You get thrown pretty much into the deep end filled with sharks when you have a baby. It is the most rewarding yet scariest time of your life and I had no idea what I was doing. Was I holding him right? Winding him right? Feeding him right? Bathing him right?
There are so many questions that you have, and to be honest I am still learning six months later. There is never a right or wrong answer because every baby is different. I found myself comparing other babies to mine and wondering why I was finding it so hard when others made it so easy. We all come across the mums who love to tell you how well their child is doing and that they sleep through the night and this is the last thing you want to hear.
You get given the pep talk about the first few weeks and what to look out for by the health visitor. Ernest was such a quiet little baby when he first came into this world but I think all the antibiotics had something to do with that. As soon as we finally got home and settled into life as a foursome (cat included) it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be easy.
When we came home from hospital my husband needed to be the cement that held us all together. He made sure that on the first night he stayed up with Ernest and did the feeds so i could get some rest. After having a C Section you are limited to what you can do and I was unable to drive for six weeks with mobility vastly slowed. Although I actually coped better than I thought I would, I still pushed myself a little too much at times. He definitely made sure that we were all fed and the house was clean and I’m so grateful for that. I’ve literally never eaten so well.
Obviously now we are a few months in those homemade cakes, poached eggs for breakfast and hearty suppers have somewhat dwindled. Ill be lucky if I get a Pot Noodle sandwich (don’t knock it until you try it) out of him now! Ernest was initially a dream and fed well. He would usually feed every couple of hours but you never truly have enough time to take 5. I didn’t know real tiredness until I’d had a baby. I wouldn’t think anything of going on a night out, getting in at 4am and then heading to work for 7am once upon a time, but this parenting lark was draining. I was physically and mentally stumped and I couldn’t quite pull it back.
Ernest started getting more vocal after only a few days at home and although I just put it down to the medicine he’d had was wearing off, it started to become a more regular pattern. I didn’t think in a million years after what we went through in the hospital, that it could get any worse, but it did! All the signs were there but we really didn’t want to face up to it! Colic. Or so we were told.
Initially throughout the day he was perfect. You would hear the odd moan here and there for food but nothing quite like the whaling we got in the evenings. It was almost like a switch had been flipped and our placid little baby became an altogether different child. It broke my heart. As soon as the clock struck 6pm witching hour(s) would begin. He would literally scream to the point where he was so red in the face that he almost wasn’t breathing. We would try everything that we could to sooth him but nothing was working.
Then when he did eventually go to sleep in between feeds he would groan and thrash really loudly in his crib. We couldn’t get any sleep as it constantly woke us up, my husband resorted to putting ear plugs in. He tried to shamefully hide this from me as he thought I would be mad with him. I was a little shocked but actually I understood why. I personally wouldn’t have been able to relax if I couldn’t hear him though. I took Ernest to the doctors about it and the first thing she said was “are you a first time mum?” in a patronising voice. She then continued to baby talk to Ernest “oh are you worrying your mummy unnecessarily with your grunting”. She told me it was completely normal and sent me on my way. I actually look back now and think, how did i ever cope with all this shite?
My husband really struggled with the crying and he had to just walk away a lot. I would feel a mix of emotions from sadness to anger to hysteria. In those moments I felt so alone. I had to be strong and hold it together for the two of us. I couldn’t show that it was absolutely breaking me to the point where I actually wanted to just throw Ernest down and walk out the door or im ashamed to admit it, against the wall. At the time I wasn’t thinking about how he must have been feeling and that he didn’t have a voice or the ability to just make it all better. I was the one who had to try and rock him and sooth him until the fighting resulted eventually in exhaustion.
We went from all eating dinner together as a family to relay eating at best. I felt as though I was the one having to ease the unnecessary pain our child was in. It definitely put a strain on our relationship and at times I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and say “will you just take your baby for christ sake”. Instead I stood in a different room crying with my baby, alone.
I didn’t really think that it would have affected my husband so much but it did. He doesn’t like to talk about the birth because seeing me in pain and completely vacant for hours had left him feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I would get mad because I felt like I was the only one tackling the situation “because I coped better”. I didn’t cope better. I dreaded waking up in the morning knowing that another day meant another struggle. It wasn’t just the nights that we had to deal with, Ernest also started to scream in the mornings too.
My husband told me one day that he thought he was cracking up. He was close to tears and I just shut him down. I gave him zero sympathy as in my mind I was the one night in, night out rocking our baby. He was nowhere to be found. How could he possibly be cracking up? I should’ve been cracking up. I just couldn’t get my head around it. He wanted me to tell him it would all be ok and that I understood he was feeling the strain. I just couldn’t muster those words from deep inside. I needed him to tell me that. The best I could do was “well he’s here now, so there’s not a lot we can do about it”.
Everyone has their own coping mechanism and mine was to go straight on the defensive. I wanted this baby more than him so I almost felt responsible for the upset caused. I was scared he would throw it all back in my face but he never did.
I think we were both so tired that it all got slightly overwhelming. You will always take out your frustrations on the person closest to you and that’s what we did. I appreciate now that the crying to my husband was a constant reminder of being helpless in a stressful situation. He couldn’t help me when I was in labour and he couldn’t help Ernest and that really cut him deep.
I know everyone has their way of dealing with crying babies, some leave them to cry it out, others do controlled crying and then the people like me who couldn’t bare to leave him crying. I knew that there was nothing I could have done so I just held him until he calmed down. Sometimes this would be for hours.
There was no chance that a sleep pattern was being put in place at this point as some nights he wouldn’t drift off until 11pm.
We discussed the concerns we were having with the health visitor and she was convinced that Ernest had Colic. If you were to list all the symptoms he would be an A* pupil. Oh but its ok, you only have to endure it for three months, no biggie! We tried him on Comfort milk and initially it did seem to ease for a couple of days but then it just got worse. I decided to return him to his original milk as I didn’t want to keep changing it for fear it would just make everything more unpleasant for him.
We essentially became prisoners in our own home and barely left for milk let alone a stroll to the park, as we couldn’t be sure how Ernest would react in public.
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all terrible and we did have great times in amongst the chaos. No one can prepare you for the hardship you face with or without a crying baby. Its stressful, tiring and blooming life changing. If anyone says that they sailed through the first few weeks of motherhood then I take my hat off to them. You’re a better person than me. I feel for anyone who has the agonising task of dealing with uncontrollable crying.
We weren’t giving up though and we tried everything that we could after I spent hours and hours on forums and websites. Every type of colic medicine was purchased and tested out, we tried baby massage every night and I even contemplated cranial osteopathy but my husband thought it was a ridiculous idea. If it meant that our baby would stop crying and we finally got some sleep then why not?
He started to improve and then we would be back at square one all over again. I noticed that he was always bringing up acid and hiccupping very violently so I did what every concerned mother would do. I googled it. I kept seeing lots of search results about reflux and how it is commonly misdiagnosed as Colic. I was utterly convinced now that Ernest had Reflux all along, but the silent type. I took him to the doctors the next day and we haven’t looked back.
They agreed and gave him the medicine he needed. It took over two months to get to that point and a lot of heartache but through sheer perseverance we now have a happy baby. He has literally done a complete 360. So don’t give up. Take any support that’s offered and don’t feel silly for making suggestions to your health visitor or doctor. They too can get it wrong sometimes. The grunting that my boy was making was due to the acid burning his throat not because it was a normal new born sound. He still needs to be monitored and we have to deal with a whole lot of sick on a daily basis but it doesn’t bother him anymore.
I do feel awful that I hadn’t figured it out sooner as we could have avoided the pain that he went through. Its all worth it now though to see him wake up with a beaming smile on his face everyday. And that’s what matters.