When I was researching an article on postpartum depression, I spoke to a mom who had suffered from the disease. One of the things she mentioned that made life so paralyzing for her was her daughter’s severe acid reflux. All the things that go along with that made it even harder for her to take care of her daughter and even leave the house. I totally empathize with her.
Personally, I think the parenting class/books should have included a section on acid reflux - a big one. I knew way too little about what it is and how it would affect my life. When Curt and I met with the pediatrician during pregnancy, we discussed all of our concerns. Those concerns included Curt’s history of ear infections and his dad’s claim that Curt was a colicky baby. Well, the answer to both of those questions, according to the pediatrician, could have been acid reflux. He told us that a lot of cases of colic diagnosed 30 years ago were most likely acid reflux, which is like sever indigestion in babies, where the acid from their food actually backs up into their throat. The doctor briefly described what AR is, but it wasn’t something at the top of our memory.
Flash forward to after Cole was born. During one of his last weight checks at around 2 weeks old, I told the nurse that he just began spitting up a lot (which he had never done before) and he was crying differently. The nurses simply told me that babies cry and spit up. I asked if it could be acid reflux, they told me not to worry. Well, I thought maybe he was gassy so I tried the gas drops, but nothing worked. Finally, when he cried in pain so hard that he seemed to tire out to the point of exhaustion on my chest, I called the doctors’ line that weekend. I knew something was wrong. They suggested I test out Mylanta and a different formula (Infamil AR). That made an instant difference. He wasn’t in the same kind of pain. He was still spitting up, but not nearly as badly (he would wake up in a pool of spit up before that drenched his clothes and sheet).
Thankfully, after about three months, we got his AR under control. But in the meantime we went through three different medications, millions of bibs and most of our patience. His reflux was so bad, not only did we have to use the formula with rice cereal in it, but we had to add extra to each bottle. And because of all the rice, the poor thing then had a terrible constipation problem. I won’t go into too much of the technical aspect of this “disease.” But the first few months of parenthood were made that much harder because of Cole’s fairly severe case of AR. I think there should be a local support group for parents of infants with AR. It was really that difficult.
One thing the experience taught me was to trust my instincts. I knew something wasn’t right with my baby - even though I didn’t know what a good or bad cry was as a new mom, I knew my baby wasn’t supposed to appear to be in pain. I wanted to do anything in my power to make him better.
Curt and I look back and laugh now at all the extreme measures we had to go through since we knew so little what we were dealing with. I just remember when Cole was still sleeping in our room and it sounded as if we were sleeping with a turkey. The back-up of acid in his chest was so bad that he would “gobble, gobble” at night trying to sleep. And he constantly had a chest rattle. The most amazing aspect of the journey was when we finally got him on the strongest medicine we could (adult Nexium). The skinny little boy with the bird legs actually kept his food down, so by the time he was 6 months old, Cole was round and plump and looked like the perfect butter bean. And for any of you reading who know him now, it’s hard to believe he was once so tiny.
So, here’s my call to all the mothers out there whose babies suffer or suffered from AR. I will be your support group. I’m no health expert, but I will understand how AR makes parenthood that much harder and I’m here for you.