Colic is brutal. When I brought my daughter home from the hospital, I was having issues breastfeeding, she had jaundice, and she wouldn't stop crying. I figured this was normal because, well, newborns cry, right? Then days went by and she didn't stop. She would cry for hours and I would cry right along with her. It was during the first few weeks of my daughters life that I learned all about the emotional struggles of having a colicky baby. I took her to the pediatrician fearing there was something wrong. His response? "Colic," he said. "Totally normal," he said. "Should stop within a few weeks," he said. A few weeks? At that time, as a brand new mom, "few weeks" seemed like an eternity. A few weeks of endless crying seemed like unjustified torture. An unfair punishment for motherhood itself.
Did you know it is nearly impossible to console a colicky baby? Nothing works. Some mothers swear by colic drops, baby massages, gripe water, and probiotics. I, however, tried it all and while some things offered temporary relief, nothing truly worked. That's how I knew my baby girl was experiencing true colic.
No one really knows what exactly causes colic. Some hypothesize the immature digestive system of a newborn is to blame, while others say the culprit is food allergies or sensitivities. Not matter what the issue is, however, colic is an emotional roller-coaster for the parents. It controls the entire house and, in a way, makes postpartum life that much more difficult.
As a new mom, I was already exhausted. My child wouldn't eat or sleep and cried (what seemed like) all the time. I was so, so tired, but sleep was not an option for me because my infant did not sleep. So, I would spend nights with her in my arms, in the upright position because that was the only way she'd be and stay calm, sitting in a chair trying not to fall asleep out of fear of dropping her. That was my life for about three months.
"Am I doing something to cause this colic?"
"Am I cut out to be a mother?"
"Did I make a huge mistake?"
"What am I doing wrong?"
These were the thoughts that played on repeat in my mind. I honestly had no idea what I was doing and I couldn't possibly know what colic even was. I never even heard of it prior to having my child. So, I questioned everything I did and everything I tried to do.
Because there was nothing I could do to make it go away, I felt helpless. The pediatrician said that colic usually subsides by 12 weeks and that time frame seemed like a lifetime. In the moment, I saw no light at the end of the torturous tunnel, all I saw were sleepless nights and non-stop wailing. Nothing makes you feel worse than knowing your child is uncomfortable and in pain and not being able to do anything to help.
Yeah, I mean why not add anxiety to the list, right? It's already always sitting heavily on my chest, suppressing any peace I have. Add colic to the mix and my anxiety was at its ultimate high. I was wound so tight I constantly burst into meltdowns right along with my newborn.
Intensified Baby Blues
Baby blues are tough. Baby blues are tougher when your kid has colic. My daughter and I would cry together. She'd cry because of colic and I'd cry because of everything.
There's a certain disarray of feelings when you are dealing with a wailing newborn. The disconnect lies in your innate insatiable love for your child and your utter exhaustion and defeat. Honestly, the opposing feelings are so conflicting it made the entire experience that much more confusing.
At times I was angry. I was upset I was feeling the way I was feeling. It seemed unfair I had the colicky baby while other moms seemed to have children who immediately slept through the night and hardly cried. I was annoyed I couldn't get any rest, a break, or a moment to breathe. The combination of it all made me furious at times, which, let's be honest, isn't the best emotion to experience when you're a new mom.
Eventually, you can no longer feel. In fact, sometime around six weeks, I lost the ability to feel. I felt nothing but defeat and acceptance. I've done all I could and tried every remedy I could find. At this point I just accepted the fact that this was our situation. I held her close to me, putting pressure on her belly (which seemed to help just a tad) and rocked her. I held her and, after three months, she stopped crying. We were now ready to start over. It was our new beginning into a family.