From the moment Jacob was born in 2005 he was an unhappy baby. He arrived at 37 weeks and weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces.
A big baby, yes, but a terribly unhappy baby.
While in the hospital he dealt with jaundice and spent a couple of days under the bili lights. This wasn’t new to us since our oldest came home with bili light in tow. His levels never reached a dangerous point, but they were high enough to be a concern. That issue seemed to sort itself out rather quickly and we took him home from the hospital as scheduled.
Within the first two weeks we noticed that the child just cried. CRIED. Cried for hours and hours and hours. I know babies tend to cry and have moments of complete fits, but this seemed different. Something about my motherly instinct was on alert. I admit that I tried to ignore it based on advice I received from anyone and everyone around me. He’s just a little colicky. He’s going to be fine – babies just cry. Are you using the 5 S’s with him? It didn’t help that my husband was traveling nearly 80 percent of the time and I was left home trying to decipher exactly what I was doing wrong as a mother to have such an unhappy baby. Along with the crying he had trouble eating and went through bouts of severe spit-up to the point where he couldn’t keep anything down. He also made constant noises when he breathed as if something was lodged in his throat. Nothing I did could make that little boy happy.
I brought up my concerns every time we went to the pediatrician. Weekly visits, monthly visits – each time I was just dismissed as having a fussy baby. But I knew. I knew something was wrong with my child.
After two months of struggles, severe lack of sleep, a husband who was constantly traveling, and enough tears to fill an ocean I went back to the pediatrician determined to be heard. This time we saw a new doctor – a young man who to this day is known as a God send! I burst into tears in front of this man. I cried and told him that something was wrong with my child but that nobody seemed to believe me. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me directly in the eyes and said ‘I believe you.’
Almost instantly the weight began to lift. Someone was listening to me. Someone was giving me the time and attention I needed to figure out what was wrong with my baby. He took tons of notes, asked extremely detailed questions, and gave us referrals to a pediatric ENT to confirm his diagnosis: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Stridor. Essentially my poor baby’s stomach couldn’t handle anything and, combined with the Stridor, was making it difficult to breathe. We left with samples of a new formula and a prescription to help with the reflux.
I can’t remember for sure but I’m pretty certain I collapsed from exhaustion and relief when we arrived home. And within 48 hours of trying the new formula and medicine it was like I had a different child. A typical, happy, snuggly baby. I felt like I had been given a miracle. We followed up with the specialists and had to watch our baby go through an upper GI, but we were given answers. The diagnosis was confirmed and I had the resources and knowledge to take care of my little boy.
In all honesty he still cried a good bit even with the diagnosis which we chucked up to healing and maybe a bit of colic. But, he was getting better and that’s all I needed.
To this day I remember the frustration I felt when nobody would listen to me. I wanted to advocate for my son, but it was extremely difficult to do so when very few would listen to my instincts. I have no words for how wonderful that young doctor was to us that day I broke into tears in his exam room. He listened when no one else would. He later left the practice to go work at a Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, but he left me with the confidence I needed to always advocate for my children. I’ll always be thankful for that.
Over time Jacob continued to improve and was able to stop taking the medicine. He grew out of the Stridor and has become an amazingly healthy and happy 7 year old. I’m so glad I don’t have to think about who he would have been had I not pushed for someone…anyone to help my child.
How far would you go to advocate for your child? In January First, father Michael Shofield and his family struggle to find the right treatment for his daughter Jani, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at six years old. Join From Left to Write on September 6th as we discuss the Shofield’s memoir January First. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.