My heart broke as I watched my newborn cry…his eyes turned to slits and his legs curled up in pain around his tummy. I remember how he cried for hours upon hours and days upon days. Sam and I tag-teamed each other holding our new bundle of joy with lots of swaddles, endless bouncing and mixed emotions. I was a new mom with all the bright-eyed hopes for a “good baby” *(see footnote) that would sleep though the night… you know, one that would let us resume our previous normal pre-children life. Any parent knows you are never the same after having a child but you’re REALLY not the same after having a baby with colic. This might sound dramatic, but if you’ve ever cared for a baby with colic then you know I am not overdramatizing.
Our oldest Waylon was born 3 weeks early on March 27th, 2012. We induced labor when I was 36 weeks along due to a placenta abruption. I’m not sure if this is what caused our baby to have colic but I have a feeling it contributed. The first few months of life with him was not newborn bliss; after rushing Waylon to the doctor several times he was diagnosed with extreme colic that lasted 5 months. Sitting with numerous pediatricians and given that diagnosis was anticlimactic and left me feeling hopeless; not that I wanted my baby to have a serious illness but I wanted to know what I could do to cure his pain. Side note, how come we can send people to the moon but we can’t cure colic or even define why it exists? Come Docs get on this…oh and please find a cure for cancer, ASL, and autism…just email me for a very long list of other things I wish to cure in this world.
Those first five months of motherhood were a fog. I had nothing to compare my experience to so I thought all babies cried with such ferocity. Then I opened up to a friend about Waylon’s acid reflux, painful cries and our sessions bouncing him on the exercise ball to Black Sabbath. She looked at me with a look that said, “I’m sorry but the next few months are going to be hell.” Her baby had just turned 5 months and had grown out of his colic. My friend’s words were short and simple and comforted me far better than any advice I could google… “I’ve been there.” Those words meant I would survive and they gave me hope. Like sisters in battle we locked arms and formed what felt like our own little colic support group.
When you research “colic” you will find plenty of tips and you could probably spend your entire savings investing in remedies. Here is my own personal list of what I tried with Waylon and found to be helpful for our whole family.
- Support: Find someone who has had a baby with colic and keep their number saved on your favorites. You need support and you need to be able to talk about what your feeling and experiencing. You also need help holding your baby so don’t feel shy in asking those grandparents to come stay with you for a while to help out. I stayed with my parents for 2 weeks during the summer Waylon had colic. We all took turns holding him and loving him and some how it made us all closer.
- Feeding: Feeding a baby with colic can be very frustrating. I nursed Waylon for 16 months but for the first 5 months I eliminated coffee, dairy, soy, spicy foods, vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and onions. It was rough but worth sticking it out. When bottle feeding our boy we used an anti-colic bottle like the one in the photos below from Phillips Avent Newborn Starter Set and Toddler Sippy Cups. The Airflex venting system in these bottles is designed to reduce gas and colic. As your baby feeds, the valve integrated into the nipple flexes to allow air into the bottle to prevent vacuum build up and vents it towards the back of the bottle. It keeps air in the bottle and away from baby’s tummy to help reduce gas, spit-up and burping.
- I Love U Tummy Massage: I found Infant massage to be a very effective way to relieve Waylon’s infant gassy tummy. It was quick and easy and cost free. Check with your pediatrician first and feel free to click here for a diagram on Pinterest and a board filled with tips for parents with colicky babies and or infant reflux.
- Swaddle: I believe the pressure of a tight swaddle can help relieve some of the gastrointestinal pain many colicky babies feel and also provide a calming womb-like presence. My favorite swaddles are from Solly Baby Wrap.
- Sleep: I found that going to bed at night was causing me anxiety because I didn’t know when I would have to get up again or how many times I would be woken up intermittently each night. I worried I wouldn’t hear my baby or be there if they needed me so that’s why I say having a good video monitor is invaluable. The Avent Smart baby monitor uses SafeConnect Technology to make it easy to monitor your baby’s sleep anywhere from your smart phone or tablet. I sleep so much better knowing I can see my baby sleep without going into their room risking waking them.
- Hope: If you are in the midst of colic please know you’re not alone and that you will survive. Open up and talk about it… find a friend or Facebook group that understands colic. Misery loves company, it’s true but even more true is that you need to express your emotions related to being a parent of a baby with colic and share what is working and helping you through it.
I can hardly believe we will be celebrating Waylon’s 5th birthday this March. Sam and I were reminiscing about those colic days and we both agreed that Waylon made us better people and certainly better parents. His months of colic taught us to throw away expectations, work together, and live in the moment. We love you Waylon and are grateful for all you’ve taught us.
*Footnote: “good baby” is a term that should be thrown away. All babies are good… some just have a little more fire than others and keep you up all night (Insert smile with a wink here).
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