Nothing could have prepared me for the weeks and months after my son was born. I knew some babies were fussier than others, but I had no idea a baby could be this fussy, or have this much trouble sleeping, feeding, and pretty much just existing.
Sammy literally came out screaming and didn't stop for months. When he was awake, he was crying or screaming. He slept in short bursts and reacted strongly to even the smallest discomforts.
To say this shot down my confidence as a mom would be a huge understatement. I found myself overcome with guilt and worry; I mean, what kind of a mother doesn't know what's wrong with her own child?
I tried all the soothing techniques I could find in parenting books and online. While some of these strategies worked, many didn't. This just left me feeling even more incompetent and anxious.
I took Sammy to a few different doctors, and they recommended putting him on reflux medication, as well as cutting all dairy out of my diet (I was breastfeeding). While I hoped and prayed that these would be miracle cures for his fussiness, they only helped a little bit—basically taking the edge off his fussiness.
That period of my life was extremely isolating. Everyone around me seemed to have easygoing babies and appeared to love this whole mom thing. Meanwhile, I was living in a state of survival, just trying to get through each day with a fussy newborn and a toddler.
Fortunately, as Sammy got a little older, life started to get more manageable. While he never became an easy baby, he did become easier.
Many times over the years, I've wished I could go back in time and reassure myself that Sammy's fussiness wasn't my fault. Since that obviously wasn't possible, I did the next best thing: I started a website and Facebook group for parents, so they would know it's not their fault….and that they're not alone.
What to do if You're Struggling With a Fussy Baby
If you have a fussy baby, you're probably ready to start moving out of survival mode. Here are my top three recommendations for coping with a fussy, colicky, or "high need" baby.
1. Remind yourself this is NOT your fault
In my experience, a huge part of coping with a fussy baby is simply understanding that this is not your fault.
Research tells us that anywhere from 10 to 40% of all babies are born with colic and that around 10% are born with a fussy or "difficult" temperament.
This means your baby isn't fussy because of the parenting style you chose (or resorted to), or because you're "spoiling" her, or because he's sensing your anxiety.
Some babies are just hard—and understanding this, deep in your core, can help relieve some of the guilt and worry you may feel.
2. Find your village
Chances are, you feel isolated and alone. You may find it difficult to connect with other parents who aren't struggling with the same challenges as you are.
This is why Facebook groups are so amazing. You can connect with other parents from around the world, all without ever having to drag your fussy babe outside the house.
My Facebook group for parents of fussy, colicky, and high need babies is a safe, supportive and non-judgemental place to get support and advice from myself and other parents.
Many parents tell me they remember the exact day they joined our ranks, as they felt like a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders. They now knew that there were 25,000+ other parents out there who could relate to what they were going through!
3. Revisit your expectations
I'm not going to sugarcoat it: your life probably sucks right now!
But the sooner you're able to let go of what "should have" been, the sooner you can embrace your little one for exactly who he or she is—at least for right now.
Sure, fussy babies make life a lot more challenging! But these kids can also teach us a ton about ourselves, and I 100% believe they can help us become better people…if we let them.
If we can shift our thinking from, "Why do I have to deal with this?" to "How can I help my baby?" and "What can I learn from this?," I believe we can become better parents and better people.
And this can make all the fussiness seem a little less frustrating….and in the grand scheme of things, a lot more worthwhile.