All new moms hope their child will learn to self-calm and sleep through the night in just a few months. What to do when that’s not the case? Beck sheds light on the difficulty of dealing with colic.
I had a very romanticized notion of how our first few months with our daughter would go. Now, don’t get me wrong. I expected the sleepless nights, the diaper changes, and the barrage of questions about how well she was sleeping. At worst, I figured a month or two and my sweetie would be off to dreamland like the rest of them (well, like my friend’s babies I’d heard all about). I didn’t, however, expect the sleepless nights to turn into weeks and months.
Surely you’ve heard it before, “there’s no instruction manual!” But faced with colic, even the best laid plans seemed to go out the window. It was no longer about schedules or sleep, our mission was survival. For months on end, our daughter would sleep for no more than two hours at a time without waking up and crying, in addition to the daily afternoon meltdowns. Yes, our sweet, perfect baby cried non-stop from five to midnight for the better part of five months for no apparent reason. Welcome to the colic club.
Colic is characterized by three or more hours of crying, three or more nights a week for three or more weeks. The rule of three’s. Oh yes, we tried absolutely everything. Some tactics would work for a night or two. The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp, became our best friend. We would swaddle and sway until the cows came home, but the colic was relentless. We prayed, and prayed, and prayed that it would be over soon, just like our pediatrician kept insisting. Each question about her sleep habits just furthered our frustration. At times, I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “NO, my baby is NOT sleeping through the night!” Why, oh why was our baby plagued by this horrible condition?
We soon learned we were far from alone. If you’ve raised a colicky baby, you know just how hard those first few months are! Talking with friends and relatives who’d been there helped tremendously and gave us hope that we would eventually win the fight. We clung to the promise that it would get better and that the colic would one day be a distant memory. Indeed, it is! I never thought it would be, but how quickly I’ve forgotten how hard those months were. To those of you raising a truly colicky baby (and yes, there is a BIG difference between normal infant fussiness and colic) take heart! You are not alone. There is a light, however dim and distant, on the horizon!