Thursday, March 25, 2010
It’s here. The six week mark. The books tell me that this is the time you discover if your baby has colic. Perhaps that is why I didn’t think it was odd when Story started the week with intense crying episodes. It started around 7:00 in the evening, the inconsolable wails that turned her face purple. Gabe and I carried out the ritual of patting her belly and shushing in her ear, only picking her up when the wails were high pitched and lasting more than a minute. But something was different. She wasn’t floating back into dream land like usual. She was requiring more than her usual seven visits to the side of her bed. We had been doing so well, each day before requiring fewer visits and less consoling time. Now this sudden resistance. Wham. Like a freight train. After forty unsuccessful up and down visits to her bedside, we caved and just brought her into bed. What was happening?
I was so disappointed with myself. I thought we were finally getting it down and then this, this failure. Over the next few nights we swaddled, we shushed, we bounced, we paced the apartment, we held her close, we propped her up, we bathed her, we even broke out the swing. She would calm for a bit, but then the crescendo of tears would begin, climbing into painful wails that broke my heart with each new octave.
Is this what they call colic? The books try to console you by saying that kids with colic tend to be more curious toddlers. Is that supposed to make me feel better?
Gabe and I had just gotten into a groove. I was starting to wear outfits again, cook with recipes I found on the internet, look for part-time work. And just as quickly as I began to feel relief, the newfound confidence was gone. In its place was the crying, accompanied with projectile spit-up jags that yielded around 2 oz. of wasted breast milk. In one day, she spit up on seven of her outfits and I had to change my shirt five times. I thought the hard part was supposed to be the waking up every four hours to feed – but this was a whole new sort of pain.
When I saw a rash appearing on her face on Sunday, I am embarrassed to admit that I thought, “Great, on top of the constant wailing, she is going to be hideous as well.”
The rash started on her cheeks, but by Wednesday it had spread down to her chest and around her back, up onto her ears. I called the Doctor and she had us come in for a sick visit. She told us she thought the rash was viral. By the time we left the office I could hear her congested breathing. Our poor little lady was getting over a cold. All that crying was pain. All that twitching on the breast was itchiness. My baby was ill. And while I shouldn’t be happy to learn that my baby is sick, I am hopeful that it means she does not have colic.
My relief quickly melted into compassion when I realized Story had been in discomfort these past few nights. My heart broke into a million little pieces on the pavement outside the Doctors office. I was racked with guilt when I thought of her father and I putting her back into her bed forty times. All along, she just wanted to be held and comforted and rocked to a smooth rhythm of, “It’s alright, it’s okay, you are going to be just fine, Mommy is here.”
When I got her home from the doctors, I drew her a vapor bath. Dad gave her a baby massage and I set her up on her boppy in our bed. As if she knew she would be sleeping with us for the night, she positively reinforced our decision by quietly sitting and watching us only letting out an occasional coo. I spent the evening and most of today indulging her every desire. I put away all the training books and pushed all the parenting advice out of my head. I just focused on comforting my baby. And you know what? It felt like freedom.
Today, I fed her when she seemed hungry, I let her sleep and wake as she desired, I held her most the day and let her fall asleep on me several times. I put her in the bed with me for a nap and she is sitting here next to me while I type this blog. All day, she just wanted to be with her mommy. Now that she is eleven pounds, she is a heavy accessory to carry around the house. But for at least the next few days, my baby can have whatever her little heart wants. How nice it was to not worry about the long-term ramifications of my every parental choice. For today, I just have to give this little precious soul what she needs.
Now, we are not out-of-the-woods on the colic. There is still a chance she has it. Dear Lord, please don't let it be colic. But if that is what is meant to be, I have faith that the colic will eventually go away. I'm trying to get my head into a space of acceptance. Whatever happens, I have to believe that there will be some gift in it. After all, in just one week of colic like behavior, Gabe and I have developed a high tolerance for crying and we are now practiced in several proven calming techniques.
I’m learning. And with each one of these parenting challenges I grow stronger and more confident. Only good can come from that. Happy sixth week of life Ms. Story Brynne!