I saw you tonight. You didn’t see me looking at first, but I saw you. I heard the screams and suddenly your sullen frame came into view. As trolleys parted, there you were. The weight of the world on your shoulders.
Screaming baby on your shoulder, with your glistening brow and yesterday’s stained t-shirt. Your unwashed hair and the mascara smudges below tired, bloodshot eyes. The invisible burden of motherhood as if you had concrete in your pockets.
I see you. I have been you. It’s like looking into a mirror that transports me to the past.
The nerves visibly glistening on your forehead as you desperately try to rock the trolley. 3 dummies in your pocket, praying one of them works. Singing and swaying as you silently regret ever stepping a foot out of the house. The safe harbour of home. Except, it doesn’t feel safe while you share it with a secret enemy. An enemy that only few can understand. An enemy that steals and destroys leaving its foes broken and helpless. Reflux.
Oh, how I wish I had helped you. Held back only by saving your pride. I was once in your shoes too. A trip to Asda was once the crown of achievement on my head. If I could achieve that I was queen for a day.
Others don’t understand, you see. I get it. The stares as your baby screams in pain. The judgemental looks as you desperately shush and sway. All you wanted was to get out of the house like the other mummies do. You see them in coffee shops, laughing and sharing stories with their sleeping newborns. People like us don’t get to enjoy that. That care free time has been stolen. One attempted coffee trip was enough – you spent the whole time outside rocking your baby while your friends anxiously sat within. Never again. For now, Asda is a big enough hurdle.
There is nothing like a reflux baby. There is nothing like the burden of feeling so unbelievably helpless and the heartbreak of watching your baby in pain. But, my sweet comrade, there is nothing like YOU.
You are a queen. The crown of motherhood perches perfectly on your head. Your gentle soul is your sceptre and the tears that flow are like rivers in your kingdom. A kingdom nobody would choose. You have drawn the short straw just like I did, but my kingdom now flourishes with sunlight and a gentle, care free breeze.
Oh, how it’s hard to believe. I know. I once despised people like me. How dare I tell you that this is only a season in time. When you’re in the trenches it feels like an eternity! Some day, my love, this will be a distant memory. Some day you will be me, catching a glimpse of those who come behind in a crowd. Just like me you will long to help but instead, simply offer a sympathetic smile. Longing instead to run for an all enveloping hug. But knowing that at that crucial moment, at 6pm in Asda, sometimes a smile is enough.
You release a smile in return as our knowing eyes exchange more than anyone else’s could. The trolleys move again and suddenly, like a smoke screen you disappear. Off to tackle another aisle. I can’t help but wonder who you are and where your night will go from here. I’m rooting for you, I’m praying for you. From one reflux mother to another, you have got this. You absolutely do.