Hayden Panettiere made national headlines for speaking out and getting treatment for her postpartum depression, and more than 10 months after giving birth. I'm not sure if I'm more surprised that people are acting so surprised, or that the little girl from Remember The Titans is now a grown up and a mom.
She's proving that "Baby Blues" aren't just something that start from the first sleepless night and end at that first real smile. They can last as long as they darn well please, and even start before baby makes his or her grand appearance. And there is a full range of ways that it can present itself.
The most basic of mothering roles is monumental in itself, whether you're a first-timer and the craziness therein, or a returning champion with two hands to take care of, well, many more hands.
Pile on the common, yet difficult, issues such as colic, reflux (silent too), and general high needs and fussiness, and you tell me all about how GREAT you are feeling overall. Especially after the consecutive weeks, months and years of scarce and low quality sleep.
Add in uncommon diseases, illnesses, special needs and more, and I can't honestly comprehend how some moms stay standing and smiling through it all. These are superheroes in real life.
Now while celebrities and surely other well-off moms can shuffle to treatment or sanctuary, most of us live in the real world where we have to do our healing while still taking care of everyone, and everything, else.
So, how do we cope?
With that, I will share my brief journey in this arena (the notes will be BRIEF, the JOURNEY is ongoing).
The first 6 weeks of my first son were rough due to colicky symptoms, peaking around week 4-5. At 6 weeks I had to go back to work (for another time and another post) and frankly he outgrew the incessant crying around the same time and was sleeping most nights at 3 months. I'm prone to depression and anxiety, and this was a major trigger, but realized I had PPD too late in the game to help me when I needed help most. Good with eating, bad with teething, but overall we had a good year one. Good enough that we were open to more bundles of joy and was pregnant with son number 2 when number 1 was about 15 months.
As number 2 came along, and a new full-time job along with the pregnancy, I felt these symptoms all along. Combined with life stresses and new challenges with my first son, I went home from the hospital with a prescription for PPD. I knew I had it before we brought him home and through the hormone changes, and reflux that started almost immediately, that foresight of myself and my doctor was critical to making it through the next 18 months and counting here. My additional coping mechanisms included a commitment to my health (reasonable attempts at best but something), counseling for stress management, and best of all, the creation of this website! It was through DownWithSpitUp.com that I really found healing in connecting, sharing and helping others - even if they find these posts and resources years from now.
I still don't get sleep, and managing stress will be a lifelong commitment, but I wouldn't trade a second because it's changed me and made me stronger than I knew I was. My moments of weakness are still plenty but they make the moments of beauty that much better.
And hey, if it takes Hayden Panettiere's pretty face splashed all over the news to spread that message, then she's one of my HEROES. ...(anyone?)....yea maybe I should go take a nap.
Check out the video below!
I feel a little late to the Pinterest party. I mean, I've had a page for years, but only recently have I embraced it as core part of my day. Ok, maybe I'm a little addicted, but I'm also just a little more inspired.
If you're like me, you share a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.
I love getting lost in a sea of adorable babies, inspirational quotes, creative projects and tasty recipes. I hate that I can't act on all of the giddiness I feel as I scroll up and down the pages. It's a good frustration and has actually led me to tackle new projects.
What's more is the true depth of the content that Pinterest holds. In the past, I never would've turned to this site as a primary resource for reflux or other baby or childcare tips. There was Google, Babycenter, books and a treasure trove of random links around the web.
So, instead of being driven mad and having to create your own website just to bookmark the best resources (**cough ** cough downwithspitup.com **cough **cough), with Pinterest you can nicely place them amongst much more pleasant topics and sleeping puppies.
As a service for moms, dads and caregivers to come, please connect with me on my Pinterest board Spitup, Reflux & Colic and share good links or pins you find.
My goal is to make the best darn board on the topic because, and without question, any family dealing with these issues can use a dose of distraction with their reality.
If you don't know the story behind Down With Spitup, I am happy to tell it now. Two years ago our family was blessed with a healthy boy who couldn't keep things down. A "happy spitter" who thrived despite letting loose what I felt were boatloads of spitup with each feeding. Long story short, under the guidance of our doctor, and after 18 months of no sleep and constant laundry, our boy simply outgrew his issues.
During those long 18 months I spent countless hours online, and in forums, and trying to figure out 1. how to help my child and 2. how to cope. It's not like the rest of my life just paused for these 18 months so I could work through it; in fact, it was more chaotic than ever. That said, I found healing by building what I continue to strive to be the best online support system available on reflux and the related issues involved.
I learned quickly that my experience and knowledge in the area is quite limited, and continues to be with each new article I come across and conversation I have.
What I do know is that at least once a week I end up sharing my site with a new contact - who by random chance - shares their new baby (niece, neighbor, grandchild) has reflux.
It doesn't make me happy that these issues are so common, but it does motivate me to continue building what I started.
My situation has changed, as well as my perspective. With a few months of sleep and a break from reflux in our family, I can see clearer through the eyes of other parents and their loud cries and laughs of desperation. The stories they tell online and through social media speak volumes to the daily challenges they face in real life. I hope to continue to be a source of strength - as small as it may be - to these families and help them find a rainbow in their storm.
Every year, around this time, I take an extended stay-cation over the 4th of July holiday. I do the same over Christmas break. Having worked full-time since my senior year of college, and through two babies, it's my chance to immerse in a life I don't usually have.
It's not breaking news that some women actually like to work, enjoy what they do, and have invested in themselves and careers. For our family, it wouldn't matter if all those stars aligned or didn't (luckily they do) but I would still have to work at this juncture. No cutting out cable or clipping coupons would make a difference, believe me or not. I'd venture to say that most women don't really have such a clear-cut choice when it comes to this decision...and since I'm on vacation...this post is not even going to go there!
So, here are three things I think I personally would do if I had the chance to be a stay-at-homer, based on my limited experiences of stay-cations and maternity leaves. I'd love to hear from actual home-based moms to see how off, or on, I really am.
Joke as I may, I wouldn't trade my life, and my focused and quality time with my family during these times, for a limitless tab open at all JoAnn craft and fabric stores.
And who knows - maybe I could hang with the best of them - but if I never find out, today I am happy hanging with my buddies, in a clean house, full of unfinished projects, in sweatpants.
By the way, if you'd like a further peek into my mind and world, follow me on Pinterest! I have a whole board on Down With Spitup related pins.
Have you found your swaddle swagger, or have things unraveled quickly in your house?
In my mind, swaddling just makes sense. Doing what you can to transition your baby from the comfort of the womb to the real world. It might not work for everyone but there's some science behind the practice.
Swaddling was critical to help my first born through his full six weeks of colicky behavior. Second child was swaddled from the get-go, but we had to be flexible for his safety and comfort due to his reflux (ex. avoiding when being propped up, etc.). We used light-weight swaddle blankets and the ready-to-wear velcro variety.
I WISH I had found the following resource from "The Survivor's Guide to Colic" online, before I had worked my way through all the other "S" techniques with my first born, you know sucking, ssshing, swinging, etc.:
Snuggled up Tight - Swaddling Methods to Settle Crying Babies . This article shares the purpose, the risks and the techniques to get your swaddle on. There's also a nice diagram via Peggy's Buzzfeed article on baby hacks.
However, when it comes to reflux babies, swaddling might work or it might not, it's all about trying to find the right comfort methods. One consideration is that crying can aggravate reflux further, so if the right swaddling technique helps reduce crying, it may also lessen the reflux.
As with everything on this site - it comes down to your Doc's Advising, Your Gut Instincts and your Trials & Successes.
Swaddling may help keep things together, but try not to get discouraged: there's not a blanket approach to caring for a fussy newborn.
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You got the cake, you lit the candles and sang the song. But something about this birthday isn't all that happy.
They said your baby would outgrow its reflux in 12 months and here you are. You made it through this first insane year, leaning on the premise "this too shall pass," but not sure what happens now.
Or maybe you've had a pretty good go at year one, but suddenly things have changed for your child - and drastically - with no obvious cause.
According to Crying Over Spilt Milk, when reflux (in all forms) persists or emerges past age one, it can be be difficult to gain support from health professionals, who might attribute challenges to more "behavioral" concerns than lingering reflux issues or complications.
In addition to the obvious signals such as continued spit up and vomit (long after they've gone vertical), some common symptoms, as shared in the article, include, but aren't limited to:
It was hard enough figuring out how to help and comfort your newborn or infant, but reflux in older babies brings a whole new set of challenges as they grow. And until they can learn to express themselves through a form of communication, the cries can only get louder, longer and deeper into your psyche.
For more on this challenging topic, check out this comprehensive article from RISA, the Reflux Infants Support Association, on Reflux in Older Children, beyond the 12- to 18-month-window that most parents expect to be through with reflux.
As always, hang in there, stay tough, and find a way to celebrate the good days; cake or no cake.
The symptoms may be similar, but finding the true source of your baby's issues can be an ongoing journey.
Reflux might just be the by-product (or a symptom). The diagnosis might start with MSPI and then change to reflux, where the course of treatment will be very different. Medication may be necessary.
In many cases, it's all a scary and difficult process of elimination.
What is MSPI?
Milk Soy Protein Intolerance
The inability to digest proteins found in cow’s milk and soy products.
This is not lactose intolerance; this is an intolerance to the protein, not the sugar found in cow and human milk. Lactose-free formulas won't help MSPI.
Symptoms: According to MSPIMama.com, "common symptoms include: reflux; upset stomach; gas; runny, painful bowel movements; blood in the stool; congestion; a rough skin rash on the face, head and chest; colicky behavior; abnormal sleep patterns; refusal to eat or sometimes constantly eating and purging." MSPI is diagnosed through symptoms, not a test, and can easily be confused with lactose intolerance, milk allergy, colic, reflux, etc.
Did your child have an MSPI diagnosis? What was your successful or unsuccessful source of treatment?
MSPI Mistaken for Reflux? Long Story! - The BabyCenter Surviving Reflux Community
What is MSPI?, Children's Health News
From a mom's perspective: It’s Not Just Colic: Dealing with Infant Reflux, Milk/Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) & Other GI Issues
I've written before about spit up in older babies, but I never would imagine that symptoms would linger far beyond the first birthday. At 18 months we still have some small episodes, albeit in frequent and typically brought about by huge fits of crying, or major belly laughs and hiccups! In any case, parents need to be prepared in the case that issues continue.
Oddly enough, once reflux started subsiding, so did the actual event of "sleeping through the night." I have this in quotes because we've never quite made it an entire night, but have gotten pretty darn close.
How long did your little one continue to show the signs of reflux and GERD, or did they even outgrow it at all? Your comments are welcome as always!
Bonus from Parents.com, When will my baby stop spitting up?
You can read dozens of parenting books. Take advice from generations of parents who have been there before. Condition yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
You can do all of this, but nothing, NOTHING, can prepare you to face the challenge of making a turkey sandwich for yourself.
WARNING: What you are about to read is based on actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.*
*These results are not typical and and you should not expect to actually finish making or digest any such meal for the next five years.
It’s 10:50 a.m., Sunday morning.
You skipped breakfast and now it’s too late. It’s early for lunch but your crankiness will take you over the edge if you don’t feed your face, now.
You bought turkey yesterday. And you have bread in stock. You also have lettuce and one tomato. And there’s mayo you acquired sometime this past year. You experience a moment of quiet on the homefront. You make your break away to the kitchen. Could this really be happening?
Ravenous dogs immediately are nipping at your feet as you desperately attempt to unload materials from the fridge before anyone catches on to your plan.
You realize you actually did the dishes last night. You are not going to be the cause of more dirty dishes, no, not today. You grab a paper towel instead of a plate and start your mission.
You bought 12-grain wheat bread for this very occasion, but your feeling edgy today and you go for the Italian loaf.
Then things gets real.
All that’s between you and starting this sandwich is a unnatural mess of a twist tie at the end of the bread bag. Honestly, who still uses twist ties, in 2015? There is simply no time.
Then, you hear it. A scream in the distance “MINE!!” shouted by John Doe 1. It’s followed by another scream, and now crying from John Doe 2. You frantically push your sandwich materials away from the edge of the counter to avoid apprehension by your canine adversaries.
You run to find Thomas and his Friends strewn throughout the family room, and pushed inside the couch seat cushions. "WHERE IS PERCY!?" You've successfully recovered Thomas and James, but the real screams are for Percy.
For the love of Pete, where the heck is Percy, and why does this children's train character have such a potentially inappropriately pronounced name?
You pull out the couch and locate Percy wedged between the wall and under workings of the recliner. You arbitrate a fair division of toys post-crisis and swiftly return to the kitchen.
It is now 11 a.m.
You feel better that it’s a more appropriate lunch time.
You grab a butter knife for the mayo and add to the bread. Then it hits you. CHEESE. You did not get cheese at the deli. But you do have shredded mozzarella in stock from John Doe 1’s strange obsession with the gummy cheese strings. IT WILL HAVE TO DO.
As you frantically pile on the toppings, suddenly you feel a presence behind you. Before turning around you realize, you’ve been found out. You thwart the impending attempt to derail your plans by quickly assembling a large cup of milk in that special sippy cup and extend your olive branch. The offering is accepted and the situation is contained.
Quickly back to the sandwich, which is nearing completion, and you’ve reached the tomatoes. You will quickly run under water to wash and then faced with a critical decision. Do you dare grab and dirty another knife just for one pathetic tomato? Not in this, or any other lifetime. Your butter knife will have to suffice, and you will have to find a way to live with poorly shaped tomato slices.
Out of nowhere, you’re blindsided. John Doe 2 approaches you with the demand for you to personally wear a spy-like head gear toy and to activate the flashlight attachment. Unshaken, you deny this request and focus back on your mission. You use the same butter knife to cut the sandwich in half, you know, like you get at a restaurant, because you are fancy that way.
A faint yet horrid smell creeps into the room. Someone or something, may or may not have, pooped. The source has not been confirmed. You’ve gone too far to go back now. IT’S TIME.
You grab a seat at your kitchen table and brush the crumbs off the table top to 1. make room and 2. distract the ravenous dogs for a brief moment.
As you open your mouth for the first bite, two large eyes emerge over the side of the table, followed by loud hunger calls coming from a now unclothed John Doe 1. It's going down.
You’re overcome by a cacophony of gibberish demands, concerned looks and tiny fingers pointing directly at your sandwich.
Time freezes. You are taken back to the first moment you held your offspring and made the eternal promise that you would do anything for them. You immediately offer them a bite, start pulling turkey from the sides, and offer tidbits of the shredded cheese that has already fallen on the table (I mean who puts shredded cheese on a cold sandwich anyway).
As you yearn for a divine intervention to stop this display of parental benevolence, you are suddenly saved by the bell. A train bell, and toot of the whistle. It’s PERCY on the big screen whistling and whooshing loudly, wooing all children to the family room to see the “choo choos” just like the sirens did in the Odyssey.
You are now alone with what’s left of your sandwich. You can’t help but feel that the pursuit was more exciting than the reward. Your last bites are mostly crust. Stale crust actually. When was the expiration date on the bread?
An eerie stillness comes over the house. All is quiet. Something isn’t right.
In the 30 seconds it took to choke down the remainder of your sandwich, you have now become the proud owner of original artwork: a Crayola-based classic, right on your wall, that appears to be from the artist’s blue period.
You stare into space for a moment. Just long enough to realize that so much time has passed that it’s now lunchtime for the children. You take much more satisfaction in watching them eat and grow.
While they are eating, you document this journey so that others may know what you have seen on this day.
And you should probably track down the source of that horrible smell you ignored earlier.
Apologies if you expected a golden lesson here, or redemption, or anything that makes a bit of sense, at the end of this post. Keep in mind, you are on a website called Down With Spit Up!
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. The title of this post contains the word "sleep" and "reflux" in the same sentence. To understand how these two terms, along with "training" can possibly go together, let us first dissect the concept.
Sleep training: The thing you didn't know you needed to know about, until you find yourself with a baby who won't just be cool with sleeping. I don't know much about this at all. My first son slept well from a young age and my second son had reflux and never slept well.
There are a ton of techniques out there, including CIO or CRY IT OUT, which in my opinion and limited experience, was not a desirable option for my family in this situation. My conscience couldn't take it. However, from stories shared online, a modified approach to this method can work for some families.
Around the web:
This was a big topic on BabyCenter.com's Surviving Reflux: Dealing with Colic, Reflux, & MSPI - Sleep Training a Baby With Reflux with several mama's chiming in with advice.
There are also some great tips in the article The 7 Worst Baby Sleep Training Mistakes You Can Make - Incredible Infant (see #4 - Outside Factors - for the wildcards of Reflux & Colic). The article also cites a resource from the Fussy Baby Site A Mom's Colic Primer - The Fussy Baby Site.
I also found a helpful chain on Hellobee, titled Sleep Training a High Needs Baby
From my experience, I think you actually first need to train yourself on a whole new set of behaviors needed to survive these turbulent times:
How did you sleep train your little one, or like me, did you have to find your own way?
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Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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