Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Trusting your instincts

One of the things that has been drilled into me from when I started my paediatric training a long, long time ago, was to trust a parents instinct.  Parents know their child better than anyone else, they are with that child most of the time, and more often than not, if they feel something isn't quite right, it's usually because it isn't.  Whenever I used to see families, I would always bear that in mind, and I've supported many a parent in accessing their GP or local services because they had that feeling.   

Health professionals are notorious for being able to give advice, but not being so great at applying it to themselves, and this is exactly the position I found myself in just before Christmas.  I knew something wasn't quite right with LL, and in the back of my mind I just knew it was silent reflux.  All her symptoms pointed towards it.  She was so unsettled, would have long crying periods and hardly slept at night, crying in pain and tensing.  But, she was otherwise well, was meeting all of her developmental milestones and everyone commented on what a happy little soul she was when they met her.  

I began to doubt myself.  Was I just imagining it? Was I really tired and struggling and just laying the blame on LL? 

As the days went by and she didn't get better, I then began questioning myself again. What was I doing wrong? Was it my breast milk? Was it something I was eating? Was it the quick labour? You name it, and I thought it, usually coming to the conclusion it must be something to do with me. 

Things came to a head several days after Christmas when my husband had witnessed how unsettled she was all day.  On the fourth day of no sleep and a crying baby for most of the day, we agreed I'd go to the GP.  I had made notes to take with me as evidence really, to tell them my concerns. I also thought I'd tell them my job, thinking that they may take my concerns seriously.  

I still have the list I made on my phone: 

Appears in pain after feeds, often inconsolable.  Jerks and tenses. Hard to settle. Wakes every 20 mintues in pain at night.
Snuffly nose, very mucousy
Sometimes gags
Frequently comfort feeds
Hiccups alot
Lots of wind
Affecting her as time settled is not very often. 

I read that list now and feel really sad.  I feel sad that it's such a long list that I made, and I was clearly very tired and desperate for some help.  

The GP made me feel very stupid.  He said that some babies were unsettled and that she was probably crying because she was breastfeeding and she wanted to be close to me at all times.  But surely it's silent reflux I said? He asked me what I wanted to do, I said I didn't know, and he told me to come back if things didn't improve. 

I left the surgery nearly in tears. So basically it was me after all, I thought, it isn't silent reflux at all.  I had a perfectly healthy baby and I was wasting the GP's time.  I decided then to just get on with it.  If I had to have no sleep, then so be it.  If she needed to be next to me all the time, then so be it.  But still at the back of my mind I had this niggle that something else was going on. 

It's only recently that I came across my list again.  And LL still has very unsettled periods, unsettled nights and appears in pain. Her symptoms perfectly match silent reflux. After more research, it can settle once baby is weaned onto foods as food is heavier than milk, it can keep any acid in the stomach where its supposed to be. LL turns 6 months in a few weeks so we are going to hang on for a bit longer and hopefully once weaned things will improve even more.

Things are definitely better since those crazy few weeks, but I still feel annoyed with myself more than anything really, because I didn't listen to myself, I didn't trust my instincts.  Those first few months could have been very different if we had got medication for LL and had been seen by a paediatrician. But as my dad said to me, what's done is done now, and there's no use dwelling on it.  

This is quite a personal post for me really, but I wanted to share with you, because if there is anyone reading this with concerns about their little one, then really keep shouting about it until you are heard.  Your instinct really is everything.   

It took every ounce of me to get through some days on one or two hours sleep, and hence the reason why I had been completely absent on my blog. If anyone else is going through similar, hang on in there.  Things do get better and be kind to yourself.  Being a parent is hard, and if you've got an unsettled baby with no sleep, it's even harder.  

As I said, we're not quite out of the woods yet, but I know things are improving because I'm sat her typing away, and some nights when I get a bit of sleep it lifts me up for the next few days.  Parental instinct is everything, I just wish I had been a bit stronger and listened to mine. 


  1. Have you considered lactose intolerance or cmpa?

    1. Hi, yes, we did consider that and I went on a dairy free diet for 3 weeks and it made no difference at all :(
      I've done a little update since this post as to where we are at now. Thanks for reading and commenting.