Well, I feel like it is important for me to document some of my feelings about the past few months. I think parents forget so much (thank goodness we don't remember everything ;)) but perhaps one day these words will help reassure one of my kids going through the same thing, or someone else who might be struggling with their new babe.
My two girls were, for lack of a better word, "easy" babies. They cried when they needed something, took a soother, nursed like champs, and slept through the night (or only woke up once) from 2 months on. When they were awake, they cooed and smiled and I thought I had babies pretty much figured out. This is not to say there weren't hard moments, of course there was plenty, but all in all I bounced back to my normal self, rose to the challenge and loved my life with a baby to cuddle. Pregnancy, now that was one big kick in the pants (especially with number 3) but a newborn baby? Soooo excited! I got this. Been there. Done that! Bring it on!
Wake up call!!!!!
Seriously guys, colic is no joke. There were several nights when I literally did NOT sleep. I'm not talking waking up every two hours, I'm talking screaming allllll night long, no breaks, no rest. That wasn't the norm, however. Let me start at the beginning....
When Mason was 3 weeks old he fell into routine "colic" where he would cry, inconsolably, usually every evening from about 7-midnight, sometimes later. Mason was an entirely new experience for me - literally everything. To start, he didn't and hasn't yet taken a soother. This alone is a total game changer. I'm still not sure how to tackle a baby when there's no "plug" option. He also didn't stay asleep for long and especially after he woke up at night, he had a hard time falling back asleep. For the first four months, he almost always slept on my chest or in my arms. And, when you're sleeping while holding a baby, you aren't really "sleeping". We also had a TV dinner tray standing on one end, underneath his bassinet mattress, propping him up at a 45 degree angle. We did the same thing to his crib mattress, to help keep him elevated, literally things I never even thought about doing with my girls. I remember one week when he would finally crash at 4 am and then my girls were up just a few hours later and I seriously don't know how moms survive these times, but they do!! For the record, I wasn't naive enough to think that babies weren't like this. I knew this was the case with lots of babies, so initially I told myself to go into survival mode and embrace the next few weeks. Tim is a ROCK STAR dad and helped me so much during those looooooong nights. We weren't that worried at the beginning, because we were still so hopeful things would settle quickly. By 6 weeks, as many warned me, the colic had gotten lots worse and he was fussy lots during the night as well as during the day. That meant that even on days when I desperately needed a nap, there was no break from the crying and it started to really eat away at me. I have never had postpartum depression before, but let me tell you, when you don't sleep for days on end, you get depressed.
I started to doubt myself entirely. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to continue being a mom when I felt this way. I would lash out on the kids, I scared myself and them a few times. Many times all 3 of my kids were crying and I would just start crying right along with them. Some days I was a complete mess. I am a perfectionist and a go-getter, and to see my to-do list almost never get done killed me inside. I felt like I was failing in every aspect of my life. I was beyond overwhelmed and felt like I could sleep for a year. I had some really good days, and looking back I was so blessed! I had lots of people give me advice. I bought the expensive probiotics. I avoided and eventually cut out dairy entirely from my diet. We tried some reflux meds. It made me realize just how lucky I was with my girls. And seeing Mason in so much pain just broke my heart over and over. And knowing there was nothing I could do for him was almost more than I could bear.
So stinkin cute. Man, I love this boy!
Mason's reaction to dairy formula before switching to soy
To make things just even more fun, Mason got RSV when he was two months. That entire week is a complete blur. I actually shared this story in a talk I gave in church a few months ago: One night as I was trying to rest after many nights of quite literally NO SLEEP, I could hear his little chest rattling as it tried to breath. I felt the weight of being his mother while feeling like i had zero energy left to give. I was beyond exhausted. I felt so alone in that moment. I felt dark despair and helplessness. Tears filled my eyes as I watched him. I was so exhausted that it took me a few minutes to recognize my need to pray. I said the same prayer I say daily as a young mom, I don’t even know if it was even out loud, but it was quite simply, “HELP”. And, I immediately felt the spirit flow into my heart. I felt peace and love. I felt so close to my Savior, and the veil was thinned as I also felt close to my grandparents, who I know were there supporting me. I had the clear thought that I should immediately take him to the hospital. I second guess way too many promptings, but I didn’t. I don’t know how, but I jumped out of bed, got dressed and drove to emergency at 4 in the morning, as many mothers before me have had to do. I was completely calm and I knew he would be ok. Although this is a simple story those emotions are still so fresh and I am so grateful for the clarity and light I can experience through humble prayer. I immediately felt exactly the opposite of how I had been feeling previously. Darkness was turned to light. Confusion to clarity. Anxiousness to calmness. Loneliness to loving comfort.
I don't know what I would do without prayer in my life. It saves me day after day.
seriously, he is the SWEETEST most chill little boy when his tummy isn't hurting him. I adore this boy!
"It'll be over by 3 months" was probably the most dangerous words of comfort I heard. I have to say that up until the 3 month date, I stayed pretty sane. I told myself it would be over by then. But 3 months came and Mason wasn't better. I was at my whits end, and I made an appointment with the paediatrician. Right around Easter our kids all caught the croup. The colic combined with his horrid cough made for an entirely new level of hard. I remember one night he was so bad, so I came downstairs in hopes that Tim might get a few hours of sleep. I just sat on the couch, in a numb daze. Mase cried and coughed and then cried more and I just sat there listening to him. Completely powerless, and too spent to move. Tim came downstairs to leave for work at 6:30 that morning and I balled and begged him to stay home. He had important meetings that day, but I could tell that leaving me that morning about killed him.
Right around the 4 month mark, I had reached a breaking point. I texted the following to one of my friends on April 12: "I had so much hope things would get better. Hope that Renne would stop fighting me with things. That she would magically grow out of being defiant. I hoped Mason would turn into a happy kid once his colic disappeared at 3 months, like everyone told me. And now that my life isn't any easier, it's actually gotten harder, my hope is gone as I'm trying to accept that maybe my life will be like this for a long time. Mason might struggle for another year. And Renne might always push me. I think that this is devastating to me. It completely changes everything when you have a hard baby. I am so angry that he is this way. I'm so bitter than I have no idea what to do, or how to help him. I'm furious at myself and I'm scared of these feelings because these thoughts are changing me and my inner dialogue and how I look at my life"
It was a rough week, but I decided that I had no choice. I had to keep going. I knew that PPD was on my shoulder, but I refused to give in to those dark thoughts. Over the next few weeks, Mason started to get a lot better, and I am so relieved to report that his colic is basically gone! We still aren't sure about his dairy allergy/sensitivity, and he doesn't always nurse and there's still lots that's a mystery, but I have learned to live my life ONE HOUR at a time. I have learned that some days are lazy mom days. Others are wonder woman days. Some days are inbetween. And that's OKAY! I've learned to hold each of my children close each day. I've learned to let A LOT of things go, and to do only the essentials. I've learned to be honest with myself. To ask for help and to take it when it's offered. I've learned that the fruits of motherhood are sloooooow to ripen, and that I can survive because I love them, and love will get us through. I've learned that I am not alone. I have angels helping me on the daily, I can feel it. I've learned that the sun comes up, and each day is a new opportunity to do better and love harder. My babies are so small still, but they are going to be small for a flash of time. So, I'll sleep when I'm 80....
....and never take healthy little bodies for granted!
"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."