If you’ve been following my ‘cases’ on my children you realize they are very sweet, emotional, and skilled children in their own ways. Both are genuinely special, and been entitled to special needs resources from their school district. You can imagine that was a hard enough mountain to climb alone if you have kids and realize all the wonderful ups and downs they come with. But as with anything in life you aren’t allowed one mere mountain, you must have a range of them, especially when you have children requiring a little more attention than the average kiddo.
Bubby is the main star of this tale. When he was born he slept for all of a week or two normally. Then less and less, until eventually I wasn’t sleeping at all. Personally, for me sleeping is a very big deal. I conditioned my children when they were old enough to know when they were allowed to wake mommy and when they should play quietly in their rooms until mommy is ready to get up. I know this may seem a little crazy, but after not sleeping as much as I didn’t, you get a bit greedy with the ZZZ’s.
After the first couple weeks home I became ill. I remember sitting in bed with a toddler and a baby and feeling sharp radiating pains of death spiraling up and down my spine. I should mention during my epidural they nipped a nerve, and this was that nerve healing and making a big hoopty doo about it. At any rate I ended up in the ER, and found out I had a severe infection. The last nap I took was induced by that infection. Once the medication ran out, and I was healed, sleep would elude me for not days, but years.
As a mother who has experienced colic at it’s worst, let me say this up front. It’s an obvious indicator something is wrong, and the wrong is not the colic, colic is a side effect of the underlying condition. I’m not a doctor, but trust me this doesn’t take a doctor to figure out. Any good parent would instinctively pick up that something isn’t right when their babies scream whenever not in their arms, and have begun sleeping so little you don’t remember the last time you went to bed, because all you’re doing is taking care of the baby all hours of the day.
Bubby was averaging four hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period. SERIOUSLY, four hours in a twenty-four hour period. I remember after the first couple weeks he was never comfortable in his bassinet. I would rock him to sleep, put him down, and as soon as I took no more than two steps away, WHAM!, crying ensued.
At his following check ups the first couple months he had slightly dry skin. We were told to lotion him, that should help. Next it was lotion him every bath, diaper change, and clothes change. He had miserably dry skin and cradle cap. It was not great. He was miserable, and he cried and scratched so much his skin was starting to bleed.
Around the four month marker, I had spent hours researching the internet to figure out what was wrong with him. Why wouldn’t he sleep? Why is he so dry? And by the time his appointment for that time came up I accepted he had eczema. I was not leaving without a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
The nurse took us back to a room and began her interrogation about wet/dirty diapers, and how often was he feeding, how much was he sleeping. It almost makes me laugh now, but at the time I’m not sure how the nurse walked out of there without an angry mom attacking her.
“How many hours is he sleeping?”
“Oh, no honey, I mean at night.”
“Oh, no honey, that is in a day.”
“Are you feeding him enough.”
“Only all the time, he’s breastfed.”
“Maybe you should give him cereal in a bottle to help him sleep.”
At that comment I cringed inside knowing one of the main reasons you do not begin cereal too early with babies is their systems are not ready, and it isn’t unheard of their bodies developing allergies to it. If what I have read about that is not even true, it’s still not the way it’s done. Cereal and solids start at six months in most cases. I’m going to stick with general guidelines, but thanks for insulting my parenting capabilities.
That’s when the Dr. comes in to an already annoyed, frustrated, haven’t slept in days mom. She did recognize the eczema at first glance. She also recognized the staph infection that was covering his entire body in the rash I had brought him in just weeks earlier and seen by a different doctor for. Now to be fair the rash didn’t show up the way it did in the office in natural light, but let’s just say he was awful. She gave me a list of medications she’d like to prescribe including an antihistamine for the itching, a antibiotic for the staph, and a steroid cream for the rash. She did just that after checking with another doctor on whether that would work for his case, and soon after asked if she could bring in a student doctor.
The student doctor was instructed that he likely would never see a case like that again. I of course was wowed at the idea it was that bad, but again his rash did not present that colorful at home, and we were using Aquaphor like it was miracle cream.
We took him home under the instruction to wean him off the antihistamine as quickly as possible. He was too young to be on a medication that causes that kind of sleepiness. He slept six hours the first day, a whole two hours more than usual. He did sleep a little though, which means I got more than a twenty minute nap.
It wasn’t an all around answer though, over the next few months I slept with Bubby in my bed, and I am fully anti bedsharing. If that’s your gig, and you perform sleeping with a baby next to you safely, great, but I am not one to trust it. I had no choice. I would prop my arm on a thin pillow and semi-sleep on my back with him cradled in my arm much like he would be if I were sitting in a chair with him instead. He didn’t even make it into his crib until he was close to ten months old, and by then he was on a strict routine of bath, lotion, bed, and then mommy sleeping on the rail with her hand on his back- LITERALLY!
The first year of his life I pretty much walked through delusional. I don’t have a ton of strong memories other than the most important details. Four months he slept four hours a day, no naps. Six months he was still itching some, a little better, and sleeping maybe five hours to six hours day, no naps. By nine to ten months we felt like he was almost on a normal sleeping schedule of around eight hours a day, no naps, and still waking frequently with itchy dry skin.
Around a year he went on Benedryl. That was helpful, but he became immune quickly. By sixteen months he finally took a real nap, one that didn’t consist of me rocking him to sleep, setting him down, and only having enough time to pee before he was screaming.
During all of this most of what I remember is sitting in bed rocking an upset baby watching Star Wars, and eating Cheez-Its. Outside of that, I did what research I could for eczema and how to treat it for young babies, what kinds of things triggered it, and so on. I did stumble upon an idea I normally would have never considered. Around his four month turn around we took him to a chiropractor. I never trusted them previously, but have gone monthly ever since. A slight adjustment of his neck, and every time he was laid down in his bassinet and he rolled his head to the left, he no longer jerked awake. It was a minimal fix to a much larger problem, but I highly suggest it. Make sure you reference you chiropractor. I really like mine, but there are bad ones.
After accepting I was never going to sleep again, even once he began sleeping some, I gave up on a normal schedule for myself and just tried to get him sleeping enough. Babies his age require far more than he was getting, and it seems incredible to think around a time most babies sleep up to eighteen hours a day, he only slept four. That today still shocks me. It seems impossible, but not as impossible as slipping by on barely two hours myself. Some days I tell myself maybe I’m lucky to be alive after sleeping so little. At one point I know I was nearly psychotic. I wanted out of my life, and away from the kid who kept me from sleeping.
It almost felt intentional. I would get him to sleep in his crib, and the second my head hit the pillow and my eyes closed, I’d fall asleep and he’d wake up screaming. My husband swore this was coincidence, but he knew and he did not want me asleep. I took a vacation around the ten month marker, and my cousin sat with the kids while my husband worked. After her first night, she called me to tell me that my son would wake up every single time she’d get in bed. Coincidence, my A**.
I later read that colic could mean the baby can’t calm their minds, as though too much development is going on and it’s hard to fall asleep. We all recognize we have nights we can’t sleep, but for a baby think how frustrating that would be. I also read that many people who were colic grew up to be genius. This is where you need to go read Case Two: Bubby. The definition to genius is as follows
Exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.
A person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect: “musical genius”.
I am not saying my child is a genius as of yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me down the road.
The colic, the eczema, and all the itching he went through as a baby reared it’s ugly head the year after Bubby turned four. He came home from his preschool with rashes all over. We’d grown used to patches behind his knees and on the inside of his elbows, over his toes, and on his heels. This was so out of control he’d hide to scratch, he knew he shouldn’t, but he couldn’t stop it was so bad.
His skin would melt off in the shower it was so scraped up, and I know he had a staph infection periodically. Nothing was helping him and this was the true breaking point. Years after he learned to at least sleep eight hours a night, and dose off in the car he would still wake up frequently in the middle of the night needing more lotion. I could lotion my child in his sleep, even he could lotion himself in his sleep, but these recent nights were so bad I was back to not sleeping again- back to feeling delusional.
Needless to say we were back to the Benedryl, back to the Aquaphor with steroids in it, and back to hell, literally, I felt like I was in hell, and I can’t begin to imagine how he felt. You have to also remember this is all going on with a child who cannot clearly communicate exact needs. He couldn’t say where he itched, or exactly what he needed. All he could do was try not to scratch and bring you his tub of lotion.
Our insurance was dropped by the hospital group his Dr. was in, and we were forced to hunt for a new doctor. I absolutely hate the doctor I found initially. I had great referrals, but this man had me in tears as I walked out to my car after the appointment. I explained we’ve been dealing with eczema since birth and he took that as I was a complete moron. He went into the whole speech anyone with eczema knows by heart, no perfumes or dyes in detergent, use this brand not that, lotion while the skin is still moist, so on and just shoot me now, I already know this…
Speaking of already knowing- I should mention my mom had bad skin too, and she also had bad allergies. Eczema is a known symptom from allergies. I deduced early on that he was allergic to milk through elimination dieting. This went as far back as breastfeeding, he could tolerate yogurt, but not milk, cheese, but not ice cream. We had that part nailed.
However, at the point his skin was at I knew he had more allergies, just not to what. Until I knew what the trigger was, it wasn’t going to be treatable. My new mission was to get an allergy test and a treatment plan.
My father had found a skin doctor he liked, but unfortunately, that doctor was more interested in his skin before worrying about allergies. I went home dismayed with a new steroid cream and a follow up appointment in two weeks. I knew it wasn’t going to work. We went through entire tubs of Aquaphor in a couple of days. We’d used so many tubes of steroid cream on him, his skin literally thinned out as a side affect.
Two weeks later, she realized his skin wasn’t going to improve and she called for a blood lab. That was not fun, vile after vile of blood from a kid you couldn’t fully explain to that this would be helping him with his skin. I think he’d have opened a vein himself if he could realize what it was all about. I would have.
When the test came back, it came with a referral to a doctor who knew my child’s life story before I told it to him. He knew every struggle without me saying. All about the colic, the itching, the frequent waking episodes all night long, the tears, and the pain. He knew it all from his blood work, and in the first five minutes of meeting this man, four years of weight fell off my shoulders. I had an answer to something at last.
Allergies suck, eczema sucks, colic sucks, and everything in between them, minus the slight chance of genius, all suck. What I have learned from this, is colic is baby’s way of saying help me please now, dear whoever is listening, do something quick I am in pain, I am suffering.
For Bubby, it meant he was allergic to dust, cats, dogs, oak, maple, ragweed, cockroaches, numerous other weeds, and environmental items. That wasn’t the worst news however, he has severe, life threatening food allergies. We now don’t leave the house without a medical kit including Epi-pen Jr., Prednisone, and Benedryl. He is on a daily regimen of Claritin up to twice a day, on top of a nightly antihistamine that includes a mild sleep aid. He does sleep through the night now. On top of that his skin is nearly always clear, and he hardly itches anymore. If he does have a flare up we have an army of medication, and a steroid cream he hardly ever needs.
Take if from a mom who has suffered and grown- DO NOT! stop pushing for treatment, for answers, and explanations to why your child may be miserable. If they aren’t sleeping well, and they should be red flag. If they are colic- RED FLAG!
We’re not completely over the hurdle, his medicine will need to be adjusted, and he will develop asthma, he already has small episodes. Not far behind it is reflux. At least for now, he’s finally sleeping the way a child should be, and nine am has never felt later…
May the force be with you… it definitely kept me going at one point.