Are You In the GERD Club?

“Quick! Get the thing!”

 The thing? What thing? I thought to myself so I walked slowly into Marshall’s room wondering what had gotten into my husband? He was bobbing back and forth next to the changing table as a silent baby lay on the top.

“He’s not breathing. He’s not breathing!”

Immediately instinct kicked in, and my adrenaline rushed like I have never felt before.  I said, “Go call 9-1-1!” I immediately flipped Marshall over and started thumping his back. I proceeded to do the Heimlich maneuver several times and then instinctively did a blind sweep of his throat. He gagged a little and so I did it again at which point he started breathing again. I didn’t even hear the sirens and time stood still as we did whatever we could to keep our baby alive.

What seemed like seconds later, the paramedics lurched into Marshall’s nursery where we were slumped on the floor clinging tightly to our precious treasure.  Jon vividly remembers one of the paramedics pulling him aside, looking deep into his eyes and saying,

“Son, do not go to sleep tonight. You can’t take your eyes off that baby.”

With Marshall the screaming started a week after he was born, and it seemed like overnight our tired snuggly baby changed personalities.  The message to my heart was that I was obviously a bad mom because I couldn’t get my child to stop screaming, I couldn’t get him to keep his food down and he never napped. When I would get him to fall asleep on my chest, I tried not to take too deep of a breath for fear that my chest rising and falling out of sync would wake him up and send me into a panic.

Does GERD mean anything to you?

June_July Marshall Pics 007

You probably know it as reflux or colic, something that plagues numerous families as precious babies begin to scream endlessly.  Treating a severe case of reflux can be tricky. With Marshall it took over a month to figure out what medicine would work, how much of each medicine he should take, how often he should take them, and how to correct my diet so I could continue breastfeeding.  All of this was entirely overwhelming for a new mom who felt very alone and who’s child was spitting up around eighty times a day.

We had burp cloths on every arm of furniture in our house and everyday I would have more than one load of laundry for just baby clothes.

Playing at Home 017

Playing at Home 018

Amidst all this chaos, I felt so much pressure to continue to breastfeed, despite the fact that I didn’t have a good milk supply and my child ate SO much better from a bottle. Marshall needed rice cereal in his bottles, he needed a dairy free diet, he needed to take a break often when he ate to burp/spit-up multiple times, he didn’t have a good suck, swallow, breathe reflex, and he needed to gain weight.  While this was a terribly trying time in life, the thing I regret the most is continuing to nurse.

As a first time mom I needed someone to tell me that it was okay to let it go and no one told me that.  So, if you are out there and you are dealing with this reflux no matter how mild or severe I am telling you to give yourself permission to

l e t . i t. g o. 

One thing I learned after having our third child is that our hormones do not return to normal until you stop breastfeeding.  I wish I had not put myself through that stress and depression for so long because I think I would have enjoyed my baby more, been a much more fully present wife and been able to hear from the Lord during this difficult time when I don’t think I could hear much of anything.

At his worst Marshall was losing weight and our pediatric gastroenterologist told me that this third medicine that I would need to give my child three times a day may cause him to have seizures.

The biggest indicator of the severity of what we were dealing with is that I said yes to giving my son this medication.

We prayed and prayed that seizures were not in Marshall’s future, and yet talking through the options with his specialist, it was clear that this was a last resort to keep him eating and growing. Thankfully, part of the new treatment plan included a monitor that Marshall would wear all the time so that an alarm would go off if he ever stopped breathing.

We were awoken many nights to the sound of a screaming alarm, louder than the fire alarm in our house where we would both slingshot out of the bed and rush into Marshall’s room to see if he was still breathing. We were sternly instructed to never have the monitor off for more than a few minutes at a time unless we were watching him. The days of the apnea machine and sensors are thankfully becoming a dull memory but the severity of what we were dealing with unfortunately is so fresh that I can actually feel my heart beat pick up as I am writing this all down almost six years later.

I do not profess to be a doctor or anything close to it! I have passed out before at the site of my child getting his blood taken, but I have had all three of my children experience this disease in different ways. All three had trouble gaining weight, all three screamed all day for months, all three spit up everywhere all the time and yet at the end of the day I think it was worth it if I can help encourage or offer support to just one struggling mother out there. There are so many more details I could share about this story, but I don’t know that they would help the masses.

Please email courtney@lillightomine.com to get my personal email address or post a comment here if you need any help or encouragement.  It brings me great joy to be able to support another mom who is going through this no matter how mild the case may be, it is perhaps the only benefit to going through these trials and.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will direct your path.”

~Proverbs 3:5-6

Love, Ashley

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