Surviving Reflux

All children are born with reflux, to some degree, but there’s reflux, and then there’s reflux.

When you’re a parent to a baby with reflux, you’re no stranger to never sleeping, changing clothes, holding a baby, feeding them 5 times in an hour and never sleeping.

It is hard, to say the least.

Every day with Luca was another day that I felt like I had survived. After no sleep and all night crying id wake up and say “I survived the night” it was like my mantra to reassure myself that things weren’t as bad as I thought, and I could get through this.

It wasn’t just vomiting, it was the silent reflux too… the one you couldn’t see. Where your baby would be crying so hard and you consider trips to emergency because you don’t know for sure whats wrong. You’d hear the gurgle up his chest and the scream that would follow. Feeling utterly helpless.

He would never sleep during the day, I would have to hold him with his chest on mine, and there we would be, plonked on the couch all day hoping 5pm would come quickly so I could hand him off and shower and feel human again. I pitied myself, I pitied my life. I would sigh and say “this isn’t living”.

Showers were a  good reality check, it would be where I would cry and let out the difficulties of the day. They’d never last long because Luca would be crying for food again.

It was hard. Hard because every day was a repeat of trying to feed a baby who screamed  in pain, who arched his back, who vomited, who couldn’t lay down, and who couldn’t find any comfort besides feeding again which would start the process again.

I tried, believe me, I tried.

Tried to space out feeds, to keep him upright. I tried the different medications, Losec, Zantec, Gaviscon… you name it, I tried it. Nothing helped. He even had a tongue tie revised. Because his weight gain was stead (very slow, but steady) no one took me seriously. I just dismissed as a first time mum with a baby who had colic and I couldn’t handle it. Fuck Colic, seriously, the word makes me upset.

People would tell me it wasn’t that bad, that he was a happy baby, but every night from 6pm on wards would be the battle to get him to sleep for the night. We couldn’t hold him, although we tried. He slept on our chests, in our beds, but as soon as we put him down or drifted off, he would awake again crying, or spitting up. But all I could do to comfort him was feed him.

I look back and I feel sad, I wish I knew how to make things better.

Our baby was alive, really, in hindsight; but it was tough.

You’re desperately trying to nurture a baby who you worry isn’t getting enough, who never slept for longer than an hour at a time in which you are so worried for their development.  What made it worse was people would always tell me how small he was, and then because I was breastfeeding, I worried about everything I ate. No coffee? That wasn’t living.

You find it hard to leave the house and get out as easy as other mums because the anxiety and fear of what could happen when you’re out, the crying, vomiting or not vomiting. You just couldn’t relax, going out wasn’t joyful.

It went on for as long as I can remember and then it stopped at a time I don’t remember. All of a sudden he could eat without spitting it up, he could lay down without screaming. Eventually there was joy.

When I was pregnant with Sofia I kept thinking, this time it’ll be okay, she will sleep, she won’t have reflux. I prayed and pleaded with the shadows in the dark. “Make it better for me this time.”

So my dear mumma’s with baby’s with reflux.

I feel for you. I feel you. I get it. Its fucking hard. People will give you advice, however well intention-ed, but you and I both know that your problem is bigger than that. Although your baby is wonderful and beautiful, you’re allowed to scream and pull your hair out from how tough it is. Your world is crumbling so all you can do is lay in the fetal position and cry your hardest. I bet your sitting there with your baby laying on your chest right now. You are not alone. It won’t be like this forever. I promise not every day will be like this, and these days won’t last.

Every baby is different, and thats the joy. If you’ve had your first and petrified of what your second or third might be like, know that there is hope! You can and you will survive reflux

and no matter how many hard days I have with Sofia, I always say to myself “Well at least she doesn’t have fucking reflux”

x

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