The NHS states that “Reflux Is when a baby brings up milk, or is sick, during or shortly after feeding. It’s very common and usually gets better on its own”. As common as it may be it doesn’t make it any easier a plight for sleep deprived parents all over the world when they find that their little ones reflux doesn’t just “get better on its own”.
In my new normal motherhood journey, there has been many a challenge and dealing with the dreaded reflux was a tough one for sure. What an absolute wee bugger that really is for many different reasons. I’m sure many mums out there will sympathise with the plight of attempting to cope with reflux and being shrugged off by many a professional “as just another one of those things”. Our baby boy, Leo, unfortunately struggled quite badly with it and it used to dement the living day lights out of me when my concerns were continuously brushed aside by yet another Health visitor or GP all because he seemed to be thriving and not losing weight. Sure I was relieved that he seemed to be thriving each day but it didn’t take away the worries I had every time I seen my little blessing squirm uncomfortably and wake from yet another sleep because of it. Each week I had to trudge myself and my tiny newborn baby out in the freezing cold snow and ice (Leo was a winter baby) to go to yet another doctor’s appointment where I frustratingly knew I would be up against it in terms of being unfairly stereotyped as an overly anxious first time mum and would be no further forward in helping my little baby by the time I left to trudge on back up the road.
For me the perception that I am a “first time mum” also meant something much greater as Leo isn’t my first baby nor am I a “first time mum”. But I guess technically I am a first time parent as my baby girl, Francesca, was tragically stillborn at full term in February of last year. So for me I really was up against it with being bracketed as the “anxious mum” as yes I definitely was just that as parenting after loss is one of the most emotionally challenging things imaginable but I was also dealing with a very real issue. The most precious little human in my entire world was projectile vomiting after every bloody bottle!. That wasn’t just in my supposed overly anxious imagination just because I was a first time mum nor because I was also trying to cope with the loss of a child. The projectile was not a figment of my imagination but my god what a time I had of it trying to convince someone to take us seriously. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if I had tilted his crib then like it was to be the magic answer I was hoping for then…well you know the drill. For the record if we tried tilting his next to me any further then our little lion cub would have been standing upright ready to face plant right out the thing!
The constant back and forth to the clinics with the feeling of not being taken seriously was emotionally and mentally draining. It also wasn’t only straight after a feed that Leo would vomit, it was before, during and even a couple of hours afterwards. Pretty much any time the wee mite was laid on his back was nail biting as we knew it was only a matter of time before the reflux reared its ugly head. I lost count of the multiple nightly changes for Leo and crib. I was already sleep deprived as it was and the little pocket of time between feeds that should have been spent getting a little shut eye myself was instead spent staring at Leo with panic arising night after night in utter fear that he would vomit and choke in his sleep. It really was a horrible feeling watching our beautiful baby be so uncomfortable and not being able to do anything. The final straw was when my living room resembled a scene from the exorcist after Leos projectile went 6ft into the air, only the carpet was covered in freshly spewed Aptamil instead of split pea soup! Lovely!
It was then the reflux broke me and I sat there in what can only be described as a moment of clarity that only the harsh reality of another 4am change and full carpet clean can bring… that was it , I had enough, for I my matey’s was a woman on the edge! I marched my tired ass back to the doctors the next day demanding to see yet another GP and just like a light from heaven above a new GP was sent to save us all… well not exactly but at least she took me seriously and prescribed Leo his first course of Gaviscon. Armed with that prescription and the knowledge I wasn’t slowly losing my mind and imagining it all, I left that office smiling for the first time. I cringe when I think back to how I must have looked that day with red puffy tired eyes, pale skin, unbrushed hair, an unwashed face and my big baggy joggers which were only things that fitted my post baby bump and C section scar! Mortified!
I wish I could say that the Gaviscon really was the miracle sent from the angels that I hoped it would be but unfortunately our reflux diaries didn’t quite stop there. The Gaviscon brought a new host of issues for our baby like constipation and after being prescribed lactulose to help that and no sign of the reflux getting better it was back to doctors again where he was tried on some other medications to help. It went on for another 3 frustrating months with no change and it was only when we tried a new food (Aptamil Anti Reflux) that there was a massive change. We noticed the changes almost instantly. Oh, how I wished someone told me about that magic formula months ago! We also changed the type of bottles we used to ones such as the Nuby anti-colic bottles and adjusted the way we fed him so that he was more in an upright position after being advised to do so by our GP. Leo started sleeping better and we were finally getting some much needed sleepy time too. Our baby boy is now 8 months and still has his “sicky” days, but they are definitely few and far between. I just thank my lucky stars that he is here safe, healthy and happy and I look forward to seeing the back of those nasty “reflux days “once and for all.
Author - Charlene Espie is a writer from Glasgow and documents her no holds barred new normal type of motherhood over at www.forfrancesca.com.