baby lying on its back

Surviving Colic – A Mother’s Perspective

I am not calling myself an expert on the topic of colic. I am, however, a woman with a small family that survived it. You may be thinking, “Surviving colic, what the heck is this woman talking about. Colic isn’t a fatal disease!” True, it isn’t a fatal disease or condition. However, colic is heart-breaking, mind-blowing, exhausting and depressing.

Let me draw you a picture of my experience. During my last month of pregnancy with my second child, I was pressing certain stressful issues with my first child that was going turn two years old, ten days after the baby was due. Potty training was still in the near finalized stage.

There were some day-time accidents, mostly when I didn’t haul my daughter fast enough down the hallway to the potty. That was the biggest problem with the potty training; she always needed to be accompanied.

Our other issue was her transition from a crib to a toddler bed. This was a tough transition. Don’t frown at me, she was my first child and I probably didn’t develop proper sleeping habits with her. Since the time she started sleeping in a crib until shortly after the baby was born, my oldest girl needed to hold my hand until she fell asleep.

Ask any parent and they will tell you, potty training and toddler bed transition are huge steps to go through, let alone rush through them because of an impending birth of another child. Now add to it the change in my husband’s work schedule which didn’t bring him home until nearly four in the morning.

The due date came and the c-section went well as planned. This allowed me five days and four nights to slowly re-enter mommyhood with a newborn baby. The hospital’s light fare was far from filling but that was the idea since they wanted me to drink plenty of water because of my choice to breastfeed. Let’s fast forward now to the first week at home.

My personal dairy intake was nearly back to normal. I am originally from Wisconsin, milk at every meal and cheese on everything. My husband’s vacation was over and he returned to work.

Just as this occurred so did the nightly crying stints that lasted from two to four hours at a time. I did not experience anything like this with my first daughter. I thought something was seriously wrong. At the newborn’s two week check-up everything seemed normal. I inquired about the strange (and long lasting) crying behavior. I was told to practice techniques to help the baby expel gas.

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Another couple of weeks went by with no improvement. I made several calls to the nurses at the hospital, to the doctor’s office and to other mothers that I know. Gas, Gas, Gas. Well, everything that I tried to relieve my angel didn’t work. I was getting no sleep and the crying started moving to all hours of the day and night.

This not only affected me, but now my older daughter was suffering too. Instead of giving her attention, I was constantly pacing the house with a crying babe. My husband did what he could to relieve me but there wasn’t much he could do. Everyone was in a state of short temper. This, of course, is quite normal for the circumstances.

Eventually, my six week post partum appointment came up. My doctor was asking me questions that were all related to post partum depression. I could hear my baby crying from the waiting room in my husband’s arms. I broke down and cried uncontrollably myself for several minutes. I explained to my doctor what was going on at home.

This woman got teary-eyed with me as I told her everything. She said she went through the same ordeal more than a decade ago with one of her children. She went through my diet with me, suggested that I cut out ALL dairy. I was stunned at the advice but at this point I would have done nearly anything. She then told me to call her in a week and tell her my progress or the lack of.

On the way home, my husband and I talked about the possibility that our baby might be temporarily lactose intolerant. This condition was completely foreign to me, the dairyland princess. The idea of cutting out all dairy felt similar to someone quitting smoking or drinking. I truly did go through a dairy withdrawn. I didn’t get the shakes but I most certainly have the mood swings from it.

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There was no change after the first couple of days but after five days, suddenly I noticed her sleeping better and was less fussy. After about two weeks of being lactose free, my baby’s mood was different. She did have a lot of gas still but she did not cry nearly as much as she did.

I would occasionally slip up, drink a glass of milk or sneak a slice of cheese, her crying would begin when her body would try to process the dairy and end when it would leave her system. We finally made it to her fourth month and I was told to slowly introduce yogurt back into my diet. Little by little and month by month a new dairy item was brought back into my life and hers.

Now at ten months old she is drinking two ounces of cow’s milk out of a sippy cup every other day.

Here is my advice in helping to cope with colic. Be persistent with doctors, nurses, helplines and other parents. For everyone in your family to be healthier and happier, you have to get to the bottom of what is going on with the constantly crying child. Ask for help from family, friends or neighbors.

Whether it is help with your other children or making a meal, there is no shame in asking for help. Most importantly, give yourself down time. You are not a bad parent for setting the crying child down safely in a crib and walking away for five minutes.

If there is absolutely nothing you can do to console the child, give yourself a few minutes break. It makes all the difference. I wasn’t told this piece of advice until it was nearly the end of the colic chronicles. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to let a crying child cry. The good news is that we all survived.

Although that was the longest four months of my life, at least I can say my baby has excellent lungs (and still does).


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