There are so many things that can get a new mom down. “Am I breastfeeding right?” “Is my baby getting enough milk?” “Why is she crying?” “Will I ever like my body again?” etc., etc. Well, new mom meet colic, colic meet new mom …
Colic is a surefire way to get a mom down – frustrated, doubting herself, and feeling all around incompetent.
I remember thinking around three weeks of age that Liron would have a fussy day here and there, and I wasn’t sure why. Those fussy days repeated themselves, consistently, over and over again, like that hilariously repetitive Groundhog Day movie.
I suddenly went from “insta-mom” in the words of my beloved friend Erica (as in, I had a baby, and poof! Instantly I knew what to do!) to the mom who couldn’t get out the damn door – any time of day.
I adopted a “set the bar low” type of strategy. I purchased myself a gift card at The Buttery – the coffee shop on my block. Literally, on my block. If I made it out of the house that day with Liron and got myself a chai latte or whatever else, it was a success. Setting small, attainable goals helped me feel that despite the difficulties of having a colicky baby, I was making strides, getting out of the house, and doing something for me, and Liron. And Sasha, upon hearing of my excursions would throw in his full support. “You went to The Buttery, great!” He made me feel heroic. That helped.
How the hell else did I get through colic? Here are just a few reasons…. Reasons who happen to be people.
Jenna: During our colicky days Jenna quickly found herself without a job, and for some reason, she wanted to spend a lot of time with me and Liron. Really? Even I didn’t want to spend time with us. (Well, her loss, our gain!) Liron and I were both so cranky and tired but Jenna offered to come over time and time again. At first I kind of pushed her off. I was too embarrassed for her to come over and see the apartment messy, or me unshowered. But she persisted, respectfully. One time Jenna started washing dishes. I told her she didn’t have to. I didn’t want her to feel obligated. But she kept washing until every last dish was cleaned. And I felt relief. Clean dishes! Just because! Seriously, it was like this gingered young lady who hadn’t yet been married, hadn’t yet had kids, just GOT it. I felt embraced. Really, it was a warm hug if I ever had one.
Niva: Like Jenna, Niva is just an awesome young lady who hasn’t yet experienced the joys of marriage and children. She has a strong background academically and hands-on as a nanny and childcare provider so she “gets” kids more than their parents do. (Fire your nanny? Oh no… Niva has been known to fire a family for poor parenting practices.) Niva was the FIRST non-relative to babysit Liron, at my 6-week checkup to be exact. I didn’t hesitate for a second to leave Liron with Niva. I knew she was in great hands.
And speaking of hands … when I returned from my OB checkup Niva was beating Liron ever so lovingly on her back. I say ever so lovingly because dear reader I don’t want to worry you. What looked really rough to me and Sasha was actually offering Liron a huge sense of relief. Girlfriend looked so happy! If colic is truly caused by gas, or at least in part, then Niva’s back (um, massage?) was really helping her out. Liron had such a smile on her face. Niva taught me a lot that day – and many other days to follow.
Isis Moms: I need to work on my cynicism sometimes. I didn’t make the final decision to join a new moms group until Liron was about two-weeks old, nearly missing the minimal age inclusion. I worried this class would be corny, lame. And looking back, you can only use those words to describe my ATTITUDE! At first.
The class was called “Great Beginnings.” I joked it was not a great beginning because I could not get to class on time. Ever. In fact, it took me much longer to learn all the moms’ and kids’ names because each week I missed introductions. I was uncomfortable in my new mom skin I guess. I wasn’t ready to “shed one identity for another.” Good thing I never needed to.
What quickly started off as a cynical social experiment became my lifeline. I’m not joking kids. Within the walls of this class you could cry (and I think all of us did at some point) – without any judgement or discomfort you could pull out a boob or two, change a poopy diaper, share frustrations, ask questions – really anything. It was a well-run, coordinated free-for-all. Not only did we meet once a week, we emailed each other, and often meet-ups were coordinated. Getting to this class became the next goal (that is, after the goal of getting to The Buttery.) I would sooner run businesspeople down with my stroller than miss class (pardon me, I did. that is, I did run people down. shamelessly. if only they knew, they’d understand!)
The Isis moms supported one another unconditionally. I still keep in touch with many of them and I so appreciate the support, friendship, and advice they’ve given me over the years.
Being in a class full of other kids who often set quietly through class, slept, or were just calmer, it was clear that Liron’s fussiness wasn’t the “norm.” I recall specific examples where a mom or the class leader acknowledged Liron’s crying (and constant need to be bounced up and down on that damn yoga ball) and told me how well I handled it. They noted my sense of humor, my patience. Sasha supported me too of course, but without being in a room full of other kids and noting the difference in behavior, he thought Liron’s colic was more or less “normal,” even getting frustrated with me because he thought I was picking on her. That was then.
When colic passes, man, you appreciate it. Just sitting down to dinner together without one person bouncing the screamer vigorously while the other person wolfs down food, is major. Sasha told me he used to come up the elevator from work and every day pray he wouldn’t hear crying, but every day he did. What a heart breaker, huh? Well, I’m happy to say that about three years ago to the day this ended. Now when Sasha opens the door Liron runs to him (unless she’s too engrossed in Barney) and hugs him and greets him and demands he play guitar, or a similar request. It is all joy, no tears.
Sometimes when I’m out in public I hope to sit next to a new mom at a coffee shop who happens to have a colicky baby. Really I do. I want to quickly prove my sanity, sanitize my hands, and hold her baby. Just while she drinks her chai latte. I want to tell her I’ve been in her seat. And it sucks. Then it ends. Got a colicky baby? Hand ’em over. I want to hold him.