How to Survive Colic

I never saw colic coming.

Pregnant, naive Olivia skipped over every single bit of the wealth of information about colic and how to handle it in all those books she read.

Dumb, dumber, dumbest.

And I probably should have picked up on this reality during George’s unending scream-a-thons instead of chalking my desperation up to the baby blues. I think it was about at week 7 or 8 that I realized George was colicky. I was reading a book trying to figure out how to get the baby to sleep longer, and I came to a chapter about colic. It was as tough the author was describing George’s exact behavior. Now, George had a pretty mild case of colic compared to others, but still, colic sucks.

So if you have had, currently have, or will have in the future a baby with colic, I understand. Colic is so, so hard. BUT! It comes to an end. When George was about 15 weeks old, we saw a major shift in his daily temperament. We could just tell that he felt better, too. From there, it’s been worlds better.

This post is not about getting rid of colic, or what you can do to minimize or mitigate colic, because there are plenty of other great resources out there for those purposes; rather, this post is for you, the parent. Because, dear friend, you need to know that you will survive, I promise.

And I hope this post helps you to do so.

survive-colic1. Establish a ritual

In some part of the day, it’s helpful to get some sort of routine down. You’re probably laughing because you know how hard this is to do with a newborn, especially a colicky newborn. But I just encourage you to try it, whenever in the day works best for you. Some people have a nightly routine once the baby goes to sleep. Others establish a routine around daily Mass, play dates, or when their spouse will be home. For me, every morning, as soon as George woke up for the day, I would put him in the car and we would take a drive to get my morning coffee. The driving helped soothe him and sometimes lured him back to sleep; but let’s be honest, the driving was really for my sanity. It was a miracle worker during those days.

2. Enter survival mode

Remember when Christy told us to not have any expectations during postpartum life? Yeah, let’s keep doing that. We shoudn’t put a ton of pressure on ourselves to be “back to normal” when we’re dealing with a colicky baby. Whatever we get done is more than enough. If we survive the day, we’ve succeeded. Pat yo’self on the back.

3. Get out of the house

It’s amazing what fresh air and sunshine can do. Taking a walk is a great way to keep our little ones soothed but also does our body, mind, and heart a lot of good to get out of the synthetic light and into the outside world (because remember the outside world?!).

4. Cry it out

Not the baby. You. You should cry it out. If you feel like sobbing, just let it go (isn’t that what the kids are singing nowadays?). It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like you’re at your breaking point for 2/3 of the day. Crying certainly helped me release some tension 😉

5. Talk to another mom

Commiserating with another mom who’s been there is a miracle-worker. I remember emailing Nell all. the. time. during George’s worst times. When I asked for help and advice, she gave it beautifully; when I just wanted to whine a bit, she listened and commiserated so well. Then she would encourage me and help me to recall that, like labor, this too shall pass. Find a mama friend who you trust and who is willing to listen to you without charging by the hour and let them be your sound board. People want to help. Which leads me to …

6. Accept help

If someone offered to bring us food, we ate it. If someone offered to watch George for an hour so I could shower and buy stamps, we let them. If someone wanted to run an errand for us, we gladly accepted. We realized that, otherwise, we’d be drowning ourselves. Now is not the time to be proud. I would suggest taking all the help you can get.

7. Sleep, sleep, sleep

Ah, sleep. Our long lost friend. I joke that I’m not sure if George is sleeping longer through the night now or if I’m just getting used to not sleeping at all. But seriously. I wish I would have slept more when the baby slept during those first few weeks; I think it would have helped me recharge my batteries to face the next round of crying with more patience and sanity.

8. Remind yourself of the truth

It is not your fault that your baby is fussy, and just because your baby has colic doesn’t mean she’s a bad baby. You’re not screwing her up, and she is fine, just having some tummy troubles. I remember floundering in certainty that I was a terrible mother and that it was my fault that he wasn’t feeling well and that everything was just awful. Obviously, that did me no good. What was helpful was reminding myself that there would be an end to this, that I am a good mom, that the baby loves me and knows I love him, and that this will all feel like the blink of an eye in the long run.

9. Medicate

I’m not above self-medicating with small joys. Pick your poison, sister. Coffee? Ice cream? Friday Night Lights? Vogue? Whatever it be, it is so helpful to give yourself a small indulgence during the day. When the baby would finally go to sleep, Dave and I would watch an episode of Friends and I would have a few bites of ice cream. That became a part of our routine that I mentioned earlier. It was so relieving to be able to have just that short moment of laughter/alone time/enjoyment.

10. Pray

You knew it was coming. And it’s last because it’s the most important. Colic is not the worst thing in the world, and now that I look back, I only recall the wonderful moments and memories of that time. But when you’re in the trenches, the thick of it, it seems like it’s all-encompassing and never-ending. So that’s when, at the end of the day, prayer is the greatest consolation and encouragement. Scripture, devotionals, worship music, the rosary. It’s all good, and it’s all fruitful.

Those are my suggestions! But what about yours? Have you had a colicky baby before? What helped you stay sane?

Comments

  1. The colic-y days are so, so, so hard. I remember them like they were yesterday! I’m glad he’s gotten better though, mine turned the corner around then as well, and you become so grateful for the difference! And, George is getting cuter and cuter!

  2. I was so glad to talk with you about what had and hadn’t worked for me. I think you figured it all out. Because you’re a wonderful mother to your little sweetsie! Great advice and I’m totally going to point my friends in this direction (or me for future bambinos!)!!!

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