Project Smile

I try to take daily walks, and I occasionally jog short distances during my walks.  It’s part of my get back in shape plan after pregnancy, but it’s also good for my mental and emotional health.

I often listen to podcasts during these outings.  If I listen to music, my mind will start wandering, sometimes to things I don’t want to think about.  A good podcast will keep my attention.

I’ve been listening a lot to my churches podcasts.  The weekly sermon, which we have not attended in more time than I’d like to admit, is often my choice.  And as I’ve listened to the past few months sermons over the past week (I was pretty backed up on my podcasts), the same theme was used over and over again.  The world is so filled with fear and hate – and we need to start moving towards love.

Ever since my son came into this world, my heart has been overfilled with love.  I have so much love to give him.  And when I see the faces of strangers, no matter how different they are from me, I am reminded that they are someone’s child.  Someone’s heart was overfilled with love when they came into the world.  And it makes me smile – at them.  And I love the feeling I get when they smile back.

It may seem simple, but that’s how I show love to the world right now.  Smiling.  A form of respect.  A simple gesture that says “you are cared for.”

I know that won’t end any of the craziness in the world.  But as my minister said, if we can change just one person’s heart – keep them from doing any act of hatred that is on there mind that day, then it’s worth it.  And you never know how far a smile can go.

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Signs & Symptoms of Infant GERD

My son was diagnosed with Gastro Esophageal Reflux (GERD) at 6 weeks old.  I felt horrible but relieved at the same time.

He would cry and cry and cry.  Constantly crying.  The only thing that would calm him down was a bottle.  And he would spit up most of what he was eating.  He would eat, spit up, cry, eat, spit up, cry and then finally fall asleep for about 10 minutes and then wake up, cry, eat, spit up, etc.  That was my life.  Babies spit up.  I knew this.  But I was confused because my son seemed to spit up everything he ate.  I read stuff online about spitting up that said that it’s probably less than it looks like and as long as your baby is gaining weight, not to worry.  Well, he was gaining weight, so I tried not to worry.

Since everything I read told me not to worry about my son, I just worried about my sanity.  I couldn’t do anything but try to soothe my crying son, feed him and then clean up his puddles of spit up, and then run to the bathroom while he was able to have a short nap.  There were times I looked at him as he cried and screamed, cried myself and just begged him to calm down.  I felt like the worst mother in the world because no matter what I did, I couldn’t soothe my baby.

I ended up figuring out all the puzzle pieces – though it took more work than I thought.

  1. I finally convinced my husband that I needed help.  And that I needed the help of my mother, who is a pediatric nurse.  This was harder than it should have been – but I’m not here to talk about that.
  2. We finally got the doctors to pay attention by describing more vividly my son’s symptoms.  Spit up and crying is not a red flag for GERD.  This is just normal baby reflux to doctors.  But things like back-arching, constant cluster feeding, neck arching – those are red flag symptoms for GERD.
  3. I finally realized my baby was sick – and I could focus on helping him get better instead of worrying about how good of a mother I was.  Of course I couldn’t soothe him with lullabies and cuddles when his throat was burning.  But I could do my best to make sure he got the right medical care.

And it’s still a journey.  And it will be a journey until finally he outgrows his GERD.  But that’s how baby GERD goes.

I didn’t know

As I went for a walk in the late-morning heat, after my podcast ended, it came.  The guilt.  The sadness.  The need to fight back tears.  This time it worked.  I didn’t cry.  Sometimes it doesn’t and the tears flow.

I have a wonderful life.  I have a great husband.  I have a beautiful baby boy.  But I didn’t know.

I knew that life would change when we became parents.  I knew things would get trickier, stickier and crazier.  But I didn’t know the big change that would come.

I read a lot.  I read professional sites.  I read blogs.  When talking about getting pregnant, actively trying, and being pregnant.  I read.  Asked friends for advice.  I left no stone unturned.  But I still didn’t know.

I knew that babies cried.  I knew that they spit-up.  I even knew that babies got reflux that caused them pain.  But I didn’t know how difficult that could be.

I didn’t know that my baby would spend the first 6 weeks of his life crying, eating and spitting up almost everything that he ate, leaving me exhausted, frustrated and baffled as to what was going on.  And I didn’t know how difficult it would be to find relief for his anguish.

I knew that babies could have head shape issues.  I knew that they could end up in helmets.  But I didn’t know that they would wedge themselves in-utero in such a weird way that would not only lead to a virtually impossible delivery, but a misshaped head that is virtually impossible to fix without interventions.

I didn’t know the guilt.  I knew I would worry.  I knew I would feel pressure.  But I didn’t know I’d feel horrible for “not growing him right”.  I know that’s not true – but the guilt still remains.

And I didn’t know the extent that outside pressures would create chaos in my should-be happy home.

I didn’t know that this would create a perfect storm of emotional upheaval for me.  I never read about babies going from formula to formula, med to med, and still not finding relief for severe reflux.  I never heard of the pain of trying to position your baby in just the right way to best “fix” their head shape problem.  And I never knew that trying to be a good Mom would cause me so much agony, let alone what other issues lie outside my motherhood journey.

So that’s why I’m restarting this blog.  I have a happy life.  I have had some severe struggles and continue to have struggles.  I know that will never end, but if I knew, maybe things could have been a little easier.  So I’m writing this so others may not say “I didn’t know”