The more I read about reflux in babies, the more I am convinced that Caide suffered from it, despite everyone telling me that it was normal.
I remember constantly thinking ‘how can this be normal?!” on pretty much an hourly basis. But being a first time Mum I believed the health visitor and GP over my own instincts. And being a Mum with anxiety I didn’t push the issue. I didn’t advocate for him.
But I know now that just because a baby is gaining weight, doesn’t mean they don’t have reflux. They can still be in pain.
So what made me think it wasn’t normal?
1. Frequent spitting up. Like, really frequent. He’d soak through 2 large muslins at every feed, then another 2 in the time between feeds. I timed it and wrote down every time he puked to see if I was overexaggerating it in my head. I wasn’t. He puked at least once every 15mins. And not just a little bit. I was told this was normal.
2. Frequent feeding. He ate every 2hrs, presumably because he was spitting up most of what was going down. I think the only reason he was still putting on weight is because of the sheer volume he was drinking in order to replace what was coming back up. I sometimes wondered if he was puking so much because he was eating so much so I did an experiment and found that it was definitely the other way around. He ate because he puked.
3. Fussy feeding. There was lots of wriggling, grunting, back arching and stopping and starting. While still trying to breastfeed, several lactation consultants and my health visitor were baffled as to why he was coming on and off all the time. He had a good latch and was sucking correctly, but every 2-3 swallows, he’d back-arch off me and scream. And puke, of course.
4. Comfort feeding. It was like he found it soothing in some way but would throw it all back up again and scream and it would start all over again. A dummy just didn’t do it for him, there had to be milk.
5. Back arching. All. The. Time. We’d say he was “doing his best ‘C’ impression” or “going for the full ‘O'”. Sometimes there was accompanying screaming, sometimes grunting, sometimes nothing.
6. Won’t go down. Awake or asleep. I had to hold him all the time. As someone who gets touched out pretty quickly this was a nightmare. If awake, I could sometimes put him in his bouncer/rocker chair but never on the floor. He had to be upright, even when being held, or there’d be screaming. Even as a tiny baby with no head control.
7. Coughing, gagging, sneezing, hiccups and congestion. I was also told this was all normal (and especially for c section babies), as babies are still learning how to use their digestive/respiratory systems. In hindsight, it was more likely due to irritation in his airways and throat due to reflux.
8. Wont sleep more than 2hrs at a time (If I was lucky. His naps were always 30mins. Exactly 30mins. If he napped at all). He didn’t start sleeping longer until he was old enough to sleep on his tummy.
He’d also puke in his sleep. We layered muslins under his head so we could just remove one at a time.
9. Wet burps. It was never just a burp. Ever. There was always puke. It didn’t always come out (silent reflux) but it was there. I could hear it. We grabbed a muslin and held it under his mouth quicker than you can blink every time we heard it. We were never wrong.
Health professionals need to take a mother’s instincts more seriously. I knew it wasn’t normal but was brushed off by my health visitor and 2 doctors. Caide’s babyhood was pretty miserable as a result, for all of us.
*this pic is from day 2. I’d already learned to always have a muslin under him. And hold him upright. I haven’t slept since before his birth.