Before I had my son, there was a lot about motherhood I didn't know. I honestly pictured sunshine and rainbows because it felt like everyone I saw that had babies only showed the beautiful parts of it: the coos, the smiles, the baby giggles. That's what I longed for when I pictured our family.
What I didn't know, was the trials that would come. I knew that everyone said it's tiring and the nights are long. But that was quite the extend of my knowledge of what was to come. I know not everyone shares the same experience, but I hope by sharing mine, you feel a little less lonely in your journey if your anywhere near where I was. I didn't know about colic, acid reflux, babies with intolerances. And heck, I was dealt all three... and more.
I wish I had a story like this when I was deep in the trenches, when I had Haysten.
For years, I marveled at the idea of having my own little family. Dreaming of a little one running around our home, filling our walls with laughter and joy. Indeed, I loved children. I always have. The motherly instinct was strong within me from a young age. I surrounded myself with those little ones, in awe of their genuine curiosity of the world and their beauty. My desire to have my own only grew as more little people entered my world.
Our son Haysten was born on May 13th, 2021 at 12:49 pm. He wasted no time, as he came just shy of 6 weeks too early. A natural delivery, quickly turned into an emergency c-section. (I'll share about this another day). I don't ever remember feeling so scared. Am I going to be okay? Is he far enough along to endure this? He was coming and there was no turning back. All my worries washed away for a quick second when I locked eyes with the most beautiful baby I ever laid eyes on. I'll never forget that moment, as I'm sure most mothers don't. He was quickly rushed to the NICU where we would spend the next 9 days. Watching and marveling this beautiful little boy. I thought those 9 days were hard. Praying everyday that he would continue to get stronger so we could all go home. Oh he did. Much quicker than the nurses anticipated. Everyday, every test, every poke, he got stronger and continued to excel in his NICU milestones.
We went home on May 22nd, 2021 with a perfectly healthy, content and sleepy little guy. I remember feeling anxious as I sat in the back seat driving home. For the first time, we were alone with him. There were no monitors beeping, no cords hanging from his tiny 5 lb, 3 ounce body and no nurses coming to our aid every couple minutes. Just us. Our new family of 3.
The first and second day home were the hardest. I remember everyone talking about Post partum depression and post partum anxiety. Hell, I survived 9 days with my tiny in a small isolette. I thought I was well adjusted. I was wrong. It hit me like a brick wall; a sudden worry washed over me. I've struggled with anxiety, and this was all too familiar. Irrational fears filling my head. The sound of silence deafening in our home. No beeping, no monitors.
No one constantly watching his heart rate and oxygen levels. Don't get me started on the black pit of Google. Although I can't describe the details, as they feel like a distant memory, I remember feeling frightened, thinking how long this would last. Luckily, it didn't. Just as it came quickly, it went away the same as we settled into our home. I got lucky. I'll never forget when my dear friend opened up about her struggle with post partum anxiety and how tough it was.
Our home felt complete. Our family of 3. It was surely the most beautiful thing I've ever felt. This tiny human; ours. It felt surreal. But we took it day by day and got comfortable in our new roles. A week went by, and this little man just continued to take more and more space in our hearts everyday.
On June 1st, we had our first check up with the doctor. I noticed he seemed to be more fussy in the last days leading up, but didn't make anything of it. It would be 3 days later that we ended up at the doctors again. I didn't understand why my baby was all of a sudden so Irritable, and seemingly in pain after he ate. The first formula switch of many was made that day. He's probably colicky I was told.
Colic. That damn dreaded word. I heard about it, but knew so little on it. What does that even mean?
Over the coming weeks, we would visit the doctors office repeatedly, the emergency room a number of times, and be put on a referral list for a pediatrician. I was told steady that he was healthy, because he was gaining weight.
How could my child be healthy when he was having screaming fits at all hours? How could he be gaining weight with the constant vomiting? How is this fair? And most of all, how do parents get through this?
He could go from content to crying instantaneously. We came to dread feeds, as we knew what came after. The arching, screaming, painful cries. It was heartbreaking.
I set out to figure out this word colic that I kept hearing over and over and over again. By definition, colic is when a baby cries for over three hours a day, for more than 3 days in a row over a course of over 3 weeks. Okay, pretty broad I thought. I researched, and read books and watched videos. I looked into acid reflux, silent reflux, gas, strydor, laryngomalacia, GERD. Hell, I never knew half these words before I had a child. I joined a support group on social
media, where I saw mom's share their stories of both heartbreak and achievement. How could I feel so understood, but so overwhelmed at the same time. We treated for acid reflux, mild milk protein intolerance, gut health through probiotics, gas, you name it. We went to chiropractor, craniosacral therapy, massage.
We saw no relief. Nothing we did was helping, in fact it was getting worse. The piercing cries grew longer and more frequently. Our baby appeared to be lethargic, which I chalked up to wanting to sleep all day because he was in pain.
Every which way I turned I felt more defeated. We ended up in Saskatoon children's emergency department. Surely they would have more answers. I was wrong again. I was told, he has lots of gas bubbles in his belly, but also thankful that the doctor took the time to listen and do an xray, which found a small hernia. Completely unrelated.
The more I saw my baby in pain, the more frustrated I became. How could there not be any answers? My marriage was tested as our patience diminished. The worse it got, the more isolated I felt. Surely, we were a burden. Who wants to listen to a crying baby all the time. When my baby cried, I couldn't help but cry. As a parent, the last thing you want if your child to feel pain. I felt helpless and hopeless, and felt lonely in our struggle. The days were long, as I felt I couldn't leave his side. In three months, Haysten didn't leave me for more than 6 hours. Once to the grocery store, the other to the spa for some self care, a quick trip to a workout class, and the other
when I so desperately needed a nap. Let me assure you, although I felt lonely, I couldn't have done it without my family and friends. The coffee runs, the days I just needed to vent, a shoulder to cry on, nice visit or simply running a few errands for me at its peak.
But surely I told myself that this cannot be whatever they call colic. I wouldn't stop advocating, no matter how tired I was. Tired barely touches on the exhaustion we felt. Have you ever had to console a baby for hours without relief? It takes a toll- physically, emotionally and mentally. What the hell is colic anyways. I'll tell you.. colic is a definition they use on otherwise healthy babies, that cry all the time for no known medical reason. I called b.s. I believed in my heart that colic was a symptom of something, not a diagnosis. I'm not a doctor by any means.. this was simply just my experience and how I felt in my heart after I did my own research.
I went on to read a book called colic cured, written by a doctor that doesn't believe in colic. This gave me some hope.
He believes that the symptoms are a direct result of an intolerance or acid reflux. The more I read, the more it made sense. My child was displaying all the symptoms of acid reflux and some of intolerance. We then switched to a hypoallergenic formula. Surely, something wasn't agreeing with his body. We saw skin improvements and bowel improvements, but the behaviors and vomiting were untouched.
Back to the emergency room. If you ever see your 2 month old forcefully vomit out of his mouth and nose, I can assure you that panic sets in. At this time, we had an established relationship with the pediatrician and open access to our pediatric ward. This meant at any time I was uncomfortable, I could take him in. Surely I did just that. We were met with the sweetest pediatrician
that took time to listen. I was afraid that we would be put in a room again without merely any assessment from the medical team. She assured me that she went through this with her daughter. In my heart, I felt heard. She shared in the struggles of intolerances. That her journey cutting things out of her diet for her daughter was challenging and she wasn't sure we were in the same situation, but she certainly was willing to listen. She explained how some intolerances will be triggered even through broken down protein. Once again, we changed my son's formula. This would be the 6th formula change in less than 2 months. Regular, soy, gentle, lactose free, Hypoallergenic, and now one more. One I hoped would so desperately be the answer, as I had done for the last five. This time I assured myself I wouldn't get excited. I remembered that we had a couple good days amongst the bad with the others, so I promised myself I would just sit back and take it day by day without getting excited. I also told myself that if this doesn't change anything, I'm done. Ill take colic for what it was. My excitement mostly laid in the medical teams openness to finally do more tests. Again, I assured myself that if nothing was found, I would relinquish my efforts and settle on this damn word that I dreaded so much: colic. All came back clear: the ultrasound, the xray (previously completed), the swallowing tests. Lip and tongue ties were ruled out numerous times before, but the specialist indicated a lip tie was evident this time. We were referred to the ear, nose, throat specialist and I clung onto hope that something in our reach would be causing this. Nope. This wasn't out cause, however it does impact many.
Once again, we went home with no clearer answers than previously. This time, a little less discouraged as all the tests and studies at their disposal were checked. At this point, we had adapted to the thought that we would have a challenging time with our newborn and we would have to wait it out. But this time felt different.
Things started getting better. Our baby was having less crying spells, less hunching after eating, shorter periods of discomfort, and to my surprise, much less vomiting. I saw his smile more and more. I still held d my breath a little every day in anticipation of what the day would bring, but I took the wins day by day. Haystens new formula was inexplicably expensive. We weren't sure how we would afford upward of a 1000$ a month. Fortunately, we looked into other resources and got partial coverage. Today, our little man is thriving and colic is a thing of the past.
I wanted to share our story, because although it's not the only one, I've had so many women reach out to me lately. Did you know 1 in 4 babies will have colic?
My heart is with the parents that have gone through this and that will in the future. My advice is to never stop advocating. Your instincts as a parent are hardly ever wrong. That's what I'm told anyways.
But most importantly, if this if this you, call me. Ill tell you all the tricks I learnt. I'll tell you all the secrets secrets gave us relief. Call me to come bounce with your baby. I don't care what time it is. Call me to bring you a coffee. Hell I'll bring you a bottle of wine. Lord knows I've needed a few myself. But seriously, being a new parent is hard enough. It truly does take a village sometimes. I'm damn grateful for mine. Please reach out to me if you need to talk. Hopefully I can offer you some of the things I've learnt along the way.