colicky baby crying in a crib

Becoming a parent is often described as one of life’s greatest joys, but what happens when that joy is overshadowed by the persistent cries of a colicky baby? As a parent who has navigated the challenges of being a parent to a colicky baby, I understand the unique challenges and emotional rollercoaster that accompany this experience. In this blog, I’ll share my personal journey of caring for a colicky baby, the impact it had on my life, and the strategies that helped me weather the storm.

My experience with colic

colicky baby lying on bed

To be honest, my first pregnancy was challenging, and when my baby arrived, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming emotions. After enduring three days of labour resulting in a c-section, I struggled to bond with my baby. As the weeks passed, I witnessed my baby’s prolonged and intense crying spells persist. This wasn’t just normal fussiness; it was distressing to see my baby’s face turn red – almost purple – from crying. Despite my efforts, I couldn’t comfort him. I didn’t understand what colic was, and I felt unprepared for the physical and emotional strain it brought. I felt ashamed to admit that I didn’t feel the expected happiness or connection to my baby. Winter compounded the isolation as I found myself alone at home, struggling to cope.

I grappled with intrusive thoughts during this phase. It’s not easy to talk about, but I feel compelled to acknowledge the shame I felt when I found myself imagining scenarios where I might harm my baby, such as shaking or throwing him. I want to emphasize that these thoughts were distressing and scary, and I want to stress that I never had any intention of causing harm to my child. However, the experience was deeply unsettling. I bring this up because I’m aware that many parents encounter similar intrusive thoughts but often hesitate to share them due to fear of judgment. It’s interesting because even as I write this, I still feel a sense of shame about putting it out there for others to read.

I’d like to share my experiences coping with a colicky baby, but I must admit it took me quite a while to find effective methods. I remember trying various methods, such as pushing the stroller around the house because it was one of the few things that could calm him or help him sleep. We also resorted to rocking our baby in the car seat, using white noise, giving him gripe water, and even late-night car rides, but nothing seemed to consistently alleviate the crying. Despite the pediatrician’s reassurance that it would improve by three months, I found myself still struggling when my baby reached eight months. Fortunately, I had the constant support of my husband and other family members throughout the challenging ordeal.

Light at the end of the tunnel

woman crying on the side of a bed

Despite the persistent reassurances from others that the colic would eventually pass and the many suggestions of “have you tried this?”, I struggled to believe that there was an end in sight. Looking back on that time now, I can confirm that the colic did indeed subside, but I still feel like I missed out on fully enjoying the early days of parenthood. As my baby grew, the episodes of colic gradually faded away, and he began sleeping for longer stretches. Over time, I started to find joy in spending time with him. Now, at nine years old, he has grown and matured into the most loving, calm and affectionate boy. 

While my words may provide little comfort, I want to reassure anyone currently facing similar challenges that while it is undeniably tough, draining, and just plain miserable, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how distant it may seem. Give yourself compassion and grace.  Being a parent is stressful.  It’s normal to experience many thoughts, including negative ones.  Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that these thoughts do not define you as a parent.

How can I find ways to cope?

father carrying colicky baby

Take moments for yourself whenever possible, even if it means briefly stepping away from the situation. I recall times when I was alone and my baby’s crying seemed never-ending, so I had to leave him in his crib while he cried. It was incredibly tough but essential for my own well-being. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help care for your baby while you take a walk. You’d be surprised at the rejuvenating effects of fresh air.

Consider reaching out to a mental health professional for support. They can provide a safe space to explore your thoughts and emotions, challenge any negative thinking patterns, and develop effective coping strategies. This kind of support can help validate your experiences and make it easier to navigate the challenges of caring for a baby who is colicky.

Coping with a colicky baby is challenging. Remember to be gentle with yourself and seek support when needed. Take breaks when possible, even briefly stepping away, and consider reaching out to loved ones or a mental health professional for guidance. With patience and perseverance, you’ll get through this challenging period and emerge stronger.

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