From the moment my baby was born she cried. A lot. She wouldn't feed. She writhed around like a wild animal caught in a net. And screamed. I was the mother on the hospital ward who couldn't stop her baby from crying, and considering this was my fourth this was a little unnerving. I'd been stressed in the pregnancy, and had contemplated the effects that it might have. I had half been expecting it. And here she was, like a scene from Rosemary's Baby with me as Mia Farrow.
Midwives cautiously observing my struggle, declared she was beautiful in concerned efforts to bolster our bond. My baby shook her head violently as I tried to feed her. On the second night in hospital, after pacing the hospital corridor throughout the night with my screaming bundle, I asked the midwife to give me a bottle of formula. Either that, or just drop me off in my maternity nighty at the nearest mental institution.
She fed from the bottle erratically, but the screaming didn't end. I ended up in hospital an extra night because my c-section scar became infected. I begged them to just let me take this screaming baby home, that it would be easier there. So eventually they sent me home with a large plastic bag full of painkillers and antibiotics, and I promised emptily not to move too much.
It was better at home. I loved and bonded with my angry little baby. But it was hard. Every night I stared bewilderedly in to her steely blue eyes as she screamed. I sang lullabies in the dark with dogged perseverance, determined to win over this red faced, spluttering, little thing. At this point I had put it down to colic, and sat out my penance for being stressed through the pregnancy.
We tried all the usual things, the comfort milk, the wind medications, the homoeopathic remedies. I told the health visitor when she came that as I didn't drink cows milk and my mother is intolerant to dairy, could the baby be also? I was told there was no link. I described the crying to the doctor at the six week check up, but was told she was thriving and that it was "just colic" and that it might go on till six months. I might not be here in six months, I thought.
Evenings were spent trying to stop the screaming - putting her in the pram, the sling, mostly holding her until sticky, sweaty, and red eyed she submitted to sleep. Car journeys seemed to make things particularly bad. I grew slightly cautious taking her out in public. I certainly didn't want to feed her around others. My self and my partner would place her in the bouncy seat as if she was a game of Buckeroo, not wanting to make a wrong move that would start off another episode. Grannies wanting a cuddle, quickly handed her back with looks of concern.
I kept thinking, 'Wow, it's lucky this is not my first baby. This would definitely have given me post natal depression.' I did cry sometimes, as I held her each evening until she cried herself to sleep in my arms. There's not really a good way to describe how powerless you feel when you can't comfort your own baby.
When she got towards three months, I began to notice a link between the feeding and the screaming. This was a baby who refused feeds, and when she did feed ended up crying instead of comforted.
It took three more trips to the doctor and the baby clinic re-telling the symptoms to doctors and health visitors in a raised voice over the sound of my baby's wails, to get a diagnosis of dairy intolerance and silent reflux. The dairy intolerance I had suspected and felt frustrated for not trusting my instincts earlier.
But how as a Mother of four had I been so unaware of Silent Reflux? I felt stupid. Everyone is familiar with Reflux, and I always associated this with a baby vomiting after drinking. My baby didn't vomit, but instead was swallowing the acid back down, which is the silent part.
The right combination for my baby was a hypo-allergenic milk you get on prescription called Similac, with sachets of infant Gaviscon to dissolve the stomach acid. The change in her was quick and the relief for everyone in the family was huge. Now she had peace and sat gazing adoringly at her three siblings who had never stopped trying to make her smile the whole time, but who were now rewarded with fits of baby giggles for their efforts.
There are much more severe cases than mine, even so I try not to think about those first months. Doctors and health visitors must hear 'my baby cries a lot' every day, and Colic is generally the first label to be given. As an experienced Mother I had felt I should have been able to cope with the 'Colic'. Perhaps my baby would have got the things she needed earlier, if I had not 'coped' so well.
I have a new empathy for Mother's with 'colicky' babies, Mother's of babies with reflux, Mothers who can't take their baby out for a coffee because they will be screaming, Mothers who have to feed their babies every three hours by tube, Mothers for who those first precious months bonding with their newborn are robbed. I have empathy for all the parents out there just 'coping'. Babies do cry. But not all the time.
Please share this blog with any Baby Mummies you know with a baby who cries a lot x
Anne blogs at Mumming-Up, join her on facebook to share more colic/ reflux stories and find support. https://www.facebook.com/Mummingup/
(This post was seen first on Meet Other Mums)