Our Reflux Story (A Road Paved with Vomit)

15 Jul

Reflux. Its a bitch.

My daughter suffered with gastro- oesophageal reflux. This was definitely one of the most unfun aspects of our new baby experience.

Reflux is a problem for babies as the sphincter valve at the end of the oesophagus is not strong enough to prevent milk making a reappearance. For us, this meant that a lot of each feed was regurgitated straight away. It was regurgitated on to her, on me, on bedding, several occasions it went on the cat, the remote control and in my shoes. There is no retching, its just like turning on a tap and milk flowed out onto whatever happened to be beneath. I did a lot of washing. The only good thing about new baby vom is that is looks and smells much the same as when it went it.

Reflux is a major PITA as it meant feeding took forever. I was breastfeeding, expressing and topping up with formula and expressed milk all day long. And doing the aforementioned washing. The acid reflux is another (more evil) monster.

Tiny baby + heartburn = Misery.

The pain on my baby’s face was heartbreaking, the screams were agonising for her and for me. She would writhe in my arms, arch her back and thrash her head from side to side as I tried to feed her. She cried. I cried. It was a shit time. My GP was helpful. She prescribed infant Gaviscon which thickens the milk in the baby’s stomach making it more difficult to regurgitate. It helped. The regurgitation decreased. The acid reflux was another matter. I didn’t know much about the subject and my wonderful friend @SarahMonkeys came to my rescue with what she called her Reflux Survival Kit. Her baby had also suffered and she knew her stuff. She provided me with her Mobi wrap for wearing her upright after feeds, and also a wedge pillow and a pair of connected bolster cushions which would keep the baby in a slightly elevated position in the cot. She also brought advice. Her advice was see a paediatrician and talk about meds.

At this point I was single-parenting quite a lot as my husband was often working away. One day, the baby’s crying, thrashing and refusing to feed had me tearful, scared and feeling very alone. I packed her into my car and drove to the local hospital. We were seen immediately in the paediatric A&E and I explained the worry I felt and my distress at my daughters suffering. The doctor prescribed Omeprazole. We were out of there in 40 minutes.

Omeprazole is a fucking joke. It’s a medication which inhibits the production of stomach acid, which stops the burning pain when stomach contents are regurgitated. It’s a pill. Hmmm. My baby was 8 weeks old. I had to dissolve this pill in cooled, boiled water and then cup feed it to a stroppy, wriggly baby. Mostly it went all over her face or she spat it out. I tried using an oral syringe but there was just too much of it and it was too grainy. I tasted it. It was salty. Nice.

Wonderful @SarahMonkeys came to my rescue again and told me to ask for Ranitidine. I did. It came in liquid form and the dosage was tiny. The baby learnt quickly to take it without fuss. The symptoms decreased quickly. Phew.

I had the baby weighed weekly for months as she didn’t seemed to feed as much as the books said she should and she still vomited milk back up regularly (although much less than before). Her weight was stable but low. Health visitors and the GP suggested early weaning.

I tried weaning at 5 months but she wasn’t ready. A couple of weeks later we had success with fruit purée. It changed everything.

Eating food stopped the symptoms of reflux almost immediately. Her weight slowly crept up the chart, eventually stabilising at the 50th centime at 12 months. Such a relief.

Reflux is awful. It’s hellish and it can last a long time but, like everything, it will end. This Too Shall Pass. Get help, see your GP, see a paediatrician, get meds.

Oh, and when health visitors say the vomit is only a tiny amount, they’re wrong. It can soak through a all your clothes to your underwear, thoroughly coat a fluffy cat and kill an iPhone.

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