Having a baby is a very joyous experience and frightening at the same time. Some mothers report being afraid to be left alone with their new baby, me being one of them. My sentiments were more worrisome. It’s only normal, but a colicky baby who cried and cried is a whole different story I soon learned. Some new mothers are lucky to have an experienced mother or family member stay with them for the first couple of days to a couple of weeks to ease the transition. Others like myself did not have this luxury. Being a single mother on top of this made it that much harder. I remember the day we left the hospital like yesterday. It was a beautiful day in July. I struggled to fit her in her car seat and remembered my sister laughing as we were getting ready to leave the hospital. I put her in the car seat but because I did not know about the cushiony inserts that secure the baby, my poor Aria slid down.
I quickly picked her up and my sister assisted. She had some experience with her godson who was born two years prior. Not to mention, my sister was not doped up on dilaudid from having a C-Section. What an experience! I remember mothers sharing one major thing that you lose when you become a parent: sleep. Who knew how much sleep would be lost? Coupled with an autoimmune illness, a genetic mutation, and single motherhood to a new colicky baby, I forgot what sleep was. I remembered being delirious ALL DAY LONG. I soon discovered ways to soothe her but wished I knew them from day one.
My daughter cried so hard that she screamed and appeared to be in agony. She would scream and then pause for a breath and then start all over again. Poor baby and poor mama. I felt helpless. What do I do? As most new mothers, I asked around to those more seasoned and called the doctor. She had approximately six doctor visits within her first three weeks of life and was eventually diagnosed with colic, where an otherwise healthy baby cries excessively for more than three hours, three days, and three weeks in a row. Before the colic diagnosis, the doctor ordered the works: an ultrasound of her spine, blood work at Yale Children’s Hospital to see if she was afflicted with my genetic mutation, and a visit to the gastroenterologist to name a few.
The gastroenterologist prescribed Ranitidine and when that wasn’t working a low dose of Nexium. Of course, I didn’t want to give her acid reducing drugs, but was desperate for relief and sleep. Her crying was piercing and she appeared to be in agony. So, I tried the medication. The Nexium seemed to help a little or maybe it was just a placebo effect. I started reading different articles and found a natural recipe that worked wonders.
1. Homemade Gripe Water. I boiled water for several minutes, steeped two bags of ginger tea and one bag of either Chamomile or Peppermint tea in 4 cups of water along with one tablespoon of fennel seeds and one teaspoon of all natural, organic cane sugar. I let this sit for approximately 30-45 minutes covered. I strained the mix to remove the fennel seeds.
I transferred the gripe water to several small bottles and froze about ten 60 ml bottles and refrigerated one to two. Before each feeding, I would give her about 5ml. If she wasn’t given the gripe water first, she would refuse a feeding and if you didn’t know better you wouldn’t know why she was crying. I quickly realized it was working and started getting more smiles from my pumpkin. I started doing this when she was about 3 months and the crying ceased.
She became a happy baby. By about 6 months her need for the gripe water faded. Today she is a thriving 20 month old happy baby. FYI: this remedy is much more cost effective than buying a small bottle of gripe water for $10 that would only last a couple of days. I also gave her diluted chamomile and peppermint tea in the morning and the evening. One bag for 16 ounces of water and 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar. She would get a four to five ounce bottle.
2. Holding her up high with her head near my shoulders. She liked to be held up high so that she can see what was going on. Until this day, she wants to see what you are doing. Quite the inquisitive child.
3. Standing and walking with her. We would go for walks outside and around the house to change the scenery. The baby holder worked better than the stroller. She would cry hysterically in the stroller most days. Sometimes she would cooperate, but most days she wanted to be close to hear my heartbeat and to take in my smell.
4. Talking to her believe it or not. My paternal aunt and cousin were visiting one day and she just cried and cried. My aunt started talking to her and she stopped. I was in shock.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say, just talk about the day, what you are doing, anything. You can describe the room. To make it realistic for me, I would ask her, “What’s wrong baby? Why are you crying? Tell mommy what’s wrong.” Before I knew it, the crying would cease and she would just look at me. It was a great bonding moment.
I hope some of these will help soothe your little one. As a new mother, there is no handbook. We learn as we go and it can be quite a relief when someone else already figured it out and can help steer you in the right direction. These remedies are not meant to replace the advice of medical doctors. When in doubt, seek help. I tried these when the doctors could not figure out what was wrong and told me she would just cry like this for months. I was told to put her in her room and let her cry. I asked for how long and was told to try twenty minutes. One night before I discovered my gripe water solution, she had cried for an hour straight. I didn’t know what to do. I put her in her bassinet in her room and shut the door. I timed it. I felt horrible. I would go near her room but I didn’t take her out. At about the ten minute mark, I went to get her and she was shaking. I never did that again. Sometimes doctors don’t know. You have to take action after you have sought several medical opinions.
This baby carrier really helped!