This is Day 1 of my 30 Day Writing Challenge.
Feel free to join me by writing about a lesson you learned the hard way. Post a link in the comments below and I’ll be sure to read and comment.
You’ve probably heard the saying a million times: Everyone is a perfect parent until they become one themselves.
I cringe writing this now, but I honestly still felt this way after the birth of my daughter.
Boy was I wrong.
My first baby was so. freaking. easy. She never (and I really mean never) cried, would sleep anywhere, was a champ at feeding, and hit all her developmental milestones right on track. I mean, this girl started sleeping through the night at six weeks.
It must have been me, right? I was well-read on all “key” baby topics: breastfeeding, sleep training, child development – you name it. My extensive research on breastfeeding MUST have made my daughter so good at it. I practiced attachment parenting, so I MUST have instilled a sense of trust and calm in my daughter that made her such a happy, content baby. Right?
I skated through maternity leave and had the best time of my life. A now “seasoned” mom (ha), I found it so easy to question parents of other babies who weren’t so easy. What were they missing? Is their baby hungry or over tired or sick? I couldn’t empathize with those parents who were up all night with their crying babies or had problems getting their baby to ride in the car. I thought colic was a catch-all term for people who couldn’t figure out what their baby needed and it really meant the parents weren’t good at soothing their babies.
Ugh. I know. My eyes are rolling so hard right now they are starting to hurt.
Three years later, I gave birth to my son. And boy, did he give me a reality check. At about three weeks of age, my son started exhibiting what his pediatrician deemed “colicky” behavior. For us, this meant he was consistently crying between the hours of 6 and 10pm every single day. Just inconsolable, nothing you can do about it, screaming.
The boy would not sleep. He would not eat. He had a clean diaper. There were no tags bothering him on his clothes. He was not too cold and not too warm. He had plenty of attention and love. The days of “I’m such a natural at this parenting thing” were over.
Of course, my first instinct was that I was missing something. Colic isn’t real — it means I’m not meeting one of his needs. I tried everything: I read books. I researched. I posted questions on online Mommy forums. Gas drops, swaddling, burping, limiting stimulation, NOTHING worked.
He just wouldn’t stop crying. And neither could I. I was emotionally drained, sleep deprived and felt helpless, sad, and guilty. Why couldn’t I help my son? What was I doing wrong?
At his two month checkup, his pediatrician enlightened us that colic is, in fact, real. And it’s common, developmentally normal, and there’s nothing you can really do to help it. Most babies just grow out of it around 3 months. Thankfully, ours did too at about three months.
So…..lesson learned. I am not the baby whisperer. People with colicky babies aren’t just doing it wrong. I was naive and ignorant. I came away from this experience believing the best way to support a new struggling parent is to hold any judgments, stop and simply listen.
Have you had a baby with colic or a “witching hour”? Did having a baby change what you thought it meant to be a good parent?