My husband posted pictures of his layover last fall in France on his Facebook page, and I almost passed out.
My stomach dropped to my knees when I saw the one of the guys gathered around that quaint little table in Paris.
That was not the first time that I had seen that picture. It was actually the first one that he sent to me when he went on that trip last fall.
Stephen had the most amazing opportunity last September to travel with a group of guys from our church to a country in Africa called Burkina Faso. I was excited for him, but I was at home with a toddler approaching 3, and a 2 1/2 month old baby…who had not yet been diagnosed with gastroesophagael reflux disease. (That’s fancy medical jargon for…heartburn.)
From the moment that I found out I was pregnant with Caia, I had a peace in my heart that she would be our “easy” baby.
Her older sister McKenna, practically came out swinging. She was, and is, our little fireball. It was easy to see early on what her little personality would be like.
And I knew that Caia would be the opposite.
She arrived two weeks early and weighed in at only 5lbs. 10 oz. She was calm, and seemed to nurse on a predictable schedule.
And then she hit 3 weeks old. She wanted to nurse constantly, but would cry after every feeding. Putting her to bed at night, was a nightmare. It would take HOURS of nurse, cry, nurse, cry, nurse, cry….
Stephen kept telling me, “She has reflux, Annette. I know it.” I wish I had listened sooner.
She would awaken from deep sleeps with ear-piercing screams. Naps were reduced to 10 minutes before she would scream out in pain.
We put her on Zantac in hopes that it would help her. I might as well have been giving her water.
Right when Stephen left for his trip, was when we were in the deepest part of her reflux. Only there was no relief for it on the horizon.
I cried more than I ever have while he was on that trip. I had dear friends stop by…one even brought us some food. My sweet mother-in-law came one night from 2 hours away because when she called to check on us, all I could do was cry. Caia had been screaming for hours.
Even on the day that we picked up Stephen from the airport, I prayed for relief from the constant screaming. She screamed the entire way to the airport, refused to nurse although I knew she was starving. And she screamed the entire way home.
It was one of the darkest times of my life, and no one knew it except for my husband.
Every night, I would end up in tears after she had finally drifted off to sleep. It would take almost two hours at night to get her comfortable. I would beg God to change the situation, to take away her discomfort, but it seemed like there was no end in sight.
Months earlier, while I was still pregnant, a sweet lady had given me a daily devotional that she had received through her email. When she handed it to me she said, “I thought of you when I got this.”
I remember reading it and getting so upset. I told my husband, “This sounds like there is something wrong with my unborn child.” (Looking back, I don’t remember exactly what it said, but the idea was to remember in the hard times, that God has created no mistakes. That He formed this child perfectly and holds all their days in His hands.
My husband looked at me as I shoved the paper in my purse, frustrated. “What if there is something wrong with her?”
Seriously, never tell a pregnant lady that something MIGHT be wrong with her unborn child.
“We’ve done all the tests! Everything’s fine!” I was indignant. And I quickly forgot about that paper.
Now, I know that there could be much, much more horrible things to have to endure than your newborn being plagued with reflux for months. I have dear friends who have lost unborn babies, who have said goodbye to loved ones long before they thought they would have to, who have battled cancer or marriages in crisis.
But this was MY fire. This was MY battle. And it took me down hard.
Most other parents that we would try to explain it to would say, “Oh, yeah. My baby spit up a lot too.”
That angered me to the core. I could care less about doing the laundry! I just wanted a baby who didn’t have to starve herself because she didn’t want to hurt!
There is nothing like holding your infant while they scream in pain, knowing there’s nothing you can do. She would throw her little body back so hard that she would almost come out of my arms.
Nursing became less and less. And finally one day, I made one more appointment with the pediatrician and vowed my husband would come to.
We took in a very detailed list of her symptoms and refused to leave without some answers. He suggested Prevacid. Had henot, I would have asked.
Now, let me stop here and say that our pediatrician is phenomenal. He has an excellent reputation in the community, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the care he provides. However, up until this point, he could only diagnose her based on what he saw in a 10 minute office visit. I do not blame him in the least for not putting her on the Prevacid sooner.
Within two weeks, our daughter was a completely different baby. She was peaceful, happy and no longer screamed herself to sleep.
It wasn’t an immediate long-term change. We had to tinker with the dosage and find the right place to have the medicine mixed, but now…we’ve been virtually pain free from reflux for about two months.
And they have been a beautiful two months.
But before then, my journey through Caia’s reflux took me someplace that allowed me to fully rely on God to see me through it. I am not saying, by any means, that I came out on the other side brave and valiant. (Ask Stephen how many bottles I broke because I threw them against the wall in frustration…)
Those nine days that Stephen spent in Africa were incredibly difficult for me. But I told him when he arrived home, that although it hadn’t been easy, somewhere deep inside of me, I had a quiet peace that God was going to get me through it.
And He did.