Mike Shields knows all about the Hell of colic. He and his wife are still recovering from the damage of dealing with their colicky baby. In his Babble essay, “My Son Got over Colic — We Haven’t,” Shields writes about how colic nearly destroyed his marriage.
He and his wife bickered endlessly. He gained weight. They doubted their own parenting abilities.
Reading Shield’s story brought back so many unpleasant memories. My first daughter, Jesse, now 8, had colic as a baby. Nothing seemed to calm Jesse’s wailing. We rocked her. We sang to her. She continued to cry. What were we doing wrong?
Even worse, when I took Jesse to “Baby and Me” class at the local Y, the other babies cooed and slept. But Jesse howled. What was wrong with my baby? I feared it was all my fault. I was doing something to make her cry.
For Shields, the worst part of colic was that nobody seemed to understand what he and his wife were going through.
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.
Again, I can relate. I remember one especially difficult night when Jesse howled for hours. My husband and I were filled with a sense of dread. What had we done bringing this Demon Spawn to life? Everyone else’s baby seemed so calm in comparison and nobody seemed to believe us when we described Jesse’s inconsolable crying.
Luckily, things eventually got better. In July, I wrote about 5 Tips for Surviving Colic. The most important tip is to keep in mind that colic is temporary. Somehow we managed to survive that difficult time though, as with Shields, it left us shell shocked.
Occasionally, I think back to those first Hellish months of parenthood and am relieved that we don’t have to do it all again.