It’s that time in the middle of the night when the darkness is very dark and the stillness very still. But it is neither dark nor still in our little corner of the house.
The baby cries.
We’ve tried rocking, and patting, and feeding. We’ve sat up, laid down, and walked around. I’ve talked to him, sung to him and whispered sweet nothings in his ear. All to no avail. He is exhausted, uncomfortable, upset and in pain.
I lie next to him. His big blue eyes look at me. They are sad and seem to be pleading with me… ‘please make this stop’. If only I could make it stop. It breaks my heart.
It’s reflux that is causing my seven week old baby to have bags under his eyes almost as big as mine, I’m sure of it.
I’ve been here before…. a long time ago. I’d almost forgotten those first few months of hell when the girls came home from hospital. I’d almost blocked out of my mind the crying, the refusing to feed, the blood tinged vomit, the lack of weight gain, the hospital visits, the medication. Almost.
This time around I am not going to wait. I am not going to listen when someone tells me it is ‘normal’, that it is colic, or that I’ve just got ‘a cranky baby’. No, this time I am not waiting for things to get really bad. This time I am wiser, and stronger.
It feels wrong though.
This tiny being with the wise eyes has never eaten anything that was not made by my body since the moment he was conceived. It feels wrong to be doing this, it breaks my heart a little bit more, but I am strong, I know we have to try.
Tonight the look in his eyes is not a cry for help it is a look of betrayal.
I squirt vile tasting medication into his cheek in the vain hope he will swallow some of it. I hold him close and rock him, telling him I am sorry and promising it will make him feel better and hoping I am not a liar. He doesn’t look convinced.
We go back to the familiar rocking, walking and patting. A nappy slung over my shoulder, though somehow it never manages to catch all the baby vomit and I have streaks of white down my back and we both smell sour. After a little while he sleeps. I wrap him tight and tentatively lay him down next to me, wondering how long the peace will last. I lay there looking at him, running through my head is a jumbled mix of memories, breaking hearts and love.
At some point I fall asleep, and I wake with a jolt as I him hear stir. I look up at the clock.
Can it really be 5 am? Can we really have slept for 6 hours? Can the medication really have worked?
There is still projectile vomiting at the most inopportune times, in the most embarrassing places. I still have odd white stains down my back and I still smell sour most of the time. There are still times when he is uncomfortable. He still wakes, crying out in pain, on occasion. I am still betraying him each night as I try new and ever more ridiculous ways to get him to swallow and not spit the medication back in my face.
But things are better.
His eyes still say he is disgusted but I am sure I also see relief… at least that is what I tell myself so I can go on fighting this beast called reflux.