It all started the minute my youngest daughter was born. The second they popped her out to greet the world, there she was in all her pissed off glory. For a solid twenty minutes while the nurses took her vitals and measurements she laid there screaming, and screaming, and screaming. At one point my husband and I looked at each other wide-eyed and fear-stricken. What had we just gotten ourselves into? What could a newborn possibly be so angry about? Was this normal? Could we pop her back in to cook a little longer until her attitude straightened up?
Finally, they handed her over and left the room to give their eardrums a break, I’m sure. Clueless about what to do or how to calm her I did what any new mom would do and I stuck a boob in her mouth. That seemed to do the trick because that’s where she stayed for the entire hospital visit. At one point I was so exhausted and going on hour 24 of no sleep that I just told the nurse to take her and give her a bottle. Within an hour they were wheeling her back in because they couldn’t console her. I was the only person this tiny girl was familiar with and I was all she wanted.
Once we got home the screaming continued. At her first pediatrician visit, we mentioned she had been spitting up consistently since she was born. At one point during our hospital stay, she was silently choking but a nurse happened to be standing right next to her and intervened quickly. We chalked it up to acid reflux and at just 2 weeks old she began a Zantac regimen.
After a few days, the Zantac seemed to be doing the trick. This tiny monster was starting to finally calm down. She still had frequent meltdowns but it was nowhere near what it had been. But after a weeks time, she seemed to be back to her former self. She was constantly nursing, constantly spitting up and constantly screaming.
The screaming seemed to be getting worse and worse. She was becoming harder and harder to console. Nothing was making her happy. She didn’t want to be held, she didn’t want to be put down, she didn’t want to be on her back, she didn’t want to be on her stomach, she didn’t want a bottle, she didn’t want to nurse. When I say this little girl was inconsolable I mean it. Her crying fits would go on for what seemed like hours. Bringing everyone in my house, including our 15-month-old to the edge of hysteria.
It got to the point that even when my house was completely quiet I could still hear a screaming baby echoing in my head. Do you know what an inconsolable child does to your mind? To your marriage? To your sanity? I would get in the shower and cry. It was the only place I could find 5 minutes of quiet to just unleash all my frustration.
I tried switching my diet, I started logging what I was eating and drinking. I tried eliminating as much dairy as I could. Drinking more water, eating less leafy vegetables, avoiding chocolate. Nothing seemed to be working. I knew she wasn’t hungry because her weight was off the charts. So at her 3-month pediatrician appointment (I go monthly to break up her shots), I asked the doctor what could possibly be going on. Why was this little girl so miserable? Why couldn’t I make her happy? She told me its most likely colic and unfortunately, it just has to run its course.
Another two weeks went by and I happened to run into a former client who works for Enfamil. She was asking me how the new baby was doing and before I could even finish telling her how awful she is she stopped me and said: “she has a cows milk protein allergy.” Excuse me, what? She said, “oh yeah that’s 100% a cows milk issue.” She told me a formula to try and said you should see a difference within 48 hours.
But this wasn’t the plan. Formula? No. We are breastfeeding. I’ve committed to nursing this little girl and that’s the path we are sticking with. Breast is best, right? How could my milk, something that’s supposed to be perfectly tailored to her needs be causing these kinds of issues? After a few days and a lot of mom guilt later, I gave in. I bought the can of formula and shook up her first bottle of powdered milk.
A few days went by and eventually, the crying slowed down, the spitting up seemed to be less and less frequent and by day five it happened. I was laying in bed that evening snuggling and giggling with my 4-month-old when I stopped and realized that for the first time in her tiny life, she had made it a whole day without crying. I looked over and told my husband that for the first time since she’d been born I was truly able to enjoy her. Appreciate her chunky cheeks and the smile that makes them puff up. I started to hear her giggle and babble more, within another week she was rolling over and playing. She felt better.
It wasn’t colic, it wasn’t acid reflux. My daughter was trying to tell me she didn’t feel good. That her stomach hurt and that her throat was burning because her body was rejecting the milk she was receiving.
Its now been 3 weeks since we switched to formula and I can safely say that deciding to give up breastfeeding was the best decision I ever made. Every day she gets better and better. She’s pleasant, she’s funny and silly. She laughs and talks and screams. She’s full of big smiles and belly laughs. She’s snuggly and cuddly and everything you could want in a baby.
My hope is that someone will read this and know they are not alone in the mom guilt department. That, unfortunately, breast isn’t always best. Making sure our babies are happy, healthy, fed and comfortable is whats important. It doesn’t matter where their food source comes from just as long as they are being fed. If your little one in constantly inconsolable don’t assume its just because that’s who they are. Do a little research and don’t be scared to try something new!
You might thank yourself for it later. I know I am!