Friday, March 21, 2014

Colic what?

There were so many challenging things about having a baby with colic. Too many to talk about in one blog post. One thing that stands out today and that has bothered me since I found out my daughter had colic is, why didn't any one warn me? Now I don't want to throw a big pity party for myself or for other parents of colicky babies that read this, but seriously, why is it that after nine months of pregnancy and weeks of having a newborn, I couldn't define for you what colic was? Shouldn't someone have told me?

I went to numerous birthing classes, met with my OB a gazillion times, spent three nights in a hospital surrounded by people that know babies better than any of us, and never, not once, did anyone mention, "You might have a baby that cries a lot, and here's what you should do." Even my pediatrician, who I love, maybe mentioned the word in one of our first visits, but never explained what it was, what to look for, or what to do if it happens. When we were in the hospital, the labor and delivery nurses had my husband and I watch the infamous, "Happiest Baby on the Block," video, and yes it helped us learn how to swaddle and shush in our baby's ear, but it didn't mention that word that I'm honestly so sick of saying, colic.

I read a few pregnancy books, and honestly, I skipped the pages about colic. When I was pregnant I never thought my baby would be difficult, I always imagined that I would have a baby that could be soothed when her mama held her, not scream in her face for hours on end. What first time mama has those thoughts when she's pregnant? I sure didn't.

Sometimes I wonder if it would have mattered. If I would have had the definition of colic memorized and knew the warning signs, knew when to call her doctor to schedule an appointment, knew what was a normal amount of crying vs. an abnormal amount. I had no clue. It's not like it would have cured anything anyway since colic still, to my amazement, is so elusive and untreatable to this very day. It doesn't help matters that different doctors have different theories and no one stands united on a single cause or potential cure.

It would have helped me to know sooner. When the pediatrician finally said the words, "It's colic," I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It helped so much to hear her say that my husband and I were doing everything right and that we just had to be patient with this storm that would soon pass. New parents need all the encouragement they can get and I felt encouraged and hopeful when we left her office.

So for all of you reading this that don't know what colic is, but might have a baby that cries a lot, might be expecting, might have a family member or a friend that could benefit from this knowledge, here you have it: Colic is defined as, according to, "A healthy, well-fed infant who cries for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, for more than three weeks." It affects 1 in 4 babies (that's a lot) and there is no known cause. Some doctors think it's caused by gastrointestinal issues like gas or reflux, while others think it's hypersensitivity to the environment caused by the child's innate temperament. Whatever the cause, if you think your baby cries a lot, the course of action is to visit a pediatrician and rule out any more obvious medical conditions, like acid reflux or an allergy. The sooner the better. In my case, I waited too long and it caused me a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

So for baby #2, who will never cry, who will sleep well and eat well, now I'll know.

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