Saturday, October 20, 2007

The journey begins

I'm not a writer and find it tedious, so forgive me for any grammatical errors. However, I’m very fortunate to have the luxury of a laptop and access to the internet, unlike so many people out there on our big blue globe.

The only reason I’ve been compelled to write is because of what my baby and I have been through over the last 13 months. I have learnt some hard lessons about ‘Silent Reflux’ and have decided it’s worth telling our story.

If one sentence in my blog helps another mother or baby get through a sleepless night then it's worth it. My baby is so unsettled, cries appears to be in pain and is inconsolable. It seems like an eternity ago when I gave birth to our second baby, Cooper. I had a great pregnancy and carried to full term.

My husband and I have another beautiful little girl, and she was a dream baby. I was so confident that everything would go to plan, just like it did with our darling ‘Kenya’. I had visions of having a real routine with our second baby. I pictured myself even being able to do some work at night while he slept. I really had no idea what was to unfold after his birth. I was lulled into a false belief that he was a settled baby.

He slept well in hospital, and breast fed straight away. We left the hospital and that's when our world began to come crashing down. Its funny how you think you've got it all figured out, especially when you’re an experienced mum. But there’s no certainty's in life, I’ve learnt that. I think it was probably day 5 when I noticed he was not as settled as he should be. He would feed and sleep for a while then wake.

He appeared to be uncomfortable, irritable and in pain. He would draw his legs up, and move his head, and squirm but I just assumed it was wind. The nights were probably the worst of all in the beginning. He would wake and be very unsettled, crying and appeared to be in pain. Of course I assumed it was just colic. What else could it be?

I clearly remember one cold October night when he woke and was in pain. I took him into our dark dining room to avoid him waking the rest of the household up. I paced the floor with him and held him tight. I was tired, but I remember saying to myself, 'Liz make the most of this cuddle time, he won't be a baby for very long'.

Well 13 months later and still sleep deprived we are both still sharing our 'special cuddle time', mostly on a nightly basis when he has reflux. Colic and Silent Reflux. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about Colic and Reflux symptoms in newborn babies. I was certainly confused. With Cooper I had no idea and I put it down to him just having Colic. I remember seeing our Pediatrician he just put it down to Colic without any suggestion of other possible diagnosis.

I think that Pediatricians should at least try assessing what else might be causing it or at least inform the parents that there are other conditions with similar symptoms. When you've never experienced silent reflux it's similar to colic. Of course I still thought he only had Colic and tried all the tricks in the book to settle him. I fed him, pushed his knees up to his tummy, held him under his tummy region supporting his head, tried all the usual remedies like, Rhubarb and Soda from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital here in Adelaide, Infants Friend etc...But nothing worked.

Cooper’s pain would eventually just subside after about an hour. However he never slept peacefully he always seemed to be squirming. He would wake with pain often throughout the night. I found having him in bed next to me was the only way we would get any rest. I just kept patting him and held him tight, but I knew this was not normal.

What is Colic? Well the medical fraternity still doesn’t know exactly what causes it, but simply put it’s when a baby is very distressed. They are basically inconsolable and will cry and scream even if they have been fed. They appear to be very unsettled, squirming and often have failing arms (waving arms) and will draw their knees up to their chest. It tends to occur mainly at night.

This site has some information on Colic What is silent reflux? Gastro-esophageal reflux, or reflux occurs when the stomach contents, comprising food/milk and stomach acid, are splashed or pushed back up the esophagus or throat. Some babies regurgitate (vomit) all their milk or food up. While others have what is known as 'silent reflux', because they may only vomit up a small amounts or don’t vomit at all.

Visit this site for more information Silent Reflux is so difficult to diagnose During the first few weeks of our beautiful boy’s life, I was convinced he had colic. There were no other obvious symptoms to tell me that this pain was reflux. I just persisted with the Colic relief and even gave him deep warm baths during the night in the hope it would help to settle him. My advice to anyone with a newborn that appears to be in pain and very distressed is to read up as much as you can on the symptoms of colic versus reflux. An Action Plan for a baby that is consistently unsettled or seems to be in pain

Go to your GP and tell them what is happening.
Before you go write down what happens during a typical 24 hour period. Make sure you write down all the symptoms. I'll provide a list of typical symptoms which help to paint a picture of what you and your baby might be going through in my next blog.

Your GP may recommend that you see your Pediatrician (mind you that never helped me, but that is another story). If you get no satisfaction from your Pediatrician or they utter words similar to these, 'Oh your baby he/she will grow out of it', give it a few weeks.' Then you know it's time to see someone who will take you and your baby seriously.

If you get no satisfaction from your Pediatrician then seek a referral from your GP to see a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. My one regret with Cooper is that I didn't do this early on. In my next post I will write about the typical symptoms of silent reflux and coping with a reflux baby in the first 6 months.

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