It’s not that I thought caring for a baby would be easy. I just never imagined it would be this hard.
We found out the other day that poor little David has “silent reflux.” Basically, after he eats, his stomach acid comes up and burns his throat. He rarely spits up, though, so the acid would do its thing on the way up and down.
It’s a relief to know there’s actually something wrong. From the day after he was born, we knew the kid could cry. Shriek, actually. Things that he’d enjoy one day—like playing on his activity mat or sitting in his bouncy chair—would make him scream in agony the next, so we couldn’t get a handle on what, if anything, was wrong.
When I’d mention how unhappy he seemed all the time, people would say, in an irritatingly offhanded manner, “Oh, all babies cry.” And being a new mom, I thought maybe he was just a loud little guy who needed to be carried around on my shoulder all the time.
But he was also sleeping poorly, and then his breathing started sounding odd—sort of wheezy or gurgly, as though he was choking on phlegm.
I took him to the doctor last week, and she quickly diagnosed reflux. She recommended cutting dairy, soy, citrus, spices, and green leafy vegetables out of my diet (I don’t eat chocolate or caffeine anyway, so those were moot points); propping David’s mattress up by putting a pillow underneath it; limiting the amount of foremilk he ingests; giving him small, frequent feedings; and holding him upright for 30 minutes after he eats.
She was reluctant to give him medication, but when I told her that he seemed to be in pain all the time, she prescribed Zantac. He’s been taking for a week and in the last two days it appears to have begun making him feel at least a little bit better for a while after he takes it.
We took him back to the doctor this morning, and she saw him in his normal fussy state. She said, “This is not typical; he’s an extreme case. We need to do something to give you a little peace.”
We’re going to try adding gripe water to his regimen for the next few days, and if that doesn’t help, we’re going to add Prevacid first thing in the morning.
The good news is that kids who suffer from such bad cases of reflux, according to the doctor, are usually very bright. They’re alert and aware and taking everything in, but when the acid comes up, they feel it.
So it’s been a long two months, and I haven’t had time for anything, really, other than taking care of the baby. Which is okay. I’m on maternity leave; taking care of him is my job.
But it’s certainly given me a new appreciation for parents of children with mental illness. I understand now, in a way I didn’t before, how consuming it can be to care for a sick child. And at least I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel for David—a lot of babies outgrow reflux once they can sit up by themselves. Parents with mentally ill children are often responsible for caring for them not just throughout their childhood years, but well into adulthood.
I can also see how caring for a sick child can strain a marriage. First there’s the time factor; it’s a great night in the Whistler household these days when John and I can steal away into our bedroom for a late-night dinner and an episode of Parks and Recreation turned way down low.
Then there’s the worry. Even when John and I do find a moment for ourselves, I’m constantly thinking about how much I wish David wasn’t suffering, how I hate the sound of his wheezy breathing, and how much I hope he doesn’t wake up before he gets a few good hours of sleep.
At any rate, if sending thoughts and prayers is your thing, please throw some out there for my little refluxy baby. Thanks!