I can see her sitting on the sofa. She has big fat tears rolling down her cheeks as she looks at her screaming baby and repeats over and over: “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to help you. I’m so sorry.”
It has been like this every day for a week so far, always as her husband leaves for work.
She feels like he might be going earlier and earlier because he doesn’t know what to do either but it is while watching his retreating back that the tears begin.
Sometimes he has shut the front door before the first sob escapes, other times she can’t quite hold it in – either way he has gone.
It’s just her and her baby. Together. But she has never felt so alone.
This time last year I was sitting on that sofa. When I think back to that time my heart still hurts. I was so lost. Of course, everyone has different limits but I think mine had well and truly been breached by that point – and there was still so much more to come.
It was before Freya was diagnosed with Cows’ Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI) and Silent Reflux (SR). She was getting a little bit worse every day and I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong, why I couldn’t comfort her. Plus I couldn’t find anyone to take me seriously. Their first question seemed to be: “And is this your first child?” And after that they stopped listening.
“What a difference a year makes,” my mum said to me recently. “This time last year you had no confidence and now look at you, nothing fazes you now.”
While I think she is mistaking exhaustion for confidence, I do feel I have changed in this last year, hopefully for the better. I certainly have more patience and while I still second-guess myself, I have more faith in a mother’s instinct. I think I am also more compassionate and definitely take more time with friends, and even strangers, with babies to check they are ok.
I see the new mums joining the reflux forum I belong to and I get that same ache when I read their posts; I know the journey they have ahead of them, some harder than others, but all with a fight on their hands – which is just what you need when you’ve recently given birth and are already exhausted!
The forum continues to be an amazing resource but I also found comfort in reading blogs by others on the reflux journey. Together with help they also gave me hope.
A year on, Freya still has health problems and I’m still struggling to get any help but that bond which was missing before is firmly in place. It feels like we have come through something together and we are stronger for it.
I wish I could transport all those new mums to this point. Or at least give them a glimpse of the future. And maybe I can, just a little bit, by highlighting blogs from reflux parents? My plan is to start a list of blogs and perhaps select some key posts. They will appear in Resources and Links. If you are a blogging reflux mum or dad please get in touch so I can add you. If you don’t blog but have something to say I’m happy to let you guest post here so, again, please let me know. I’m also interested in other resources such as books and websites if you have any to recommend.
While reflux is surely not the worst thing our children can be diagnosed with, it doesn’t mean it is not hard to deal with, especially in the thick of it. With support from health professionals sadly lacking, at least in my experience, and sometimes even friends and family unable to understand, I think it’s up to us to help each other.