It’s said that a Persian sultan asked his wise men to create something that would make him happy when he was sad. After deliberation, his sages presented him with a simple ring. The ring was inscribed with the phrase: “This too shall pass.” It worked, but not in quite the way the sultan expected. Yes, it made him happy when he was sad, because he had just to look at his ring and remember that it would pass. But also, when he was happy and looked at his ring, he realized that his happy moments were just as fleeting.
If I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning person has told me, “He’ll grow out of it,” “It will get better!” in the last five weeks, I’d be as rich as that sultan. I’m sure that advice is generally true, but lets look at how it’s turned out so far:
- When Edison wasn’t eating, he was screaming. As we discovered, babies go through a growth spurt at two weeks. But in Edison’s case, he would nurse for an hour, sleep for 50 minutes, and then eat for another hour.
- After the growth spurt was over, he still spent an hour nursing, and it was hard getting him to go to sleep.
- Ever since we brought him home, he’d spit up a lot, and have lots of gas. One night after a day of particularly forceful spit ups, he spit up blood from tearing a small blood vessel at the bottom of his esophagus. We inclined his crib, got special bottles for slow feeding, stopped to burp him between every ounce, and kept him upright for 20 minutes after eating.
- One evening, I felt a sudden stabbing pain in my abdomen that was so intense, I couldn’t breathe. Brian took me urgent care, and they said to go to the ER and get an ultrasound. The pain subsided by the time we left, so we just went home instead. But it reoccurred the next day, and the day after that. I finally called my OB, and they determined based on where the pain was located, that I was constipated. Whew! That was relief – but still very painful.
- I had resigned myself to always being in pain while nursing, but after reading several articles that all said it shouldn’t be – I called a lactation consultant. She was very helpful: in addition to showing me some new positions, she surmised that the root issue is that Edison is tongue-tied, thus he isn’t latching well and giving me blisters, cracks, and vasospasms. And because he’s tongue-tied and can’t get a good latch, he tires out while nursing, and he’s not able to get enough milk to keep him satisfied, even after an hour.
- Sunday morning at 2 am, I woke up with a raging fever and horrible chills. Even after I took a hefty dose of ibuprofen, my temp was still over 101, and I was so sore all over, felt like I’d just run a marathon. So, we went to Urgent Care for the second time in two weeks. They confirmed that I had mastitis. I could barely get out of bed for a few days.
- I felt unspeakably discouraged – the combination of being in lots of pain, not getting much sleep, and feeling like I can’t feed Edison properly has been really hard emotionally.
- We took Edison to a consultation for his tongue-tie, and discovered that he did indeed have a posterior tongue-tie, and an upper lip-tie. The procedure was scheduled for the 20th, which felt like an eternity away.
- My sister-in-law came to stay with us, and she happens to be a pediatric dietitian. She brought a special bottle to help Edison eat even more slowly, and hopefully spit up less.
- By this point, I was barely breastfeeding, due to the pain and cracks that wouldn’t heal. I pumped, and then we fed Edison by bottle.
- At last, the day arrived for Edison’s frenotomy. It was really quick, and the dr. said he did great, but being given my baby back screaming with his mouth all numb, looking confused and scared, broke my heart. I’m glad he won’t remember it when he’s older.
- Feeding got worse. We expected the tongue-tie procedure to help him swallow less air, and thus not spit up as much, but instead he started spitting up more. And he seemed in more pain when gassy than before.
- We took Edison to his one month appointment, and I left feeling very frustrated. Just like with every other visit, the doctor only noticed that he was gaining weight well, and thus assumed everything was fine. She wasn’t our regular pediatrician, but the other one in the same office, and I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. I tried to talk about reflux, but she assured me that it was normal and he’d grow out of it, and told me to try all the things we’d been doing since week one. And recommended I avoid dairy (I’m lactose intolerant, so I already do) and get yet another special bottle.
- Sunday, Sirius burned his paws running around on the hot pool deck. So badly, that layers of his paw pads were peeling off. We bandaged them as best we could, and had to put him in the cone of shame.
- Monday, after a long night, Brian finally agreed with me that Edison probably had reflux. At this point, he was screaming his little head off every time he burped, and not only was eating less, but spitting most of it up.
- I took Sirius to the animal hospital. I’ve never seen him so freaked out – his pupils were dilated so that only a tiny sliver of brown could be seen, he shook uncontrollably, snarled, and then tried to bite the vet. I started crying – blame it on a combination of hormones and not getting any sleep the night before – so they took him in the back to fix him up. He was fine in a few minutes, although not liking the bandages and cone of shame at all.
- Tuesday, I called the nurse line at the pediatrician’s office about Edison. They were able to get us in to see our doctor that day. After hearing all we’d been through, he prescribed some reflux medication. If the medicine didn’t help in the next day or so, he’d need an ultrasound to look for pyloric stenosis – a stomach problem requiring surgery.
Today is Wednesday, and the verdict is still out.
Yes, I know it’s supposed to get better eventually… but as you can see, each week it actually gets a little worse.
For once, I’d really like Murphy’s Law to just STOP IT. Just cut it out, Murphy. I’ve had enough.
But, as the saying goes, this too shall pass. Maybe what comes next will be worse. Maybe it will actually get better. Maybe we’ll be able to get Edison to a place where he’s not in pain while eating, and then we can start working on breastfeeding again.
Maybe one of these days I’ll see him smile at me.
But there’s been so many moments of holding Edison while he sleeps, listening to his little coos, watching him dream, or those times when he’s awake but not hungry or upset. And then realizing that he’s grown out of one of his special onesies he wore for his newborn photos.
He’s already over a month old, growing up so fast. I won’t always be able to hold him in my arms. Just like the sultan realized, these sweet moments are passing too.
These hard times will become memories, and so will all the beautiful moments.
I can’t let the pain and exhaustion and frustration of our circumstances rob me of the joy to be found in every day.
Because this too, shall pass.