Does having a child with reflux-y symptoms fill you with a sense of fear? Do you wonder about any of the following? Is the spit-up, vomiting, excess crying, feeding difficulty, or "poor growth" due to the reflux? What medical condition am I missing? Do these thoughts fill you with a sense of overwhelm? Many of us shut down when we are overwhelmed, but I urge you to keep on trying.
If you have been able to improve your child’s symptoms, if only, just a little bit, then you have the ability to improve them even further. If you have been able to attend your child's doctor's appointments and present the situation in a way that you've felt heard, then you can be heard again. If you have been able to go to that testing appointment and rule in or rule out a medical condition, even though the test took longer than expected, or even though it was on a bad day, then you can do it again. If you've gone to a feeding therapy appointment and your child improved, even if it was just this microscopic bit, then you can go to a feeding appointment again and also get some kind of an improvement.
What I want you to focus on is fear. Here are some quotes from fear. This is fear of talking. Fear says, “What if there is not much more that you're able to do? What if the rest of the appointments will go poorly? What if the next step will lead to some kind of unforeseen complication? What if that new food has an unlisted allergenic ingredient, and your child has more vomiting? What if your child is destined to have difficulties with reflux for decades? What if the medical reason behind the reflux-y symptoms is so rare that no one will ever find it and be able to help you and your child? What if the concern is a sign of some other medical condition that is huge? That is so devastating and that will change your life forever?”
Have you had thoughts like that? That there is not much that you can do to help your child? That things are just overwhelming? That it is a waste for you to keep trying? That there is no use in trying because things are really NOT going to go your way?
Do you know what I am talking about? If you are anything like me, then you almost have a voice in the back of your head that says, “Back off… Go slow… Be afraid... “ This voice plants seeds of doubt and negativity. It’s going to tell you to back off, to be resistant to further change, and to stop doing.
No matter what you do, this fearful voice is going to be there, so how do you get rid of the fear if the fear isn’t going anywhere? We all experience fear. It’s there. It’s a part of us. It was with us yesterday. It is with us today, and it will be with us tomorrow.
How do you get rid of the fear, the lack of inertia or, the difficulty in doing the next thing?
Whenever I am afraid because I, just like everyone else, get afraid, I characterize my fear. I visualize it as this fear emoji. I picture a blue and yellow face with big, round eyes as well as downturned eyebrows and a gaping mouth. I imagine that it's talking to me using all kinds of fear foods, and I can talk to it as well.
I imagine that my fear emoji - with its big face - is sitting right next to me. It's a child, and I need to talk to it at its level. I tell my fear emoji, “Hey, Fear, I think that you’re scared and that you would love it if I would stop trying. But, we will work on how you are feeling together. You know, what if this work? What if we go to this testing appointment together and you get all of these great answers? What if you go with me to our child's next appointment, and it turns out to be the best appointment yet? What if that new food that we watch our child eat won't lead to any type of a reaction? We won't know unless we try and we're going to try things because over time, all those things are going to make a difference."
That's how I talk to my fear emoji. What do you do? How do you tackle your fear?