Last night my husband and I spent at the better part of two hours trying to soothe our screaming newborn son, Cooper. Usually nursing does the trick for any little bout of fussiness but this time he would start to nurse, seem to calm down for a few moments–but inevitably his little face would scrunch up, his mouth would open and…he would start to scream.
Cooper is our third child, so while after almost three years we’re a bit rusty, we do have experience with newborns. And what did this night of terror remind us of? Dealing with our colicky first-born. Colic is defined as inconsolable crying and fussiness for no apparent reason. It has to occur at least three hours a day, for three days a week, at least three weeks out of a month. This was only one night–will we be doing it again tonight? Fingers crossed that it was just a night of bad gas.
One of the hardest things about dealing with a fussy newborn is the feeling of helplessness. We watched as our little guy’s face turned red and he wailed and clenched his tiny fists. He curled up his legs like his belly hurt and made it perfectly clear in the best way he knew how that all was not right in his world. We tried nursing, the pacifier, swaddling, burping, doing bicycle motions with his legs, bouncing and walking. We would have a temporary respite from the drama, wait with baited breath and then…it would start all over again.
Finally, when nothing else seemed to work, we decided to give him a bath. At the very least, he would be distracted for a few moments and ideally, tired enough from exercising his lungs that he would fall asleep. We took him into the bathroom and started running the water. The white noise of the rushing water seemed to relax him, which was a good sign. As soon as the water was the perfect temperature, my husband climbed in and put Cooper on his legs. He opened his eyes, which had been screwed angrily shut and looked around. This lasted for about ten minutes before he started crying again–and I knew he would not be happy about getting diapered and dressed.
Well, he wasn’t happy, but he was more than happy to snuggle up and nurse afterwards which was all part of my master plan. He squawked a few more times and finally gave in to exhaustion and slept. And what did Mommy and Daddy do? We heaved a huge sigh of relief and gave into exhaustion too!