Now that the dust has settled (well, let's be honest - as a mom, does it ever fully settle?) and Charlie and I have had some time to find our groove together, I finally have the space to write a little. I can't believe it's been almost five months since Mike and I received the most amazing, perfect gift we have ever gotten. It has not been easy though. Starting with her arrival, Charlie's life on this planet has been a lesson in total surrender and she has continued to teach me surrender every day since.
It's easy to share the highlights but I've been wanting to write about the challenges because I know these were what helped me during the hard times with Charlie. So let's start it from the top.
When I was pregnant, I had visions of leisurely walks to get coffee, while newborn Charlie chilled in the stroller. I had visions of bringing her along for lunch with friends and walking around the grocery store like I saw tons of other moms doing... but that was not to be, at least not yet.
From day two in the hospital, I knew something was up with her. She was crying... a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Actually scratch that, she was screaming. They would wheel her from the nursery to our hospital room and I would hear her from halfway down the hall. And she had lungs from the beginning! Her face would scrunch up and her hands would clenched in little fists that were impossible to open up. Her back would arch, and she had painful gas. She had trouble sleeping because she was so uncomfortable. Breastfeeding was, in a word, challenging.
Amazing and perfect and our little angel, she was. Chill and comfortable, she was not.
Was it colic? My mom quickly let me know I had colic for six months.
"Karma," they said. Awesome. I was not into six months of screaming, miserable Charlie. It hurt me deeply to see her hurting. And what is colic anyway? I saw glimpses at moments and knew there was a happy, smiley kid in there.
So I immediately went to work figuring out what was wrong with my precious one. The first clues were her body signals. As I furiously googled, I learned that she was showing signs of a food sensitivity - which, since we were breastfeeding, was caused by something in my diet.
Because you're ravenous all the time when you first start breastfeeding, I had been eating like crazy in the hospital, really whatever I wanted. I was having coffee with milk and chocolate chip cookies. Scrambled eggs. Peanut butter. I had a delicious burger dripping with grease and cheese.
But everything I read said that dairy was the first thing that had to go. I knew this was a big one because she was having green poop (baby poop is so normal for new moms to talk about fyi) right after I ate anything with dairy in it. So I cut it cold turkey, on day three of Charlie being on this planet. But that didn't get rid of all the symptoms, she was still unhappy and uncomfortable.
Not that there is anything wrong with formula, but if I could breastfeed, I was going to. And I could. Even though it was a struggle many, many days - too much milk, too little milk, fast letdown, shallow latch... we persevered.
As my sleuthing continued and the weeks went on, I noticed she showed a reaction when I ate eggs as well.
As I deleted more foods from my diet, she felt better and better. It also ended up being the best postpartum weightless strategy ever, since in editing my diet, I cut out the large majority of my comfort foods. Goodbye white cheddar cheese popcorn, my first true love. But it was also great for me personally, because I felt so much better with those things out of my system. My digestion cleared up and even though I was up at night with a newborn, I had lots of energy.
With help from our pediatrician, we simultaneously started Charlie on probiotics. We layered on enzymes to aid her digestion. Things started to chill out. But finally we added in the most magical drug of all...
As the months went on, her digestive tract matured, she developed and the truly happy kid started to emerge.
At around 3.5 months, everything started to turn around. She started to get into a rhythm. We got her on a little schedule. I started being able to reintroduce problematic foods to my diet. She is fairly predictable and I can truly know when something is wrong instead of her just screaming all day long. Now I can take her to coffee, or to Target without fear of a meltdown. And she loves to go to our favorite place, Whole Foods, thank the heavens. She lives for seeing all the people and the doggies.
She just needed the time, space and love to develop into herself.
Funny, it seems like the recipe for growth is the same at any age.