About Rachel – reflux journey
Joshua was born small for dates as I had pre-eclampsia during the last few weeks of pregnancy. He was born 5 pounds 2oz at full term (38 weeks) after I was induced because of my sky high blood pressure.
Silent reflux, we later found out, is fairly common in ‘small for dates’ babies. After 3 weeks of going to doctors for help with what we thought was colic (we hoped it was colic!), we went to a specialist for acid reflux. Joshua had all the classic reflux symptoms – screaming in pain after a feed, not sleeping, a rash from what we considered a milk allergy, constipation and a very angry baby.
I walked him to sleep for 5 hours every day so that he would take naps for 7 weeks. I was incredibly worried for Joshua which fuelled a determination to do anything to ease his pain. We were advised to change formulas and give him medicine for infant reflux treatment. All I remember about this time was the transitions from formula to formula were fairly extreme and the fear that he would get dehydrated as he adjusted to the taste.
He finally settled on Neocate (no dairy) and a combination of ranitidine and omeprazole. This was a far cry from the natural birth and breastfeeding that I had imagined (I had to stop feeding early anyway for unrelated reasons). It took about 4 months before things started to get slightly better. i managed to get out and meet people, but it was always trying and usually I co-ordinated this with one of my walks so Joshua was asleep while I had contact with friends and my new NCT group. There was always an explanation about the situation as very little people know about severe silent reflux. I often felt like I was exaggerating or had to justify my coping methods. I also longed to be like the other mums who simply grumbled about lack of sleep. I know they were going through a difficult time too, but I had expected that situation. I was totally unprepared for this.
We found that the ‘soft’ methods really did help Joshua be more at ease (a cushion under his moses basket on the floor, holding him upright for 30 minutes after a feed, making sure he was burped properly). We started weaning early at 5 months in the hope that the porridge would weigh the acid down.
At around month 8, I really started to notice the difference. I was told by our specialist that this might be the case, but at month 3, it seemed like light years away. We stopped the medication at month 10. We consulted a dietitian about his milk intolerance and very carefully introduced food groups ( egg, wheat and finally dairy). He was 1 last week and we’re carefully giving up neocate for dairy.
In truth, I have selective memory. It was madness. I loved my little baby, of course, but I was a desperate mess running on adrenalin and sugar. A few friends of friends have asked for reflux advice and I truly want to help anyone who is going through it. Often GPs are dismissive stating that all babies suffer from reflux. This is true, but there is a spectrum and it seemed that the common knowledge was mainly about vomitting reflux.
How did I cope? I got outside. I was lucky that Joshua was born in spring so we could walk outside, but even if he had been a winter baby, I would have done it. I spoke to a couple of people who had reflux babies and there was a certain understanding that made me feel less like I was battling alone. Plus they had come out the other side.