Colic. You never think your baby will have it. Nowhere in the fantasies about holding a sweet bundle of joy do you ever imagine that your bundle will cry with little break for three straight months.
We brought V home on the fifth day of her life and sailed through the next couple of weeks in a total blissed-out honeymoon state. I told everyone, “She’s such a good baby! She just eats and sleeps! We got so lucky!”
Yeah, all babies just eat and sleep for the first two weeks. (I didn’t know that.) They get you by the heartstrings, looking all precious and tiny, and you think you’ve won the lottery. (Insurance against abandoning them, I bet.)
Then the crying started. And never really stopped for three months.
Oh, I did everything. I read every study. I tried every swaddle and every sleep contraption. (Word to makers of baby things — why would you put VELCRO on baby sleep items?! Are you trying to make parents lose their minds?!) I put her on a schedule. I blasted white noise in every room of the house.
Food? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention food. I gave up dairy. And eggs. And soy. And sugar. And nuts. I read some studies and then went on a low FODMAP diet (our pediatrician had never even heard of that). Don’t know what a low FODMAP diet is? You don’t have to, just know that it’s miserable. Basically, even now, I eat:
- Grass-fed beef
- Sweet potatoes
- Strawberry popsicles
All of this helped about…oh, 35%. The rest of it, we just had to get through.
Getting through it, to put it truthfully, was fucking hell. One night we called my mom at 3am and she came to rock the baby so C and I could sleep for a few hours. The pediatrician gave her Zantac which worked until it didn’t.
And then, one day, like magic…it was gone.
It’s the same as with heartbreak. It was so painfully present, consuming every one of my thoughts…and when it slipped away, I didn’t even notice.
She still gets fussy sometimes. She’s what people call a “high needs” baby. She is very particular about her world and how she likes things. She screamed in the car the first three months of her life. (Suddenly, one day, she liked it.) She will fuss until you look at her, and then give you the most giant smile. (Pay attention to me!)
Getting her to sleep is like running a marathon. I’m in a mom group, and at our last meeting the woman next to me put her baby down on the blanket, put her pacifier in, and BAM! The baby was asleep. I’m surprised my skin didn’t actually flush green, I was so crazy jealous. Violet needs anywhere from 1-3 hours with constant bouncing, shushing, total darkness, the white noise machine, pacifier, and sometimes singing. Oh, and me. No one else can get her to sleep.
During those long nights (and days), I prayed for anything to make her feel better. It actually reminded me SO much of the time that I was pining for C, before I had let go. I became a worshipper of the church of magical thinking, also known as the “Maybe if I do x, y will happen” brigade.
Oh, how we all (me included) hate hearing, “It’ll get better in time. Just hang in there.” I don’t think there are any words in the whole universe I hate more than “Just hang in there.”
But I hung in there. And around the 14 week mark, she stopped crying. Like, completely. She now just fusses a bit when she’s tired. Five minutes max. (Except last night, when the beginnings of the four-month sleep regression hit. For a minute I was SO scared the colic had come back.) I feel like I’ve been spared from a death sentence. That sounds dramatic, but it’s not.
Now, she smiles and plays for hours. And yesterday, she laughed for the first time. (It was so precious, I totally cried!)
So do I have advice on how to survive colic? Honestly, just don’t die. Over and over, life likes to teach me that same lesson: You’re supposed to be here right now. Just sit where you are. Stop fighting it. JUST HANG IN THERE.
It’s a rough lesson. (I don’t even want to talk about the presidential election right now, but that feels like the same lesson too.)
Anyway, if you’d wondered where I’d fallen off to, the likelihood is that I was doing a combination of bouncing, saying “shhh shhhhhh shhh-shhh shh,” and humming “Baby Beluga” over and over for three straight months.
But now we’re here, and here is pretty good.