Updated: Jul 20
Peace and War
Dylan (not his real name), my second baby, didn’t cry for the first four days following birth: not when they pulled him out, not when they clipped the cord, not when the nurses gave him his first bath, nor when he was immunized nor punctured for blood. He quietly gurgled during changes and rooted his way to my chest for feedings, but never even whimpered.
I resent myself for not running to Dylan when I heard his first terrorized screams, gaining momentum in pitch and decibels as he was transported back up the hall to our postpartum room. His pediatrician, Dr. Lim, had encouraged me to rest during his circumcision and insisted that he “would only feel it for a brief moment.” But the genital mutilation to which I subjected Dylan awoke the slumbering beast within him. (Side bar: there is an upcoming post related to circumcisions and, yes, I realize that I fucked up on this one. I will never forgive myself if that makes you feel better.)
It seemed he never quit screaming after that procedure, after that day, week, month… Each time his screams initiated that biological fight-or-flight surge of chemicals to which my body had already been subjected countless times. I chose to "fight," for him and through my self-loathing for what I had done to him. In that fight, I spent hours of each day frantically attempting to settle what felt like rapidly progressing and never-ending emergencies.
In my maternity leave, I found that I was the executive producer of the family, responsible for it all. The breast feeding, diaper changing, food prepping, toddler wrangling, toy orchestrating, pediatrician visiting, baby and toddler bathing, this was all IN ADDITION to the regular stuff we gotta do: the laundry, the cleaning, paying of bills, emptying of trash, maintaining the lawn, gassing up and cleaning the car, fixing the shit that breaks in houses... Oh my lord, does the list go on. (Feel free, by the way, to read in my last blog post about how all this must be done with an infant hanging on one nipple while playing "tune-in_Tokyo" with the other.)
Unfortunately, this show that I was producing was an utter chaotic disaster. My nerves were raw and exposed to all elements, repeatedly getting scorched by the relentless screaming, the screaming that became increasingly unsettled, angry, persistent and piercing, hour after hour, day after day.
I thought I was prepared for the challenges of parenting two and for multitasking all the stuff; but, no one can ever truly prepare for the torture of hearing someone you love so intensely suffering as life marches forward.
Yes, I consulted with doctors regularly, almost obsessively. First they called it colic. Then the experts suspected gas. Next the doctors insisted it was acid refulx. And finally, they saddled me with the guilt of saying that I had conditioned within him a truly manipulative behavioral problem.
Remember Those Unsustainable Chemical Highs?
As the months of torture persisted, my self-hatred, guilt, and mourning for that baby-born-at-peace grew and grew. His colic became the background music first for my sadness, weeks later my depression, months later my severe post partum depression, and by a year, my death.
The sweet, innocent, patient (and naïve) woman who entered matrimony and motherhood was laid to rest sometime that year. What stands in her place is a woman who was strengthened but also scorned and jaded.
Caveat before I say this next part. I know; I know. I need to "put my oxygen mask on first in order to help them." I get it and have been in counseling and therapy for years. But, I like to keep it real... so here it is.
I still have a depth of love for these children that you could never possibly imagine unless you have your own. But the true love for myself will never recover. I don't have the time to truly love myself anymore. It's all about the kids.
What's My Point of Burdening YOU with This Story?
There's no going back for me. I lost friends because I was acting like a lunatic. I aged rapidly and gained substantial weight. I suffered irreversible psychological damage. And worst of all, I probably messed up my kids because of my manic attempts to handle the stress.
You, on the other hand, might glean important insight from this Villager's failures as a mom.
Help For Colic
As a mother of a colicky baby, it can be a challenging and stressful experience. However, it's important to remember that, typically, colic is a common and temporary condition that affects many infants. Here are some tips that might help you and your baby during this time:
1) Keep a routine: Maintaining a consistent routine for feedings, naps, and bedtime can help reduce stress for both you and your baby. This also helps them feel more secure and comforted.
2) Swaddle and rock: Swaddling your baby snugly and gently rocking them can help soothe them and reduce their distress. Check out one of my favorite baby gurus, Dr. Harvey Karp and his 5 S's).
3) Turn on White noise!!!: Colicky babies find white noise, such as the sound of a hair dryer or vacuum, soothing. You can also use a white noise machine specifically designed for infants. This one is the best-of-the-best and will be ESSENTIAL in calming that fussy baby. (note that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases).
I LOVE this one (click the pic) because it doesn't have a digital sound like so many others and doesn't loop. The sound is smooth and knocks that baby into a zone.
4) Take breaks: Caring for a colicky baby can be exhausting, so it's important to take breaks for your own mental and physical health. Ask for help from family or friends, or simply step outside for some fresh air.
5) Try different soothing techniques: Every baby is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Experiment with different techniques such as baby massage, using a baby carrier, or taking a walk to find what works best for your baby.
It's also important to seek support from your partner, family, and friends.
Additionally, don't hesitate to speak with your baby's doctor if you're feeling overwhelmed or if your baby's symptoms persist. They may be nicer to you then they were to me.
Remember that this is a temporary phase, and with time and patience, your baby WILL grow out of it. YOU GOT THIS!!!
Help For YOU if you are Suffering
If you or someone you know is suffering from severe postpartum depression, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible. This is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a person's well-being, and the earlier it is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Here are some steps you can take if you are struggling with postpartum depression:
Reach out for support: Talk to your partner, family members, or friends about what you're going through. You don't have to go through this alone.
Contact a mental health professional: A therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist can help you manage your symptoms and develop a treatment plan.
Practice self-care: Take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, eating well, and engaging in physical activity. It's also important to take time for yourself and do things that bring you joy.
Consider medication (Tom Cruise can SUCK it): Antidepressants and other medications can be effective in treating postpartum depression. Your doctor can help you determine if this is a good option for you.
It's also important to be aware of postpartum psychosis, which is a rare but serious condition that can occur after childbirth. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include severe confusion, hallucinations, delusions, and manic behavior. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's critical to seek medical help immediately.
Remember that postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are treatable, and with the right support and care, you can make a full recovery.
Did I Ever Discover the Problem?
If you're curious as to why Dylan was in so much discomfort, stay tuned for my next post. We did determine the cause and still work fervently to provide for him peace and reprieve. Hint:
Want to hear more self-deprecating stories?
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