Parenting // My baby is healing

living with reflux and CMPAThe past nineteen weeks of our lives have probably been some of the most difficult we have ever endured.

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.

living with reflux and cmpa

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.

living with reflux and cmpa


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  1. 6th November 2015 / 6:27 pm

    Ah, so glad to hear the osteopath helped! Made a HUGE difference to us! Good stuff. So glad to hear you have turned a corner. It’s the HARDEST thing. Xxx

  2. 6th November 2015 / 6:37 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes as it is so familiar. Finn was diagnoses with cmpa after having a lot of the same symptoms and I remember the relief when we finally got to the bottom of it. He was like a different child within two weeks of his new milk and after dropping over an inch off the bottom of the chart he is now up to the 50th centile. I hope everything settles now and you get to enjoy your gorgeous Indy

  3. 6th November 2015 / 6:41 pm

    I’m so sorry, what a rely tough time you’ve had but I’m so so glad that it’s all getting better. Poor Indy too. I don’t even think I’d ever think of a cmpa type allergy in a baby, it’s just not an easy thing to suss out is it? So glad he’s feeling so much better now though and I hope it continues to get better xx

  4. 6th November 2015 / 6:58 pm

    It sounds like you’ve had an awful time, well done on trusting your instincts. I took my first 2 for cranial oesteopathy and found it amazing, it really should be on the Nhs instead of pushing drugs into new babies. Hope the futures a little easier on you both now xx

  5. 6th November 2015 / 6:59 pm

    It sounds fecking horrific, Hannah, you poor darlings. I’m sorry that Indy – and you! – had to go through that. xx

  6. Lydia
    6th November 2015 / 7:02 pm

    Aw, I want to give you all a big hug after reading that! Sounds like it was a really rough time- glad he’s now on the mend and you’re being able to enjoy him more. I’m going to pass this post on to a friend that’s struggling with similar as I think it would really help her:) x

  7. 6th November 2015 / 7:14 pm

    Awww, sweet Hannah, I’m so happy that you seem to be through the worst. Poor you and poor Indy. My eldest wasn’t the easiest baby, he rarely slept and we had to struggle on in Switzerland without any friends and family nearby, and with Paul working away a lot. Like you, sometimes it’s only when you look back on things that you realise how truly difficult and awful they were. You survive them rather than enjoy them. I actually get more upset by those times now than I did when I was going through them. Huge hugs and I hope I can pop up and see you in the new year xx

  8. 6th November 2015 / 7:38 pm

    I’m so glad that things are improving for you Hannah – I’m just sorry it’s taken so long to get to the bottom of Indy’s troubles. Toby had silent reflux (and still has a little bit) and Gabe seems to have the vomitting kind and although both are reasonably well controlled it makes me sad that I’ve never really had the chance to enjoy having a newborn baby – it’s been a struggle with both of them. Anyway, I really hope things continue on the right track with Indy and you can start to enjoy him more from now on. You’ve done an amazing job to cope for the last four months! Big love x

  9. 6th November 2015 / 7:53 pm

    Oh Hannah, I am so happy to read that Indy’s diagnosis has helped you all turn a corner and you’ll be able to enjoy this time you have with him as a baby. Lots of love xx

  10. 6th November 2015 / 8:21 pm

    Im so so happy for you all! It must have been terrible for you feeling like that and knowing something was wrong with your baby but not really being able to do anything about it. He seemed very happy and content when we saw you last week, you must be so relieved! Xx

  11. 6th November 2015 / 11:51 pm

    Oh lovely. Ethan had reflux which was undiagnosed for about 6 weeks. I also had PND at the same time. It was a very dark place. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get out of the shadow of my/our darkness. Even medicated I am a highly strung individual with what I have always referred to as nervous habits but are actually OCD I’m realising. I’m not saying that lightly either. I’m not quite in a place where I can admit my compulsions without fear of what people would think..

    Anyway, I’m rambling. What I mean to say is that I am SO glad things are turning a corner & I hope that continues!

    Lots of love xx

  12. 7th November 2015 / 8:22 am

    This reminds me so much of when Arlo was a baby. He had reflux and CMPA but didn’t get officially diagnosed until 11 months. He he not been my first baby, I think I would have had the confidence to insist he got the help we needed. Part of me believed what the GPs were saying – all babies cry and I’m an anxious first time mum. It’s great that there is a lot of info on the web these days and maybe also a few more clued up GPs. Sounds like Indy is turning a corner now, sorry you’ve had a tough start.

  13. 7th November 2015 / 1:36 pm

    SENDING YOU THE BIGGEST, MOST MASSIVE HUG OF ALL TIME. It’s such a horrible thing to witness in your baby, but on those dark dark dark days when you are so tired and overwhelmed by the constant screams there are moments that you can forget that they are crying because of the pain. It can make the darkest day feel even darker. I remember the miracle of happy babbling baby noises as soon as we got the milk right for Little Red, and the ranitidine for Big Red…. before then the days and nights were so intense with the noise, or the need to carry. You’ve done so well to suss it out. It takes constant research doesn’t it?!? sending you lots of love and I hope that all of you are now feeling that luscious relaxing, breathing feeling as Indy starts responding well to the changes that you have implemented xxx

  14. 8th November 2015 / 9:17 am

    Awk, that’s hard for you. Glad you have a diagnosis. Do you know what’s a lifesaver for an a) newborn b) a refluxy newborn? Baby wearing. Do you do it? The boba wrap makes for hands free hugs. Amazingly blissful.

  15. 9th November 2015 / 10:45 pm

    Thanks for posting this.
    It brings back the memory of so many long nights of utter cluenessness and tiny pink fists – trying Gavascon, Rinatidine, Moses Baskets, travel cots, special support cushions, everything we could think of to try and get our little lad to settle.
    I’m so glad you were able to work things out and have a bonny little smiler as a result.

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