Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mother's Instinct

To be honest the past few weeks have been really hard. 

Like I felt like I was drowning hard. 

Like I didn't know how I was going to be a good Mom to two without Luke working from home for part of the day...everyday hard.

Like I almost cried when my husband called and asked me to make lunch for him and his business partner the other day...because I also had to make sure the house was spotless...and I had to look nice...and I had to do it all with one hand and/or a screaming baby hard.

I knew something wasn't right.  Gemma's crying fits were getting worse and worse.  Everything seemed normal her first month--she was a bit particular, yet nothing alarming.  But for the past three weeks she has had four primary states of being:
1) asleep {usually in my arms}
2) eating {always in my arms}
3) crying {usually in my arms}
4) being actively pacified {usually in my arms--bouncing her up and down, while holding a pacifier in her mouth}

There was very little time of wakeful contentedness.  No lounging on the boppy pillow while I played with Augustine.  No play time for her at all.  No falling asleep in her swing.  An occasional happy bath, but even then I never knew when she might burst into a sudden crying fit that I couldn't console.   

She almost always cried as soon as I put her down--asleep or awake.  {The only exception was at night--she was, and still is, a great night sleeper}. 

I felt so discouraged. 

I remembered Augustine's lazy newborn days.  We used to joke that he didn't even learn to cry until he was eight months old. 

I remembered her first few weeks when she took great naps on her belly and didn't need to be constantly pacified when awake. 

I felt sad.

Everyone told me she wasn't that fussy and that every baby is different. 

But last Monday, I couldn't accept those answers anymore.  I needed to know what was wrong--in a weird way, I needed something to be wrong.  I didn't want to continue this way, and even more so, I didn't want her to continue to be suffering.  Deep down, my fear was that her problems stemmed from having an underdeveloped something, due to being born 9 days early, which I blame myself for {an illogical conclusion, I know, but that's the way Mommy Guilt works, isn't it?}.  A good friend reminded me before the appointment that I was not to blame, that babies are born early all the time, and that I just needed to pray about it.       

The doctor looked her over and said she looked perfect developmentally.  He said she was probably just be a high maintenance baby.  "On the bright side," he added, "very intelligent children are often super fussy as babies."  I'm sure he tells all the discouraged Moms that--and I have to admit, it did help my spirits...just a little bit.

He said it could also be a dairy sensitivity or a reflux issue and suggested that I cut dairy and chocolate from my diet.  For those of you who know me well, you know that dairy and chocolate pretty much are my diet!  Our before bed snack is almost always ice cream, except when it's a big glass of milk with some graham crackers.  And lately it's been both {hey, I'm breastfeeding...}.  Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are also consumed with reckless abandon in our house.

I agreed right away {there is little I wouldn't have agreed to to make her happier}, but I really didn't think it was going to help.  The doctor said I had to give it 3 to 4 weeks before making an assessment and {possibly} going back to my old eating habits.  Luke was more hesitant about the whole thing.  "I'd rather have a cranky baby than an insane wife" was his response.  {He's seen me fast from with ice cream and chocolate...and it's not a pretty site}.

I have actually taken it a step further and cut out most of the major allergens {dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts}. I am going to slowly re-introduce them to try to figure out exactly what was bothering our sweet baby girl. More on that later.

And Guess what...
We have noticed a huge difference in her temperament! It absolutely pains me that over the course of three weeks, she was growing progressively more uncomfortable.  I am sure it will take a few weeks for her to get used to being content, but she is already much happier and I am so thankful.    

Going through this experience has helped me not to take the little moments of Gemma's life for granted. I love just staring into her eyes, talking sweetly to her, and waiting for her to smile back. I know even these trying times pass by so quickly, and they are moments I will never get back. 
One of her fav positions...


  1. Oh Andrea...my heart just breaks for you! I UNDERSTAND those frantic moments...and all the overwhelming emotions. Days seems to pass so slowly during these times, but in reality, they will quickly come and go. Life will be normal again (depending on your definition, I guess :) I'm so glad the dr. figured out what could be ailing her...although I know how painful it would be for me to give all that stuff up. What a GOOD mama you are! She's lucky to have you ;)

    God bless you. Please know you are in my prayers!

  2. I'm glad you figured out part of the problem...but soooo sorry that you have to cut out your favorite foods. I also LOVE dairy, wheat, chocolate, etc, so I can understand how hard it would be to give up. It shows how much you love your daughter that you're willing to sacrifice your diet to help her feel better. I hope it all passes soon!