(first published on NPR's Baby Project)
So it's been just over five weeks now. Finn is thriving, having gained 4 1/2 pounds, and an inch-and-a-half in length so far. The dude is weighing in at a meaty 11 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces, and is getting more than a little uncomfortable to carry in our sling. He's as handsome as ever and it's been mesmerizing to watch the little changes every day — that second (or even third) chin developing on his little body, the wideness of his eyes as he stares off into space (what is he looking at?), and the strength in his neck as he cranes up to see what's going on. It's been one hell of a ride so far.
However, there's one other thing that's been changing: his temperament. And not in a good way. I think we might have some colic on our hands, people. Mayday, mayday!
It's been dawning on me a little bit each day, having spent enough time with babies his age and older to realize that he cries quite a bit more than them. A friend of mine posted a photo of her sleeping baby on Facebook, and then another photo, taken a few moments later, of her waking up with a huge smile on her face. Finn, on the other hand, seems to hate waking up, crying almost every time he wakes from a nap.
When we are hanging out with the class of 2029, the two other babies who were born within nine days of Finn are either sleeping, nursing or silently alert when we get together, but Finn is restless and fussy. He seems to hate bath time for the most part, as well as getting into his car seat ... and don't even get me started on changing his diaper, when he acts as though the sky is falling.
Now, the symptoms of colic are technically that the baby cries for three hours or more for at least three days a week for at least three weeks. It normally resolves itself within three months, and the symptoms produce no lasting effect and have no health risk to the child. In theory, that doesn't sound so bad, but in reality, it's really, really, really hard to deal with. We've dealt with it for three nights so far, starting at 7:30 p.m., and continuing until 10:00 or 11:00. Chad and I alternately sat with Finn two nights ago until he finally passed out at 11:00. During that time, he screamed, and I mean screamed, no matter what we did or said or tried. It was absolutely excruciating listening to it, having his little body wracking in my arms, and not being able to do anything, and I know for sure that Chad felt the same way. I finally broke down crying after a while, and it was a real low point for us as a couple as we debated whether or not we wanted to have another child and admitted that this has not been as rewarding so far as we had hoped.
I do realize that these are totally normal feelings to have, and I do know that down the line, when Finn can interact and communicate, we're going to wonder what we were so worked up about. I do know that. But it's really hard right now, and I'm just trying to be honest.
No one knows the exact reason for colic, but I'm pretty sure that Finn's been swallowing a significant amount of air when he nurses sometimes, and that his system is having a lot of trouble processing it. I'm overwhelmed by the number of suggestions we can try to soothe him — swaddling, trying a different diet, burping every three minutes, using a pacifier, driving him around, massage, nursing only on one side at a time, running the vacuum cleaner, etc., etc., etc. I plan to try all of them, maybe even at the same time, but it doesn't solve the problem that my baby is most likely in pain, and that he's trying to let me know that. I can see him straining, trying to get whatever is blocking him out, and it kills me that I might be doing something to contribute to his agony (was it something I ate?).
So, NPR readers, I'm looking for suggestions to help soothe him, stories of babies who made it through (or more importantlyparents who made it through), words of wisdom, etc. I'm really hoping that it's just a phase, but am preparing myself for the long haul. If colic lasts for three months, then it will all be over by October. I think I can, I think I can ...