By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
Do you ever feel, as a parent, that everything you do is wrong? I mean, I’ve had these moments over and over during the course of the past 20+ years (oh my God I’ve been a parent for over twenty years!), but I don’t remember feeling it quite the way I am this go-around.
When Harrison was first born, we bragged that she was the perfect baby – eating, burping, sleeping, pooping all when she was supposed to, or so we thought. After about two or three weeks, however, her sleeping became erratic. Her eating became episodes of vomiting that just seemed to get worse and worse. Her pooping became less and less, and at times, non-existent. I had been so confident that it would all come back to me, no problem. I was cocky enough to believe that I was “older and wiser” and whatever this baby threw at me, “I got this.” HA! She currently has my arm twisted behind my back, and I am quickly being brought to my knees, about to cry “Uncle!”
As her eating/spitting-up issue has gotten worse, I still maintained my history that walked me through this not once, but twice. Both boys had reflux, accompanied by projectile vomiting. I remember, all those years ago, that friends and family alike called Nicholas “the vomit king”, affectionately, of course. When Noah came along many years later, I was well prepared when he followed in his brother’s footsteps as heir to the vomit king’s throne – only his was worse. Back then, pediatricians didn’t put them on medications, but rather referred us out to pediatric GI doctors at the children’s hospital; those doctors, in turn, would run tests, perform upper GI series (which was an awful ordeal in and of itself), and threaten surgery for conditions that continued to get worse. I tried everything with the boys, thinking that the next thing would help somehow and give these sweet babies a tiny bit of relief. Nicholas ultimately went on fresh goat’s milk around ten months old, and I had to drive an hour to a farm to buy it. Noah nursed almost exclusively, but because he was a preemie, had to supplement with formula – and we tried so many different ones. He ended up going on cow’s milk at around ten months old (to supplement breast milk), and his condition got remarkably better as well. It was so bizarre that both boys were preemies, both were born five weeks early, and both had terrible reflux conditions.
So now here I am, all these years later, with a new baby girl that seemingly has the same awful condition that her older brothers had. We are trying everything and nothing seems to be bringing relief to her. It feels like everything we are doing isn’t working or is just plain wrong. She is on her sixth – yes, SIXTH – formula, and vomiting just as much as ever. She tried Zantac, but threw it up. She is on Prevacid, and we have to time her meds not near eating time, or it will get spit up as well.
We bought her a special thing to lay in – The Nap Nanny – in hopes that it will put her in a position that will alleviate the heartburn and allow her to nap without spitting up so much and waking herself up. I feel like everything I do is wrong, and I don’t remember ever feeling like this before. It is a horrible, helpless feeling to hold a screaming baby, knowing she is in pain and being powerless to make it better. She had gotten to the point where she was spitting up blood, so back to the doctor we went, where we were switched to our current formula and medication regimen. We’re tired mommies, and we know that she is just exhausted every day from constant bouts of heartburn.
The other day, after she had been screaming for a particularly long time, I had to put her in her swing and sit down, head in my hands. I sat and cried, talking out loud to both Harrison and God, asking what I could do to make her feel better. It wasn’t a good afternoon. For the first time since she was born, I felt totally and completely inept and over my head. Just when we think that we’ve tried everything, we somehow come up with something else to try, waiting to see if it will be the magic trick that will ease her pain and bring us back to some sense of normalcy. Right now, our days and nights are managed by a tiny, eleven-pound baby girl who needs us every moment that she is awake. I get frustrated and irritable because the house is a wreck or because the laundry never gets caught up, but I have to stop and remind myself that she is tiny and defenseless, and that this is not a permanent condition. I’m trying to enjoy the snuggling that at times, for a few quiet moments, makes her feel better and brings her some rest. I know that there will come a day when I will want to hug on her and she will not be interested any longer. I will want to hold her hand and she will pull away. So for now, I will hold her when she needs holding and rock her to sleep so she won’t cry. I may be flubbing up everything else, but I will be able to one day tell her that I did the best mommying that I could when she was new.