Often life offers no answers, only travails to be borne as gracefully as possible.
After Viv’s acid reflux medicine failed to eliminate her crying and kicking, I tried a number of times to concede and accept the notion that V is just a fussy baby who requires an around the clock combination of doting attention and being permitted to learn self-reliance by “crying herself out.” I struggled mightily, used to the notion that I can achieve anything except great physical feats if I focus, work hard, and give up sleep, and skeptical that such a young baby would cry as vehemently and consistently as Viv did for any reason other than pain or hunger. I never managed to let her go unconsoled, and, as my previous posts attest, I continued desperately to search for a solution. Each new fix (including a short-lived theory that I didn’t blog about featuring Fenugreek as the antagonist) brought hope and then a wave of despair as we realized that Viv still couldn’t eat, sleep, or be happily awake for long. Almost convinced that I am simply ill-equipped to handle an infant and feeling like a whiny pessimist (I do have a gorgeous, sweet baby girl after all), I stopped posting.
The answer to our prayers arrived in the form of one Dr. Linda Muir, pediatric gastroenterologist. When I finally reached the brink of physical and emotional meltdown, I asked my mom for help, again. On her fourth trip in four months, she urged me to place yet another call to our primary care pediatrician, hereinafter referred to as Dr. Depraved Indifference or by a similar moniker. Each time Viv and I visited Dr. Depraved and recounted our struggles, she told me that “babies get gas” and that Viv’s failure to gain weight stemmed from a deficiency in my milk volume. As you may recall, Dr. Abandoned and Malignant Heart sent me to a lactation specialist who also blamed my breasts. I only got Dr. If Your Child Does Not Have H1N1 I Don’t Want To See You to prescribe medication for Viv’s reflux after telling her that a pediatric resident thought her symptoms warranted investigation and treatment of some kind. She promised to return calls and then left me waiting for days before mustering up the courage to bother her again when she didn’t. On Tuesday, my mom convinced me to call and request an appointment or a referral to a specialist. The clinic staff promised to return our call first thing Wednesday morning. When 4:30 rolled around, having previously fallen in the trap of waiting past 5:00 when the answering machine that doesn’t take messages steps in, I called again. The receptionist relayed the following message: Dr. Depraved would not see me until my regularly scheduled checkup (November 4th) and if I “insisted” on seeing a specialist, the practice recommends Dr. Muir.
I had a good feeling about Dr. Muir because of pleasant associations with Muir Woods and, more importantly, because she agreed to see us at 10:30 the following morning. When the email confirming our appointment and providing directions revealed her given name, I rejoiced. I’ve had extraordinary luck with the name Linda on two occasions. Of course the reaction demonstrates just how thin a straw at which I found myself willing to grasp.
Dr. Godsend asked a handful of open-ended questions about Viv’s eating, pooping, and sleeping; briefly examined Viv; and declared that she’s raw inside from stem to stern (esophogitis, colonitis, etc.), most likely caused by a “classic case” of milk protein allergy. In other words, she thinks the milk protein in my diet that travels through my milk to Viv makes her sick much the same way that gluten makes me sick, but out both ends. Every symptom of gas, cold, and reflux disease fits, and the theory explains V’s brief happy periods as following times I decided to eliminate dairy from my diet. In other words, we’ve likely been dealing with only one puzzle after all. More importantly, Dr. Competent listened to me rather than writing me off as a pushy mother seeking a perfect baby. If this diagnosis doesn’t pan out, she promises to “scope both ends” and get to the bottom (pun intended) of Viv’s suffering. As I absorbed this declaration, tears of joy streamed down my face. (I expected parenthood to shuffle my priorities a little, but really? Tears of joy at the promise of a colonoscopy?) Before she left the office (at which point I stopped myself from uttering the “I love you” that sprang to my lips, choosing to go with the more standard and and less freaky “Thank you”), Dr. Sanity Saver paused to confirm that we “have a game plan,” check to make sure no questions lingered, schedule an appointment just ten days later, and refer us to a pediatrician who “knows a sick baby when he sees one.”
Viv immediately started taking a medicine to soothe her throat and a special formula. I stopped eating all foods with even a trace amount of milk protein and will “pump and dump” until my milk becomes clean enough to feed Viv again (next Wednesday). Viv still cries out in pain but clearly feels better already. I’ve said those words before, but this time I know the subsiding pain will soon be kept at bay permanently one way or another. As for me, I didn’t really know how down I’d gotten until up arrived.
We found the answer to our mystery and our prayers, and I’ve never felt more grateful that I’m incapable of graceful acceptance.