9.20.19 The Labor & Delivery Blog

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.

The Delivery.

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.

Just before transitional labor began!

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

Early Checkout

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!

Thanks for reading!

What’s in my hospital bag (suitcase)? Second baby edition.

Delivery of my first baby in January 2018.

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!

CLOTHING

Let’s talk clothes.

Hospital Gowns

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.

GINKANA Labor and Delivery Maternity Hospital Gown and Pillowcase Set for Maternity Hospital Nursing

For the Ginkana, I would size UP from your pre-pregnancy size. I am typically a size small and I ordered medium, could possibly have even used a size Large for a roomier fit.

Baby Be Mine Gownies – Delivery Maternity Hospital Gown Labor Kit (XXL pre Pregnancy 16-22, Brie)

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.

SIORO Soft Womens Pajama Sets Modal Short Sleeve Pajamas for Women Large Size Sleepwear, Navy with White Piping, L

I would size up in these pajamas for a roomier fit. I am typically a small and this is a size medium.

Sioro Pajamas in Navy with white piping.

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.

Post partum last delivery.

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.

Amazon Essentials Women’s Studio Terry Jogger Pant, Black, L

I sized up from normal pre-pregnancy size in these joggers. I’m normally a small and I bought a medium. They’re plenty big in pregnancy and will be big enough post partum.

Motherhood Maternity Women’s Maternity Short Sleeve Scoop Neck Layered Tulip Nursing Tee Shirt, Navy, Extra Large

I ordered normal size – size small in this shirt.

Kindred Bravely French Terry Racerback Nursing Sleep Bra for Maternity/Breastfeeding (Medium, Black)

Order your normal size in the kindred bravely bra.

TOILETRIES

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)
  • Deoderant
  • Face wash
  • Face lotion
  • Soap
  • Towel & Face cloth
  • Travel toothpaste & toothbrush

All makeup together with a mirror for applying in bed.

And all hair accessories together.

  • Brush
  • Hair ties
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Hair Clip

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!

TECH STUFF

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.

SNACKS

This speaks for itself but check with your hospital for policies on when you can and cannot eat. Last time I brought yogurt covered raisins and trail mix. It was fantastic.

I also recommend bringing your own insulated water bottle. I have a large, insulated tumbler from Amazon that I love.

EXTRAS

  • Boppy pillow

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.




Here’s the comprehensive checklist!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please comment below with what you’re bringing to the hospital!

The Phases of Colic

“He’s probably just hungry.” 

“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!

We should’ve known we were in for a treat when the nurse said, “well, that’s a unique cry!”

Treatment

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.

Denial

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.  

The white coat makes me look legit!

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.

Disappointment

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.   

Mere days before delivery! Already imagining the strolls I’d be taking and brunches I’d be brunching!

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.

Regret

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.

Acceptance

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*).

The snoo never quite worked for us! I’m planning a full review on the blog soon!

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).

We finally got the photos!

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! 

We get out for walks!

 

5 Tips for Surviving Colic

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!

Top 8 Essentials for the Colicky Newborn

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.

  1. 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)

Mid-day nap. Very dark room courtesy of the blackout shades.

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!

Above the doors, we put black construction paper when he slept in our room. It was a very high-end touch.
This is a little sitting room in our bedroom – we also put construction paper on the arched part of the window above the shade (remember, as dark as possible).

3. Sound machine

This is the Red Rooster 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.

Any will do but make sure it has a battery backup in the event of power outage. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this.

4. Swaddle

The Love To Dream Swaddle is THE swaddle for us.

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.

5. Wireless headphones

Your headphones aren’t just for working out anymore!

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.

The “Peaceful Piano” playlist on Spotify is still among our favorites.

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.

I hope these essentials help you and your baby.

What products helped your colicky baby?