The C-word

            Sometimes, I write a post and I just know how a particular person will react.  Every time I write about vaccination, for example, I know a certain doctor friend in New York who reads every day but never comments will suddenly unearth himself and pop in with some support.  (Apparently, he also supports my grammar posts.)  When I write about Zachary’s troubles, I know his grandmother will probably call or email shortly thereafter.

            And I know that, when reading today’s post, Caroline will suck in her breath and exclaim, “Oh, we know about that,” prior to leaving a sympathetic comment.  (No pressure, babe.)  Because, she does know about that.

            Yes, today’s post is going to be about the C-word.  Not that C-word.  The other one.  The five letter one.

            It appears that we have colic in the house.  (Cue Caroline.)

            When her youngest child had colic, Caroline would euphemistically refer to the evening as the “social hour,” even though it left no one feeling social and it lasted a hell of a lot longer than an hour.  Ours begins sometime around 6:30 or seven and lasts on average two-and-a-half hours.  Sometimes more, occasionally less.  And, what does our otherwise sweet baby do during this time?

            She screams.  And flails.  And sometimes throws up from her agitation.  And screams some more.

            There is little I can do to calm her, although every now and then while pacing with her I will find she suddenly stops.  And I freeze wherever I am in whatever position I may be.  I stand there with the silent, panting, wide-eyed baby for maybe five full minutes until she start squirming or screaming again.

            I do try to calm her much of the time, although, to be frank, the screaming seems to have no relation to anything I am doing.  She just seems to need to scream, so sometimes I pick up a book and read while I am holding her.  If nothing I does makes any difference, I may as well get a chapter read.

            As far as I can tell, the day is overwhelming for her, and she needs to let off some steam before bed.  The colic does seem worse on days she gets more exposure to Benjamin, which makes sense, as I, too, find him overstimulating.

            The one sure-fire way to calm her down is to put her in the Bjorn and go for a walk.  Unfortunately, that also puts her to sleep, and she will then wake up the minute I take her out.  It only delays the inevitable screaming, because I really cannot go to bed wearing a Baby Bjorn.

            And, yes, I have tried skin-to-skin, burping, singing (as much as what I do can be called singing), walking, gripe water, rocking, and – every now and then – begging.  I now understand why they give such stern warnings about baby shaking at the hospital.  When moving into hour-three of the screaming, I can surely picture some desperate woman thinking, “Maybe if I shake this thing it will stop,” before some dim memory pokes through her sleep deprived brain and she ponders, “But what was it they said about shaking the baby?” 

            Fortunately, I have evening help, because there needs to be one person to put the boys to bed and another to hold the human police siren we affectionately refer to as the baby.  But, when our nanny leaves and the boys are in bed, it is just me, a red-faced baby, and hours to go before we sleep…

            Somehow I suspect Caroline isn’t the only one who can relate to this.

28 responses to “The C-word

  1. Colic, though sometimes unexplained, can have a root cause.

    With my youngest, it turned out to be silent reflux. “Silent”, because he didn’t actually regurgitate, which is why I had no idea he had it. The stomach acids sat in his throat, burning. He didn’t want to be set down, because it was worse when he was lying prone. Upright, he got some relief.

    Once he was diagnosed and treated, the “colic” disappeared. He was like a new baby.

    I’m not suggesting she has colic, but the way you describe her “flailing” and throwing up is very, very familiar. The test is very simple and non-traumatic. Might be worth looking into.

    You have my sympathy. What ever the cause or non-cause, colicky babies are a challenge.

  2. I’m sure at this point you’ve tried everything, so I hesitate to suggest something you’ve probably tried already, but…

    …have you read “Happiest Baby on the Block”? The style is a little cloying, but we found the swaddling-swaying-and-shushing method worked really well for us. Needless to say, your mileage will vary, but if you haven’t tried it, it might be worth trying.

    I especially suggest it because you mention that walking works– until you take her out of the Bjorn. Maybe if you swaddle her, walk around with her, and then put her down swaddled, the swaddling would make the transition less jarring?

  3. Oh, and most importantly: you have my complete sympathy!

  4. Oh you poor thing. That is just so hard!!!!

    I have been there. My second boy cried for 6 months straight. He wouldn’t sleep at night and he wouldn’t take naps either. He just cried. And yes, after going through that I definitely understand how the shaken baby thing can happen. 😦

    I wish I would have taken Tommy to the chiropractor as a baby. They can really do wonder for colicy babies. Would you consider trying that?
    I will say that you have to find the right chiro because there are a lot of flakes out there. Ask around and get lots of opinions.

    Good luck! And hang in there! This too shall pass.

  5. Ahhhh…..the social hour. I used to cry during the day in anticipation of the 6-9:00 p.m. hours. The football hold. And the Bjorn. And the thought of future margaritas.
    Hang in there.

  6. at the risk of offering information you’ve already tried a gazillion times, have you tried the 5 s’s (shhing, swaddling, swaying, sucking and stomach)? It helped for MQ, who had, methinks, a MUCH milder case, and, of course, doesn’t work for every baby. but hey, everything is worth a try, right? well, except the baby shaking.

  7. WordPress ate my last comment. It’s probably best; it was full of likely useless suggestions.

    What it boiled down to is: I feel you. I wish I was there to hug you and help. I hope you get some relief soon, all of you.

  8. Oooh, sucks to be you. My first child was sort of screamy-fussy at that time of day. And even though all the walking, holding, footballing, bouncy seating didn’t actually make much difference, we still continued to do it, every single night. Why didn’t we just put her down for a second or 70 and walk away and take a deep breath? It’s this weird mammal thing, isn’t it, the impulse to hold and snuggle our babies no matter what?

    The good news is that it doesn’t last forever, this stage. But it sure feels like it does.

  9. Oh honey, we have so much in common right now! I too have had flashes of the shaken baby video when at 3am Peaches is screaming to eat but then thrashing and arching and not latching on the bottle.

    I agree though that you might want to consider the possibility of GERD/reflux. The twins have it significantly due to the prematurity, and it definitely can be “silent”. You might notice some throat clearing or turning her head unexpectedly. It would fit with the whole not liking the stroller too. Sometimes those positions cause reflux to worsen.
    I’ll be thinking of you tonight at the “social hour” as mine frantically cluster feed and the 5-year-old gives me a hard time about bed.

  10. This is your third baby. I cannot imagine anything someone will mention that you haven’t already tried.

    I’m sorry.

    It’s one of those things, in retrospect, that will seem like a short period of time. “She had colic the first three months.” When she’s 13, 3 months won’t sound that bad. But in the moment, three months of screaming is an eternity.

    Good luck keeping your sanity.

  11. Ooof, I’m sorry.

    My first son screamed non-stop until he was 6 weeks old. As we approached that 6 week mark I would joke with friends “they say that things get better after six weeks, so next Saturday should be the day.”

    And lo, and behold, the day he turned six weeks, he looked up at me, smiled his first smile, and has been the happiest little clam ever since.

    I’m hope you have a similarily happy ending.

  12. Poor thing. You, I mean. She’ll forget this entirely.

    Ben was colicky. Well, no, that’s not entirely true. Unless colic is now considered an all-day screaming fest. He never stopped screaming. Ever. For a year.

    It’s a wonder I ever had more children. Seriously.

  13. Sassy had colic when she was a baby. My mother in law said, “What did you do wrong? She shouldn’t be crying like that.” Yeah. I almost cleaned her clock. After five months of SCREAMING she suddenly stopped. just. like. that.
    However, she has been LOUD ever since. (and got her real live driver’s license today. crap.)

  14. I seriously don’t know how moms do it

  15. I don’t know what you’re going through. Best wishes to you all.

  16. P had colic and reflux, or perhaps colic as a result of reflux, or maybe even just reflux masquerading as colic. I don’t know, but I do know it was hello. God, how I hated those early months.

    No advice, since nothing ever worked for us either, just sympathy. Bloody colic…

  17. OH NO!! I am so sorry to hear she has colic! It was, hands down, the worst seven weeks of my life. (and I am someone who is know to say, “I can do anything for (insert time period).” E cried, as you may remember, from 7:30 until 3 or 4 in the morning. Just awful. The only thing that would keep him quiet was to be nursing- that’s how I finished The Executioner’s Song -1072 pages- in 4 (count them 4) days!!
    The only words of advise I can give you is: Love when she is not crying. When she is crying, it’s ok to cry too.
    Hugs and strength. If I lived closer, I would offer to babysit.

  18. I meant to say Love her when she’s not crying. (I remember secretly wishing I could leave E on someone’s doorstep. James one night even agreed to talk the following morning about giving him up for adoption.) And now look at the little guy, still “very passionate”, but also one of the funniest children I have ever met.
    It will get better.

  19. I don’t know if it statistically happens more with girls but my parents always told tales of my “colic” and the mini had her daily witching hour for the first four months. At least you know in a couple of months it will be over.

  20. Oy. We’ve been there, and that’s not fun! I remember thinking that about the shaken baby warning as well. “Oh yeah, now it all makes sense…” At least you know this time around that this won’t last forever. Still, I’m wishing you and your family some peaceful evenings very soon.

  21. Gosh I so much understand ,how tired you must be feel.My little one has just turned one….and am just out of the “sleep deprived days”…..prayers that Lilah finds some relief from the colic soon…..Yeah and you said it right…caroline is not the only one..:-))

  22. Oscar had wretched spells like this, and you have my deepest sympathy. we’re getting a bit of it these nights too, but nowhere near so bad.

    O was ON reflux meds but they didn’t seem to do much…nor did the gripe water, or the shushing, or the blah, blah, blah…but at four months our osteopath friend visited from out of town and treated him and oh. my. god. he was a happy baby from that day on…so if you find this lasts, you may want to explore that option. but he had pretty serious “colic”…six and seven hours of crying, almost every night and some days as well. blocked nerve to his gut, said the osteo.

    good luck, and patience to your house.

  23. Damn, Emily, that sounds awful. Lately I keep repeating to myself, “this too shall pass”….Not so helpful when you’re “in it”, I know, but….good luck to you!

  24. Oh God, I remember that all too well. It was a living nightmare. I hesitate to suggest anything, but have you tried cranial osteopathy? Many people swear by it and if it had existed in my day I would most certainly have given it a go. But you know your baby better than anyone else and will have the best notion of what to do. All I can really say is that I am feeling for you and offer all the virtual support I can!

  25. So this is said kind of in jest, but kind of seriously too, because I am very close to trying for a baby and wondering how I will handle these sorts of situations….is it ok to wear ear-plugs when the baby cries screechingly for hours on end? You know, just to take the edge off? Surely that’s better than shaking?

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