Before having Isaiah, I had aspired to be “that mom.” You know, the mom that writes (ON TIME) monthly updates, complete with monthly photos of my perfect, smiling baby. In between each monthly update would be lots of adoring photos taken with my professional camera and edited according to our editing style of Isaiah growing and changing. Each photo would be “Instagram-perfect” and would be styled well, have perfect lighting and take place in my clean, trendy home. The photos and updates would be well-loved by friends, family and followers alike. My following on Instagram would grow and everyone would see how well we balanced life as new parents, business owners and as husband & wife.
Well, it took me less than three days as a new parent to realize that I was not going to be “that mom.”
In the next several paragraphs, I’m going to be very real with you. Can I be real with you? Because I feel like there aren’t enough articles/blogs/people out there that are “real” when it comes to talking about what its really like when you have a baby.
Life with a newborn is tough. Really tough. So tough at times that I feel like all the classes, all the articles, all the advice that I could possibly attend, read and hear STILL could not have prepared me for what it was like to take care of a newborn child. And not just any newborn child, but one with colic.
Hear me when I say, I love my son. I would do anything in the world for him. He lights up my life and makes my heart swell with pride that I get to be his mom. He is the apple of my eye and his smile just makes me completely melt. It’s amazing that I do anything but stare at him throughout the day.
But he made it really hard to like him the first 5 weeks of his life. He made it so hard that I was looking through my hospital paperwork, searching for the return/exchange policy.
Just kidding, just kidding….kind of.
I decided that if I can’t be “that mom” then I have no other choice but to be really honest with you. I’m not going to put on a facade and act like everything was perfect, easy and flawless that first month. It was really hard. In fact, it was probably one of the happiest and darkest times of my life.
We are all guilty of putting our best face on the internet for people to “like” and “love.” Meanwhile, our real life situation does not look too likable or lovable. We share online all of our best moments, complete with our uplifting captions, but in reality, our life is falling apart behind the screen. We feel like we can’t be real online because we have to keep up the appearance that everything is going “super well and we couldn’t be happier.”
Well, I’m here to pull off the face mask. My life online is not my real life.
Or at least its not all of it.
When we found out we were expecting in March 2017, I cried. I cried because, although I had wanted kids since I was a little girl, the thought of raising a child scared me to death now that it was my reality. Though I didn’t know the full extent of what to expect, I did know that my life would never be the same. While the anxiety wore off quickly, there were still a million questions running through my head.
Can we afford this? Are we ready? What will this look like for our business? What will this look like for our marriage?
Once our family and close friends were told the news, the excitement began to build. Don’t get me wrong, we still had our concerns about providing, but we were also so blissfully excited to finally have a child. After almost 8 years of dreaming of what our future child will look like, be like and sound like, we were about to find out.
Nine (and a half) months flew by and before we knew it, the moment was here. We were about to be parents. If you’ve read our birth story, you know that how Isaiah came into this world was pretty…exciting, to say the least. What could have been a traumatic experience ended up being a successful cesarean delivery, even though it was not the way we had prepared for it to happen. By the end of the night on November 24, 2017, we had our little man. All was right in the world.
And then we came home.
All babies cry, right? We just have to get used to one another and then everything will slow down and the crying won’t be as frequent.
Um, no. That didn’t happen at all.
Isaiah would cry, and cry, and cry. All day. All night. All. The. Time.
Being in the “I must know why” generation, after much research, I was pretty confident that Isaiah had colic. My pediatrician affirmed my thoughts that it “might be colic,” but the awful thing about colic is that you can almost never confirm it and there is no “cure.”
I’m sorry, what?
Dictionary.com defines colic as: “severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen caused by intestinal gas or obstruction in the intestines and suffered especially by babies.”
Another description is:
- Loud crying lasting three hours or more for three or more days a week, over a period of more than three weeks.
- Prolonged crying from late afternoon lasting several hours.
- The baby’s face is flushed and red when crying.
- While crying, the baby draws his legs to his abdomen and clenches his hands and curls his toes; his face alternately flushes and pales with the effort of crying.
- Parents who look like they’re about to lose their minds/pull out their hair/cry might have a child with colic.
So in other words, because this was an internal pain, there was nothing I could physically do in a particular moment to make Isaiah feel better.
Did you know that babies born via cesarean have a higher chance of having colic, along with a whole list of other health issues? Yeah, me either. I feel like that’s important information to know before you sign on the dotted line.
When you start researching “ways to cure colic” online, you come across the most random things.
- Lay him on his back in a dark, quiet room.
- Swaddle him snugly in a blanket.
- Lay him across your lap and gently rub his back.
- Try infant massage.
- Put a warm water bottle on your baby’s belly.
- Have him suck on a pacifier.
- Soak him in a warm bath.
- Do nothing. Just cry with them.
And the list goes on and on an on.
I’m not a baby expert or doctor, but I’m going to go ahead and let you know that NONE of those things work when you have a wailing, red-faced baby in your hands.
After realizing that none of these methods were working for us, I decided to do more research into how colic feeds. And what I found was that Isaiah was greatly affected by the foods I ate.
Let’s read through the list of foods that they tell you to avoid if your baby has colic:
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream)
- Caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, energy drinks)
- Garlic, spicy foods & strong herbs
- Grains & nuts (wheat, corn, peanuts, soy, avocado)
- Gassy foods (broccoli, onions, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)
- Certain fruit (berries, grapes, strawberries, mangoes, tomatoes, stone fruit, pineapple)
- Powdered yeast (bread)
In other words, almost EVERYTHING.
While everyone around me was exclaiming about their “perfect babies” who “only cry when their hungry” and posting their perfect family photos, I was in a very dark place wondering and asking God every day, “why me?”
It was one of the darkest times of my life. I felt like I was drowning.
While I believe I did not suffer from PPD, I definitely had “the blues.” Life was really, really hard. Had it not been for the support from my amazing family (s/o to my mom and mother-in-law) and my husband, there is no way that I would be where I am today, mentally.
Michael and I were smacked in the face with the harsh reality that this life was no longer our own. It was not just him and I anymore. We had a human to take care of for the rest of our life. A screaming, inconsolable human, at that.
We decided from that very first night at home with him that we were not going to let him drive a wedge between us. No matter what, we were going to be a team. We were going to try our hardest not to get frustrated at one another, not to use harsh tones and not to take it out on one another. Even when it seemed like it was us against him sometimes, we knew that if we weren’t going to stand together, it was going to be even harder to get through.
So even when it was hard, we were very honest with one another from the start about our emotions, our thoughts and our regrets. We were sad that “our time” together was over. We were sad that there would be no more spontaneous nights, adventures or trips. Everything in our life changed the moment we brought Isaiah home.
You know, they tell you all of that when you’re about to have a baby. Even in the hospital, you’re still in disbelief that your baby is finally here. But the reality of how your life is about to change doesn’t sink in until you get home from the hospital. Where there are no nurses to help you. No family to assist you 24 hours a day. No one but you, your spouse (if you’re fortunate) and the baby.
Holy cow. What did we just get ourselves into?
So Michael and I teamed up and fought for one less minute of crying, one more minute of sleep, one more quick smile from Isaiah for 5 weeks.
And then all of a sudden, there was quiet.
I’m going to be honest with you, though I have a couple of ideas of how we might have cured colic, I have no idea how it worked all of a sudden. During his fifth week of life, Isaiah took a quick turn the opposite direction and was all of sudden…happy.
I remember waking up each day thinking, “Is he going to go back to being fussy today?” Throughout the day, I kept sitting on the edge of my seat, just waiting for “witching hour” to approach again.
But it didn’t come back.
Michael and I sat back in amazement as we watched a smiling, joyful baby take shape. There were so many happy tears that poured out of us as we came to the realization that this was the little man we were waiting to meet. This is what that joy that everyone talks about actually feels like. This is what beating colic looks like.
Thank you, Jesus.
Now, like I said before, I do not actually know what cured Isaiah’s colic for us, but below is the list of things we tried:
- Cut out milk, yogurt and cheese
- Began taking a daily probiotic (me)
- Nursed Isaiah sitting up (as opposed to cradling him)
- Burped him often
- Bicycled his legs when gassy
- Used diluted Digeze (Young Living) essential oil on the bottoms of his feet
- Prayed A LOT
In the end, it was likely a combination of all the things together that helped us cure colic. However, as believing Christians, I ultimately believe that it was God. Before turning it over to Him, it was very hard to deal with within our human capacity. After giving it over to Him, we had a supernatural peace in knowing that it wouldn’t last forever and that if God had chosen for us to endure this temporary pain and struggle that He would bring us out it. We had hard days and we had harder days, but slowly, those hard days became few and far in between.
Most babies with colic have it up to 3 months, and some “dragons” remain fussy for even longer. For Isaiah to only have it for 5 weeks was a miracle. He went from being a dragon to being a unicorn overnight. While those 5 weeks seemed to be the longest 5 weeks of our life, we would gladly do it all over again in order to parent our little man.
Now, a year later, days are pretty easy.
Isaiah is truly the happiest little man I’ve ever met and most everyone who meets him says the same thing. He smiles far more than he cries. He only fusses when he needs something. He sleeps through the night and takes 2-3 hour naps 2x a day. He’s growing and developing faster than I can believe and he really and truly is such an angel. We are so blessed to be his parents. He brings us so much joy that it’s hard to put words to.
He’s still affected by my diet even 14 months later, so as I continue to breastfeed him, I still have to be conscious of what I’m eating so that it doesn’t upset his tummy. However, even when I eat something he’s sensitive to, the dragon doesn’t come out. I’m so thankful that my unicorn baby is here to stay.
I’m not sure if we would feel this blissful if we hadn’t gone through 5 weeks of hell with him. Some days, I think back to that time and then look at Isaiah now and my mind can’t comprehend that he is the same child. He is so different now that no one would ever believe he had colic. I really can’t explain how big of a switch he made in the matter of days. It truly was the work of God.
If you’re reading this and you have a baby that has colic or is regularly fussy, I feel for you. I don’t want to say with promise that it gets better, because I don’t know your situation, but every part of me hopes and prays that it will get better for you. While those 5 weeks shaped us as parents, no parent truly deserves to feel as helpless as we felt. It’s an awful, anxiety-ridden, emotional, tearful, angry time. There are so many “why?” questions that you ask because you can’t believe that this is your life. Why did this have to happen to you? Why does it have to be your baby?
And yet, even the most colicky babies have brief moments of happiness, where they smile at you once and you almost forget all about the night, weeks and months before that moment. And it’s those moments that make it all worth it.
If you or someone you know has a baby with colic, these are my (non-medical) recommendations:
- Take a hard look at your diet
- Specifically your dairy, caffeine and gassy vegetables intake
- Talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic
- These are sold over the counter, but not all probiotics are the same and you’ll want to have your doctor and pediatricians approval before taking one
- Reach out and stay connected
- If you’re a mom of a colicky baby – have friends or family that are in your corner, that you can confide in, that you can call up and vent to, that you can ask to come watch your baby while you catch a nap. Don’t do this alone.
- If you’re a friend of someone who is a new mom – check in with HER often. Everyone wants to hear about the baby, but we can’t forget about the mom. PPD is a real thing. Don’t let your friends go through it alone.
- If you’re a friend of someone who has a colicky baby – be there for her. Bring her food, hold her fussy baby and let her sleep. Other than being her shoulder to cry on, the best thing you can do is help her when she needs it most.
- Beware of “mommy groups”
- Mommy groups online can be great for new moms who have a lot of questions and are seeking advice, but use caution because they can be TOXIC. Is participating in this group making you more or less anxious about your babies development, sleep, colic, etc.? If it’s making you more anxious, cut the cord.
- If you’re struggling, get help.
- Need someone to talk to? Contact someone at Postpartum Support International or call 1-800-944-4773
- Considering hurting yourself or someone else? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You might be thinking, “why are you sharing about this now? This is an entire year later.” And you’re right to question that. To be honest, this blog post has sat in my drafts folder for about 10 months, complete, ready to post, but just sitting there. I don’t know why I have waited until now to post it, other than the fact that I think it’s finally time to share.
Isaiah’s 1st birthday passed on November 24th and for the days and weeks that followed his birthday, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much had changed in a year. How much he had changed. When I think hard about those days of his colic, it takes me back to a difficult place. But then, thanks to God and His Mercy, I get to refocus my eyes, look down at my sweet boy and soak in his joy that spills from him.
I hope that by (finally) choosing to share about our journey with colic that it can help ease the mind of at least one person who might be going through the same thing. There weren’t many resources out there that I felt were especially helpful when we were going through colic, but there were a few. For those who have chosen to speak up and share their experiences, thank you. And to those who are hesitant to, I encourage you to do so. You never know how bright your light will shine in the darkness.