Nov 29, 2009

Talking Colic

Colic is one of those words that just doesn't look right when it is typed or written out, which is very fitting really...because let's face it. Colic just isn't right at all.

Take my son, for example.

The child has a beautiful disposition. He first smiled when he was 3 days old, and just hasn't stopped. If there is such thing as a happiness prodigy, Jude would be one.

His first 3 weeks could not have been better. Most of the day was spent napping...waking at intervals to eat, grin, play for a bit, etc. Perfectly normal, except...when he was awake, he was extremely alert. Too alert for someone his age. Overstimulation would occur after every waking period and he would require me to calm him down before he could sleep again. I thought nothing of it and simply enjoyed the low-key snuggles he needed as much as he did.

When he turned 3 weeks old, things started to change. At first, he stopped napping...and if he did go down for a nap, his arms would eventually flail and he'd startle himself awake. He was eating badly, too...screaming during feedings, wanting to cluster feed when he wasn't even hungry. All of this seemed to stem from a sudden inability to soothe himself. He'd attempt to soothe on my breast or the bottle, and would get angry because he'd get unwanted milk.

Then the night-time tantrums began.

At first, he'd begin screaming inconsolably at around 8pm and go until midnight before he'd exhaust himself enough to sleep for a few hours. After these episodes, he would wake up like a champ, then pass out again. However, it got worse and the point where he had begun crying all day, and then until 2 or 2:30am. He was nearly impossible to calm. I walked and walked with him...bouncing him, patting his back, making soothing noises. If I was lucky, he'd fall into a fitful sleep for a few moments.

I was shell-shocked and sleepless...desperate to understand what was happening with him so I could help him. His extreme distress made me feel helpless...and like the worst mother to ever disgrace this universe. Was it my fault? Did he hate me? Did I hurt him when I picked him up? Did I scar him for life when I put him down?

Just when it was at its worst, and I was at my most desperate, I put him into a Snugli in an effort to get something (anything!) done. He fell asleep and stayed asleep. I was even able to transfer him to a cradle, where he slept a good 2 hour stretch.

It made all the difference in the world. The secret to my son's displeasure was sleep. Hands down. And once I knew that and could con him into naps, he started sleeping earlier and earlier at night. He only cries when hungry or wet, and even then very fleetingly. But if, for some reason, his routine gets too out.

A child Jude's age NEEDS sleep, or he or she will become so overstimulated that screeching for hours is the only outlet they have. It's not like they can go hide in a quiet room and read a book...or punch something...or go for a run to let off steam. So it builds and builds until it is impossible to contain.

I am lucky. Most people never figure out how to deal with their child's colic, and end up spending 3 to 6 months battening down the hatches at 6pm...just trying to survive.

For anyone who happens across this post because they are losing their minds and looking for something (anything!!!) to help them, I am going to link a few sites I found useful. And, if you want to share your story, please do.

No comments: