Filling in the GAPS // How I embarked on a truly “gut-sy” journey for my baby

By Rivkah Low

Me? A health nut?
You gotta be kidding.
I was the kind of kid who could never get enough Chew Chews (remember those hard squares that came in brick packs?), consumed Bissli by the carton, and would have been perfectly content to eat pizza and French fries 365 days a year (aside from Pesach, of course). As a teen and young adult (and older adult), I would consume cases of instant noodle soup, and always had a backup stash of chocolate “just in case.”

Please don’t judge me. I made sure to eat only fat-free yogurt, ate two slices of whole-wheat toast for breakfast (Mom’s orders), and scarfed down my mother’s nutritious dinners without complaint (don’t get me started on the kasha, though). Overall, I managed to consume a healthy balance of foods despite my penchant for sweets.

So if someone had told me back then what kind of lifestyle and eating habits I would have at this point in my life, I probably would have had a good laugh and then popped another candy into my mouth.

But all that changed aftermy daughter Shiffy was born.

Shiffy made her appearance on a hectic Erev Sukkos, looking like a perfect angel. Even her sweet little cry sounded angelic—at least for the first few hours. Shiffy made sure that we bonded really well right from the start, as she provided me with constant reasons to hold her and rock her. I was consoled by the nurses as well as family members that crying was normal for newborns, and that she’d adjust to the real world soon enough. Somehow, though, I couldn’t remember my other children having gone through such a traumatic adjustment period. As I was getting ready to go home, the head nurse came to my room to inform me that Shiffy could not leave the hospital just yet. Having failed to relieve herself in the 48 hours she had thus far spent on planet Earth, they wanted to make sure that everything was in working order. The next few anxious hours were spent making biking motions with her tiny legs, feeding her every 30 minutes and then stuffing her with a bottle of Similac, something that was against my usual policy. I guess her little tummy was quite full at that point, because at 4 p.m. I was notified that all was well and we could finally leave. Whew! Little did I know that it would take another 12 days for that to happen again.

The rest of Sukkos was filled with song, both in the sukkah and in the baby’s crib. Everyone commiserated with me for having such a colicky infant. My husband and I took turns dancing around the house, trying to rock her into a semi-calm state. She slept for half-hour intervals at most, waking us up with her piercing shrieks. As the days progressed, we noticed a new development: Shiffy had started spitting up. Tiny amounts at first, and full feedings over the next few days. Whatever went in came out. Our nights looked like a horror movie. The crying would get worse as we stumbled up and down the hallway with her in the wee hours of the morning. We would watch bleary-eyed as she contorted in pain, arching her spine and throwing her head back. Then she would gag on her pacifier and vomit, vomit, vomit!

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