4 Strategies to Get Through Colic
You've paced the floor for two hours. You've tried to feed, change, and even bathe her to no avail. The crying continues. Colic. This word is a curse word to new mothers who would do anything to have a respite from the daily crying that comes for no apparent reason. There has been plenty written on things you can try to help get your baby through it. But all too often, our focus on getting our little ones through their time of colic leaves us feeling burnt out, stressed, and overwhelmed. We feel like we're failing. Aren't mothers supposed to be able to quell their babies' crying?
As much as it feels like this is him looking at you and saying, “I reject you, and I will never love you,” I promise you that it isn't. This too shall pass.
These thoughts and feelings can lead to a mom who is in complete despair and has lost all of her sense of self. Try to remember that this won't be forever, and in the meantime, here are four suggestions to help get YOU through.
1. Get Support!
After you brought your bundle of joy home from the hospital, there were probably lots of visitors who came bearing gifts for baby and casseroles for Mom. They were happy to congratulate you and get their baby “fix,” and then they left with an “If you need anything, let me know!” LET THEM KNOW! You officially have a need—even if they can just come over for an hour and let you take a shower. Sometimes you just can't listen to the crying anymore. Knowing you're nearby enough that if you're really needed, you'll be there, but having a moment of respite can make a big difference.
2. Talk to Someone Who's Been There
There is a woman from my church who, to me, is super mom. Her kids are polite and respectful, they love their mother, and they are just an awesome family. I was convinced she was the perfect mother with perfect children, so it was a complete shock when she told me that three of her four children were colic babies. She told me that there were days when her children were infants when all she would do that day was pace the floor and think what an awful job she must've been doing. Yet here she is 10 years later with happy, well-adjusted children, who adore their mother!
There is something hard-wired in us that says, “My baby is crying. I have to do something to fix it.” Well, it's been four hours. You've done a complete and total “systems check” about twelve times. There's nothing left that you can do.
This gave me great comfort. It helped me to see the light at the end of the dark and treacherous tunnel of colic and gave me someone who I knew “got it.” If you don't have someone you know personally who's been there, the EverydayFamily forums are a great place to find someone who you can relate to!
3. Don't Take it Personally
I loved my babies, but during those “witching hours,” I didn't always like them very much. It's hard to feel all warm and fuzzy toward a sweaty ball of screams! I often felt resentful that I was getting jipped out of those wonderful baby “moments” you see on all the Johnson & Johnson commercials. I never had a baby that smiled and jabbered after a bath. My child wailed! The infant massage that I had read about calming my baby only seemed to infuriate her. I think I may have even said out loud a few times, “I am being nice! This is supposed to be relaxing!” Apparently she didn't get the memo.
Of course, we take this personally. This is what we worked nine months and LABORED for? Your time for bonding and having that intense maternal connection with your child will come. There will be time in the future when your 3-year-old will look at you in the eyes, put his hand on your cheek, and say “I love you, mommy!” and it will MELT you. As much as it feels like this is him looking at you and saying, “I reject you, and I will never love you,” I promise you that it isn't. This too shall pass. It is NOT you! It's important to remember that babies don't attach emotion to crying like we do. It's their only way to communicate. Just think of it as your baby having a lot to say!
4. Stop Trying So Hard
There is something hard-wired in us that says, “My baby is crying. I have to do something to fix it.” Well, it's been four hours. You've done a complete and total “systems check” about twelve times. There's nothing left that you can do. Make sure your baby is safe and walk away. Your baby just spent nine months in a peaceful and tranquil water environment with very little outside stimuli, and you've thrown them into a world of lights and sounds and movement that their little bodies are just trying to get used to. How scary! We tend to over stimulate them when all they really might need is to just be left alone. And if not, they were crying before anyway, so there's no loss in trying, right? Put them in their crib, turn out the lights and turn off the stimuli, and go read a book or watch a TV show. If after you've done that, you feel like you need to return to them, then at least you've had a moment to recharge your batteries for another round with colic.
What have you done to make it through an evening dose of colic? What support did you have from family or friends? Any advice to moms suffering now?