Monday, July 16, 2007
What not to say to the mother of a refluxer...
Over the years, I've received a lot of advice from family, friends, doctors...even strangers, on how to best "handle" Sophie and her issues. All of it has come from kind, well-intentioned people, just wanting to help. Which I appreciated, I really did. Granted, since none of us, including her doctors, really knew exactly what was going on with Sophs in the beginning, we all just hypothesized about the correct way to "fix her". We spent many an hour brainstorming and guessing. Still to this day, I don't know exactly the right thing to say to a mom going through the reflux trenches. However, over the years, as the mom of a child who has barfed her sweet little guts up since the day she was born, I have become a bit of an "expert" on what not to say. If ever you come across a mom and she says to you, "It's reflux...", you can safely assume she is exhausted, emotionally frazzled, barely hanging on, and stinky as all get-out from fermenting in her child's juices all day long. She is putting the ladder up to the roof and she is seriously contemplating jumping. The following is a sampling of what not to say to her.
1.) All babies cry. (Yes. But do they scream bloody murder as if someone is gutting them on the kitchen table 21 of the 24 hours of the day?)
2.) All babies spit up. (Yes. But do they projectile vomit across the room and launch puke out of their nose with the force of a rocket? All. Day. Long?)
3.) You know, Kristy, if you would calm down, Sophie would calm down, and eating would just naturally follow. (Ah. Phew. Thank goodness. So all I need to do is drink a lot of margueritas and take a bubble bath, and Sophie will pull up to the Chow Barn with gusto?)
4.) Just feed her small amounts, multiple times. (Translation: Just let her hurl small amounts, continually, the entire fudgin' day.)
5.) Make feeding fun! (Translation: Let her smear the mashed potatoes in her hair. Let her put the Cheeto up her nose. Let her rub the pudding into her belly button and call it "soap". And let her smash the graham cracker into her ear. ...I kid you not. She's the only child I know who can be head-to-toe covered in food, without one single SPECK nearing her mouth during the entire Fun-with-Food extravaganza.)
6.) She'll outgrow it at 3 months...6 months...9 months...DEFINITELY by a year. (Three years, three months...and counting. Still syringe-fed formula. Still puking her little guts up.)
7.) (From our Pediatrician:) You know, Kristy, it just LOOKS like a lot of spit up. It's actually less than it appears to be. (Um. No. It's actually exactly what it appears to be...i.e her entire stomach contents, plus her toenails. I know this because I got sick of you telling me it was less than I thought it was and now I catch it in a bucket and measure it. Disgusting? Yes. Accurate in a quantitative kind of way? Heck, yes! Oh, and if you call it "spit up" ONE more time, I'm bringing the Barf Bucket to your office as a special treat. *A video ended up having the same effect. It got my point across quite spectacularly and effectively.)
8.) Just bring her here and let her stay with me for a couple of weeks. (Translation: You two are giant parental morons. You have no idea what you're doing. I'll fix her. She'll be eating turkey and dressing by the time you get her back.)
9.) Why does she often eat over there, away from the group? (Because, nosey strangers at the mall, if I don't separate her from the rest of the group, the whole table wants to toss THEIR cookies when the gagging/yackfest starts. Plus, it helps eliminate some of the "she's a UFO!" looks when puke starts shooting out of her nose. Believe me, the remove-to-the-corner trick is for the good of all mankind.)
10.) It's pretty simple. You just have to work with her diligently every day to get her to eat. -I just wish I had had Sophie straight from the hospital, that would have really helped her a lot. -Stop making her the center of your attention and she will eat just fine. (A collection of some of my favorite pearls of wisdom from one of Sophie's not-so helpful feeding therapists. ...Correction. Ex-feeding therapists.)
11.) You know how bulimics get to the point where they've vomited so much that they no longer have control over it - it just comes out constantly and spontaneously? (Um. Okay. Yes.) Well, I think that's how Sophie is getting. She may have bulimia when she's older. (Oh, excellent! Very helpful information, indeed.)
...And probably my all-time favorite, at least in terms of humor (the award goes to my sweet mom):
12.) You know, Kristy, she really should be eating more fruits and green leafy vegetables. (Um. Mom, I love you to pieces, but are you drunk...are you high...are you sniffing glue when I'm not looking?? First of all..."more"? Did I miss something? In our quest to syringe enough calories and nutrition to her to keep her hydrated and off the g-tube, did I miss her eating some cantaloupe and turnip greens? Quite frankly, if Sophie would eat chocolate doughnuts, with a side of cotton candy and Twinkies, I would let her...and be thrilled!)
So, what can you do... Laugh? Cry? Drink? Have a screaming fit face-down in the bathmat?
Truth be told, I've done them all. None of them really work. The kid just keeps on 'a puking, regardless of how big a fool I make of myself. The only real way to weather the storm is to hold on tight, pray like crazy, celebrate the good days, and wear a poncho on the bad ones.