Surviving ColicPosted January 29, 2015 in Parenting From Soul
A friend of mine just told me that her new baby has colic. I immediately felt so incredibly sympathetic having experienced it with my first born. (My 5-month old is not a great sleeper but thankfully does not have it.)
I have been through some hard things in life and colic was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever endured. There are levels of intensity of colic and my son was on the severe end. There is nothing like crazy hormones and colic to illicit Google searches of, “Colic + Want to die” at 3 am. (Sad but true. It was not so much as I was suicidal but thought that search would bring me the magical information which would save the day.)
In theory, colic is not that bad. It could be worse…lots worse. There is so much to still be grateful for: a healthy baby, the future to look forward to and strong lungs. Yet, there is nothing like constant crying– No, screaming, from a baby to drive you insane. Nature sets up the sound of crying to be impossible to ignore. (One doctor says to help train other pediatricians he plays a CD of a colicky baby at the volume of a real infant. Consistently by the 5 minute mark the pediatricians are begging him to turn it off. And that’s only 5 minutes, folks.)
If you are dealing with colic you might not have time to read much. So I’ll cut to the chase. (Every baby is different but this is what I have tried and what worked for me.)
- cutting all dairy, soy and wheat out of my diet (I was exclusively breastfeeding)
- acid reflux medication
- cranal sacral therapy
- gripe water
- Colief pills
- going to the allergist
Nothing really made the colic go away except time. He was pretty severe till 4-5 months then it started quickly getting better. It did turn into bad sleeping habits (he needed to learn how to self soothe later). And I think I noticed bits of ‘colic spells’ up until 1 year. But it got better and better after the peak period of 6-12 weeks. No one knows for sure why some children have colic but many think it has to do with an overwired nervous system that is still developing through the 4th trimester (the 3 months post partum). In China they call colic ‘100 days crying’.
But here are the things that helped lessen the intensity of the crying:
- Bouncing on an exercise ball (Pretty intense bounces up and down to stop the crying, as well. As long as you support the head and go up and down and not front to back, you don’t have to worry about shaken baby syndrome. Read the Dr. Sears book below for more info).
- (Loud) white noise like vacumns and hairdryers (also a white sound machine)
- The baby swing on full blast (you might want a plug in and not one with batteries because of how much you will use it).
- The Happiest Baby on the Block techniques
- Getting out of the house (He got worse when bored and it’s also good for your mood)
- Wearing him
- Get help. I know you will feel scared to give your screaming baby to someone else to care for. (I feared that they would hurt him because I loved him and even I didn’t like him at the time.) But you need to get breaks for your mental health.
- Do not worry about bonding. You are bonding even when your baby is crying like crazy. You can still love your baby even when you do not like your baby. (Probably also a good reminder for the teen years…)
- You have not created a monster. It is scary, especially with your first child, to feel that your kid will never be happy. You may also think you are doing something wrong. If it is colic, your child will turn out perfectly happy and you are not doing anything wrong. (Some parents with easy first children have told me they were shocked by colicky second borns. Which humbled them to their previous belief that they were just really great with babies.)
- Focus on surviving. Do not try to clean your house. Do not try to write thank you notes. YOU ARE IN A CRISIS. Do what you need to for your mental health. Take baths. Eat chocolate. Have some wine. Bitch to your friends. (Do not talk to friends and set boundaries with family who will judge your parenting at this time). Therapy can be awesome. Get a massage. Watch crappy TV that will distract you. (I watched the entire season of Gossip Girl bouncing on the yoga ball with my screaming baby.)
- Learn the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Make “This too Shall Pass” your mantra.
- If you are overwhelmed, put your baby in her crib and walk away. She will be OK. You will not be abandoning her. She’s going to cry whether she is on you or in her crib, so give yourself breaks to breathe and re-center.
No one understands severe colic who has not been through it. Colic is incredibly hard. If you are are feeling suicidal please let people know. Medication can help. Tell your doctor. As a therapist, I have seen mothers struggle alone with this heavy issue. You can talk and get help and resources at the national suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-8255.
For further reading and exploring, here are my favorites:
- The Fussy Baby Book by Williams Sears M.D., and Martha Sears R.N.
- The Happiest Baby on the Block (The DVD is great for learning the technique)
- Colic Solved by Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.
- Your Fussy Baby by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
- When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying by Tonja H. Krautter