The other weekend I stood in the corner of the pool, swaying and rocking the baby. I hid his fair skin under the brim of my wide over-sized hat, keeping him cool in the water but out of his big brother’s wide splash zone. My husband played with our 4-year-old, encouraging his newfound skill of actually putting his face in the water while he swam. As we embraced our own version of family fun, we watched another family with two kids about the same age as my oldest play together in the pool, the parents relaxing just off to the side. Noticing how well they played together my husband nostalgically said, “It would’ve been fun to have kids so close in age.”
I looked at him in awe and disbelief. You’ve crossed the line, I thought to myself. Not the line of ridiculousness, but the imaginary line that lived only in my head: he’d crossed the I’ve-been-traumatized-by-colic threshold. I knew when he made that comment that he’d forgotten. There was a reason our two kids were far apart in age: we were still recovering from the traumatic experience of colic and reflux with our first. It scarred us; I’m still just getting past it.
When my first was born I was convinced I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of life after he was born. I watched my other friends with babies and saw them carrying on as usual. Out to breakfast? No big deal. Shopping for new clothes? Why not. Going from the park to the zoo to the library? Daily.
And then there was me. Going out to a restaurant terrified me. My baby would just scream the whole time and I wouldn’t be able to cram in more than two bites before asking for a box and hightailing it out of there. Shopping? Hilarious. Ten different activities in one day? What about nap time? And the ten thousand nursing sessions and the constant soothing of baby cries? I’d rather do that at home than under the critical eye of the public.
I look back at those days and wish I could’ve worn a sign on my chest that read “Colic Mom,” as if that would explain everything. Why I looked like I hadn’t slept in months (because I hadn’t). Why I couldn’t remember your name even though I met you a thousand times, including just an hour ago. Why I didn’t want to go out to lunch or story-time or be out past 5 o’clock. I felt like I needed to come with a warning; a caveat. One that quickly summed up, hey I’m just not as good at this motherhood thing as you are, so back off.
But now that I’m on the other side, I’m wishing for a different kind of badge. One that reads “Colic Survivor.” One that reminds me that I wasn’t bad at being a mom; I had a colic baby. It’s a whole different world, and I’m just truly beginning to understand the differences now that I have a baby without colic.
So to my fellow colic moms, whether you’ve already dug through the trenches or you’re just in the thick of it, hang in there. Don’t compare yourself to other moms and give yourself grace — some time to get past the battle that is colic; time to recover; time to move on. And then hug those sweet babies that aren’t screaming their heads off anymore, because despite the rocky start, they can grow up into pretty sweet, easy-going, funny kids. I promise.
The days may feel never-ending, and the months may seem like an eternity, but they do end, and you do get over them — it just might not be right away. And when you cross the finish line, don’t forget to collect your badge of honor.More On