My Jekyll and Hyde baby: Recognizing the signs and finding solutions to colic

It is late afternoon, and Baby T has woken up pissed off as hell. Almost as soon as I pick him up he is winding up. I rush to change his diaper so I can feed him, as it usually calms him right back down. By the time I go to apply the Butt Paste, T is red as a tomato and in full-swing cry. I hustle to wash my hands, but it seems that putting him in his pack and play while I do so gets him more upset, and he is louder than I think I’ve ever heard him. I get momentary relief when I pick him up and bounce him, shushing loudly in his ear. Thinking I’ve settled him down well enough, I sit and get set up to breast feed this being that I suddenly don’t even recognize. The second I lay him on his side to latch, he starts screaming again. Okay, I’m thinking, I can do this, just remain calm and confident. This repeats twice more. Shit, I think. Shit, shit, shit. More often than not lately, I say to myself “I need my mom.” I just need help.

My tiny little banshee is so upset, his little stomach hard, pint-size fists flailing and tiny feet kicking the air wildly. I start to panic. I speed walk to the kitchen, bouncing T on one shoulder, and scramble to heat up some water to heat up a “starter bottle”. I’ve discovered that popping a bottle in T’s mouth for a few seconds to get him focused on a nipple usually results in a quick latch. I sit back down on the couch, praying this works. No luck. T is screaming away, and it seems laying him on his side makes his mysterious pain worse. I remember that my neighbor had given me gripe water and swore by it for her daughter, so I race as fast as is safely possible to the nursery to dig out the bottle. I finagle the bottle open and the dose drawn with one and a half hands, and quickly squirt it into T’s starter bottle. This time I keep him upright and give him his bottle. By some miracle of God, I manage to get him latched on for a little while. This calm respite doesn’t last long before he is wailing again. I try tummy rubs, leg bicycling, and changing positions. The only thing that slightly works is standing and rocking, keeping T upright.

The next day I call my doctor and describe T’s symptoms, desperate for help. “It sounds like he has colic,” the nurse says, “You’re doing everything you can. You can try gas drops, but really the only cure is time.” Mother effing great, I think to myself.

9-3-16 Colic

Colic is defined as the dread and despair of every parent ever. Just kidding, but colic is an extremely frustrating and trying experience for both parent and baby. From what I’m reading, no one knows what actually causes colic, and is suggested to be [God damn frustrating] behaviors instead of an actual biological issue (What To Expect). Colic can pop up several weeks after taking your infant home, peaks at about six weeks, and usually resolves around three months of age. Every infant displays colic differently, but every colicky infant is a uniquely frustrating experience. It can be extremely upsetting for parents because their little angel has suddenly developed demonic vocal cords and seems to be in pain. Of course your doctor should rule out any medical issues, but often the only remedy to colic is time. Not the answer you want to hear I’m sure. I didn’t want to hear it. Gassiness can also be a cause, and peaks in the evening hours. If your little one’s tummy is hard and there’s gurgling, he’s got some gas.

Here are a few things you can do to help your wee one through colic:

Modified diet

I quickly discovered that most vegetables, garlic, and spices (especially cumin and red pepper) were temporarily off my menu. A few hours later, T was extremely gassy and couldn’t sleep well, his poor little GI system louder than a jet engine. Other things that can cause upset are chocolate, dairy, caffeine, soy, nuts, or milk-based formulas.

Stimulation

By the end of the day, T has been exposed to lots of light, voices on the TV, dogs barking, and whatever other sounds the day has brought. I find that if I do T’s evening feed in his nursery with dim lights and no noise and put him in his bassinet at a decent hour, he seems to do a lot better. This kind of habit is also important in establishing a sleep routine, which starts to become crucial towards three months of age.

Movement

Baby T seems to be comforted with movement and being upright. This makes a lot of sense; babies are carried this way for most of the pregnancy. Rocking chairs, swaying, or light bouncing might help settle your baby down enough to quiet the crying.

Sound

Shushing loudly actually replicates the sound that babies are exposed to in utero. Your body makes a lot of noise inside, and this is what your little one is used to after 10 months. Vacuums or blow dryers can also be helpful noise producers. You can also try a white noise machine or the Shusher, which is a great tool to have on hand and on travel!

Gripe water

A natural remedy that is supposed to help calm tummies and reduce gas. I haven’t seen a huge change but many moms swear by it!

Gas relief drops

Little Remedies gas drops have made a tremendous difference for T. I try to stay ahead of the of the dreaded witching hour by giving him gas drops at the same time every evening, right before he usually starts winding up. These drops are supposed to help break up the gas bubbles to make them pass through the body easier.

Time

Yup, sorry. Hopefully your baby doesn’t have colic for too long, I’m praying T doesn’t. I am grateful that his seems to happen during our awake hours and doesn’t last all day. Nonetheless, it is very upsetting to this mama bear. As cute as T’s scrunched up crying face is, I hate seeing him so uncomfortable and feeling so helpless. If you are really struggling to handle a colicky baby, get help. Call someone, ask your partner to tag in, or just put your baby down for 2 minutes in a safe space and go into another room to collect yourself (or scream into a pillow). You can do this. It won’t last forever, and your snuggly bug will be back before you know it.

Need more resources? Check these out:

The Mayo Clinic

Baby Center

2 thoughts on “My Jekyll and Hyde baby: Recognizing the signs and finding solutions to colic

  1. Pingback: My baby pooped blood: The breastfeeding elimination diet | Surviving and thriving in the (sur)reality of motherhood.

  2. Pingback: Booking travel and traveling essentials for a baby | Surviving and thriving in the (sur)reality of motherhood.

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