Blog 24: Crying is Manageable, but Colic is Ordeal


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I think as new parents, we have a rough idea of what to do when babies cry. We work out strategies and plan what type of soothing position will be used. Anxious, yes, but not willing to accept defeat. However, nothing in my life prepared me for the experience of colic.

Colic, as defined by (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2024), is “Colic is when a healthy baby cries for a very long time, for no obvious reason.”
And the key words here are “for no obvious reason.” This means the experience is like crisis management without a solution. An emergency without a way out. Both you and the baby going through the motions, not knowing when it will end.

A Sunny Afternoon

On this afternoon, all was quiet. Life was bliss, and I thought to myself, “What a time to be alive.” The sun was softly blazing through our window, providing that afternoon bronze glare it often does in Kampala. Little me was sleeping, all tucked in her comfortable outfit, naïve to all the wonderful things of the world.

And So It Began

Almost like a siren or a vicious alarm, the neighborhood tranquility was broken by little me crying. Not the usual cry for hunger, overstimulation, or thirst. A loud, constant, and painful shriek. Attuned to the sounds my daughter makes, I could tell this particular pitch was different, more painful. I quickly dashed to her, bewildered, and confused, picked her up, and started the standing bounce. The standing bounce is a classic soothing technique.

It works 60% of the time. It is easy and less stressful for the body, and both you and the baby can get into the motion. But 30 seconds in, I realized that was not going to work. I switched gears and turned to the sitting rock. A bit more painful for your back, but hey, who am I to complain? My wife carried the baby for 9 months. This seemed to have worked for a moment, but it was followed seconds later by an even deeper and louder cry.

Fight or Flight

Not wanting to wake my wife up, I tried the walking bounce. This is a mix of the standing bounce, but in this approach, I walked with my daughter up the stairs, around the kitchen, down to the gate, up to the water tank. It was a full, multi-pronged approach to try to settle her down. And as you would have guessed, it didn’t work.

To my embarrassment, I could hear my wife asking what the problem was. Shame was on my face, and I couldn’t understand how difficult it is to rock a baby back to sleep. But she cried and cried, and for good measure, cried even more. It was exhausting. In the time you have read until this paragraph, she was still crying. I did not know what to do.
Eventually, I passed her on to more capable hands, and eventually, she calmed down. Shell-shocked, I sat on the couch, confused about what had just happened. My wife explained to me what colic was, and I followed it up with some online reading.


So, to wrap up my anecdote, I leave you with this advice: Crying is manageable, but colic is ordeal. When you find yourself in that whirlwind of experience, breathe and hold tight. It won’t be fun, but it isn’t fun for your child either. Soothe them through the experience and come out closer.

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