Thursday, November 19, 2009

Acid Reflux: It burns his throat, it burns my heart

I should be a poet right? I mean, is that a title or what?? You must know exactly what I’m going to say now.. ok maybe not, I know.. it’s not a good title.. whatever.

Moving on.

We thought we had a colicky baby. We thought maybe he had a prickly personality. We thought perhaps he just needed to cry in order to get himself to sleep. Every time.

We found various temporary solutions along the way.. Liquid to help him burp.. Gripe water.. This or that technique when laying him down.. They all worked for a period of time and then he just went back to his same old crying with no explanation.

Let me tell you that is a heartbreaking situation.

Words staring out from a computer screen do not even come close to doing justice to the bewilderment, guilt, tears, and struggle that come from knowing in your gut there must something wrong with your baby, but not having the slightest idea what it is.

When I went for my six-week check up, I had to bring Aed with me because Ian had meetings during that time. I didn’t know what to expect at the check up, but I knew that inevitably at some point, he would start crying and that could really complicate things. Fortunately, my GP is amazing and has three kids of her own and so is very sympathetic to the plight of the mother.

I was there for about 5 minutes being questioned about if I am feeling depressed, etc. and then the screaming let loose. I went over and got him, knowing he was not hungry, hoping against hope that he would calm down when I picked him up. He wouldn’t stop. The Dr. and I tried to talk over the crying, but if you’ve heard Aed cry, you know this is pretty much impossible. So, I did what any mother would do, I stuck my finger in his mouth. After a few minutes, this calmed him sufficiently so that we were able to continue well enough for her to be satisfied.

After we were done she said, “You know, that sounded like a really painful cry. I think he might have some reflux.” She proceeded to question me about various symptoms, some of which he did have, but I just couldn’t imagine that was the problem (in hind-sight, I have no idea why), I was sure that was just how he cried when he was tired since that’s how he always cried when we laid him down to sleep. She wrote me a prescription for an infant antacid, told me to talk it over with my health visitor, and fill it if I thought it was worth a shot.

I talked to the health visitor, and she felt very certain that he didn’t have reflux (not to discredit her, she is very good at what she does and had seen Aed many times and I still fully trust her in her position. The thing is, when he’s happy, he’s very happy and that is almost exclusively what she had seen). So I continued on in my plight to try and figure out how to soothe my baby. This went on for four more weeks.

It was week ten when he became utterly inconsolable and so did I. I don’t know what changed, but he was screaming all day long and absolutely nothing would comfort him. In desperation I called the Health Visitor (note: Ian was very involved in this process as well obviously.. I don’t want to overlook my blessing of a hubby!) and explained what had been going on. She suggested filling the prescription for the antacid, reassuring me that if reflux was the problem we would know right away and if it wasn’t, we’d be able to stop the medicine quickly so we weren’t putting it into his body unnecessarily.

So I filled it. And we started giving it to him. And he started crying less. And less. And less. And I started feeling guiltier and guiltier and guiltier. The thought that I had subjected my baby to ten weeks of unnecessary pain was awful. The first night after he had been on the antacid, he slept for almost 11 hours straight. We couldn’t believe it.

We were so grateful to have found a solution! The clouds were parting and things were getting better! Unfortunately, after a few days we noticed the fussiness returning and began to despair that, once again, we had found only a temporary solution. Fortunately, I had scheduled an appointment with my GP again to discuss the use of the antacid since it had seemed to be working, so in good timing (thank you Jesus!) we were able to have the appointment to look forward to rather than sinking into despair.

The other thing we noticed as this fussiness returned was that Aed had stopped pooping. The medicine we were giving him has a thickener in it, which was very obvious in his poo (TMI??), but constipation was NOT a side effect listed on the medicine (hello!!! Makers of Gaviscon, are you listening??). He did eventually work things out, but I was so disappointed because I wasn’t even giving him half as much medicine as he was supposed to be getting for it to work consistently, how was this going to work long-term?

So we went to the Dr. and explained everything to her. All we had to do was say the name of the medicine and before I finished my sentence she said, “And how are the bowels?” (Makers of Gaviscon! Need I say more? How about a little warning please! Sheesh.)

We had a good chat and she prescribed us a real antacid (not just a coating/thickener) that would reduce the acid in his stomach and leave his bowels alone.

So here we are, coming up on one week later. We have a lot less crying in our house, and a lot more contented family members. He still has his grumpy days when things don’t feel quite right, but our ears are hearing a wider variety of cries and babbles and a lot less screaming, and we are seeing a lot more of this…

So are hopeful our little boy is on the mend :)


  1. I can't imagine how you all must have suffered, but it sounds like you are on the right track now. Hope you have more restful night ahead_)Ppppppppppppp(that was just added by my ever helpful kitty)

    Take care and know we love you guys.

  2. Very nice title indeed.
    Poor Aed and poor parents. I feel for you. A crying baby is not fun, especially when it seems like something is wrong and you don't know what. So glad to hear that your GP is on top of it and that Aed (and mommy and daddy) are doing better.

  3. What a journey!! It sounds like it's been a pretty hard month for you. Good for you for getting Aed the help he needed! Well done, Mum and Dad. Hope you can all keep getting rested up. Love you 3 -