Archives for posts with tag: Colic


My daughter is seven weeks old.  Seven weeks!  How did that happen so quickly and slowly at the same time?  I’m looking at her now as I type this.  She is peacefully sleeping, her perfectly tiny hands resting on her stomach and her pacifier dangling from her lips.  She has changed so much in these seven weeks, I can hardly reconcile the baby she was those first days to the baby she is now.  What an awesome journey.

My husband and I were married five and a half years ago and immediately began building a house the hardest way you can probably imagine.  I thought the house would be finished and we would be moved in and cozy within a  year and then we’d get to the baby making!  I couldn’t wait to become a mother.  Even during the long years that went by when we were building our house and were in no position to start a family,  when I would tell people I didn’t really want children (probably to ease the pain of waiting), I always knew deep in my heart of hearts that this was the only job I really wanted.  My sisters tell me they cannot remember a time that I wasn’t waiting for motherhood.  Last winter, when we thought the end of house building was just beyond the horizon (ha!), we decided to throw caution to the wind and begin trying for a baby.  We didn’t consider the timing.  We didn’t consider anything, really.  We just wanted a baby, and luckily we didn’t have to wait long for that positive pregnancy test.

Pregnancy was easy for me.  In fact, I spent the first four months insulating and plastering the house just about full time and the next three months working full time as a teacher and plastering at the house on the weekends and after work.  I have a great photo of myself well into the second trimester twenty feet high on scaffolding plastering the second story of our house.   I was nervous about the birth, though.  I knew that it would push me to the limits of anything I had ever done before and I was scared.  To ease my fears, Jason and I signed up for a nine week Mindful Childbirth and Parenting class.  We learned how to meditate, practiced prenatal yoga, learned all about what happens physically and chemically during birth, experimented with pain management and were introduced to breastfeeding.  I left that class with my fears eased–the birthing process was demystified and I was sure that if I couldn’t handle the pain, at least I would not be afraid of it.

As fall turned to winter, and then winter turned to deep winter, my due date approached.  The winds picked up and the temperatures fell to well below freezing.  We live on an unbridged island off the coast of Maine, and these two factors meant that boats were canceled almost on a weekly basis.  I began to feel a little nervous about how the heck I was going to get to the hospital when the baby decided to come.  This was the only time in the whole pregnancy I really kicked myself for not considering the timing of this baby!  What were we thinking:  Giving birth to a baby in the dead of winter when you live on an outer island with unreliable transportation to the hospital–crazy!  I spent many windy nights awake, pleading that she would wait for a calm day.  It turns out she did.

I was in the middle of teaching a science lesson when the first signs of birth began with the sensation I was peeing my pants.  I tossed the dry erase marker in my hand to my long-term sub, Lauren, who happened to be shadowing me that day and ran to the bathroom.  Sure enough, the signs were there that my waters were beginning to leak!  I was in a daze for the rest of the day.  That night my husband and I sat with each other at the dinner table and toasted to the possibility that our lives and our relationship were about to change forever.  We were excited and nervous.  I went to bed that night as the first contractions started.  They grew steadily throughout the night, but never got serious enough to warrant waking Jason.  By 5am, the contractions were steady enough, strong enough and close enough to get up and make arrangements to catch the first boat off the island at 6:30am.  I packed up what we would need for the hospital and grabbed the baby bag while Jason ran out to the new house (no we’re still not in it–soon, though!) to stoke the stove and feed the chickens.  We hopped into the truck and drove down to the dock to catch the morning boat.

It was a stunning morning.  The water was like glass and the sun  coming over the horizon was streaking the sky pink and orange.  She could not have picked a more beautiful day to be born!

Of course by the time we got off the island all contractions and signs of impending birth had completely stopped.  I was so bummed, but also certain that if I ate enough pineapple and walked up enough hills things would get going again. My good friend and doula, Emily met us at the dock.  She spent the entire day with me and Jason trying to restart the birth process.   As the hours went by and nothing happened I felt embarrassed and so confused. The whole island knew we went off during the morning, Emily had rescheduled all of her work for the day–how could I possibly go home without a baby?  As the morning turned to afternoon and afternoon turned to evening, I began to come to terms with the fact that this baby wasn’t coming.  Jason and I decided to sleepover at Matt and Nichole’s just in case and Emily decided to go spend some time with her family.  The rest of the evening I tried to make light of the situation.  I joked around with Jason, Matt and Nichole and even had a glass of wine to relax a bit.    Finally it was late enough to go to bed.  I fell asleep, disappointed.

I woke up just 30 minutes later.  The contractions were back and stronger than ever.  I worked through the first phase of them for about an hour before needing some help.  I woke Jason and we worked together until the contractions were just 30 seconds apart.  At this point Jason mentioned that maybe we should call the hospital.  After the previous day, I didn’t really trust that what I was experiencing was the real thing, but I agreed that we should call.  The nurse encouraged us to come to the hospital.  Jason helped me to the car and we made the 10 minute drive to the hospital.  By then it was 1am.

Once in the hospital things progressed quickly.  I spent the next hour, hour and a half in the tub laboring through stronger contractions while Emily and Jason both helped me by applying pressure to my lower back and wiping my forehead with cool water.  Labor was intense, but I was surprised by what a peaceful experience it was.  The room was dark and quiet and each contractions came in a predictable wave.  As each contraction subsided I was able to relax and connect with my breath.  I kept reminding myself that I was now connected to every other mother on the planet.  I felt so happy!

Then it was time to push.  Jason helped me move from the tub to the bed.  Just as we reached the side of the bed and I put my hands down for support, my water broke.  I remember experiencing such a rush of surprise by the sound and feel of warm water just gushing from my body.  And then the first true urge to push overcame me.  It came from the tips of my toes, rushed up to the top of my head and then bore down on my whole body with such force I could do nothing but moan and brace myself against Emily, Jason and the bed.  It was during this part of the labor that I had to dig deep into myself to find the strength to keep going.  My mind rushed from thought to thought and I said “I can’t do this” more than once.  Of course, I had no choice.  The moments that I remembered to stay present and find the few wisps of peace between contractions were very helpful.  After just an hour of pushing, Lauren, the midwife, shared that she could see the baby’s head!  I reached down and felt her emerging.  With just one more push her whole head was out and one more push her body slipped out into the world.  Giving birth was simply the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.

And then everything changed.  In just one moment, with just one push, our lives were completely altered forever.   Now we began our life after the birth of our beautiful daughter.  If I thought that being pregnant was hard, I realized while laboring that pregnancy was nothing compared to giving birth.  It was soon after welcoming this helpless, precious little being into the world that I realized that if I thought giving birth was hard, it was nothing compared to the journey we were just beginning.

For me the hardest part of this experience so far is the loss of my former self and the birth of a new version of me.  I don’t know how to describe what this process has been like so far except to say that it feels like a slow surrender.  The first stage of this surrender came after the first week of the witching hour.  From the very first week of her life, Luciana has suffered from evening colic.  Every evening starting around 6:30 and lasting between three and five hours, our little girl screams uncontrollably.  Her face turns bright red, her body becomes as stiff as a board and her steel blue eyes seem to plead with us to do something to help her.  We swaddle her, play white noise, bounce and rock and dance, hold her on her belly or on her side and hold a pacifier in her mouth until she realizes it is there and begins to suck.  Our efforts to sooth her work to calm her crying, but she is still stressed, and short, violent bursts of cries continually slip out of her throat throughout the night.   It is utterly painful for all involved.

When this behavior first began Jason and I fought against it.  We complained about it and felt frustrated.  One night, during a particularly frustrating episode, we looked at each other and said “What did we do?  This was a mistake.”  After days and days of growing frustration, we finally realized that this was just how the next period of time was going to be and there was nothing we could do about it.  After we realized that the coming days, weeks and possibly months were going to be like this in the evening, things began to shift.  We stopped trying to eat supper together and instead took turns soothing our baby and eating.  We stopped thinking that we would get to bed at any predictable time and we started taking turns caring for her and sleeping.  As this surrender to our little baby continued, we also began to recognize that our frustration with her during this time became less and less and our compassion for her grew and grew.  There are certainly still times that we are frustrated, but we have learned to support each other during those times and we are getting through each night bit by bit.

Surrendering to this baby has not been easy.  It’s been exhausting and trying.  In fact, to find strength to make it through this, I began to pray.  I’m not a religious person and my prayers are not to any God in particular.  In fact, they are probably prayers to myself more than anything else.  I pray for strength, patience, and the mindfulness to cherish each moment with this little baby–even those during the witching hour and those in the middle of the night when she wakes up for diaper changes or feedings or just because.

I’m not sure if this surrender is complete yet.  There are definitely times that my frustration level boils up unexpectedly and I need to take a break, but things are getting easier.  I’m finding deeper pools of strength and patience than I ever realized I had within me and I am falling in love with my baby more and more every day.  It is true that I instantly felt love for my precious baby, but somehow that love grows infinitely stronger every day.  Even when I’m exhausted, sore, frustrated, and sobbing, my love for this little human overwhelms me.  It’s a love like I’ve never experienced before.  I now also recognize how quickly she is growing and changing.  Where before I just wished and wished for her to develop so things would be easier, now I try not to wish these moments away.   At night, before I fall asleep and the baby is sleeping next to me in her cradle, I gaze at her and try to remember each detail of her sweet expression, her little fingers and toes, the way that she breathes and moves her arms when she begins to stir.  In the middle of the night when she wakes up to nurse and I cradle her in my arms  rocking back and forth I now recognize that these hours in the middle of the night are my favorites.  I’m sure this is the beginning of my own transformation, but so far, I like this new version of me and I’m open to the continued surrender.

Looking back on the last seven weeks I know now that I wasn’t prepared for this life after birth.  But then again, is there anything that could have prepared me?  The first weeks were the most challenging of my life.  This whole experience continues to be the most challenging of my life.  But I guess that’s the thing with parenthood.  Yes, the sleep deprivation, the uncontrollable roller coaster of emotions, the discomfort of breastfeeding, the loss of independence–all of those things are really, really hard, but somehow, even with all of that, this experience is also the most intensely amazing, loving, beautiful and wonderful of my life, too.



Today Alona Maya and I were playing in her makeshift fort.  We were in and out with giggles, running around the blankets, Alona (15 months old) jumping on me throwing her head back with laughter.  She leans in: “Mama”, and kisses me right on the lips.  I melt, into the yummiest love puddle, filled with pure joy in my heart..

Was it always this way? No.  A resounding No.  Time had it’s way with us, the universe with it’s playful choreography, somehow got us to this place.  I look at my fiery, energetic toddler and it amazes me that it has only been 15 months.  It feels as though we have been on a wild & challenging journey forever.  Though the fog is so far behind me.. as I type and recall, how quickly I can imagine that thick fog; life after birth.

Before my daughter was born, I was a practicing licensed massage therapist with a specialty in prenatal, a certified yoga teacher specializing in pre & postnatal, and a strong advocate for educating/supporting pregnant women and their choices in childbirth… “I got this!” I thought.  I was so insanely over prepared for my homebirth, I almost felt empowered to labor unassisted.  I thought about the baby, my baby, so abstract and inconceivable.. I thought it would all just come to me.  Right?

My birth story (a long story made short):  With my midwife, her assistant, my husband Isaac, my rockstar doula, my birth tub, we were ready. Ready for the marathon.  My water broke at 11:30 PM on Sunday, December 4th and my contractions started about a half hour later.  The next morning contractions had slowed – we went to an accupuncturist, took a walk in the park, walked up and down the stairs, nipple stimulation (no sex because of the ruptured membranes).  By Monday afternoon’ish, the transition from early labor to active labor was not a gradual progression, but much more dramatic than I had expected and learned.  I rode out each contraction, trying to breath & rest in between.  The labor continued hour after hour, in bed, in the tub, on the floor, on Isaac, on my Doula, on the couch, in the shower, on the toilet, and pretty much every other square inch of my house.  The contractions began to steadily increase in length and frequency, and got worse (or should I say more “intense”). Sometime Monday evening my midwife checked me (a rather harrowing experience on its own) and declared that although I was 90% effaced, I was only 3 cms dilated!  This was a pretty serious blow.  I was still healthy and the baby’s heart rate was fine (and remained fine for the entire labor) so we all just kept going.  The midwife had me in a variety of difficult and painful contortions.  It was too much, I thought I would be here forever, drowning.  Despite all our learning and preparation, I think what I was least prepared for was the sheer amount of time that things could go on for.  I just kept going, one contraction at a time.  At some point they gave me tea with some vodka to try & rest a little..

By 5AM on Tuesday morning, contractions had progressed to around 90 seconds long with a minute or less in between.  I started to voice doubt, I felt as if I finally lost control in the unrelenting ‘undertow’, over and over.  I was checked again, and at only 4 cm.. Isaac & I cried, shocked & defeated.  The midwife told us that we should consider transferring to the hospital, that a “therapeutic epidural” might have the effect of causing my cervix to dilate rapidly.  It would serve as a specific function in the labor instead of just relieving pain.  My water had broken 30 hours ago, and hospital policy is 24 hours.  We were healthy, me and the baby, with a strong and steady heart rate.  A decision made by me while barely able to listen to one full sentence as another wave crashed into me.

With a taxi blaring evangelical talk radio, we made the 10 minute trip to the hospital.  The twin challenges of transition-like contractions and the feeling of defeat and failure that came with transferring was unbearable.  Things were difficult at the hospital when we arrived as well.  They split up our birth team, we had to deal with rude obnoxious nurses, and the whole experience was just everything we had hoped to avoid.  Once I got the therapeutic epidural, there was a rapid and dramatic shift.  I caught my breath, took a one hour nap, and dilated 10 centimeters.  With the support of one hospital midwife, one homebirth midwife, one rather obnoxious nurse, and my dear Isaac, I pushed our baby out millimeter by millimeter for three and a half hours.  (We were lucky that we ended up with a fairly progressive hospital midwife, but nevertheless there were some real challenges about being in a hospital; staff laid on the pressure, constantly watching the monitors and threatening an episiotomy, even when mama and baby were strong and healthy.)  At 2:00pm on Tuesday December 6th, Alona Maya was born.  We smuggled out the placenta, and got the heck out of there within 24 hours.. we were home.

Home.  I entered with my newborn, having spent the night alone with my new baby in the hospital, without Isaac.  I swatted away every nurse who tried to pry my baby away from me.  They wanted to take her from me it seemed almost every hour for various things, I never let her go.  I wouldn’t let them bathe her to wash the precious vernix from her skin.  I think I recall at one hazy hour them taking her for a minute to check something – I was so weak.  I counted the seconds before they would release me.  (I had no fresh clothes or anything of my own, we had never packed a bag in case of a transfer)  When I got home, I couldn’t walk (from the pushing, and some stitches from natural tearing) and anywhere I walked I was reminded of the trauma I had endured for the past 3 days.  Letting other people hold my daughter was nearly impossible for me.  As the days went on, a sweetness and light entered our home as we got to know our baby girl, though I still held her close, tried to nurse, skin to skin, wearing her, naked day after day, unable to fully let anyone else hold her.  I hated visitors, I wanted to throw my phone out the window, I didn’t respond to emails… I wanted to take my cub and my partner, and hibernate in a cave together.  I wanted to be left alone to heal and nourish each other.  My need to protect was strong, I wanted to run away far from anyone who knew me.  I didn’t want anyone to know she was born.  It felt too raw and precious, we three had been through something no one could understand, we had traveled to a different reality.

Nursing became a great challenge.  Alona was tongue tied, and breastfeeding was torture.  I was engorged and crying, I was so underslept, hungry, and vulnerable. (Isaac was truly incredible in all of this, he was my fellow lion.)  We got her frenulum clipped which was nearly impossible to handle, watching your baby being held down to snip her tongue.  I almost passed out.  Thank Gd we did it, as our nursing relationship would have never flourished.  Breastfeeding became easier (for lack of better words) and as 4-6 weeks rolled around, Alona began to cry, a lot.  She wouldn’t stop crying, and she was in pain.  My midwife told me to keep nursing and cuddle, but Alona wouldn’t lay blissful and cuddle.  She hated to lay down, she cried and I began to shatter.  I continued to stop using my phone, I lost a few friends (even still)  connecting with people was the hardest thing to do. Alona screamed and cried while awake, and slept on me when she collapsed.  At 7 weeks old, her colic/reflux (at that time we had named it) was as bad as ever.  I bounced on my birth ball every day for hours, we did craniosacral, I cut out every food that could possibly irritate Alona’s digestive system.  It was all so painful and unrelenting.  I wrapped my baby into my warmth, braved the winter and traveled between three different mom support groups.  Alona and I would pace and find our rhythm around the room while listening to other mothers.

Then one day, with a dramatic shift, we started to lift above the fog.  Alona and I started to have moments of tenderness and alertness, there were smiles between the hour of crying and bouncing.  As we rocked and danced our way towards 4 months, there was a calm and steadiness, and I could see past the fog.  Fast forward months of both challenging and beautiful moments.  We cherish our community of wonderful like minded mothers and babes from the support groups.  We still don’t sleep through the night, but it’s livable.  The crying is now something I understand, and through sign language or her expressive face, I can be present with my girl and attend to her needs.  We play and learn together, I smile as she learns the world through bold movements and voice.  My expanded heart drops when she is brave and falls or runs too fast.  I still hold her close, and she is my little cub.  Although she’s still not the greatest fan of a good long cuddle.  We nurse and I hold her feet and brush her hair with my fingers in awe of our ordeal.  I wonder, will she read this story?  Will she remember?