Jun 4 2012
* Warning: This post is emotionally charged and contains multiple f-bombs (’cause you know, colic does that to you). Reading this will put you at risk of being highly offended …or highly enlightened. *
No, no, not THAT “c-word.” The OTHER one: Colic. Oh that damn, heart-wrenching, emotionally-charged, makes-my-palms-sweat “c-word.” I wrote about my personal adventures with colic while I was going through it with Kai. Now someone I know is going through it with her newborn and I’m finding that it’s making those heart-thudding emotions bubble up inside me again as she looks for answers. Because other than the advice I’m giving her, all the other advice she’s getting is the kind that made me want to scream when I was looking for answers and advice. And I’m sorry to say this to all those well-intentioned people who offer it up (truly, I know you’re lovely, wise people and I deeply apologize for the following) but the advice I HATE the most…no, no “hate” is not a strong enough word…let’s use LOATHE and DETEST, yes, that’s better. The advice I LOATHE and DETEST the most is the advice that says it’s the mother’s diet. Now before you close this window because I’ve offended you, let me concede to the fact that I know SOME colic causes are due to the sensitivity of a baby’s tummy. I, too, have heard the stories of how colic all but stops when the Mama gives up fucking gluten and fucking dairy (sorry for the f-words, I can’t help it. I told you this was emotionally charged for me and I just have to throw down some f-bombs to make myself feel better). But that wasn’t MY answer when I was going through colic. And yet every website I perused while desperately searching for a solution all pointed to the fact that it’s the Mama’s fault. Because isn’t that what we’re REALLY saying when we say it’s her diet? We’re really saying “Mama, it’s something YOU’RE doing that’s causing YOUR baby this discomfort. And if you’d JUST STOP doing it, then your baby will be better.”
Is it irrational that I feel this way? Maybe.
But you know what? I LOVE my fucking dairy! I LOVE my fucking gluten! I had an eating disorder when I was a teen-ager, I ate all the “right” food when I was a personal trainer including all that low-carb crap. I’m DONE depriving myself of ANYTHING. I’m DONE feeling GUILT about any kind of fucking food. When Kai was crying non-stop I knew it was for a reason and I knew he was telling me something…but I REFUSED to believe that his crying was a way of saying to me “Mama, I came all this way to tell you that you should really give up dairy.” To me, it just seemed ridiculous. Now, I admit that I DID give up fucking dairy and fucking gluten for a couple of days because I WAS that desperate to make the crying stop…but it didn’t change anything other than make me more cranky than I already was. Not only did I have a baby with colic but I had to give up my favorite fucking foods. (I’ve always said that bread and cheese are my power foods. I believe Kai knew that coming in.) The advice-givers told me I didn’t give up the food long enough to make any difference. Fuck you, food police. (Geesh, I’m so sorry. Taking a deep breath…)
The point I really want to make with this post…is that I’m VERY FRUSTRATED to see that the ONLY causes or solutions to colic that are offered up address the physical: “it’s gas, it’s food sensitivity, it’s reflux.” What if it’s NOT? What if it’s ENERGETIC or EMOTIONAL? Are you telling me babies can only cry because of PHYSICAL reasons? They’re just so little and new that the ONLY thing they have to cry about are their new bodies? Are we really STILL THAT SHORT-SIGHTED?
One of the reasons colic was so difficult for me was because there were no answers or advice out there that made sense to me. None of it resonated. None of it. And since I couldn’t find my answers “out there”, I did the only thing I could. I looked within. I asked my heart AND my baby for the reasons behind the crying. And in the stillness and the silence, I found my answers. The answers that made sense. The answers that resonated. And the answers that made the difference. And they had nothing to do with gas, food sensitivity or reflux…Kai’s colic had much bigger reasons. You may not believe the reasons if I told you but it doesn’t matter. When I found my own answers, I felt empowered. I got my family back. I stopped falling apart and instead came together WISER and STRONGER. When I found my own answers I had a game plan and I knew how to handle the constant screaming. Instead of feeling alienated by my crying baby, I felt more BONDED TO HIM THAN EVER. I felt such strong LOVE, AWE, GRATEFULNESS, and HONOR to be in this baby’s presence. If you’ve ever experienced colic, you know how powerful it is to be able to say that.
Are you wondering about the reasons of Kai’s colic and about the answers I found? That’s another post. (Sorry to be a tease, but it needs it’s own story. And one with a lot less f-bombs. They wouldn’t be YOUR answers anyway.) But I will tell you what I think colic is.
Colic is a tool. It’s perhaps the most powerful tool a baby has ~ to send us messages, to work through birth trauma, to transition into their bodies, to mourn (yes, I ABSOLUTELY believe that a newborn can mourn). Babies don’t cry for no reason and colic is a baby’s way of “shaking it off”. It’s HEALTHY and PRODUCTIVE. When a baby with colic cries, that baby is HEALING him or herself. I bet you won’t find that answer anywhere else. And if you do, send me the link/book/quote so I can energetically smother that person in hugs and kisses.
Here’s something else you can use. If your baby has colic, LET THAT BABY CRY! I don’t mean “crying it out” or leaving a baby on it’s own to deal with it. I mean, that after you’ve tried all the comforting, soothing, and shushing from all the other advice-givers and baby is still crying, hold that baby and tell her what a good job she is doing working it all out. Tell him he’s strong and brave and that he’s going to feel better soon. After a big bellow, offer up some kisses and a “That was a good one” cheer. OFFER YOUR BABY A SAFE SPACE TO CLEAR IT OUT and ALLOW it to happen! See how that changes everything ~ for YOU. And your partner, and your children AND your baby.
I believe there IS ALWAYS A REASON a baby is crying. Sometimes it may be physical. Sometimes it might be something else entirely. Acknowledging there is a reason doesn’t mean we have to KNOW the reason ~ and it doesn’t mean we have to FIX the reason. What if we just trusted babies more? What if we trusted that THEY know the reason, THEY know how to deal with it and THEY know how to heal it…by crying. And what if we let them trust US by giving them safe arms to work through it, a loving voice to cheer them on, and the gentle promise that they’ll feel better soon.
I admit that I don’t have all the answers when it comes to colic. But I do have AN answer. An answer I couldn’t find anywhere else when I was so desperately looking. And that answer is, colic is your baby’s way of healing and it should be allowed, honored and trusted. If you and your baby are dealing with colic, maybe that’s your answer. Or maybe your baby did come all this way to tell you to give up dairy. Only YOU know. Be silent, go inside, and see what resonates. Trust yourself, trust your baby, and trust that you’ll all come out more WHOLLY beautiful on the other side. ♥
P.S. No matter what, going through colic is not easy. Please be sure to take care of yourself. My way of taking care of myself was to go for a run every other day. It was my way of “shaking it off.” As I told my hubby back then, “I either yell, cry, or go run.” Needless to say, he was very supportive of my running. My runs provided me the energy, endorphins, and endurance I needed to deal with a baby who cried all. day. long.
P.P.S. I’m also going to give you permission to ignore the advice that says colic last for 3 months. When you’re in the thick of it, it is NOT comforting to know that it will be over seven fucking weeks from now. I gave myself permission to ignore that “fact” and my baby Kai’s colic stopped after 19 days. He did cry all. day. long. so I believe he was “fast-tracking it” and perhaps got 3 months worth of crying done in 19 days. Who knows why it didn’t last that long, but I like to believe it’s because I offered a safe place of ALLOWING. Give it a try and get back to me.
P.P.P.S. If you are going through colic, I need to give you some great big hugs and lots of love. I know how difficult it is and I also know what a FANTASTIC mother you are. You are a BEAUTIFUL mother and your baby thinks so too.
Read my 4-part Series “Adventures in Colic:”