When Colic Becomes Too Much!
Colic, the undefined crying spells that frequent the lives of 1 out of every 4 babies, can drive a mother or father to insanity. One day your baby is a peaceful, quiet little angel, and within a few weeks, you are dealing with a screaming, flailing, out of control infant that seems completely inconsolable. When the episodes first hit, most parents are overwhelmed with concern about what is wrong with their baby. As time goes on, the worry turns to immense frustration and panic, and you may even begin to question whether or not you were cut out for parenting. To a mother who has never experienced colic, they will not understand no matter how hard they try! What you need, perhaps more than remedies for your baby, are coping strategies for yourself.
What makes colic so difficult is that the episodes primarily hit when you are already exhausted. In the evening, you are ready for things to wind down, and instead, they seem to heat up and boil. The crying is shrill and loud, and knowing that your baby is in pain that you cannot help with is a helpless and miserable feeling. All you can do for your baby is try to find methods that work to at least lessen the periods of colic. Some days will definitely be better than others will. Talk to your pediatrician, and once colic is diagnosed, commit to taking care of both you and your baby.
First of all, relax! Yes, impossible under the circumstances; however, babies are very intuitive and can pick up on your stress very easily. The more stressed and frustrated you get, the worse your baby will become. If you lose your cool, scream into a pillow, or just have to get away, don't beat yourself up. As long as your baby is unharmed, you are doing the best you can. In fact, if a night becomes more than you can handle and you don't have reinforcements in place, using your ear buds on the IPod may be just the thing to get you through. If you have to get out of the room, make sure your baby is in a safe place and walk into another room for a minute or two, close the door, and collect yourself. Remind yourself that everything is going to be okay, that this too shall pass, and that in just a few weeks, these moments will become a thing of the past.
Speaking of reinforcements, it's time to call them. So many moms are caught up in the thinking that they have to do everything themselves or risk being seen as a bad mom. Throw that out the window, and call anyone and everyone who can help you. Your support system during this time can be a great distraction for you and your baby. Sometimes, a new set of hands can work magic on your infant. If your mother-in-law is able to calm your baby and let you off the hook even for 20 minutes, rather than feel inadequate – relish in the moment. There is no shame in asking for help. If your spouse is able to help you, it may be a good idea to take turns dealing with the episodes of colic.
Get outdoors and refresh yourself every day. Exercise. The better physical and mental shape you keep yourself in, the better off you will be all around. If you spend the evenings tending to a colicky baby, then take as much time as possible to enjoy the daytime with your baby. You aren't the first mom to become so immersed in colic that you question your own ‘love' and maternal instinct. Enjoy your baby, go for long walks or excursions, and cuddle and snuggle as much as possible while they are calm. This will help you continue to bond with your baby and be a great way to break up your day.
Another thing for mom or dad to try is positive thinking. Perhaps this may be cliché, but expecting the worst each and every day and talking about it with others, changes your mental state and attitude. Your baby may not understand your words, but they do feel and understand the tension as you near the witching hour. Each morning, try to think positive, which will make you feel good inside and out. Rather than spend your day in dread and worry, commit to dealing with the colic IF (rather than when) it comes up.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is understand that while colic is upsetting and immensely frustrating – your baby is okay! One of the reasons colic has such a negative effect on mom and dad is because you love your baby so much and will do anything to ease their suffering. When you know that they are not ill and that you are doing all you can, you will be working from a place of knowledge rather than fear.
Colic is not forever. The weeks that your baby has colic will feel like an eternity, but they only make up a small fragment of your life together. If you can get through this, you will be more than prepared to make it through the pre-teen and teenage years with ease. Keep your head up, your body and mind strong, and your eyes on the future.