Tomorrow marks the 7 year anniversary of the surgery that would change our lives. Let me backtrack…
As brand new parents, we brought Hallie home from the hospital to our small two bedroom condo. My mom stayed with us for the first week to help me figure out how to maneuver an infant. The first night my mom was up all night with her as she cried and fussed and woke me up when she completely soaked herself in spit-up. The next night same story. The third night was no different. What seemed like a typical newborn situation quickly evolved to us asking, “What is wrong with this child.” She cried and cried and refused to sleep and continually soaked herself with her own spit up. My mom agreed this was not normal and I was at the doctor’s office just days later expressing concern. They did a barium enema to see if there was something wrong in her stomach. It came back clear. My mom prepared to leave and I went into a panic. Steve was a student and worked a lot and I was not ready to take on this screaming child on my own. My mom left one morning and I sat against the door with my crying child and sobbed…for a long time. By the time Steve got home from work he could see the mess I was in and we packed up the car and drove to my parents house where all my family was gathering for a baby blessing. I thought this would help me out.
Instead, I was able to see my brother’s baby (just 11 days older than my own) and more than ever I realized there was something wrong with my own child. It made me frustrated and sad all at the same time.
A month later was Thanksgiving and we drove down to Utah to be with Steve’s gathering family. They had heard stories of our nightmare child and I’m not sure anyone fully understood just how serious it was. It was hard to hear them say, “well, what you should try is…”, “All you need to do is…”, “I heard if you do this…” We had tried it all and none of it worked and more than anything we were just exhausted. Black Friday rolled around and all the women were getting up at 5 to go to some stores. I planned on going and Steve was kind enough to take the night shift so I could sleep. But the crying never let up and in those situations, both of us knew it was better to not be alone with the child, we might snap. We were up all night and when my sister-in-law came down to get me to go shopping there’s no doubt she saw our exhaustion and realized the night we had had with no sleep. She kindly took a turn with Hallie so we could get some rest. These nights happened constantly.
We returned home and once again saw the doctor. Nothing. Another month passed. More crying, more spit-up, more frustration and more sobbing on my part. I just needed some relief. I can’t even count how many nights I was up with her, trying to comfort her the best I could and I ended up on the floor of the bathroom sobbing (fan running and blow dryer running to drown out the sound) while Hallie cried in her bed. Nights like this were a regular occurrence.
When Hallie was four months old, I went to visit Steve at work (on campus) and upon arriving, Hallie went into one of her crying fits. I stood just outside the building holding her and rocking back and forth trying to get her to calm down so I could enter the building. I was out there for sometime. Finally, Steve’s manager (who had also been my manager when I worked in the same office as a student) heard the crying and came outside. She saw the look in my eyes and gently took Hallie from me (a mother of grown children) and tried to calm her. Her efforts were fruitless. She started asking me a lot of questions (she was nearing her graduation from the nursing program) about Hallie’s behavior. I described in detail and she assured me there was something wrong and I needed to see a doctor. But I had countless times and they told me she was fine. Her advice, “When she starts her screaming, go directly to the doctor and ask for an appointment. She will continue to scream in their office and trust me they will get you in quickly. Once you’re with a doctor demand to see a specialist.”
Sure enough it worked. I saw whatever doctor could squeeze me in and he immediately ordered the same barium enema test that we had done three times before. But this time was different because I demanded a specialist and I was at a breaking point and was more firm than most mothers would ever be. But of course the specialist I needed to see was four hours away either in Salt Lake or Boise – Salt Lake was supposedly the best of the best and there was a three month waiting period or we could see a doctor in Boise in three weeks. Boise won out as there was no chance I could go another three months.
Steve was finishing up his senior year and was unable to accompany me on the 4 hour drive, but fortunately my mom lived close to Boise and was able to join me for the doctor appointment that would change everything…