I’m sure you have heard the saying that you are given an easy first child for a very specific reason. The reason is to lull you into a false sense of security, to programme your brain into thinking that parenting is a walk in the park and for you as a result to procreate once more.
We were blessed with an incredibly easy first child. Luke slept through from 2 months old. I can count on my hand the number of times he cried, really cried. He transitioned from breast milk, to formula to cow’s milk with zero fuss and his solid starting journey was a breeze.
I think Luke knew that we had had a pretty stressful time during the lead up to his birth and as a result he really was an angel child. My maternity leave felt like a small holiday and as a result I returned to work feeling as if I had been on a Caribbean holiday.
And then along came Holly.
In a blaze of glory, she entered the world, pulled from my womb she omitted an ear-piercing cry. A cry which up until the age of three months was our constant companion.
Holly suffered from colic.
In the flurry of parenting advice from friends and family no one had ever mentioned this swear word. And if they did I never paid any real attention to it. I suppose I never really expected to have to deal with it.
Colic is defined as uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Incessant uncontrollable crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week, for more than three weeks.
Let me tell you, you are lucky if it only lasts for three weeks.
Holly’s episodes started from around 2 weeks of age and Jon and I were completely blindsided.
Colic is no joke. We quite literally thought that we were losing our minds.
The crying would start from about 5pm just as suicide hour was starting with Luke. Jon and I used to take turns strapping her into a baby carrier and walking around the estate. We would stop and have dinner breaks and water breaks with her still strapped in, bits of food falling onto her little head. Lucky we both enjoy exercise.
We tried every form of medication known to mankind. Nothing worked. I even took her to the paediatrician twice, begging him to please tell us how to make it better. His only bit of advice was that it was a waiting game. We literally could do nothing and that in itself is the most frustrating, infuriating, heart breaking part of colic.
Singing helped. And poor Holly had to endure hours of my tone deaf, limited song playlist night after night. I will never forget Jon walking into the room to me singing Robbie Williams “Angels”, killing himself laughing as he tried to work out what I was singing. That was probably one of the few humorous moments in that dark, dark time.
There were tears. So many tears. I used to cry inconsolably every, single day, at a loss of how to help my daughter. At a loss at how to take away her perceived pain and at a loss as to how to be a good mother to my first born at the same time.
And then as suddenly as Holly made her entrance into the world it stopped. At 12 weeks Holly literally became a different child. She smiled, she gurgled and we began to like her. If I am completely honest up until this point, we were on the fence on this matter.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that those 10 weeks were the longest weeks of our lives.
Looking back, I am not quite sure how we got through them, but we did.
The thing about colic is that it is debilitating. To your child, to your soul, to your marriage and to your confidence.
My only advice is to try and shoulder the burden. When you feel like you are going to shake (and believe you me you will feel these moments), hand your child over. If you cannot hand them over them put them down, make some tea and take a long deep breath. Call in help, ask your extended family or friends for a breather, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Take the help and take the small mercies.
The only consolation that I can give to you is that it does end. There is an expiry date to the crying and there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is incredibly hard to see that light when you are in that completely dark place, but when it does a beautiful, happy and settled child will emerge and with it the all-consuming, blinding love.
*** Disclaimer – all views are my own