Back in June I wrote my first ever blog post, shortly after my son was diagnosed with GERD. At that time he had been on Ranitidine for two days, as well as Enfamil AR, and I was confident that we had conquered our reflux demons. So confident, in fact, I wrote a blog about it. Oh, how sweetly naive I was.
Almost immediately after publishing that post, I was tossed headfirst into the sea that is reflux hell. The added starch formula made A’s reflux worse, so much so that he was vomiting hours after eating. We went through several outfit changes each day (for baby and mom), and dirtied more burp cloths than I can count. It was almost as messy as when A suffered from pyloric stenosis. Almost.
As A’s reflux continued to worsen, the Ranitidine became less effective. After a few short days, it stopped working altogether. My sweet, even-tempered baby went back to screaming for hours at a time, and I had no clue how to help him. At the advice of our pediatrician, we switched formula yet again, this time to Nutramigen. The doctor suspected a milk intolerance, and explained that the hydrolyzed proteins would be easier for A’s tiny tummy to digest. He also stopped the Ranitidine, starting A on Prilosec in its place. This time my confidence was traded in for cautious optimism.
After two weeks on Nutramigen we saw some improvement. A was willing to take the bottle again, and was no longer arching in pain while eating. He was still spitting up, but not nearly as much as before. Unfortunately, we traded in one symptom for another. A had terrible diarrhea, his belly constantly gurgling and noise-making. Our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist, who diagnosed A with cow’s milk protein allergy. After a few more changes to formula and meds, we finally found a combination that worked for A.
Today, three months into our reflux journey, A is thriving. He has gained five pounds since our first GI appointment, and his doctor couldn’t be happier. A’s allergy is controlled with non-dairy formula, and his belly no longer gurgles.
I no longer feel like I have all of the answers regarding reflux. I know what works for my son now, but who is to say that won’t change in the future? I’ll admit that the thought of a “milk challenge” leaves me quaking in my boots, as does the idea of weaning A from his meds. There are so many obstacles left to hurdle, and concern for my sweet boy is at the center of them all.
I still stand by some of my initial advice, including inclined sleeping and anti-colic bottles. There’s a reason Dr. Brown litters the shelves of baby retailers around the country. Below is my updated advice for moms (and dads) of infants with GERD and/or milk allergy:
- Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is reflux resolved in a day. The journey ahead might be long. Take it day by day, step by step.
- Find a good GI doctor. Pediatricians are great, but they just don’t have the knowledge base regarding tummy issues that a gastroenterologist does. A good specialist can make a world of difference and provide valuable peace of mind.
- Ask for help, or even just a break. Dealing with a sick baby is heartbreaking and exhausting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or take some time to yourself. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your family.
- Remember that as much as this sucks for you, it sucks even more for your baby. It can be easy to get caught up in self-pity, especially when your baby cries all day. You might find yourself thinking: why me? While those feelings are normal, crying is your baby’s only way of communicating that something is wrong. Baby wearing is a great way to comfort your baby, while also minimizing reflux symptoms. Research shows that baby wearing reduces crying by up to 43 percent!
If you are dealing with infant reflux or milk allergy, know that you’re not alone. Also know that it does get better.