5 Ways to Get Through Colic
"Am I imagining this?"
At times, I felt like the person who had discovered the Loch Ness monster. Few people witnessed my babies' crying bouts because, frankly, who wants to take a shrieking baby to the mall or to her mother-in-law's house?
Much of the day, Andrea Kahl's son was a smiley baby. People would ask her, "Is he always this happy?" At a holiday get-together, he slept peacefully in the stroller throughout dinner. "What a perfect baby!" her relatives beamed. Kahl bit her tongue: Most days, he cried for six hours -- straight.
Kahl felt like she was going crazy until her mother-in-law witnessed a -- wait for it -- 24-hour crying bout. "I wanted to sky-write 'I told you so!' " says Kahl.
This'll help: Leave your baby with friends or relatives during her "witching hours." Their frazzled faces when you return will likely be enough to reassure you that the colic is indeed real -- and draining. Plus, you deserve a break.
"It's all my fault."
When my younger son started the inconsolable crying that had tormented me with his older brother, I had to wonder, "Am I causing this?"
The worrying only gets worse the more frustrated you get. Nicole Dane of Freehold, New Jersey, thought maybe she had transferred her emotions to her newborn: "Is he feeling this way because I'm frustrated?" And then you start questioning everything -- the glass of wine you drank while pregnant, what you just ate for dinner, everything!
This'll help: Remember that even though the top doctors and researchers in the world don't agree on what does make a baby colicky, they don't think it's the mom's fault.
"I can't take it anymore!"
What few mothers will admit about enduring colic is how angry it can make you feel. I remember yelling at my newborn to "just shut up, already!" And it felt good to scream over his screaming. I didn't dare tell anyone about it, though: What kind of mom would they think I am?
I'm okay admitting it now -- it's important for other moms to know they're not alone if they get angry, or wish they hadn't had the baby at all, or even have violent thoughts. "I actually thought about hitting his head on something so he would stop crying and it would be quiet," says Andrea Kahl. That's not something you share at Mommy & Me class.
This'll help: It really is okay to be angry with someone who wails for hours each day. What's not okay, of course, is to act on that anger. Put the baby in her crib and call someone -- your mom, a friend, your spouse -- who can get there quickly to help you out. If you think you might harm your baby or yourself, seek professional help immediately. And, please, don't feel ashamed about it. Some experts have likened experiencing colic to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ever since my babies started to become kids, I've had a chance to bond with them in a way I couldn't early on. Their hugs, smiles, and laughs have felt like redemption for a bad start, and I'm grateful. You'll get there, too. But don't be surprised if, like me, you'd rather not hold your friend's new baby.
Jen Singer is the author of You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either).