What I learned during 7 months of baby reflux

reflux-blog

After a somewhat complicated delivery and extra week spent in the CCN with III, I was SO relieved to come home.  I had struggled with breastfeeding during the 11 days we were in the hospital but I blamed it on us both being on antibiotics and him being connected to IVs and monitors for 7+ days.  I assumed once we got home, relaxed and found a rhythm that things would fall into place.  But that just was not in the cards for us.  I continued having a difficult time producing. I ate ALL the oatmeal, was taking up to 9 fenugreek tablets a day, baking lactation cookies and even drinking some digusting green flavor Gatorade that somebody told somebody told me helped with production.

It was my mother who finally convinced me to just let it go. God bless her!  I was legitimately overwhelmed and Tripp was starving.  Even when he wasn’t starving, he was screaming. Let me say here that I totally understand the benefits of a mother’s breastmilk but there’s also a benefit to having a fed baby and a mom who doesn’t feel like she’s losing her mind. All of that to say, this is not meant to be a breastfeeding post.

Once we were on formula, things normalized a bit but III was still unsatisfied – even unhappy – after feedings.  His reactions to mealtime began to worsen until he basically refused to eat altogether. We were on the cusp on heading to the ER for IV fluids when our pediatrician finally conceded to the idea that he might have acid reflux. We moved to a gentler formula and were prescribe Zantac. That was at 6 weeks old. Over the course of the next 6 months, we saw numerous specialists and increased dosages little by little as III gained weight until he was at the max dosage for an infant. Because he was gaining weight, doctors didn’t seem to be too concerned with the “inconvenience” of a baby that fought and screamed at every feeding.  I remember one particularly bad night calculating how many HUNDREDS of bottles we had left until he hit the magical 6 month date where most babies stop having reflux issues.

That date came and went and we still needed meds. Because of all the tests that were required of III during this process, we discovered a chronic health issue that has the potential to be far more serious than the reflux we were dealing with.  (That is a post for another time). So, in a way, I am grateful for our reflux experience… although that’s hard to admit when I think of the worst of it.  But I learned a few things along the way that might be helpful for some desparate new mom our there googling the heck out of baby reflux hoping to find some answers.

  1. YOU know YOUR own baby. Well-meaning friends and family may unintentionally play down what you are dealing with in an attempt to comfort you or make you feel like nothing is wrong. I can’t tell you how many times others suggested that maybe he was “just a fussy baby” or had colic. I’m a smart person. Common sense can tell me that if my baby is seemingly normal at all times OTHER that feeding times, our issue is definitely feeding-related.
  2. Find a pediatrician YOU TRUST. And I don’t mean trust as in your think they’re a nice and honest person. Most are… there aren’t alot of evil pediatricians out there. But find a pediatrician you have confidence in. Many tend to not worry too much if you child is gaining weight (which mine was…becase I was basically force feeding him). Acid reflux in infants is extremely overdiagnosed so they will often avoid the diagnosis or attempt to let things “take care of themselves.” I resented our first pediatrician for not listening to me or taking my concerns seriously and then when she finally conceded to a reflux diagnosis, she seemed very overwhelmed and uneducated as to why things were not improving.  I had ZERO confidence that she could help me keep my son healthy (especially after a later and unrelated diagnosis). So…I consulted other moms and found one I trusted. And we love him.
  3. Don’t compare your baby to others.  This can be said about alot of things when it comes to parenting… parents tend to compare their children to others based on their size (what’s the obsession with having “big” babies these days???), the timing of their milestones, how quickly they hold their bottles… the list goes on. In the same vein, your baby’s reflux and someone else’s will likely not be the same. Tripp’s reflux lasted months longer that most babies whose moms I’d spoken to and I got so discouraged. And then one day, it stopped. All that desparation and concern that something else was wrong with him was gone. I had done so much unnecessary worrying.
  4. Rely on other moms. Someone else is going through the same thing. I had mom friends that hooked me up with others that they knew had gone through similar situations.  I texted my best friend and III’s godmother an ungodly amount of times throughout our “battle” with reflux. I had a million questions and sometimes just frustrations that needed venting and I would have been much worse off without them.

Here’s the things about acid reflux in infants… it’s not life-threatening (unless you’re in a failure to thrive situation).  But it’s more than just an inconvenience.  I used to feel so guilty about feeling sorry for myself when there were so many mom and babies out there fighting much more difficult battles.  But you know what? No matter the source, it’s terrifying to watch your baby be in pain. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you have no power to help them. And you’re ALLOWED to feel that way.

Here are some specifics about our reflux diagnosis in case you are interested:

  • Diagnosed at 6 weeks, prescribed Zantac
  • Hospitalized at 3.5 months for refusing to feed for 2 days
  • Dosage eventually increased to 1.5 ml 3 times per day
  • Sought chiropractic care at 8 months
  • Stopped usage of meds at 8.5 months
  • Reflux free

I’m not interested in getting into a debate or feeling judged about our decisions to seek chiropractic care but I will share this with you (and you’re welcome to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss further). Around 5 months old, III was coming home with constant run of the mill daycare colds.  Every kid in class had the same cold but III was being sent home because he was vomiting.  Think about that for a minute… consistent (and massive) vomiting with EVERY SINGLE COLD. The average child gets upwards of 10 colds in their first year of life. Our assumption was that the reflux was causing this reaction… either way, one puke and you’re outta daycare for a full 24 hrs…. imagine what that was doing to my paid time off at work.

I’d been advised by many to at least look into chirorpractic care. After speaking to others and doing my own independent research, we decided to take III in to Homewood Friends and Family Chiropractic (PS – they do NOT pop and crack babies so let’s please not go there).  It was the chiropractor that suggested that perhaps it wasn’t III’s reflux but his reflux meds that were causing the vomiting. You see, Zantac is the type of reflux drug that neutralizes stomach acid.  At that point, the only thing III’s body had to digest was breastmilk, formula and watered down fruit purees. Imagine if he was constantly draining (because babies don’t have sinuses) and his stomach acid was not acidic enough to break down that mucus. (I know… this is all very gross). So after just two sessions, we decided to take him completely off the Zantac. Since that day, III has been reflux (and cold-related) vomit free.

I’m not here to recommend chiropractic care as an acid reflux solution for ALL infants. I’m certainly not qualified to do that. You should BY ALL MEANS find a pediatrician you are confident in and trust the diagnosis and prescribed care they give your child. I do fully believe that Zantac was the right solution at the time it was subscribed and that it helped to decrease the symptoms of III’s reflux… until it became the problem. That’s where chiropractic care came in for us.

With their help, we are lucky to be out of the reflux storm now. At 9 months, Tripp is eating, drinking and sleeping like a “normal” baby (whatever that really means).  I personally found motherhood as a whole to be quite overwhelming and dealing with this only made things more difficult for our family. BUT I am a better mom because of it. In just a few months, I went from the new mom that panicked about everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to a mom and wife who can actually enjoy the fun parts of motherhood.  Who can handle a cold or virus like a normal person without a total meltdown. Who can intentionally time with her family. We are lucky.  And my hope is that you will be too.

 

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