Mum to Dylan (10) and Cate (9). Married to Rod.
Cate was born when Dylan was just 15 months old. Cate screamed and screamed. She comfort fed so much (in between the screaming and not sleeping) and was so on/ off my breasts that they used to bleed all over her face while I was trying to feed her. I thought I had an attachment problem so hired a lactation consultant who tried so hard to help me, and when in sheer frustration (and with people telling me it was my milk and to bottle feed) I weaned her at 4 weeks.
She still screamed and wouldn’t sleep. My GP told me she was ‘irritable’. Huh! No mention of reflux yet. Was sent to a day sleep school to help with my ability to see ‘tired’ signs and check me for PND. Huh! I already had a child, I knew Cate was not normal, but no‐one would listen. She failed sleep school. Even they couldn’t help.
Because I was considered ‘at risk’ (read: completely undone by a screaming baby, a busy toddler, no sleep and no‐one listening to me) I got in pretty quickly to Riverton (now the Ellen Baron Centre, like Karitane/ Tresilian). They drugged me the first night and took Cate away. At 5 in the morning when I woke in a mad panic, as I had never been more than 2 metres away from her in 6 weeks, ran down to the office, where Cate was being nursed by staff, and they looked at me with sympathy and said she has ‘silent reflux’. I thought that giving it a name would be the solution. Losec and a plan, right?
And so began 4 long years of drugs, diets, hospital admissions, holiday evacuations, ear infections, lung issues, colds and respiratory ailments that lasted 10 months of every year and of course the biggie ‐ no sleep. No support as no one could see the sheer endurance test life with a refluxer was/is.
When Cate was about a year old I found RISA on the internet. Glenda rang me. I will never, ever forget that day. Glenda told me I wasn’t going insane. In fact, everything I had experienced was quite a normal journey for a family with reflux. Glenda didn’t fix our reflux, but she restored my self‐ belief and dignity.
When Cate was about 4 we smugly believed that she had ‘outgrown’ it. Cate had a lot of other issues, but we explained them away as something else. Dealt with each individual thing with out looking at the whole picture. Through different chats with Glenda, she tried to gently point out that Cate seemed to still be exhibiting signs of reflux, just the older kids version.
One night, 18 months ago, Cate sat at the dinner table and calmly started banging her chest (had seen this behaviour before, though not often) and uttered those immortal words:
“I really hate it when my food gets stuck, then it comes back up into my mouth and I have to try and swallow it again”.
My fork froze mid air. My husband stopped breathing.
“And does this happen often.”
“Oh yes” she replies completely unfazed, “happens when I lay down at night, when I have to lean over my desk at school, when I am told to eat my lunch fast” and so she went on.
Finally old enough to articulate what she thought was normal. The obvious we had been trying to not see for 5 years. She has since been put on Zoton fast tabs and re‐seen her original paed gastro and had an endoscopy. No damage from being left untreated. No obvious abnormality of the anatomy or her
Verdict: GORD to be managed by meds and diet. Hopefully get the diet right and start to reduce the meds.
And that is why I am still here. Hoping in some small way that by helping, RISA can stop another mother from going through that same hell experience.
I missed out on Cate’s babyhood. I really feel sad about that.
Am having the time of my life enjoying my little girl and her big, beautiful brother.
I don’t wish for world peace, just a cure for reflux in little babies.
Jody is the long-time, outgoing RISA Treasurer. She has contributed enormously to the organisation for many years.
You can contact Jody on the RISA forums. Username: jaradac