A Difficult Truth (And Day 21)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's been a week since I blogged last. A long.... long...... long..........long week. Seems appropriate, then, that Day 21, the next photo in line, is this one:


Day 21, back in early May. She had been excruciatingly difficult ALL day. By the time it was photo time, she had actually given  in to sleep, and I thought the photo I'd been planning might work. I got Joe ready to assist with his hands as props, and we almost got everything lined up. And then she broke wide open again, bawling. Frustrated, both from the failed photo attempt and from the day-long exhaustion of dealing with her crying, I said, "Fine. Let's just shoot THIS. This is how she was today anyway. Day 21 is THIS." And I shot four or five frames of that crying, and was done. The end.

Because THAT was Lucy, that day.

See the tear squeezing out of her right eye? SO sad. Seriously.

The truth is, as lovely as Lucy is in her photos... as sweet as she looks when  she sleeps, she is NOT an easy baby. Want evidence? Want to see the OTHER photos from my Lucy Days that I haven't shown here yet?

Warning-- these might break your heart:

It devastates me to admit it... breaks my heart to face it... And took me SEVEN weeks to finally confront the truth--- but here it is: my beautiful baby is one of THOSE babies. A colicky baby.

I have a colicky baby.

Why is that so hard to confront? To admit? To face?

We all want our babies to be the pinnacle of perfection: Nurse like a champ. Sleep through the night. Contentedly coo in a bouncy chair. Self-soothe. Charm everyone they come in contact with. The ultimate Angel Baby.

When  things turn out differently, there's this grieving period, I think. Mourning the baby you THOUGHT you might get and coming to peace with the baby you have. Pretty as she is, as much as I cherish her, I have been working through those less-charming reactions and emotions. The things we NEVER want to admit in public:

I LOVE my baby.... but I'm not sure I LIKE her much right now.

I wish being a mother of two was still a dreamy "someday" and not a difficult NOW.

These aren't pretty feelings. It puts knots in my stomach to confess them, and I am daily struggling to reconcile them and get through to the other side.

I'm pretty hard on myself these days... I feel selfish. I feel a little nuts. I feel frustrated. I feel disappointed. Surprisingly, what I don't feel is alone. As I've been letting the truth of Lucy's temperament be known, I've found that there is an incredible network of mamas out there ready to lend instant love and support to me-- ready to lift me up with emails, notes, cards, calls... Incredible sympathy. Stories of their own struggles with tough babies. Encouragement. Advice. Tips. Ideas. I have felt so humbled to be loved by these women in spite of my not-so-pretty feelings. These women have helped me get out of the fog of new-mom-crying-baby despair a little... to see the light at the end and to keep pushing to get there. Ladies, if you're reading this, you know who you are. You are saving me, daily.

I feel it is important to reassure anyone who might not get to talk to me one-on-one these days that I am doing okay with regards to post-partum depression and such. My frustrations and anxieties are direct responses to the stress of the nonstop crying in my home. I've been reassured by my OB and nurses that for now, this isn't PPD.

What it is, is a sweet baby that is high-maintenance and VERY needy. Very particular in what works to calm her, to get her to sleep, to keep her asleep. There is a LOT of crying. Intense crying. We're lucky that she's not the WORST colicky baby ever--- we do get some good days, and good half-days. But when it's bad, it's exhausting, and frays the nerves of everyone in the house.

(Want  a 30-second visit into what I'm talking about? Watch at your own risk. And turn the volume down a little. This is Lucy from just two hours ago:)


I don't know... I could write about it all day... hash through what makes it "colic", describe why I think it might be silent reflux, go into the details of how she seems to KNOW when I am not using both my hands to soothe her, and immediately wails until I give both hands back to her. I could talk about pros and cons of the ideas many of you are thinking of suggesting. Most of what you'll try to tell me, I have already heard in the last 7 weeks, and have tried. Not that I don't appreciate advice and theories... I've just been dealing with this for so long already that most of the conversations have been had. Books? Read 'em. Slings? I use three different styles regularly. Swaddles? She lives in them for sleeping. Swing? Hates it. Baths? Hates them. White noise? LOVES the vacuum, is apathetic to most other types. Car rides? Nope. She screams til she sleeps. Gripe water? We give it to her. I think it's a placebo for ME more than anything. Mylicon? Seems to help her toot a bit more. We use it.  I just talked my pediatrician into giving me a trial prescription to Zantac, so we'll see if reflux is part of it or not.

The truth is, among all the tricks, ideas, stories, and everything, it's probably just going to take TIME. The cure of TIME.

So. For now... it's just good for my heart to get the story out. To confess that my baby isn't the Angel Baby we all hope for. To purge a bit of the guilt for feeling frustrated at my life right now. It's not pretty. Any of it. Her crying. My feelings. The mood in the house a lot of days. But. We're managing. My main goal is to seek out and create pockets of peace. Good moments. To remember to look upon her sweet sleeping face and let myself love every bit of her while she is quiet and still. I am trying to laugh a bit more. Let go a bit more. Find new ways to do things with one hand. Accept help. I am trying to pray more. I am trying to listen to what I am supposed to learn from all of this.

Much of the time, I am just coping. Getting from one moment to the next. But sometimes, there is grace. Sometimes we hit a sweet note of joy. Sometimes she is cooing and smiling and Noah is doting on her and Joe has a yummy dinner in the oven and I have managed to comb my hair that day...

Little things get us through. 

I don't want to lose this entire period of her life, when she is so perfectly tiny and lovely, to grief and stress. I am grateful for the photos I worked so hard to get in her first 30 days... So that when we emerge from this tough time, I have evidence of the good and not just memories of the bad. 
I want to remember her tiny blonde widow's peak hairline. 
I want to remember how every time she is done nursing and I sit her up to burp her, Noah runs over and excitedly says, "Hey Luce!" and tries to get her to smile at him. 
I want to remember how well Joe and I have been working as a team to manage this time in our lives.
I want to remember the incredible circle of support and the light and lifting up of all the prayers from loved ones and friends.
I want to remember her little fists. Her perfect little nose. Her tongue darting out like a snake. 
I want to remember how she slept in our arms ALL THE TIME (And love that we got that time with her instead of resenting that it took us away from other things.)
I want to remember the incredible joy I feel when she gives us 10 or 15 minutes of sweetness and contentedness.
I just..... just want to remember that this, even this, is beautiful.

So. That's all for now. Forgive the less-frequent blogging. They say this colic stuff peaks around now, and then gets better. I certainly hope that's true, because this week has been the hardest yet. I'll be back when I can... But until then, this baby wants BOTH my hands most of the day, and I'm gonna give them to her. She needs me. And I'm okay with that.


  1. Noah was very colicky for a few months. The 5 S's helped us a TON. (I'm sure you know them.... Sucking, Shhh'ing, Swinging, Swaddling and Stomach). I had to swaddle him very tight, hold his paci in with one hand while laying him against my stomach sideways and SHHHHH and swing like a mad woman. Sometimes it took a minute or two and then he was silent. It's worth a try.
    Hang in there, it WILL get easier!!!!

  2. Oh sweetie... I know that was hard for you to write down. I hope that getting it out of your head and letting it be said can help you to find the gumption you need to get through every day and not beat yourself up. Because this is not your fault. It's not her fault. Some babies just start this way. And her lovliness later (as evidenced by the other colicky babies you've met who have grown out of it) will replace the memories of this nonsense and let you like her every bit as much as you love her.

    I know it.

  3. :( I am so sorry Emily. I can honestly say that I know just how you feel. All of my kids have been very high needs and Violet and Rowan were just a colicky nightmare. Rowan also was literally the world's lightest sleeper, he still is. So, as a newborn he would wake up at the slightest sound and scream and scream. It was so horrible. Nothing seemed to work with him either except holding him (with both arms I might add) and standing and swaying. He could tell if I sat down. He lived in the sling day and night and hated the car too.

    I know what it feels like to hate the new situation and wish that they were still inside of you. I know what it feels like to feel like you don't like them and feel horribly about it. Sleep deprivation is a huge thing for me too. When they are newborns and sleep goes out the window, I hate everything about life.

    Hang in there, it DOES get better eventually. She will outgrow it. Hopefully you can get to the bottom of her colic. Asher had HORRIBLE reflux as a newborn. He actually had to be hospitalized for it at Primary Children's. I would feed him and go to burp him and he would throw everything back up. So then I would have to change his clothes and mine, re-nurse him and pray it stayed down. When he was a newborn, I literally did not sleep. It's a wonder we make it through these things.

    I am thinking about you and hoping you get some answers and some peace. she is just beautiful Emily.

    I love ya


  4. She is such a pretty little thing, crying or not! And I think the first six weeks are super tough no matter what, but I can only imagine a colicky baby on top of that. This too shall pass and things will settle, of course, but I know that now things are very intense.

  5. Emily,
    I love reading your blog and your post would have been so comforting (I know that sounds strange) to read about 5 1/2 years ago. My oldest daughter was extremely colicky and I, like you, did not want to admit it. And, she was also my first and so I didn't know exactly what to expect anyway and it seemed "normal" to us since we had no comparisons to make. I would go to the store and I remember rushing through b/c I knew that any moment she would SCREAM and cry non-stop and we would gather attention. I would get all kinds of suggestions. "Is she hungry?" Nope, just fed her. "Does she take a paci?" Nope. on and on. Anyway, we tried everything and one thing that I remember helping some was holding her in the "football hold" with her belly against Dad's forearm. We put her to sleep like that for months, bless her patient Daddy! Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel, she's as precious as can be now...Good luck and I hope this phase passes soon!!! It's hard on everyone.

  6. You know Emily, by sharing your story you are helping other moms out there. I went to a women's conference when I had 5 kids at home 5 years and under. That year and most of the next year, my husband and I were just numb from being so tired. The keynote speaker was one of those moms that had something like 15 kids---who all looked perfect in the huge family picture displayed at the front of the room. She got up and told us about how HORRIBLE life was when her kids were little. I can't tell you comforting that was to me. To hear that it was okay life didn't seem so perfect right then. And you know it gets so much easier as the kids get older. I enjoy my kids and have lots of great fun with them at this stage of life. I know when you are living it-a few months doesn't seem like a short time, but really it is. I'm glad to hear you have such support, and I promise it's okay for things to not be perfect right now! It will get better.

  7. While I admire your photos all the time this is my first time leaving you a comment...
    I am on my 4th baby, she is 3 months old and not my cranky, needy one. But my number 3 (now 24 months) Was such a hard baby. There were days where I would just cry and a lot of take out back then. She sounds a lot like he was. People would tell me he was just spoiled, but I knew the truth. I had 2 easy babies before him, treated all my kids the same way and he was just demanding. If i didn't get to him the second he started to get upset it was a huge episode to get him to calm down, so yes when he started to go I ran LOL. The ONLY thing that worked to calm him down was to swaddle, turn up the music as LOUD as possible and rock him (soother in mouth) I am sure it sounds crazy but its the only thing that worked. So many people couldn't believe it but they would try everything under the sun and as soon as that music went on full blast he was out. So as much as I know you don't want tips i had to at least tell you. Because even if it doesn't work it wont hurt to try and if it does work, I may have given you some of your sanity back. And as a mother of a needy baby I know how much that can be appreciated! Oh and in my case it got a little better at 5 months, a lot better at 8 months and by 1 year he was a different kid :) Now he is the most amazing little boy with the best personality in the world. So it is totally worth is. Just tell yourself "this too shall pass" I've said that A LOT

  8. Oh Emily, bless your heart. Just wanted to send you my love. Julia was colicky too. Every night from midnight to 3:00am = non-stop crying. I'd wrap her up, unwrap her, undress her, dress her more warmly, nurse her, burp her, sing to her, sway with her...CRY with her! It's so difficult! It started early on, but after weeks of it, one day...she didn't do it and that was that! It was amazing and that quick. So, here's hoping that happens for you, and soon! Only thing I don't know if you've tried...Julia LOVED the swing! Thinking of you! Love you!

  9. Em, I know how hard this post was for you to write. How hard it would've been for ME to write.

    What is it about these situations that make us so afraid to admit that we have a hard baby? Why do want our babies to be so perfect? I ask these questions of myself -- not just you -- where does this strange pressure come from to have a perfect baby? I hate it! It must be because we are Type A.

    So, reading this, I have to tell you straight out -- I don't think any less of you, or of Lucyfer for that matter, because she is a hard baby. In fact, if nothing else, it makes you a BETTER mother in my eyes -- because you clearly have the patience to make it through this!!

    I wish I lived closer and I could give you some time. I think it is so awesome that Joe and Noah are your strongest supporters and helpers. I just wish I could be there to help you also.

    Thanks for having the courage to post this. You are a wonderful person, woman, mother and friend. You just like to raise the bar on the rest of us too often. :)

  10. You are so brave to right this post and share what you're feeling!! I am so sorry that things are so difficult for you and Lucy right now :( I recognize your feelings because I felt them myself with Roman. He was a refluxy, colicky, allergic-to-everything baby and our first 5 months were pretty miserable. I ended up getting pretty depressed by it all and took some medication for several months until things got better. I'll be praying that the colic passes quickly and you all find some peace. Hang in there girls, hugs to you!!

  11. You warn me that the pictures of her crying might break my heart - and they do, but not for Lucy (she won't even remember it).

    My heart breaks for *you* because I can feel your stress and frustration that she can't be soothed. Of course, there might be a couple of reasons for my response -
    1) I make babies cry *on purpose* (sometimes) for my job, so I'm a little hard-hearted ;)

    2) but more than that, I caught just the tiniest glimpse of that frustration when I was visiting, and I sensed how conflicted you were about it.

    Of course, I have NO IDEA what it's like (though Grandma Young, apparently, did, thanks you our own beloved mama...If we were Catholic, you could probably pray to her...) So at least you know that I'm not going to judge or advise... Just hug you from 1 1/2 states away. And thank you for sharing your feelings. And continue to pray for peace for you all...

    And I take it back - I do have one piece of advice - those pictures would be great for a graduation open house or maybe as a gift when Lucy becomes a mom herself... (seems impossible now, but it'll happen...)

    Love, love, love you

  12. YOU are a brave woman to be able to talk about what is happening with your sweet baby. I know it's hard, but it will get better. You are in my thoughts and prayers everyday. I think about you and where you must be emotionally. The constant crying would be extremely taxing on your mind and emotions. Hang in there my friend. xoxo

  13. Totally mixed feelings reading this... on the one hand, I am so relieved for you that you finally got these words and feelings on the outside so that even more comfort and support can be directed your way. On the other hand, I despair that you may find raw hurt again if anyone dares speak an unsympathetic word. I love your honesty because it's what makes you YOU and part of the fabric of Lucy's life as your daughter. Lucky she is to have you, mama.

    Hugs and if I had some, I'd pass you some earplugs. :)

  14. I can’t tell you I completely understand what you are going through but I do know that you are doing the best thing and that is talking about it and letting it out. Doesn’t have to be a secret it is healthy to get your feelings out I have learned that with having kids, your never alone and Moms help each other.
    Praying for more pockets of peace for you and your family and that soon you'll have a whole day of a happy Lucy :)

  15. I just had to comment, having had a colicky baby myself. It turned out that my daughter had reflux + was high maintenance. Zantac did nothing for her but Prevacid helped. If I'd found out about it sooner, I'd likely have used Buffer Babies. (There's lots of info about baby reflux on the Buffer Babies sites and the forum on Babycenter.) Sleeping on a Nap Nanny + swaddling helped too. But it wasn't a miracle cure. Even after getting her reflux under control she was still a fussy baby who wanted to be held all the time and didn't sleep for very long stretches for many many months. It is SO HARD. I'm always amazed when I see friends with newborns out and about because I felt incapable of functioning for ages.

    I remember sobbing one really bad afternoon because I felt like I was "missing" her as a newborn because I was so busy just surviving and longing for her to get older/better. I think it's totally normal to feel that way.

    Wishing you so much luck and support. I hope she turns a corner very soon. If you have any questions about reflux let me know, as I spent many sleepless nights researching it! Good luck, you're doing great.

  16. I can't imagine how hard it had to have been to write this particular blog, but the fact that you have shared it shows what an amazing mama you are. I do have to share the reaction of my two LOs to the video of Miss Lucy -- Ben wanted to kiss the "sad baby on the computer" and Viv started cooing and chattering as if to tell her that everything is all right.

  17. Thank you for sharing!!

  18. Oh Emily. I love your honesty!! My first baby was like this. I didn't know better. I thought *I* was doing something wrong, since all my friends talked about how "perfect" and wonderful their babies were. I know just how hard each day is. I know how much you wish you were enjoying this newborn phase, instead of wishing it away. I hate saying this...but hang tough. This stage will eventually end. HUGS!!

  19. 7 weeks you are a champ I refused to admit Kenley was colicky until she was well over 6 months The colic had long sense pasted and Looking back I was finally able to be honest with myself. Hang on tight I have felt those feelings you wrote about and today I feel nothing but love for my lil spit fire girl. Her spunk and attitude are evident and I am proud to say she is all mine and I hope she never changes.

  20. I love you even more for being open about this and allowing yourself to accept this is how you feel, with no frills, it just is!!
    Praying there are easier days and that the Zantac does help.

  21. Every one of my friends who had colicky babies said it was like a miracle when the "time" came, although every single one of them also had to go through some intense "cry it out" sleep training even once said baby got older. The good news is that by that time you'll be pretty numb to the sound of her crying. Isaac was a nightmare, so if you need any advice or empathy call Marie! She is so sweet and I know she'd love to be there for another mom of a colicky baby. The other bit of good news is that at least Lucy is sweet and wonderful when we (at least I) hold her. (a.k.a. the non-parents who don't smell familiar OR like milk) Isaac was even MORE inconsolable when I tried to hold him. It was difficult to be around.

    Most of all, no need to be ashamed of those two "unthinkable" thoughts. I think ALL parents feel that way sometimes, even when their children are great! I know I have had more days than I would care to admit where I loved my child but didn't like him, and I think the second thing is normal as well. I can't say that I've felt it, but when James was little Marie did not seem to be in "Heaven" by any means, and although Jess doesn't say it to me b/c she's probably trying not to be insensitive I can TELL that she often wishes she still just had one to worry about, and her baby is a dream! You're just a normal Mama working through some tough stages. At least that 3 year old of yours is an amazing, sweet, good-natured little guy who can handle it! Wish I was there to help!!!! So relieved you don't have PPD, as well! It's the worst! Call me if you ever need to talk about PPD type stuff though, b/c I get that big time!

    Hang in there! Noah was tough too (not this tough, but tough all the same!) and he grew into the sweet peaceful fellow that he is! Lucy will too. My mom said Laura screamed for the first 3 years (Don't worry---that won't be Lucy---Laura was very sick with severe allergies and eczema) of her life and was an angel for every second since then. And I for one would rather have a crying baby than a rebellious teenager! Love you!!

  22. Emily--If you read this anytime soon CALL ME!!! I'd call you, but I can't. :)

    And keep in mind that my most difficult baby was Emma (she could have probably given Lucy a run for her money). Yep, sweet little Miss Sunshine Emma. You WILL get your sweet, darling, amazing, beautiful baby. She just needs time.

    Call me.

  23. I know this time is difficult. My last child was colicky and most of the time refused to nurse. I cherished the hours every night that my husband spent walking her around the house. He would hold her in his arms on her tummy and rock as he walked. This was the only way to calm her. She wouldn't do it for me. Just know that it will pass & eventually it will be just a bittersweet memory.
    I think Lucy is absolutley adorable when she cries. :)

  24. Hi,

    Have you considered cranial osteopathy for Lucy? My nephew was a seriously colicky baby - oh the crying, I can still hear it now! - so my cousin took him to see a cranial osteopath. Apparently he was fine with it, turned bright red in the face when the osteopath applied gently pressure to his head (which she admits was slightly unnerving at the time!) and she noticed a definite improvement in him.

    As you've so accurately said, time is going to be your greatest healer - it really doesn't last forever, however much it might feel like it at the moment! Jack is now 5-and-a-half and is a complete joy (most of the time - he is 5-and-a-half after all!).

    You will all come out the other side, honest!


  25. your post makes me cry. It brings me back to my early months with my 2nd child, Kole (nov.07' baby). Although, I had an incredibly supportive and nourturing husband, I felt so alone and drained during those months. Kole cried day and night and was a very irritable baby. It broke my heart to see other babies his age that were smiling and cooing and all he did was cry. We took him to the ER several times in the middle of the night, just for the ER dr's to tell us it's just colic and he'll grow out of it. Eventually my persistence with the dr's paid off. We discovered that he DID have silent reflux and he was in severe pain constantly from it. We were prescribed Zantac and within a couple of weeks we saw improvements in him and within a month or so, he was a whole new baby.

    Just remember, in such a lonely feeling time... you really aren't alone. And I also had the 'I love but don't like' feeling towards him. BIG HUGE HUGS TO YOU! If you can get through this time, you can get through ANYTHING!

  26. i have no advice. just love and hugs to you and your family... i admire your honest and touching post. you have such a wonderful way with words and expressing your feelings. keep reaching out for help and support! praying this stage in little lucy's life passes very very soon. <3

  27. hi emily - i commented once before - we have a mutual friend.

    anyway, my first had colic and silent reflux. it was a nightmare. and since she was my first, and all my other friends didn't have babies like her, my husband and i were literally in hell for awhile. she would scream from 8 PM - midnight every night, and just be fussy or crying the rest of the day. she never slept, she woke up at the drop of a hat - OH. IT. WAS. HORRID. i think she was about 6 weeks, or so, when i called the doctor and asked about silent reflux, only because she seemed SO uncomfortable after a feeding. immediately, after checking her out, they prescribed prevacid. a couple weeks later, she got a lot better. she was high maintenance (ish) til she started crawling, and things have only gotten better since.

    i was so scared to admit to anyone that there wasn't an immediate bond with her - i honestly and truthfully had to grow to love her. i always felt so bad about that - i never wrote on my blog about it because i was scared. it's hard, in my opinion, because i felt like i could only be an amazing mormon mommy if i was in love with my child. and i just wasn't.

    thankfully she grew out of it, and honestly, when she started toddling around and chatting with us - it erased all the bad. and i do think she was a fairly easy toddler. ???

    just wanted to say i was thinking of you, and i'm sorry things aren't all rainbows and unicorns. but guess what? they aren't for anyone else either. hang in there!!!

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  30. I know exactly how you feel. My littlest one was perfection the 1st two month then he got acid reflux and I swear he cried the next 11months straight. I felt exactly like you, I loved him to pieces!! but did NOT like him all the time lol. It was SO difficult. So much it put me in mild to moderate depression which I just started meds for. He drove me CRAZY! He also got colick at 7months, apparently that's quite rare but mine got it! My husband goes to work at 4pm usually and his colick started at 5pm so it was always when it was just me and him. There were many times I cried with him. He would have a good day here and there like when he became mobile but for the most part he cried and cried and CRIED! It was a very hard 11months but we got through it and he, now at 15months, is SUCH a joy. It makes me cherish every smile that much more. Good luck to you!

  31. Oh Em. Oh LUCY! I could have written so many of these comments. My "lucy" is turning nine on Saturday, and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't document the reality of his first year. I have armfuls of pictures of him sleeping, or gazing inquisitively at the world...but the TRUTH was that he spent up to 20 hours of every day screaming bloody MURDER.

    And I thought it was because I was a bad mother. Or because he was a bad baby. Or because we were a bad match.

    I knew it wasn't right and that the diagnosis of "colic" was a copout. Sure enough by the time my '07 baby came along it had a name, REFLUX and a solution, ZANTAC (plus positioning plus allergen control plus chiro plus prayer plus luck).

    I watched the video of Miss L. crying and it was like being transported to Jack's infancy again (though in my memory, his crying was much louder than the volume on my laptop would go!) We watched it a few times and then a funny thing happened. The baby who spent a whole year sounding exactly like Lucy came around the corner and said "Gosh Mom, can you turn that DOWN?? It's making my head hurt!"

    I can only imagine what it does to one's psyche to have their entire first year on earth marred by unimaginable pain. I think we both will carry the trauma of that time with us for the rest of our lives. But for better or worse, it bonded us to each other like nothing else, and I like think the trial made me a more understanding and compassionate person.

    I hope your journey with Lucy is on the upswing, and that both of you can find more serenity in the days ahead.


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