Thursday, November 8, 2012

on having a baby with reflux and colic

*First of all please know that I realize reflux & colic are not the end of the world. In hindsight its such a quick and fleeting thing and though you cannot compare everyone's trials its a trial I would happily take over many others. It doesnt mean your baby isnt healthy or happy .. they are just uncomfortable and fussy! ha. So please know Im not trying to compare this to anything else or be dramatic!

I think Ive started this post approximately 800 times and never finished. Either feeling like I was saying too much, not enough, or tired of hearing myself think about it. BUT I dont want to ever forget what it was like getting through those few months and I can see that Im quickly forgetting all of it so for my sake Im writing what I remember down!

LET THAT ENCOURAGE YOU TOO: I am actually forgetting what it was all like! So even though at the time it was a.w.f.u.l its just a thing of the past now and will be for you too!

I feel like I knew a lot about colic and was somewhat educated on it (although you really probably cant be really "educated on it" until you go through it) But when it came to reflux I honestly hadnt even heard of it.

Now, I hear it all the time.

I will say one of the biggest things I learned right away is that reflux is completely different for every child. Which is great and stinky at the same time. Great because your child may have it and you wont go through all the sleepless nights .. stinky because your child may have it and what worked for another baby wont work for yours. Some kids seem to be "happy spitters" and have reflux but sleep, eat, and function just like angels. Others... are like Wylder! ha ;)

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So, for Wylder this is what his reflux looked like:

We started noticing Wylders reflux at about 2.5-3 weeks. (right when my mom left of course!) He seemed incredibly uncomfortable all the sudden and went from sleeping really really well to only being able to sleep on his tummy for about 30 minutes at a time. He was always moving around and arching his back. BUT HE REALLY DIDNT SPIT UP THAT MUCH! So I started researching thinking he was colicky and while looking through all that, I found out about reflux. It took about 2 weeks of his behavior being consistent and a conversation from my dear friend Dawn to finally get me on the phone with the doctor. (She encouraged me saying "Listen, youre his mom .. if you think something is wrong .. you know better than anyone else .. take him in" Thats all I needed to hear.)

Right away our pediatrician said he had Reflux. Even though he didnt spit up a ton (yet!) you could hear him spitting up and swallowing it. We started him on some medicine and we waited.

Longer story short, we went through different medications and ended up seeing a Pediatric GI Specialist in Pittsburgh. There he was put on Prevacid (which we paid for out of pocket because we were desperate) and it was determined that he also had a slight dairy/soy allergy. So despite my attempts to take all dairy out of my diet he was switched to a special formula that not only claimed to "help with colic and reflux" but also had zero soy or dairy.

I will say (even though Im not saying its what you need to do or what will work)  

but for US, probably the biggest change we saw in Wylder was when he switched to formula.

It was crazy. He was still bad but he didnt literally scream 24 hours a day anymore. I was able to sooth him finally. I still had to hold, bounce, etc. all day long to get him not to scream but for the first time those things actually worked again.

The "tricks" that worked and didnt work for us: 

The first 3-4 months of his life he cried consistently, he couldnt sleep, the swing didnt work, the stroller didnt work, car rides didnt work, the nap nanny didnt work, the moby didnt work, raising his bed didnt work, sleeping on me didnt work .. LITERALLY nothing worked for us except walking with him in your arms and bouncing. And generally that only worked if it was ME doing the holding and walking and bouncing. Occasionally he would do fine if I made this incline with pillows on the couch and put him on his tummy. I would pat his back the entire time but eventually he would fall asleep for about an hour. (Im not saying put your baby on their tummy .. its just the only thing that worked for us. and I was right there with him the entire time) Freeland and I would take shifts at night. I'd stay up walking around with Wylder trying to help him sleep until 3:00am and then Freeland would get up to let me sleep some before he left for work so we could do it all again the next day. The only carrier he liked being in was the Bjorn. Sometimes giving him a bath helped also. And I think around 2 months I tried the swaddle again and it helped. He was a tummy sleeper so I put him in the woomby that he could move around in .. he could turn over in it if he needed to. (Im not recommending this as Im sure no doctor would .. but its what worked for us)

Oh and we did do the whole burp him forever after each feeding and hold him upright and dont throw him around right after he finishes eat. Im not sure if it made a huge difference but it made me think it was helping and that was enough! 

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ALSO, at 2 months our pediatrician said to let him cry. I was exhausted, Freeland was exhausted .. and even more importantly WYLDER was exhausted. We were all working so hard to make him comfortable and help him not cry that none of us were sleeping or doing anything. Freeland had been telling me this but its one of those things you need someone else to tell you so if it doesnt work or if its hard .. you can blame them & not your husband! So at 2 months I let him cry. I was desperate as Freeland was about to leave for a month long rotation in Oklahoma. And it seriously helped. Even though he was colicky and I knew he was going to cry no matter what .. after the first night for the first time since he was 2 weeks old he slept longer than an hour! I think he finally made a 3 hour stretch! It was glorious. It wasnt perfect from then on out. Not at all. But there was hope and thats what I needed at that point! 

We also had him on 2 different medicines and prescription formula. We added rice cereal to all his bottles to help him keep it down. This was mostly to help him put on weight too because at 3 months he went from the 30% to the 1st% in weight.  It did seem to help.

Oh also turning up music really loud and dancing around helped! It helped us all!

And there are just times you need to put the child down! Freeland learned this too .. if it was getting too intense or hard or frustrating we both had to learn to either set him down and walk in the other room or to get the other person to take a shift. Thank you Jesus! 

These are different things I learned after seeing our pediatrician & 2 different GI Specialist

I really think looking back that even though we thought Wylder just had reflux that it was really reflux AND colic (as Ive said) The reason I say this is because right at 3-3.5 months he literally turned a HUGE page. He still spit up .. if anything he spit up more! But he wasnt this constant screaming on edge child. And he actually smiled! ha. It was like he was literally a new baby. He still was fussy and had his moments and we still had to work really hard on sleeping but there was a huge change even though he still had reflux so all I can conclude is that he definitely also had colic.

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Its easy to feel like you shouldnt feed them as much or "over feed" them or they are just going to spit it up. Thats the method I used for a long time. But the GI doctor told me no matter how much I fed him it wasnt going to keep him from throwing it up or cause him to spit it up anymore. He literally told me to give him a bottle and to give him as much as he would drink until he stopped. So in one day Wylder went from eating 3 ounces at a time to 8 ounces at a time! As a mom its easy to see them spit up and instantly blame it on how much they ate but after a few weeks of watching .. how much we fed him really didnt change how much he spit up.  (why do we need something to constantly blame things on or over think?? ha!)

The doctor took Wylder off both medicines.. and just kept him on one. He said it was overkill giving him 2. He told us that the medicine wasnt going to make him less fussy or cause the spitting up stop. ALL THE MEDICINE DOES IS TAKE THE ACID AWAY! This was glass shattering for me. Because I kept wanting to give him more medicine if he had a hard day or Id want to switch his meds if he had rough nights/weeks. But the doctor explained that switching his medicine or changing the dosage wasnt going to change anything because literally all it does is take the acid out of his spit up... so that it doesnt scar anything or hurt as much. That definitely helped me to see that even though I would fret over "ahh he needs more or we need to try something new" that there was no point.. it was just a bad day and before we knew it he would have another good day. The doctor said if I wanted to keep him on both medicines I could but there was no need. The only need - was my peace of mind and to help me feel like we were doing more. Definitely not a reason to keep a child on medicine in my book! And he did just fine when we dropped one of them! Im so very thankful for him encouraging me in that!

Our pediatrician here told me that they have found success with trying probiotics with babies who have reflux now. We never did with Wylder because our doctor at the time didnt discuss it but Id be open to trying it if this next one struggles with Reflux for sure.

Also, looking back I think working so hard on his sleeping has paid off. He is a great sleeper now and its because nothing else would work. Im sure if he would have been happy sleeping with me we would have done it or any other thing that would have caused bad sleeping habits. But I was desperate for him to learn to sleep. And I heard him cry all the time so crying it out didnt bother me nearly as much! ;) ha We went through so many months early on that he didnt sleep but you wouldnt have known that by about 7 months?! He learned to sleep and he learned to even sleep through spitting up! He still woke up super early or had nights he was awake randomly at like 4:00am but we worked through that and now he takes great naps and sleeps well at night. Something I would have never imagined him doing if you asked me at 3 or 4 months. So I recommend working at that. But who knows maybe he just naturally did those things? Maybe it wasnt the things we did?? Every kiddo is different!


PHEW - Okay this is all a lot and Im sure Im going to remember SO MUCH MORE after I hit publish. But I think the biggest thing was trying to let people help me (NOT EASY FOR ME .. which I learned is just really pride on my part if I cant let people help me) I think this was the first time in my life that I truly understood that the Joy of the Lord truly was my strength. Yes, I had rough rough moments where I was weary and tired and exhausted and could cry on a moments notice or lash out on a moments notice. But overall I feel like I was optimistic and okay through it all .. and the only explanation for that is the Lord providing joy .. it literally carried me through it all. There's no way to really explain what it felt like. But it was something deep inside me that I knew I didnt muster up on my own! (I wasnt capable of that!) And the Lord was faithful to allow River to be okay through it all too. If anything River has a harder time if Wylder cries now than back then when he never stopped!

Also, having perspective helped! I knew that while this was hard and exhausting .. it was going to end! It was going to go fast! And if anything it was probably going to be easier than what life was going to look like with 2 toddlers running around. Now that Im in that stage I can say in some ways thats true! Yes, I get more sleep and my emotions are more stable .. but physically Im more exhausted refereeing 2 little boys right now than I was at that point in my life.

Anyway, phew! Feels good to write all this down. Hopefully it encourages someone to know we survived it all with a 15 month at home and a hubby out of town for an entire month. And just like everyone says it will end. At 12 months we dumped all the formula and medicine in the trash and havent looked back! Its all a thing of the past. Praise the Lord that he healed Wylder and allowed that darn muscle to get strong enough to keep his food down! Praise the Lord we dont all still smell like spit up and we can all sleep now.

And praise the Lord Im believing this next little one wont go through any of this either! ;)

Im sure I left a ton off & if you have questions Im happy to answer anything! I searched anywhere and everywhere when he was fussy just looking for someone who was experiencing the same thing or could at least say "mine is the same way" so Im happy to share our story! ;)

7 comments:

  1. I have so many friends who are dealing with this -- sharing the link to this post with them. xo

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  2. Thank you for sharing. Our now 27 month old grandson had reflux starting around 3 months. He too had to be put on special formula and also medications. While babysitting him for several days, I noticed that about 30 minutes after giving him the one medication, he would start to acutally scream. After consulting with his parents, I stopped that medication and he was much happier. So, be careful with the medications because sometimes they cause more problems.

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  3. Oh my goodness Brooke! This was so encouraging to read! You have validated so many of my feelings & I too am truly learning "the joy of the Lord is my strength". Vivi is getting better as she is getting a little older but I often remind myself that what we're going through is nothing like what you guys went through with Wylder, helps give me perspective. Miss you and I'm praying for guys this week. =)

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  4. Brooke, thank you so much for writing this! This is our exact story! Hank is 6 months old now and really starting to improve. We've got him on the crazy special (expensive) formula and 2 different medicines. He seems to be much more content and not fussing nearly as much. What an answer to prayer! We go back to his GI tomorrow to try and get him off the meds. Hopefully it works!

    Love your blog and can't wait to see pictures of your sweet baby girl!

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  5. So needed to read this. My baby girl started all this at 3 weeks and from 3-8 weeks she screamed all day everyday. Didn't experience any of this with my son(2.5). Trip to ER, gas drops, organic gripe water later its manageable now. There are still ad days but nothing like during those awful 5 weeks. Nice to get some insight and hear other situations.

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  6. What a great post - so helpful.

    I would love for you to share this at the http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-friday-baby-shower-13.html- we are bringing together a collection of posts on new baby health that can help other mums who are going through the same experiences, Alice @ Mums Make Lists

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