For Christmas this year, I asked my husband for a trip to our dermatologist and a “grown up” skincare routine. As a 34 year old mom of two, I’m not exactly a “spring chicken” as some would say. And while I am happier and more content with my appearance than ever, I do think a good skincare routine is essential for any woman.
Please note that this blog does contain affiliate links for which I may receive a commission if you choose to purchase.
Before getting into my routine, I want to strongly encourage you to see your dermatologist for specific recommendations for your skin type. If you are pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to consult with your OBGYN provider.
I scheduled an appointment with my local dermatologist to discuss my concerns. I would also highly recommend scheduling an annual skin check!
My skin is dry, sensitive and I also have rosacea. I have not experienced a rosacea flare up in almost a year but the last one was really bad and involved my eye and eyelid. Avoiding most alcohol (especially wine) and sun exposure along with being careful about skincare products is essential for me. My other concerns aside from rosacea are fine lines, anti-aging and improving the overall texture.
She did a thorough examination of my skin and made some recommendations.
My new routine includes retinol and my doctor was sure to warn me about the “retinization” process that takes about 6 weeks – that is, red, flaky and irritated skin. But no worries, she also provided some suggestions for less irritation by suggestions for makeup removal and applying the retinol every third night initially with a thick, lipid rich moisturizer.
Now, I realize this brand of Vitamin C is very expensive and it is with good reason. I encourage you to research the stability of Vitamin C. It is a very difficult product to formulate and this particular brand comes with clinical studies demonstrating its efficacy. Here is an excellent blog post by a board certified dermatologist and scientist with great information about Vitamin C so you don’t end up wasting your money!
Weird side note about the Vitamin C – it smells like ham to me. I’ve asked a few others who have also had a similar response that it smells like deli meat, ham or bacon. Not the most pleasant but hey, the results are great!
Step 3: Apply broad spectrum sunscreen
You don’t need to be as particular with the brand on this step however, I like this brand for my very sensitive skin as I don’t find it to be irritating.
Throughout the day if I am out and about I apply this powder sunscreen by Tarte $34.
Step 1: Remove makeup with oil based cleanser. I am using green clean by farmacy. This is a makeup removing balm that leaves your skin nourished instead of dry and stripped. I also really like oil obsessed cleanser by bare minerals and may return to that in the future.
I love this cream. According to my dermatologist, fatty acids help repair skin cells while cholesterol and ceramides help to plump the skin and provide a barrier. While this cream is very heavy, it isn’t sticky and melts into the skin. It has a pleasant, light, fresh fragrance.
Another favorite, super thick cream that I’ve been using for over 5 years is Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream. This cream is about 1/3 price of the SkinCeuticals triple lipid restore cream. I may still go back to using this cream perhaps alternating with the triple lipid restore to save some money. The triple lipid restore was a Christmas gift so a bit of a splurge.
I opted for a lower percentage of retinol as my skin adjusts to this new routine. Currently, I am using retinol every other night but when I first began I was using retinol every third night. The goal is to use retinol nightly once my skin is more tolerable of it.
Speak to your dermatologist to determine if retinol is right for you. Retinol should never be used when pregnant. It is minimally absorbed into the bloodstream and very, very minimally excreted into breastmilk so my doctor and I am okay with using this while nursing.
This eye cream apparently uses growth factors to decrease fine lines to the delicate undereye skin are. It also contains caffeine that decreases puffiness so I have also used this in the morning. Admittedly, I have never been good with consistently using an eye cream and find most eye creams or serums to be incredibly irritating but this one I am really liking so far.
And there you have it! My first ever legitimate skincare routine. If you follow me on instagram I’ll be sharing updates on how the skincare routine is going. I’m still currently muddling through the redness and flakiness of the retinization phase but I’m beginning to notice major improvements in dryness already!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and may be inspired to get a skincare routine for yourself!
In an instant everything changed, yet nothing really changed at all. He’s still the same sweet, energetic, book-loving, bright, intensely curious boy as he was the moment before the three women, sitting cross-legged in our playroom, uttered those four words to me.
“High risk for autism.”
“It doesn’t mean he has autism but it is recommended he be evaluated for a possible diagnosis right away.” I was stunned and immediately defensive. The second woman chimed in, “he barely looked at you while playing patty cake – he mostly looked off to the side.” This comment was more than I could handle. How could she bring up such a joyful activity where my son literally laughs the entire time? Who cares where he’s looking? “Would you like to pursue treatment options?”, the third woman asked. The room felt like it was closing in, and I felt the blood draining quickly from my face.
Isla, my 10-week-old daughter began crying on her playmat. It had been a long, 2.5-hour evaluation and Everett, approaching lunch/naptime began pulling on my sleeve. The third woman commented on Isla’s wild and adorable hair; I could barely find words for a response. I needed them to leave my home immediately, so I politely explained it was naptime and that I’d sign the paperwork and be in touch soon.
Over the next three days, I felt more shock, anger and denial. My husband, too. We learned that moving through the stages of grief is very common for parents whose child receives an autism diagnosis. Everett doesn’t yet have a diagnosis; but as we’ve been learning more and more, we feel it’s very likely he soon will.
These hard days of parenthood we won’t soon forget – – sitting in front of the fireplace in the very early morning hours wondering what life will be like for this child who is so perfect to us. Crying the moment I close his bedroom door after nap or bedtime because it hits me the hardest when I’m alone in my own thoughts. Wondering how we missed the “red flags.” And, realizing now that some of his most endearing quirks most likely represent classic autism pathology.
Some of you who follow me may know that my husband is a doctor, his specialty is anesthesia and I am a former physician assistant in women’s health turned stay at home mom. How is it possible that two highly trained medical professionals could miss this?
It’s easy and it happens all the time to many parents. Our children are perfect in our eyes. We embrace and appreciate their endearing quirks. We don’t want anything to be wrong with them so there is a psychological advantage to protecting our minds from the possibility that something might be wrong with our children. We don’t want to see it.
Our only real concern for Everett was his lack of speech development which we brought up at his 18-month pediatric appointment. We were told not to worry; he’s probably just a late bloomer. Although that may still be true, since he hasn’t yet received a formal diagnosis of autism, we have since taken a crash course in autism spectrum disorder and have realized that Everett possesses a number of characteristics suggestive of ASD.
Lack of words & no two word phrases – Everett has a lack of meaningful words and no two word phrases. While he does have some vocabulary it is not quite up to the 50 words that would be expected at this time.
Pointing – we did not realize that this was such an important development and means of communication. Everett does not point to anything apart from some words and images in two particular books.
Response to name– We used to think he was just a toddler going about his own important business, but he does not look up in response to his name.
Calling us by name – He does not call us by name. He does babble ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ but not directed at us.
Interest in others – He is not very interested in his little sister which could be developmentally age-appropriate but also may be an indicator of ASD.
Repetitive behaviors – Everett exhibits some repetitive behaviors such as spinning, walking in circles or walking backwards. He also likes to view the world upside down at times.
Lining up toys or objects – Everett lines up his toys and other objects such as rocks or tupperware lids. We noticed early on that he would line things up according to size but were unaware that it could be a potential sign of autism.
We believe that like any child, Everett will have his strengths and weaknesses. We believe he is extremely bright and perhaps even gifted. Unbeknownst to us, Everett taught himself numbers, many shapes and some colors. His first word was “star” followed by “oval” and “circle.”
Right now we struggle with analyzing his every behavior through the lens of autism. Overnight our world view changed and what were endearing quirks yesterday leave us wondering “is that his autism?” today. It’s all so new and I have learned from other parents that eventually we won’t think about autism quite as much.
Right now we have more questions than answers. I’ve contacted every developmental pediatrics facility in a 75-mile radius and have completed more 15-page intake packets than I can count. This is just to be placed on a waiting list. Oh and how long is that list? 9-12 months!
But, like I told my husband, if there’s a will there’s a way when I’m involved. If there’s one thing I’m confident about it’s that my husband and I will find Everett the best resources to encourage his development. It is my mission. As it stands now he has an appointment with a developmental pediatrician in exactly 2 months. Until then I will continue calling every pediatric neurology, psychologist, psychiatrist and developmental pediatrician that I can find to see if an earlier evaluation is available.
We have coordinated services for developmental therapy through the county and are working on obtaining speech and occupational therapy. The waitlists can be shockingly long in some places for this type of therapy and private therapy can be prohibitively expensive (to the tune of over $100,000.00 per year out of pocket). Even with insurance we estimate costs to be well over several thousand dollars per month.
ABA or applied behavioral analysis is considered by some experts to be the gold standard of therapy for autism and other developmental disorders. Everett is currently on the waitlist for ABA therapy pending formal diagnosis and referral.
Early intervention is key with ASD. I’m learning that an ASD diagnosis is a good thing because it means we’re on the way to better understanding Everett’s world and finding better, more meaningful ways to be a part of it.
When I considered whether or not I would share this experience, I considered our isolating experience with colic and how I believe that loneliness and isolation contributed to the development of my depression. Obviously ASD is far, far, far more isolating and lonely than colic. As we traverse the stages of grief, I sense that depression is coming – only worsened by isolation. For me to be the best mother to this wonderful boy, I need support, and that means sharing our story in a way that will not negatively affect him or our family.
I share because I want to create community and decrease loneliness. But, I also want to learn as much as I can and spread awareness. I share because I know vaccines do not cause autism, and we need more parents advocating for research in other areas. If we keep beating a dead horse we’ll never discover new information about the disorder. I share because I don’t want any parent to feel shame around this diagnosis. I share because I personally want access to every possible resource that could benefit my child.
If you are the parent of a child on the autism spectrum I would love to hear from you and about your experiences, any advice you have for us, favorite toys, books, education resources.
Isla’s birthday was delightfully unremarkable in the all the best ways. Of course the day of her birth will always be unique and special to us, but from a medical perspective it was as unremarkable as they come. And in the OBGYN world and to a laboring mom who has to birth a baby from her body, unremarkable is actually #goals. Nevertheless, it was one of the best days our family has had in a long time and a day I am more than happy to relive via this blog and photos.
Why Elective Induction?
Many people have asked me why we chose to pursue elective induction for both of my deliveries. The decision was two fold. Firstly, medical evidence from the ARRIVE trial, a large scale study comparing elective induction in healthy first time moms to expectant management (meaning left to spontaneously go into labor), showed that elective induction is not only safe but may be beneficial. The second part of our decision was based on planning around my husband’s schedule. His job as a physician anesthesiologist would likely not allow him to leave if I were to spontaneously go into labor while he is caring for a patient in the operating room. So for these reasons we opted for an elective induction.
By the time my 39 week induction day rolled around on September 20, 2019, my cervix was ready to go (this is great news for an induced labor!) If you follow me on instagram, you know via my instastories that I wasn’t sure I’d even make it to induction day. My husband happened to be working long hours and overnight shifts the last week of my pregnancy so, we crossed our fingers that I wouldn’t spontaneously go into labor and my mom came to stay with me just in case I did. And in the meantime, I continued to chase my toddler around while 5cm dilated and 90% effaced because #MomLife.
My induction was scheduled for 9/20/19 at 8 am, and the plan was that my husband would meet me there directly following his 17 hour overnight shift.
The Last Bedtime Routine.
At around 7 pm on 9/19/19, Everett and I ascended the stairs toward his bedroom for one last bedtime routine as my only baby. I had been feeling pretty nostalgic and melancholy about the whole “last night as my only baby” thing for the preceding weeks. As fate would have it, Everett was a much grumpier and overly tired version of his usual self that night. He wanted no part of playing with glow sticks in tub so we cut “the last bath” short. And after a poorly tolerated tooth brushing, we read a couple of “last bedtime stories” before he began some martial arts type maneuvers indicative of him being really done with the whole routine. I hoisted his flailing little body into the crib one last “only child” time and said, “Well, there will be other times, Everett. Good night. Mommy loves you.” And that was that.
I went to bed that night feeling at peace with welcoming a second baby. I was thankful that Everett’s crankiness lightened the mood and stopped me from lingering with the “last night, only child” thoughts.
No Room at the Inn.
The next morning I woke up at 5 am to shower and glamorize my look for the labor festivities. At 6 am, I called Labor & Delivery to ensure there was room on the unit. September is a notoriously busy time for L&D (the busiest, actually) and sure enough, this September morning was no exception. The charge nurse informed me that all the rooms were occupied by laboring moms, and they’d call me when/if something became available that day.
I thought that I’d be feeling way more stressed about this but I think God knew I needed a little more quality time with family.
The best day ever.
Instead of meeting me at the hospital, my husband came home after work. I read Everett a bunch of books that morning and sipped luxurious lattes with my mom from my beloved Espresso machine.
Everett and I did a little photoshoot with the tripod, and looking back now at these photos makes me so happy.
My whole family went out to breakfast that morning. My mom then took Everett back home for a nap while Jason and I strolled around downtown.
We got coffee at our favorite coffee shop, one of the places where we had engagement photos taken.
My husband upped his instagram-husband game and snapped a hot fire “pregnant lady in front of a bright door” pic. Wow…just wow!
We managed to pick up our car, that had been involved in an accident the week prior, from the body shop; and just as we were dropping off the rental car, Labor & Delivery called that a room was available. The car rental place was only 10 minutes from the hospital and boom, off we went.
It was pretty much a flawless morning.
We arrived at Labor & Delivery at approximately 3 pm and I changed into my boujee gown and propped up my matching pillow case. The nurse placed the IV and I requested the epidural with anesthesia prior to beginning the induction.
In my prior delivery, I went from 5cm to 10 cm in 45 minutes, after my water broke; and I wanted to make absolutely certain that I had the epidural in place AND FUNCTIONING prior to active labor. So, at around 5 pm, my husband’s colleague (and the same doctor who placed my epidural the first time around) placed my second epidural.
And let me tell you, it was a pretty flawless epidural.
Minutes later, the urinary catheter was in place and FINALLY after months and months of getting up to pee every 20 minutes, I could lay back and relax. The pitocin was started a few minutes later.
Jason and I settled in with some Great British Baking Show and watched the contractions become strong and regular on the monitor. At around 8 pm, my doctor performed an amniotomy (A.K.A – broke my water). I knew that our baby would be here really soon as I was fully dilated within 45 minutes of my water breaking with Everett.
Sure enough, transitional labor began and I complained to my husband that I could feel contractions and pain in my very lower belly. This is when it is super handy to be married to an anesthesiologist. He used an ice cube to determine if I had an area where the epidural wasn’t reaching.
He asked me to compare the sensation of the ice cube on my arm (full sensation) to areas on my stomach, thighs and then bottom of my feet. He determined there was an area on the bottom of my foot with sensation of cold and wet. By now though, I was fully dilated and it was time to push.
Naturally, a piece of unsolicited mommy advice. This IS a mom blog, after-all.
Request anesthesia (specifically) if your pain is not adequately controlled.
Labor & Delivery nurses are amazing – many are actual angels on earth but no matter how many years they’ve been a L & D nurse – they are not anesthesia experts and neither is your OBGYN (for the most part).
I say this not to brag on my own, personal, awesome-anesthesia-expert husband but to encourage you to be your own advocate. My husband is happy to troubleshoot epidurals for his patients, time permitting. He does not want women to unnecessarily be in pain if they don’t want to be and he does not want a patient to be told that nothing can be done if anesthesia hasn’t been consulted. This is not to say that epidurals always remove ALL pain but at least give your anesthesiologist the chance to evaluate you.
But, back to me, this is my labor & delivery blog, after-all. My husband insisted that we wait for anesthesia in spite of my (otherwise) wonderful nurse encouraging me to just push and deal with the pain. Given that the baby was doing fine on the monitor and there was no reason to start pushing just yet, I opted to go with my husband’s expert opinion and requested to wait for the anesthesia doctor to evaluate and manage my epidural. I’d had a second degree tear with my first delivery and wanted to make sure I felt as little of that as possible if I had one again. And I did.
Unfortunately as sometimes happens with anesthesia, the doctor & CRNAs were dealing with several emergencies and little old me fell a lot lower on the priority list. My husband knew what needed to be done, but was not there as my doctor. Luck was on my side that day, however, and just as the OB hoisted my legs into stirrups and cranked up those “show time” theater lights, the anesthesiologist came to the rescue!
I was given an extra dose of some medicine through the epidural, and sat upright for another 5-6 minutes to let it settle into the right spots. It was heaven. I could no longer feel any contractions in that specific area of my lower uterus, no perineal pressure and yeah, could no longer fully control my legs. But guess what? I could still push like a champ. I needed help holding my legs up to push but by looking at the monitor I could time my pushing just fine.
Approximately 9 pushes and 3-4 minutes later, Isla Mae was born at 9:12 pm, exactly 4 hours and 12 minutes after the start of the induction.
We had that beautiful golden hour of skin to skin, and she latched right away!
Our hospital automatically does delayed cord clamping, which has benefits of increasing iron and hemoglobin; along with skin to skin, which promotes breastfeeding and regulation of body temperature in the newborn. We requested to delay the bath as this helps baby to regulate their body temperature more easily, and the vernix caseosa (cheesy, waxy substance on baby skin) is beneficial in promoting breastfeeding along with reducing risk of infection.
After my legs finally worked again, my awesome, angel nurse helped me to the bathroom and into my beautiful, blush colored depends. She asked if I liked them better than the mesh underwear provided by the hospital and that she’d noted many women bringing their own depends. I put on my comfy Amazon button-up pajamas and settled into bed.
I was starving and so my husband decided to scour the physician lounge for snacks because by that time of the night, food wasn’t available. I NEEDED food. In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I was so famished. We ate a huge brunch before I arrived at the hospital so really, I only skipped dinner, and I can hardly even call my 4 hours of labor, “labor”.
My husband returned with a smorgasbord of sandwiches, Lorna Doone cookies, Oreos, granola bars and of course, the infamous peanut butter and graham crackers all hospital workers are very familiar with. I happily inhaled a bit of everything and guess what, no acid reflux for the first time in months! What joy.
This is why I recommend bringing snacks! If you deliver your baby after hours, you’ll be left to whatever the hospital vending machines offer.
The next day, my mom brought Everett to visit us in the hospital and he wasn’t too sure what to make of his little sister. In fact, he didn’t even really want to come near me or Jason, he mostly clung to my mom.
We didn’t push it and really haven’t pushed it since being home – we know he’ll come around on his own. I’m thankful my mom brought him up to the hospital because we were able to get a few family photos.
I decided to test the waters of “no reflux” a little more and we ordered sushi and pad thai to the hospital. Isn’t it amazing how so many pregnancy ailments just go away immediately with delivery?
Later that evening we ramped up the acidity level and ordered Chipotle, guac and all! No reflux. #LIVING
If you’re anything like me you strongly dislike staying in the hospital. Even with my own pillow, sound machine and own pajamas I struggle to get any sleep whatsoever while in the hospital. So, if you want to get out of the hospital ASAP I strongly suggest requesting early checkout immediately upon arriving. There are a lot of moving parts to discharge both you and the baby – remember that you’ll have doctors and nurses along with the baby so everyone needs to be informed of your desire to check out early. We learned this the hard way with Everett and found that notifying people early in your hospital stay provides the best opportunity for leaving quickly, assuming both mom and baby are doing well.
The earliest checkout allowed at our hospital is 24 hours after the baby is born and I believe this is fairly standard. A 24 hour interval is required between time of birth and newborn screening. Isla passed her newborn screening with the exception of her bilirubin level which was moderate to high risk for jaundice. However, the hospital pediatrician was comfortable with discharging her under the condition that we take Isla to the pediatrician first thing Monday morning and with clear guidance for monitoring her condition.
The following morning we introduced Isla to Everett once again. He was a bit more comfortable getting close to her but naturally was more interested in her knot baby turban. He personally thinks she looks better without it.
I’m finishing up this blog as Isla turns two weeks old, and as cliche as it sounds, she was a missing piece to our family that we didn’t even realize we needed. Everett taught me how to be a mom. With him I learned about a love so intense that my heart could actually burst. That love brought on profound worries and anxiety about doing everything right, protecting him, ensuring his safety and scarier thoughts like how would I ever go on if anything happened to him. Isla has taught me to relax those feelings of worry and anxiety a little bit, to let go and trust that I know what I’m doing now. I’m learning that I can’t always respond immediately to every whimper and cry, Everett has to wait for books or one-on-one time as I tend to Isla and sometimes both kids sit in a dirty diaper longer than 12 seconds these days.
We’re all still adjusting but so far so good.
Now if only I could get her to sleep for longer than 2 hour blocks… but, hey no colic so there’s that! I’ll take sleepless nights over colic any day!
In this post I’ll detail the specific items I’m packing with affiliate links to Amazon. I will receive a small commission if you purchase from these links! Thanks!
I will also post my checklist if you’d like to customize it for yourself!
Let’s talk clothes.
At some point during your hospital stay you’ll likely be in a hospital gown. If you prefer to labor in the nude, this is an option as well! The hospital will also provide you with a gown so bringing your own is entirely unnecessary. But, I’m extra and make no apologies for bringing my own!
I will be bringing 2 hospital gowns!
Check out my instagram highlight called “hospital gowns” for a review of the top rated hospital gowns and choose for yourself!
Here are my two favorites and what I’ll be packing for this deliver.
For the Baby Be Mine, I ordered the small-medium which is my usual pre-pregnancy size.
Post Delivery Outfit
Some women prefer to bring a robe and comfy lounge clothes. I brought a robe last time and did not use it because I was SO. HOT.
This time around I’ve opted for lounging around in a shorts/short sleeved button up pajama set I found on Amazon. I would recommend sizing up one size from pre-pregnancy for a comfy/roomier post partum fit.
I would size up in these pajamas for a roomier fit. I am typically a small and this is a size medium.
Going Home Outfit
I’ve personally seen some women strut out of Labor & Delivery looking like a million bucks. I once saw a woman wearing a red bandage style dress and you would NEVER believe she just had a baby if it weren’t sitting on top of her in a carseat.
I wanted this to be me and packed a cute going home outfit last time but left wearing maternity leggings and a zip up hoodie with sandals.
My feet were SWOLLEN. They could not even fit into Ugg boots.
So, this time, I’m opting for a pair of joggers, my favorite kindred bravely nursing bra and a nursing tee shirt from motherhood maternity with roomy sandals.
Order your normal size in the kindred bravely bra.
My plan for toiletries is to bring the minimum. I don’t plan to bring any hairstyling tools aside from a brush and dry shampoo. I’ll blow dry my hair in the morning before I’m due in to the hospital and then wear a shower cap for showering.
I packed my items in ziplock bags and separated by “like” items.
I kept all the items for showering together.
Shower Cap (I don’t plan to get hair wet at hospital)
Towel & Face cloth
Travel toothpaste & toothbrush
All makeup together with a mirror for applying in bed.
And all hair accessories together.
And last but definitely not least, Depends. I sent my husband out to purchase these while I was in the hospital last time because the mesh underwear weren’t cutting it. The mesh sags and doesn’t hold up the pad or ice pack but the Depends do!
So you won’t get bored, I suggest a laptop or iPad or kindle, etc… and extra long phone cords to reach any outlet from bed. Headphones are great if you and your partner watch separate things or you want to listen to an audio book or podcast. I also never sleep without a sound machine and we bring a Dohm Marpac sound machine anytime we travel. Hospital sleep is hard to come by so anything to help, I’d recommend bringing.
The boppy pillow comes in handy for nursing but also serves as a donut if you suffer a perineal tear during delivery, have hemorrhoids are just general soreness down below. You can sit on the pillow with the opening facing forward in the car or in bed.
Your own pillow & pillow case from home
Just because it’s more comfy.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Please comment below with what you’re bringing to the hospital!
“Have you tried swaddling him, all my kids loved that!”
“Try a bit of chamomile tea in his bottle.”
“Oh, wow! Swaddle my baby??!! What a novel idea! Why didn’t I think of that over the last 4 weeks of relentless crying?” I’d say inside my head, while outwardly smiling and nodding, holding back tears of fatigue and utter misery. Our son had colic and it was horrible.
Before I begin discussing the phases of coping with a colicky baby – let’s make sure we are all on the same page. I promise I won’t reference Webster’s dictionary, but some level of defining is necessary.
What is colic exactly?
There are no formal diagnostic criteria for colic. But in an effort to provide a “diagnosis,” many physicians and researchers use “the rule of 3’s.” If an infant is otherwise healthy, younger than 3 months of age, cries for greater than 3 hours per day for more than 3 days per week, it is presumed that the baby has colic. The diagnosis may often be made retrospectively – meaning after the crying has already run its course, which is completely unhelpful. So, there you have it…for all intents and purposes, colic is crying…lots and lots of crying!
Nothing. You do nothing. Pediatrician does nothing. The End.
Haha. Tricked you!
If you’re deep in the trenches of colic right now (and anything like me), you probably skimmed through the blog to the “treatment” section, lucky for you it’s right up top. I get it…you’re completely desperate and hoping someone has a magical solution that you haven’t already tried. This is a natural reaction. I’ve been there too.
But, that’s the very nature of colic. If something were actually wrong – it wouldn’t be colic – recall, this is an “otherwise healthy infant.” So, assuming you’ve had your baby checked out by a pediatrician and all is well (which is amazing and horrible news all at once), then you’re dealing with colic.
And so begins the first phase of colic.
You’d think that finding out nothing is wrong with your baby would be reassuring. In all honesty, you are incredibly lucky to have a healthy baby. Now that my baby has stopped crying and I can actually hear myself think, I can appreciate how true this is.
As it turns out, however; in the depths of colic, this information is the opposite of reassuring. It means that for the next 3-12 months, your baby is going to cry non-stop regardless of what you do. The toll this takes can be difficult to imagine for parents who haven’t experienced it. As a point of reference, recordings of babies crying have been used to train Navy SEALs to endure torture. It is possible that this is just a myth circulating in colic support groups, but having personally made it through colic, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s true.
Anyway, it is upon receiving the wonderful news that there is nothing wrong with your baby that the denial phase often begins.
“Not my baby. This can’t be colic. Have you seen the grimace on my baby’s face? Have you heard his cries?! He must be suffering! Someone has to do something!”
Now, I feel like here is where I should mention that my husband and I are in healthcare. He is a physician and I’m a physician assistant. We’re normally level-headed, strong believers in evidence-based medicine. We use reputable resources such as UpToDate, Pubmed and websites of professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for recommendations.
But when modern medicine failed to tell us what we wanted to hear, and the pervasive cries of our son penetrated our skulls deeply enough to jostle our brains up a bit – we turned to the second best place to get medical information – mommy blogs and Google.
So, there we were in “fringe medicine” territory – a place neither of us ever imagined going.
If you’re not familiar with “fringe medicine” – it is a term used to describe unproven treatment options. If you delve far enough into this territory you’ll find inhabitants such as anti-vaxxers, essential oil healers and Reiki masters.
And it is here where I learned to ignore my pediatrician’s advice (and disregard his 12 years of education plus fellowship in pediatric critical care) and join the hoards of desperate moms with crying babies who were cutting milk and soy out of their diets.
So for nearly 9 weeks I continued my charade of denial and choked down my morning coffee with the vile creation that is dairy free/soy free creamer, a milky water of sorts.
As it turns out, my son did not and does not have a milk protein allergy and dairy free/soy free creamer is truly the most vile substance in the dairy aisle.
Onto phase 2.
This phase is a real bummer.
Remember all the hopes and dreams you had while gestating that little colic monster for nine whole months?
Some of my fantasies included getting beautiful newborn photos. I imagined he’d have cute, little pursed lips, a smooshy face and wrinkly skin. I booked ours well in advance.
Other fantasies included strolling our fancy bassinet stroller downtown, perhaps stopping for some brunch, taking him out for a quick feed and a burp. Awww.
The reality is that colic is the destroyer of all parental newborn fantasies. Honestly, it is okay for you to mourn the loss of what you had dreamed of before she was born. As hard as it can be to empathize when you are suffering, try to keep in mind that there are far worse realities for parents out there. I know it is hard to be thankful for your healthy, screaming baby; but trust me when I say, someday you will be very thankful.
The most memorable moment of the disappointment phase for me actually occurred during a brief reprieve from the screams. Our little bundle had fallen asleep, I looked over at him in his peaceful slumber and turned to my husband through tears and said, “THIS is the one we get? Out of all the sperms that could have reached the egg – this is the one??”
In the moment, I actually meant it. I even recall envisioning the little sperms swimming toward the egg – and thinking, this little jerk pushed all of the good ones out of the way. Typical colic sperm move. Only thinking about himself before he even becomes a zygote.
Did I mention I was sleep deprived?
The regret phase comes next. And this one is a REAL doozy.
I will never forget the day I slumped over my kitchen island and cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. My son was in his swing, screaming of course. As I stood up in an attempt to compose myself, I looked out my back window and saw a lovely woman walking her dog on the path behind our house. My poor dog hadn’t been on a proper walk in months. Unless I wanted to subject the whole neighborhood to my son’s shrill cries, I thought it better we stay indoors.
I watched her walk into the distance and wondered if she even appreciated the freedom she had. “Oh how nice! Walk your dog past my house at a time like this!!” I felt so bitter.
And suddenly I was hit with the biggest pang of regret. It was as if every good thing that had ever happened in my life flashed before my eyes.
Now, there I was, crying almost as loudly as my own baby, bracing my exhausted body on the cold, hard slab of early 2000’s beige/brown granite. Why did the previous homeowners pick this granite, anyway? And why didn’t I notice how ugly it was when we bought this house just 5 months ago? Perhaps it was just colic once again casting its hideous hue on my once vibrant life!
I wondered if I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I USED to be able to walk my dog. I USED to sleep at night. I USED to take baths and plop one of those ridiculously expensive bath bombs into the tub. Now I’d never be able to justify the cost of a bath bomb for a 5 minute bath. (Realistically during colic you can expect a 60 second shower).
Life as I knew it was over but all I had experienced of my new life as a parent was colic, so of course I felt melancholy for my old life! If you’re in this phase, recognize that feelings of regret are normal. Who would electively choose this colicky life? NO ONE.
And while we’re at it – it’s okay to wonder if you actually love your baby. This is not even exclusive to parents of colicky babies. Some people fall in love with their baby immediately, and that is truly wonderful. Some of us need some time to get to know our babies, and our love for them develops more gradually. This is an enormous life change, further complicated when you have a baby who is torturous to be around. Don’t feel badly if you’re not an “exploding heart eyes emoji” right now – it will come! It really, really will.
And last but not least, the final phase.
This phase is somewhat short-lived, probably because many of us will end up spending most of our time cycling in and out of the prior phases.
Some days you might feel like you’ve accepted your fate, but then a mom from your mommy group will come along and tell you how a spell caster cured her baby’s colic with an ancient spell and you’ll get sucked back into the denial (false hope) phase again.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d skip over all the other phases and move directly into the acceptance phase.
It would save me a lot of money on gadgets that don’t work (*cough* $1200 bassinet *cough*).
I’d never have slugged down that disgusting coffee for weeks.
And I’d have bypassed the complete uselessness that regret serves in our lives at any time.
The point to this story is that you will get through this…trust me! And your story will be uniquely yours. It’s okay to try every possible thing to help your baby, it’s okay if you never accept that it’s colic until it’s over. It’s okay if you give up dairy because it makes you feel a shred of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. It’s okay to keep searching for answers. It’s okay if some days you regret ever having a baby.
Just know that someday your baby will stop crying. You might not believe it at first but hours and then days will go by and they’ll have only cried when they’re tired or hungry or need a diaper change. And you’ll test out the waters and go out in public. You’ll finish a whole shopping trip at Costco, baby in tow and give your husband a high five on the way out. You’ll walk your dog again. Maybe you’ll even pass the lady who walked her dog by your house on that one horrible day and give her a smile. You’ll get family pictures taken and the photographer will comment on how good your baby is and you’ll laugh to yourself. You’ll even sleep again. Your baby will smile and laugh at you and giggle when you tickle him, give you open mouth kisses and splash around in the bath tub. And regret will never cross your mind again – (until they’re teenagers, I hear).
The very best thing about colic is that every day after colic is better than the last. And you’ll never have to mourn the loss of the newborn stage because that was pure crap!
These tips will not cure your child’s colic but they may help YOU get through it. I have listed them starting with what I feel is most important, however they are indeed all important. Some tips may seem like common sense…perhaps you’ve already realized some of them yourself; however, if even one of these is new to you and helps you at all, great!
1) Join a colic support group
By the time I had my son Everett, a number of my friends had recently had babies (none of whom had colic). While these ladies were experiencing what appeared to be blissful newborn-dom, I was deep in the trenches of colic. Now, I love my friends dearly, but if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to hear about is how someone else’s baby is constantly napping or just slept through the night for the first time. My baby was screeming and seemed to never be sleeping!
I did not want to burden my friends in their time of overwhelming joy, or for them to feel guilty about sharing their own experience with me, but I had to talk to someone.
This is where colic support groups play a huge role! There are colic support groups that meet in the ‘real world,’ but I found the online support groups to be more accessible (“thank you, Facebook”). Someone was always there to unite in cyberspace solidarity at any hour of the day or night while I was bouncing, shushing, nursing or rocking. I ended up meeting a mom who lived nearby, and she turned out to be a great source of strength for me. We texted each other at all hours of the night, even outside the Facebook group and have talked about meeting in person someday. I was able to share some of my most vulnerable thoughts and feelings with her and she did the same. The support group was my saving grace!
One important disclaimer, as you may already be aware, is that a lot of misinformation gets circulated in mommy groups. Take any advice you get with a large grain of salt, but the camaraderie is truly priceless.
2) Ask for help
Don’t be like I was at first and feel as though you need to carry this burden alone. Call on family and friends for help. If you’re lucky enough to have family nearby, ask them to come over for a bit and watch the baby so you can nap or shower. You may worry that it’s too much to ask anyone else to be subjected to the torture that is your baby, but they will probably be happy to help in any way they can. Being with a colicky baby for an hour or two is a far cry (forgive the pun) from what you’ve been dealing with every single day. Honestly, they will manage just fine with your little one. Just leave plenty of pumped milk or formula and enjoy a bath, shower or nap.
There were numerous times my mom came to my aid and I am so thankful. If you feel guilty leaving your crying baby in the hands of someone else, that’s okay, I definitely did. Just remember that it’s okay to take a break for yourself…you need it! If you are able to take a nap, you’ll be much better equipped to handle the next several hours of crying. If you do not have family or friends living nearby, consider whether or not it is in the budget to pay for some help. Perhaps a retired neighbor, or a responsible college student would be interested in making some extra money. It is only in hindsight that I learned that several of my neighbors would have been willing to help me, if only I’d asked.
A friend of mine had a colicky baby and hired a night nurse twice per week to ensure that every few days she and her husband would get an actual night’s sleep. This was not in the budget for us at the time but if we ever have a colicky child in the future – we are finding room in the budget. It is a relatively short period of time that colic lasts (usually 3-4 months, but longer in some cases) and keeping one’s sanity is worth any extra money spent during that period of time.
3) Have built in breaks throughout your day:
My husband is a full-time physician and works very long hours, sometimes overnight or 24 hour shifts. We eventually worked out that he would take the baby for an hour when he got home so I could shower and have a bit of time to myself. If he was working an overnight call shift, usually I’d ask my mom to come help me for a bit in the morning. I recommend establishing at least one break during the day…even more if you can. It is nice to have something to look forward to in the midst of this difficult time.
4) Focus on the future
Honestly, my husband was better at this than I was. He’s generally a very optimistic person while I tend to wallow. Not knowing when colic would end drove me crazy. Sometimes the idea of even one more hour of crying felt unbearable, never mind the prospect that it might last for several more months.
Deciding to schedule a future event to celebrate the end of colic will help you remember that this is only temporary and better days are ahead.
We chose to have a nice family photo shoot, and our photographer was very flexible with dates, given our circumstances. We also booked a weekend family getaway. Although this did require rescheduling, since we were still in the midst of colic, we were able to go at around 4.5 months and had a great time.
My husband and I also booked a trip to Mexico, just the two of us. Some time together without the baby was wonderful.
Be sure to keep your plans flexible, as anything can change.
5) Count your blessings
This was another hard one for me. It can be difficult to see beyond your own misery during colic, but try to remind yourself that this is temporary and you have a healthy, beautiful baby waiting for you on the other side of colic.
Around the same time that I delivered my son, a colleague lost his child to a congenital illness after a very long stay in the NICU. That type of loss is incomprehensible to me.
Your baby is truly a blessing…yes, a crying, colicky blessing right now, but a blessing nonetheless.
Bonus tip (take it or leave it) – Accept that it’s colic
This is much easier said than done, but it helped me tremendously. One day when I was talking with a friend whose baby also had colic, I told her that Everett had a milk protein allergy. If you’ve read my other post about colic, you know he doesn’t actually have a milk protein allergy but I was sure I had cracked the colic code. I lamented about giving up my beloved cheese and half & half. First colicky baby and now no cheese? WHAT IS LIFE?
She said, “you need to accept that this is colic.” She was right. By this point, Everett was nearly 11 weeks old. We had tried EVERYTHING. When/if he ever took a nap, I was researching causes of colic tirelessly. If this is you, consider whether or not you’re willing to accept that your baby has colic. If you’re not, that’s okay, but if you are –allow yourself the freedom to let it be.
Consider whether a nap or shower for you might be a better use of your precious time than more internet research. I truly believe in physicians and medicine but I can now relate with the desperation parents feel to have answers.
Sometimes in medicine there isn’t an answer because we just don’t know YET.
As a physician assistant, this has changed my perspective greatly and as a mom, I understand what you’re going through.
If you’re able to accept that it’s just colic and it WILL pass – you might feel a little weight lifted from your shoulders…I did.
I hope these tips help. Hang in there. Better days are coming!
When I was pregnant with Everett, I researched a ton of products and read lots of must-have lists but one thing I never considered was the possibility of having a colicky baby.
Having experienced colic for a solid 4 months, I feel confident in providing my own “top list.” These 8 products were critical in helping our son get through his first 4 months of life.
While every baby is unique, perhaps some or all of these items will help you and your baby, too.
None of these items “cured” his colic but I did notice a reduction in duration of crying if I used them consistently.
Breast or Bottle
Everett was exclusively breastfed until 9 weeks of age when his weight dropped from the 44th percentile to the 3rd. At that point, he was breast- and bottle-fed. With the help of an outstanding lactation consultant and the use of domperidone – I was able to continue breastfeeding (I’ll share that experience in a separate post).
Our son would not take to a pacifier but he did find comfort in nursing and did so constantly.
If he was not breastfeeding, he would typically be crying.
If your baby is soothed by a pacifier, I would not hesitate to use one! We tried the MAM pacifier and the WubbaNub but he rejected both – so we stuck with comfort nursing.
2. Blackout cellular shades
(use sheets if you have to, anything to make the room DARK)
I found that keeping Everett in a dark room most of the day helped to minimize his crying time.
One of the theories about colic is that the central nervous system is immature. When a baby is born, he/she is taken from its comfortable womb – a place that is very loud, warm and dark in exchange for a cold, bright and relatively quiet space. It is hypothesized that the new environment is too stimulating for the immature nervous system to process. The baby is not yet capable of self soothing – so he/she cries.
In an attempt to recreate the womb, we purchased blackout cellular shades and my husband installed them on all of our bedroom windows.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose to put over your windows. Just keep the environment as dark as possible!
3. Sound machine
Once your room is dark enough – it’s time to make it loud enough.
I can recall one night vividly when my husband and I played white noise on two laptops, an iPad and two cell phones. He finally fell asleep.
There are many to choose from and ours is one of the less expensive options. It is by a brand called Red Rooster.
If you need a REALLY loud sound machine, I HIGHLY recommend this one available on amazon.
Any will do but make sure it has a battery backup in the event of power outage. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this.
I believe every baby should be swaddled as the boundaries of the swaddle are womb-like, making the baby feel more secure. Additionally, it can calm the startle reflex which can often wake a baby.
You may need to test out a few swaddles to find what works best for your baby.
We settled on the Love To Dream line of swaddles and LOVED them. Our son enjoyed chewing on his hands and keeping them close to his face, something other, more traditional swaddles didn’t allow. We used these until he outgrew all of their sizes (up to size large).
He now sleeps in a Zippadee-Zip sleeper! This is essentially the same concept as the Love To Dream swaddles, but provides more mobility. If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen me post about both!
5. Wireless headphones
Your baby is going to cry – and cry a lot.
Wireless headphones connected via bluetooth to your favorite Spotify playlist, podcast or audiobook provides a reprieve from the crying, while still allowing you to be present with your baby.
6. Yoga ball
When Everett was in his most inconsolable mood, bouncing on the yoga ball was my go-to. I’d either strap him into a wrap or carrier or just hold him in my lap and bounce.
My husband received this tip from a colleague who had a colicky baby years ago and the yoga ball worked quite well.
I also attribute my very rapid post-partum weight loss to this exercise. One perk of colic!
7. iPad with Netflix/Hulu
While you’re nursing/holding/rocking/bouncing your baby, you’re likely to get very bored. I found an iPad to be the most portable/lightweight option for entertaining myself.
8. Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp
When/if your baby DOES actually fall asleep at night, you’ll want to keep the sleeping conditions ideal. When it is time for your baby to wake up for a dream feed or his regularly scheduled diaper change/feed, it is best to keep the lighting minimal. I found that a salt rock lamp was the perfect solution. Placed on my bedside table, it was within easy reach to turn on, didn’t wake up my sleeping husband and provided just enough light to change his diaper and nurse him.
If you’ve come to this blog post, you’re likely experiencing issues with breastfeeding and if you’re researching domperidone or low milk supply, you’re also likely at your wit’s end.To you I say, “I’m so sorry, and no matter what, it will be okay.”
I found myself in this position at 9 weeks postpartum when my pediatrician confirmed my suspicion that my son wasn’t gaining enough weight.Everett had fallen from the 41st percentile at birth to the 3rd percentile at 9 weeks of age.Dropping percentiles isn’t always a huge deal and pediatricians use a curve to evaluate growth – but my son had fallen off of his curve.
I was so excited that breastfeeding had apparently been going so well for the first few weeks of his life.He achieved his birth weight at 5 days postpartum (10 days to 2 weeks is normal) and had an excellent latch.Breastfeeding had also been a great source of bonding in the midst of severe colic and my postpartum depression.
“Be thankful formula is available.Back in the day, these babies would have required women in the village to feed them or cow’s milk which isn’t nutritionally optimal for an infant,” my pediatrician said.He was right, but I didn’t feel thankful at all; I was devastated and hanging on by a thread as it was.I was not ready to give up on breastfeeding, and anyone who knows me well will tell you that I rarely accept no as an answer.
Panic set in as I left the pediatrician’s office.I immediately called the lactation consultant (IBCLC) whom I’d met in the hospital after delivering my son.Yes, I do realize the irony of a lactation consultant needing the help of another lactation consultant, but I was clearly not in a rational state of mind to be helping myself. Also, I’m very new in my own lactation consultant training. I have not yet obtained my IBCLC designation (I am a CLC) but it is in the process! We will call my IBCLC “V” for anonymity.V is a highly experienced lactation consultant, and she was honestly a godsend.
Disclaimer: If you are considering domperidone and you have not yet seen a lactation consultant, stop reading this right now!This is step number one and it is absolutely critical.The vast majority of breastfeeding issues can be resolved without the use of domperidone.
Disclaimer #2: I in no way condone or recommend the use of domperidone to anyone who is not my patient. This blog post is exclusively intended to be informational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice.
V observed Everett nursing and weighed him pre- and post-feed.She assessed his latch (excellent) and monitored for signs that he was swallowing.He transferred less than 1 ounce in nearly 30 minutes, which was not great!He was evaluated for tongue/lip/cheek ties and had none.The issue did not lie anywhere with Everett.
I was sent home with a hospital grade pump and spent the weekend power pumping (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off) for one hour, every three hours, in addition to nursing and supplementing Everett’s feeds with frozen pumped milk.I began taking supplements such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle and fennel.I ate loads of oatmeal, chocked full of flax seed and drank plenty of water.None of this seemed to have any effect on milk output, at least not noticeably so.
After one week of power pumping, nursing and supplements, my supply seemed to be dwindling even more.Around this time, I had my thyroid and prolactin levels tested to ensure there was no underlying thyroid disease causing my sudden drop in milk supply.My prolactin was low for a breastfeeding mother at 10 weeks postpartum.Of note, prolactin levels are finicky and can be difficult to use diagnostically, but it nonetheless seemed low for an exclusively breastfeeding mother.
I was running out of frozen milk, so we began incorporating formula into Everett’s bottles. The first time I watched my husband feed Everett a bottle I sobbed so hard I couldn’t breathe. I realize now how irrational this was and how much added stress I put on myself. In the moment, coupled with colic and PPD it truly felt like the end of the world.
Eventually, he was almost exclusively bottlefed, nursing only for comfort.I also briefly used a supplemental nursing system (SNS) which was quite cumbersome and impractical for my own use.As each day passed, I panicked more at the thought of our breastfeeding journey already being over.My son was only 10 weeks old, and I had planned to nurse him until one year of age.He was becoming fussier at the breast, and I was losing my one good way to console and bond with my colicky baby.The thought that he would soon lose interest in nursing altogether was unbearable.
Around this time, V and I had been texting back and forth as we had been for several weeks.She mentioned domperidone and metoclopramide, and I vaguely recalled learning about them in lactation training.She recommended I research Dr. Jack Newman, a Canadian physician who works exclusively in breastfeeding medicine.
As I mentioned in the top of the blog, I exhaustively researched the literature that does exist.I did not take the risks lightly and considered the innumerable benefits to be gained by continuing with breastfeeding.
Procuring domperidone can be challenging.Many physicians are not familiar with the medication and do not prescribe it. If they do, it must be ordered from a pharmacy outside of the US which can be expensive.It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your own physician if you are considering domperidone.
I followed Dr. Newman’s protocol and saw an increase in my milk supply within two days.By one week, I was almost exclusively breastfeeding again, supplementing with only 6 ounces of formula per day and milk pumped overnight.
For 10 months I woke up every three hours at night to pump, and I nursed Everett throughout the day.I gradually began weaning off of the medication and dropping nighttime pumping sessions simply because I was exhausted and wanted to sleep.I am still very proud of my experience with breastfeeding and feel grateful to have made it as far as I did.
Here’s some information that I gathered about domperidone in my own research. This constitutes medical education, not advice. Please seek guidance of a qualified healthcare professional for any specific medical questions.
What is domperidone?
Domperidone is a medication that leads to increased stomach motility, so it empties more quickly. Because of this effect, it is prescribed in various countries to treat several conditions, including nausea/vomiting (not in pregnancy), acid reflux and gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach empties much more slowly than it should. It is also used to treat certain gastrointestinal side effects of drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Domperidone works by blocking dopamine receptors outside of the brain (it does not cross the blood-brain barrier).
Domperidone is also used “off-label” in some countries to stimulate lactation, by indirectly increasing the secretion of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production that is produced by the pituitary gland.The medication is not FDA approved for any of the above uses and must be obtained by prescription from pharmacies outside of the United States or from a compounding pharmacy in the US.
Is there another medication like this?
I emphasized that domperidone works exclusively on the dopamine receptors located peripherally (outside of the brain) versus centrally (within the brain) because this is an important feature when comparing domperidone to metoclopramide, a medication available in the US that also blocks dopamine receptors, but does cross over into the brain.Medications like metoclopramide that block dopamine receptors within the brain can also increase prolactin levels, however there is a risk of some specific unwanted side effects – things like tremor, slurred speech, muscle spasms, rigidity, jerky movements and restlessness.The likelihood of experiencing these side effects increases with duration of use, particularly greater than 3 months.
Because domperidone is not able to enter the brain and is not associated with any of these particular side effects, it was a more attractive medication to me.
Why isn’t domperidone available in the US?
The FDA does not approve the use of domperidone in the US for any indication because of concerns of cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).
Why did I take domperidone anyway?
I exhaustively reviewed the literature (or lack thereof) for several weeks during my own breastfeeding struggles and personally believe that the studies showing a link between the use of domperidone and cardiac arrhythmias are not applicable to the general population.The average age of the patient in the study was 72, and the majority had underlying cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or cardiovascular disease.I am a young, healthy woman with no cardiac risk factors, and I take no other medications that are associated with abnormal heart rhythms (QT-prolonging drugs, for anyone who cares).
I do not have history of long qt syndrome and I take no other medications associated with qt prolongation.