Almost 8 months ago, a doctor and a whole bunch of nurses laid a red, splotchy baby on my chest. I’m told there was a lot going on just prior to that, but I may as well have been unconscious for how much it mattered once I met my daughter.
In her initial weeks of life, the predominant thought in my mind was, “wow, this is easy.” I even wrote in her baby book, “she only really cries when hungry or cold.” My husband and I congratulated ourselves on lucking out with an easy one.
Most parents can see immediately where we erred and perhaps are laughing at our naiveté. It turns out that the first few weeks of a baby’s life are not an indication of his or her infantile disposition.
At three weeks my pink, mushy little angel became an otherworldly demon. It happened mostly at night, but it eventually evolved into a near-constant battle with what we dubbed “the colic monster.” In addition to the colic, she resisted nearly every colic fix—she hated pacifiers, swings, and her carseat. Tough days, those. I crossed out that aforementioned line in her baby book real quick.
One thing I learned from having a colicky baby is that no parent wants to admit they have one, as though it’s an actual diagnosis or an indication that something is seriously wrong. My hairdresser once told me that her son didn’t have it, but “was on the edge.” Though colic, in the absence of physical problems, is not so much a diagnosis as it is a “hell, I don’t know, your kid is just fussy,” I’m pretty sure that a baby can’t be on the “edge” of colic.
Why the hesitation to embrace our fellow colic brethren and sistren? Isn’t parenthood tough enough without adding in complete isolation for fear people will judge your cranky baby?
There’s a silver lining to every cloud, and colic is no different, despite it being a very dark cloud indeed. As terrible and soul-sucking as it can be, there are some upsides to dealing with a colicky baby.
1. Nerves of steel. I have friends who lucked out with mellow babies, and on the few occasions that their babies positively lose it, my friends lose it too. After months of hearing my baby shriek uncontrollably, there isn’t much my baby can do at this point that will freak me out.
2. You find out who your most annoying friends are so you can stop talking to them. If anyone tells you that you caused your baby to be fussy, that breastfeeding causes colic, or that you’re holding your child too much, you officially have a reason to cut ties with that person. Thanks, colic!
3. You learn your baby’s cries faster. Having heard just about every cry my baby has, I can officially say that I know them all like old friends. Terrible, terrible friends that wake us up at night.
4. You have an excuse to come up with new alcoholic beverages. You know, to keep from throwing yourself out a window.
5. Your singing voice will become beautiful. I sang all of my favorite songs about a million times to my baby over the course of her first 3 months, and as a result, I noticed a pretty decent improvement in my singing voice. Unfortunately, now I hate most of my favorite songs.
6. You appreciate the good times more. When my baby started smiling more than she screamed, it was like seeing the sun for the first time. And all of a sudden her bad days didn’t seem so bad.
7. You get to be smug. We live somewhat far away from family, so they had to take me at my word that our baby was as fussy as she was. When they finally spent time with her and couldn’t magically make her happier, I got to enjoy the smug satisfaction of an “I told you so.”
8. You develop a sense of humor really quickly. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I joked about shipping our daughter off to the circus. Without colic, we would’ve been stuck savoring sweet moments, or whatever parents with mellow babies do…
Though I could’ve stabbed anyone who said tried to reassure me at the time, colic did go away.
Now, please pass the vodka as I gear up for the 9 month sleep regression.
Related post: 10 Things You Should Know About Babies