I just need someone to blame my utter exhaustion on.
I don’t usually feel the need to write a “strongly worded letter” concerning an issue that occurred almost nine months ago and I certainly don’t like to write them in regards to people that I highly respect, greatly appreciate, and have a personal relationship with.
However, after yet another sleepless night with my infant son I can no longer contain my frustration, general disappointment with, and anger for those who cared for my son, Ryan, during the eight weeks following his discharge from the hospital. Ryan was born almost six weeks early and was in the NICU for two weeks. While in the hospital, Ryan was fed donor milk but I was not able to breast feed and had to switch him to formula when he came home. Within days after the switch, he became extremely agitated every single time I tried to feed him. He screamed while he ate and would then grunt and cry afterwards, sleeping very little before he was hungry again. As Ryan grew he obviously wanted to eat more, but instead of eating more at each feeding (it was apparent that drinking from a bottle was very uncomfortable) he would just eat more often. Soon, he was eating every 45-90 minutes (around the clock), crying while he ate, and unable to sleep. I had never experienced this kind of behavior before and was completely at a loss as to how to help him. So, I made several phone calls to the doctor, asking for help.
I understand that postpartum depression is a very serious illness. And, I understand that as someone who has been treated for depression I am a likely candidate to also suffer from postpartum depression. However, I also know that the symptoms that my son was experiencing were real, they were not merely a figment of a tired new mother’s imagination or a story blown out of proportion by the baby blues or, worse, postpartum depression. But, each time I called or emailed or brought Ryan in I was told time and time and time again that Ryan did not need medication for acid reflux but was instead questioned for symptoms of my own health.
Eight long agonizing sleep-less weeks passed before I was finally able to convince someone that Ryan did, in fact, have acid reflux and was in need of medication. Eight weeks. During that period of time most babies are learning how to sleep through the lighter period of their sleep cycle; not my son. He was just trying to survive. Just two weeks after we finally got him on medication for acid reflux Ryan developed a horrible case of eczema. It was so bad that we had to put socks on his hands at all times to control his scratching while we waited for him to see a dermatologist. He also contracted RSV and had to be hospitalized and, in general, had a pretty rough time.
A few months ago we finally got everything under control; the eczema is now gone and he is still on medication for acid reflux. However, the sleepless nights have yet to cease. For over 8 months my husband and I have been up almost every hour, trying to get our baby to learn how to sleep. And, even though he has been through a lot I have no choice but to blame this problem squarely on the period of time when I was crying and begging for help; for someone to please listen to me and give my baby medication for acid reflux.
I am not asking for advice or pity or even an apology. All I’m asking is that every single nurse, resident and doctor who saw my son know what life is like for us; what life is like for someone who was incorrectly pegged as having postpartum depression when in fact, it was the baby who was ill. We have been in survival mode for months, waiting until the day when we can finally get some rest. The level of exhaustion that we have found ourselves at cannot be remedied with a quick weekend get-away or a single night of uninterrupted rest.
I have always respected and liked our family doctors and will continue to do so. I even plan to continue care with everyone because I like them all so much. But, I’m also angry. And frustrated. And tired. And, I just need to get this anger and frustration off my chest in hopes that perhaps, it will make our load just a bit lighter.