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.