In a round about way, tonight I came across a conversation with my mom from two years ago, December 2015. Lincoln was just about four months old. The string of messages was long, but it was this small part that pulled on my heartstrings:
Me: Mom I just don’t know what to do. He’s crying and I’m crying. And I feel like thats all we do, all day and all night. I just want my baby to be okay, and I don’t know what to do.
Mom: I’m sorry honey. Hang in there.
Mom: Check out this article from Seattle Children’s. http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/infant-crying-colic-and-the-period-of-purple-crying/ I know it’s hard, but you’re both gong to be okay. I’m just worried about how hoarse he is.
I had forgotten about this. No, not about my colicky baby. I don’t think I could ever forget about that! I had forgotten about how my colicky baby lost his voice, because he screamed for so many hours a day, for so many days/weeks/months. My sweet little man sounded horrible. His tiny baby voice was crackling and squeaking, and he’d try to scream but just a whistle of air would come out. You might be thinking, “well at least the screams weren’t so loud!” But as heartbroken as I already was that my baby cried day in and day out, seeing that misery take a physical toll on his little body was even more heartbreaking. And how do you remedy a lost voice/sore throat in a baby that just keeps crying, no matter what you do?
It was a vicious cycle. All of it. Not just the lost baby voice. Just every single day. A vicious cycle of emotional and physical exhaustion, of feelings of failure, isolation, desperation, and deep, inexplicable sadness for this child that I longed for and loved to be content, even if just for a moment. Some days I felt like I literally might not survive to the next morning; that my body or heart would simply collapse in on itself and I would fall to the ground and just never get up again.
It was one of many, many moments that I felt helpless and hopeless at the start of my motherhood journey. The transformation in Lincoln from then to now is pretty astonishing. And if I didn’t live it myself, it might even be hard to convince me that Lincoln had ever been difficult in any way, shape or form. Yet now as I near the end of this pregnancy and prepare to welcome another little boy into the world, the truth is, I am scared. I’m scared for a lot of reasons. But one of them is that I am scared at the prospect of parenting of another colicky child.
The guilt I feel admitting that is heavier than you know. This baby I am carrying is a miracle. I am so grateful for him, and would relive Lincoln’s colicky phase over and over again for years and years if it meant having him in my life now. Without a doubt. Yet as true as that is, I’m terrified about the reality of life with a colicky baby AND a two year old. When I try to envision it and walk through what a day of that looks like, I just can’t. Of course, I never could have pictured what we experienced with Lincoln, either.
So when these feelings of fearfulness start creeping in, here’s what I am reminding myself of…
During my days of ‘colic’ I felt like a hopeless, helpless, failure. The truth is that I was a warrior. My body was able to withstand marathon nursing, less than two hours of broken up sleep a day for months, and the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with mothering a colicky infant. I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed. And even in the moments of misery that were my lowest, I loved my little boy more than anything in the world. Looking back at this experience, I know now that I was stronger than I’d ever been in my life, and I am a better mom to Lincoln today because of it.
Lincoln is more perfect than I ever could have dreamed up in those days of endless crying. And while they felt like they’d never end, they did. I know this next little boy will be different from his brother in many, many ways. And even if they happen to be similar in this one, very challenging way, I know he will be more perfect than I could ever imagine, too.
And because he is the most joyful boy in the world today, here is a photo of my sweet Lincoln, who (practically overnight) went from colicky and crying to the happiest, most pleasant baby and child we could ever ask for.