To Moms (and Dads) of Babies with Colic
Dear Mom (or Dad) of a baby with colic,
Colic? That’s not a real condition is it? I’m sure someone told you that colic is a name for a baby that cries a lot and nothing more. That’s what I was told and vaguely what I thought before I had a baby of my own that cried and cried and cried and then followed it up with a little more crying. When you are the parent that baby that cries endlessly you have to call it something, colic it is.
I loved my daughter when she was a baby but I was pretty sure she hated me because I had no idea how to stop her crying. I tried swaddling, cutting foods from my diet, gripe water, gas drops, baby massage, and four different kinds of pacifiers. I tried the methods the doctor suggested and yet…inconsolable crying.
None of it worked.
I had someone who could sympathize and listen to my heartache and sleep deprived craziness. My mom had two colicky babies and I was one of them. She listened and sympathized with me. It meant the world to me to know that someone understood what I was going through.
Maybe you are reading this while holding your screaming bundle of joy. I want to offer you the same sympathy my mother gave to me along with some knowledge that she passed on and some I acquired while rocking my little screamer-
It’s not your fault. You are doing nothing to cause your baby to cry all the time. As long as you’ve taken care of her needs – clean diaper, full belly, lots of love – it’s not your fault. Let me repeat. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
I did, in fact, have someone tell me it was my fault my baby cried because I was a nervous first time mother. At the time, I wondered what her nerves would have been like after spending weeks with a baby that cried for hours. I realize that she didn’t mean to hurt my exhausted oversensitive feelings. You will need to remind yourself of that too because inevitably someone will say something insensitive about your crying baby.
Remember – It is not your fault.
There could be a medical explanation. I had a friend that had babies with acid reflux which is treatable. Her kids did much better on medication. My second child had chronic ear infections that we weren’t aware of until she was 3 months old. The problem was not solved until she got ear tubes at 6 months old. And then, like magic, her crying lessened.
There may be a medical condition that can be treated. Talk to your doctor about it.
Sadly, there may be no reason at all. When I explained to my doctor how much my first baby cried, he examined my daughter and said, “That’s too bad. She’s healthy.” He walked out the door while I stood there holding a red-faced, sweaty ball of screaming fire.
It was disheartening to say the least.
Don’t feel guilty for needing a break. All moms/primary caregivers need a break once in a while. Moms of colicky babies need them even more. The crying can wear you down until you don’t know what you’re doing.
I’ll admit, sometimes I felt like throwing myself or my baby out the window. It terrified me and the guilt of even feeling those feelings made everything worse. Don’t feel guilty if you need to put your baby down in the crib where she is safe; close the door and walk away for a few minutes.
It’s okay. The baby will be okay. You will be okay.
Accept Help. Swallow your pride and say yes. You may not think you need or want anyone to help with your dishes/laundry/meals but accept it. People want to help and you need it whether you think you do or not. You’re not a failure because you say yes. If someone wants to hold your crying baby, let them. Try to get far enough away from the baby that you can’t hear the crying for a few minutes.
Give your helper the biggest, most sincere hug, and say thank you. Some day you can pass on the favor.
Most importantly, it won’t last forever. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but eventually she will cry less…on some days. No really it gradually gets better. It does take longer for some babies than others. We used to count how many ‘bad’ days my daughter had in comparison to ‘good’ days. Bad days she cried most of the day and we started around 4-5 bad days a week. Slowly we got down to one or two bad days a week. It did get better.
I wish I could be there to give you a great big hug and hold your baby. Know that you aren’t alone.
Mom who survived colic
P.S. You might want to learn to read lips so you can communicate with your spouse over the crying. Secondly, subtitles are your new best friend. (Oh I know you don’t watch much TV but what else are you going to do when you’re rocking your baby for hours on end in the middle of the night?)