Colic and being kind to myself

I finally Googled what colic was and it explained so much about what we are going through. The operational definition is crying for more than 3 hours on more than 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks. It is worse in the evening. That’s my baby.

So what does it mean to fit into a somewhat arbitrary behavioural definition, as opposed to just having a baby who cries? It gives me something to blame besides myself.

My family has been unintentionally but effectively blaming me for Avery’s seeming lack of happiness. Here are some of the ways: (just a reminder, Avery is still a newborn at 2 months & 2 weeks old)

  • She can feel your social anxiety and it’s rubbing off onto her.
  • You just need to get out more and expose her to more. She’s too sheltered.
  • You need to put her down more – she is getting spoiled so she can’t be soothed without you holding her.
  • Have you eaten any dairy/chocolate/carbs/cruciferous veg today? Maybe your milk is making her stomach hurt.
  • She’s ready for an earlier bedtime.

I’m reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and it summarizes what we know about extreme fussiness/colic:

  • It is likely hormonal (an imbalance of serotonin and melatonin that will correct itself with age)
  • Gas does not cause colic, but the crying of a colicky baby may cause gas
  • Food hypersensitivity and reflux are not linked to colic
  • Maternal anxiety is not linked to colic
  • Even if your baby doesn’t cry for 3 or more hours every evening for more than 3 days a week, but fusses and needs parental intervention to stop or avoid such crying, they are still considered to have colic. (So on those good nights when I can nurse her in bed for hours to stop or avoid the crying, that behavior is still colic)

Last night was a particularly bad night, which is why I started googling when she finally fell asleep after 5 hours of crying  (plus the couple of hours of crying around yoga that morning, and the couple of hours of crying in the afternoon while my mom was visiting and giving me all kinds of unsolicited advice on what the baby needed to stop crying).

We have been trying to practice having my wife take over bedtime routine so I can go to my evening meeting next week. My wife tries to give her a bottle and Avery screams. My wife tries to rock her like I do, Avery screams. My wife tries to change her diaper and put her in pajamas, Avery screams. Blood curdling screams, choking from the exertion, tears in her eyes, eyes all swollen and red from crying. There’s me, sitting downstairs trying to keep away, tears streaming down my face because my baby is crying like she thinks I abandoned her, and after a while I break and run upstairs and take her and the crying stops and she sounds comforted. Of course, it doesn’t last. She starts up again shortly after I have taken her. But I feel better knowing I am doing all I can do comfort her. She cries in a less panicked way when I am holding her. It’s the fourth trimester. Babies need close physical comfort from the person(s) who comforts them most regularly. My wife is rarely home, so she doesn’t have that same comforting smell. It sucks for so many reasons, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I need to stop feeling bad about needing to be there for my baby when she cries. I need to stop feeling like I have somehow caused her upset.

I am crafting an email to my board of directors that explains my situation and tells them that I will still be absent at this month’s meeting. As a group of childless young people I don’t know if they will understand, but I can’t leave the house for 3 hours knowing that my baby will likely be crying so intensely and my wife will be helpless. I need to do what I need to do, and that doesn’t make me a failure.

9 thoughts on “Colic and being kind to myself”

  1. Doing what you need to do makes you an amazing mother and wife!! We’ve watched friends with a colicky baby and I honestly have no advice other then to just keep doing what your doing – you know best. And I’m told they grow out of it, so I’m hoping she grows out of it sooner rather then later.

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  2. This is NOT your fault and you are NOT a failure. I really hope the rest of the board can have compassion for you and understand the position you are in, but fuck ’em if they can’t. I’m glad you have some language and framing to help you know this is not your fault. Some babies are hard, some aren’t. It’s a lottery and we have nothing to do with it! This will get better and easier (parenthood: nothing stays the same for too long) and you’ll be on to a new challenge. I’m so sorry this is hard, but so glad you are doing what you need to do – which, right now, is whatever you can to survive. ❤

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  3. Oh gosh that sounds so awful. I’m sorry, I know it’s really hard. My son wasn’t colicky but we did have horrible witching hours every evening. So he screamed for about 3-4 hours every night for 3 entire months. The evenings were very very awful. But it will pass, as most things do. Hang in there! And much love to your little family xoxoxo

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  4. I was a colicky baby. My mom said that one night, I had been crying and crying and she looked at the wall and contemplated throwing me at tit. It was bad for her. Really bad. In fact, I am an only child as a result. According to her, the turning point was when I was four months old. I’m so sorry that this has to be a part of your story, but remember that it’s temporary. Babies change when we least expect it. The moment we find a comfortable routine–WHAM! But it’s the same with uncomfortable routines, so it balances out. You are both wonderful mothers. This is survival mode–you do what you have to do to make it through the day. If that means holing up in the house and cancelling all of your plans, so be it. It’s worth it for whatever shred of sanity you can find.

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  5. My brother and I were both severely colicky. She said the best advice she got when my brother was little a friend told her it was ok to walk away and let a baby cry while you regain a piece of your sanity. Or drink a glass of wine. Or both. Colic is enough to make you lose your mind, it’s ok if you feel that easy. It’s ok if sometimes you want to just walk away. You’re doing a great job ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks ☺ at this point I don’t think I could walk away since hearing her cry is so heartbreaking and I can USUALLY make her a little calmer by holding her. But if it goes on for much longer I will be aware of how it can make you feel and will allow myself that distance to regroup. Right now I find the best way to regroup and mentally recover is to let her nap on me during the day. I am breaking all the sleep training rules, but what the heck, she’s a newborn still and just having those peaceful cuddles when she is sleeping and not fussing are what i need.

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