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Our Son Got over Colic, We Haven’t

The real damage in dealing with a crying baby

By Mike Shields |

There is a memorably dark scene in the cult classic movie Office Space when the main character, while visiting his therapist, describes just how bleak his life is — he essentially says that every day is worse than the last, thus every day is the worst day of his life.

The presumably highly trained, empathetic therapist, replies, “Wow, that’s messed up, man.”

That scene pretty much describes my life — and the level of expert help I received — when my son Christopher went through colic earlier this year.

According to WebMD.com, a baby who cries more than three hours a day more than three days a week for at least three weeks in a row has colic. And unlike why most babies cry (they’re tired, hungry or have a dirty diaper), kids with colic cry inexplicably.

My son exceeded the daily three-hour threshold with regularity. During his peak, my wife kept a log, hoping to discover some patterns. On his worst day, outside of sleeping and nursing, Christopher didn’t cry for a grand total of two minutes.

And colic crying isn’t like “I’m upset,” crying; it’s “emotionally disturbed” crying. Christopher’s face would writhe with apparent pain. He’d contort his body violently and sweat — like a panicked adult sweats. By the time I’d get home from work most days, he looked like he’d just gotten back from Afghanistan.

Christopher’s senseless crying was incredibly difficult to endure. On top of the regular newborn workload, i.e. feeding and changing him a dozen times a day while trying to squeeze in small increments of sleep around his day/night confusion, my wife and I were in a constant state of staving off crying. I remember experiencing such hopelessness that I told my wife, “I feel like I have nothing to look forward to.”

What made matters worse was finding out how poorly colic is understood by the medical community. “Unfortunately, there is no definite explanation for why [colic] happens,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics on its website, despite the fact that it affects one fifth of children. When we went to Christopher’s pediatrician in search of answers, his answer was essentially, “Sorry, you’re going to have to ride it out. Try giving him some tea.”

In fact, doctors aren’t even in agreement about what colic is, let alone what causes it.

One theory is that some babies’ stomachs are so underdeveloped that they have either constant painful gas or heartburn, which causes them to scream in agony. A 2009 study released by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston theorized that a naturally occurring organism called klebsiella in their intestines might aversely affect babies with colic.

The other prominent theory is that some babies are born into a “fourth trimester” outside the womb, during which their immature brains are being overloaded by the constant stream of new audio and visual stimuli; hence they cry a ton.

And just as medical experts can’t agree on what colic is, they haven’t landed upon a standard treatment plan. According to The No-Cry Sleep Solution by parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley, “There is no simple, effective treatment for colic: parents and professionals are able to offer suggestions that may help your baby through this time period” — or they may not.

You know things are bad when a doctor uses the word “try.” Doctors don’t say, “You might try amoxicillin for your infection”; they say, “Take these pills for 10 days.” In our case, we knew “try” was code for, “We really don’t know what causes what you have or what to do about it. Good luck.”

But given our desperation, we did any suggestions doctors had for us. I can’t tell you how many snake oil stomach-soothing products (like gripewater) we tried to no avail. They typically helped for about 15 seconds — the time it took Christopher to drink the useless liquid.

After a while we realized that Christopher’s colic episodes weren’t consistently tied to eating, which made me lean toward the fourth trimester theory — and to The Happiest Baby on the Block, a hugely popular book which many people recommended to us. To pediatrician and author Harvey Karp — I would love to punch you in the groin. Happiest baby, my ass. It should be called Five Random Techniques That Might Work but Could Also Do Serious Physical Damage to the Parents.

According to Karp, the five techniques (which each conveniently start with “s”) are swaddling — which screaming babies just love — swinging, shushing, placing a baby on its side, and having him suck on a pacifier. Yes, many parents swear by Karp’s techniques. And sure, your baby will stop crying if you wrap him like a mental patient in a straight jacket, rhythmically bouncing him in your arms while holding him like a martini shaker, and shushing him as loudly as possible directly in his ear. But just see how long you can do that in the middle of the night without simultaneously tearing a rotator cuff and having a complete mental breakdown. I recall at one point saying to my wife, after a night of fierce shushing, “I’m a little worried I’m going to get gum damage.”

And about a month into the colic — a point when I was hearing imaginary crying babies fairly regularly — I said to her, “I’m not sure how we’re going to get through this. We should think about getting some pot.” Thankfully, I reconsidered that after imagining dropping my crying baby after a few too many bong hits.

But that crazy thought process speaks to just how severely colic had affected me and my wife. That’s what still makes me mad to this day. One of the messages many doctors and books had for us was not to worry about colic, since it doesn’t do any damage, and that the kid won’t remember it. That might be true, but my wife and I remember it. And we’re damaged.

The medical community offered little help, but friends, relatives and acquaintances were no better, sometimes even seeming offended when we didn’t respond with utter joy to questions like, “How’s the new baby?” or “Isn’t this time in your life wonderful?” No, we thought, it’s actually horrible.

People almost seemed to want to deny colic or bury it under the rug — the way society used to shy away from discussing post-traumatic stress syndrome. Often we’d hear, “Oh, your baby’s just fussy.” God, I hated that one. People who like salad dressing on the side are fussy; inconsolable crying babies are tormented, and they torture those around them.

I came home with pure dread on some nights. I’d get off the elevator in our building and hear our vacuum from the hallway (holding Christopher next to a running vacuum was the only thing that actually consistently calmed him – one of the few semi-workable solutions from the Happiest Baby book). My wife would be crying, bouncing our son on one of those giant exercise balls, exhausted and nearly begging me to help.

We’d fight, of course. You can’t fight with the baby, even though you pretty much want to throw him out the window. So who else can you blame but your spouse? Or your mother, or her mother. “You’re holding him wrong!” “I’m trying!”

We still bicker more than we used to. I’m still trying to drop the 20 pounds I put on during the colic period. Most nights, after finally getting the baby to sleep, I’d retreat into our bedroom and, like the clich’d woman going through a bad breakup, I’d devour pints of ice cream or sleeves of cookies. Sure, I could have had some drinks instead, but a hangover with colic — that’s like giving yourself colic.

We’re also still more cautious than other parents we know. For months, we’d both get jumpy from just a little normal “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” crying. It was weeks after colic was over before we started taking the baby out with friends. We still plan our lives around naps or bedtimes, and I’m sure our friends think we’re overprotective.

The truth is, during my worst moments, I hated the baby. I even told him to shut up. After nine months of hopeful anticipation, I wondered, “So this is what I get?”

Thankfully, things are so much better these days. The colic ended abruptly soon after our son turned three months old — as many of the books had promised. Even then, it took me several more months to bond with him completely, to let the irrational resentment and feeling that we’d been cheated pass. But now at eight months, Christopher is awesome — he’s cute, funny and, most importantly, happy. He cries when he’s tired and hungry and when I get him dressed — that’s about it. There really are no after effects — except for the ones still affecting us.

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About Mike Shields

bcmikeshields

Mike Shields

Mike Shields is a senior editor at Digiday, where he covers the business side of the Internet and digital media. A former Manhattanite, Shields now lives in exile in Queens with his wife, Nicole, and their son, Christopher. He enjoys chicken and the Economist, which he read once.

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125 thoughts on “Our Son Got over Colic, We Haven’t

  1. Sofia says:

    All I can say is, I hear you! My son was a crazy baby, too. I coped with it by leaning on my pride- “He may be crazy, but he’s OUR crazy boy. Your baby is just exceptionally calm!” Also, I already had a daughter, so I could clearly see the happier, more sane times that were just around the corner.

  2. Emilla says:

    We’ve been there! I watched friends who had babies at the same time holding their calm, dozy newborns and thinking “are we just making this hard?” The best thing about colic was that when everyone else complained about their toddlers, I thought mine was an angel. Or just seemed like one compared to the hell of the first 4 months. I scoured every book, message board, article, obsessively looking for the “answer”. We also became a slave to the nap/eating schedule once he got past it in fear of upsetting our hard-won sanity. We were prepared for the worst with the second and he was blissfully colic-free. A totally different experience.

  3. Genevieve says:

    We’ve been there too… Now that my son is a year, and truly a lovely and happy boy, I can admit how insane those first 4 months were. I also remember the jumpy jittery feeling of anxiety I felt as he unpredictably would start screaming at any time. It did seem like his particular cry was specifically designed to provoke a state of terror in his parents.

  4. Ann says:

    Enjoyed your story! My son is now 20 but his intense colic and the sleepless nights, endured by us in a small basement apartment in Queens, is still fresh in my memory. He wailed all night long and much of the day for nine solid months. I remember my husband walking endlessly around the block at 3 in the morning, carrying him in a pouch. The minute they walked inside again, the crying began. A few things helped momentarily – the electric swing, the noise of the vacuum, sleeping in the car seat (unless the car stopped at a light…). I was exhausted, frustrated, and colic definitely took the delight out of my first year of motherhood. I must say that I love him dearly – he has a million friends and a beautiful smile and is doing great in college – but his colicky nature endured in teenage impulsiveness, roller-coaster emotions, easy frustration, etc. And even two decades later, I still may be a bit haunted by those early months of feeling unable to calm my baby and make him happy. That’s life, I guess.

  5. Rachel Kreyling Kinsler says:

    having witnessed it elsewhere and my own sibling, nothing terrified me more about impending parenthood than the possibility of colic. Just with treatments for illnesses that used to be mysterious, hopefully the medical community will soon have a much more thorough understanding and can help parents out.

  6. Amy says:

    OK, this article explains why my good friend won’t deviate from her schedule for a minute! Her delightful three year old can’t even go to birthday parties if she’ll go down for nap 15 minutes late. This child had colic, and while I was very sympathetic to that at the time, I didn’t connect my friend’s tight schedule now to her fear of returning to the bad old days. Thanks for explaining things, I will try to have some lasting empathy for parents who go through this.

  7. Andrea says:

    It’s tough when you’re experiencing an extreme version of a normal phenomenon and people just think you’re being overly sensitive or dramatic about it. I had severe morning sickness that had me hospitalized many times throughout my pregnancy for several days at a time, and I still had people suggest that I try crackers and ginger all the time when the right level of treatment was IV nutrition and powerful pharmaceuticals. I’m still recovering from the experience and figuring out how to not associate that time with my baby and how to forgive the people who didn’t think it could be as bad as it was. I wish more people would learn how to be respectful of other peoples’ experiences.

  8. karah says:

    I could have written this to a “t”. After my first baby was born, colicky and high-needs, I used to look at babies who just sat quietly or rolled with the punches in complete wonder and idealization. It took us close to three years after my daughter was born to consider having a second, knowing what we had gone through the first time around. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. Diera says:

    Oh, God, I remember. My first child didn’t even technically have colic because his crying was consolable, but it was only consolable by the strenuous wrap/bounce/shush technique, and I remember how exhausting and hard it was. And he only seemed to need about 2/3 of the sleep the books all claimed he needed, which meant even more hours of – take your pick! – either bouncing and shushing or screaming. There are five years between my first and second child, and that’s because that’s how long it took me to get over it.

  10. Jenny says:

    The term LAUGH OUT LOUD does not adequately express how truly and exactly your words resounded in my heart. I think there is a definite PTSD associated with the newborn phase for some. I often found myself SO jealous of another person’s sleeping for me than a 1 hour stretch that it bordered on rage. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  11. Annie says:

    You nailed it with this one. Good for you for articulating how absolutely horrible colic can be for the parents – and how long its effects can linger.

  12. Meg says:

    Our son didnt have colic but I do remember the endless conversations from other mums at the time about what to do about it. Especially in our baby massage class. My husband thought our son was terrible crying all the time and being very clingy and needy he was a baby! I think for him the comparison was with his daughter who had lived with her mother from birth while my husband and I would have her one night a week (this has increased now that weve got a child too) I think that because she was a bottle fed baby it made a difference too. My husband got quite resentful that only I could apparently soothe our son. All this talk of the menfolk taking the baby out for walks or soothing it in the night completely foreign to me! I dont think to this day he understands how draining it is looking after a newborn on your own while your partner is at work he still calls the days Im not in work my jolly days (our son is 2 and I work 3 days a week). I dread to think what would have happened if our boy had been colicky. That said though, were quite anti routine and our sons funny, warm, active, chilled out. I dont mean that he stays up til midnight his bedtimes pretty set but he doesnt get upset if it changes, he always has 3 meals a day but with his naps if he falls asleep cool but if he doesnt then thats fine too. Gone a bit off topic here sorry!

  13. anon says:

    my daughter “didn’t have colic”, she was just “unhappy” for some reason and would scream bloody murder at us unless we played or sang Willie Nelson for her. It took at least 3 months to figure out that trick… and we didn’t even have any Willie Nelson in our arsenal at first. I am not kidding when I tell you that I think I have suffered slight hearing loss from all the screaming. People would babysit for us when it was absolutely necessary (my husband & I play music), and we could tell it was a trial for them. Our saving grace was that even as a newborn, she would actually sleep mostly through the night.
    I really feel for you. The only way to avert serious parental damage, is to have some brave soul babysit for at least an hour so both parents can leave the screaming for a short while. And, I love my daughter! She is the light of my life – even when she was screaming like a banshee directly into my ear – but I did need those little breaks. They were soooo important.

  14. LK says:

    My son didn’t even have colic and was a relatively sweet, even-tempered baby, but I still feel like I had PTSD from the newborn phase, part of which was probably caused by a very difficult breastfeeding experience. Regardless, I can’t identify at all with those people who say it is such a “blissful” time. For me it was complete and utter shock, and not in a good way. The best description I have heard about the difference between the anticipation of a baby and actually having one is the difference between watching a tornado on TV and having one rip the roof off your house. My heart goes out to those parents who have to deal with colic on top of the general insanity of the newborn phase.

  15. Alana says:

    Eight years later I still shudder about that awful six week period with our son. On top of that our daughter broke her arm and leg and was out of school the whole time. The only thing that kept me sane was the strength and help of my dear husband.

  16. Pam says:

    I appreciate your honesty. Unless someone has endured the torture of a baby with colic, they should hold off on the comments comparing their baby to yours. You description mirrors mine almost exactly but my baby was 6 weeks premature. When we brought her home we kept the environment as quiet as possible so she would sleep and not burn calories. As soon as she got to what would have been around her birthday and her birth weight all hell broke loose! It seemed there wasn’t anything we could do to calm her down, she was gaining weight and otherwise doing well but we experienced a very similar situation as you. I couldn’t really even talk about it…the few times I vented the reaction I got was that I shouldn’t be complaining, at least she was alive. Of course I was grateful, on my knees, thank You Lord grateful she was alive but the reality was that we not only had gone through the extended hospitalization, the homecoming, 2 hour-feedings, pulled her out of all of that and now we were in another kind of hell. I felt I couldn’t even ask for help. I felt guilty she was born early (rational or not), I felt I was being judged if I even mentioned the colic or asked for help (rational or not) When friends asked how she was, at first I said “oh, she’s had colic lately and crys almost all the time”, I could tell by the look on their face what they were thinking! I just started giving a robotic answer, “she’s just great!” because I felt ostrasized otherwise, on top of all of my other emotions I didn’t need more baggage. It was pretty lonely. Oh, my other two babies didn’t have any colic so I AM qualified to speak on the subject! Also, she is 30 years old now and this is still pretty fresh in my mind so maybe it is PTSD of the parental variety. She also had alot of turmoil in the 14-17 years,(Ann posted her son had some teenage roller-coaster stuff too)which was much worse than her other two siblings. Related to the colic? Probably not, but worth filing away in your memory for later maybe..might be interesting. By the way, she is a wonderful mother of two now and for most of her life delightful. I don’t blame her, of course, but I’ll never forget that agony…it seemed hopeless.

  17. One Smart Mother says:

    According to John Gottman and his research team, approximately two thirds of couples experience a decrease in marital satisfaction after the birth of their first baby. Certainly, when a child suffers from colic, it is understandable how it can add to the other changesa couple normally face. It is important to remember to focus the frustration on the condition and not on the child or each other. Speak to a pediatrician or other trusted health professional who can offer qualified advice on relieving the symptoms. This is a condition that has been experienced through the generations. Many cultures have a variety of ways of “treating” it. Being proactive, in helping the child with the symptoms/cause, as well as seeking regular (healthy) breaks and accepting the comforting support of an understanding friend or family member will help. Don’t allow others who offer judgmental opinions and/or unsubstantiated “cures” to replace knowledge received from a qualified source.

  18. kboeckman says:

    Today, I watched my daughter get on the bus to kindergarten for the first time…but reading your story made all of the memories of her colic as a baby come flooding back like it was yesterday. Your article is dead on. I also have a 1 year old son who had colic until 12 weeks – and then it disappeared like magic. My advice to those currently going through it: walk baby around in a bjorn and crank up some good tunes on your ipod. I especially liked listening to “Oooh child, things are going to get easier…oooh child things’ll get brighter…” It brought me some hope. And things did get easier! And brighter! But you are right – my husband and I remember it. And we always will.

  19. ruconmom says:

    Truer words have never been spoken. My first son suffered from colic for about 8 weeks and would cry incessantly every day from 4pm-11pm, right when my husband was leaving for work. I experienced such anxiety about the impending evening that I would end up in tears by 3pm and would be sobbing and begging him not to leave me alone with our son by about 3:30. Like you, I also resorted occasionally to shouting at him to “shut up” and would then spend the next 30min. crying about what a bad mother I was. Breastfeeding was impossible, I felt like a failure for using formula. The anxiety the colic caused me definitely lingers to this day — 2.5 years later. There are support groups for women suffering from post-partum depression; where are the support groups for parents with colicky babies?

  20. amd says:

    thank you for writing this, and thank you to the other commenters about the non-blissful parts to infants. my daughter was and is such an easy baby, and still something is lost between me and my husband, and i lost so much weight due to anxiety, weight i can’t afford to lose and still have not been able to regain after 18 months. my one question: how do people have the stamina to have a second baby? i just don’t think my marriage, my physical body or my mental health could withstand having another baby (adding an additional layer of guilt and anxiety). i’m glad there is literature out there to support having one child, but it is still hard to reconcile with these realities.

  21. JJ says:

    Um, Baby Boot Camp is tough, for sure, and colic is a form of torture, but….. you are taking this WAY too personally, Mike!!

    You sound like your child is terminal and going through chemo – you’ve lost ALL perspective.

    Having a baby is tough. The sleep deprivation is horrible. 3 weeks after my daughter was born I was 15 lbs UNDER my PRE-pregnancy weight, and sick with severe bronchitis. I *knew* I was going to die.

    It gets better.

    On the other hand, I guess I’d feel more sympathy toward you if you’d been more sympathetic toward your tiny son, who was going through this at a much more horrific level than YOU. The worst part about colic is feeling helpless and horrible because your infant is in pain and you can’t help him.

    Waaaah, waaaah waaah for your marriage. DIdn’t anyone ever clue you in that children and finances are the two biggest relationship stressors?

    Dude, someday that kid will be sleeping 10 hours. And you guys will find equlibrium.

    PERSPECTIVE. Regain it.

  22. dadof2 says:

    gotta disagree w/ JJ. clearly the dad is sympathetic — both to his son and his wife. read more closely before you judge

  23. Carrie says:

    AMEN! I can relate with everything in this post. Including the wonderful 8 month old that I have now.

  24. I read the book says:

    “holding Christopher next to a running vacuum was the only thing that actually consistently calmed him put that in the next Happiest Baby book”

    That IS in the book.

  25. teenMother says:

    ooo baby, do I hear you. Thanks for being so honest and glad baby Christopher and his parents made it through colic. As for One Smart Mother, you may be smart but you sure don’t sound sympathetic. Stick to the text books when appropriate. If you read the story, sounds like colic is not a textbook case.

  26. Kari says:

    I’m curious if your doctor prescribed something other than “gripewater,” like an antacid? My son had terrible colic and the dr thought it was due to reflux. He had a prescription for antacid (I cant remember which one at this time) and the screaming and crying stopped. I missed a dose, and the nightmare started again. A medication is not the treatment for everything, but when a child is screaming for days on end and you want to hurt them or yourself, it may be worth a try. It was what worked for my son and if the next one has colic, I will probably try it again.

  27. Care says:

    Sheer hell. That is the only way to describe what it feels like to have a baby with colic. We endured reflux & colic with our daughter & it was like living in a nightmare. Our daughter is 13 months now and is the sweetest, cuddliest baby in the world…. but will probably be an only child because of our scars from dealing with the colic. No one should judge those of us that have had babies with colic until they try listening to screaming bloody murder for 13 hours straight for 4 months!

  28. MsMiner says:

    We went throught the hell that is colic. Everyone promised that it would only last 3 months. 4 months tops. it lasted 6 and we still have a very clingly, very sensitive child. She’s 18 months now. i totally understand how it just continues to effect you even after the inconsolable crying stops. If you haven’t gone through it, you can’t possibly understand it.

  29. n says:

    i can totally relate with this article! thanks for this perspective! congratulations!

  30. Molly Kliment-Jenkins says:

    This could have been written by us… I feel like you were in on our private conversations! _Happiest_Baby_ actually worked for us, once we started to use it, it took her a week or so to actually relax into it. I can’t part with the swing just yet. Other tricks we used – a treadmill. The sound, vibration, beat. My husband burned up 300 calories one night walking her.

    One tactic that separated us from most others is that it was US against HER. We were a team and the colic was the enemy. That time brought us closer together, and we made it through that first year without a fight. But we had been married for 13 years before her and work together. It is a touchstone for the two of us to look back on and say, “we survived.” We talk about that time often.

    All that said, our daughter is 22 months and wonderful. Took until about 15 months for her to really “be happy.” We figured that she was a toddler stuck in a baby’s body and frustrated with her inability to do anything. But it gets so much better.

    Thanks for the post, Mike!

  31. emmettsmom says:

    oh mike. thank you. thank you for your brutal honesty. my 5-year-old son had colic. he cried for 16 hours a day for 6 months straight. your assessments are spot on, as was your emotional response. my therapist confirmed that i likely had PTSD from my own experiences with my son. my husband and i fought all the time and eventually divorced (not because of the colic, but certainly our unsteady foundation was tested and cracked through of it). the doctors at children’s hospital of los angeles were amazing. they had about 6 doctors examine him. their assessment: “we have good news and we have bad news. the good news is, there’s nothing wrong with your son. the bad news is, there’s nothing wrong with your son. now we need to talk about you and your support system. we’ve seen very good people go very bad because of this.” and the absolute truth was that up until it happened to me babies in dumpsters were an unfathomable horror. and through colic, i could clearly see the path that led there – one with no support, no partner, no family, no money and only your diminishing ability to function psychologically… i believe this is a very serious issue that would be taken more seriously if more parents like you talked about it openly.
    thank you for doing so. your article was extremely hard for me to read, even 5 years later…
    and by the way – my son is fine too. and i’m still not. little shit. ;o)

  32. Blue says:

    Oh, YES. The imaginary crying babies. It was so, so traumatic. I have managed to mostly block it out, two years later. But I felt so guilty/ineffectual/frustrated/sad/angry about it at the time.

  33. Londonmum says:

    Thank you, thank you for writing this! Like many other commenters, we were also tramatized by the colic of our firstborn. The guilt, the anguish, the lack of support. We almost decided not to have another child because of the risk of colic part II. We made it with the help of exercise balls used in tandum with mobile phone ringtones. And those people who kept commenting, “just sleep when the baby sleeps!” don’t know how close they came to dying.

  34. Rosan says:

    Poor baby, I cannot imagine the agony he was going thru since he was the one in pain and the one that did not even know what was going on.
    We adults can take it since we are grown ups, believe me, my baby does not have colic but she does not like to sleep so I am a living zoombie, yet I know she does not do it on purpose.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. It makes me tear up remembering how awful colic was and how hopeless I felt. It has now been just over two years since the colic ended and the bad memories have faded, but the traumatic ones remain. When people would tell me they understood because their babies had “fussy times” for a couple hours most nights I almost smacked them because my son’s “fussy time” was between 15 – 20 hours a day. Every single day. For three months. It turns out that he is sensitive to lactose, which our pediatrician dismissed because he didn’t have blood in his poop. Now he drinks lactaid because he still can’t handle it.

  36. Kristen says:

    Thank you so much for this brutally honest account of colic. My daughter was a colicky infant as well, with two parents who barely knew each other cramped up in a tiny New York City apartment and no family nearby to help out. It was utter fucking misery. I ended up divorcing her dad, and I’d be a liar if I said that the stress of the first few colicky months didn’t put us on the road to divorce.

    This probably doesn’t help anyone in the midst of it, but my now almost nine-year-old daughter is the most awesome kid you’ll ever meet. Seriously, she blows me away every day with her compassion, kindness, sense of humor, and fierce love for me. I think I appreciate her so much now *because* of the terrible hell of a start that we had.

  37. Eve says:

    Did I, in my sleep-deprived delirium, write this myself? I’m pretty sure I did. No, wait, your colic episode was thankfully over in 3 months. It as about 6 months for us, with a veeerrry slow tapering after that. At 2 years old, I finally like (er, love!) our little guy!

  38. Amy says:

    Oh my gooodness, Mike. I truly wish we could have been in a support group together. I have been trying to write this story for three years now, and I haven’t been able to…because it was really too traumatic to sit down and put into words. It was almost a year for us with our son, and it was truly the worst time in our life…the loneliest, darkest days. We tried everything…everything! and nothing worked. I still feel pangs of sadness when I see babies sleeping soundly. I wish my son (and my husband and I!) could have experienced that bliss, too. Thank you for being so honest.
    We all survived! Cheers to moving on with peaceful days and quiet nights!

  39. Julie says:

    Hey! I like my salad dressing on the side and I am most certainly NOT fussy! Just kidding. This is a great piece on colic. Thankfully none of mine were colicky, but my niece was and it was torture for my sister in law. That on top of my brother passing away when she was nine months pregnant nearly put her over the edge. Thank you for this thoughtful article.

  40. Megan says:

    I just finished your article and Im bawling! …talk about PTSD! I thank you for the courageous step that you took in your honest account of life/living with/surviving colic. Our eldest son (now 2 ½) was colicky for the first 5 months of his life and piggybacking directly atop the colic was a diagnosis of severe esophageal reflux which lasted for an additional 2 months. Aside from the colic and reflux he only slept a maximum of 3 ½ hours a day, mostly upright and in a bouncy seat. I was scared to death of what effects might befall him. Fearful as hell that he was going to wind-up with major developmental deficits as a result of not being able to lead a normal baby existence. Im happy to report, just as you described, he has no adverse effects. Hes wonderful today. Better than wonderful, hes brilliant so as considered by the US Government Office of Gifted and Talented. This however doesnt change the fact that his Father I still suffer from the effects of his colic and the guilt associated with it. I nursed my son and recall vividly one night stammering through tears saying to my Husband I feel like I have absolutely no relationship with this child because all he does is cry. Then feeling so tremendously guilty that I made it about me, forgetting that it was he that was in pain, or going through it but that was the point that Id reached. Anyhow, we have a second son now, right I cant believe we even thought to repeat the process either, and he is by every definition of the term a PERFECT BABY. Hes snuggly, happy, as-smart-as-a-whip, pleasant, smiley and most importantly has only cried for an approximate total of 5 minutes since his joyous entry into this world 10 months ago. THANK GOD!!! As a postscript I will say that our eldest son while suffering no developmental milestone or intellectual delays continues to barley grasp onto the 3 percentile in weight which I believe should be directly attributed to whatever in conjunction was working with the colic to make his beginning so miserable, heck our beginning miserable. Take care and good luck all! Thanks again for your honest candor Mike Shields.

  41. Kelly says:

    This is one of the best pieces I’ve read on living with colic I’ve ever read. I laughed so hard I cried – and then wasn’t sure if it was from the laughing or just from the painful memories this brought up. My son didn’t officially have ‘colic’ he was diagnosed with ‘reflux’ for which we gave him prescription snake oil twice a day for 4 months. I honestly didn’t start to bond with my son until about 13 months – about 3-4 months after he stopped being a cranky bastard all the time (the worst of the crying did start to get better about 6 months). Now he is a really happy almost 18 month old. But his dad and I are definitely scarred.

  42. xakana says:

    “(holding Christopher next to a running vacuum was the only thing that actually consistently calmed him put that in the next Happiest Baby book)”

    Actually, it was in the first one, along with hair dryers and white noise machines. Personally, I used loud rock music. And the Happiest Baby stuff saved my effing sanity. It was remembering it from my first baby (who was the calmest, happiest baby ever, so I was ill-prepared for baby two) that got me to use it and get her to stop screaming long enough to latch on, which led to the beginning of the end of colic.

    My first experience with colic was as a teenager with my colicky niece. By the time I finally figured out to stand out in the 102F weather singing loudly to the tune of any lullaby I could while rocking like a crazy person, I was crying almost as loudly as she was. All my sister’s wonderful “suggestions” didn’t do ANYTHING for that baby.

    For the rest of colic with my own, Hyland’s Colic tablets were what actually saved us (at 6 weeks). Between that and the happiest baby, the colic actually stopped. But if I so much as missed ONE dose before feeding, it was back and I was kicking myself (hers lasted 3 1/2 months). I also got an amber teething necklace–no idea if it helped or not then, but when my baby got in two molars at once and I had no idea she was teething until she bit my exploring finger with them, I knew it did work then at least.

    I, too, hate the “fussy baby” crap. There is a HUGE difference between fussy baby and colicky. But the HBoTB stuff isn’t just the 5 S’s. Sucking on a boob works far better than a pacifier, some babies hate swaddling (my first adored it immensely, my second only liked a modified swaddle) and KoRn works just as well as hissing in baby’s ear–though not as fast.

  43. Stacey says:

    Thank you for writing this – we had a baby that cried non-stop for three months too (can relate 100% to the day the baby did not cry for “2 minutes”). The vacuum, the exercise ball, the feelings of desperation, frustration and isolation – I cried all over again reading about your experiences as they mirror what my husband and I went through. Our girl is now 15 months old and is a fun, fun, fun toddler (though still very intense) – but my husband and I are still dealing with PTSD. It took until my daughter was over a year for us to not feel nervous with every cry and we are downright anal when it comes to her sleep schedule too – I know people think we are crazy, over protective parents when we decline invites because “its nap time” or “we start bedtime then” – but we are so scarred by the first three months of her life – her sleep schedule is something we are too afraid to mess with. The colic took a toll on our relationship too – It has only been recently that I feel like my husband and I are connecting like we used to. Honest, brave writing – thank you so much for putting into words an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  44. Wet Blanket says:

    My first son (second child) had colic for four months. My second son was born dead. I would endure colic again in a heartbeat.

  45. Singleskimom says:

    Pot works. Just sayin.

  46. tangylemon says:

    This is the first time my husband and I have felt understood. We hated that others would minimize his crying and make it sound like we were just “new parents” overreacting. We hated each other and blamed each other for everything, and his crying every 15 minutes every night for weeks made us want to throw our baby and each other out the window. Thankfully, we have a happy, healthy, wonderful 7 month old son. However, we are very scarred by this experience and are seriously reconsidering having another child for fear of wanting a divorce.

  47. stressfreebaby says:

    I endured this with my first child, too…remember it like it was yesterday and he is SIXTEEN YEARS OLD now! You never forget it.

  48. Ariana Falerni says:

    Amen. This was our story too, though it lasted more like 9 months! We later found out our son had SEVERE reflux, severe as in red raw esophagus, not even meds could help. He is now two, and wonderful, but there are lasting effects. Like the fact that I am scared to death to have another..my husband jokingly tells my son he made himself an only child!

    FWIW, Karp does talk about the vacuum cleaner (or hair dryer) as working for the same reason that shushing does – because it simulates the loud environment of the womb :)

  49. Anonymous says:

    Our baby had colic as well, so I understand what you went through and all the emotions that come with it. However, thinking of all the people who have lost their babies or their babies are ill makes colic pale in comparison.

  50. Ben says:

    Our baby probably didn’t have colic, but we endured 5-6 months of endless crying. We constantly had to hold her – if we put her down, she started crying. Getting her to sleep was horrible. My wife did not leave the house for a month and we both ended up with stress fractures from holding her so long. We’d put her in the carseat and she’d scream as if we were sawing off her arm. We could not even make it out of our neighborhood before giving up and going back home. A stroller, bouncy seat, swing – these things meant instant screaming to me. She didn’t take a nap until 10 weeks. We were constantly holding her and walking around; she’d nut-up if we sat down.

    I’d see other newborns in strollers and simply could not relate how a baby could be sleeping in it. When she finally fell asleep and wasn’t crying, I constantly heard Phantom Crying. We also tried to implement the Happiest Baby on the Block strategies but I was shushing in her ear so much she just ended up with an earful of spit.

    The last thing I wanted to hear from people was “It’s going to get better.” Shut the &*$*# up, tell me something that will help NOW!!! I kept asking myself why anybody in the world would want to have babies.

    There are people posting comments here saying how it could be much worse. Of course it could. My wife and I were so thankful that she was healthy and reminded each other of how difficult other parents have it with babies with disabilities. But that doesn’t discount the fact the feelings of guilt, despair, and hopelessness you’re feeling when it should be a time of joy.

    Both my wife and I can completely relate to what you went through. Our daughter got much better around 6 months and was very happy around 9. However that doesn’t mean those memories aren’t burned into us and we aren’t changed forever.

  51. bens wife says:

    commenter ben covered it very well… we read this article together and immediately went back to “the time”. and oh, yes. “thank god she’s healthy” was pretty much my mantra as i was pacing in a rhythmical-stepping fashion while holding her in such a way to finally get her to stop crying.
    nothing seemed to work, and the stress i could see on my very laid back husband was damaging to me as well.
    i’d been around over 20 nieces and nephews. i thought i understood babies (somewhat). as far as i’ve ever been told, nobody ever had a daughter like ours.
    when she was about 9 months old, we started to smile and let down our guard. we used to say to each other how AMAZED we were that we could, indeed, describe her as being *happy*. we never thought we’d get there! it took us 9 months to get the baby most of my friends had from birth.
    the beginnings may be what has steeled us for the 2year old she is now. she’s much happier. but we left her the other day at preschool and went down the hall & around the corner, and sat in the back of the chapel with no less than 30 other families.
    we still heard her. and no, those weren’t phantom cries. her scream is quite piercing. she has numbed us to the fact that that moment should have tugged at our hearts.
    of course, she quieted very soon after and loved being in class.
    we just kind of have to laugh at it.
    what else can we do?

  52. lazy d says:

    Sorry to hear you went through that. You really need to look at your pediatrician here.

    For us after 5 weeks of colic our peds suggested a food elimination regimen for my wife–she was breastfeeding.

    She stopped dairy and in 3 days we had the happy little baby we have now.

    Dairy intolerance is very very common and should have been the first thing they looked at.

  53. Amy says:

    I’m back. I can’t stop thinking about this article. This is the first time that I’ve ever felt that someone other than my husband understands what I went through. We also reminded ourselves that we were lucky to have a “healthy baby,” but it was still hell. The other part of a colicky baby is that no one dares to watch your baby. Even the grandparents couldn’t handle it. They kept saying maybe he needed to go to the ER. But we’d already taken him to the ER: after 8 hours of abdominal ultrasounds and other tests, the doctors said (above his shrieking), “We’re just going to have to say he’s fussy.” It’s hard when you can’t ask others for help because you can’t subject them to the horror!
    Thanks again. Should we all meet up for a drink? :)

  54. Ben says:

    Amy, if we had a support group when we were all going through this no one would hear each other over the crying and screaming. :)

    Just now am able to start joking about this stuff. Glad things are better for you now.

  55. AC says:

    My colicky baby improved some once his doctor diagnosed reflux and put him on prevacid. He vomited constantly and didn’t really get over it until he was over a year old. I can remember being afraid to leave him with a babysitter because I didn’t believe that anyone other than his parents could NOT shake him. He was so frustrating. Neither set of grandparents would watch him although they loved watching our older son. I still feel they have typecast him as the difficult one and that his colic/reflux will have lifelong repercussions in our extended family BUT thanks for making me feel less alone. He’s a healthy 3 year old now and is so loving and funny.

  56. EF says:

    Colic is pure hell. No one gets it. The worst part is that you think its somehow your fault. That everyone else is doing it right and that you’re somehow imagining it. I’m still on the fence about having another child. And I’m convinced it’s because of the colic. You never get over it. Hearing the crying in your head as you walk around the street. Horrifying.

  57. SP says:

    Us too! My husband was more sanguine about it than I was. And it only lasted 6 weeks. I too sat on the exercise ball, singing the same song over and over again.
    Looking back on it, I can see that it did interfere with my ability to feel wonderful, bonding, maternal thoughts. But I felt guilty admitting this. When people asked how I was doing, I just lied.

    Guess what? My second child had zero colic. None. The streak can be broken!

  58. TA says:

    Fiercely honest. Thank you for sharing all of your feelings during that horrible time.

  59. screamingbaby says:

    Thank you, thank you! No one who has a “normal” baby can possibly understand the sheer, sheer misery of a colicky baby. When I look back at my daughter, who once cried for 14 straight hours without taking a breath, I don’t know how both of us made it out alive. There were only two sorts of days in our house: bad ones and worse ones, and on the worse ones, I would put her in her crib and go outside to cry in my car. The day I picked her up out of her crib and almost shook her was the day I called my husband and told him to come home RIGHT NOW or he might not have a family by 6 p.m. It was, without a doubt, the most miserable time of my life, and my pediatrician was no help whatsoever. Nor were my friends and family, who would try to calm her for five minutes, then had her back with a look of defeat. Four years later, I’m still bitter about the whole ordeal.

  60. Dana says:

    The same thing happened to us. It took a year for me to get over the first few months of my son’s life. For months I would wake up and hear “phantom” babies crying. It was like having PTSD. I’m scared to have another baby after the disaster that was my son’s first 6 months. Having a colicky or otherwise sick baby is no joke.

  61. Joylynn says:

    Try being a working single mother with colicky baby. Luckily, I seem to have repressed the memory of most of it. I finally got some relief when I took her to the doctors office and wouldn’t leave until they prescribed some reflux medicine. Cleared up right away after that and a month later I took her off the reflux meds. She can, and does, eat anything now. I don’t think the 4th trimester theory applies well to my daughter. She is extremely extroverted and is almost impossible to overstimulate. I tend to get overwhelmed while were out long before she does.

  62. ANon says:

    FYI Happiest Baby does recommend using a vacuum cleaner running to sooth the baby in lieu of constant “shushing.” (Not that that was the point of the article. Just thought I’d point it out, though.)

  63. sarah says:

    Our second child’s colic is one of the main reasons we never had a third. I just knew that I couldn’t do it again and I wasn’t willing to take the risk of another baby with colic.

  64. Old Mother says:

    My son is 19 and I’m still not over his colic.

  65. jcircle20 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. When I see people with tiny, quiet babies, sitting there observing their world, I feel cheated. My maternity leave, I know, was nothing like that. There was nothing beautiful about it. Thankfully, I have a beautiful happy boy today!

  66. Cathy says:

    That is heart wrenching. I did not have to deal with colic – thank the lord. I will definitely have more empathy for those poor parents.

  67. Alex says:

    My daughter had colic as well–no one truly understands how awful it is unless they go through it themselves. Curious–did you try Colic Calm as one of the remedies? It has great feedback, and a money back guarantee, which is cool.

  68. word says:

    Speaking of PTSD, my partner and I feel we have it after dealing w/colic. I want another kid but we are so freaked out by the hell of colic that we are too afraid. It is f’ing nuts. I appreciate what you wrote–it feels more real than other stuff I’ve read and been told. It helps to diminish the self-blame/crazy making aftermath. Best wishes for quiet days and happy babies.

  69. Jaqi says:

    God, this was an awesome article. I felt exactly how you felt. Didn’t bond with my firstborn until he was almost a year old precisely because of the incessant and inexplicable crying for the first 3 months, which consisted of either eating, sleeping or crying, nothing else. It was a horrible time in me and my husband’s life. It was a wonder we had a second child.

  70. sharabk says:

    This was our experience EXACTLY with our daughter, now 3 1/2. I felt like I was starring in a horror movie. My husband still cannot tolerate a crying baby very well. It was not until she was 9 months that I started to like her and on her 1st birthday, my husband and I toasted ourselves with champagne that we made it through her first year. She has transitioned into a wonderful child and her preschool teachers comment on what a happy, wonderful disposition she has…now we’re nuts about her – in a good way. Miraculously, we did go on to have a second child (this past July) and she is not colicky. I finally feel like I have a “normal” baby (fussy at times, but easy to soothe and sleeps for more than 20 minutes at a time). We were completely on the fence about another baby because of our experience with the first. Thanks for writing this article.

  71. ghia68grl says:

    Thank you for your honesty! We had a similar experience and I’m terrified to have another child if we have to go through that again. No one understands unless they’ve been there, and no one wants to hear that you didn’t fall immediately in love with your precious baby. It is a traumatic and damaging thing to go through and I think if more people were open and honest about it, other parents might not feel so alone and screwed up!

  72. christinez says:

    My husband and I could have written this article. I still have issues when I hear random stranger’s babies crying and it has been over three years since my daughter was born. We always wanted two kids, but seriously considered not having the second one after our experience with the first. Thankfully, our second child does not seem to have colic, but I can feel the panic rising in me every time his crying doesnt stop when I change the diaper or feed him. I think to myself “Oh God, it’s happening again.” I dont think that feeling will ever go away.

  73. GingersUnited says:

    I am having flashbacks of running the vacuum for hours at a time in the middle of the night. Ugh. I had my daughter very young and was so unprepared for a colicky baby. Your article was great. I’ve never met anyone else with a baby who cried like mine and I still have this fear that she just cried b/c I was a bad parent. Thanks for your honesty!
    And to this day, if I hear a newborn start to cry, my heart practically beats through my chest. Its good to know I am not the only one.

  74. Tim says:

    If you do get a shot at Harvey Karp’s nether regions, let me know. I spent several deluded nights trying to implement his simple sibilant-heavy regime, and ended up angry, frustrated, and ready to cry. I would love to hear how it went, if not get in on the action. He holds out this promise that it is so simple to fix your baby, and it got my hopes up so high that it was a crushing blow when I realized that it was useless for us.

    I’m glad this article is out there. We had the same experience. People just don’t believe us when we tell them about the marathon crying and screaming sessions. They thought we were bad parents, and despite everything, it was hard not to feel like they were right. Thank you for sharing this. Things have gotten so much better as our son has grown older (he’s now 2.5yo), but yes, we are still damaged from that period of time too. It is comforting to know that we aren’t alone.

  75. Mimi says:

    Right on. I felt like crying when people acted like my first child was “just a little fussy” and told me I was just “stressed out” and that I should “cherish every moment, they go by so fast.” I WISHED THEY WOULD GO BY FASTER. I was so, so jealous of the other new parents I knew whose babies had something in between Sleep mode and Scream mode. It was awful. My second is not colicky, but at the beginning his crying would freak me out — I would feel nauseous and think, “Oh God, is this it, is he going to start screaming and not stop?” Thank you for this article.

  76. mrsgo4 says:

    the vacuum thing IS in the Happiest Baby on The Block.

  77. TheMadMom says:

    Wild! I wrote on this very topic for this very pub a few years ago – from a mom’s view of course:
    http://babble.com/baby/baby-health-safety/the-latest-research-on-colic-and-crying-baby-baby-health/
    Hope things are on the upswing!

  78. carriegonecrazy says:

    This is the b est thing I’ve ever read on colic…VERY true. Couldn’t have said it any better.

  79. jenzerb says:

    Can totally relate to this article. We were so overwhelmed by out son’s colic we actually picked up our lives and left New York City to move to Virginia to be closer to our families, hoping for help, but not really getting it. No one can help. Our son is now five, and my husband and I both think that enduring those first few months of colic completely warped us — we are overprotective and neurotic about everything from his sleeping to how his preschool teachers interact with him. Our son never developed good sleep habits and that fact alone still shapes our lives. Colic just sucks.

  80. Crystal Hewitt says:

    Oh, wow. I remember the jangled-nerve sensation of my newborn crying at 3 a.m. I can’t imagine the hell of it all the time.

  81. Steve DeMarco says:

    So someone out there finally worked up the nerve to say it.
    I remember being up at 3 a.m., finally laying down for an hour and a half. JUST LAYING DOWN! It also took me an incredibly long time to acknowledge the fact that I had a daughter. Colic will end, yes. And, yes, it’s true that the babies can’t help it. That doesn’t make it any f*****g better.

    P.S. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CURES COLIC. REALLY. Except time.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Just get the pot.

  83. lilibra1019 says:

    Yesterday, I told my daughter that she was not my friend. That was an understatement.

  84. JasonRM79 says:

    I really appreciate this article, I come back read it and the comments every so many days to remind me that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks again.

  85. Damade says:

    Colic is: Just. Awful. When our firstborn arrived he didn’t stop screaming for 4 months. Day 24 is when I hit the wall and started crying along with him, also talking to myself and looking for a place to bang my head. My husband was overcome by stress and lost any desire to eat, he lost 15 lbs and gained a shock of grey hair over his right temple. More than 4 years later we still don’t laugh about that period of our lives. You are spot on about the colic books that are out there – some of them that we read actually claimed that colic didn’t actually exist, just inadequate parents. Thank you for the article, I hope it gives some light at the end of the tunnel for other parents going through colic.

  86. Brian says:

    Wow this was just so… FAMILIAR. After we had an absolute breeze with our first child, we patted ourselves on the back, knowing that we were doing things right with our Attachment Parenting. Then our son came along and for literally his entire first year of life we felt like God was punishing us for our cockiness.

    All the AP rules went out the window as we just tried to get our son from one nap to the next. I DID hate my son several days. And I never really felt that overwhelming love you’re supposed to feel until he was well over a year old. And even when the colic finally stopped, I don’t think we realized it for several months. Every time he would cry our stomachs would clench, certain we were in for more.

    To be perfectly frank, I DID get some pot during this time…. and an Ergo baby carrier which was about the only thing that would KIND OF calm him down, and also made sure I couldn’t drop him. :)

    And yes, my marriage suffered because of it. I think my wife and I are still trying to rebuild after that year of this one small child tearing our happy home apart.

    Thank you for your honesty.

  87. Brian says:

    Also, we dealt with the opposite of people who would try and downplay it. “Just let him cry it out” was the common piece of advice from our family. The thing none of them understood was that THERE. WAS. NO. “OUT”. He. Did. Not. Stop. EVER. And at a point, letting them sit there and scream DOES become inhumane… no matter how much you hate them with every fiber of your being in those moments.

    FYI, my son is now 4-years-old and one of the happiest, funnest, most energetic kids I’ve ever met. Teachers love him. His classmates love him. And I love him more than I can stand.

  88. Devin M Burggraf says:

    My life… Couldn’t of worded it better.

  89. Alejandra Hernandez says:

    Very interesting. Must Read.

  90. colic in Colorado says:

    I have a 6 mth old daughter who was extreme colic. She got over it abotu 3.5 months but got two teeth at 4 months and now horrible seperation anxiety from me. My husband can barely holder ever without her screaming for me. NOw it is not the colic cry but because of the colic it just seems like she will never bea happy baby. Yes she laughs but the majority of that time is when I am holding her. The second she gets out on the florr the wails begin. Did you go thru some of this post colic issues whereyou wonder will I ever be able to be my own person again. I HVae a 3 year old so there are time I have to oput her down and I really do nind letting ehr cry for 5-10 minwhile tending to the needs of another child but actually my husband really cannot handle it and that stresses me out more.

  91. chook says:

    You are right on the money!! Thank you for giving me a laugh in the midst of colicville!! I have had all those feelings, so thanks for writing about it.

  92. Missy Valenzuela says:

    Oh my gosh! One other person gets it! Thank you! That alone does wonders.

  93. Longlost00 says:

    We now have two experiences with colic. Our first daughter, now three, had it for six months. Our newborn daughter has had it now for a month, mercifully sparing us the first week. I’m a physician, four years out of residency now. When I deal with parents going through this, I put the stethoscope down, offer what evidence based medicine says in addition to anecdotal advice, but mostly I commiserate and tell my story of colic survival like I’m some sort of refugee. Thanks for sharing this.

  94. Danielle says:

    Spot on.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Ha Ha Ha thank you so much for writing this article. I had a baby whose colic lasted until around 5 months. Ugg. He is my first and I felt like such a horrible person for not loving this tiny little screamer like all the other mommies did. there were days I considered never having another child again. I tried the reflux medicince never worked. He is 10 mo now and a true joy I think now if i got through his colic I can stand up to almost anything. Good luck to all Post colictized parents.

  96. colicky mom says:

    AMEN!

  97. Chris says:

    “Colic Solved” helped us a lot….and the 5 S’s never NOT worked…

  98. Gina Thompson Drust says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this!!

  99. Leah says:

    Cripes, yep, I’m so there. Our first is now over 2 years old and I have JUST last month come to the point of being ready to try for a second. My excitement about having a second is actually making me nervous. I’ve convinced myself we can have another only because the second couldn’t possibly be like the first. Then the rational, self-protective side of me says, “Yeah, but you better be prepared for it,” and that takes all the joy out of it. And it makes me hate every single person who complains that their baby cried for ten minutes today before falling asleep for a nap. Yeah, the damage it does to parents–especially first-time ones, I’d assume–and their marriage is probably the suckiest part of it. I have no idea what caused what, but our daughter still hardly lets Daddy into her life, and our lives are WAY too dictated by her whims, because that became our mode of survival in the early months. We did whatever worked, screw the books, other parents, and doctors. I hated having such a negative outlook, and still don’t like what I feel about it all. Sorry you guys went through this too.

  100. Amy Wicks says:

    This sums up what we have heard from so many parents. Thank you for sharing your story and for the reminder of how early infant crying can impact parents. The Period of PURPLE Crying website has some detailed information about what to expect and how to cope- http://www.purplecrying.info

  101. Darla says:

    Wow you actually helped your wife after working all day? I didn’t get any help at all. The only thing that helped my colicky baby was nursing and nursing some more, tried the gripe water it seemed to help a tiny bit so the baby would nap for 20 whole minutes. I had to swaddle, hold, nurse for 3 months straight. I never got over it either to the point of not wanting a 2nd child. Couldn’t BEAR going through that all over again so I stuck with my one and only. Of course I love him to death ;) he’s now 7

  102. Mindy says:

    So Mike you gonna try for a 2nd one or has this scarred you? I feel like Leah does but I also have age as an issue to not pursue the 2nd child. The stress of the first one’s colic plus being over 40 pretty much seals the deal of no 2nd child for us.

  103. Bee Woytsek says:

    9 MONTHS, that is how long it took my son to get through colic. 9 UNBEARABLE MONTHS! I survived an entire week on just 30 minutes of accumulated sleep! My husband worked all night as a Corrections Officer so he came home exhausted to me BALLING my eyes out on the couch because I was so tired and mentally and physically exhausted from the NON-STOP gut wrenching crying that seriously sounding like I was poking my baby with hot pokers! I never had a moment to just sit and try to regroup because I had this baby that would do nothing but cry except when he had my boob in his mouth, I had a 5 year old daughter that just did not comprehend why mommy would cry all day and always seemed to be wearing the same clothes for days at a time because I never had a moment to myself. My poor daughter went through my pregnancy with me while I had EXTREME EMESIS I am talking so bad that I couldnt even drink water I was hospitalized for weeks because of dehydration, then I have this for lack of better words DEMON BABY that seemed to be possessed! To top it all off I had a neighbor that was a crack head living above me ( I did not live in the ghetto by any means and still to this day I have no idea how she was even accepted to live there) who would stomp on the floor repeatedly saying the was going to call Child Services on me and to be honest there were days when I would hope someone would show up just so I could drag them into my house and have them sit on my couch holding my crying baby just so I could a moment where I am not bouncing my son in my arms or so I could spend just a few minutes with my daughter! Colic was the worst thing that ever happened to me besides have the emesis I could very well say i had an amazing pregnancy and delivery with my daughter and a pregnancy that has scarred me so bad that the thought of conceiving another scare the hell out of me. My son is now a year old and you can not tell that he even had colic until you look at me i am still trying to get rid of the dark circles lingering under my eyes! As for my doctor she said the same thing you are just gonna have to ride it out and that irritates me because I can honestly say I thought of some horrible things to do to my son because he wouldnt sleep. The doctors do not take into consideration what the parents are going through, I mean I love my son and I would NEVER do anything to harm him in anyway but, during his colic stage I constantly had those thoughts of what I could do just to shut him so I could fall asleep, but my love for him and that little bit of hope I had that this stage would end soon made me do otherwise and continue to bounce and him and everything else to make him happy! All in All I wouldn’t change the little monkey that I have for the world but, COLIC IS THE DEVIL!

  104. Peter 1000 says:

    You know, what pisses me off the most are those lucky parents who complain about not getting their full 8 hour of sleep.

  105. Anonymous says:

    Wow…..I just laughed sooooo hard at your post…..my daughter was horrible! Thanks for shedding light on this crappy experience.

  106. Lucie Ludmila Macelova Ayres says:

    fan-tastic read for the mom of a non-sleeping baby….

  107. Denay Schuyler Kelley says:

    Oh Man!! Do I ever know how you and your wife felt. My husband and I were the same way-down to the “feeling cheated” part. I can remember many, many, many nights just sitting in the middle of the nursery floor crying right along with him and asking “what did we do??” I felt so guilty for having those thoughts but after 20+ hours of non-stop screaming I now realize those thoughts are more common than most want to admit. I also agree with your feelings on Dr. Karp…LOL. I felt myself laughing out loud on that one. Sometimes I felt like our baby boy looked like a little glow worm we had him swaddled so tightly.

    Of course I have more stories (roughly 5 months of them because he was 2 months early)but I want to say to those parents going through it right now-IT DOES GET BETTER!!! Really, it does. That thought is all I would have running through my head some days…friends kept telling me that, doctors, family-I heard it from everyone. You know what? They were right-I remember the day-August 21, 2010. My baby boy changed. He stopped crying, gave me the chance to finally-really and truly bond with him and best of all-he was happy. Now he is the most amazing child I have ever seen. I simply cannot get enough of him. My love for him is bigger and deeper than anything I could have ever imagined…and whats more is if you told me I had to go through everything I went through in the beginning all over again just to get this funny, smart, beautiful child-I would. In a heartbeat…as many times as I had to-every day of the week & twice on Sunday…as long as I ended up with my Dylan.

  108. Steve Kubien says:

    I cannot think of an enemy I wish colic upon. Colic ought to be covered by the UN’s rules of torture or something. Our first daughter was colicky and cannot count the number of times my wife came into the babies room to find us cuddling…with me sitting on the floor bawling my eyes out.

    Our family doctor is a very by-the-book MD. Old-fashioned, you might say. If you’re iron levels are low, eat a steak. Not enough vitamin D? Go outside. That sort of thing. I was shocked when discussing “the child” he suggested loud, white noise…a vacuum cleaner, radio tuned badly… The key was LOUD!!! He said it made no medical sense but some folks have success with it.

    We tried it and damned near wore a hole in the floor of the nursery from the vacuum. But, it worked. We survived. We had clean carpets.

    There were times when I was set to book an appointment with a urologist, get myself fixed. That way we wouldn’t have to go through this again. Thing is, after the colic, she was a delightful baby and so was her younger sister. (we didn’t push our luck and I got fixed after number 2).

  109. Kelly says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this candid article!!! We went through the same exact situation, it was horrible. My son is now four years old and I am really not wanting to have another child because I am so scared!!!

  110. Doc Paul Blake says:

    One simple remedy for the majority of colic suffering babies and one of the most common causes has been known for years. This particular cause is the intestinal flora in the babies gut is out of balance causing poor digestion and gas pain. The remedy is simple probiotics (see study below) that you can find at any health food store, I have seen it work almost immediately. Buy only refrigerated probiotics for freshness as they tend to be of the better quality.

    Poor Intestinal Flora Symptoms: irritability, bloating, abdominal pain, foul smelling bowel movements, constipation/diarrhea, food sensitivities, rectal itching, spitting-up, poor immunity

    Colic Symptoms: crying suddenly after a feeding, crying is loud and continuous for one to four hours, baby’s face often is flushed or red, hands clenched, belly is distended or prominent, the feet are often cold, baby may arch their backs, draw up their legs to their tummy, extend their legs rigidly, pass wind.

    A 2010 scientific study published in the Journal of Pediatrics reports the effectiveness of a probiotic treatment for colic. The authors report states that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced crying time among infants with colic, compared to placebo. The subjects included 50 exclusively breast-fed infants, that were administered either L. reuteri or a placebo.

    Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infantile colic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e526-e533.

    Doc Blake

  111. Mitch says:

    Thanks for this hilarious article! This is the first real true article i have read about colic babies. Our baby will be three months in a couple of days and i’m counting down to when this will end. We have tried everything suggested to us with no result. Is has been the biggest nightmare ever!! At times i’m so frustrated i want to put my hand through a wall! It’s relief to know i am not the only one going through this. I know it’s not her fault and to take deep breaths at my boiling point. This absolutly sheds light on a bad situation.

  112. Stefanie says:

    Hilarious article! My husband and I were in tears reading this. We can totally relate and it’s nice to know we are not alone on our feelings and that it does get better! Wish you all the best with your now happy little boy!

  113. Raina says:

    Having a newborn without colic is hard enough; I can’t even imagine what it must be like for parents going through this.

  114. Polly says:

    My first son had 3-month colic; that was in 1974. The doctors know no better now what it is than they did then, but my aunt, a pediatrician, had one very good suggestion. She said, “Give the kid a little benadryl when you need to sleep, and take some yourself.” I don’t recall the dose, but it worked to a degree. I completely agree with the 4th-trimester theory, partly because he ended up having ADHD. I think it’s some form of hypersensitivity. But we did survive a very bad time, and with no ill effects.

  115. Elizabeth says:

    THIS describes our first born and our experience as parents!! My husband worked 2nd shift and then came home and we walked the floor… I thought we would never sleep again and I got SO emotionally worn by the sound of a screaming infant – with the birth of our 2nd child 2 years later, I found I had some PTSD-like symptoms and fears… she is a normal baby in terms of sleep and we had maybe 4 “witching nights” TOTAL when she was a newborn – an “easy” baby as some would say (is any baby, completely in need of Mama and Daddy really “easy”??) – but I was this sleep schedule nazi because I have come to realize I am TERRIFIED that, one missed nap or night that is “off” and we’ll end up in “scream all the time” ville – and it shakes me to my core… wow – this story is exactly ours!! We adore our son and by 4 or so months he was a joy – now the months of crying meant he was WAY off in terms of sleep patterns and it took to 7 1/2 months for any regular sleep patterns to emerge, but we delight in him – but WOW those early weeks/months were so very hard. Thank you for sharing this story with such honesty and wit!

  116. Kate says:

    Try it when you also have a demanding two-year-old!!! Love this article, really describes how we’re feeling three weeks into colic. Two months to go!

  117. A mom dealing w colic says:

    Thank you for this! You actually brought me a bit of laughter and put a smile my face during this “awesome” time in life. This is way more profound than any other article/advice out there.

  118. Tracy says:

    I sympathise completely. Our daughter was dubbed “The Teary-Dactyl” by her aunt. However, all that caution you describe regarding routines has paid off. At 4 and a half, she is an angel who asks to go to bed at 7pm sharp and sleeps 12 hours straight every night. But we’re too scared to have another baby.

  119. G Strickland says:

    I hate hearing sympathy and self pitying coming from the parents of “colicky” babies. The whole “it’s worse for the Mom and Dad” theory, simply because the poor helpless infant can’t speak and ultimately forgets it, is complete bull.

  120. Acerbica says:

    It sucks the way people have to negate your experience, whether it’s having a colicky baby or it’s struggling with weight loss or depression, or whatever. I find that there are a lot of people who love to position themselves so they can give advice/contradict. I say white, they say black, I say up, they say, “Well not so much up, as something extremely similar to up.” I get put on the defense and end up explaining myself. Then, if I react with any force at all, “Actually, what I said is precisely tailored to the question you asked, so if what you wanted to ask me was something else, try that instead of correcting me for giving the “wrong” answer to an imaginary question.” I get the old, “You don’t need to get defensive.” Hmmm, maybe try not attacking? Judging? Advising? It seriously is a case of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” If you do everything you can for a sick baby, you’re overprotective. If you ever let them cry, you’re a child abuser. If you get upset when they cry, you’re hysterical. If you stay calm when they cry, you’re heartless.

    I love this line from an Al-Anon book, “To give advice is to make unwarranted assumptions and judgments about another person.” We can talk about our own experience/knowledge, but it’s damaging to our relationships when we start “shoulding” on people. How should I know what you should do with your baby? Even though I’ve raised three super babies of my own? My kids are nothing like your kids so I can’t tell you what is going to work for you!

  121. Carmen says:

    I’m a new mom and my baby is almost 1 month old. She’s been crying and crying for the past 2 weeks in the wee hours at night. I’m at a loss as to what I can do and her unexplained crying has really made me depressed. I tried the 5S’s but that works some times and other times not which makes me feel even more inadequate when things don’t work.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I pray that my baby girl is not in any pain and that this is only a phase that will end soon.

  122. Paul says:

    WOW – This article has just made my day. My wife and I lost our baby last year due to an unknown medical condition, which to this day we have no answers. so we already have a healthy suspicion for medical solutions. 18 Months later we are blessed with a baby boy and CONGRATS he is “colicky”, apparently only 15% of babies are colicky. Yippee!! We love him so very much and I feel guilty every time I feel frustrated that he can’t be settled. My wife is an angel and deals with him while I am at work but sometimes coming home is like waiting to get your hand hit with a hammer. I am sure we will get through this but our nerves are frayed, I even jump when a baby cries in public. Thanks you for the article I no longer feel like a bad father.

  123. Will says:

    wow, this was such an amazing article. Half way through reading it I had to turn off the vacuum and re-read it to my wife. The part of getting out of the elevator to hear the vacuum and seeing your wife bouncing on the work out ball just summed it all up. I can’t believe how close this describes what we are going through, we are two months in and this has given us hope and encouragement to get through the next month or so.

    Thank you for penning what so many of us are experiencing, and catching the essence of how horrible this stage is.

  124. Carol says:

    Wow! I really feel for y’all. My mom dealt with me having colic and now I know what they went through. I hope to have one soon and I sure hope I don’t have to deal with it but if I do i will do a lot of praying. At least I know there is an end and listening to your story will help me through the tough nights.

  125. B says:

    OMG! I don’t know why I never ran into this article before, but it describes exactly what I went trough, though my LO was colicky until 10 months and yes I felt like I was going to die or like if I was some kind of impaired mother because it was so hard to soothe my LO, I actually found this article because last night my DD (now 2YO) give me some trouble and it reminded me to those lovely months of agony that I realize maybe I haven’t get over it of those colicky days! and I was looking for some kind of counseling for parents with colic babies!, so glad somebody wrote an article with the real truth and not some sweet covered bs, I hope other parents with colicky babies can find this article and help them to ease their pain! Hang in there! I’m for sure all those parents with colicky babies we are special for sure!!!

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