My Journey to Survive an Unhappy Baby


Meet Sean. He is my fourth (and final) baby. He is so adorable, right?! My Journey to Survive an Unhappy Baby

He is nine months old now. He laughs a lot. Smiles a lot. Sleeps a lot when he feels like it. He is one happy little guy! But he wasn’t always this way. Seriously, he was not a happy little guy for a long time.

Here is Sean’s story (summarized, with most of the dramatics removed).

Sean was a lover from the get-go. When we held him on our chest, he’d lift his head and look up at us. Even his cry was soft. Something we were definitely not used to with our other three screamers! In the hospital, he seemed to nurse okay. The first few days we had him home, I still thought he nursed okay.

But as days wore on, okay turned into not okay and eventually turned into not so good. He wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. Having three other kids at home made it very hard to be permanently glued to the couch. Even though he wanted to nurse constantly, he wouldn’t be satisfied when he was done. My Journey to Survive an Unhappy Baby

He cried.

He spit up.

He fussed.

He was restless.

He insisted on being held.

He insisted on being held while I stood up and bounced.

He was constantly spiting or drooling, therefore he developed a large rash from his chin to his chest.

He wasn’t gaining weight.

He was put on reflux medication.

He wouldn’t take a pacifier.

He would drink from a bottle, but the milk seemed to drip out the side of his mouth.

We tried everything. EVERY THING!


Car rides.




Gripe Water.

Colic Drops.

I bought three different kinds of bottles.

I even bought one of those Nose Frida things to which my husband reminded me we had survived three children without having to suck boogers from their noses. But I was DESPERATE!

People would ask, “Is he a good baby?” And I couldn’t lie and say yes. Sure, we loved him. Sure, he was charmingly adorable. But he was seriously unhappy, and I felt so bad that I couldn’t help him. (I also really wanted to take a long hot shower, but I digress.)

About the time he was a little over four months, I had grown really hopeless, tired, and probably even a little depressed with trying to solely nurse him; because, at this point, it was actually getting painful. One morning, while gritting through my teeth to feed him, I read this blog post from Tammy on breastfeeding with a lip-tie.

As soon as I lifted up Sean’s lip, it was like the fog had been lifted. I felt like someone finally understood me. That I wasn’t crazy in thinking there was a reason he was having such a hard time.

The journey from that point wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. Getting his lip “fixed” turned more complex than I imagined. In hindsight, I should’ve taken Tammy’s advice immediately and called a lactation professional. But I was foggy, fuzzy, and far from level-headed.

While we were going back and fourth on what to do about his lip, Sean started rolling over, jumping in his bouncer, moving around, and interacting. The weather got nicer and we were able to go outside. I stopped breastfeeding and slowly became a normal human being again.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, we went to visit a friend and her new baby. Sean was “playing” with his two-year-old sister and fell on a toy. His mouth was bleeding. When I finally got it all cleaned up, I realized he had broken his lip-tie. All on his own. Nine months later.

I really do believe a lot of Sean’s issues were that he was struggling to eat. I am amazed at how much more his lip moves now than it did before he fell and broke the tie. I also think that he just loves to move. Now that he can move around and explore on his own, he is a completely different baby. Praise God!

In closing, I guess I really don’t know if there is an answer to surviving a fussy… unhappy… colicky baby (however you label it). For us and for Sean, it really just took time (a long time, but still).

Through it all, here is what I can suggest to other moms out there living with a not-so-easy newborn:

  1. Trust your mommy gut. I should’ve trusted mine earlier on. You are mom. You know your baby better than anyone. If you don’t like what someone has to say, get a second opinion, or a third. You’re mom. You know best.
  2. Take a long, hot shower. Or whatever it is you need. Communicate to those who love you that you need a break. Trust me, you need a little break. Especially if you’ll be standing on your feet from 3-11 p.m. bouncing and swaying.
  3. Love on him. I found myself singing “Jesus Loves You” and “You Are My Sunshine” as he was crying. Reminding myself that I did really love that boy helped me not get so tense and stressed out.

Hang in there momma, and snuggle that sweet, screaming baby!


  1. Erica, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your honesty and humor! As I read your story I felt like I was reading the story of my second child. I teach natural childbirth classes and I’m a labor Doula, so I often wondered how in the world could I not help this baby feel better!?! After all, I’m constantly reading research and parenting blogs, and it’s my job to be up on the latest breastfeeding issues, colic, soothing techniques, etc. I relate to your statement that you tried everything… absolutely everything!

    The reminder that time heels most issues, and your suggestion to sing songs that are happy and show you love your child are genuinely awesome recommendations.. Truthfully it wears on you as a mother to have a child that is constantly crying or upset no matter what you try . You have to physically remind yourself that you do in fact love this child at times, as bad as it may sound. It can affect the bonding process if you don’t find a way to hold on to those glimpses of a happy baby and burn them into your mind to help get you through the long periods of bouncing, swaying, etc.
    Thanks again for making me feel more like a normal mama this morning!

    • Thank you Jacquelyn for your kind words! They mean a lot. I was worried at times that I wasn’t bonding with him because he was so draining, but he sure does love his momma! You are more than normal, you are a perfect mom to those babes!! Thanks for reading


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