Romper

Seriously, I Thought My Baby Hated Me

Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

The night my son Blaise was born, he screamed for four hours straight. We begged the nurses for something to help us, or maybe a medication to make him feel better, as our attachment parenting instincts immediately told us something was wrong. They told us we could give him gas drops before saying sorry, nope, they didn’t have any. And then they snickered at us.

At first, my husband and I didn’t worry too much about Blaise's crying. "Maybe he's just upset over the stress of being born," we wondered aloud. I was terrified my baby would have colic, which is when your child cries for more than three hours at a time, three times a week. I had prayed for a colic-free baby, but at first, it's looked like that's what we had on our hands.

Over the next few days, Blaise seemed to make an art out of screaming. He’d nurse, then pull off and yowl with all the fury his baby body could muster. It took my husband clutching him, head in hand, legs hanging down like a panther on a branch, and bouncing him on an exercise ball to calm him down. If he stopped, the screaming started again. This went on for hours.

The screaming got so bad that I was terrified that my baby wasn't only colicky, but that he hated me.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

It grew worse. Blaise would attack my nipple with baby ferocity, then suck-suck-suck, pull off and scream. I’d switch nipples, and repeat the pattern: suck-suck-suck, scream. I used to count the sucks in between the screams. Things got so bad that I considered switching to formula, but my husband talked me out of it.

"My son hates my milk," I decided. "There's something wrong with it and he hates it. There's only one thing that only I can do for my baby, and I'm failing at it. He hates breastfeeding. He hates me."

"My son hates my milk," I decided. "There's something wrong with it and he hates it. There's only one thing that only I can do for my baby, and I'm failing at it. He hates breastfeeding. He hates me."

Blaise also cried while he was having his diaper changed. We tried everything: talking, singing, going as quickly as possible. We finally discovered that his toy frog, which played a song, would calm him down enough to turn the screams and flails into mere whimpers. I still felt like I was failing as a mother — just not as badly.

The only thing I succeeded at was wrapping Blaise in a Moby wrap, as Blaise seemed to like the movement and the swaying. In fact, he liked it so much that I left him in there if he was eating or pooping. So I kept him in the Moby wrap, the only place he didn’t scream, and grappled with what I thought was the reality: that my son just plain didn't like me.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

Although at this point, I was convinced that my son did, in fact, hate me, we knew there had to be a legitimate reason why he was crying. I did some research and it didn’t seem like he had reflux, since he never threw up. We asked the doctor what she thought.

“Colic,” she said, nodding sagely, and I nearly wept. It was as if she was pronouncing my doom.

But still, I wasn't totally convinced, as I firmly believed babies didn’t cry without a reason. Mine might hate me, but he had to have some reason for hating me. So I Googled some more. I discovered that it was possible for a baby to have "silent" reflux, or reflux without crying or vomiting. I also looked at my son's symptoms — runny green poo, terrible cradle cap and eczema - and realized that my son probably had what’s called milk/soy protein intolerance, or the inability to handle the milk and soy proteins that came through my milk.

We got our doctor to prescribe Prevacid, an anti-reflux medication, and I cut milk and soy out of my diet, so I stopped eating cheese and munching on edamame. Soon, my son's skin cleared up. His poop turned normal. He stopped screaming when he nursed, or when we changed his diaper. He didn’t hate me. He was just in pain.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

I had a happy baby, outside the wrap, for the first time. And inside the wrap, he was alert and involved, trying to hold his head up and look at the world. He was a normal baby. A normal baby who loved his father — and his mama. He always had.