This story is a member’s personal experience and opinion, and is part of their healing process. Please be aware that some of the stories on Crying Over Spilt Milk are of more severe or complicated cases of Gastric Reflux. Serious or complicated cases of Gastric Reflux are rare. If you think you may be disturbed by some content, please visit this page before deciding to read further: Infant Gastric Reflux Stories
Mason was born two weeks early by elective caesarean, owing to me having a full-term still-born baby (Jamie) 16 months before hand. (Another whole story!) Mason was very spilly right form the start, but was a very content baby for 2-3 weeks, breast-feeding well and sleeping well, except for waking up about 2 hourly at night. Between 3-5 weeks, Mason became frequently restless, crying before and after feeds and spilling a lot. By 5 weeks I had purchased a flash front pack and was carrying him around constantly between feeds, also with a pacifier shoved in his mouth, which he didn’t like but it seemed to help the screaming.
At his six week check the nurse suggested reflux, which I hadn’t even considered. I was thinking it was due to too fast a milk supply and was trying different positions, which would work for a day and then it would all be back to normal again.
I changed doctors at this stage to a very understanding lady doctor who has been great (off on leave at present with her second baby). She prescribed gaviscon, and after 3 days on this he had one really good day, when he actually smiled for the first time and seemed relaxed! But it wasn’t to last! The next day it all turned to custard. For two whole weeks Mason didn’t sleep in his bassinet once during the day, he seemed to scream continuously and took ages to settle at night-around 10.30-12.00pm before he would get to sleep. He did sleep quite peacefully during the night, waking once or twice for a feed, but then as soon as he woke in the morning it was all on for the whole day, crying, more crying, lots of vomits and plenty of stress!! And then to make matters worse, he became very fussy with feeding, in fact altogether refusing feeds quite a lot. His best feed was the one in the night, when he was relaxed and fed for a good 10-15 minutes and then went back to sleep. Throughout the day, he would start to feed and then come off crying after about 3 minutes and sometimes wouldn’t have another feed for 3-4 hours.
At 8 weeks he finally got started on Zantac, which made a big improvement after about 10 days, but we had noticed him slowly improving each day after the fifth day. What a relief, he actually slept in his pram or bassinet some of the day sleeps! He was still far from being a contented baby though, and took a lot of attention and careful handling. The karitane nurse had come round to see if she could help, and after seeing him in action and then trying to settle him, the only advice she could give me was a way to keep his pacifier in once he was all wrapped up in his pram. Because as soon as it came out, he would panic and wake up crying. I kept him close to me throughout the day because of this. He had to be swaddled when sleeping or to calm him from a crying bout for about 10 months, starting with nappies and then onto cot sheets!! He slept elevated in his bassinet for 7 months and then elevated in his cot until one year.
He was 6lbs 13oz at birth, his weight gain was quite slow from about 7 weeks. He only put on 1 kilo between 3 and 5 months and then only 1 more kilo between 5 and 9 months. At one year he weighed 8.8 kilos and now at 18 months weighs approx. 10 kilos. He is a much smaller baby than my older two were, but developing very well, and very good at talking for his age.
I pushed for Mason to see at paediatrician at around 4 months because his reflux was still causing him a lot of discomfort. At 5 months, which was when he didn’t gain any weight for a while, I pushed for him to go onto Losec. He improved even more on Losec, with his feeding becoming much more enjoyable for him and me! Solids didn’t go too well, until he started on Losec. Before that he would eat about 6 mouthfuls and then start crying. His eating has since been a battle to say the least. He would only eat off a spoon for about 2 months and hasn’t since. Up until one, he was hardly eating much at all, when he improved quite a bit. We took him off his meds at one, and although he seemed alright for a while, we eventually put him back on to Zantac at 14 months, which seemed to improve his sleeping at night and his behaviour throughout the day.
Mason has had a lot of viruses since he was about 3 months. He got one about every four weeks at one stage. When he was 8 months his iron levels were low, and I gave him an iron supplement for a while. Then at 13 months we got his iron checked again and it was very low. Once on a stronger iron supplement he seemed to eat a bit more and get sick less. He has just recently had it rechecked and it was really good, so because he has started eating well in the last few weeks I am trialling him off the supplement.
One of the things I found helpful with breast-feeding Mason was to eliminate all dairy from my diet, and even now he is on a goats-milk formula and seems to still react to having dairy, especially at night. It seems to cause him to be very restless at night (supposedly a sore stomach). Usually when this happens we either give him panadol or Gaviscon or both! Sometimes massaging his stomach helps. I still don’t know what it feels like to have a full night’s sleep…..I’m living for the day! Mason sleeps beside us in his cot, in a side-car arrangement, but ends up in our bed more than not. He sleeps better with us close and also if he loses his pacifier in the night I can quickly shove it back in. Most of the time he still wakes up crying, in a panic, even in the morning, at 18 months which is a bit strange. But he does have a really good afternoon sleep of about 2 hours every day, on his own in his cot which is a nice break for me! We seem to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, especially with Mason’s personality developing so fast, he loves to ride his motorbike and run around with our big kids and most of the time he’s pretty happy, but it’s still touch and go some of the time and still very hard to get a babysitter for him. He’s very clingy to me, but as he gets older, he is becoming closer to his dad and I have had a few nights out with the girls while dad minds the fort – usually when I get home, they are both sound asleep cuddled together in the big bed!! Very cute.
From Janine and Mason
An update on Mason
Mason is now three-and-a-half years old and is a really neat kid. He loves sports and singing. He is at preschool nearly full-time as I am doing my bachelor of nursing degree. When Mason was just two we got his pH levels tested by him having tubes inserted into his tummy for 24 hours via his nose. This procedure which I requested, was very unpleasant, and according to the paediatrician didn’t show any major reflux episodes. The thing I found interesting about his pH levels was that when he woke in the morning the monitor showed a reading of 0, which is a very high acid level. I wondered if this had anything to do with his waking up very unhappy most mornings and never wanting breakfast? The test showed a lot of readings below 3 to 4 which means high acidity, but these were short-lived apparently. So the test proved nothing and I don’t feel any good was gained from it.
Mason has continued to be a small eater, but now eats toast for breakfast most days. He has hardly ever eaten cereal. The good news is that he has done a lot of growing in the last year-and-a-half and now is average size which we are really grateful for. It’s just a mum thing to worry about children’s growth!! But most of them do get there eventually.
Mason is still on Zantac 3.5 mls twice daily. His doctor is happy for us to continue this. Whenever we have tried to stop his medications, after about two weeks he falls apart literally and so do we. He is like a different child. He is continually grumpy, crying easily, tired all the time, and refusing to eat, and then sometimes start to spill which is really weird. We never get to try for any longer because we can’t bear to see him like that so start the medications again. I have decided to wait until he is four to try it again – hopefully he can verbalise any pain by then.
We continue to give him goat’s milk from a carton as dairy seems to upset him, but he does have it in things and this goes alright. He is much healthier now, and doesn’t get sick anywhere near as much. But whenever he does have a virus or a cough he usually vomits really easily, and also when he is really upset – but we are used to this now and have a towel on hand.
So that is it for now, things are definitely much better. It seems ages since the bad days when he was miserable all day. I think that even if babies don’t grow out of their reflux they can handle it much better as children.
© Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust and Janine 03/07/2004.