I went to every parenting and labor prep class I could find in the Greater New Orleans Area prior to having my first baby. It was like I was literally studying to have a baby. As I’m sure all new moms could relate, I wanted to be the best and most prepared you could be! I kept copious notes acting like there would be this huge test before taking my son home from the hospital. I thought I had everything covered, but I soon learned there was one thing that no one truly talked a lot about … spit up.
What’s normal? What’s it supposed to look like? What is it not supposed to look like? How much should there be? Etc., etc. It’s like every mom, nurse, or teacher had permanently blocked that part of baby’s early moments from their memory … and considering what I know now, I guess I can’t blame them.
My experience with spit up was of course an unusual one.
It was not at all what I had expected and was literally the one thing I didn’t have any notes on. My son was a big eater that first month. He was gaining weight like a prized fighter and was well on his way to becoming mommy’s little “chunky monkey.” But then around 6 weeks, things suddenly changed. He started to spit-up more and more of his food until suddenly it became clear that every time I fed him, both him and I would require a complete wardrobe change. It was like riding splash mountain every time I breastfed. I suddenly became fearful to feed him, worried that he’d spit-up everything he ate on everyone and everything. I was to the point where I was afraid to breastfeed in public places and even in front of family. I felt like I was failing my son. I mean was this what most moms refer to as “oh it’s probably just a little spit-up?” How much really is “a little?”
That’s when my newfound “mommy intuition” kicked in. I had started to see a decline in my son’s growth and happiness. My husband and I decided it was time to see the doctor. She examined him and sent us to get an ultrasound of his stomach, just to rule out “worse case” scenario. Otherwise, it sounded like we may have a bad case of acid reflux on our hands, and I’d need to start watching what I ate and give him medicine at feeding time.
Well, it turns out “mommy intuition” was right.
It was in fact the worst case scenario. My son had Pyloric Stenosis, a narrowing of the stomach opening into the small intestine. Basically he was not getting any of the milk I was feeding him. The radiologist kindly walked my frantic self down to the ER and said he would need emergency surgery to fix his stomach right away or he would continue to decline. I called my husband who was in D.C. that week for work and he quickly made arrangements and moved his schedule around to get the next flight home. We were both in total shock. This situation was mentioned no where in any parenting book we had read.
So there I was, bouncing my very hungry son in the ER waiting room, reading every article under the sun on this condition. I was surprised to find out that this condition was common in first born males (here’s your warning expectant mothers of first born males) although not all that common to newborns in general. I mean what are the chances?! Apparently 3 in every 1,000 babies. Needless to say, I wasn’t dealing with a “little spit-up” any more and I had something new to add to my “mommy notes” collection.
My son has since recovered and is a healthy 5 month old, back to gaining weight for his “weigh-ins” at the doctor’s. The amount of laundry has considerably gone down since there are less wardrobe changes and yes, I’m even not afraid to breastfeed him in public now.
On the Job Training
I think there is a lot of “on the job training” we get as moms. We continue to adapt and grow with our children. It truly can’t all be learned by reading parenting books and going to classes even though this is a great start for many of us. Now, I realize what all the moms are talking about when they say “It’s just a mom’s intuition.” Most importantly, I’ve learned not to sweat “a little spit-up.”
Jennifer hails from Kentucky and after being a nomad for several years after pharmacy school, she has finally become an adopted New Orleanian by way of her husband, Brock, who brought her back last year to grow some roots in his hometown. She is a first time mom of 5 month old Rex. When she’s not at one of New Orleans’ many parks walking or jogging with her son, she can be found getting crafty with home improvement projects, dreaming about the beach, or sampling different flavors of snowballs at Sal’s.