Wishing away the baby days // Living with reflux

When Gabe was born I knew there was a good chance that he could suffer with reflux just like Toby had. I thought that having been through it once I would be better prepared to cope with a reflux baby the second time round but that didn’t stop the disappointment when I realised that, at just a few days old, Gabe was showing all the signs of reflux that Toby had; being sick after every feed, sometimes hours later, the back-arching, the hiccups, the gulping, the awful screaming if you tried to put him on his back… the list goes on.

Wishing away the baby days - living with reflux

At least this time I took Gabe to see our GP when he was only a week old and we were prescribed Infant Gaviscon, a week later we added ranitidine too. It took six weeks of screaming and trying to console an inconsolable baby before we got to the same place with Toby. But whereas with Toby the Gaviscon and rantidine controlled his symptoms reasonably well, Gabe hasn’t been so lucky.

The Gaviscon has mostly stopped the vomiting, although he can still be a bit sick, and sometimes hours after a feed. But despite increasing the dose in line with his weight the ranitidine just doesn’t seem to be controlling Gabe’s symptoms as well. If you’ve been reading my blog over the last few months you’ll know that Gabe has been almost constantly ill since about February, and every time he is ill, whether it’s a cold, or a stomach bug, or teething, his reflux gets 10 times worse.

He isn’t too bad during the day but at night reflux really rears its ugly head. Most bedtimes involve at least half an hour of crying (from him and me!), standing up and swaying, rocking, singing, doing anything I can to get him to calm down and sleep. A really bad bedtime can see the crying continue for up to four hours; even going out in the buggy or car doesn’t always work to get him to sleep.

And then once he is asleep he can wake two or three times every night, needing milk to settle him back to sleep every time, and then he’s awake and ready to start the day sometime between 4:30 and 5:30 am, usually having spent the second half of the night in bed with me.

And now, after 10 and a half months of this, I am physically and emotionally broken. My arms and back are in constant pain from holding and rocking a stone and a half of baby every night. The lack of sleep is getting harder and harder to cope with. I have spent the last 10 months simply existing from one day to the next. Instead of enjoying Gabe’s baby days I have been simply wishing them away until he reaches the next milestone that might bring with it an improvement in his reflux. Some babies get better when they can sit up, when they start eating solid food, when they need less milk, when they can stand up…. but we are still waiting for the improvement to come.

I can’t wait until Gabe is fully weaned and doesn’t need bottles any more. I can’t wait until he only needs one nap a day, and then no naps, so we don’t have to spend so long fighting to get him to sleep, and Barry doesn’t have to spend huge chunks of his time pushing him round the streets in the buggy just so he’ll have a nap. I can’t wait until he’s got all his teeth and we don’t have to suffer the endless sleeping nights that teething brings. I can’t wait until he can talk and then at least he can tell us what’s wrong and where it hurts instead of constantly having to guess and hope that whatever we’re doing is helping.

I know, really, that the only thing that will bring an improvement in Gabe’s reflux is time. We thought Toby was over his reflux when he was about the age Gabe is now and we weaned him off all his medication. But six months later we realised that wasn’t the case and got him back on ranitidine…and then it took until he was two and a half to finally get him medication free.

Two weeks ago we finally got to see a paediatrician at the hospital after being referred by our GP back in April. Thankfully this doctor agreed that Gabe’s reflux still isn’t under control and has prescribed him omeprazole to try. Gabe has been taking his new medicine for just over two weeks now and it does seem to be helping. He has been more settled at bedtime but he’s still waking up in the night wanting milk, although perhaps not so often. He is teething quite badly at the moment too though so it’s hard to tell. It’s teeth numbers seven and eight that are on their way, one has just cut and so hopefully the other isn’t too far behind and then perhaps we can all get a bit more sleep.

Of course then we’re moving house next week which will be a massive upheaval for everyone. I’m really hoping we see an improvement in Gabe’s sleep soon though because I have a feeling the move will bring with it some disturbed nights from Toby too.

I’m in a Facebook group called ‘Living with reflux’ which is mostly for parents of children with reflux. I know from reading the stories on there that there are so many families who are dealing with situations much worse than ours and I really feel for them. But still, I can’t help but feel sad that reflux has stolen much of the enjoyment from both my babies’ early years. I have spent the majority of the time wishing for them to be over. And even though we never had any plans for a third baby, there is no way I would risk having another baby with reflux. I just couldn’t cope with this again.

 

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