Colic: The Uninvited House Guest
You’ve spent the past nine months envisioning life with your newborn. Her crib and swing are set up, the nursery is decorated, and you’re eager and excited to welcome this bundle of joy into your life.
And the first couple of weeks at home are idyllic. This is exactly what you had hoped for! Mornings are spent cuddling and feeding on the couch, afternoons spent wheeling the stroller around the park and visiting with other moms. Okay, maybe getting up three or more times a night wasn’t part of the plan, but you can deal with that.
And then it happens.
Your quiet, sleepy little baby suddenly ‘wakes up’. She becomes increasingly fussy, particularly in the evenings. Despite the fact that you’ve read every baby book out there, you’re at a loss for what could be causing the fussiness, and how to calm her.
This is not how it’s supposed to be. While the days are generally pretty quiet, once 5 p.m. rolls around all hell breaks lose. What started out as mild fussiness at night has turned into all-out, red-faced, fist-clenched, screaming.
You and your partner take turns carrying her around the house, rocking and bouncing, attempting to feed her, going for midnight drives to try to get her to sleep.
You’re exhausted. Physically and emotionally drained. You know this is probably ‘just’ colic, but part of you worries there’s
something more going on.
• What if she’s not getting enough to eat?
• What if you’re overfeeding her?
•What if she has undiagnosed acid reflux?
•What if she’s allergic to her formula or to something in your breastmilk?
The next three months seem to drag on and on. You’ve dreamt of having a baby ever since you can remember, and maybe even gone to great lengths to conceive her. And now you find yourself secretly wondering at times if this parenthood thing is really worth it.
You’re finding your partner is getting increasingly frustrated with the constant crying as well, and on top of the everything else, you find yourselves getting testy and snippy with each other at the drop of a hat.
And then one day, seemingly the same as any other day, something changes. 5 p.m. rolls around, and you brace yourself for another night of sleeplessness and crying. You tell yourself you don’t know how much longer you can take this.
6 p.m. comes and goes. And then 7 p.m. You hold your daughter on your lap, and she lays quietly, observing the world around her. At 8 p.m., you feed her, waiting for the inevitable. And she closes her eyes and drifts off peacefully to sleep.
The colic has ended.
You’ve made it through this first phase of parenthood – maybe not with flying colours, but more or less in one piece. This surely won’t be the last challenge you’ll experience with her, but somehow you feel stronger, knowing you can deal with whatever lies ahead.
Holly Klaassen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of www.thefussybabysite.com, a support and resource site for parents of fussy, colicky and high-need babies and toddlers. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and formerly-colicky five year old son and eight year old daughter.