So Here's My Life

The things we make,
the food we eat and
the shenanigans in between.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When Life Doesn't Go As Planned

I've wanted to share this story for a long time, but I've never been quite sure how or when to share it. 

Sometimes, despite all the planning, life doesn't go the way you expect it to, you know? My older son's first year of life was like that. He was a hard baby. Very hard.

He was born at 37 weeks. Not a premature baby, but a preterm baby.

 {Less than 12 hours old}

Because he was born a little early, he struggled with nursing. But we kept at it. Within the first couple of weeks, he started projectile vomiting. (I cannot tell you how may times I've been puked on). We also struggled to keep him on a growth curve. Any growth curve. He cried a LOT. He was hungry literally ALL the time, and he was always cranky. We visited lactation consultants. We had blood tests done. We tried a couple different antacids. I changed my diet several times. We took him for a swallow study. It seemed that despite all of our efforts, his behavior was still the same. He was one miserable baby. I knew something wasn't right, but nobody seemed to have a good explanation as to what was wrong.

 {Preparing to do a swallow study at the hospital. Look at his tiny little hospital gown.}

And then one day, he stopped nursing. Completely. Regardless of how hungry he was, he absolutely refused to nurse. (What kind of kid does that???) My husband and I were in no kind of financial situation to pay for formula on a regular basis, and since he had reflux, I felt like I had no other choice but to pump my milk. So I did. And then I bottle fed him. It was time consuming. So. Much. Work. But even bottle feeding was a struggle for him.

When he was almost 4 months old, we were referred to a gastrointestinal specialist and a feeding clinic. The feeding clinic helped us figure out the best way to feed him and taught us special techniques. And we were finally able to pinpoint his problem. Since he was a preterm baby, he didn't have his "suck-swallow-breathe" rhythm down. When you add reflux and his impatient personality, it results in a recipe for disaster. After multiple visits to the feeding clinic, he started to progress. His projectile vomiting stopped, the screaming and crying during feedings subsided, and he started to stay on a growth curve. Relief.

This was a hard time in my life. Probably one of the hardest. I was still exhausted and recovering from childbirth (yes, really). My baby was always fussy. I was struggling to maintain my milk supply because he didn't nurse well. And I knew that something was wrong. I felt like I had so many conflicts stacked up against me. People around me thought I was being dramatic. To them I was just a new mom who was struggling with a new baby. I had many well intentioned people give me advise, even when I wasn't looking for it. Many times I just needed a listening ear, or a bit of encouragement. Instead people would say, "Well, if you do _______that will fix his problems." They didn't know what it was like to have a baby who had a serious struggle with feeding. Their advise always seemed to be based on resolving normal baby conflicts. It only ended up making me feel more discouraged.

My purpose in writing this is not to gain sympathy, but to share my experience. I want to encourage other moms who have struggled or are struggling like this. It's hard when your child is going through a health issue that you can't seem to find the answer to. It's hard when nobody seems to understand what you and your family may be going through, yet everyone is so willing to hand out advice without fully comprehending your situation.
{Over time his eating has improved}

It's not easy going through something like this. If you find yourself in a situation here's a couple of thoughts to keep in mind:

- Life doesn't always go the way we plan or the way we want it to. When your expectations don't come into fruition, it doesn't mean you are a failure. 
- Educate yourself on the specific issue as much as you can, and always ask questions. Don't give up and keep searching until you've found your answer.
- Above all else, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6. Seek God for direction.

And the next time a friend opens up about a conflict, remember to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Before offering advice, be sure to listen and make certain that they are truly asking for advice. Sometimes a person may just need a listening ear or just a little encouragement rather than advice. 

Food for thought.

1 comment:

Nat said...

Great story, Michelle! I think moms are so willing to jump to give advice, that they really do miss just listening. I'm glad he became a better eater, and goodness that really really sounds like a trying time for you. You deserve a cape, Super Mom!