Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lessons from a Crying Baby

I told Matt what Allie’s doctor said. Sounds to me like colic. Hang in there. That’s it. That was the extent of his advice. Hang in there. Well, I could have told myself that. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past month.

Allie cries through the evening almost every day. Every time there is a lull in the pattern, I get my hopes up that things are getting better, but it never lasts. We’re getting in a routine where Matt and I take turns walking laps with her around the fireplace. He tries a pacifier. I try to nurse her. We walk and sing and swaddle and bounce and do our best to eat our dinner and talk over the wailing. We switch back and forth between walking with Allie and playing with Reese and our alone time is rare. This is our life.

She’s only been doing this for about four weeks, but to us it feels like forever. It’s affecting my ability to enjoy the newborn stage, and lowering my patience for Reese and Matt and myself. One night after Reese was in bed, I handed Allie off to Matt and buried my face in my hands.

He put a hand on my shoulder, “Are you ok?”

“I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

“Are you saying we should put her on Ebay?”

I laughed through the tears, and asked if he would mind if I took a shower before my next turn.

For the past month, I have been asking God to make this go away. I begged him to calm her, heal her, and bring her peace so I in turn could have my peace. I want to remember this stage of her life as a happy time. I don’t want to look back and think, “Gee, that was awful. I'm glad that’s over.” I have said over and over to God what I had just said to Matt, I don’t know how much longer I can do this, and I've been angry that God doesn't seem to be listening.

Alone in the bathroom, I prayed as I often do in the shower. This time, however, I put my agenda aside and I asked Him only for acceptance:

Dear Lord, please help me accept my circumstances. Help me to be calm in this storm and grant me the peace of knowing that this will pass in your time. Let me be thankful for the things that are going well, and help me find greater joy in smaller moments. Please give me the strength and patience to be the mother you created me to be.

Then I returned to the living room to take my turn with Allie. Matt went to bed and I continued walking laps around the fireplace. Remembering my prayer, I started thinking about all that I've been thankful for in the past month - moments that made me smile and all the wonderful parts about having a newborn. I recalled the moment of her birth, her first bath, her first smile, the way Reese kisses her forehead, and the feeling of her tiny head resting in the palm of my hand.

Before I knew it, I was crying again, but instead of the tears of frustration, anger, and exhaustion to which I had grown so accustomed, they were tears of gratitude and joy. At some point, Allie had stopped crying, and her little head rested peacefully on my shoulder. As I continued walking, I sang three verses of Amazing Grace and thanked God for answering my prayer. Then I set Allie in her bed where she slept for six hours, her longest stretch to date.

When I first told Matt, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” I wasn’t even entirely sure what I meant. That statement doesn’t even make sense in a situation where there is no way out. Yet, I tend to say that during times when I’m faced with circumstances I’m not willing to accept.

I realize now what my heart was feeling when my mouth made that statement. I meant that I can’t continue through this challenge while focusing on the negative. I can’t face it without God’s grace. And I can’t continue holding onto the image of the circumstances I want rather than accepting the circumstances I have.

I don’t know how much longer this will continue, but I do know that if I continue drawing strength from God, keep picking myself up when I fall, and focus on being thankful for all that is well, I can do it. For as long as it takes.

Because although there may not be peace and quiet in my home, I can choose to walk through it with peace and quiet in my heart.

This is a Bigger Picture moment.
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  1. Beautiful sentiment that I completely relate to. Colic- whew! Those days were so hard. Dom had colic for 4 months. And just like you, it was by God's grace and love that we all made it through.

    Peace, friend.


    1. There's something about the empathy of other moms. Sometimes all you need to say is, "I've been there." Thank you.

  2. Ugh, I feel you. My youngest had acid reflux/colic for the first few months and never stopped screaming. It was worse when my husband or anyone else tried to hold her, so I literally spent ALL of my time holding a screaming baby. It really, really wears on you!

    1. It sure does, and she's definitely happier with me. This is the second comment I've heard about reflux. I think I'm going to check with her doctor about the possibility of heartburn. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I'm 52 years old and my babies are long grown up. But I really enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Thank you! I hope it brings back some fond memories for you.

  4. Im anonymous. I couldn't seem to publish my comment unless I chose anonymous, anyway I'm a friend of your aunt caren's my niece dates Stanley. You are an awesome writer !

    1. Thank you so much. And thank you for visiting! It's nice to "meet" you. Sarah is a sweetheart.