Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Look Back: Coping with Colic

Now that Everleigh's crossed the 12 month threshold, and is officially a big girl :), I'm constantly reminded of little and big things that transpired in all her babiness that I want to document. When you're in the thick of it, sometimes it seems like it will be that way forever, so writing about it seems silly. Then you blink and she's bigger, things have changed, she's on to something new.

One thing that keeps coming back to me are memories of the long days and nights of colic. When it was happening, I didn't know what to do. It turns out, there's actually not much to be done. But what I wanted most in those moments was support. A feeling of normalcy. Someone to share their story with me.

So here goes:

When Everliegh was 2 weeks old, her crying intensified. At first, we were quick to dismiss it--all babies cry, right? She's just tired or sleepy or gassy, or whatever. But that wasn't it. She cried and cried and cried.

I looked up all the information I could find on colic and tried to follow tons of advice. I got a Moby wrap and wore her as frequently as possible, when she would let me. A friend loaned us her Baby Bjorn and we tried that too. I nursed her frequently and slept with her at night to help give her that physical closeness. I gave her gas drops. I gave her Gripe Water. I changed my diet. I watched The Happiest Baby on the Block 10 times and tried to swaddle her, hold her correctly, and shhhush her just right. We ran the vacuum cleaner to give her the hum she liked. Sometimes the vacuum would be the only thing that would stop the crying. Then we discovered the loud and aggressive "white noise" womb sounds in the Happiest Baby dvd under bonus features. We played it constantly.

And she cried and cried. There were days where she literally cried every moment she was awake and not eating. Scott and I were not expecting this. We worried for her and we worried for us. Sometimes I cried while she cried. We tagged each other out when it got to be too much. We slept on the couch a lot with the baby because once she fell asleep we did not dare move her and start the process all over.

I kept reading about it. The literature stated that most babies outgrow colic between 12 and 16 weeks. I could not imagine making it two more weeks, let alone a couple more months.

I have to say, it was additionally stressful because I had to return to work at 6 weeks, and she was still crying and refusing to take a bottle or binkie. I was feeding her before work, and taking 2-3 small breaks each day to run home and nurse her because she was hungry and refusing to take her bottle. I felt like a crap mom. I felt in over my head and I felt alone.

It seemed like everyone else's babies were so easy, so happy, so chill. And mine was angry, in pain, or just plain overwhelmed. Very few pictures were taken during this time, because she would literally be crying or asleep in every one.

Then magically at 3 months old, she began to get better. She cried less and less. She decided to take a bottle when I was at work. She relaxed more in the car and would sleep sometimes. She found a binkie she liked and found little ways to self-soothe. We made it over the hump, and luckily, we were so sleep deprived that most of it's a blur now.

Here's my advice for parents coping with colic:

  1. try all the remedies and recommendations. Few will actually help, but between the reading and the experimenting, it will busy you enough to feel like you're doing something (which is important)
  2. take a breather. Have your partner or supportive friend/family member tag you out while you shower, nap, or sit somewhere quiet. You need the time away to refuel.
  3. understand that every baby is different, and try to focus on at least one positive thing about your child each day. Who knows? With pipes like that, she might be the next Aretha Franklin ;) 
  4. even though it's hard, try to enjoy your time. You hear it over and over, but they grow SO fast. 3 months fly by, then 6, then a year. Take pictures, go places, and try to really savor the tiny baby stage, even if it's not what you envisioned.

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