Life AG (After Gaviscon) was moving along nicely. For several weeks we were in a noticeably nicer place. My washing piles had reduced drastically and going out of the house was no longer the MI5 style mission that it had been. She was happier, we were happier. Gaviscon was my saviour and I had a sniff of life with a non refluxer. But like any good villain… just when we were lulled into that false sense of security the Reflux Demon reared its ugly head again.
And this time it meant business!
This time it came in the form of gut-wrenching screams.
Gastritus? Acid? Pain!
Just lying her flat brought out the gut-wretching gurgle and pained cry. Reflux really was against us this time.
The usual easy bedtimes became a screamathon and survival of the strongest wills. I couldn’t leave her to cry. I began singing my own lullabies with a random string of words… (To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
“You’re as sleepy as can be…
Go to sleep, for your Mummy.
Rest your eyes and be so kind…
Or i’m gonna lose my mind.”
“Daddy thinks I’m going mad…
When you cry it makes me sad.
Go to sleep oh child of mine…
Mummy wants a glass of wine.”
One night she and Reflux ganged up on us and launched an attack of epic proportions. I’m not sure who won. I had won the afternoon Nap Battle. She had battled against it for 1 hour 10 minutes whilst I pushed her around the retail park. We’d got to the point where I couldn’t stand being at home as the crying grated on me, and there was slightly more chance that she’d sleep while out and about. She finally gave in and I enjoyed a solitary 45 minutes in Costa with my phone.
A hot coffee to celebrate
This got me to thinking, how did mums cope without smartphones? It is an actual life line. Facebook, WhatApp, Google, my camera… how would I survive Motherhood without them? I started blogging when the baby was 10 weeks old and it has been like therapy. The virtual friends that I have made through blogging have saved me many times. If you’d like to check out my other blog The Little Book of Sick click here www.lou15a.wordpress.com (this is a private blog and not associated with Living with Refux.)
How did we cope before the digital revolution? My phone has rescued me during night feeds, bouts of insomnia and when I’m about to lose the plot. I can always rely on someone to write something supportive. Even just liking my status or photos makes me feel less alone during the difficult times. Imagine having to wait a week for a film (of only 24 photos may I add!) to be processed!
So… back to the screamathon night. 6.45pm and she was exhausted. The other half was on duty and oblivious to the ‘tired signs’ I was in the kitchen cleaning (yes, I do clean from time to time) and could hear the familiar tired whimper. I asked him to get her changed (he has to be asked as cannot think for himself.) But we missed the window. That all crucial slot. The getting her to sleep before she realises how bloody knackered she actually is. We missed it. And we suffered the consequences.
She screamed and screamed and screamed.
Big bro declared I need to sing her my special bible song (I think he meant my lullaby) But she was having none of it. On my shoulder she would quieten down as I calmly hummed and sung my ridiculous words to her, willing her to go to sleep through my calm (not stressy as she can sense it) voice, bouncing in the chair in a dimly lit room with star projector on the ceiling.
That kid was NOT going to sleep no matter how many times I sang bleeding Twinkle Twinkle go to bloody sleep to her.
Getting stressed out doesn’t help!
Then I tried leaving her. It’s not what I like doing but I was an hour in and getting to my whit’s end. My shoulder was killing me. I could hear Daddy reading, ‘James and the Giant Peach’ to the boy and wished we could swap places. No amount of rocking, walking, bouncing or singing was helping so I tried putting her down.
I left her.
I lay on my bed and tried to distract myself with my phone.
As I listened to the cries, I thought what an effective torture technique this would be. Make someone listen continually to a crying baby… they would crack in no time. Motherhood is equivalent to a torture chamber… sleep deprivation and crying two unequivocal torture techniques… or day-to-day life so it may seem.
I managed to leave her for an hour… it was in fact about 2 minutes but it felt like an hour. I went back in. She cried EVEN MORE when she saw me. Hmmm… was this little one playing me? I picked her up. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I felt so bad for her. I would have done anything to console her. Why couldn’t I console her? What was I doing wrong?
And then she heaved.
Sick everywhere. Her freshly washed sleeping bag (and my new comfy PJs) were once again covered in sick. I didn’t think she was going to stop. I started to panic in case she choked. I felt so guilty. It was my fault for leaving her. If I hadn’t left her she wouldn’t have cried for so long and wouldn’t have been sick. I was a terrible Mother.
And then suddenly she stopped crying, stopped being sick, looked at me and smiled. Her face was blotchy and almost purple. But she smiled.
That smile made everything better. The last hour washed away. I put her on the mat to change her and she giggled. That oh-so-cute giggle when I use the tickle fingers and she almost belly laughs. That is what gets me through the tough times.
In the bath she went. Happy and content.
Until I tried to put her down again. Off she went again.
Back to square one.
This time thankfully Daddy took over. I was at the end of my tether and couldn’t face any more. Daddy took her downstairs. She was content in her chair but fought sleep for 40 minutes more. Refused her bottle and just stared him out. 40 minutes later he tried to feed her again. In a final moment of attack she took the bottle, whimpered and then passed out.
She was asleep. It was 9.30pm. We both passed out in bed soon after.
Parenthood. Reflux. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
This carried on… day and night. The crying was getting worse and it was really beginning to get to me. Slowly but surely each time she cried I crept closer to the brink. A gorgeous smile and giggle brought me back and all seemed fine. But each time I tipped a little closer.
One Sunday she pushed me over the edge. Over I went. So far over the brink that the brink was a mere spot in the distance. Having always been nicknamed Tiny Tears it’s no surprise that I cry from time to time. But this was a first for me.
My breakdown happened ironically whilst ordering a Happy Meal at the Drive-thru. At the microphone order point I struggled to get my words out, relieved that I didn’t have to face a human. I wiped my face, pushed the tears back and rolled on to window number two (even though the first one isn’t a window any more) This was much more difficult as I had to pay, make slight eye contact and try to maintain my composure.
A not so Happy Meal
In between windows two and three it was all too much. I’d listened to her cry for one and a half hours solid. I’d driven round for hours trying to console her. I was visiting my elderly Grandma when the ‘cryathon’ occurred and so was riddled with guilt that Great Grandma hadn’t got to hold her as she wouldn’t stop crying. Daddy had been fishing and seemed oblivious to my stresses. Trying to ‘pretend’ that everything was okay and chit-chatting to the seven-year old about which Roald Dahl book he hoped to get in his Happy Meal is what got me passed window number two. Sadly I didn’t make it to number three.
I could no longer hold it in. I was trying to put on a brave face. But enough was enough. I put my head in my hands leaned on the steering wheel and sobbed. Sobbed like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Big Bro reassuringly stroked my shoulder from behind and told me that he loved me and that he would look after me.
This made me cry more.
As the car in front rolled away from window three, I tried to pull myself together. God knows what they must have thought when they saw the state of me when I collected the ironic ‘Happy Meal’. I exited the Drive-thru but broke down again and finally gave in and swapped seats. I couldn’t see, let alone drive.
In just over a week we’d gone from a happy, sick free baby to a thrashing, pained, screaming refluxer. We were helpless, hopeless and disheartened. No one seemed to be able to shed any light on our issues. The Doctor was resistant to further medication and suggested we tried a change of milk. Maybe the anti-reflux milk would be our new saviour?
Mwah ha haaaa (evil laugh)
If only we’d known what was in store. Reflux was not going to leave us in a hurry and so joined forces with another demon… Diarrhoea!
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Our blog is written by an amazing Mum and this is her personal account of Living with Reflux. In this blog she has shared stories from other families. Should you have any concerns regarding the health of your child please consult your medical professional. (www.livingwithreflux.org)
If you’d like to check out my other blog The Little Book of Sick – A Journey into Motherhood for stories of life before and post baby click here www.lou15a.wordpress.com (this is a private blog and not associated with Living with Refux.)