In my real job I work in Health. Often in the past, I would sit at my desk and hear the newborn cries from the nursery nearby. I would joke with a colleague that I was glad I wasn’t taking that one home.
Enter : Karma.
I did end up taking one of those screaming babies home with me, on a cold rainy May day almost 2 years ago. He wasn’t screaming when we left hospital though, in fact on his first night on this earth he was cooing a little song at his Dad and I thought I owned the most amazing baby on the planet.
Fast forward 3 weeks. We had just had newborn photographs taken and my boy blissfully slept through the entire session. He was my little angel in so many ways and my heart just ached for him and how when he was awake he looked around like he was searching for someone or something.
Later that day we packed the car and the kids and headed to the coast to finalise settlement on the sale of a rental property. I thought he was just a little disrupted by his very first car trip, as he suddenly become more vocal. At 3 weeks I thought he could have been having a growth spurt and fed him up plenty. The screaming got worse though.
I stayed calm and carried on. I knew babies. I had two older girls and they at times were no angels in particular when we were away from home. We went out for brunch at the beach and we ended up leaving early. This was the beginning of what was going to be many early exits for us, as it seemed nobody liked a screaming baby.
Back home the following week I was trying to get the girls ready for school one morning and due to his clothes being covered in vomit I decided to change Lil D. He was screaming because he had been dragged off the breast for the clothes change but I wasn’t alarmed. He looked well.
Our change table has drawers underneath it. So I popped him up on the flat of his back holding him with one hand whilst I searched for a fresh singlet in the drawer with the other. My head was down and I wasn’t watching him. He stopped crying. I sighed with relief and continued looking for an outfit, still not looking at him but still with my hand on his chest. Then something inside of me went cold and I looked up. My little boy was stiff and blue. Almost like he was trying to scream with his mouth open but couldn’t. Amazingly, I didn’t panic. (I still feel panic today when thinking about it though) I grabbed him and placed him upright on my shoulder patting his back firmly.I had no idea what else to do.
In what seemed like forever Lil D commenced screaming again and colour returned to his face.
What I did next simply amazes me. No I didn’t call 000. Why ? No bloody idea. I put all of the kids in the car with Lil D screaming. I dropped the girls to school,then drove to Mr MMM’s work and burst into tears holding my baby boy in my arms explaining to him what had happened. He was still screaming and right then and there Mr MMM had me make an appointment with our GP.
We were so very lucky that day. Our GP took our son in his arms and immediately said I think this little man has reflux. I was gobsmacked. What? He suggested a breathing alarm for his cot and told us that he is likely to quickly outgrow it. His own son suffered with the same illness as a baby and we suddenly felt a whole lot better. We were told to keep him upright after feeds and sent on our way. I was confident we had sorted the problem and was grateful for our GP’s experience with his own son.
Later that night we ended up in the Emergency Department. Lil D had screamed and screamed and screamed to the point of making his belly button bleed. So I sat all night in a chair with a monitor on my newborn to rule out any other conditions. We were released the next day and told to return to our GP. We did and it was then that we commenced medication for our little man. I knew nobody with a baby like this. All of my support people as much as they gave me love and support were also as helpless as I were to stop my boys’ pain but I refused to give up or give in as much as I felt like landing in a heap.
The weeks went by and my ability to soldier on was starting to sway. I was sleeping upright with Lil D on my chest. I was feeding him all day long and most of the night. If he was away from the breast he would scream so I just kept feeding him, fearful of a change table repeat.
His big sisters were amazing. They never complained once, as I would have to feed their little brother on the couch while I supervised homework, cooked dinner and try to keep house. Looking back, my days were getting darker though. I made an effort to go walking with the pram as the screaming wasn’t so loud but I was so tired and it was hard to get the notion to get out the door.
Our child health nurses were fantastic and I would quite often walk down to them and they would make me a coffee and hold the screaming baby. It was these ladies that mentioned RISA to me, but caught up in the chaos at home I didn’t really get a chance to look at the website properly.
One afternoon intent on getting out of the house, I decided to drop into Mr MMM’s work on my way to Target to buy more baby clothes. (I wasn’t keeping up with the mountain of vomit covered washing so decided I just needed to buy some more.) It was that afternoon that made me realise how darn alone I really was with this reflux thing. Lil D was screaming of course and Mr MMM’s work colleagues thought it better to send me on my way rather than ask if I was ok. A screaming baby isn’t good for business. Absolutely devastated and blubbering all the way home I decided to become a member of RISA so that I could try and meet others that would understand.
I really do believe this organisation saved me from the depths of depression. I was able to talk to other parents that were further along the reflux journey than we were, and they helped me out with practical things …like the best way to administer the medication and the possibility of food intolerance. The isolation was as only as far as my computer. I had a phone call one night from a RISA volunteer and she really lightened my heart. I was done with hearing from those around me that babies outgrow reflux and her words that night helped me move on and request referrals to a Gastro Paeditrician.
During this time, it was also discovered my youngest daughter, whom had been slow to grow and always complaining of feeling sick and a sore throat was suffering from reflux too. My head was spinning with it. Some days I just wanted to scream it to buggery away. The poor little luv couldn’t even bounce on the trampoline without vomiting in her mouth. Once again it was RISA where I found some solace and information on older children with reflux. For Miss M it was decided she needed to have a fundoplication to enable her to be reflux free.
Life has been hard and it felt like groundhog day every single day. Thankfully things are much better now. I understand reflux better and I know where I need to go when I need some advice or comfort from others going through similar.
I thank RISA every single day for keeping me going through the horrible bits.
If by chance you have found this post because you have googled infant reflux (like I did many times) ,whilst holding a screaming baby and drinking a cold cup of tea, please head over to RISA. That is the place you need to be. If you know someone who may have a reflux baby, tell them about RISA or shout them a membership to allow them into the member forums.
Incidentally, at work when I hear the tell tale reflux scream of newborn baby, a shiver still runs up my spine, but now I pray that they outgrow it fast, I pray that their parents have plenty of support and I pray they know about RISA too.