Surviving the First 3 Months With a Colicky Baby (and Toddler!)

Well, I survived the first few months as a mother of two! As of last week Emmy is officially three months old. In some ways it feels like the time has flown by, but in others, it feels like an eternity. I haven’t posted anything in ages because, in all honesty, I could hardly keep my head above water, but things are finally getting a little more manageable and I wanted to recap how the past three months have been.

If you based my experience purely on the pictures I’ve been posting to social media, you’d assume that everything has been glorious. I generally like to focus on the positive, so I tend to share only the smiles and happy moments, as most of us do. Those smiles and happy moments were completely genuine, but they don’t tell the whole story. The truth is, the newborn stage has been incredibly difficult with Emmy (and it was for Jackson too, for that matter). Over the past few months, I’ve shed my fair share of tears and lost my patience more times than I care to admit.

After dealing with a challenging newborn period with Jackson, I somehow thought I was going to have an easygoing baby the second time around. In fact, everyone assured me that my second would be easier–even the nurse at the pediatrician’s office!–and I just assumed (albeit naively) that this would be the case. Well, the joke was on me because Emmy has actually been tougher than Jackson in many ways, and it totally caught me off guard.

With Jackson, it was very difficult to get him to nap during the day, and this led to an overtired and very fussy baby a lot of the time initially. I didn’t realize the cause at first, and this made those first weeks really hard. I remember not even being able to heat up a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast in the morning without him starting up. He seemed to fuss ALL the time. Once I figured out that his fussiness was due to him being tired (thanks, Mom), I was able to avoid meltdowns by making sure he napped regularly. This was by no means easy, because the only way I could get him to fall asleep for naps for the first three months was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, often while doing laps around my house after lots and lots of crying (He hated the car seat, the stroller was hit or miss, and nursing him to sleep only worked in the evening). Because I was always in the process of getting Jackson to sleep, or not wanting to make any noise for fear of waking him up while he was on me, I’d often eat breakfast first thing and then not eat again until evening after David got home. I did try to go for daily walks around the neighborhood with the stroller, but I never ventured far for fear of Jackson losing it, which he frequently did. As far as sleeping myself, I’d prop myself up while Jackson napped so that I could catch some shut eye too. It was quite the sight!

As challenging as this period was, I figured out a system that worked and kept my baby generally happy. When he was awake, he showed a ton of personality and was an absolute delight. He pretty much only cried when he was tired, and I had a lot of positive reinforcement to counteract the tough moments.

I couldn’t imagine having a more difficult newborn experience, but then Emmy came along. I’ve had similar challenges to Jackson with getting her to sleep during the day–naps usually don’t exist unless I wear her–but she has also been colicky off and on since she was several weeks old, and this has added a whole new level of stress that I didn’t experience with Jackson. At best, Emmy would almost always fuss whenever she was awake, but I’d be able to console her after lots of bouncing or baby wearing. It might take me 30 minutes, but I could get her to sleep. She’d usually wake up after 20-30 minutes, and then I’d have to start the cycle all over again. All day long. At the worst, Emmy would have fits of inconsolable crying that could last two to three hours at a time. In either case, she was a pretty miserable human and I could hardly put her down. This is trying enough under normal circumstances, but having a very active and needy toddler in the mix made things seem downright impossible at times. Thankfully David had a very generous paternity leave, so he was able to give Jackson the attention he needed during the worst of it so that I could focus on the baby. I’ve also had the support of my parents since Emmy’s birth, which has been a godsend.

The situation with Emmy has been a total roller coaster, to say the least. Every time it seemed like things were taking a turn for the better, we’d have a setback and we’d be back to square one. That said, she started showing major improvements by about two  months, and now at three months, she’s SO much better. I can confidently say that we’re through the worst of it. Emmy still has her moments and will probably always be a high needs baby, but the colic has mostly passed, fortunately. Now when she is awake, she is HAPPY and smiling and cooing and it’s just the best. I’m seeing more and more glimpses of her little personality emerge each day and it’s amazing.

All in all, the past few months have been a challenge, and there were times when I thought I’d truly lose my mind…but we made it through! If you’re currently in the thick of it, I assure you, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. I recently saw a quote on social media saying not to believe it when people tell you the newborn stage is the hardest, because toddlers are much much worse, but this has not been my experience. Toddlers bring their own set of challenges, but for me, the newborn stage with both my kids has put me through the wringer! I say this not to scare any expectant moms out there because, chances are, you will have a much easier time. In fact, almost everyone I know has had easygoing babies and just can’t relate. That said, I know how isolating it can be to feel like you’re the only one struggling, so I wanted to be truthful about my experience.

And at the end of the day, whether you have a chill baby or not, motherhood is really hard! Way harder than I ever imagined, to be honest. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting. Amazing and terrifying. Therapeutic and stressful. Funny and heart-wrenching.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here’s to the next few months with a (hopefully) much happier baby!

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