making it to the next imaginary mark.
I figured we somehow had a broken baby and I was determined to 'fix' him. So, we asked everyone -- parents, doctors, our pediatrician, other parents, strangers, anyone how can we stop colic?
We tried everything we were advised, even things I didn't agree with: we released our baby's minor tongue-tie, hired lactation consultants, tried bottles, finger feeding, a lip-tie release (I know, right?), bassinet elevation, upright feeding, Prevacid (and every other antacid/acid reflux medication), rocking, rigorous bouncing, probiotics, the five S's (Harvey Karp), strict sleep training, Dr. Newman's clinic, the car seat, baby swing and so on.
Naturally, I retraced everything I did while Jack was baking in the oven, searching for something I did wrong that made him this way. I basically spiralled downward with self-loathing and unwarranted regrets (not the best mindset in the midst of all the chaos and noise).
Then, I crossed paths with a stranger who had been through it all before. She walked over to where I stood shushing my angry little man, leaned over him, and said, "give it time." She quickly described her own child's nightmarish behaviour and how it suddenly just ended. She seemed adamant that Jack would just stop one day and there was nothing to do in the meantime but parent as best as you can. When she turned to leave, my pupils formed daggers that I aimed at her back. Thanks for nothing.
Fast forward two and a half months and I awoke to an eerily quiet room. Later that day, at dinner, I realized it was still somewhat peaceful. I chalked it up to a good day for Jack. The next day was much of the same and, again, I credited coincidence. As days rolled into weeks, the atmosphere remained consistent: my life was now calm.
Apparently, Jack had grown out of colic.
So at the risk of sounding annoying to other families who are currently at their wit's end, I shall now pay it forward: please, give it time. As hard as it is to imagine, there will come a day when your baby will suddenly just grow out of it. There's little you can do to put an end to it yourself. Just focus on ways to survive. The 'fittest' parents with the most patience will make it to the end and the payoff is incredible.
My son is now an absolute joy with the most calm, peaceful, sweet, demeanour.
Please, share your experiences, talk it out, and let me know in the comments below how you made it through to the end.
This thing called parenting really takes a village and our stories and experiences genuinely help one another.
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