When Your Baby is Fussy

I feel a bit like a whale who has been forced to swim underwater for longer than anticipated and I just now broke through the surface of the water to get air.  I think they call that spouting, right? Hopefully this will be a gentle one. :)

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

Bella has had sooooooooo many tummy issues.  For awhile, I said she was my next to fussiest baby.  Then David and the boys were gone again and I realized that in some ways, she may be my fussiest.  I just survive a little better because there are more people to help hold her.

sibling love (1 of 1)

Our babies look so much alike David jokes that we only have one mold.  Apparently we only have one mold in other ways, too.  They all, to varying degrees, end up with same tummy troubles.  They spit up a lot.  They have a lot of gas issues.  And they can’t lie down to sleep during the day because of reflux (seriously, you can hear the gurgling as it come up their throat); but they sleep well at night (more on that later) most of the time from tiny on.

life with four (1 of 1)

Oddly enough, Liam was our easiest little baby.  I still look back and wonder how in the world that happened because he had umpteen food issues later.

You would think by now I’d know what works.  I thought I did.  But somehow every baby still has its own road map.  I’ve talked to a lactation consultant three times.  I’ve tried every position I can think of … boppy pillow, side lying with the head of her crib elevated, bouncy seat ….

The other day I got so desperate I put her on her tummy hoping to buy myself ten minutes.  She was sleeping soundly, completely limp.  I gingerly placed her on her tummy and eased out the door.  By the time I’d used the bathroom and washed my hands she was crying again.

newborn (1 of 1)

They should make 0-10 scales for fussy babies like they do for pain management.  I remember when I had Adam I felt like I wasn’t supposed to say I had a fussy baby because I heard people describing babies with colic who literally screamed for hours while you paced the floor.

He didn’t scream.  He just cried and we could often find a good position while sitting on the rocker for part of that time.  It was just that we needed to plan on doing nothing from 5:00PM to 11:00PM except take turns rocking, feeding, patting, jiggling, and burping.  Not fussy, right? :) Ha ha.

I think I just thought that was normal for babies.  Kind of like I thought it was normal that we were soaking 10-12 burp diapers with spit up (some of them I could have wrung out) and he would occasionally hit the wall behind my rocker in the morning.

We’ve come a long way from those days.  I wish I would have known then what I know now.  It wouldn’t have taken care of everything, but I definitely could have helped him be more comfortable those first two months.

big brother (1 of 1)

The good thing is, that one mold we have? So far all of them have gotten exponentially better after the two month mark.  Their little digestive systems work better and their little tummies apparently expand a bit more so there isn’t quite as much reflux.

Now there is Bella.  Bella, who on some days, has to be held the entire time because even a bathroom break is too long.  On good days, she sleeps for ten minutes in her crib and although the monitor is turned up, I go flying back into her room terrified she’s died because she never sleeps this long.  And then there are strangely miraculous days where she sleeps lying down for forty-five minutes.  Bella is probably a 6 on that 0-10 scale.

one month old (1 of 1)

What is most boggling of all is the fact that she sleeps at night.  There are a few nights here and there where she only sleeps a four hour stretch (and of course, the worst would happen when David is gone), but for the most part she can do a six to seven hour stretch between feedings.  Rarely eight.  Which means about six hours in her crib since it often takes an hour afterward until her tummy can manage lying down.  How can the same baby drink the same milk and be laid in the same crib with the same blankets and sleep for hours at night but not even do ten minutes during the day?  I will NEVER figure this out; but I am eternally grateful for the sleep at night.  Thank God it’s not reversed.

I’ve gotten lots of helpful advice.  Anything from eliminating dairy to which probiotic to meds for reflux to the possibility of a tongue tie.  I’m grateful.  Even though we won’t do all or even most of it, it is helpful to have pieces to sift through and see how they fit into her puzzle.  Over and over again I am amazed at the community that women can be for each other.  It is an eNORmous gift … this thing of holding up each other’s arms.  (More on that later, too, I hope, but there are too many things to write about and precious few minutes available for it.)

I started eliminating dairy last Monday.  Monday and Tuesday were terrible.  Wednesday and Thursday she was so angelically quiet we worried she was sick. She slept and slept and slept.  I woke her several times to feed her.  Her body language was so relaxed it made me realize how much she had been hurting.  And when she opened her eyes, she focused well instead of having that glazed look I assumed was newborn, but actually was because of pain.  There was one poopy diaper per feeding instead of three.

I was in awe.  Getting rid of dairy was worth it.  Then came Friday and the crying started all over again.  I walked and walked and bounced and swayed and shhhh, shhh, shhhh’d and bounced and swayed some more.  That night I got exactly four hours of sleep and she didn’t get much more.  It wasn’t until sometime Saturday morning as I kept bouncing that I realized I’d had a piece of biscotti Friday morning.  Made with butter.

Seriously.  I used to be the food hawk because I had no choice.  I could sniff out “May contain traces of residual milk protein” labels like a bloodhound.  You would think I’d remember things like 1 cup of butter per recipe kind of things.  But we’ve gotten so far away from those days I’ve forgotten how terribly, terribly careful I had to be.  So I’m off again.  For real.  And today? Today is heaven in a baby package.  She sleeps and sleeps.  Except for when the milk gurgles up into her throat.

sibling love (2 of 1)

I’m trying probiotics again (she’d gotten sick on the carrier oil in the Gerber one) because I have them only in a tinier dose this time.  And then we’ll keep going down the list of things to try beginning with the least invasive first.  No dairy.  Probiotics.  And if we still need more help I think we’ll try reflux meds.

I’m still researching the tongue tie issue.  It intrigues me because some of the stories make me think potentially all of our kids had it to some degree, but especially Zara.

What tomorrow holds remains to be seen.  For now I will gaze in awe at my sleeping, relaxed darling and dream of the day when I can eat caprese salad, a huge bowl of ice cream with peaches, Dove chocolates, quesadillas with fresh salsa, and ALL the cheese in the house.

9 thoughts on “When Your Baby is Fussy

  1. Bethany

    Many, many blessings to you, Michelle! I can’t even begin to imagine all you’ve been dealing with but I can begin to imagine the exhaustion and weariness. You are a Good Mom. ❤

  2. Lorraine

    My heartfelt sympathy to you. My second and youngest daughter had/has a dairy sensitivity. My second one slowly outgrew it between 18-24 mos. My youngest is only five months, I am hoping she will outgrow it too. I didnt have the extreme reflux to deal with tho. My daughter also seemed to mind coffee. At first I thought it was caffeine, but she became fussy and restless on decaf too. So I think may have been to acidic. Now I can have one small cup a day and she seems fine. I did think drinking several cups of chamomile tea helped her tummy relax.
    I miss my icecream too. Have you ever made a single serving of homemade icecream in a bag? Instead of milk and half and half I just use almond milk. It is kinda of icy, like snow icecream. But sweet and cold. I’m still trying to figure what I can add to take the place of the half and half and make it creamier.
    Hoping you find things too help!

  3. Andrea

    I’m so sorry! After waiting 10 years for our last baby…..she was as fussy as they come. I honestly didn’t enjoy her much the first four months of her life. It will get better….I promise!

  4. Jenn

    It’s so good to hear how you and Bella are doing. I’m relieved that you found something that seems to be helping her, but sad that you can’t have dairy. I would miss it so much! Hopefully she outgrows it soon. Much grace be heaped upon you!

  5. Donita

    While i totally understand the concept of “least invasive first”. Having had a baby who acted just as you described… Fixing a tongue tie is the easiest! If it is the actual culprit of course. Seriously 10 minutes at a family dr. And we brought a new baby home. I sat and cried in utter disbelief and absolute relief. And then felt like the worst mother for letting it go 4 weeks. For me, it became clear since he was my third and I was confident with breastfeeding but something was wrong. I was continually sore, about to give it up. Then there was the projectile vomiting, continual screaming, and no sleeping. Blessings from a momma who understands

  6. Colleen Z

    I had a child like this. He slept all night long and complained all day long. I walked floors for hours at a time. He was dairy intolerant and I didn’t figure it out till he was older. Someone suggested eliminating dairy and it was to overwhelming at the time. Plus I mistakenly thought if he was reacting to something he wouldn’t sleep good at night. So it’s interesting to me that she does the same thing, complains during the day and sleeps at night.
    When I was in the midst of pacing the floors and desperate God gave me this verse Colossians 1:11NLT We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy.
    Praying God blesses you with endurance, patience and joy.

  7. Sherri Boley

    Hi Michelle, I don’t know you but my mom is your fb friend and i have to ask because of how similar your breastfeeding no-nos are to mine lol. By when were you able to eat those things again? I realize this is 3 months later so I’d love some reassurance that my sweet 10 week old will be magically gas-less by the end of December??? Maybe??? I’m craving all those foods you listed! Btw, your Bella is adorable!!

    1. Michelle Post author

      I’m so sorry! I have completely neglected this space for months (obviously) and December is long gone. I am still not able to do any dairy with Bella and she is also reacting to cashews. I think it’s most tree nuts, but cashews is the most intense. Some babies outgrow their issues by six months. Bella isn’t one of them. I hope your baby is doing well!

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