Some babies are born to raise hell. That would be me. A colicky unconsolable spitting up little screamer. After I read "Crybabies: Solving the Colic Conundrum" by Jerome Groopman (New Yorker Sept 17, 2007), I can now let my mother know: "Mom, it wasn't your fault."
Colic* happens. It's not due to anxious mothering. Not due to allergies. Not due to anything that scientists are sure of. No amount of picking-her-up or letting-her-cry makes much difference. After a month or two the problem simply goes away.
There has been lots of research but few answers. Colicky babies may be hypersensitive to normal stimuli -- their own hunger, noises, touching, fabrics, tags on their clothes. (Tags on their clothes??? This was probably it -- I'm always ripping out clothing tags.)
What I should be grateful for is that my parents survived the ordeal without abusing me. It is the squawkers who end up in emergency rooms with shaken baby syndrome.
Most pediatricians comfort parents by telling the parents that colic is harmless, but according to one expert:
Our research... has shown that these babies are more likely to have difficult temperaments and to experience feeding and sleeping problems... They can go on to have behavior issues in preschool and problems later on in school with attention/hyperactivitiey, sensory integration, and emotional reactivity.
Hmmm... was colic the first sign of my shy-but-independent ways? Who knows... My siblings were serene angels compared to me but our personalities are all complex with many similarities. I guess, ultimately, no one knows anything about how someone will grow up.
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*Colic defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, and for more than 3 weeks.