August 4, 2012

Irresponsible Parenting?

Category: Being Parents

When other mothers ask me the question on the well-being of our new born which, my guess is, out of politeness more than anything else, I usually share that while we are doing okay, my son has the reflux. And, quite a bad one at that, too.
This is usually received with them questioning me and providing thoughts as follows:
  •  If I am breast feeding (yes!), and
  •  If I am watching what I am eating because dairy is the main culprit, but I should also watch other food items like onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chocolates amongst other things.
My answer to that being: No, and perhaps I should, but I guess I have just been a little bit errant and irresponsible, even on that front.
Actually, I could hardly imagine my diet would be the main culprit. The occasional cakes and chocolates indulgence aside, I already don’t eat a lot of dairy product, given that I am lactose intolerant.  The dairy I consume is already quite minimal. By strictly observing the elimination diet, I would also only be eating just rice and salt – I might as well just try cooking wood, sand and mud for myself. I did the elimination diet with Spud for weeks on end when she was battling eczema, and it took only several applications  of calendula cream over several days to clear her skin!
From here on, I would usually offer the information that Squirt is now on medication as advised by our Pediatrician.  Now this is where it gets interesting.  
This is where sometimes I see a raised eye brow, with an overtly concerned facial expression that says how I could even think of medicating such a young infant!  This would then be followed by gentle questionings and/or advice such as, “have you thought of taking fully natural approaches? Try this and that, and those.  It is all natural. I never medicate my children and kids should never be medicated. Also, you are responsible for your milk and you are feeding your child that – surely, you should put some thought in your diet.”
(oh damn! really? Did you have to live with a child who has a bad reflux?!)  
To that, I’d usually ask-  as gentle as my voice allows me to be- how bad is the child’s reflux and if the natural remedies works really well for their child because I’m game to try it. Most often than not, they concede that their child does not have a reflux, but they do know the healing properties of all these natural remedies. And if they do have the reflux, it really is a mild one. 
Hah!
These comments sometimes annoy the crap out of me. I’m sure they were all well-intent comments, but it also became a mere assumption on their part that a natural approach is enough to fix all reflux kids. Not only do these comments sound awfully patronizing, it also makes me feel like I am such a bad and incompetent mom.
Don’t get me wrong though – I still hate having to medicate Squirt unnecessarily and  I am all for a natural approach without any medical intervention. It would be fantastically fabulous if all problems can be solved with just natural approaches. However, from where I am standing, I do think that some kids need medication, and I have also learnt that there are some unfortunate ones who need surgery and feeding tubes.
 In the case of Squirt, while he does not show any serious complication, he (and us!) has been thoroughly miserable, exhausted and just plain wretched.  With medication, we have already seen that he does benefit more from it as it provides him with some relief from the reflux pain; and me some sanity and respite from very heart wrenching cries.
We are not even experiencing the full-blown of a reflux baby, but by now we know enough that having a reflux baby can be rather traumatic for those involved. I cannot imagine how much worse it would be for us (or any other parents for that matter) had we not caught the symptoms and get it diagnosed early enough. 
It also amazes me how much resources and articles out there on infant reflux, yet it is one of those condition that is easily dismissed, even trivialized. As I said in my earlier post, one really does not know how bad it could get tending to a reflux baby, unless you experience it yourself.
I have begun to realize that there is no breaks to tending to a reflux baby, and we have to ride it out while trying to pull things together.  At present, I am just glad that in times like this, we have a solution in the form of a medication that has no (known) long term damage. 
So, natural remedy or not, I think some mothers forget that parents with a reflux baby need some form of compassion and not be judged if we choose to medicate our child.
It has been a tiring, but humbling experience.  It is, above all, a test of endurance.

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