This is Noah. Many of you already know this as you suffered with us, but Noah spent the first three months of his life crying. He had colic and reflux. And when I say colic, I don’t mean he was fussy between 5pm – 7pm. I mean he cried 18+ hours a day. The nurses in the hospital told us they had never seen a newborn baby cry so much. He barely slept. He was five months old before he slept a four-hour stretch. If he wasn’t eating, he was crying. He didn’t even like riding in the car-in fact, he would scream in the car. He screamed in his swing, in his bouncer, in front of the television while watching Baby Einstein. He screamed as we tried new formula brands, sitting in his car seat on the dryer, in the bathroom with hot steam from the shower. I would spend 6-8 hours running the vacuum cleaner in his nursery while rocking him because it was the only thing that would sooth him. I was an expert at the five S’s of soothing according to the Happiest Baby on the Block (swaddle, sway, shush, suck & side lay). Five years later, I am still complaining about it and my shoulders still get tense when I think about those first three months of his life.
We had tons of help. Patrick and I really stuck together- we were a unified team against our raging baby. Our dog Zoe sat in the nursery with me for hours (even though she is terrified of vacuum cleaners). My mom came to help me every week. Even my mom’s friends came to help. Patrick’s mom held him all night long after he came home from the hospital so we could get a little sleep. Our friends made us dinner and a few brave ones even offered to babysit. And I spent a lot of time on my knees praying for grace to endure.
Interesting thing….as part of our Home Study, we are required to take an online class that basically tells you everything you need to know about parenting an adopted child.
While taking the class last night, we learned about a baby’s cycle of needs. Basically, when a baby needs something, they end up in a state of rage (which I thought was a completely appropriate term, given our experience with Noah), which serves as their call for help. In Noah’s case, every time he would rage, Patrick or I would meet his need by either feeding him or standing in the bathroom with the lights off with running water while blaring rock music…you know-whatever works. We met his need over and over and over again.
And now, Noah is this incredibly trusting, empathetic, loving kid. And part of the reason for this is that he had his needs met as a baby – every single time.
On the flip side, learning about kids who face the cycle of unmet needs is incredibly sad. Babies whose needs are not met don’t learn to trust or emphasize. It’s brutal to visualize a crying baby and nobody to hold him.
This mental picture is changing my perspective about Noah’s colic. Maybe Noah’s colic was an opportunity for Patrick and me to build trust and confidence in Noah that will be with him for a lifetime. Maybe instead of complaining about it, I should recognize what that experience did for Noah as a healthy person and Patrick and me as parents?
I am not wishing colic on any baby, but learning about the opportunity we as parents have to fill our baby’s needs, it is pretty powerful. My new perspective (5 years removed) – colic presents parents with more opportunity to build trust and confidence in their kids!