Friday, February 15, 2008

The Top Ten Tips to Surviving Colic or Reflux

As a mother of two children with red hair and reflux (in other words, a perfect storm), I consider myself more than capable of commenting on the subject. Family will tell you it gets easier, others will remain skeptical that it’s anything other than gas, and the outside world as you know it will cease to have any importance to you because all you want is peace, quiet, and, most of all, a happy and healthy baby. So here are some tips for survival (some for laughs and some for sanity), and please know that as hard as it is, that baby knows he or she is loved and, in time, will show it in their own way.

10) Set the clock: At it’s worse (always between 7 -9 at night) my husband and I would set the microwave timer for ten minutes and take turns with my daughter. She was rocked, swayed, “sh sh shed”, bounced, sung to, and even bathed (this actually really works well for some babies) and all in increments of 10-15 minutes. There is something psychologically reassuring about the fact that you just have to make it for a small amount of time before someone comes to rescue you…it helps prevent feelings of frustration and even anger, and the baby enjoys a new set of calm arms.

9) Distraction: As with anything child related, this does not work for everyone, but it seems to have worked for more than a handful of parents. Whether it’s taking a drive, turning on the vacuum cleaner (I’m not kidding), or getting fresh air (who cares what your neighbors think…they have horrible taste in landscaping*), a change of pace, scenery, or sound does wonders, if only temporarily, to console a seemingly inconsolable baby.

8) Ask for Help: Your mother / sister / neighbor*/ friends….they are all capable of holding a baby for ten minutes (they know they can leave whenever they want) and so take advantage of anyone who’ll offer to give you even the smallest break. When we were at our lowest point, I was ready to ask the UPS guy (shout out to Brian) because he was the only one who came to see me everyday (confession time: Some people eat, or watch television when they’re down…I shop online). I really believe if it had not been for my mother and mother-in-law (two awesome mothers in their own right), things would have been so much harder for us. I still owe them each something really pretty...

7) Alcohol can be a wonderful thing: Okay..I know I am going to get in trouble for this one, but Dr. Oz will agree that one glass of red wine a night is even good for your heart, as well as your sanity. I'm not talking about keg stands, just the occasional glass of Pinot Colic. Plus, many doctors will advocate (off the record) a serving of beer a night for nursing mother as yeast boosts milk production. If you are nursing, I wouldn’t recommend alcohol (see online shopping), but if you are going with the bottle, enjoy a cocktail and raise a toast to the fact that things could always be worse…just ask anyone who works at CHOP, or with the littlest of little ones (word to Stacy on Vine, Mary Jo, and the fabulous Julianne).

6) Pamper Yourself: For me, pampering myself meant going to the bathroom or blowing my nose, but hopefully you’ll have more opportunities to take care of yourself. I’m not suggesting a day at the spa, but taking twenty minutes in a long shower (you can’t really hear a crying baby there) or a walk around the block to clear your head and relax will do wonders for your soul. My husband would hurry home from work and take our daughter (no matter what) and send me into the shower for a break (and to wash away the pleasant smell of spit up)….I’ll never forget what that did for me! Remember, you are not being selfish!!! A happy mommy equals a happy baby.

5) Laugh: Every chance you get. Rent a funny movie (you can pause it for any screaming sessions), or enjoy watching the baby spit up all over your husband’s tailored suit (still makes me laugh…only last night it was strawberry icing from valentine cupcakes—I love my O).

4) Seek out other moms: One of the healthiest things you can do is to find out you’re not alone. Whether you find a chat room online, go to the park, the library, or even a kids store in the mall, initiate conversation by complimenting someone else’s child. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll open it. Before you know it you’ll be sharing war stories and feeling a lot better about being someone’s mommy. When they’re older, try to get in a playgroup….the bond you’ll develop with other moms over raising and loving your children will be one you’ll always hold tight to (I am very fortunate for the women around me…you know who you are).

3) Did I mention alcohol? (I know, Barbara, it was a joke!)

2) Live for the happy moments: For some reason, mornings were always the calm before the storm for me. Both of mine would laugh, and coo, and lead me to believe this day would be the day that things got better….ahhh, and then came four o’clock. Take the time during those happy moments to talk, read (yes, even at this age), sing songs, take pictures (and schedule them!), and just enjoy the most beautiful thing you’ve ever done.

1) End on a positive note: When my husband and I would finally crash into bed after hours of crying (us and the baby), we’d say, “OK, what was good about today?” If I went to bed holding onto the fact that she smiled three times today rather than dwelled on the three hours of crying, I went to bed knowing that I was a good mom with a beautiful baby and a lot to look forward to.

*Neighbors- I would just like to take this time to clarify statement 9. Chip and Joan are the best neighbors in the entire world and if anyone would lend a hand, an ear, or a meal…it would be these two, most amazing human beings! THANK YOU!!!!!!

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