A Colic Update and FAQ's | Olive and Tate

A Colic Update and FAQ's


I've been thinking about how to write this post for a few weeks now and have even started it a few times but honestly, the emotions and thoughts that come up when I think about our months of colic are hard to process and I just haven't had the right words. I'm not even sure that the words below are the right words but I've written about the end of our colic journey (and it's aftermath) anyway. It became clear to me as I wrote this post that I hadn't really dealt with the impact colic had on me as a mother, wife and friend until now, so bear with me as I sort through it, stream of consciousness style.

I was telling someone about Georgia's birth the other day and it occurred to me that she came into this world screaming. She cried so much in the OR that our surgical team made cracks about her healthy lungs and being displeased with her new accommodations outside of my bump. Little did I know, a few months later, I would be standing in front of another set of doctors, begging them to do whatever it took to get her to stop crying.

Our sweet girl spent six long months battling colic. We began our journey assuming silent reflux, then battled food sensitivities and digestive issues only to find ourselves out of options and with no answers. When it became clear we were dealing with colic, we stopped trying to "fix" our second born and started trying to survive it, as a family. There were days that I can't remember, days that I remember all too well, so many tears and more time lost than I care to think about. 

Six months. 

Six months of colic. We honestly thought it would never end, that she would never be happy, that our family would never be happy again. Our lives revolved around colic, around her "witching hours" and her many nightly wake ups. Our son's school was worried about how tired he was during the day, my husband struggled to walk through our door and I was just trying to get through to the other side.

Without warning and without any changes made, the colic started to ease and the days started to get less dramatic. I was skeptical after so many months of crying and discontent, I just couldn't let myself believe we might really be seeing a change. But just like everyone who has battled colic knows, she did eventually just grow out of it. No magic pill, no perfect solution, no easy fix, it turned out that time really was the answer.

During month six, we started to see more frequent smiles and giggles, the hours of crying went down to an hour or so and then could be measured in minutes. And finally, at seven months old, she started sleeping through the night. That was the turning point. We found ourselves with a new baby on our hands and, honestly, we weren't quite sure what to do with her. The first time she sat alone and played with a toy, I took photos and videos of her like she was taking her first steps - I had honestly just never seen her be....content. 

I would never have dared to dream it but Georgia is now a completely normal nine month old. She has no lasting repercussions of colic, of course will never remember it, and has an incredibly sweet disposition. She sleeps 10-12 hours a night (making up for the first seven months, as one does) and truly goes with the flow. If your baby has colic, I promise you that what they say is true: she will grow out of it. It is the most frustrating response any parent can hear because that means you simply cannot change it, but one day you'll realize that, somehow, someway, your baby made it through.

The effects of colic have thankfully left Georgia unscathed but they certainly left their mark on me. To this day, when Georgia cries, my entire body tenses up. I have to remind myself that she is better now and a single cry simply means she's hungry or wet, and isn't the trigger warning for hours of red faced wailing that will bring me to my knees. When she's happy, I think about how blessed we are, how much I wish I had known that little girl for the first 7 months of her life, and how sad I am that her little personality was trapped underneath all of that colic horribleness. 

Truthfully, when I think about colic and the months we lost trying to just survive it, I get really angry. I feel entirely cheated out of our last baby's infant-hood. I was so ready to enjoy having a fresh babe this time around, I felt so much more confident in my own skills and knowledge about mothering a baby that I knew I would be able to worry less and soak in more. And because of colic, I lost that time. Time I'll never get back, an experience I'll never get to have again and I am heartbroken over it. 

Colic challenged us in every single way I can think of and in ways I never wanted to be challenged.  Colic caused me to questions my abilities as a mother, my stamina, my patience, my love - after all, I couldn't soothe my own baby, I couldn't comfort her, calm her, reassure her that I would keep her safe. Colic challenged our marriage, our relationship as husband and wife and our relationship as two equal parents who just didn't know what to do to make our baby better or to restore some semblance of calm to our household. Colic challenged our friendships - we couldn't leave her with a sitter, didn't take her out in public, didn't travel with her and could hardly tolerate being around other babies that were happy and relaxed. And hardest of all for me, colic challenged our sweet boy, who asked for none of this, but taught us the most. Gray is Georgia's biggest fan, always soothing her, telling strangers "it's ok, babies just cry sometimes!", brining her toys and pacis and understanding when Mommy could only handle Georgia from time to time. 

But, here we are, at 9 months old and the clouds have parted. Our girl is healthy and happy, growing like a weed, crawling, eating everything in sight, laughing, clapping and kissing up a storm. She loves her Daddy most, thinks her brother is the funniest and gets super mad when I let her run out of food. She's proven to be a so-so napper and a great sleeper at night and she hates to be left out of any fun. She completes our family and we truly hope she knows how much she's loved.

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Here are some in-depth answers to the questions I am most often asked about our dark days with Colic. 

Obviously, I am not a doctor, cannot give you advice or guidance on what to do with your own baby and am just recounting our specific journey - please consult your physician with any questions.  

On Bottles: 
In my experience, there isn't a magic bottle for colic. Colic isn't something that can be fixed by a bottle, sadly, and any bottle that is claiming to make colic better or reduce colic symptoms is most likely referring to a design meant to reduce gas. We tried 5 different bottle brands with Georgia and settled on the Comotomo bottles when things were really high impact in colic-ville. Once things settled out a bit, we started to mix in the classic Gerber bottles recommended by Mom's On Call - we used them with Gray and loved them and have been pleased this time as well (and also, they are cheap, cheap, cheap, which off sets the Comotomo's stunning price point). 

On Colic Criteria:
Colic is classified as a minimum of three hours of unexplained crying a day (via the Mayo Clinic, source) - unexplained meaning baby is not hungry, wet, dirty, cold, hot, sick, teething, gassy or being poked by their sibling. So, you add regular baby crying for needs and communication to a minimum of three additional hours of unexplained and unstoppable crying and you get Colic. Sometimes I get messages that say something like "I think my baby has colic, how do I know?" and my honest response, after saying to ask your pedi, is to liken it to a UTI. If you've had one, you most definitely know. If you think you might have had one, but you aren't sure, I'm gonna guess you didn't have one. 

On How We Knew:
There is some conversation that colic is not a real thing - not a real "diagnosis" - in fact, we saw three different pediatricians in our practice to attempt to make Georgia a happier babe and two diagnosed her with colic and one said she thought it was all related to her food intolerances. The problem is this: we tried many (I think six in total) different formulas to remove foods and proteins that she is sensitive to, landing on Nutramigen, which we are still on. If the colic symptoms were all food intolerance related, we would have seen a massive shift in her hours of crying within days - and the same for when we introduced Zantac in a very early attempt to eliminate any silent reflux she may be experiencing. Sadly for Georgia (and us), that wasn't the case. After that, we officially settled on Colic as our culprit. For those wondering, we had to eliminate milk protein, soy and are now eliminating sweet potatoes and potatoes from Georgia's diet. Girl eats a ton of fruits and lean proteins, which she thankfully loves. 

On "what's wrong with her":
Nothing. Well, nothing that can be fixed or solved. And we tried it all - probiotics, baby wearing, swings, special pacifiers, crib wedges, vibrating mattresses, white noise, heart beats, vented bottles, wide flow nipples, swaddles, wombies, medication, doctors and prayers. She just has colic. 

You can read more about our experience with colic here and here

5 comments

  1. Glad you are on the other side of colic. Georgia's birth sounds exactly like my sons. He came out screaming bloody murder. Then as we were leaving the hospital, the nurses stopped us because they thought he was pinched in his car seat. When he wasn't they wished us luck.

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  2. We are 3 months in with colic and everything you said is so us! I am praying my way to 6 months. Colic is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. Not being able to comfort your baby has to be the worst feeling

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  3. Thanks for sharing! My son had colic and reading articles like this really helped me get through those tough times. Knowing I wasn't the only one, that nothing was "wrong," and that I will get to the other side of it. I will say that going through it made me a thicker-skinned mom in general. I still have friends who flip out if their kids cry longer than a minute or two. I am just sitting there poppin the popcorn.

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  4. I'm just so sorry for you. I have regrets about my daughter's infancy, which I found hard to enjoy (she didn't have colic, but she just cried a lot, witching hours, wouldn't nap longer than 20 minutes to give me a break. And I was struggling with breastfeeding and dealing with some PPD as well). We only plan to have one child and sometimes I think 'well, maybe we'll have one more. I could do better the next time around.' I know that's not the answer; and I still only really WANT one child. It's just taken me a lot of time to let go of the guilt and regrets I have of not enjoying her enough those first 7-8 months. I totally get that you're pissed about the situation and sad and maybe resentful. What's helped me is to think about it like this: I would say "She's only X months old. There's STILL time to enjoy her! Years in fact!" And I think having that perspective has helped me let go of a lot of that guilt. But it's not easy. Give yourself some time to mourn the idyllic time that you didn't really get and then try to give yourself some grace. You're a great mom and Georgia and Gray are happy, healthy kiddos who love you.

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  5. Oh I read this post with tears in my eyes. My daughter is 18 months old and this is her. Except she did have reflect and gas pains. Still no matter what I tried, she had to outgrow it. She didn't sleep through the night until she was 10 months old and falls into bad sleep habits quickly since she had to be held to sleep for so many months. Even at 18 months old, she is very needy and wants to be held a lot. Maybe that would be her personality anyway or maybe it was the months of being held while we tried to comfort her. She also has an almost 3 year old brother and I often think about the impact it's had on him. He was only 16 months old when she was born! The sheer amount of hours I've had to put him in front of the tv so I could get his sister to sleep is enough to make my mom guilt soar. It is without a doubt the hardest period in my life so far. Thank you for sharing your story.

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