I had a plan to return to work, a plan to provide a relaxed environment, a plan to be a nurturing mother, a plan to soak up every minute of everyday with my little boy, and really, a plan to not have a plan!
When I thought about telling my story, I thought, no-one would really be interested in my journey. But if I rewind 4 years and had my time over I would have really valued the non-judgmental perspective and experience of another mum.
We were battling a baby with undiagnosed silent reflux, very little family support and a load of opinions and whispers about our approach.
This gig is hard, lonely and can be very challenging, to say the least.
Back in 2015 I was approaching my ever anticipated maternity leave. I had a great job and the potential to climb the corporate ladder. I had planned to return to work when Jai was 9 months old and by the start of my second trimester I had Jai’s name on the waitlist at a great family daycare 10 mins from work.
I spent one night in hospital after giving birth to Jai. The nurse told me to give him a big feed and he should settle for a couple of hours. The mother and baby in the bed next to me slept all night. Jai woke every 20-30 minutes the entire time we were there, we were exhausted. I knew something wasn’t right and he seemed unsettled, like he was in pain. I tried talking to the nurse, but she told me I needed to stop picking him up so quickly and so often, she said it was ok to let him cry. I could feel something wasn’t right.
During the next few weeks he continued to be unsettled, he cried a lot. I was breastfeeding, sometimes he would cluster feed for hours, he would appear settled and content then 30mins later he would be screaming. I spoke to a local GP who told me he probably just has a hard time bringing up his wind. It didn’t seem right to me, but being a first time mum, I took it onboard.
I spent hours upon hours searching for answers and like most new mums I spent weeks googling why this little love of mine was not settling. My friends had babies that seemed to settle and sleep for hours at a time, yet Jai wouldn’t – or couldn’t.
In the first few months we tried several different things to help Jai, we changed from breastfeeding to formula feeding, we changed his formula three times, we tried over the counter medications to help with wind and gas. Nothing was working and it seemed like no-one was listening, we kept battling on.
Like always, late one night holding Jai whilst he slept, I was googling his symptoms, I found a great article on silent reflux, it was Jai all over. I had previously spoken to a GP about reflux but because Jai didn’t vomit much and was gaining weight she said he didnt have it. I had spoken to a number of doctors and a peadeotrician about my concerns, but none of them listened to me.
Oh how they were wrong!
Jai was about 8 months old, I was in the chemist on my usual search for a magical cure or at least someone that would listen to what I was saying.
There she was, the lady behind the counter with a smile. She asked me how I was (I think she meant how my day was haha), my reply started with “well actually” I went on to explain Jai would not sleep unless I held him, he was off his food and drink, he seemed uncomfortable, he had constant hiccups, he was sometimes fidgety, I couldn’t put him down and would sometimes carry him all day, but I kept being told he was a happy baby, gaining weight and being a first time mum was hard.
I’m not sure if this women was channeling her inner mother Theresa, If she was a genius or just a lovely lady, but in that moment, she saved my sanity. In a very non-judgmental way she said “Do you think it could be silent reflux” she gave me some baby Gaviscon and said “try this”.
OMG! He drank the bottle, the Gaviscon worked. Jai drank a full bottle!
She showed me Gaviscon and she gave me my confidence back! I was right! Now I was on a mission to get someone else to listen.
I took Jai to a second pediatrician, by this time he was 10 months old. Jai was diagnosed with silent reflux and given medication to help treat the symptoms. The pediatrician apologized for the delay in Jai’s diagnosis and offered sincere praise for my efforts in getting to this point. He listened to me, he listened to Jai’s mum!
A mother’s intuition is always right!
Within weeks of Jai being on the medication we were starting to see changes. He was eating and drinking more than 20mls at a time. He was more settled. He was sleeping more than 45mins without being held, I could put him down to play without him crying for me to comfort him, he would allow my husband to lay with him and sooth him to sleep. There was a shining light at the end of a long tunnel.
If you have read my journey this far, which by the way, thank you! You will understand finding help for Jai was nothing short of H.A.R.D!
Silent reflux can be hard to diagnose and even harder to deal with. If you feel your baby is experiencing trouble feeding, feeding or drinking too much or too often, not settling or looking like they are experiencing discomfort, see your doctor. Be persistent in finding an answer. Find a doctor that will listen. A mother’s instinct with her child is always best!
My joy and excitement of starting motherhood was drowned out by what I now know to be constant pain for Jai and my relentless search in finding a cure. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and wiser, right!?! I am just glad we eventually found a solution so we could get on with enjoying our journey.