Kelly was all geared up and prepared to care for her new baby. Even though she was a single mom, with no prior baby experience, she had a great group of friends who were eager to help. Everything went smoothly for the first few weeks but then Zachary began to have terrible fussy periods in the afternoon. By the time he was 8-weeks-old, Kelly couldn’t take it anymore… “Having a fussy baby and being a single parent was a nightmare combination. Zachary suffered from uncontrollable crying, sometimes up to twelve hours a day. Once launched into his fits, nothing soothed him. His little fists banged against my chest and each hit sank my confidence even lower. On top of all this, I was a walking zombie. Zack would fall asleep but then pop up again just a couple of hours later demanding to be held and fed. I was usually able to get him back to sleep pretty quickly and I could ease him back into his bassinet, but the instant I took my hands off him he would startle and start shrieking all over again. I felt like he was intentionally outsmarting me. I believe that there are no “wrong” or “bad” feelings, however, the despair I felt when Zachary cried non-stop was almost unbearable. I was enveloped with a sense of utter powerlessness; combined with sleep deprivation and fear. And, I would have ‘awful’ feelings and thoughts. I had rage and dark waves of hopelessness. I felt robbed of those special bonding times a mother is supposed to have with her newborn, and I worried so much that all the tension inside me would affect him. We were both so unhappy. Then, Dr. Karp made a 10 P.M. house call that started to turn things around. I was strangely happy that Zack was screaming when he arrived. Dr. Karp didn’t comment on his crying; rather the first thing he said was that my apartment was too hot. I set the room temperature at 80°F to keep Zack comfortable. I noticed my cats were shedding tons of their fur, but I didn’t realize at the time this was because of the heat, not because they were stressed out by my new baby. After cooling the apartment down, Dr. Karp wrapped Zachary so tightly it startled me. Even though he taught me how to swaddle Zack at his 2-week visit, I didn’t do it because he fought me when I tried it. It seemed to me he didn’t want to have his arms restricted. But, I have to tell you…tight swaddling became essential for calming him. He always fought the blanket at first, but once he got calm he stayed content like that for hours. Next, Dr. Karp put Zack on his lap and jiggled him like someone riding on a subway. I was amazed because this vigorous motion seemed to put him into some sort of a serene trance. Finally, Dr. Karp placed my baby in the swing on the fast speed with the vacuum cleaner roaring right next to him. It seemed completely wrong. It seemed too intense for a brand new baby…but it worked like magic. After 1 solid hour of shrieking these ridiculously simple tricks had Zack sound asleep within 3 minutes. Despite my trepidations, for the next couple days I practiced these techniques over and over again. At first, my jiggling was pathetic and Zack wiggled out of the swaddling as fast as I could do it. I found I had to be more pushy…for his own good. Once I got the hang of swaddling, I learned to quiet him by whirling him around the room. Then I plunked him into the swing, grabbed it from behind and jiggled it back and forth, with tiny jolting movements, like he was on a bucking bronco. In seconds he would relax and I would let go of the swing and allow it to continue on its own, the fast speed. Soon, this routine became my secret formula for happiness. After a few days of mastering these skills, I finally got Zack to take a 3-hour nap (a record for my boy). That same afternoon, when his nanny came, I exclaimed, ‘I found the answer! Zachary’s doctor says we have to wrap him tightly to get him to sleep!’ She cried, ‘No! No! Wrapping a baby tight is not fair to them, it’s like torture.’ I showed her the method and explained how well it had worked but she refused to do it. However, I have to tell you, a few days later, even she had become convinced. I came home from a trip to the store to find she had Zack swaddled, swinging…and, asleep! The new Zachary was much more at peace! Instead of waking every 2 hours, he began to sleep, swaddled and in the swing, from 9 PM to 3 AM. Then he would eat and go back down until 5-6 AM. That came out to a full 8 hours for mom and baby! Although he still grunted a lot in his sleep, as long as he was tightly wrapped, he slept so deeply his groans didn’t wake him up. I now know Zachary was simply a child who needed three more months in the womb, but the “Cuddle” method was the next best thing. He just turned 3 months old and I don’t need the rocking method too often because he’s so much better. He has gone from being a baby with colic, to a happy baby with rarely any crying. He smiles, laughs and enjoys watching the world! By 4 months, Zachary was laughing out loud and sleeping 8-11 hours a night with no need of swings, swaddling or white noise. He was very capable of self-soothing by getting his hands to his mouth and sucking his fingers. And, when he did get a little fussy, Kelly would just swaddle him. Which she said made him grin, as if he was thinking, “Hey, I remember this from when I was a baby!” At 12 months, Zachary was a happy, sunny boy. He was curious, passionate, active and he loved hearty food that was as zestful as his personality.
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