Sunday, February 4, 2018

New mom life (tales of a colicky baby and its overtired mother)

Seven and a half weeks ago I gave birth to a very lively, spirited, and loud little baby. The first three weeks were like heaven on earth. A week after giving birth we headed to visit our families up North for Christmas, and while I was tired (and sore...everywhere) it was a relatively non-stressful trip. I may have cried a little here and there, thanks to those postpartum hormones, but this beautiful child slept everywhere, ate like a little piggy, and captured everyone's hearts.

Upon returning home things started to get a little hairy. Our little, spirited, but largely happy baby started to cry... a lot. I know all babies cry, but this wasn't just crying. This was hours of inconsolable wailing that kept us up for the better part of the night trying to sooth - doing anything we could think of - singing, playing music ("Fat Bottom Girls" is one of the little one's favourites!), dancing, bouncing, rocking, and (for me at least) crying right along.

Apparently this is colic, and while I know it is fairly common (up to 40% of babies are diagnosed with colic every year, and Canada has the highest rate of colic of any 'developed' nation in the world) I never thought for a second that I would end up giving birth to a colicky baby. By the time we were in the fourth week of this little creature's life I had thrown out nearly everything that I used to believe about babies out the window. Granola momma no more, we introduced a bottle (because in the middle of the night, in the midst of crying fits, my breasts just won't do), started swaddling and using a soother, and took to taking long car rides in the late afternoon to ensure that at least some day-time sleep would take place. We even discussed switching to formula to see if that might help.  Earlier this week, in desperation, we went to the emergency room in the middle of the night, only leave shortly after checking in with the nurse for fear that if we stayed to see a doctor (it was predicted it would be hours before we could) then none of us would be getting any sleep that night.

As an academic, colic boggles my mind and frustrates me to no end. While on a personal level I am overwhelmed by the sad look on my little baby's face and the shrill cries that escape that little mouth, on a professional level, I am furious that colic is so completely over-researched and under-understood. I have spent hours (that I definitely should have been sleeping) after the cries finally end and sleep takes hold searching academic archives for an explanation of what causes colic, and unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer. Maybe its gas, maybe it is a symptom of the "fourth trimester", maybe it's acid reflux, or caused by overstimulation, many theories, so little evidence to back any of it up.

But for the last few days things have gotten gradually better. After some of worst nights of my life, and some of the hardest days, a light is beginning to appear. I've stopped eating soy after reading that some babies have Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI), and we are heading to see a pediatrician on Tuesday afternoon, which will hopefully shed some more light on what seemed just days ago like a pretty dismal situation. But right now my beautiful child is sleeping. And that honestly feels like some kind of miracle.

I am looking forward to the end of this ordeal. I want to get to know this little baby whose smiles light up my world, and whose cries break my heart. And I want to get back to doing things other than walking for hours (baby-wearing and long walks have become my best friends and worst enemies) and rocking and bouncing and crying. I want to start studying for my comprehensive exams, and start reading, and painting, and thinking about the future, rather than feeling trapped in the now.


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