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.