The BEST: 6th March 2018, welcoming our beautiful baby girl, Charlotte Grace, into the world at Calvary Hospital, Wagga – a little sister and best friend for our 3-year-old daughter, Emily.
The WORST: The days, weeks and months that followed.
I had quite a smooth pregnancy with the exception of gestational diabetes. Everything went to plan and we were looking forward to welcoming our newest addition to the family. Charlotte was born via scheduled C-section on the 6th March 2018, weighing a healthy 8lb 3oz. My hospital stay was great and I was on cloud 9. It wasn’t until we got home that things went pear-shaped.
My anxiety set in shortly after returning home, I was continually worried about how I would handle two children even though at this point Charlotte was feeding and sleeping like a dream. I took myself to the GP and got some medication to hopefully ‘nip it in the bud’. It didn’t work. Fast forward three weeks. Charlotte became exceptionally unsettled and the continuous screaming began, getting worse when we lay her down on her back. She had to be carried around ALL the time. Sleep for both of us became non-existent. She would sleep for 10 minutes then be up again screaming and squirming. Feeding was a nightmare too, more screaming. I bought every contraption under the sun, elevated her cot, white noise, swaddled her tight, tried different dummies, bottles and formula, the list goes on. It all got too much so I took her to Emergency at about 6 weeks old and she was diagnosed with reflux and put on compounded Losec. Sadly, no change, she still screamed. She also screamed in the car seat and pram which meant I couldn’t go anywhere. I was housebound and having some pretty intense and scary thoughts.
I changed formula again. Still no change.
After weekly trips to the doctor, confirming each time there was nothing wrong with her, I even had her admitted to hospital, though they too found nothing was wrong. All they could say was “she’s a baby, they cry”.
I changed to a hydrolysed formula and took her to Sleep School, though still no change.
I could feel myself not coping. I wasn’t eating much, I was crying daily, I withdrew from everyone, I was constantly worried about my little girl. My family life suffered too. It all got the better of me and one day my mother-in-law found me rolled up in a ball, crying hysterically saying, “I can’t cope with this anymore, I’m so worried about Charlotte”. I was taken to the GP who immediately hospitalised me and diagnosed me with Perinatal Anxiety.
My in-laws took over the primary care of Charlotte for the week while my husband and parents shared care of Emily. Upon returning home things were still pretty much the same, my in-laws and parents continued to take care of Charlotte and Emily every now and then to give me a break. I am ever so grateful to all of them. In the meantime, I took to the internet and after lots of searching I found a lot of people saying that sometimes the Losec compound isn’t as effective as the Losec tablets. I took myself to the chemist and got my script filled for the tablets. I was told they take a while to work. At this time, she was 5 months old and I was at breaking point, so I got a referral to the Gidget Foundation’s Start Talking Program and a mental health clinic. Being from a country town, I was fortunate to be seen quickly. Off I went to the clinic in Sydney and at the same time started talking to my wonderful Gidget Psychologist, Dina. I stayed in Sydney for a week where I attended group sessions, saw a Psychiatrist and changed medication. Upon returning home I continued talking to Dina and felt that a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I felt like ME again, and Charlotte instantly became more settled. I could even take her out without screaming! I’m convinced it was a combination of the right medication for both her and I, and also the wonderful support I received from Dina, who helped my headspace immensely.
Six months on Charlotte is still a reflux baby, and we still have our days, though she is 100 times more settled than she was. If it wasn’t for the support I received from my ever-so-patient husband who continued to look after all of us all while running his own business, all our family, and from Dina, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today.
The BEST part of this is that I can smile again and see my baby girl happy and smiling right back at me.