This week has been kinda rough for us all. Kieran’s sleep patterns changed to naps of an hour or less. His usual little bit of fussing after feeding increased to nearly an hour or more of arched-back screaming. He started spitting up, not just directly after feedings, but an hour or more later, and while he was asleep.
Kieran has always been gassy – literally from birth, but this was more than his usual gassiness. (I’m starting to notice that the tummy part of his sleep & play outfits is slightly more worn and pilled than the rest of the outfit from where I rub in firm circles for 20 minutes or so after every feeding.) I was really starting suspect Acid Reflux, which is really quite common in infants. (More and more pediatricians are thinking that what was diagnosed as “colic” in years past really was acid reflux.)
On the advice of the lactation consultant on Thursday, I made an appointment with the pediatrician to check Kieran out for reflux. I was able to snag a cancellation appointment at 3:45 yesterday afternoon, thank goodness. I didn’t want to go through the weekend with Kieran crying in pain after every feeding. (Talk about feeling helpless!) Dr. Alazard was pretty open to the idea of reflux when we presented all Kieran’s symptoms. He made a couple of suggestions for isolating the problem:
- To confirm reflux vs. a food sensitivity (either to the type of formula he’s getting, or something I’m eating that’s coming through my breastmilk) he suggested giving Kieran two feedings of Pedialyte, which is basically neutral for allergens. If Kieran still did his back-arching, screaming routine with Pedialyte, that would confirm that it’s acid reflux causing his pain, versus a sensitivity to the formula.
- He also suggested that we try a Soy formula, just to see if that makes any difference in how much Kieran spits up or how long he cries.
- Lastly, he suggested we thicken Kieran’s formula with some Oat cereal – since there tends to be less allergies to oats than rice.
- He also gave us a prescription for liquid Zantac once we confirmed reflux. Meds are supposed to be a last resort.
We came home after a long afternoon of the doctor’s appointment and then a trip to Walmart to actually purchase the Pedialyte and oat cereal and whatnot. Kieran got his bottle of unflavored Pedialyte and acted the same as he had been, but worse. I’d never heard him scream like that before. He was bordering on frantic, which is just heartbreaking to hear. Knowing that he’s in such pain and there’s nothing we can do to take the pain away.
I decided to break the rules and give him the medicine then. I’m more interested right now in preventing my child from being in pain than figuring out what kind of formula to give him. The meds are supposed to be administered three times a day, 15 minutes before a feeding. It took until a third feeding for them to kick in, but when they did it was blissful. The 2:30am feeding was peaceful, with Kieran calm and relaxed, with nary a back-arch or squawk.
We are also making sure we keep him vertical for at least 15 minutes after a feeding. Paul put bricks under the far side of the crib, so Kieran sleeps on an incline now too.
So while we’re thrilled to have the meds in our arsenal, we’re kinda stuck now for checking out other kinds of formula or possibly altering my diet. We don’t want to stop giving him the meds, because we KNOW we’re dealing with reflux – so regardless of what he eats after we stop the meds, he’s gonna have pain and spitting up. We’d prefer not to have to change his formula, and REALLY prefer not to have to change my diet – especially cutting out dairy. We’re HUGE milk drinkers in this house, so cutting out dairy would be akin to cutting out water.
I’m pumping as much as I can right now (a proper-fitting hands-free bustier thing is helping SO much with that) to build a several-feeding supply of breastmilk so that we can try to ‘reset’ Kieran from one formula to another in another day or two.
We’ve started another tactic this evening with thickening Kieran’s bottle with some oatmeal cereal. OMG, if it’s possible for a baby to be drunk, we think we achieved it this evening. The nipple had to be enlarged so that the thickened formula could come out, and Kieran (Mr. LAZY nurser) loved just having this amazing elixir thrown down his throat! Here’s hoping the combination of Zantac and thickened formula will keep everything down – cuz Kieran has been urping formula all afternoon. (Maybe soy isn’t the best for him, huh? We’ll be switching back to the regular Similac formula on Monday or Tuesday.)
So we’ve joined the ranks of parents of reflux babies. Here’s hoping the solution stays simple. We just don’t want our baby to be in pain.