Can we all just collectively agree to stop badgering each other with all this so-called advice? If you're anything like me, unsolicited advice just makes you feel alone and frustrated. This was especially true when I had a colicky baby, and feeling alone and isolated was par for the parenting course. What are the bits of "advice" every mom with a colicky baby dreads hearing, especially when it seems like every other baby in the world is sleeping through the night at just 3 days old? All of the advice.
Seriously. All of it.
My first child never slept. Like, ever. Seven years later and she still sleeps less than most kids her age, which I've since learned is common for autistic kids. However, when she was a baby I was living in sleep deprived hell. My firstborn spent the first five days in the NICU. When my partner and I got to take her home to our tiny, temporary studio apartment, she spent the next two months reverberating the concrete walls with her screeching cries. Not sometimes. Not even most of the time. Our walls were shaking 24 hours a day, every damn day.
As first-time parents, my partner and I had no idea what to do. We were petrified we were doing something wrong, or that our daughter was sick, or that the world was literally ending. The pediatrician treated us like we were overly-sensitive whine-a-lots, so we learned to shut our mouths. We hated people giving us pieces of "advice" because, well, people were treating colic like it was no big deal. Guys, I'm here to tell you, colic is a big f*cking deal. There's nothing you can do about it, you're not sleeping, and it absolutely sounds like your tiny baby is a screeching baby eagle being torn apart from the inside out. With all of that on our minds, you can understand why the minimizing bits of advice thrown at us was met with absolute dread.
"The Baby Will Sleep When They're Tired"
No, actually, she won't. She'll just continue to scream, because that's what colicky babies do. My 3 month old hasn't slept more than 45 minutes at a time, for five days, but that must be because she's just not tired! Why didn't I think of that?
"Just Figure Out What's Bothering Your Baby"
Trust me, if I could do that I would. The fact that I can't "just figure out what's bothering her" is making me feel like the worst parent in the history of humankind. If you know how to figure it out why won't you just tell me?! Otherwise, this advice is just judgmental, not helpful.
"Just Leave The Room"
I could never do this to my baby. We're not talking a toddler here, we are talking a 1 week to 4 month old, you guys. Abandoning the baby doesn't solve the problem. She's not crying in an attempt to manipulate me, she's a baby trying to communicate.
"Have You Tried [Insert Super Expensive "Natural" Remedy Here]"
Um. No. Unless you're going to buy it for me, just no.
"My Baby Was Colicky Once, So You Should Try..."
If you add "once" to your description of your colicky baby, guess what? Your baby didn't have colic. I'm not trying to bash anyone else's hard experience with those couple nights, or weeks, of constant gassy, or tooth-getting sleeplessness. I know that's hard, too. But it's not colic.
If something "worked like a charm" to get your baby to sleep, they did not have colic.
"Maybe Your Home Is Too Small"
The baby is not cognizant of the square footage of our home. Even if she were, she would not scream for hours on end because of it.
"The Baby's Used To Being Closer To You"
When we moved to a three bedroom house, the same advice-givers who were convinced a 2 month old cared about the tininess of our former abode, now had the bright idea that she missed us from her separate bedroom. You can't win, my friends.
"It's Just Gas"
Gas is a real thing for babies, and sometimes that real thing hurts real bad. As as result, sometimes they cry. All my kids experienced gas pains a time or two, but colic is not gas.
"It's Birth Trauma"
Well, thank you for that. Nothing like offering super useless advice along with a side of parental guilt.
"Your Baby Will Grow Out Of It"
Well I certainly hope so, but that's not super helpful to me in the moment. It actually kind of sounds like you just don't want me to talk about my colicky baby. In which case, we should probably stop talking because I'm way too sleep deprived to know or care about anything else right now.
What I'm trying to say is that giving someone solutions for something they're not asking for, and they've already talked to their baby's medical professionals about, is just not helpful. Jumping to assumption-based solutions is a way to make you feel better, not the parent of the colicky baby who hasn't slept or smiled in months. This "fix-it-and-forget-it" attitude minimizes the parent's feelings and experience. Likely, if they're anything like me, it's completely missing the point of why they're sharing their baby's colic with you in the first place.
When I let people know I had a colicky baby, I needed compassion, empathy, hugs, wine, and a freaking nap.