My daughter screamed bloody murder from the day she was born.
What was I doing wrong?
At first I thought it was because my milk supply had not come in but then that was no longer a factor and still she did not stop.
She was well fed. I changed her diapers. I dressed her in adorable clothes. I cuddled her. I played with her. There was nothing wrong medically.
What was I missing?
I went through everything I knew how to do everything they teach you in medical school and residency, all of the advice I always gave parents struggling with this. I scoured the internet like other desperate mothers. All worthless. Once she started screaming, I could not make her stop.
I was a failure but not just as a mom. I was a failure as a physician.
When I look at pictures of her early infancy now, I am ashamed. I missed out on so much of the joy and love I should have felt then. Instead, I used to wear earplugs just so I could be around her.
What kind of mother DOES that?
The only thing that would calm her down was bouncing on an exercise ball. I bounced for hours. When it was her fussy time, God forbid I ever stopped bouncing…
Wails and wails and wails.
Which is worse? Sore thighs and butt from an exercise that never seemed to make them smaller or the painful high pitched unrelenting screech of an angry infant? In time I felt imprisoned by her. Trapped. I didn’t want to keep bouncing on that goddamn ball, I didn’t want to listen to her scream, either. Bouncing with anyone else was not cool by her.
I desperately wanted to send her back.
Eventually, after a few months, it did stop. Colic always does if you can just endure, and while the scars have dissipated to some degree now years later, they still remain. I never appreciated how disruptive it is, how much it wounds your heart, until I lived it. Colic robbed me of being the mother that I thought I was, the one that I wanted to be… doting on my beautiful baby girl.
So much for fairytales.
We survived. I love her. She loves me. She screams but not for hours and hours and when she does, I can now put her into time out until she cools off. Interestingly, I still find her to be terribly temperamental and prone to tantrums. But is that really the case? Or do I just judge more harshly because of our past?
My heart still hurts when I remember and even today I don’t like to talk about it, but the advice I give to parents is much different now that I have lived it myself.