This story is a member’s personal experience and opinion, and is part of their healing process. Please be aware that some of the stories on Crying Over Spilt Milk are of more severe or complicated cases of Gastric Reflux. Serious or complicated cases of Gastric Reflux are rare. If you think you may be disturbed by some content, please visit this page before deciding to read further: Infant Gastric Reflux Stories
I had waited 30 years before I was sure I was ready to have my first baby. I had trouble conceiving so was ecstatic to discover we were finally going to have a baby. I felt nothing other than confidence at the thought of having a baby; after all I had been a nanny to many newborns over the years. What I hadn’t counted on was having a reflux baby.
Olivia was born on 4th February 2005 after a 36 hour complicated labour ending in emergency caesarean section. She started to scream on day four of her life. I had never experienced anything like it and phoned my midwife at 11pm really scared that she was starving. She reassured me she was fine and just to run her a warm bath or put her in the front pack. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This baby was hysterical and surely a bath was only going to make things so much worse.
This screaming happened on and off for three weeks normally after each feed. On week three she started screaming hysterically at 4.45am and screamed herself to sleep at 9.30am. My midwife came to visit at 10am and asked how things were. I could no longer contain my tears of fear and frustration. No, things were far from alright and with that Olivia awoke from her temporary catnap and began screaming once again. My midwife agreed that maybe something could be amiss and it possibly could be colic but to take her to a doctor just to be sure.
There were several trips to the doctor as I was convinced there was something seriously wrong with our little girl. This screaming inconsolable pain could not be the “colic” that I had heard of. Colic was “crying” or “fussing” at night between 5pm and 9pm. I would NEVER describe what was happening to our wee girl as crying or fussing!!
On visiting a doctor she was diagnosed with reflux and we were told the devastating news that she would just have to “grow out of it”. I was stunned and dismayed that the medical profession could replace people’s hearts but could not cure our baby of this horrendous pain and that we would just have to sit and watch her scream in agony.
We endured four months of watching our baby in severe pain. We had to wade through the ignorant and sometimes hurtful comments from friends and other mothers of happy content babies such as “oh she’s just overtired” or “its because you rock her to sleep” or my favourite “so does she behave like that with other people?”, implying that I am a neurotic first time mother!
She failed to thrive as some days the pain was so bad she could not feed. At four months old I took her to hospital and refused to leave until someone helped my baby. She saw a paediatrician and they finally prescribed her Losec.
At four-and-a-half months she finally started to have more good days than bad and I came to terms with the fact that it was nothing to do with my mothering skills or what I did or didn’t eat during pregnancy. It is just good old plain bad luck.
What I want to say to other parents going through this hell is that you are not alone. Your feelings are completely normal. You are not a raving manic depressed parent. Being a parent to a baby who screams all day/night is such an incredibly hard and sad thing to have to endure. Of course you are going to cry! I did not love my daughter for the first three months of her life. How can you love a child whom seems as if they hate you, scratching and lashing out at you in pain at every waking moment? A pain that you her parent and her protector cannot cure.
I can honestly say that it was the hardest four months of my life. There were days I just felt that I couldn’t do this anymore. Where was the help? Where was the support? What organisation could I turn to? Who could I ring? I suffered terrible guilt having to rely on other people. What I really needed was to talk with someone who had been through this themselves to know that it does have an end and things do get better.
Sure enough Olivia has grown to become the smiling giggling baby I had imagined having. I have been told that our babies grow to have no ill effects from this awful condition and that they actually grow to be happy and well adjusted children. I am finally seeing just a glimpse of exactly that.
© Gill, Mother and Member, Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust September 2005