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Colic can’t break you; but it will try.

Feb 26, 2024

Hannah Ybarra

"All babies cry", "she is just vocal", "you'll get through it". Well-meaning statements from well-meaning friends and family who have absolutely no idea how much this little baby is screaming their lungs out. Most people have heard of colic; a colicky baby cries a lot, right? Maybe they have excess gas and reflux, but basically, they are a little louder than your average bear, and what parent isn't prepared for a crying baby? Here at My Diaper Cake, we have a mama who was so unprepared for the realities of a colicky child that it broke her, or at least she thought it did. The bond between a parent and child can be an incredible thing, though, and this momma bounced back. She looked like she had bounced up out of a tar pit, but she was on her feet again.


"All babies cry", "she is just vocal", "you'll get through it".

Colic is defined as paroxysms of crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, occurring more than three days a week for three weeks in a row. This definition leaves room for interpretation, and colic isn't always diagnosed or understood, especially for new parents who assume all the crying is just the sleepless reality of newborn life. Colic affects around 30% of infants worldwide, but we don't talk about what it entails. Often we hear babies lumped into categories of a "good" baby or a "fussy" baby.

There are varying degrees of colic. For example, our momma at My Diaper Cake emotionally battled nearly 8 hours of crying daily for five months. Let's pause for a minute because many parents can appreciate what that was like. Solidarity, sister, you made it to the other side! We know it was hard but just look at that squishy mad face. It was worth it!

Her little one was dealing with reflux and excess gas. The doctors recommended sleeping at an incline, massage, and monitoring weight, given the amount of spit-up occurring after every feeding. Her entire house smelled like that sickly sweet, slightly sour baby spit-up all new parents get to know so well, and all her clothing was stained. She turned to everyone in her circle, and several came to her aid. Her husband's aunt could be seen on a Tuesday evening holding the baby under the kitchen fan because the loud whirring seemed to be one of the few things to help. Her father walked in circles with the baby perched like a sleeping sloth on his arm because she needed pressure on her belly to sleep. She had moms online helping her by recommending Windi gas and colic reliever from Fridababy. (Let me tell you it is gross, but it works, use it in the empty bathtub and NOWHERE ELSE.) Her husband had just been promoted and worked 18 hours daily at his new job. At midnight, he still came in the door and took a shift swaddling and bouncing. She had a two-year-old who remained an absolute light through it, and still, with all that good, all that love and support. Colic was doing its best to break her. The most challenging component of life with a colicky baby is bonding. Bonding with one's child is such an essential and affirming experience. With colic in the way, it can be so difficult to bond. No moment's of cooing together. No gazing at a sleeping baby adoringly because you are passed out next to them, depleted of all your resources.

It is tough, but the most shocking moment of the journey with a colicky baby is the day it stops, or rather three days after it stops, because it takes that long for the ringing in your ears to cease and for you to remember what other things sound like. You can picture her, our disheveled momma, standing there brushing her teeth and suddenly stopping, locking red eyes with herself in the mirror. The sound of the bristles moving back and forth suddenly reaches her ears. With dawning realization, she looks down at the cooing, serene six-month-old balancing herself on the open vanity drawer, digging chubby hands through a box of mommy's tampons and casually dumping them one by one into the toilet next to her and then, our momma begins to cry in total heartfelt relief and adoration of the family she has that survived. Ooh, and then calls a plumber.

Listen, we are not here to make light or scare new parents about what colic is like. The reality is that colic may be in the cards for many of us, but what is necessary to know and what we hope to express here is that colic is an opportunity. This is your unique experience, and whatever the internet or the books say about all babies crying, this is a moment to reach out. No, it is not normal that you can't do anything but bounce and cry with your newborn, but it is common. There are resources, options, and support. It is hugely important to put ego or personal sacrifice aside and call in the cavalry, so to speak. This child is loved, we know it, and you aren't doing it wrong. However, you do not need to suffer in the opposite of silence. So don't. Get yourself some community support and a good pair of earplugs, and know that despite the cliché and the feelings you are feeling, you WILL survive it, and not only will you get to bond with them, but your bond will be built on the very foundation of for better or worse.