To say that I headed into my second maternity leave with my wildly idealistic hat on, would be a massive understatement. While I understand that every baby is different, I very much had the memories of my daughter in mind. She was very easy baby. As such, I made great plans for myself to do things like building my blog, working a few hours for the office, finishing up areas of the house I’ve been neglecting for nearly 2 years and overall enjoy my summer off with the kids. One word tossed a major wrench into my best laid plans.
Let me preface this entire post by saying that I have a very happy baby. Colton has an incredible smile. Just see the photo above for evidence. When he’s having a good day, I get a lot of these smiles. Thank God for that. Thinking about his smiles is what has gotten me through some of the worst colic fits we’ve faced.
Baby smiles equal sanity.
I remember when I was pregnant with Lilly, so many people had warned with stories of their colicky babies. I was terrified. During our birth classes, when they asked what scared us most about becoming parents, the top of my list was having a colicky baby. With Lilly turning out to be such as easy baby, I was very ill prepared for Cole.
The first 3-4 weeks were ok. We had what felt like the typical new baby. He was definitely a fussier newborn than Lilly, but hey, every baby is different. I do recall my mom saying that she thought he had a “touch of colic” but I completely didn’t see it…yet.
By 5-6 weeks, we were living in a very different household. The crying fits completely outweighed the content or sleeping times. He would scream for hours at a time, no matter what we did. We would have to trade off as much as possible to keep calm. On days when Lilly was home from preschool, she watched much more TV than we normally allow, so I could focus on keeping Cole as happy as possible.
Eventually, Cole and I seemed to come to an agreement to establish some peace. All he asked for was that I didn’t dare sit down. Or stop moving. Or stop singing. Or stop bouncing as I walked. I had days where I literally walked around my living room for 6-7 hours over the course of the day. It was exhausting.
I actually remember forming an ad in my head:
Free to lend to a good home, one baby treadmill/trainer. This trainer is sure to whip you into shape with undeniable motivation. Better than any personal trainer, you will find yourself walking further than you ever thought before. Rather than motivational cheering, this baby trainer uses a high pitched screeching sound to make you move. At times, simple walking will no longer cut it and you will have to add a bounce to every step, to make your workout more challenging!
Between Cole’s mood swings and my rigorous exclusive pumping schedule, I basically felt like a shut-in. I even had close friends comment when they saw me that I didn’t seem like myself. I wasn’t. I felt like a worn out prisoner of my own home. I became an even more terrible friend – because lets face it, all parents are – and a non-existent blogger. My laundry fell behind, my house was a bigger disaster than usual and I honestly don’t even remember how food got on the table most days.
I wanted to go out more, but felt guilty. I wanted to go running, but couldn’t find the strength. I wanted to drink, but…oh wait, I did pour a sanity-saving weak bourbon once in a while.
Yesterday, Colton turned 5 months old. While it has gotten significantly better, we are not out of the woods completely. He still has days where he fights sleep and acts like a bear. He has also started to put up a big fight at bedtime. But generally, we can make it through most days with very few tears. It very much feels like we have one toe into the light at the end of the tunnel.
I am far from an expert on colic. We are only JUST coming through the other side of it and I know our baby was mild compared to many cases. However, I thought I would share a few tips that helped us survive with (some) sanity intact.
Tips for Surviving Colic
- Let people know what’s going on. The first step is to let your supports know that it’s a bit tougher than expected. When you have a colicky baby, the phrase “it takes a village” has never been more true. Baby may not settle for anyone else, but it’s amazing what a little adult conversation can do for your mental well being when you are pacing for an hour with a fussy baby. Friends and family can do everything from bringing you coffee, to helping your 3 year old wash her hands while you deal with baby.
- Take turns with the baby. If possible, trade off with your partner or someone else every 15-20 minutes during a bad fit. There is only so much high pitched screaming you can take and a small breather can help recharge you for round two. I know as moms we can have a hard time delegating when it comes to a new baby, but don’t be afraid to tag a fellow team mate into the ring to fight the good fight. This is one I had to remind myself constantly and sometimes still do. It might seem easier to do it all myself, but if I get worked up more, so will the baby. Take a break, keep your cool and everyone will benefit.
- Find what works and keep doing it. Warning: what “works” might change. Every. Single. Day. Like much of parenting, it is complete trial and error. However, you just might strike gold and be rewarded with peace and quiet. For us, it was the above mentioned walking. Cole would remain pretty content, as long as I walked/bounced and sang. Sometimes all at once. For 2 hours straight. It was tiring at times, but it was manageable and it was much better than hours of screaming.
- Sleep, sleep and more sleep. This sounds nearly impossible when you have a newborn, and I will be honest that I don’t always heed my own words on this one. In the early weeks, I did nap or at least rest, a bit during the day. You have to turn off the guilt that reminds you of unfolded laundry and just take a break. A bit of extra rest or shut eye can help so much with your stress level, not to mention your breast milk production (another common new baby stress) and overall health.
- Take care of you, so you can take care of baby. This is true for all parents and goes hand in hand with #4. Hydrate, rest, eat well, snack often and when possible, soak in a hot tub for 15 minutes. These little things help you to feel human again at a time when nothing else does.
- Try to get out of the house. This one is one of the hardest tips on this list. When things were at their worst, the idea of leaving the house and being away from everything I might need was terrifying. However, you can’t live afraid to leave your home. Even if it is simply to run an errand to the grocery store, stepping out of the house can be a very relieving feeling. If you happen to have a baby that loves to sleep in the car, this can be a big win-win tactic.
Again, I am no expert, but we have managed to get through the worst of it with the lessons learned above. Have you survived a baby with colic? Currently living through it? Share what has worked/is working for you in the comments below.
Ideally speaking, babies would have evolved passed this crying nonsense and colic would be a thing of the past