An Open Letter To My Colicky Baby

by Sarah Cottrell
sdominick / iStock

You cried for hours again last night.

I held you close to my chest and gently rocked you while walking in wide circles around the house, my bare feet wearing down the floorboards into a pattern of worry that any mom with a colicky baby would recognize. I don’t think we have slept in nearly a month, and I can feel your frustration and exhaustion as clearly as I can feel mine. There are so many things I want to tell you. And even though you are but a wee small babe, my heart is flooded with emotions and my mind races with so many different thoughts.

As a mother it feels like I am naturally supposed to have all of this age-old wisdom about how to soothe and calm you. But the truth is that I honestly don’t know why you are crying this hysterically, as this is not a normal cry. I just know that my impulse is to move the universe to make it stop. Are you in pain? This question rolls around in my mind and sets off a firestorm of made-up fears and scenarios creating even more panic in me. I’ve tried the rocking and swaying, the long slow rides in the car, singing lullabies, and softly rubbing circular patterns on your back, but nothing seems to work. Your hysterical crying continues anyway.

When I cry too, it isn’t because I’m mad or frustrated, although those feelings move through my heart like a treacherous interloper. I cry because it hurts my heart to see you screaming in exhaustion and discomfort, your little face turning shades of red, and your small perfect hands flexing and clenching in tense motions sending up red flags in me.

I call the pediatrician again. They tell me this is just a phase. They tell me there isn’t much that I can do. “Have you tried lullabies or rocking?” they ask. I keep trying to get the nurse on the other end of the phone to understand that I am beyond worried, that you must be in pain, and that crying in screeching degrees of pitch and frequency until your voice is raw cannot possibly be “just a phase.” They tell me to “keep an eye on it” and call them back if symptoms get worse. They tell me that all new moms panic during this “phase.” They tell me this is totally normal.

I hang up the phone and pick you up and hold you close to me. Your heaving little breaths on my chest make me melt, and I just want to tell you that it will all be OK. Maybe colic is just a phase. Maybe I am being overprotective and reactionary. After all, I am a new mom. What do I know—I just carried you for nine months inside of me. Except when I hear you hysterically cry, when I hear that hoarse yelp of pain coming out of you, I just know in my gut that this isn’t something to “just keep an eye on”—a phase that will pass. I need to be proactive and find a solution. I must find a way to ease your discomfort.

And so you and I continue down the sleepless path together while I make little changes to your feeding routine, attempt to burp you more, add drops to your bottle to help soothe you, change my diet so that the breastmilk I pump is less difficult for your digestive system. Time passes and one month blurs into two. Two begins turning into three.

Eventually this does begin to pass, and although I cannot point to a singular reason why it passes, I know that you are starting to sleep on my chest instead of wail helplessly. Your little hand curls around my finger instead of flexing in pain. My love for you runs deep and wide, and I would walk the earth for you if that is what it takes to put you to sleep at night.

I want to tell you all of these things, my sweet one. But more than any of that, I want to tell you that I love you fiercely and wholly unconditionally.

This post was created in partnership with Colief Infant Digestive Aid.

When going through colic, just know you’re not alone. Take a look at this video from a real mom as she shares her experience.

Is your infant crying excessively and experiencing tummy discomfort, gassiness, and fussiness? This could mean that your infant may have trouble digesting milk. Colief Infant Digestive Aid—given before feedings—is an infant colic product that contains a natural ingredient that helps break down the lactose in breast milk or milk-based formula so that it’s easier for your baby to digest. So, before turning to major lifestyle changes, like giving up on breastfeeding or switching formulas, try Colief Infant Digestive Aid and see if trouble digesting milk is the cause of your infant’s colic-associated crying.