What Is Colic?

We’ve got a new book recently released that wasn’t available during Gus’s early screaming his head off months. It’s written by Dr. Vartabedian and titled: Colic Solved. Back in the day, I would have had the book overnighted from Amazon. But my views on colic have changed.

What the hell is colic anyway?

There are so many explanations out there. The medical community defines it as an otherwise healthy baby who cries inconsolably for one to three hours at a time. In addition, the baby has to have these crying episodes for at least three days out of a week for a minimum of three weeks. It usually happens at the same time and most of the time it is in the evening. It is pretty common and the statistics show that about twenty percent of infants have it. If this is the case, it seems as if we should have much more substantive medical evidence regarding it, but we don’t. The medical evidence doesn’t exist. Trust me, I have searched for it extensively. There isn’t even a test to confirm a diagnosis of colic. The diagnosis is given when doctors can’t find anything else wrong with your child to explain the crying.

There is not an identifiable cause for colic. There are numerous hypotheses available but not any that have any real substantive support. One of the most common reasons given is that the baby is experiencing severe abdominal pain. Some assert that the baby’s intestines aren’t fully developed. Other experts cite milk allergies. However, none of the research conducted has provided any real evidence to support these assertions.

So, when it comes to colic, we don’t know what causes it, we can’t test for it, and there isn’t a cure for it. Pretty encouraging for the parents whose babies are given the diagnosis.

I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if colic was simply created as a way to make parents feel better about not being able to make their baby stop crying. It seems easier to say your baby has colic rather than to try and find an explanation for why your baby is crying all the time and you can’t get them to stop. By giving calling it a medical problem, it takes the responsibility off the parents’ shoulders and eases the feelings of failure.

I am not convinced it is a real medical condition. It may just be a label given to a relatively common problem in infants. Maybe it does take time for the intestines to fully develop and some infants are bothered by it whereas others are not. It may be similar to teething. Some children have a terrible time teething whereas other children don’t even notice. Maybe colic is just another developmental problem children respond differently to and it is as simple as that.

I have no idea if Gus had colic or not during his first three months. What I do know is he cried angrily and frequently with very little ways to comfort him. Anytime he was close to falling asleep, especially at night, it was as if a special kind of torture was being inflicted upon him. He screamed and writhed as if you were trying to pull his arms off. We would rock him, jiggle him, sing to him, swaddle him, unswaddle him, sit still, be quiet, be loud, feed him, burp him, and change him. We did anything we could think of to try to ease his obvious discomfort so that would stop crying and go to sleep, but nothing seemed to work. The worst part was finding something that worked once and your hopes would rise only for them to crash violently when it didn’t work the second time.

Whenever I sought comfort and support about how difficult his crying was, the response I always got was in relation to how it would only last for a short time. And in the grand scheme of life, this is true. However, I am fairly certain that other parents, the authors of the articles, and the doctors who make these short term proclamations have never had a baby who was colicky. Because if they had, they would know how maddening it is to have a child cry for hours on end for days on end. Listening to your baby scream in pain and being unable to comfort him is torturous.

I have never felt more like a failure as a mother as I did during those early infancy months. It nearly drove me over the edge. In fact, I almost committed dog homicide. I think I better save that story for tomorrow.

Any of you going to rush out and buy the latest book on curing colic?

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