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Why I'm Grateful My Baby Has Colic!

alec vanderboom

I have a baby with colic. Actually, my little man has "infant acid reflux." I call it colic when I talk to other people because "my little baby has heartburn" really does not do justice to the amount of stress this condition puts on me as a Mom.

My baby is on anti-reflux medication. I'm so grateful that I was a strong advocate for him. After only a month of medication, his weight jumped up from the almost dangerous 15% on the average infant growth chart to 85%. His medication is working. My son has flipped from turning so red and mad that he was burning off most of his caloric intact each day to now merely being a crabby baby who refuses to nap and violently vomits over all of his clothing.

This is my sixth time having a child with a variant of this condition. My son is one of our worse cases of infant acid reflux, but I've certainly been here before as a Mom. (We think it's genetic.) Because I've been here before I know that no medicine, no sleep position, no special infant sling, etc is going to help me reduce my son's pain level to zero. I work with my doctor to help monitor my son's reflux. However, I'm done searching for a magic cure.

My son will always spend a part of the day crying loud, awful cries. As his Mom, it will always hurt my heart to hear him in pain. This is our life together until he reaches 8 or 9 months and that little immature swallowing apparatus finally starts working better.

The thing about colic is that it exposes every single weakness that I have as a human being. ("I thought I was a nice person until I had a kid with colic" could be a Tee Shirt Slogan for me.) For the other two kids who had this condition in an extreme way, the colic period has scared me to death. "What can I do to stop it? When is it going to be over?"

As a more experience Mom, I know that this stage will pass. So instead of getting obsessed with "Make this stop now!" or "Why doesn't my baby always have to be the hard one?" I'm developing a resigned patience. If I want delightful, funny, sensitive, and artistic kids with my tall husband--then I get babies with sensitive digestive tracts. I can't have the joy of one without the pain of the other.

The thing about having a baby with colic is that situation strips me naked. There is no hiding from myself. Every flaw in my marriage, in my housekeeping, in my homeschooling, in my parenting, in my prayer life--every sinful habit that I have gets magnified when I'm walking around without sleep and either twitching because I hear my baby crying in his crib upstairs or terrified that my slightest movement will wake him up in my arms.

For 12 years and 5 babies, I kept focusing on healing the baby. "If the baby stops crying, then I'll feel less stress and become a nicer person." Now, I think "the only solution I've got is to become more holy myself."

I'm a little freaked out finishing Lent this exposed. I know what sinful stuff I need to work on. My husband knows what sinful stuff I need to work on. My older kids know what sinful stuff I need to work on. My Catholic prayer friends know what sinful stuff I need to work on.

What I'm grateful for is the virtue of humility. When I'm this low, I have no choice but to work on the really broken parts of myself. Right now, I'm healing the parts of myself that were broken before age 6. It's awesome because whenever I patch up something this deep, I can see the results really fast in so many areas of my life all at once. Getting this low is embarrassing, but it's effective.

I joked with one of my friends this week. "Isn't Motherhood wonderful? There is a Miraval Resort in Tuscon, Arizona, where people pay thousands of dollars to get the same life lessons that we learn practically overnight, for free!"

I mean that comparison to Miraval Resort in a very concrete way.  To survive four more months of colic, I have to learn how to cook better. I have to improve my diet. I have to exercise more. I have to ask my husband for a neck massage at the end of the day after holding our son for 12 hours. I have to rebuild my self-esteem, re-evaluate my Faith, and learn how to better manage stress in the moment.

All my efforts at self-improvement were optional before.

Now my self-improvement feels CRITICAL.

That is why I'm grateful for my son's colic. That is why I'm grateful for a hard Lent. It's so easy to drift into complacency as an adult. "Oh, I'm a good enough person for God!" As much as I hate Rock Climbing the Spiritual Mountain for God, it's good for me.

Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. Help me to better slug off my sloth and work harder for the Kingdom of God!