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Why It’s Not “Just” Colic or Fussiness

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Crying baby

I loved Sophie’s last post on how parents of fussy, colicky or high need kids are part of an exclusive club.

Without having thought of it in those terms before, that’s exactly what it’s like: The club that no one ever asked to join.

And while I’m the first to acknowledge that we need to feel thankful and blessed to have a healthy baby, simply shoving down our frustrations and covering them over with a ‘well, at least my baby is healthy’, or ‘things could be worse’, is just not helpful.

Glossing over the very real, very frustrating, very life-changing circumstances of having a fussy child doesn’t do anyone any good.

Not acknowledging how very hard it is leads to very angry, very sad, very isolated moms and dads. And I don’t think anyone thinks that’s a good thing.

How many times has someone said to you, “it’s just colic”?

Or how many times have you felt judged because you were ‘spoiling’ your child, or ‘letting’ your child call the shots?

Well if you find anyone saying these things to you, please send them to me.

I’ll set them straight.

I’ll explain exactly why it’s not ‘just’ colic or fussiness.

The Sleep Deprivation

I have heard almost-unbelievable stories of sleep deprivation among parents of non-sleeping babies.

Many, many fussy, colicky or ‘spirited’ babies and toddlers tell me that there child wakes up to 12 times per night.

12. times. per. night.

In my mind, this is pretty much akin to torture. When Sammy was a newborn, he slept in 45 minute increments. Feed for 45 minutes, sleep for 45 minutes.

Do you think I slept peacefully for those 45 minutes? No, I lay there, my stomach in knots, wondering when he was going to wake up screaming.

But I could catch up on sleep during the day? I was lucky in that my son napped. Many high need babies do not (or if they do, sleep only very short stretches). But with a 2.5 year old toddler? No naps for me.

The sleep deprivation (and I don’t use this term lightly) alone is enough to make a grown man cry.

But combine that with any or all of the other circumstances that emerge from having a high need baby? (see # 2-10 below).

It’s simply put, crazy-making.

And even for those who don’t have another child, ‘napping while the baby naps’ isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

With dishes piled sky-high in the sink begging to be washed, or the chance to squeeze in a quick shower, nap time doesn’t necessarily mean ‘free time’.

The Isolation

When you have a fussy baby, it feels like everyone else has an ‘easy baby’.

Although an estimated 1 in 5 babies are colicky, and an estimated 1 in 5 older babies or toddlers are ‘spirited’ to some degree, it often feels like you’re the only one who has ever had a baby that cried THIS much.

You may try to attend playgroups or moms groups, and find yourself having to comfort, soothe and distract your baby the entire time while the other mom’ sip their Starbucks and watch their child play.

When you try to talk to someone about how hard things are, you may get blank stares, or comments such as, ‘I know how you feel. Little Billy fusses almost every night before bed for at LEAST 30 minutes’.

It’s hard enough having a fussy baby, but feeling like you’re in this alone makes it doubly hard.

The Crying

This is especially difficult during the early months when your little one can’t tell you what’s wrong.

Some ‘colicky’ babies have been known to cry during all their waking hours (I had one of these. The first time Sammy was awake and not crying was when he was 4 weeks old. It lasted about 10 minutes. We took a picture to commemorate the occasion).

Our primal instinct as mothers is to soothe and comfort our crying baby. If we have a baby who cries occasionally when he’s hungry, tired, or sick, we feel deep empathy for him. Our heart breaks as we listen to him cry and try everything to make him feel better.

When you have a baby who cries ALL THE TIME, this empathy can be difficult to drudge up. While we may feel it at times, the crying may trigger feelings of frustration, helplessness, anger, and even rage.

Is this how you pictured motherhood?

The Being Judged

It’s SO easy to look in from the outside and know what someone’s doing wrong. Or what they ‘should’ be doing.

It’s SO easy to think things like

She [the mom] is so stressed out, the baby’s feeding off her anxiety”.

Or, “If she would just let him cry it out, the sleep problems and fussiness would disappear”.

Or, “If she would just stop coddling him all the time, he would learn to entertain himself”.

Do you think we haven’t thought each and every single one of these thoughts already?

Do you think we don’t beat ourselves up on a daily basis over what we ‘should’ be doing and what we’re doing wrong?

We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We’re alone. We may not even feel like we love our baby [It’s true].

Give us a break. Give us a hug! Tell us we’re doing great and to hang in there. Better yet, offer to babysit, take our baby for a walk, or bring us a coffee.

We expect judgement from strangers, maybe even friends at times. We can deal with that.

Judgement from our family? From our own moms? This can feel unbearable.

The Unpredictability

Some babies sleep at regular intervals, feed 5-7 times a day, with some playtime thrown into the mix.

High need babies are notorious for resisting any kind of routine or schedule. Here’s what that means for you: You can’t plan anything. ANYTHING. Oh, you can try. And sometimes it might actually work out. But don’t count on it.

Naps happen when naps happen. Bedtime tends to be when bedtime is. Plans change from minute to minute depending on how Miss Grumpypants is feeling about life.

Finally found a formula or a food that your baby will tolerate? Enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow he could be spitting it out, if he even swallows it in the first place.

Figured out a sleep routine that actually works? Well I hate to tell you – but it may not work tomorrow.

The Feelings of Failure

As moms, we have this belief that we should know our child inside and out. We should know their likes, their dislikes, what calms them, what upsets them.

With high need babies or spirited toddlers, things just aren’t this cut and dry. I truly believe that they themselves often don’t know what they want or need. So how are we to know?

But yet if we don’t know how to help our OWN CHILD, we feel like a failure. We look at other parents, so competent and confident, soothing their child.

What’s wrong with us that we can’t do that? What are we doing wrong? Were we really meant to be parents at all?

The No Down Time

This one is often tied into #5 above, unpredictability.

With ‘easy’ babies, there is usually a period of time during the day you can count on to get things done, take a nap, check email, etc.

And if your baby doesn’t nap much, at least you have some time off at night, right?

See #1 above, sleep deprivation.

With no predictable sleeping routine, it can be nearly impossible to have any true ‘down time’.

You put your little one down for a nap and FINALLY have the chance to sit down with a cold drink and catch up on your favorite TV show.

Yet one ear is always open, listening for that cry or scream coming from the crib (that is, if you’re lucky enough to have a baby who will actually sleep in the crib).

Many high need babies and toddlers have great difficulty staying asleep. If your child does nap, 20-45 minutes is pretty typical of these spirited kids. And this is usually after a long and elaborate soothing routine that can last as long as the nap itself.

Short naps and unpredictable nighttime sleep means no down time for mom. Think about it: Not even 1 hour in a 24 hour period where you’re ‘off duty’.

No time to recharge your batteries, have a chance to think about and miss your child. No time to be proactive in terms of how you’re parenting and how you’re coping.

You’re constantly reacting, operating in survival mode.

The Second-Guessing

Your baby cries. A lot. You may have other children, but have no idea why this one cries so much.

Your doctor has said it’s ‘just’ colic, or perhaps diagnosed her with reflux.

But a part of you isn’t sure.

What if it’s something more serious? What if this isn’t simply colic, or a temperament issue at all? What if there’s something medically wrong with my child?

Even if you’re satisfied there’s nothing seriously wrong with your baby, it’s easy to fall into the trap of second-guessing pretty much everything you do:

Did I feed him enough?

Did I feed him too much?

Am I eating something that’s causing him pain?

Is he overtired?

Have I been letting him sleep too much?

Should I let him cry it out?

Should I respond to his cries quicker?

Even those who typically don’t have problems making decisions may find themselves becoming indecisive, or making decisions and then feeling guilt and/or regret over those decisions.

The Impact on Marriage and Family

Imagine having no time for your partner…and when you do have a few minutes alone, you’re too exhausted to carry on a coherent conversation.

Some parents say having a fussy baby brought them even closer to their spouse or significant other, but many others talk about quick tempers, lack of communication, and resentment for the spouse who gets to work outside the home.

Perhaps even more challenging is the impact on the other children in the family. Many parents tell me they feel profoundly guilty over the lack of time and energy they’re able to give their other kids.

Parenting a colicky or high need baby is all-consuming, and it often feels like there’s nothing left for anyone else. When your baby is crying, it’s pretty hard to say, ‘Now baby, you’re going to have to wait. I need to spend time with your sister’.

It just doesn’t work like that. When your baby is crying, you drop everything else in an effort to soothe him, regardless of the impact on others.

The Lack of Bonding

When your baby cries all the time, it’s really, really hard to form any positive memories with him.

You know how people remember back to the newborn days and say wistfully, “Enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast!”?

Well parents of colicky or high need babies CANNOT WAIT for their littles ones to grow up.

When my Sammy was a newborn, he spent every waking moment crying or screaming. We didn’t have those calm, peaceful moments cuddling on the couch. I never watched him sleep and thought about how blessed I was.

What I did think about was, “What kind of a mother am I that I don’t know if I love my own son?”.

Although it pains me to say it now, I didn’t even think he was cute. He had a permanent crease between his eyes and a frown lines on his forehead from all the crying.

I imagined that he wished he had never been born. And truthfully, sometimes I wished the same.

What kind of a mother thinks these things?

Many mothers of fussy, colicky and high need babies, that’s what kind of mother.

 

I’m hoping if you’ve been sent to this post by a daughter, friend, or family member with a fussy, colicky or high need baby or toddler, you’re starting to understand a little bit about what they go through on a daily basis.

If you take anything away from this post, please let it be this:

We don’t need more judgement. We judge ourselves far more harshly than you ever can.

Offer to help us. Love us. Give us a hug. Tell us “I can only imagine how hard this is for you“.

Remind us we’re not alone. That we’re in this together.

About 

Holly Klaassen has been running The Fussy Baby Site since 2007. Inspired to start the site after giving birth to her second child, the site aims to provide support and information to parents of fussy, colicky, high need or 'spirited' babies and kids. The main message of this site? You are not alone! When Holly isn't writing for The Fussy Baby Site, she can be found writing for other businesses on topics related to digital marketing, social media, business, and of course, parenting.

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Category: Colic, General Parenting, High Need Babies, Spirited Kids

Comments (59)

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  1. Keri says:

    Thank You! I have a spirited little 16th month old firecracker. As we reach toddlerhood, she has found new and interesting ways to challenge me but she is still the love of my life. I have felt everything that you described and still do feel a lot of it (especially the indecisiveness-I second guess every decision I make). Now, if we can only get through these temper tantrums to a place of normalcy I would be extremely happy.

  2. admin says:

    Keri, thanks for your comment. I STILL feel some of these things from time to time and Sammy is 5.5 years old! The tantrums are very hard…a close second to this newborn phase. Hang in there, they do go away and get better as they get more verbal!

  3. Jen says:

    I’m showing this post to everyone in my life. Thank you SO much for writing it. For the past 7 months, I’ve felt so alone. I could have written this exact post. Friends and family don’t understand why we don’t have a schedule, why I’m so tired, and why he’s never happy. It is so, so hard.

    • admin says:

      Jen…and it’s sometimes hard to articulate properly how you feel when you’re so exhausted and drained!! I hope this post gives your friends and family a little glimpse into why life is so hard for you right now. ((HUGS))

  4. Wendy says:

    My first son is almost 6 years old now and was a “high need” baby. What I have discovered about him is that is his temperment. It was not “a phase”. He doesn’t cry as much now but he is still highly sensitive and needs lots of touch time and understanding. He still wakes once a night but takes comfort when his dad lays with him (and usually spends the rest of the night with him in his bed). It’s who he is. We have accepted that. But trying to get others to understand that is a different question. I think you might be one of those few people who truly understand, or at least won’t judge us for trying to meet our child’s needs. I hear you…thank you for sharing.

    • admin says:

      Hi Wendy, thanks for your comment. Our Sammy is still sensitive as well…but now at 5.5 years old, it’s easy to see how great that really is! I wouldn’t change him at all….his spirited temperament makes him such a sweet, special boy. I’ve had people tell me we need to be tougher on him. I hope they get a spirited child some day!

  5. April says:

    I can’t say that my son was high needs, per say. He rarely cried, but he was one of those children who needed constant physical contact. As long as he was being held, he was happy. This lasted until just before his first birthday, when he realized that being held inhibited his exploration. However, he is 3 now, and still will not fall asleep on his own, and will only sleep through the night if he is in the bed with me. I will not pretend to know how hard it is for parents of high needs babies, but I do know how tired I was just from his needs for physical contact. I can’t imagine how hard it is for parents with high needs children. I, at least, was able to sleep. I have a friend with a high needs baby, and from my conversations with her, everything you’ve written applies. I’ve sent her a copy of this article. Maybe it will bring her comfort, and allow her a way to express her situation to those around her. Thank you for writing it!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for commenting, April, even though you don’t have a high need baby! I’m sure you can relate on some points though, having a child who needs a lot of physical contact. My son is like that as well, even at 5.5 years old. But at this point, I LOVE that he’s like that :)

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is so difficult to express the bewilderment, exhaustion, loneliness, and desperation of this experience, and you’ve said it all. My now 15 month old cried all day every day from 6 weeks until 4 months, and was up every two hours at night until 8 months old. Whatever it was– high needs, colic….in the end he just needed time, and a LOT of love and patience. He is still sensitive and particular, and sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a mild, “easy” baby, but I wouldn’t trade my exceptionally bright, cuddly, delicious, challenging, beautiful and spirited boy for anything. Thank you again. It is the most difficult, isolating experience and reading this website and knowing that others were experiencing this as well was a huge comfort to me.

    • admin says:

      You’re welcome Sarah! It’s a post that’s been brewing in me for a long time. I’ve found it hard to get across to people what a life changing experience this was for me/us. I hope this post gets across a little bit of the reality of having a high need child!

    • Marjorie says:

      This is me. You are writing about me.

      My son is 21 months and an intense amount of work but I’m convinced it’s because of health problems.
      I had to stop nursing because he would scream and projectile vomit but he stopped pooping when he went on formula. It’s been 18 months of chronic constipation but no doctor can find anything ‘wrong’ with him. He never napped as an infant – maybe 15-20 minutes at a time and at night he got up constantly, or would sleep for two hours, be up for four hours, sleep for another two.
      At 21 months, he still wakes every 2-3 hours for a bottle and nothing we’ve tried has made it any better. He used to scream at everything all the time. No matter what I offered or did or didn’t do, he’d scream and cry. I literally never left the house except to take my older son to and from school. Things have been better since he reached 18 months but #2 is still an incredible amount of work. Thank you for writing this post.

  7. Tammy says:

    OMG this just made me cry. It’s exactly how I feel everyday. You just made me feel so much better.

  8. Jess says:

    I cannot tell you how thankful I am a friend linked this post on facebook! I relate to SO much of this and feel like it is impossible to talk to anyone about it. Even when I say/think the things to myself I feel bad, so I know someone else (not in a similar situation) would also think they sound awful. I get so frustrated some days that I really do wish I had never had my second or I just keep saying…I can’t WAIT til he is 1….like everything will magically be better then. I feel guilty for getting upset/frustrated and I also feel guilty because i can’t really spend much quality time with my 2yr old. I used to go out and do lots of things with my first child…but now I hate going anywhere because (a) I am exhausted…and look like it! (b) I don’t want to force others to listen to the super loud, inconsolable crying.
    It is nice (and sad at the same time) to know that there are others out there that know how I feel and to know that I am not in fact going crazy!

    • admin says:

      Hi Jess, No, you are NOT going crazy! :) I felt the same way when I had Sammy…my daughter was 2.5 when he was born. I constantly felt guilty about not giving her enough time and attention. I worried that she would grow up resenting him. I honestly couldn’t picture a quiet, calm, joyful life while we were in the midst of this. It felt like life would never be normal again. But I can say now that I LOVE my life and Sammy is a pleasure and a joy to have around. I wouldn’t change a thing about him, even if it meant getting an ‘easy’ baby!

  9. Casey says:

    I am so glad I found this website! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to hear from other moms that the (sometimes awful) feelings and responses I am having are shared by others. I keep thinking ” What kind of mother am I that I don’t feel only empathy when he is crying?”. I have had a difficult time bonding with my 3 month old son, because honestly, I feel like I spend my whole day taking care of someone who, no matter what I do, just yells at me. He is a little better now that we started him on reflux meds. I just keep telling myself, it will get better in a few weeks. Not sure if that is true, but it helps to think it :)

    • Holly says:

      Thanks for your comment, Casey. I know, it’s really hard to bond with a baby with whom you have no positive memories! Hang in there…it WILL get better :)

  10. Marcia says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting into words many of the things that I have felt but never said. While I adore and feel blessed to have my high needs toddler, it was REALLY hard to have my first child “spirited.” I doubted myself in every way and felt so isolated. I can’t tell you how many times when she was an infant that I thought I should never have become a mother because I couldn’t handle my own child. Now that she is older, life is much easier in many ways but still challenging in others, but the good moments are starting to occur more than the bad even with dealing with the toddler tantrums.

    • Holly says:

      Yes, those first months really are the hardest aren’t they? I’m glad you’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It only gets better from here :)

  11. Heidi Toala says:

    Thanks again for another amazing post. I seriously don’t know where I would be of I hadn’t found your web site and Facebook group. You have articulated the experience perfectly. I feel like such a failure a lot of the time and knowing that other people have these same struggles is so comforting. My almost-15-month-old has been a roller coaster ride at every stage but the newborn stage was definitely the worst. But the intensity of the love I feel for him is staggering. It does get better but it may never be what you expected.

    • Holly says:

      Heidi, you’re right! Even thought my Sammy is almost 6, his big personality is not at all what I expected! It takes a different, more flexible parenting style, but I wouldn’t trade him for anything!

  12. Emily G says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this. I wholly relate to everything you articulated. You’ve inspired me to write and share my experience with others, so hopefully I may help someone as you’ve done for me.

  13. oh how I wish I had read this post 3 years ago! My son was born via emergency section (I was under GA) and I found his birth very traumatic. He then spent the first 3 months of his life screaming almost constantly. He was diagnosed with severe reflux and still suffers now. It was awful. He would sleep for 40 minutes at a time, scream for hours and then sleep again for 40 minutes, both during the day and at night. I had another daughter too so sleeping when he slept was never an option, not to mention the fact that I suffered PTSD after his birth… so yes, I wished he would grow up fast. I felt so isolated and alone and so ashamed of the fact that I wanted to get away from him! I was also told that it was ‘just’ colic- turns out it wasn’t but the comments still got me down. Thanks so much for sharing this post
    xx

  14. Amanda says:

    Ooh my goodness!! This post, is identical to how things went with our little guy! He’s 14months and things are much easier than the newborn stage, but this still is so encouraging to me! Although so so sleep deprived for so many months, it’s nice to know I wasn’t crazy! Thanks

  15. Jessica says:

    Wow, I wish I had read this when my daughter was going through this. She is now almost 2 and WONDERFUL but I thought I was going insane when she was born. Her older brother had been a breeze as an infant and I was not prepared for a fussy baby at all. She didn’t want to sit in a swing, she had to be held constantly (even when sleeping) until she let me swaddle her (best thing that ever happened). And all the doctor did when I told him about it was look at her and say in a baby voice, “Aw, are you just a fussy baby?”…… I wanted to knock him out. lol. Now I am expecting another baby boy and I have no idea how he is going to be but I’m glad I found this website so I don’t feel like such a horrible mom. =) Thank you!

  16. nrb55 says:

    My first-born cried non-stop for several months, and never slept through the night for the first year. She is now almost 5, and reading this post made everything come rushing back to me. That was the hardest, loneliest, most exhausting year of my life and I remember that I would often wish time would just speed by and she would be older and more content. She still does cry the loudest if she falls and gets hurt, but is now a beautiful healthy little girl. We are now expecting our 3rd, and as with my 2nd baby, I just pray and pray each day that we get a happy content baby, because I don’t know if could do that again. The worst thing people kept saying to me during that time was that I was too nervous and she was feeding off of my energy…. oh how I hated to hear that. To this day, hearing a baby cry like that when at a store or wherever, I feel like I want to run away, however, I try to give the mom a smile and say, I have been there, I know it’s hard, just keep on doing what you’re doing, but don’t be afraid to take a break.

  17. Suzy Lane says:

    This had me in tears whilst i read it. I work with mothers and their newborns all the time and when I see they have a high needs baby I feel for them so much. I wish I could do more for them and take away that awful look in their eyes that says “I am no good at this” and the guilt too. Peoples comments in the street are so very damaging and I want to protect the wonderful mums from hearing them, seeing the looks on others faces as any confidence built up that day was dashed down by others ignorance. I just want to say that anyone who has to go through this is truly one hundred percent an amazing parent and one day the baby will know this.

  18. Christina says:

    Oh god is this true. Willow is 7 months and is a high needs baby but had really bad colic for months. she would scream almost non stop from 12 midday to 7am and i would just be patting her back and walking the house with her non stop! it got to a point where i became physically sick every time she cried. now she needs lots of attention, you cant just ignore her in the hope of independent learning and she gets so bored so fast. she is so clever and reaching all her milestones very early on. she is a very happy content baby as long as you give her attention and show her new thing, but when shes bored you know about it!!!!

  19. Emma says:

    Thanks for this. I have often felt jealous of my friends’ ‘normal’ babies and thought this is not what I signed up for. On good days he is an amazing, smiley, talkative 3 month old. On bad days I just want to cry under my duvet and beg for a few hours sleep. I hate it when people say enjoy these early months as I feel guilty for not doing so. This is a great explanation of what it’s like.

  20. Pamela says:

    I know you meant no bad intentions by your statement about not wanting to be in this club but I had to pause for a good minute and wasn’t able to continue. It was a statement I’ve used before in a bereavement group I’ve attended for people that have lost their babies. I am grateful to have a four month old high needs daughter after a full-term loss, 3 days before the due date Christmas of 2011 due to OB negligence and I’d much rather be in this “high needs” club than the other one I am forced to be in for life. I will now continue reading because I’m sure this will enlighten me about high needs but just had to post this first.

  21. Maggie says:

    Hi i am so happy you posted this. I have a typical high need baby who also has a permanent wrinkle between his eyes and on his forehead. I had thought before ; how can i love my baby? I love him but the constant screaming and nonsleep has been getting to me and my husband. Everybody seems to think i am doing something wrong and that its colic or gas- people dont understand at all. My baby cant sleep in his crib just wants to be held all day that sometimes i cant even eat. if i try to put him down we have screaming and crying matches and i wish he would grow out of it like everybody tells me.. Im just tired all the time and hes only 2 months old

  22. Danielle says:

    What a great post! Thank you so much for writing this. I wish I had been able to read this 2 years ago when I had needed it most. My “colicky” baby cried easily 18 hours a day (if he was awake and not feeding, he was crying) for the first 5 months and certainly did not give any rest periods during the day. I also had a 15 month old so play groups were essential, unfortunately, my new bundle of joy stressed the other moms out too much and we were told we were no longer welcome. It was very lonely when even other moms do not understand. I also tried using a casual daycare for a couple of hours, but they called me every 10 minutes to say he was still crying and finally that I needed to pick him up. I went to the dr SO MANY TIMES, and was told some babies just fuss more than others. This was such an understatement! We had many more challenges after the “colic” was past and the sleepless, fussiness continued well past his first birthday. I will definitely be forwarding this post to other moms with high needs babies!!

    • Holly says:

      Hi Danielle, Thanks for forwarding this post to your friends! I remember feeling desperate for a post like this when my Sammy was a baby. There was nothing like this on the internet and I felt like I was the only one who had had a baby THIS fussy. I hope your little guy is getting easier now?? Do you find he still has a ‘spirited’ temperament?

      • Lillian Jensen says:

        Dear sweet mothers, Yes, I have been there – done that. You are all so precious. Motherhood is the ‘salt’ of the earth and sometimes (usually) it just isn’t easy. Having had 5 children, I have experienced most everything and, yes, it breaks my heart when I see a ‘fussy/colicky’ baby. It breaks my heart and yours. My experience was that if my baby was fussy/colicky they were usually ‘hungry’ and their tummy hurt. We found that the baby had to be nursed. There is no other food for my baby like the food that God provided for it – two fountains of it! The baby’s digestive system needs the colostrum to plant the beneficial bacteria in the colon and then the mother’s milk to build their immune system. Their digestive system cannot handle the large curd of cows milk nor the ‘man-made manufactured’ formulas. If the mother has a hard time getting the milk started, the La Leche League can be very helpful in helping the mother to accomplish it. And in many cultures it is customary for the baby to sleep with the mother in the beginning -it makes nursing so easy. The baby should always be near by where they can feel ‘your vibes’. The baby has been feeling and hearing you for 9 months – no wonder he/she yearns to be near to you. Perhaps this will make it easier for some the next time! Hope so! Much love to all.

        Lillian

      • Danielle says:

        My little guy is 2 and a half now and definitely still has a spirited temperament and is also quite strong willed. He has some very challenging moments but overall has improved vastly. He has a lot of endearing qualities and can be really sweet! He brings a lot of joy to our household these days :)

  23. J says:

    I have never posted a comment on any forum or blog but this post called out to me when I needed it the most.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you :)
    Your little one sounds just like my daughter and the judgments and lack of understanding really get to you sometimes not to mention judging myself all the time

    • Holly says:

      I’m so glad you found this article, and I feel honoured your maiden comment was on my site :) I think just knowing that you’re not doing anything wrong, and that there others out there going through the same thing helps!

  24. jacesmom says:

    It feels so good to hear these stories. I go back to work and am terrified to see how he will be with daycare. My son is 11 weeks, thank God he sleeps good stretches once we calm him down in a swaddle, but during the day he cries most of the time, and left alone in a device only lasts 15- 20 minutes at a time, he must be held and rocked, and even then it may not be good enough and he will cry for hours. Sometimes he will be happy and just start crying out of no where. I feel so trapped all the time wondering when will this reoccurring cycle of crying and soothing ever end. Im so thin because I dont have time to eat, cook, iron, nothing. I pray for the days when he will just trust the world. He seems better when hes out and about and around a lot of people and noise. Its taking a toll on me and hubby. I just wanna love and appreciate my baby, but its hard right now, and people dont understand why Im depressed instead of overjoyed.

  25. Xaviera says:

    Thank God I’m not alone. I have a high needs boy who is 25months old now. He still doesn’t sleep through the night ever since he was a baby. I get so frustrated sometimes when people come up to me and tell me to “take it easy” or just “relax”. How can I relax when I feel obligated as a mother to be there for my son? I will definitely show this article to everyone who has told me to “take it easy”… coz honestly it isn’t easy. There are times when I even doubt myself. Am I doing it right? Am I a good mother? Did I do something wrong somewhere? Is it my fault that he is a high-needs child? But one thing that came out of this is, he may be a high-needs child but by being who he is, he has become the most expressive person I have ever met. Yes, his cries and tantrums are a nightmare but he is also quick to empathize or show concern when he sees me or any family members upset. That’s how sensitive he is. The only thing I really wish is for people to not brand him a “difficult” or “naughty” child and to understand that he just has different needs. Thank you.. Your article really nailed it on the spot!

  26. Charlotte says:

    OMG I feel like crying ! I am not a failure at all ! And this is my 3rd child. You would have thought I couldnt possibly doubt myself in raising a child, why I have raised 2 already I hear so say ! Well a high needs baby will do that to you ! A full nights sleep !? She is almost a year and I would be lucky to get 2 hours in one hit ! That last quote is genious, you are so right, yes we do judge and beat ourselves up everyday, and it is so hurtful when people have a dig too. My advice…………go with the bloody flow, let your child lead you, you cant and wont change them, execpt them AND DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU ! Throw those baby books out of the window, they wont work with a high needs baby and just serve to make you feel inadaquate and wretched. On a postive note my baby is the most affectionate little baby I know and take pride that even though they moan at you they only do it because they know you love them unconditionally xxxx

  27. Angi says:

    Now after 2.5 years this post puts my mind at rest and reminds me that I am not alone with it.
    I was never able to explain to my relatives or to get them to understand why my little baby just won’t stop crying and why it was not me who did not try hard enough or simply did everything wrong.
    My little boy was diagnosed with reflux and colics and no I could not believe it that this made him cry all day long although I tried everything.
    After 2 years we still do not have a strict bedtime routine, I mark every day in the calendar when I can sleep through the night as he still usually gets up (and then I need to stay with him all night in the most awkward sleeping positions).
    No need to say that now which I am just weeks away from expecting my next baby, I am scared as hell and absolutely terrified that this story will repeat itself all over again.
    However I would not change a moment for the happy, funny and clever little man he is.
    All in all that’s kids, I suppose.

  28. kelly m says:

    What a great article. I feel so alone sometimes. The worst is that my 6 month dd just won’t sleep. One day she only slept 3 hrs in a 24 period. I feel like I’m missing out on enjoying her because I’m so tired and none of my family understands.plus its hard to find ways to keep her entertained when she is awake so much.my hubby wants more babies,but I’m terrified, her sleeping gets worse as time goes on and what if I have another baby like her.

  29. Elfrieda says:

    Wow. That was so good to read even though my fussy horrible baby is now 4 and an easygoing, charming boy. I felt like I was doing something wrong at all times, and the lack of downtime was exactly as you describe. I wish I had read this 4 years ago! All those people saying, “Oh, I didn’t let having a baby change my life, I always just took the baby along and let her sleep in the carseat… enjoy these early days…” So guilt-inducing, because I truly did not know what I was doing as a first-timer. My mantra was “It’s not his fault, he didn’t ask to be born. Love is not a feeling, it’s an action. If I treat him with love that means I love him.” Finally at a year he started getting enough sleep and I think that turned him into a different child, still sensitive and disliking being alone, but also charming and eager to please.

    My second has been a shock to the system, I can tell you. After 2 months she had a schedule, and although she didn’t sleep through the night until 9 months, she’s so easy-going and happy all the time that the sleep deprivation, while not exactly fun, didn’t feel like she was trying to torture me. I feel like she’s a totally different species.

  30. Rachael says:

    I too have found comfort in this post. I’ve been feeling so guilty for feeling anger and frustration and not love and joy. My little bug is almost 5 months and has been waking more lately than he did in the first couple of months. Some nights it’s upwards of 8 times. And naps? What are those? He will sometimes nap in a swing but they’re short. Most naps need to be in a sling if I want any decent length and then mommy can’t nap :(

  31. Chrissy says:

    I didnt know you knew me, but this post could seriously be about my life. My daughter did have colic really bad (I have the abdominal ultrasounds to prove it) but everyone kept saying “it last about 3 months”. ok great, an end in sight, just hang in there. Then at 4 month after no break from colic we got teething. Oh the joys. NOT. Now she is almost 8 months old and STILL fussy and wont sleep during the day or night. She takes 2 hour long naps during the day and is up every couple hours at night still. I was just telling my husband yesterday when she fell backwards sitting on the floor and lightly bumped her head and started crying that its hard to feel bad for her any more when she cried because she ALWAYS crys! Hello, ever read the story about the boy who cried wolf? Of course if she has a really big bonk I still scoop her up and feel bad, but alot of times I find I just cant empathize with her when she crys any more. We planned to have her, but alot of days I too feel the “what did I get my self into???” I am going to save this article for my husband to read tonight, I hope he will get as much out of it as I did. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, now off to get more klenx.

  32. Jennifer says:

    Thank you. I can’t believe how much this resonated with me, and how much I needed to read this tonight. We’re at 3.5 months with no end in sight and the last 36 hours have possibly been the worse I’ve ever seen–completely inconsolable. My husband is giving me a break from his constant crying for just a bit before we “go to bed” (as you can probably understand, not much “going to bed” going on around this house) and what am I doing? Crying and reading about my son, instead of taking a moment to myself to enjoy some ME time. Someday, right?

    I think I hear that it isn’t going too well up there. I will probably have to go up and muster the ability to handle this little pissed off bundle of joy. Wish us luck.

    • Holly says:

      Hi Jennifer, I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your comment sooner…I’m smiling at your description of your pissed off bundle of joy :) I hope you all experience some reprieve from the crying and fussiness in the coming weeks…that’s what I’d expect in the next month or so!

  33. Jen says:

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to thank you for this beautiful article. I am a new mom of a 9 month old boy. He is the love of my life, but our first 5 months were HARD. I happen to be at the stage in life where all of my peers are having babies. Three of my very close family members/friends all had babies within a couple months of each other, and all of these babies were very happy, calm, and content. I felt so alone! I had a baby who didn’t sleep, wouldn’t latch, took hours to soothe, and needed to be held ALL the time, but wouldn’t let anyone else hold him. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I was a zombie. We even missed our first family Christmas, because we were all so sick and sleep deprived. Anyway, I could go on. I felt like everyone was judging me for being so bad at this motherhood thing. I didn’t like it and I wasn’t happy. I cried all the time and I just wanted to get to the point where ‘it gets better’ (which is what everyone kept telling me… But when???)

    Everything is great now. We are much more in sync now and we are sleeping and eating and he is an amazing little person. I miss him every night now when he goes to bed and I can’t wait to go in and get him out of his crib every morning! This is what I thought motherhood would be like! Even when we hit bumps, I feel like I can handle it now, because those rocky moments are now the exception. Thank you so much for your words. The biggest comfort is knowing that you’re not alone, and that article was so well written that I could see myself in every word.

    Thank you,

    Jen

  34. Maria Cotter says:

    Thank you! I needed to feel not alone.

  35. Erin says:

    Like many of you have mentioned, it really felt like you were writing my story. This was my second child and I had gone into this feeling confident that everything was going to go like the first. I too had a very traumatic delivery, my daughter kept turning (Breach then head down) many times in the week before she was born. So I did not know how she was going to be born. I was in pre-labour on a Friday night at the hospital but then they sent me home because the contractions had slowed. I had been scheduled for a c-section that Sunday but by Saturday morning at about 4:30am they came on strong and were consistent so we went to the hospital. They did an ultrasound and she was breach again, they made the decision to continue with the c-section. I felt everything and was nauseous the whole time during surgery and kept asking them if it was normal that I felt so much pulling and pain. They assured me that everything was fine, I had to be given gravol due to the constant extreme nausea. She came out screaming and little did I know she was going to stay that way until about 6 or so months old. Our household was not the same again, I felt guilty about how my son must be feeling. I was so sad all of the time and on top of that my c-section opened up and was infected. I felt lost and alone and I felt that I really didn’t want her anymore and found it hard to love her. She screamed all of the time and did not take naps unless I drove around with her which meant I did not sleep. At night she would not sleep either and I tried everything under the sun that I could find and nothing worked except driving around with her in the car. I would grab a coffee from Tim’s and drive around for hours until she would finally be asleep which was usually around 6am. On the good days I would be able to bring her back in the house in the car seat and she would sleep a few hours until my husband and son were up. On others I would just get her back in the house and she would start to cry again, so back out in the car I would go. Sleep deprived and sad driving around in the desolate night. One of many nights of driving around something kind of “funny” happened (more funny now than at the time, while going through the drivethrough to get my normal Tim’s coffee, I paid for my coffee and the person said to me. I felt really bad for this woman the other night she was driving around trying to get her fussy baby to sleep and the baby was screaming in the back and she had the same car as you. I said to her without hesitation that was me, and she said oh I am so sorry. I said no worries she has been quiet for the past couple of minutes so you didn’t know. This was the last time she was ever quiet going through the drive through. In the weeks and months that passed I tried everything to try and comfort her but it all led up to driving around. Sleep deprived, sore and very emotional it took a night over at a friends house to truly know what was going on with me. She asked me how I was coping and my eyes filled up with tears and I broke down and said that I was not doing well at all. I had admitted to myself for the first time that something inside of me was not right. That same night I spoke to my husband through tears that I felt that I was suffering from Post Partum. He convinced me to go to the hospital and talk to them, so the very next day we all went together. They determined based on my answers to a questionnaire they had given me that I had severe PP. I spoke to a counsellor where I burst into tears and told him all of the things that I was feeling. This was right before Christmas, I told him that I didn’t feel like celebrating that I felt guilty that I didn’t for my son because it was not his fault that all of this was happening. I felt guilty because I had not decorated the house or bought presents or done anything. Everytime he wouls ask me why I would cry. I felt like a horrible Mother and Wife and Person because I did not like who I was and I did not even like my little girl. I was put on anti-depressants and nurses would visit me every week. I went to a support group thinking that I would find people who had the same or similar experiences but as I listened to them I discovered that I had nothing in common with them except the Post Partum. All of their babies slept through the night and napped and none of them had had c-sections. I found that I couldn’t sit in the room with these people who had perfect babies. I went twice and then stopped going, I could not take it anymore. Don’t get me wrong I know that Post Partum can happen to anyone but I just could not relate to any of them and felt worse when I went. The nurses continued to visit and I tried to get out of the house and walk with her whenever I had the energy to do so. I joined a strollerfit class and yoga class and felt that it helped me a little bit.

    It took about 6 -8 months or more for my daughter to finally cry less and everyday got a little better. She is 1 ½ yrs old now and she is still a hand full. Very high maintenance and always wants me to pick her up and has tantrums when I don’t. People say you should let her cry and the one thing that sticks in my mind from all of those horrible sleepless days and nights is people saying “I am sure she is just a little fussy”. To those people I say, you have no idea how horrible this can be until it happens to you first hand.

    I am happy to report that my relationship with my little girl could not be better, even though she is a handful she is the sweetest girl that I could have asked for. Though my husband and I both agree that we do not want any more children we are glad that we have her and our son and everyday things get a little brighter. Hang in there and just know that you are definitely not alone. Take Care

  36. This isn't all true for me, but a good chunk of it is. I've managed to dodge the judgement, mostly because I haven't talked about it. The part about not even getting an hour a day made me giggle – I'm honestly lucky to get an hour a week.
    A great article, and a great reminder that I'm not the only person to have ever had a fussy baby – even if it feels like it sometimes.

  37. I needed to read this. Thank you for it and for making me not so alone and like such a bad mother. 6.5 months of colic/high needs and I'm just scraping by waiting for it to be over and grieving the loss of not enjoying all my son's milestones.

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