I researched constantly online, and I joined a few Mommy groups for support and advice. I could not believe how many babies out there had the same thing as Stephen. It was unbelievable. In one group alone, called “Food and Bottle Refusal,” there were 3,000 members! I was stunned. It was sad, but also good to know that my child wasn’t the only one who hated eating. Several people who had babies with GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) like Stephen said to try “dream feeding.” That is when you feed a baby while they’re sleeping so they don’t really know they are eating and can suck the bottle without realizing it. This actually worked quite well, but it was exhausting feeding him while he slept at night rather than during the day. For a little while, despite the utter exhaustion from constantly trying to feed Stephen all night long, it seemed like soy formula with GOBS of rice cereal worked. I was a bit more hopeful. He was still throwing up but not nearly as much.
However, at this point things turned even worse. Along with refusing to eat most of the time, and throwing up half of what he ate, Stephen started having breathing episodes while choking. It was like watching someone suffocate my child. If he didn’t projectile vomit, the milk/reflux would go up through his nasal cavity and keep him from being able to breathe. He would choke and gag and struggle to get it out. It absolutely terrified me, and I called the Pediatrician crying hysterically the one day when he started turning purple-bluish-red. The main fear was him breathing in the reflux once it shot up into his nasal cavity. If he aspirated into his lungs, he could either get severe pneumonia, or he could “drown.”
The Pediatrician was truly worried at this point, particularly about choking as well as slow weight gain, and he referred us to a GI specialist. I had high hopes that we would finally get some answers. At first we were really hopeful as the new doctor seemed to want to help. Then, I called him one day after Stephen choked and asked him what I should do; this doctor was not very nice. He said I was overly anxious and the only problem with my son was that I needed to calm down (as if my son choking and vomiting was my fault). He put him on another 2 different medicines, as well as the best infant formula available (you can only get it by prescription). The doctor said to take out the rice cereal, which obviously did not work. So I went with my Mommy intuition and added it back in. It seemed to take several days before he got used to the formula, but once he did, it was a lot better. He was not vomiting near as much as he had before.
Again, as usual while riding on the Reflux-coaster, things got bad again. The choking episodes continued, but more so at night. We bought an inclined infant positioner, and he started sleeping in that in our bed so I could hear him at night if he started choking/stopped breathing. I would lie next to him, listening to the reflux coming up into his throat and him struggling to swallow it back down. I couldn’t sleep for fear of him drowning in his reflux. I would lay in bed at night, praying to God he would be okay if I went to sleep. It was awful.
Then, even with the tablespoons of rice cereal, the vomiting started again too. I was an absolute wreck because there was nothing else my child could eat. I called the GI and again, got the cold shoulder. He said to me on the phone, and I quote: “If you’d like me to take your son from you for 3 months and give him back to you when he’s better, I’d be glad to.” :( I was so upset I just hung up the phone and bawled my eyes out.
During this time, there were many days and nights that I would I sit and wonder what I did wrong, if I hurt Stephen while he was in my womb, or if something was wrong with my body to make him sick as a baby, or if I could have prevented it somehow. I wondered if Stephen was hurting because I was being punished by God for bad things I’d done in the past. I wondered if I was a good enough Christian and that maybe if I was better, Satan would leave Stephen alone. I thought maybe if I was a better Mom too that I would know how to help my son, and that I would be able to get him to eat or keep him from throwing up or choking. I felt like everything was somehow my fault. So I just kept praying God would heal Stephen and it would all end, that I’d wake up from this “bad dream,” and that Stephen could be like all the other babies out there who loved to eat, gained weight, and were happy.
(To be continued...)