Fuck you, Reflux. Fuck you for hurting my baby, my sweet beautiful baby girl. How lovely she is. But who would have known? Because of you, she has been dubbed the “bad baby,” “the difficult baby,” and “the crier.” No one but me knew there was a sweet laughing baby trapped in her arching, thrusting, screams. No one but me.
If I’m totally honest, there were even days I struggled to find love for my bundle of joy. After hours of crying, shushing, bouncing, and vomiting, I had little space left for joy. There was no room for tender moments between mother and new baby. No time left for stolen kisses, edible toes, or breastfeeding snoozes. Those priceless moments were stolen from us — for my baby’s infancy was a war zone soaked by a trail of tears. My beautiful baby girl was struggling for breath, for food, for sleep, and it is all your fault.
Fuck you, Reflux. You stole so much from us.
Fuck you, Reflux, for the all the sleepless nights. As soon as the sun would set, my husband and I would put on our marching boots. Our little girl would start squirming, fussing, crying, and finally wailing. All the shushing and bouncing in the world could not stanch the tidal wave that consumed us every night.
During the day, all the crying was manageable. As long as I never put her down, we could function. We managed. We survived. At night, the tenuous hold I had over you would be stripped away and your full force would overwhelm us. How many nights did we march our screaming baby around the yard? Hour after hour, we marched. And why? I don’t know. It seemed to marginally help keep the screams at bay. It gave us purpose when we felt so impotent.
How many nights did I finally stop marching and simply sob while I clutched my howling baby in my arms? Too many to count. So my baby screamed, and screamed, and screamed until she finally had no fight left and would pass into a fitful sleep. But there was no rest for the wary. Hour after hour she would choke, gag, vomit, and cry. The only place she could find respite was prone on my chest while I sat bolt upright in bed. For months, none of us slept. I am so tired. So very fucking tired. Fuck you, Reflux.
Fuck you, Reflux, for making me feel so totally completely alone. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. Where could I go? Because of you, my baby cried all the time. In the car, in the store, at Chick-fil-A, at the doctor, at home, everywhere we cried. No one could watch my crying baby because the only person she wanted was me. I could not even go to work without my baby screaming the entire time I was gone. So I stopped leaving. I stopped going. My crying baby was virtually attached to me.
When I tried to reach out to tell people of our struggles, very few truly understood. Placating comments hardened my heart. How wary I grew of hearing what “a short season” this is, or “it’s so worth it for such a beautiful baby,” or “it can’t be that bad.” So alone, I felt so alone.
Even when I ventured out to meet with friends, I often felt jealous as I watched other new mommies snuggle with perfect babbling bundles of joy. I felt true regret that my baby could not be so lovely and then felt like the most awful mommy for such treacherous thoughts. I was her only ally, and even I wanted to give her up. I wanted a new baby. Fuck you, Reflux.
Fuck you, Reflux, for trying to steal my year, my baby’s infancy, my marriage, my family, my world. Fuck you for thinking my family was so weak. You underestimated us. You thought you had us beat. Today is the start of a new year with new promise. We are on the precipice of a life without you. The end is in sight.
But your scars run deep. The third baby I had always dreamed of will never be. My husband and I can’t even bear the thought of another year with you hanging around our neck. That yoke is too heavy, so that third life will remain unknown to us. But that is okay. My family is beautiful just the way it is.
My little girl, my screaming, wretched baby is beginning to bloom. She is so lovely, so undeniably beautiful, happy, and healthy. She melts my heart, and her strength is something I hope she carries with her through this life like a shield. Fuck you, Reflux, for trying to break my little girl. Fuck you for trying to break me.
You didn’t break me. You made me stronger. I had to learn to fight. I had to fight through worry, exhaustion, and sorrow. You forced me to learn what it means to advocate for my daughter. “No” was no longer an acceptable answer. We went from one doctor to another until I found the answers we needed to hear. I read, I researched, I studied, and I armed myself. This was a battle I could not loose because the stakes were too high.
When I thought I could not march one more step, I marched a hundred more. When I thought I would go insane if I had to listen to my baby cry one more minute, I clutched her tighter and prayed for the strength to journey on. I found that strength. With time, lots and lots of medication, a frenectomy, more time, countless swings/chairs/baby sleepers, and even a certified sleep consultant, we are still standing — and we are beginning to thrive.
Now I hear more laughter than screams. I have officially begun weaning off some of our medication. We have slept through the night a handful of times. We have met milestones that at one time seemed like they were a lifetime away. We have survived. While I still start at every cry, still feel my anxiety rise when she gets a bout of hiccups, and still wear vomit more days than not, I know we are looking toward the future now. So from the very bottom of my heart: Fuck you, Reflux.