In my household as a child, I grew up feeling as though my needs/feelings/gushy crap were generally unimportant. When it’s a choice between Becky who has the stomach flu at age 6 and my mother who was threatening suicide, you can guess whose needs were made more important. It wasn’t always splendid as you may imagine and it has left me with a fairly large chip on my shoulder about such things. Overarchingly, I tend to be fairly sensitive about people negating my feelings on a particular matter but I also attempt to not play the Pain Olymics with other people. Your bad day MAY be worse than mine, and I’d be the first to admit it.
Ben had colic as a baby, and I admit that it was pretty severe. I can honestly say that it impacted our bonding while he was younger as well as causing me tremendous guilt for many years. What was I doing wrong? Why didn’t my baby love me? It’s irrational, I’m aware, but you can’t help but feel rejected when your cute little infant screams most hours of the day and you cannot do a damn thing to make it better.
I don’t have a lot of mommy friends who have kids around the same age as mine, so I didn’t have a lot of input on the subject of colic save from what my mother and/or Dr. Spock had to say about the matter. (Even now, I’m not sure any of my mommy friends had kids with colic. Maybe karma is paying me back for stealing that package that was delivered at Christmas time to the wrong house, I don’t know.)
Colic sucks and it’s hard and I hated every moment of it. Especially because I had had colic as a child myself, and my mother suffered tremendous guilt about it, even 20 years later. So much so that when I decided to wean Ben (hahaha, like he EVER latched on or breastfed), she began buying formula designed for premature babies (which Ben was not), in an effort I suppose to assuage her guilt about my colic. It’s basically already digested. AND it costs double what normal formula costs. Luckily for me, a lactation specialist intervened and convinced my mother that there was absolutely no need for this formula. Period.
Over and over I had to listen to my mother go on and on and on and on and on about what a horrible colicky baby I was, to the point where it basically negated whatever I was feeling. Sample conversation: Me: “Man, he is SO COLICKY and I WANT TO DIE.” Her: “I don’t know what YOU are complaining about! YOU WERE SO MUCH WORSE!”
Even now, 5 years later, she is still convinced that Ben was a much easier baby. Maybe he is, I have no idea (this affected me so much that I had to clear it with Nat several months ago and his answer was yes, Ben was a really hard colicky baby). I wasn’t around to take inventory over which was harder, myself or my son. All that I can say is that I am sick to death of having my own personal feelings pushed aside in favor of how much harder her life is. Yes, I am aware that it is partially my problem with my mother, a subject for another blog post (or prolly not)…or I was until Alex was born.
Alex, God love him, is not colicky, not one ickle bit. He had his own difficulties, just like newborns often have (like trying on a daily basis to crawl back inside of me), but he was never colicky.
My mother-in-law, I was aware pre-Alex, had had a colicky baby as well: my brother-in-law. When she’d call or stop by, we’d mention the difficulties we were facing with Alex (or show her, as the case may be) she would spend a good portion of her visit/call trying to convince either of us that Alex was just a colicky baby. Dave actually ordered some crappy Colic Be Gone or something snake oilish which didn’t work (BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE COLIC) and stained the bejeesus out of everything it came into contact with.
To this day, whenever I see her, she tells me the same stories over and over about how colicky her first baby was. When I mention that Ben, too, was extremely colicky, it is brushed aside THE EXACT SAME WAY MY MOTHER DOES IT.
I guess I just don’t get it. I’m aware of the Mommy Wars (ala my baby is SO much better and more advanced and awesomer than yours could ever be) and the Pain Olympics (ala my life is harder than yours will ever be) but is it really so hard to admit that someone else both may have experienced a similar problem AND give them a little more empathy and a little less brush off (especially considering that these colicky babies that I constantly have to hear about are 27 and 34, respectively)?
Colic sucks, newborns mostly suck, babies are hard, kids are hard too, and I think it would be just a teeny-weeny bit easier if mothers (and non-mothers) just acknowledged the plight of other people, or in this case got off the damn cross because we newbies might need the wood, too.