Infant Reflux – The Unexpected Roller Coaster Ride

I had my first child, an adorable little baby boy, CJ, on December 7th, 2004. I knew that being a mother for the first time wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew I would have some challenges along the way.  I wasn’t at all prepared for or expected what I was about to face.
CJ would not sleep flat from the very second he came home. He would cry and cry and cry. He would only sleep on me or in a swing. After a few days he began projectile vomiting his bottles.  I mean all over me, the couch (two cushions over), and of course himself. It could be at the beginning, middle, or end of the bottle.  I never knew if or when it was going to happen.  I had to feed him a bottle with him completely upright and then keep him upright for 30 minutes after. I would have a cloth on my lap and under his chin lying over his entire body.
My sisters and friend always would ask to feed him but I would just end up doing it myself. I think people really thought I just didn’t want them to feed him.  That I was just a paranoid first time mom.   I can remember one of my friends insisting I let her feed him so I could get a break. I of course gave in and let her. She held him in a cradle position and he did suck down the bottle. I remember her saying “he was just really hungry.” Well, seconds later, she went to burp him and he threw up all over her and down her shirt. That’s exactly what I was afraid of.  He wasn’t your typical baby.  
I ended up bringing him to the doctor several times. They said he was gaining weight fine and not to worry. They pretty much treated me like I was a paranoid first time mom. At around two months old he stopped throwing up.  He would still cry, gag, and arch his back throughout his bottles. It was heartbreaking and difficult.  I knew something was wrong but the doctors said he was fine. I didn’t get very much support initially.  My husband listened to the doctors so he thought I was overreacting or he just didn’t know what to think. My mother–in-law just always said “he’s fine, he’s just….” She’s the type of person who always thinks positive so she doesn’t worry. She meant well, but it just added to my frustration and feeling like no one understood. Not one person I knew had ever experienced this nor knew what to do or how to help. I began researching and reading books and I finally figured it out myself. I was reading The Baby Whisperer, a book about baby sleeping/feeding schedules and accidental parenting.  I found a section that stated symptoms and if yourbaby was experiencing any of them your baby could have Infant Reflux Disease.  I had never heard of it before but CJ had all the symptoms.  It was a breakthrough!  great website online, with a lot of support.
I found out that my little boy had infant reflux, actually silent reflux because he wasn’t throwing up anymore. Basically, the flap between the esophagus and stomach is immature and doesn’t work properly. Therefore the milk along with acid comes back up. I guess all babies have it a little bit, that’s why they spit up. But others have it worse and it’s painful. CJ had a moderate case. I was fortunate enough that it wasn’t severe. 
It still wasn’t easy. The doctors still would do nothing because he was gaining weight. I argued with a doctor over the phone because they told me CJ was fine and I would put him through more than he needed to if he went to a specialist. In the end they did send me to a GI specialist because they really couldn’t refuse. So off we went to a GI specialist.   She put him on zantac but it didn’t really make a difference.  He was also put on a hypoallergenic formula called Nutramigen for a milk protein allergy.  He had terrible gas and a lot of mucus, and blood in his stool.  The formula did help with his gas and stool but I felt like she just kept seeing him every month with no progress. They did an upper GI and the doctor wasn’t patient enough. My son couldn’t get the barium through the nipple. He said everything was fine. Although, my son drank about a half an ounce of the fluid when he was suppose to drink at least half the bottle. I was so frustrated.
CJ just wouldn’t sleep unless you held him. I remember when I would try to slowly lowering him into the bouncy seat and then tip toe away in hopes he would stay asleep. He would cry within ten to fifteen minutes. I can also remember one my sister and a friend thinking they would get him to sleep and be able to put him down. They both already had kids. It was like they thought I didn’t know how to do it. Guess what? Their ways didn’t work either. I know in the end they were just trying to help but at the time it made me so sad and frustrated. I couldn’t help but feel like maybe I just wasn’t cut out to me a mom.
I ended up switching pediatricians when CJ was four months old. I was so glad I did. The pediatrician believed me and also agreed with what I thought. He sent me to a GI specialist at a local hospital. They also agreed. Another upper GI was done at the hospital and confirmed he indeed had silent reflux. He was put on what is called Prevacid. I call it the miracle drug! Within a few weeks he started to improve. It took several months before his sleeping got more consistent. He still had his moments but things definitely got better.
CJ was finally reflux free at 11 months old. CJ is now a healthy rambunctious four year old. You would never know he ever had reflux or sleeping issues. He is now an amazing sleeper. I love him so much and couldn’t imagine my life without him.
It just goes to show you that a mother’s instinct is usually right. It’s unfortunate that I had to go through all of it but I definitely learned a lot. CJ’s first year was not at all what I expected, especially the first six months. It was hard but I did (we did) get through.
We have since had three more children, all having reflux and milk protein allergy. Our second and third were diagnosed with pH probe testing. Currently medical protocols have changed and our 6 month old didn’t have any procedures done in order to get prescribed medications.   After going through our up and down roller coaster ride with our oldest, things were a little easier and under control a bit faster the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time around.  I now have the knowledge and experience to know what to expect, what we can do, and understand the steps we had to take.  We still had/have our bad days of reflux flairs.  The medications do help a great deal but they don’t make the reflux disappear.  I find comfort in knowing that in good time it will all be a distant memory.  But as I take on this beast one last time,  I still have moments with our fourth son, MD, when I feel helpless, frustrated, and despise the ever ragging reflux. 
Stop back each day this week for more in depth information. 
– Reflux vs. Reflux Disease, Signs & Symptoms
– Diagnosis, Treatments
– Other Issues Associated w/ Reflux
 – Tips and Merchandise to Help Refluxers
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