There have been days where I’ve considered walking out and leaving because I couldn’t handle anymore screaming and crying from my newborn. There have been even darker days where I’ve felt as though I’ve been having a full-on breakdown; shuffling around the house like a zombie on only 2 hours sleep, tear stains streaking my face, wishing I could just escape by any means possible. Our marriage has also been through a rocky patch; severe sleep deprivation and dark whizzing hormones accompanied resentment for being able to have time away from the intensity of the situation (even if it’s just going to work).
It’s completely irrational, but when you’re living in a world where you’re screamed at for the majority of the day. When you can’t put the baby down anywhere because all you can hear are loud, desperate screams. When you can’t leave the house for fear that your baby will have a meltdown, and that you also might breakdown in front of the general public… You need a break. You need a hug. You need a friend.
From day three of Indy’s life we have been living with silent reflux and a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) which has only really been diagnosed, and consequently treatment started, in the past 3-4 weeks.
I was so excited to have a newborn again. Barring the hernia saga, Busby was a wonderful baby! She was smiley, would happily lie on her back, slept through the night from fairly early on, napped anywhere and everywhere regularly during the day. I could get out the house with her. And living somewhere as lovely as Lewes, I enjoyed wandering around the town, hopping on the bus to meet Nick from work for lunch, getting the train to visit my Mum.
After such a glorious, relaxed and totally natural drug-free birth I assumed that Indy would embody the calmness and chilled nature of his labour, and be an even more relaxed baby than Busby. I had visions of him happily kicking away on a picnic blanket during balmy summer days, while Busby and I consumed ALL the cake in the garden. Perhaps a trip down to Sussex on the train for a few days to visit my family – an adventure for just Indy and I. Happily exploring our new village and making new friends, with Indy cooing away in the pushchair and Busby chatting alongside.
I was very wrong.
Following a whole night of screaming on day three of his life, we ended up in hospital as something didn’t feel right.
We were sent home after many hours, and told he was hungry and suffering from low blood sugar due to my “insufficient milk supply” (no sh*t I had insufficient milk supply – I was waiting for my milk to come in!). Formula was pushed on us for him, and I felt useless. Thankfully I persevered with breastfeeding and my milk came in the next day or so.
However, from that day something seemed to be constantly bothering him:
- He’d scream and cry A LOT.
- He wouldn’t lie on his back at all.
- He wouldn’t sleep in his crib – he’d only sleep on one of us.
- He would only sleep upright in the sling or upright on us during the day.
- He’d arch his back and scream after every feed.
- He was very tense. At times sweating post-feed.
- He’d fuss on the breast.
- He had an extreme startle reflex.
- He’d make a strange grunting sound every time we lay him down to change his nappy.
- He’d bring up clear liquid with little bits of milk in, after laying him down.
- He’d be on the breast all day. And all night.
- He was very windy.
- He was very irritated all the time.
- He had persistent hiccups.
- He had a persistent cough.
- He wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as he should have been, for the amount he was eating.
“Boys are more clingy. You’ve got yourself a velcro baby.” People said when I explained that he wanted to be on me all the time. And to a certain extent I believed them, but I still felt like something was wrong, and so I brought it up at our 8 week check.
The Doctor advised me to cut down on my dairy intake for a week to see whether that made a difference, and it did. Introducing Hungry Baby formula also seemed to help, but he still wasn’t himself.
While we were working on the Bubbaroo Baby Sleep Diary campaign, Annie from the Infant Sleep Consultants suggested Indy might have silent reflux, and finally everything started to click into place.
I have to admit, prior to having Indy I didn’t know much about silent reflux. I’d heard the term banded around a lot; there seemed to be a large proportion of my postnatal group (after having Busby) that had been diagnosed with some form of reflux or allergy… but I got on happily with my first born, just assuming that maybe they were being a bit overdramatic and over-exaggerating how much screaming and sleep deprivation they had to endure. We were all first time mums. We were all in the thick of it, weren’t we?
I understand now what they were going through.
After lots of research, I decided that visiting the Osteopath would be our first port of call, as wanted to try a more natural treatment before drugs. The Osteopath was fantastic and explained that because Indy’s labour was so quick (two hours in established labour and arrival six minutes after my waters broke) his head and neck didn’t have time to straighten out in the birth canal, and therefore they were compressed causing him everything from headaches to reflux. He advised that we’d need to look into changing his milk as he suspected that Indy had an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk or lactose sugar, but that he’d work on Indy’s tense-ness and the headaches he’d obviously been suffering from.
With the help of the Health Visitor (who has actually been pretty fantastic helping me get through to a very difficult doctor who palmed us off with gaviscon) we’ve now switched Indy onto Aptamil Pepti 1 milk as he has a suspected CMPA. We’re mixing gaviscon with most feeds as the milk is very thin and Indy has been bringing quite a bit back up.
Indy finished his cranial osteopathy treatments today, and after four weeks of weekly treatments he is a completely different baby. The allergy milk has also aided this transformation.
His tiny fists that were permanently clenched with tension are unfurling. He laughs. He spends most of the time with a big smile on his face. Gone are the screams of pain. He can lie on his back. He sleeps during the day. So many of the symptoms have disappeared and have left the most gorgeous, chatty baby in their wake.
He’s also started to gain weight properly! He was a hefty 8lb7oz at birth, but quickly dipped down onto below the 25th percentile. He now weighs 14lb14oz and gained 14oz of that in the past ten days!!
I haven’t really written about our struggles previously. I guess I had tricked myself into thinking that we were coping to a certain extent, but now I have a nineteen week old who I can finally enjoy, I realise how difficult the last four months have been.
Life with Indy will continue to get easier from now on; we’ll be weaning earlier than six months as my research shows this helps with reflux, and he’s almost sitting up unaided, which will soothe the reflux considerably!
I’ve spent so much of the past four months wishing time away; desperately trying to think of the positives, of the future when he won’t be in pain. I feel a little bit cheated, like my happy newborn experience was taken away from me, but I am just so thankful that he’s on the mend.
My baby is healing.