Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Support For Moms With A Colicky Baby



Someone recently wrote to me to ask about colic and survival tips.  Here is my letter back, and I'm hoping it will help others:

Andrew (my fourth) was colicky all day, and I mean all day.  And Janey (my sixth) wasn't easy either-they both were like glue all day long-the difference with Janey was that if I nursed her she would stop crying, and Andrew wouldn't want to nurse (or take a pacifier) because he had reflux so it was so hard and heartbreaking and frustrating and SO draining.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than not being able to calm an inconsolable baby as a mom.

I remember with Andrew that probably six weeks had passed and I realized that he was probably not touching me about two hours (fastest showers ever and a few little breaks from Jeff who was busy with the three older kids who needed attention from a parent) the ENTIRE six weeks. He was either in the sling on me, or in my arms, or on my chest at night.  I cried a little every night from the stress but I wanted a baby so badly, and after two miscarriages, I wasn't going to specify 'easy' or 'hard' baby to the Creator-I just said "a baby" and I was so so grateful my wish was granted.  (There is a gift in loss-a deep deep appreciation for what I will never take for granted again.)

Here's my advice:

THIS TOO SHALL PASS
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Hang that on the fridge and say it one hundred times a day or night when needed.

Summon all your courage, all your patience, all your strength, all your energy, and just get through it.

Andrew is the sweetest, smartest, most caring, loving boy ever, and I thought for sure I would be "in for it" for the rest of my life-like colic was some indication of his intensity.  It's not!  It will stop one day, you just have to ride it out and get through it and you won't be left with a troubled child or ax murderer in it's wake.  You will be closer and more in touch with that baby-it's extra bonding time and a beautiful close loving relationship with develop from all that angst.

A few things that sometimes help-

Wearing a sling because if gas is a problem you can keep them more upright and burps can come up easier.

For some reason putting on music helped us not go out of our minds during the pacing periods.  Beatles and Rolling Stones-I figured out these both had a strong heart beat background and cranked them.  You Can't Always Get What You Want and Give Peace A Chance, go figure.  But it worked to get us into a rhythm of at least walking the floor or distracted us all.

Bouncing gently on the exercise ball helped with movement when I just couldn't pace anymore.

If breastfeeding is involved, be very careful of dairy products. Try not eating one single tiny bit of dairy for at least a week or two and see if it gets better, I know with my other four babies not eating any dairy (so hard without pizza and ice cream!) really helped.  It's worth a try.

Andrew had a reflux issue.  I tried a medication at the advice of our pediatrician but it did nothing, and I felt awful forcing it down because it was horrid, so that solution was crossed off my list.  I could hear a clicking hiccuping noise in his throat after nursing and then the milk would go back down. (I have learned this is called "silent reflux".)  

I have decided that it was just something he had to outgrow.  I have found that although it's worth it to try to find if there is an allergy or something more serious, sometimes it is, what it is and we just had to ride it out. Sometimes (often) there is no magic answer!

I accepted that all I could do is hold him-even if I couldn't stop the fussing or crying, he would know he was being held and comforted and loved and that had to be enough for both of us.

My three older children at the time became very independent and that was a good thing.  They had to do things by themselves and help each other out-from making lunch, to getting dressed, etc. The other thing that happened which was such a gift-I learned what really mattered.  My priorities realigned themselves so quickly.  I learned to say no with no guilt and without a doubt.  I dropped just about everything I was doing before-I knew that this baby and my family needed me during this intense time and no one else mattered more.  I consolidated all my errands into only the most necessary one-stop shop that I could get by with per week, when Jeff was home.  Even just performing the necessities of life were difficult-like a shower, and getting dressed, and fixing food for the family-I dropped down to the nitty gritty until we got through it.  (And learned that we all functioned on a slower pace-I kept up that habit of saying no more often and less errand running!)

I had no idea having a colicky baby was so so so difficult before I was blessed with one.  But heck it made me stronger.  I equated it with running a marathon every day, and therefore can cross 'running a marathon' off my list of things to accomplish. :) I said after the whole experience, "If I could survive that, I can do anything!", and I still feel that way today.   

19 comments :

  1. Such great advice! My first wasn't colic-y but was just intense but she forced me to click my mindset a notch - like at the eye doctor...just one little click can bring things into focus, while a click the other way makes it fuzzy again. Love the mantra...yes, it is super hard but you can get through it. You will shower again in less than record breaking time, yes you will eat, clean, make dinner, etc with all hands free and no one clinging to you or melting down. You will always be needed by your children but never ever as intensely so take a deep breath, remember that this is what mothering is, and click your mindset to embrace rather than resent or feel sorry for yourself or resentful of your spouse...you can do this and it will pass!

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  2. Everything you've said here is spot on. I love that you remind young moms to simplify, simplify, and let things go. Taking care of a household, and certainly a colicky baby, isn't something you 'fit in' with everything else on the list. It has to be number one, and the gift of that is that much of the stress will melt away. Of course, it's still the hardest thing we've ever done! The hard things will pass, and so will some of the sweetest moments you'll ever know. It's called life.

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  3. Ahhhhhhh, I could've written this! I had an Andrew. Her first year was probably the hardest of my life.
    I ran into a mom that had been in our parent-baby group at the hospital, and she said, "I remember you! You're the mom that always tried to grab a shower before your husband left for work, because otherwise you wouldn't get one without your baby screaming the whole time. I felt so bad for you!". Yep, that was Ruby's lasting legacy of her infancy.
    She is three now, and is an absolute delight. Thank you for being there to remind mamas that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This too shall pass, and it gets so much better.

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  4. You continue to be such a mothering mentor to me. Thank you! From a mom of a sweet 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old.

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  5. This was my experience with my second baby. Yes, it does pass! Sometimes very slowly, but you just keep going. I would panic thinking that it could be weeks or months before things changed, but taking it a day or two at a time makes it more manageable. I completely agree that challenging babies are a blessing and they show you how strong you really are.

    And I would add to your advice about avoiding dairy - some moms may need to give up soy, too. My son had terrible reflux so I went off dairy, but I used lots of soy replacements (soy creamer, etc.). I didn't see any change in his reflux after a few weeks, so I eliminated soy and within 3 days he was off his reflux meds and perfectly healthy! It's called milk & soy protein intolerance (MSPI). We were both dairy/soy free for his first year, but he outgrew his intolerance and now he eats everything. I just wanted to share that info in case it helps another mama. :)

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  6. I am so VERY glad you are blogging again! You are my #1 favorite blogger- I have been a fan since your 5th baby was a baby. Your advice is always spot on and you have reminded time and time again that my slowing down and doing less is the perfect thing for me and my family, despite what others may think and say. THANK YOU!

    My 5th child was the most colicky baby I have ever met- and I babysat and was a Nanny for many families and for many years, but I think your Andrew beat him. :) Your advice is perfect, and I would just add one more thing to it, it is something my Husband would say to me when I was crying right along with my colicky baby and telling him I couldn't do it another day: he would say "Don't do it for another day, just another hour, or even minute. And then see if you can go a minute longer, or 5 minutes longer". This got us through so many hard days, hours, and minutes. Time seemed to go so very slowly, but it crept on.

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  7. I'm 6 days overdue with #3 and feeling like he's going to give me a run for my money!

    I had one VERY colicky baby followed by one sweet-as-can-be baby... and I feel like your post came just in time to allow me to take a deep breath and reassure myself that I can do another colicky baby if I have to. it won't be easy (it took almost 3 years for the "this too shall pass" advice to take effect with #1) but I can do it!

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  8. I found the fisher price rock and play sleep to be helpful with reflux because it keeps baby more upright. Like Sarah, I also didn't feel good about giving reflux meds to my babies but my ped suggested giving them a probiotic (which I was OK with) and it helped- but of course check with your dr first.

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  9. poor moms and babies with colic...I too was a colic baby. My poor parents! LOL!! I literally NEVER slept(and there are family witnesses to this fact)~she said if I took a 15 min nap at anytime during the day she felt so thankful and blessed. At night I had to sleep on one of their chests or I screamed for hours...and then I would only sleep an hour -two at a time ...for over 6 months. Then my brother came along and only woke up to eat or have a bath or diaper change. They seriously thought something was wrong with him too!! LOL!! So, yes, the road is hard and long, but it never lasts forever...none of mine were seriously colic babies, but had some bad nights here and there and I so feel for mommies with a colic baby. People seriously do not understand sleep deprivation until this point!!! Hang in there ladies(and dads)...you have the best/hardest job in the world and don't underestimate what a gift you are. And what a gift you have been given!

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  10. Thank you for mentioning that sometimes, you just can't comfort them fully. I felt so bad when my colicky/high-needs baby wasn't happy even if I held her constantly. Everything I read said, just hold her as much as she wants and she'll be happy. But that wasn't the case! She just wasn't happy EVER.

    But I held her anyways, and I'm glad I did. You need to try your darndest to fix it -- changing your diet, using meds if needed, etc. -- but as you say, sometimes you just can't fix it. (Or, you can't figure out what needs to be fixed, which amounts to the same thing.) But if the baby is suffering, at least he or she is suffering while being held in loving arms. I do think that makes a difference.

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  11. I'm almost in tears reading this post after having another week of not sleeping through the night with my 8 month old. He has been waking up every 3 hours again and all he wants to do is to nurse.

    These are the words I needed to hear this morning :)

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  12. I am past raising my babies, but our oldest and her husband lived with us during her pregnancy and delivery of twin boys. One twin had the worst reflux and just was inconsolable for about 3 months. We found that if we would walk with a slight bounce in our steps outside and hold his body upright and his head tilted back (think looking up at trees) then he would stop crying. Don't know if it was the trees or holding his head back, but it worked every time. He's now 17 months and the sweetest and most loving little fella.

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  13. I have to start this comment by saying…I never comment (ok- maybe i have a few times :). But I just wanted to say…that I've been reading your blog for the past 6 (maybe 7?) years. I don't even know what to say now, really….but just want you to know that I appreciate your honesty…and just your 'back to the basics' outlook on life. Thank you for sharing!!!!! You have been such an encouragement to me. Honestly. Thank you.

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  14. Amen! Amen! Amen! And....amen!

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  15. So much truth in this blog post but those days are so, so hard.

    And if someone is reading this and wants to help a mom of a colicky baby, bring her and her family a fully cooked meal in throw away containers. It is so hard to make meals for a hungry family when the baby is fussy. I think I would have fell down and cried if someone sent me a text saying they were showing up at 5 with a hot meal.

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  16. Sarah, I found your blog in 2009 when I was pregnant with our first son. Have since had twin boys :-)
    I'm so grateful for your voice and those from other commenters - parenting is such a sacred job and I love knowing that there are other children loved like ours. How I pray that every child could be so fortunate! It's SO HARD sometimes, but so worth it. xo

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  17. My most colicky infant has turned into my most easy going child…. This too shall pass. So true.

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  18. ok good advice I will try. I have 4 easy girls and I just had my 5th a 9 week old BOY! I have a 9 year difference from youngest to my newborn. He is colicky and nursing quiets him and I always do it but was feeling guilty.
    Thanks!!

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  19. Parenting is really challenging. My son was having horrible times with continuous screaming fits. It was colic, but how to cure it no one was able to give the right answer. I tried Karo syrup to Zantac, gas drops and blah blah but he got soothed from a simple herbal tea blend baby magic tea.

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