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Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of working with some very special families, who have taught me about the true power of love.
Rigid, stiff, wide eyed, back arching, screaming, easily irritable and generally very unhappy for the whole day and night.....this is the ugly face of severe infant reflux and colic!
Sometimes, there are brief glimpses of happiness with the odd smile here and there, but most of the time, these babies are in pain and terribly unhappy.
As a parent, you want nothing more than a happy and healthy child. When faced with unrelenting infant distress, one can only imagine the level of pain, these parents bare.
To think of life before baby as being relatively predictable and certain, along comes baby. Instead of "simple sleep deprivation and the normal 3-5 hours per day of a crying baby", life for the past 4 months has been completely the opposite. ....Unpredictable and completely uncertain.
To spend 6 hours with each of these families, witnessing the pain and distress involved is absolutely heartbreaking, but incredibly amazing at the same time.
If the power of love did not exist, these beautiful parents would not cope as well as they have been. Love allows a dad to take his screaming child away from mum, to give her a break, because she has simply had enough. But her heart is full of love and pining for the fact that she feels powerless in being able to comfort and soothe her baby. She feels awful that she feels this way and there is nothing she can do about it.
When dad comes home, she snaps at him, rather than snap at the baby. Dad knows he needs to protect his family, so he just gets on with it. He takes over by soothing his baby, sharing a renewed and calm energy with his baby.
Baby calms briefly, just enough for mum to try and feed baby....and hope that the screaming won't continue for yet another round. Dad watches, takes baby off mums hands when the screaming starts again.
Repeat above, all day and all night.
Mums and dads are amazing, these mums and dads, they take amazing to another level.
Yes, these babies have been on medication for a long time....the difference for these families? By the end of the day, their babies are so exhausted, they manage to fall asleep for a few hours....in mum or dads arms of course....these babies cannot sleep alone, because they are in too much pain and need mummy or daddy to make them feel ok.
As bystanders, many of us feel compelled to help these families by giving them well meaning advice, such as "don't cuddle your baby to sleep, because he will get used to it".....
Let me tell you, as part of these parents' professional support team, I have witnessed first hand, time and time again, that this well meaning advice has a powerful impact on these mums and dads.
So much so, that they are questioning their own innate abilities to soothe their babies who are in a great deal of pain...
For a human to leave another human, let alone a defenceless young baby, in distress, is unimaginably cruel.
To encourage parents to do this to their own baby, takes this to another level.
How can we help parents with well meaning advice?
1) Listen to them
2) Acknowledge the difficulties these mums, dads and babies are experiencing
3) Offer to cook some meals for them so they don't have to live on that one biscuit they manage to get to eat for the day
4) Offer to do their washing, hang out their clothes, help with their housework
5) Cuddle their baby to enable them at least 2 hours of freedom and much needed rest
This is the kind of support these families need. Invaluable support that all the money in the world cannot and will not buy.
To the families that I am supporting through this, thank you for reaching out to me and enabling me to be a part of your difficult journey. Thank you for letting me into your private world of insurmountable love, pain, fear, strength, determination, courage and hope.
Thank you for letting me hold your hand and supporting you like this, like no one else has been able to.
Thank you for inspiring my faith in believing in the power of love, strength, courage and determination.
I look forward to seeing you on the other side of the rainbow x