Thursday, January 3, 2013

colic

I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that we have an incredibly difficult baby. The first time Jon asked if we had a difficult baby I just shrugged it off and said "nah, that's just newborns." But then I finally jumped off the denial bus and realized that yes, Elden is indeed a total pain in the behind. Not that I love him any less or that I think he's intentionally challenging, but that the stark reality is that he's just a tough kiddo.

I've mentioned it before, but Elden had (and still does to some extent?) colic. If you're unfamiliar (you lucky fool), colic is loosely defined as incessant crying in otherwise healthy newborns with no known cause. I should have known something was amiss when our first night in the hospital with Elden he just would not stop crying. It started around 11 pm and by 3:30 am our nurse had come into our room at least three times to see if we needed help and to try to persuade us to let her take him to the nursery so we could rest. We politely declined every time because 1) this was his first night on earth and I didn't want to be apart from him, and 2) I had a feeling taking him to the nursery would involve letting him cry it out (seriously, nothing helped--he had a fresh diaper and I kept nursing him) which troubled me greatly since he was so very new and the thought nearly broke my heart. I just assumed this was a newborn--they cry right? But for hours and hours straight, I had no idea. It continued into those early weeks at home. At least 3 days per week, but usually more like 4-5 days per week, Elden would cry on and off for anywhere between 5-9 hours straight. Nothing we did really helped; the only thing that offered any type of (momentary) relief was the Moby wrap. I guess in some ways we were fortunate because Elden's episodes usually began in the early afternoon and he would finally sleep by about 9-11 pm (the crying didn't permit for napping) whereas a lot of stuff we read indicated colic episodes tend to begin at night. So there's that.

As all of the online resources we used indicated, Elden's colic did gradually start to subside and the good days finally started to outnumber the bad. If I had to guess, I think Elden's colic was/is really GI-related. That boy was the hardest baby to get a burp out of and is still somewhat difficult to. He also seems to constantly be gassy and is visibly uncomfortable because of it. One of the most frustrating things about his episodes was that as he was screaming he would be swallowing air. There were times I literally beg-yelled at him to stop swallowing air because that just ensured the cycle would be repeated the next day. I felt helpless. I was overwhelmed. There was more than one occasion where I called Jon in hysterics and begged him to leave school early because I couldn't handle listening to the crying anymore.

Elden still has bad days where he won't nap, only wants to be held, and is generally unhappy. We also had the misfortune of segueing immediately from colic into teething. Tuesday was one I would qualify as a "bad day." The more I think about it, the more I realize we seem to be on the positive portion of a sine wave--the good days were almost nonexistent in the beginning, then began to increase, but we seem to be losing the good days again. And truthfully? It's been crazy difficult. It's brought out the worst in us as both parents and partners. Lots of yelling, lots of frustration, lots of crying. There were times (yes, plural) in the early days where I seriously asked Jon if we could put him up for adoption because I was so discouraged and desperate (I'm sorry, son. I love you and wouldn't trade you for anything). I'm sure the postpartum hormones were a contributing factor, but the desperation was there regardless.  The worst part is watching Elden suffer. From what I read, there is no evidence that a baby with colic is actually suffering, but if one of those experts were to sit in my house with me during one of his episodes I think they would change their minds. Part of the reason I believe this is because when Elden is having a good day or hour or moment, he is ridiculously happy. The happiest, even. So smiley, so joyful, so content to be hanging out with mom and dad. I believe he wants to be a model baby but there is just something preventing him from doing so.

I'd be lying if I said I never experienced resentment of my friends who have what I would qualify as "easy babies" (non-colicky ones). To this day I don't feel comfortable leaving Elden with anyone other than Jon if I can't be around because if he does experience an episode the stark reality is that Jon and I are by far the best (and usually only) way to get him to calm down. This isn't any fault of our friends or family--it's the fact that we live with the kid and have dealt with this nearly every day since his birth and we know exactly how to hold him to get him to somewhat (briefly) relax. This basically means I'm not really getting out, at least not without Elden. Not getting a real break has been pretty brutal, but I'd rather sacrifice my sanity than Elden's comfort, especially for something he has no control over. I also feel bad for our families--we tend to avoid going to see them spare special occasions because we know that Elden is MUCH more likely to have a bad day if he's not at home for his usual routines. When this happens, it means that not only did we have to deal with a bad day and our families have to deal with a grouchy baby, but we also will then have to deal with a bad night once we get home. I feel like our families are missing out on the quality grandson/nephew time that they--and we--so dreamt about, and that makes me bitter when I hear friends talking about all the time their kids are spending with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. This is by no means a fault of my friends but rather sinful nature on my behalf and I'm trying to work through it. If you are one of my friends with a babe, please don't feel like you can't share your child's great adventures with me. I'd rather bring my sin into the light for accountability sake and not to put you on a guilt trip.

I wish there were more resources for parents of children with colic. Although, after typing that, I realized that if I had proper resources at my disposal I would have been too frustrated/exhausted/angry to seek them out so I don't know how helpful it would actually be. If your baby has colic, please just know you aren't alone. I think that was one of the other hardest parts for me--feeling like no one in our immediate circle of family/friends fully understands what we've been dealing with. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that "that's just the nature of a baby." Rest assured, parents of non-colicky babies, what we are experiencing is not just the nature of a baby. I know you're just trying to be helpful with such sentiments, but it really just feels like you're discrediting all that we've faced and makes us feel like we're merely being dramatic when we tell you how damn hard it's been. I wish I had more of an "it gets better/easier and life gets much more dreamy" conclusion to this post, but when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture at this moment in time that's not really the case for us. I know this won't be our life forever, that one day Elden will be able to use words or at least point to help us figure out what's wrong. I'm also hoping that if my suspicions are correct and it is GI-related, as he continues to grow and mature his little body will as well and the source will correct itself. But at the very least I do hope. I hope that each day will be a good day and that I will feel like a more adequate parent.

2 comments:

  1. Danielle, that sounds SO hard. I can't even imagine. You guys are doing such a great job with Elden. I hope he continues to relax so that you can take the opportunity to go out and get some breaks!

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    1. Thanks Kim :) Now that his bottom teeth have poked through we're hoping for some easier days! It's still worth every heartache.

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