My heart completely sank to the bottom of my stomach as the heaping plate of nachos was placed before me. This was the first time I had been out in the two months since my son was born.
The restaurant was buzzing with a low murmur of conversations from patrons enjoying their meal. Across from me sat my friend whose daughter was now 1 1/2 years old, but she too started out colic.
There’s a special club for parents who have a colic baby. It’s a group no one ever wants to belong to, but those who don’t belong never truly understand.
I had spent the past month cutting dairy completely out of my diet. I didn’t even truly know if Noah was dairy intolerant, but when you have a colicky baby you try EVERYTHING. Trust me. The hugest wave of guilt engulfed me as I stared at those nachos. I just wanted a couple hours away. One brief moment to feel any sort of resemblance to my old self again.
I picked up a single nacho. Then another…and another. With each bite unable to calm my thoughts or anxiety that began to build. “What if he starts screaming again?” “What if I make it worse?” “What if this one meal takes days to clear my system or worse days to clear his?”
At this point our daily routine included zero sleep and anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of straight screaming. No that is not an exaggeration. I wish it were. This child would start screaming and would not stop for hours. Bicycle kicks, probiotics, gas drops, Zantac for his acid reflux, swaddling him, not swaddling him, weighted sleep suits, bouncing, rocking, cutting all possible allergens from my diet…swing after swing after swing. Our front door looked like Christmas with daily Amazon deliveries arriving in a constant desperate attempt to get this child to sleep for longer than 20 minutes.
I think I only devoured about 10 nacho chips before my thoughts won over and the guilt became too much. I couldn’t undo all the hard work of cutting dairy. We had noticed a slight improvement and any fraction of an improvement was the only thing I could hang onto at the time.
We said our goodbyes and I headed home with a to-go container packed with nachos to give to my husband. As I pulled out of the parking spot and headed towards home my eyes welled up with tears that I could not stop. By the time I got home I was sobbing. My husband with a look of pure confusion asked, “What happened? What’s wrong.”
“I didn’t want to come home,” I said.
That moment of reality hit me HARD. Here I was with a head full of ideas and assumptions of how it was supposed to be. This was my son. The child I had waited for and wanted so badly. I was supposed to instantly bond with him. I was supposed to be head over heels about him and enjoying every moment of this newborn phase. I was constantly reminded how fast they grow up, how quickly it goes and how much I was going to miss these moments. All I could think was how much I hated these moments. How much I was struggling. How much I didn’t want to come home.
I don’t think I could ever truly convey the level of stress and anxiety that comes with a colic baby. Constantly living on edge that if I change my clothes, try to pee, or make a sandwich, the few moments of peace would be broken and the screaming would start. This kid challenged me more mentally and physically than I ever thought was possible. The first four months of his life were so unbelievably hard, and it’s taken me these last 5 months to really start to come to terms with it all.
Every difficult or challenging time in your life is intertwined with blessings if you look hard enough. Looking back I realize just how strong our marriage is and how much it was put to the test. Sleep deprivation, delirium, pure exhaustion, a constantly screaming child…all the things you don’t want in life thrown at you.
Keeping our sense of humor about the chaos became our saving grace. Sure, there were moments one of us snapped under all the pressure and said some things we probably shouldn’t have. Who wouldn’t? My husband’s quick-witted sense of humor and amazing one liners kept things in perspective though. Being able to laugh at the absurdity of the situation kept us from spiraling into feelings of complete hopelessness. For that I am immensely grateful.
“It won’t last forever,” is the phrase parents with other colic babies reassure you with. When you’re in the trenches it feels like forever and that’s the last thing you want to hear, but inevitably they are right. It does end. And when it ends it’s amazing.
I remember the day I realized the colic was over. He didn’t scream. He didn’t struggle. He didn’t spend 90 percent of his time grunting. He became a normal baby and it was the day I finally began to heal.