It all seemed so daunting and unfair. After several hours of labor my daughter was thrust onto my chest. I was exhausted. Her scream pierced the air. Of course, I was happy to hear her and see her. I was also beyond tired.
My body needed to recover – I desperately needed rest – and she continued to cry. For 7 months.
All newborns are hard. Let’s face it – hormones play a mean game. The fresh babies look so cute and cuddly!! Then we bring them home.
I have yet to meet a parent of a newborn that is glowing with pure excitement and happiness. For most parents, the first few weeks are far from dreamy. In fact, they can be downright miserable at times.
I’ve read so many articles recently by brave women who are being honest about how traumatizing these early days of motherhood can be. Admitting to the phases of regret and depression that wash over them in these initial days. Regardless of the amount of support offered from family and community members.
I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who has struggled with those horrifying thoughts and feelings. My experience with my newborn daughter proved to settle us farther into a pit of despair than I knew possible.
My intent in sharing my story is to not stir fear in the hearts of those who are expecting babies. Children are a blessing from God! It is not His desire for us to sit in misery or fear as we await our little treasure to arrive.
So many people have not shared my experience, and that is noteworthy. I remember being so nervous to bring my baby home that any words outside of encouragement and affirmation were not only overwhelming, but downright annoying.
I want to express that motherhood has become joyful!! If you find yourself struggling with fear of what is to come, I’d challenge you to express your desire for encouragement and positivity to those around you!
I want to be transparent about my process…and I want to be clear that everyone’s story is different, and share tips that might help you enjoy the early days more than I did.
My story = She cried always.
And not just fussed.
I have been around my share of babies in my short life – I have always loved babies!! Many of my friends now have babies. I had some sort of gauge on what to expect in terms of behavior.
I expected her to cry 5-6 hours within a 24 hour period. I expected her to be loud and inconsolable at times and for my heart and head to hurt. I expected my life to be a series of naps for several months. I did not expect what I received…
She cried for 90% of her waking hours.
She would turn purple and tense up and shake as she became angry. I will never forget the first 6 nights she was with us (including in the hospital) – she screamed from midnight until 5AM straight.
She was evaluated by a pediatrician and people at the hospital and she was determined to be healthy. She was gaining weight, was not vomiting, her gut appeared healthy, diapers normal, temperature okay, passed all the tests, etc.
I still remember the pediatrician calling us from home to ensure we were okay – she had never seen a baby cry like this before. She said we had just “drawn the unlucky card.”
The other specialist we saw said our baby was “powerful” and that she “had never seen a child go from 0-60 so fast.”
Hah, a clever word to use. She was indeed a powerful baby. She took beautiful pictures because she was, and is, the most expressive person I have ever met! It just made it difficult for those furthest away from us to truly conceptualize how difficult her colicky nature was.
I remember holding her as my family left and husband returned to work. I lived in that glider in the corner of her nursery.
She screamed and screamed and I held her thrashing little body and cried with her. I remember the first time she walked up my stomach banging her fists against my chest and screaming with giant tears rolling down her face at just 8 weeks old. I was disillusioned and angry.
Why would God allow this? I loved babies! Why would he allow us to experience such disappointment?
I truly felt I was grieving a loss. A loss of enjoying my baby. A loss of my mommyhood dream.
4 Months into motherhood and she was still screaming 70-80% of her waking hours. We tried medication, various sleep experts, I read all the books, tried all the oils, did all the schedule changes, took everything out of my diet…all to no avail.
My disappointment and grief turned darker and PPD became my new reality.
As women, our bodies are created to soothe our babies, and we actually release a hormone as our baby is soothed by us (whether it’s breast or bottle feeding, rocking, singing, etc.) When we repeatedly experience rejection at the attempt of comfort, our bodies no longer release this hormone and we experience a disruption in the natural biological process of bonding and the “baby high” many new moms experience.
I hardly had glimpses of those highs or happy moments, especially after 4 long months of attempting to try and calm her without success.
I felt like a failure. I tried everything and moved into the place of accepting that my baby simply hated life most of the time.
I was sick of hearing that “it gets better” – and that my “baby seemed so happy.” It was the worst to hear people say, “she’s just a typical baby” in response to my description of her crying. Or worse, that I was “just tired.”
I was more than tired. I was exhausted from all the zillion rules issued by AAP and every other expert known to man. I was overwhelmed from sleep deprivation and the opposing advice I received from friends, family, and online resources. I was averaging 2-4 broken hours of sleep a night. My husband was working 10-12 hour days. My baby nursed and screamed all of the time, and rarely took a nap for more than 20-30 minutes, eliminating my ability to leave the house or sleep.
And when I did leave, I felt numb, tired, and miserable. Motherhood was isolating and awful, and the colicky storm felt too much to handle.
I felt ridden with shame for hating motherhood.
I rocked in that glider in the corner of that nursery for 6 months and met with the Lord. In that glider I contemplated the unspeakable – Adoption. Suicide. Running away…
My spirit groaned because I had no words. I clung to a small book of encouraging notes friends and family had given me at a shower. I read and re-read that book as I met with God and rocked and rocked and rocked.
Of course I asked Him to change our situation, but more than anything I begged Him to change my heart.
It was in the darkness of that corner – in that big, comfy rocking chair – that God taught me how to engage peace in this colicky storm.
Now, 8 months later, I sit with a new perspective. One that He continues to build on every day. I still struggle, but now I have given myself to the process of becoming a mom – recognizing that becoming a mom doesn’t happen in the 9-month span of pregnancy and hours of labor.
It is a process that involves those dark moments in the corner. It involves crying with your baby – but also laughing at the crazy things.
Mothering through colic engages more places of your heart than you know exist while in the midst of these turbulent waters.
Becoming a mom in a colicky storm is the hardest thing I have ever done. But, let’s be honest, becoming a mom period is impossible. Literally impossible. Apart from the grace of God, we will simply stumble season-to-season opposing the various challenges that await while googling and worrying far too much. And, in the process, we will miss the gift of parenthood.
In another post, I will present some specific tricks I discovered to surviving the early days of (colicky) parenthood.