My Worst Baby Nightmare….(Adventures in Colic Part 1)

I ran today for the first time in 7 weeks. And I ran fast and desperately ~  almost flailing even. And it was pouring rain, which most people probably wouldn’t care for, but it felt soooo good to have water on my face that wasn’t my own tears. It was actually cathartic. You see, I’ve been crying. A lot. And so has my baby.

Yes, my sweet, beautiful, angelic baby Kai seems to have colic. Or as I call it “The C-Word”. A word that has always so terrified me that I would never even linger on it in the baby books, afraid that it would jump off the page and infect my unborn fetus. And now here is my worst nightmare, staring at me straight in the face… and screaming its head off.

When my calm, peaceful, and content baby turned 3 weeks old he started crying. Nonstop. It was so bad that I took him to the doctor 6 days into it, because I just couldn’t look at Kai and believe that he wasn’t suffering for SOME REASON. The doctor is a friend of ours, and after asking me about my medication history (I had just stopped taking my migraine medicine after taking it for weeks) suggested that I take Kai to Starbucks for a big ol’ latte ~ he was sure that Kai was suffering from caffeine withdrawal. At first I was shocked ~ why hadn’t I thought of that? The timing of his crying did closely correspond to the cessation of my medication. Then I was relieved ~ if it was caffeine withdrawal then it would be over soon. Next I was triumphant ~ I KNEW my babies didn’t get colic!

I think I was almost jubilant when I relayed the news to my husband (yes, I could have easily gone down the whole “it’s all my fault he’s suffering because I took Excedrin” road but I made a very conscious choice NOT to go there, because frankly, I couldn’t function without my medication….and that’s that).

Our doctor-friend told us that it would work itself out of his system in a few days and he should be just fine. And guess what? Four days later Kai stopped crying and went back to our calm and content baby. I was so relieved I wanted to shout from the roof-tops “My BABY is better! My baby is BETTER! MY BABY IS BETTER!!!!!!!”

Oh, the profound and utter RELIEF after ten days of hell. Ten days that made me so sympathetic and empathetic to parents (especially sensitive, hormone-ridden mothers) who had to endure this for days and weeks and months on end. Ten days where I seriously considered seeking out medical help and a bottle of pills because I suspected I might have Postpartum Depression. Oh, the absolute, complete, and rapturous (and I admit, somewhat smug) RELIEF. It really was one of the sweetest emotions I’ve EVER had.

Then one week later, Kai started crying again.

And I immediately started crying with him, as I was totally heartbroken to be in this place again. If you’ve never been in this place then you’ll never understand the gamut of emotions it brings out in you. The despair, frustration, anger, helplessness, hopelessness and rage ~ sometimes all in the span of sixty seconds. If you have been there, then you deserve a freakin’ medal ~  the Purple Heart, because living with colic does wound you. Maybe not mortally, but close.

So often in the middle of his crying jags (which for the record don’t come at night for just a couple of hours, but come pretty much EVERY time he is awake, making the whole day a horror movie) I’d picture myself running from the house screaming ~ just running out the front door and leaving it all behind me.

So when I went running today, I ran as if I really WAS running away ~ fast, desperate, and flailing. Perhaps I should have taken it easy as it was my first postpartum run (we shall see how I feel tomorrow!) but at that time I NEEDED to run and run FAST, to at least pretend I was putting it all behind me. A mile into it I started to feel better. Two miles into it I actually started to hear the sound of my inner voice again (which had been so drowned out by the screaming).  At the end of my run I asked for the stamina and wisdom to support Kai as he goes through this brief period of time.

Hearing my inner voice (which is always wisest on my runs) and feeling the endorphins gave me the strength to go back home. I even WANTED to go back home. It was actually a blissful drive home and I felt I could handle my horror movie of a day ~ maybe even gracefully.

I came home to a smiling husband and a quiet baby, all swaddled up and sleepy. The crying inevitably started again when Kai awoke, but for the first time in four days I didn’t cry with him. I was even provided with the wisdom to handle his crying in a much different way, a way in which I felt empowered and even graceful (which I’ll share in future posts).

So yes, Kai cried his sweet little head off today, but it was a good day. A day that didn’t end with me feeling broken. I even feel like maybe I can make it through another day. We shall see….

(There’s so much more to say but this post is getting too long. Stay tuned for more of my colic-musings. In the meantime I wish you wisdom, grace, and happy babies.)

17 comments on “My Worst Baby Nightmare….(Adventures in Colic Part 1)

  1. I Love how you put it all in words like that YES ones own baby whom we are so connected to, screaming for hours does try the best in us – then getting out for a run (for me it was also the bike) was therapy. Clearing the head allowing our inner voice and wisdom to be heard once again, then preparing again for the nxt battle of emotions the most beautiful precious loved one thats so upset can create in us. I hope baby Kai settles soon but if it takes time try to remember that the universe only gives us what we can cope – it seems the broader the shoulders the stronger we still need to be…coming out the other end with these wounds also seems to give us coping tools we otherwise never would have had.
    Btw – I’m a Kiwi (NZ) and in our native Maori language Kai means ‘food’ – Isnt that cool? I think hes going to love his Food!! lol. Take Care xx

    • Mandy, thank you so much for your words. Yes, if Kai had been my first baby I don’t think I could have handled it very well. I tell myself I must have gotten stronger as a mother now that I have three. 😉
      It’s nice to hear from someone who’s made it to the other side.
      Much love to you.

  2. Oh Kate, I haven’t been paying attention, so wrapped up in my own life. I am sorry for the pain and heartache that colic cry has caused you and your sweet baby boy.
    When I nurse my own baby girl tonight, I will send you love and light.

  3. My little sweetie is 6 months and thank goodness, we are past the colic. But yes, it does break you.
    You might try cutting out dairy. This helped lessen the screaming for us.

  4. Hi Kate – I hope it’ll soon be over. I’ve read that it stops at 3 months…

    I guess you probably know more about it than I do, but here’s what I know –

    Carry the baby as much as possible – 24hrs body contact if at all possible.

    Instead of moving slowly or rocking, try to move with fast movements, like walking up stairs – anything with that rhythm. It’s supposed to work if you have the baby in a pram or hammock, too, important is a quick rhythm.

    Rubbing his tummy with a baby oil, you can buy special tummy/colic oil.

    Trying to establish a rhythm – eg. nursing every 45min or 2hrs or whatever, then carrying, then sleeping. Or eg. at 7pm massage, then bath, then nursing, then carrying off to sleep.

    Oh, in ayurveda they recommend using sesame oil (first warm it to 100C – you can do this by adding a few drops of water to the oil in the pan – the water drops will pop as they reach 100C) to massage the baby. Ideally massage morning and evening, afterwards giving baby a bath. Also, massage it’s head, then leave the oil on and put a little cap on.

    Baby should wear a cap anyway, to protect the “fontanelle” (that open part on top of the head) because it’s still open and sensitive babies are very open to outward stimulation through that part.

    Staying indoors the first 6 weeks is important – better the first 3 months, especially for sensitive babies – being out and about is too much for them and they can’t “shut down” to all the stimulation and that can strain their whole system, including digestion (because they can’t “digest” too much stimulation – including too much music, tv, etc).

    Dress baby in either wool or silk – these fabrics calm the baby.

    And especially (the easiest tip:-)) staying as calm as possible, not entering into the pain with the baby. Try to be as nurtured yourself as possible – forget about the housework, homeschooling, whatever, for the next few weeks.
    Don’t strain your own digestive system – ayurveda and traditional chinese medicine have great recommendations for how a nursing mother should eat and drink (eg. nothing cold or straight out of the fridge, eat warming foods that are easily digested like stews, soups, porridge, no raw foods like fruit and veg). Drink a tea out of fennel, anis, cumin and yogi tea (spices like cinnamon, cardamom, etc are great, leave out any hot spices like chilli).

    Good luck and best wishes, Dani

    • Wow, Dani! What a wonderful wealth of info you shared here!
      I’m doing most of the things you mentioned, other than the sesame oil and baby cap. The dietary you things you mention are interesting because they reflect what my body is asking for ~ soups and stews and I haven’t been eating many raw things at all.

      I do so appreciate your input ~ this comment should be a post in and of itself. Do I have your permission to do that?
      Thank you! Much love to you ~

  5. Kate! I just want to give you a big hug right now. I know that this has not been easy for you, and it is even more difficult when you are up against changing hormones. I’m glad that you took some time for yourself, but remember to be kind to yourself. You are doing the best that you can do, and this too shall pass…hopefully sooner than later. You are a strong and wise woman, and your boys are lucky to have you for a Mama. Wishing you peace and sending you love!!!

  6. Both my boys were colicky and I found a swaddle called Miracle Blanket….it saved my life! Google it. You need to get one because by 6 weeks they were sleeping 12 hrs a night and napping 2x per day! To this day, at ages 3 and 5, they both still sleep 12 hrs a night. My own pediatrician couldn’t believe it. Its all about sleep training and the startle reflex. Also, there is a book called 12 weeks to 12 hrs a night. Its on amazon. You will thank me! Get 2 of those miracle blankets because you will always want a clean one handy. Good luck!!

    • Oh Alana ~ I LOVE the miracle blanket. I’ve used it with all 3 of my boys and it definitely helps them sleep much better. I swaddled Kai much of the day yesterday and it settles him instantly. I will follow your advice and get 2, though ~ as it WOULD be nice to have a clean one every now and then. 😉
      Thank you!

  7. Hi Kate,
    My son went through long crying periods too. I took him to a chiropractor who specializes in treating babies. After one session, my son became calmer and physically relaxed. He had been holding so much tension in his little body! No wonder he was crying.
    Another thing that helped us was learning his baby language. Look up Priscilla Dunstan when you have a spare moment – if you havent already. Since I began listening for my son’s cues, his crying diminished. He hardly cries at all now.
    I also drank chamomile tea.
    I hope this helps!
    Love to you and your family.

    • I will definitely look into the baby language! Thank you so much, Claudia!

      A dear friend of mine has done cranial-sacral therapy on him twice and it definitely does seem to help a bit.

      I really appreciate your input!

  8. Kate, I am so sorry that you’re going through so much stress. Is there anything I can do to help? I feel so bad, there must be something. Well, at least tomorrow you can go out and have an enjoyable date 🙂 The weather is going to be better this week if that helps! You are so strong, and I’d just like to say that your writing skills are superb; that was such a powerful story. Again, my heart goes out to you. I’ll send healthy vibes to baby Kai. I love you.

  9. Ohhhh man, have I been there, in abundance. If Sylvia had been my first…well, let’s not go there. I could tell you stories of our first four months that would curl your hair. Suffice to say it was not uncommon for my husband to come home to find both of us crying, me with breastmilk all down the front of me, her with drool all over her…(she is fed pumped milk via bottle. She has a cleft palate and cannot nurse.)

    So, here’s what helped. Nothing “cured” it but time, but some days, some thing worked better than others. 1- if you do not have an extensive local support system, seek one out. La leche league, if nursing, local mom’s groups, etc. I belong to a local attachment parenting community, and probably would not have survived with as few grey hairs if not for their endless support, both online and in person. 2- gripe water. You can make your own, and I’d recommend it. Or you can buy some. Whichever. 3- happiest baby on the block. I was shown by a certified instructor, but I hear the dvd works well too. 4-wearing baby. This is the only way I could get anything done, period, and I really didn’t get to wear her that much, because of repeated bouts with plugged ducts and raynaud’s complications. 5-crying in arms. There is an amazing article by aletha solter, I don’t have it now, but if you Google it… 6- supportive husband. Nuff said. And that includes nighttime parenting. 7-bedsharing. I know its controversial. My little girl needed skin to skin contact 24 hours a day, it seemed.

    Good luck. It will end, eventually. Until then, one day at a time, one hour at a time. Find things that make you feel less shell shocked, in the meantime.

  10. I was there. I saw the crying. I think I cried. Third time around easier? Hmmmmmmmmmm. More respectful of one’s need to let it out I think. Can I let it out? Think I’ll grab a beer and kiss my wife.

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