When McKenna was born in January of 2003, I didn’t realize that my whole world was about to change. I was aware that having a baby changes your life; after all, I already had a 10 year old son. But from the time McKenna came out screaming at 3:19am that January morning, little did I know that she wouldn’t stop until she was about 8 months old. I also didn’t know that I would suffer a severe form of postpartum depression that left my husband and family wondering if I would be able to care for my children and myself.
From the time McKenna came home she was difficult. She was so different than my son, who was the textbook version of a “good baby”. She cried all day and all night. We spent as much time at the doctor’s office as we did our own home. My daughter’s pediatrician labeled McKenna as colicky, a term I’d heard, but never thought would apply to us. From that moment on, I researched every website, and talked to every experienced mother about what I could do to ease my child’s pain.
I found out right away that swaddling was our best friend. McKenna loved to be wrapped up tight, our “burrito baby” as my husband and I would call her. Sometimes, that would immediately ease her screams, or it would be swaddling and the noise of the vacuum cleaner. Sometimes, nether of those things worked and we’d have to go through trial and error of bouncing her on our knee face out.
Then I read about a CD that has various white noise sounds on it that is supposed to ease a child. I immediately sent away for it and was so happy to see it arrive. I would stick it in her CD player under her crib, hit repeat and let it go all night. This really seemed to help her. My husband had a lot of luck with the “shhhhh” sound in her ear, all while rocking her back and forth.
There were many car rides in the middle of the night to get her to sleep, a lot of walking, rocking, holding, and soothing noises to stop her incessant crying all hours of the day.
While other mothers would talking about how their babies were so happy and would coo, mine was screaming at the top of her lungs even while being held. My husband and I couldn’t go out to dinner, or to the store if she was with us, because we were so afraid that she would start that screaming and we’d have to leave.
It was an emotional roller coaster that left me wondering if I’d be able to handle this child, or if I wanted to. I knew I never wanted to get pregnant again…ever. But, inevitably it happened, while on birth control and I was mortified. Turned out that my 3rd child was a dream. Even though she was a sweet child, memories of our first year with McKenna still hadn’t left our minds and we vowed NO MORE KIDS.
Despite our preventative measures, again, I found myself pregnant when my 3rd child was 6 months old. Surely I would be considered an experienced mother at this point, able to handle anything, right? Wrong! My son, Jace was born in November of 2006 and even though he didn’t compare to his sister, he found his way to being right up there with the most difficult. When the same pediatrician labeled him as colicky as well, I thought, “I already paid my dues” in this department.
Again, we did all the same things as we did with McKenna. We rocked, walked, sang, played music, bounced, danced and cried, while trying to figure out what was going on with Jace. It was determined that he had a milk/soy allergy (after extensive testing) and now with a formula change and some experience, we have been able to ease him quite a bit.
As a mother of four kids, I can say that the only thing that made our situations with our kids and their fussiness better was time. People used to tell me that a lot while I was struggling through this dark battle and I hated to hear it, but it’s true. Some kids come out and are sensitive to the world around them. Some need that extra holding and cuddling with mom and dad. Like adults, they have bad days and times when they have to blow off steam.
The best thing I did is to connect (even if it was through message boards on the Internet) with other mothers whose children were like mine. We’d share tricks and stories about how to ease our kids. Not feeling alone was of great comfort to me.