First of all, let me take this opportunity to say a big ‘ol eff you to colic. Honestly, I really had to get that off of my chest before we got into the heavy stuff. And to my fellow mamas in the colic trenches: I see you, I respect you, and I know how hard this season of infanthood blows because I am right there with you.
My beautiful daughter, a literal answer to our prayers, is 14 weeks old. She has this crazy strawberry blonde mohawk, substantial cheeks, and the tendency to cry for hours on end, every single night, no matter what hoops those around her jump through. We’ve been to the doctor (many times), rock Zantac, gas drops, soy formula, glass and plastic colic-friendly bottles and probiotics daily yet nothing eases those witching-hour screams.
And before you ask, yes, we have a Rock ‘n Play, two swings, vibrating bouncer, vibrating crib mattress, music blaring play mat, tummy time mat, and three different baby wraps. I think my firstborn owned two total infant contraptions, but this baby? This baby has them all. If at some point anyone suggested or marketed a product as a colic eraser, I can guarantee we Amazon Primed that B between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. out of sheer desperation.
Watching your baby cry for hours on end is a soul-sucking, sanity-crushing, spirit-breaking endeavor, but at some point, you force your pediatrician into saying the C-word and you take a step back. You stop trying to “fix” your baby and start trying to ride it out with her. You give up on switching bottle brands and stop googling “what is wrong with my offspring” and just accept that, no matter how loud it gets, she is healthy, growing, and unfortunately, going through a “phase.” She will grow out of it.
But until then, you’re stuck with the colic mom guilt.
You begin to wonder if you’ve told your baby that you love her enough. At some point, everyone in your house just gives up on having conversations because they can’t be heard, but did you also quit nuzzling into that red little face and whispering “I love you”?
You start to question if you really have done enough to soothe her, to bring her peace. You are her mother, shouldn’t you be able to cradle her in your arms and calm her little nerves?
You hope she can’t feel your relief when you finally lay her down at night or your cringe when she wakes up early from her nap.
You begin to resent colic for what it has taken from you. You don’t see as many gummy baby smiles as other infant moms, it may seem like ages before your baby begins to giggle and coo regularly, and to top it off, you aren’t able to spend as much time with your other children because you are consumed with the crying. The relentless crying.
And mostly, you spend weeks on end wishing the time away. Wishing that you can just make it through until bedtime, or when your partner can be home to help, or for the hour that wine-drinking becomes socially acceptable. Wishing away time that, as any mother knows, we are supposed to be appreciating. Aren’t we told over and over again that we should cherish every moment? That one day we’ll wish we could go back?
Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say I won’t be tossing pennies into that fountain.
And you know what? I won’t be carrying the burden of a colicky baby and a big heavy dose of mom guilt either. What I will be doing is reminding myself of how I am trying my best to survive this insanely trying slice of life. I’m still managing to keep us all fed and clothed, even if we do order pizza more than any family should. I still hold and love on all of my babies, even if I’m wearing noise-canceling headphones to do it. And even though I won’t be wishing for these long (looong) days back, I rest easy knowing that one day I’ll be able to use this time as a reminder to my adult daughter of how much I loved her, you know, when she’s trying to decide if she should send me to a nursing home.
Until then, you can find me with a baby in one arm, wine in the other, and a set of heavy-duty ear plugs smashed into my ears.