There has been a lot of defining moments thus far,in the short three and a half years I have been a Mother. Most memories, post birth, are mainly happy ones. However one piece of the twins early little lives that replays over and over, is when I hear another mother desperate to know why their child screams, seemingly in pain, morning noon and night and I am brought right back to when they were newborns.
And it is those doubts, whether you are a first time parent, a seasoned pro with a large brood or just unsure as your other children never displayed anything other than text book new-born, poop, eat,sleep that possibly cause delays in getting the right help for your child.
All babies cry, no they don’t cry all the time!
All babies have wind, no they don’t have wind all the time!
It’s “Only” Colic. All babies have it when they are newborns. No they don’t!
Sure he/she is a new-born they won’t sleep for ages, well neither should they be so unsettled that the only comfort they get is being upright every hour of the day!
Five days after we were home and our little girl was around eleven days old we ended up back in hospital after she stopped feeding. She would pull off the breast, never latch for long, suffer at the end of a bottle filled with breast milk and one day stopped feeding. Silent Reflux was diagnosed, we were advised to use baby Gaviscon with her feeds and she did settle.(Until other issues later down the line discovered she has a cow’s milk protein intolerance, which is a story for another day).
But the story doesn’t end there, thankfully we had one little girl who was settling,however her twin brother screamed so much when he was laid down in his Moses basket, we felt helpless. He spewed and I mean not just a normal little spew, he would empty his stomach of its feed. He would have hiccups, he would arch his back literally contorting into his back as if to try to force out through his spine some form of pain. He would get little sleep, and desperate for sleep he would work himself into a state. His little screams, tight fists clenched, knuckles nearly white from being clenched, will be an image we will never forget, nor will the videos we took to show the doctors how bad he suffered.This didn’t just happen at night, this was all the time, every day. Just when he would settle, it would be feed time and this viciousness would start again.
And then we had a name, Reflux.
Before we got to this diagnosis, we had tried all the over the counter medications, and dismissed colic, you name it we tried it. Nothing worked. We bought reflux blocks online to help keep the cots titled. We kept him upright for thirty minutes after every single feed and winded as much as we could . We were then down the same route as his twin sister, baby Gaviscon. And it helped a little, a fraction but nearly three months into his little life, desperate to take this pain away for once and for all from our son we went back to the GP again. This time we were prescribed Losec. At this stage there was no doubt in our mind that he needed to go on scripted medication. Looking back now I would say to any first time parent, you know your child and you see them in the dead of night, red in the face and exhausted from the pain. Stand your ground earlier in the battle for a diagnosis.
At last we were on medication and we prayed that the end of his pain and suffering was in sight and guess what, it did. It didn’t matter that we had to pay €144 per month for this medication as long as it took away the pain from our son. he continued to have spews but the screams were gone, he was able to sleep, we all sighed huge sighs of relief our little baby wasn’t in pain anymore.
I remember thinking of how my indigestion was so bad towards the end of my pregnancy, that I myself ended up on Losec, and I wondered was it all my fault.I read things such as babies born breech and being born by c-Section were all possibilities and I blamed myself a little more. Looking back now, I don’t anymore but in that panic when you can’t offer your child comfort the questions run around your head. The twins were born at just over thirty-five weeks, their digestive systems and guts were a little premature and I have accepted this as contributing to their gut issues. I do understand that reflux doesn’t just affect premature babies as unfortunately too many people I know have full term babies who suffer horrendously also.
Losec was a daily medication, until over time and more so when solids started at six months we noticed the spewing was becoming less and less, however he remained on medication until thirteen months old. We weaned him slowly off and took it day by day. Luckily for us at thirteen months his reflux nightmare was over. Teething would cause flare ups but thankfully they were short-lived. To this day thankfully reflux symptoms are few and far between, outside of the occasional hiccups and I can only pray that it doesn’t ever come rearing its head in this household again.
Not only did reflux cause our babies unbearable pain, it caused us to doubt ourselves. And this is where social media has its uses, because on many an occasion where we were up with our children during the night, trying desperately to settle them, we found other parents having gone through similar. I found a Facebook page at the time called, Surviving Reflux Ireland and I gained knowledge and educated myself.
If you suspect your baby is suffering from Reflux I would highly recommend taking a video of them. As distressing as it will be, there is nothing more concrete to show a medical profession what happens at home. Steps you can also take whilst awaiting a diagnosis would be;
Tilting the cot safely ( I bought Reflux blocks on Amazon)
Keep your baby upright after a feed.
Early weaning may actually do more harm to the gut than good, so it is noted in a baby with reflux you should wait until the recommended age guidelines to start weaning.
Education on reflux friendly foods is essential once weaning starts
It is important to note if you do end up with your child on medication, it generally is weight sensitive, meaning you may need to increase the dose, upon your doctor’s instruction as your child grows.
Of course in a lot of cases over the counter medication does help , and GOR ( a milder form of Reflux, although hellish in its own right) can resolve in the first few months. GORD which our son had, unfortunately is a longer journey but we got through it, once the proper medication was in place.
We have been through reflux and I want you to know that you and your little one will get through it and for any first time parent out there, knowledge is power.
** https://survivingrefluxireland.com/ was a wealth of information to me and buying the Reflux Bible by Cherie Bacon was invaluable to educate myself in the disease.