1. MAKE Time For Sleep
Duh-this may seem like a no-brainer if you haven’t had a hurting baby. But our baby hurt, and could not sleep. We rarely slept more than 4 hours per night, and those were non-consecutive 40 minute spurts. Sleep broken up like that is not restorative. As
days months pass, the need for any solid chunk of sleep becomes desperate.
Here are a few ideas to schedule sleep:
- Trade off – one parent goes to bed early while the other takes the evening shift. Take turns during the week.
- If your child cries most of the night, use a loud fan, ear plugs or noise machine to block the noise so you CAN sleep while the other parent is awake.
- If you are a working parent, allow yourself one day a week to go home and sleep for an hour or two before picking your child up from daycare.
- If daycare isn’t a possible outlet for you, ask a trusted family member or friend to come hold the baby while you sleep. And when they come, don’t do anything else. Just sleep.
- Do whatever it takes to help your child sleep – I held our son on my chest in a big chair with pillows propping my arms up so he couldn’t fall for his first 3 months of ‘sleep’.
2. See a specialist
No matter how good your pediatrician is, see a specialist. A pediatric Gastroenterologist (GI) just knows more because of their specialized training. They see more cases of severe reflux than a pediatrician and have resources and ideas even the best pediatrician may not.
3. Be Honest and Transparent
While no one wants to complain about their child, it is not complaining to admit or explain what is really going on. Take time to explain why you can’t volunteer, go to an event, or why you might be late or need to leave early. Being open and honest will help others understand, give grace, and even offer to help. People who don’t know you need help will not offer to help.
Another reason to be open and honest is that sharing your experience will add a new level of authenticity and trust in your relationships. You may be surprised which relationships thrive in this time and which ones do not – true friendships are forged in fire. These are the people who walk through struggles with you. Life isn’t perfect and we shouldn’t pretend it is – don’t be afraid to share the hard stuff.
4. Seek Experienced Reflux Parents
In addition to a great pediatrician and GI specialist, others have been in these trenches before you. They have spent their days and nights loving and doing everything they can to not only soothe their child, but also to learn how to do it better. As a mom who has gone through what you are going through now three times – I know the advice and encouragement from seasoned veterans is invaluable. If you don’t know any such moms, here’s a few resources that may help:
- Reflux Support Group closed group on Facebook – must join to see posts
- Reflux Rebels – closed group on Facebook – must join to see posts
- GERD & Heartburn Forum
- Reflux Infants Support Group (RISA)
- La Leche League – for online articles and forums, but also free lactation advice locally
- Reflux.org – is no longer adding new information but there is a wealth of general reflux information, journal articles and stories from families still accessible on the website
5. Pray and Then Pray Some More
In the middle of the night, all day long, when your ears, back and arms hurt from rocking and soothing the screaming, prayer is your lifeline to the God of all creation. He made you, your baby, and He knows exactly how hard this is for all of you.
He listens, He answers, and He equips. Reach out to Him for strength, comfort, and peace.
I recently studied John 11 and was so moved by Jesus’ compassion and how deeply troubled He was over the death of Lazarus. He comforted Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha and wept beside Lazarus’ grave. Even though death had to happen for Him to show His power over death as He raised Lazarus from the grave, He took NO joy in seeing the sorrow of those He loved. And, He felt His own sorrow over the situation. Cry out to Him, He hears you. He is your help and holds you both in His good, sovereign hands when there is simply nothing else you can do for your child.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:6-8 (NIV)