When I was in the midst of it, I refused to admit that was what was happening.
"She's only crying because of [insert fixable issue here]. Once we fix that, she'll be fine!"
Our "fixable" issues ranged from me needing to cut out dairy (because eliminating chocolate and ice cream when your baby screams for 6 hours a day is a great plan) to placing my fingers on either side of her mouth while Peyton nursed, because obviously air was getting in so she was having gas pains.
It turns out there wasn't a solution for my waking nightmare except time.
But I learned a few things that I hope can help other parents going through this. So here's a list of tips from me to you on how to survive this short but seemingly never-ending time.
1. Stop throwing money at the problem. You heard me. Back away from your Amazon shopping cart. I was the worst at this. I bought every kind of gas drop, calming lotion, swaddles, white noise CDs, sleepsuits, probiotics, blackout curtains and parenting books.
We still use the sleepsuit because it's warm and keeps Baby P from startling awake (yes, at 8 months this is still an issue).
But everything else is collecting dust.
2. Get yourself some earplugs. They won't block out all sound, but when you are holding a crying baby, the wails make you feel desperate, frustrated, and yes, even angry. Muffling this will keep your blood pressure out of stroke range.
But I'm not saying pop in some earplugs and leave your child to cry while you catch up on sleep. Don't you dare. You hold that baby and you let them know you are there for them. Colic is painful. Imagine your worst, most painful trip to the bathroom. That's essentially what's happening to your baby.
3. White noise, a completely dark room, and a rocking chair. When Peyton first started crying for hours on end, Josh and I would rush around the house, swaddling her, unswaddling her, laying her down, sitting her up, putting her in the carseat and wasting half a tank of gas to to still come home with a screaming baby.The swing, the bouncy seat, the non-bouncing seat with vibrations, nothing worked long term.
Finally, I just went into the nursery, turned off the lights, turned on the fan and sat there rocking her.
We spent so much energy going from room to room, frantically trying to calm her and it only worked her into a bigger frenzy.
4. Know your "witching hours" and plan accordingly. For us it was 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. most days with the peak of the colic being from 6 to midnight for two straight hellish weeks. Knowing your hours gives you the chance to adapt your life around them. If you're like me and a messy house stresses you out, getting things picked up before the crying starts can be amazing for your morale. If you're sitting there with your ears ringing from screams and staring at a pile of unfolded laundry, that's one more thing to upset you.
Try to eliminate these mood downers, you don't need the extra stress. Use disposable plates, cups and silverware for the time being so you don't have to worry over a sink full of dishes.
Get your errands and appointments done at a safe time. Dragging a wailing baby into Target because you need milk is not going to help your mental health. Same goes with T.V. or any other pass-times you need to keep you feeling like yourself. Trying to watch Gilmore Girls while shushing and bouncing and patting a frantic baby will make to want to put your foot through the screen.
5. Drag your tired butt to the pediatrician's office. Have them check for ear infections, reflux, allergies, and blood in baby's stool. This is more for you than the baby. If it turns out there is a medical problem, you can help. If not, you can stop guessing.
Taking away the worry that there is something medically wrong can be a load off your stressed out shoulders. It helps you center yourself. If you are breastfeeding and you have a baby with colic, it can wreak havoc on your nerves to constantly wonder whether what you're eating is hurting your child. It can make you hesitant to eat and what you need right now is nourishment. So get that fear out of the way ASAP.
6. Know that this will not last forever. Expect to be out of the thick of it by 6 months. I say 6 months instead of 3 because if you are expecting it to get better at 3 months and it doesn't happen immediately you will be devastated.
Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook might remember how angry I was when Peyton's 3rd month wasn't magically crying-free.
So expect expect 6 months and you'll be pleasantly relieved as it gradually gets better before then.
6. Get support. Whether it's a secret group on Facebook, a Mommy and Me club, a friend, or your significant other, do not go through this alone.
7. Know your colic holds. There are three positions that seemed to provide Peyton with temporary relief:
The booty-hang: (This is a good position for reflux babies because they remain upright) Hold babe so their back is pressed into your chest and pull their legs up into their stomach and hold, letting their booty hang.
The slow-motion bicycle: I probably read the advice to bicycle baby's legs a million times without it working for me. Until I figured out I was totally doing it wrong. What you really need to to is push your baby's legs slowly and gently against their tummy while they lay on their back. Alternate between left, right, and both legs at once. Expect lots of farts!
So there you have it. My Colic Survival Tips. I waited a few months to write about this because any earlier and I might have been overwhelmed and dragged down by the memories (it was really that bad) and any later and I might have forgotten all the things that helped us wade through those awful days. Overall, Baby P's colic lasted from when she was 5 weeks old until she was 4 1/2 months old. I was stressed out, unshowered, cranky, miserable and just so ready to be done with the baby years.
My hope in sharing these tips is that someone out there will feel less alone, and more like they can do this parenting thing. Even when their baby is crying while they cringe in the corner asking the Universe WHY ME?
What about you fellow colic veterans? Any resources, horror stories, or tips you want to share?