These past few months have been quite the experience of being a dad and plenty more unsuspecting roller coaster turns to come I am sure. I have written quite a number of posts relating to the struggles and the coping (lack of) of ET suffering from GERD, but I never actually started from the beginning as such.
Have you ever been strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time? Read on to find out, why I felt this way all at once.
Ever since our son ET (real initials) was born, initially I was overcome with such happiness and joy that literally everything else in my world did not matter as long as I had both my wife and son by my side.
We were in the hospital for the most part of the first week in trying to set up some routine in his feeding patterns and getting the advice we so desperately needed from the helpful staff of midwives and nurses.
As the days and weeks progressed, things were shaping up to be great, we were told one great news to another and that it would only really be a matter of days before we can take our son home. As quickly as we were told that we could, we also quickly found out we could not take him home. After a number of tests and monitoring on the little fellow, we were told he had a mild case of Jaundice which is essentially a yellowness in the skin.
Our little guy had to undergo photo-therapy which involved him being stripped down to his nappy and a blindfold put on and carefully monitored via number of cords and placed inside a transparent box housed with a couple of UV-based lights.
We were told he had to be under these lights essentially for a full twenty four hour period while maintaining the regular three hour feeding intervals at the time.
As the days progressed, ironically our level of sleep increased because we knew that with him being in the nursery and carefully monitored by the doctors and midwives, we ended up booking a staying in room in the ward and we could sleep knowing we would be the first to hear of anything from the midwives regarding ET.
After the first session of photo-therapy, we were told his levels of Jaundice had decreased quite significantly and that after a few more standard checks we would finally take ET home. During the moments at home we had been anticipating taking him home for such a long time, we were in for quite a ride, the feeding hours seem to jump quite erratically, ranging from some two and half hours to three hours and one piece of advice we were told by one of the midwives before we began the process of going home was “Remember, just feed on demand when at home”
Because of her profession, we figured this midwife must know what she is talking about, seems to make sense we thought he is obviously growing and getting older by the day, it must be normal for babies to get to the on demand feed stage this early in their life, of course later on we were told by other medical professionals this should not happen at this early in his life and that we still should have continued to wake ET up every three hours for his feed.
We had taken ET home, and he was still being breastfed at this point, the first night was great feeling we followed every advice we could remember from the hospital, we changed his nappies, fed him, carried him as the days went on and everything seemed great.
I can’t remember exactly when we started to notice a change in his behaviour. It was after just one day, we had began to notice his complexion had seemed a little yellow and that is when we decided to call the hospital, and after a few calls back and fourth and monitoring from home, we took him in for observation.
And this is when we essentially had what felt like everything thrown in our face, his was underweight, his Jaundice level had rebounded and significantly higher than what they were before the first photo-therapy session and so again he was under the UV-lights for round two of photo-therapy. Even though we as a family had gone through with ET being under the UV-lights the first time, the second time felt such like a tonne of bricks just came crumbling down on us, it was harder on us to accept the fact he had to go through such an experience again and I think being able to take him home for such a short amount of time before hand had contributed to this.
After a full photo-therapy session, we were essentially given the green light to once again take him home, again everything was going well initially until we started to notice and suspect he wasn’t eating a much as he should have and as days and weeks progressed, we noticed we had such difficultly in settling him after a feed.
We thought this is just normal as all babies cry and need soothing and settling but we didn’t think too much of it. During a routine check up see an excellent paediatrician, he officially diagnosed ET with GERD (severe reflux)
The anticipation of become a father, I had read up on all I could to at least think that I was going to be prepared in some way or another, but never in my mind did I anticipate even the thought of a child suffering from GERD.
All up to this point before finding out ET has GERD, I felt incredibly strong for ET, being able to provide for him, be able to look after and nurture him and suddenly feeling weak. As the weeks progressed, we began to notice a change and a lot of trial and error with his medication to try and suppress his reflux, we felt like we were on top of it all, we had overcome his GERD and for the most part it is definitely under control.
Occasionally when I am feeding him (on prescription formula), and trying to settle and soothe him, I am finding it very difficult and tends to push on my patience, I end up being frustrated and I unfortunately take it out on those around me that mean to me the most and it is incredibly unfair on them, I feel tremendously vulnerable and weak during this moments while at the same time feeling I should be stronger, to be there for my son, to provide for him.
Being a parent is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my life and having such an overwhelming rush of feeling strong, weak and vulnerable at the same time has made me realise that in some strange way this is all perfectly normal and that things do happen for a reason and has made me take a step back and realise that the real person who is having most difficult time is ET who has to go through the pain from GERD and dealing with an incredibly short-tempered excuse of a father during those times when he needed it the most.
Do I feel incredibly stupid for the way I have been handling this whole situation? Of course, I am working on this and as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words and I vow to prove that to the fullest not only for myself so I can look in the mirror and be proud of who I see, but for my wife, for those around me that care about me, for those I love and care and most importantly for our son ET.