Life’s funny, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got the whole motherhood thing figured out, the universe throws a curveball. And, oh boy, did it throw me one with my second baby.
There I was, feeling like a seasoned mom with my firstborn—a healthy, vivacious toddler who was 16 months old. Our breastfeeding journey had its hiccups, an early tongue-tie diagnosis that did little to deter our bond. Fourteen months of nurturing, nighttime cuddles, and feeling powerful, like my body was doing exactly what it was meant to do.
Enter my second baby. A fresh chapter, a new story. I dreamt of another long, cherished breastfeeding journey. But dreams and reality, as I soon learned, don’t always align.
You know those moments when your heart skips a beat? The kind where the weight of uncertainty, fear, and anticipation presses down on you. Laryngomalacia was that word for me. A condition that wasn’t just a part of some medical dictionary but had become a part of my world.
Laryngomalacia, also dubbed the “floppy larynx,” is when the tissues around a newborn’s voice box are softer than they should be, causing them to collapse. This isn’t just a fact I googled. This was happening to my baby. Breathing difficulties, feeding challenges—it felt like an unending spiral.
As a paramedic for over a decade, I had faced more than my fair share of babies in distress. It’s quite another thing when it’s your own baby. His noisy breathing and me breastfeeding him every hour . . . exhausting.
Breastfeeding, as beautiful and natural as it is, isn’t always a walk in the park. With my firstborn, I had sailed through, minus the tongue-tie hiccup. But this was uncharted territory.
Every feeding felt like a battle to ensure my baby got the nutrition he needed, a battle against the weight of emotions that threatened to drown me. And the worst part? The world around me seemed oblivious. “Just keep offering your boob,” they’d say. I wanted to scream, “Don’t you think I’m trying?” He would latch on but the poor kid just couldn’t breathe properly so my milk would trickle and flow from his mouth with every suck.
The biggest battle was with the medical system. How many times was I brushed off at the emergency department? Three. Three times too many. Every mother’s instinct, every ounce of my paramedic training, screamed that something was off. But no one was listening.
Then, thankfully, a cancellation and a chance visit to the pediatric ENT surgeon. Finally, validation. The concern in his eyes mirrored my own. My baby needed surgery, and he needed it now.
The relief that it wasn’t all in my head was overwhelming. I had been right all along— my baby boy didn’t have “a small nose,” he had a problem with his airways, and finally, someone was taking me seriously.
Amidst the whirlwind of emotions, there were logistics to consider. My firstborn, barely a toddler, needed me. My second, about to undergo surgery. The weight of it all was immense. And yet, a tiny flame of hope flickered. The journey was far from over, but I wasn’t alone. There were others, mothers, fathers, caregivers, who had walked this path, who had faced these challenges, and come out stronger.
I’ve always been a seeker of knowledge. Perhaps it’s my medical background or just the innate need to understand. As if understanding would give me a semblance of control in this uncontrollable situation.
Did you know? Laryngomalacia is quite common. It is the most common cause of chronic stridor in infancy. The majority of infants improve by 18-20 months of age. Only a small percentage, like my baby, need surgical intervention. But these weren’t just facts. They were a testament. A testament to every little warrior, like my son, and every resilient mother, like me, navigating this journey.
The rollercoaster of emotions was real. One moment, celebrating my firstborn’s milestones, and the next, grappling with the overwhelming weight of my second’s medical needs. I’d faced many emergencies, made split-second decisions in the back of an ambulance, but this? This was my baby. And every “professional” dismissal and every “you’re overreacting” was crushing.
I want to tell you, from one mother to another, trust yourself. Trust that unyielding instinct that tells you when something’s not right. Seek, fight, advocate. Because at the end of the day, we are our children’s fiercest advocates.
To every mom navigating a similar path remember: amidst the chaos and uncertainty, there’s a community out here. Lean on it. Draw strength from it. And always, always believe in the power of your love.