Having a child who suffers with reflux is not something i anticipated when i embarked on my journey through motherhood. First time parenting has brung me many challenges and i always expected i would have sleepless nights and a unsettled baby at times, but you are never prepared for the whole emotional package. Life really doesn’t come with a manual and every day is a new steep learning curve. I think i will still be learning when Ernest is old enough to make his own way in the world. It doesn’t just stop one day.
When Ernest was first diagnosed with reflux it was a relief in a way. We had battled with a very unhappy baby and we could finally start to help with his discomfort and the endless vomiting and hiccups. I had never even heard of it. They always bat around the Colic word so even before Ernest was born i was mentally preparing myself for that eventuality. I had everything crossed that he would be blessed with no issues but that doesn’t always go as planned.
After Ernest was regularly taking medication he was much happier. Although this still didn’t stop the free flowing vomit fest i had to endure most days. You are constantly on edge wondering if they are getting enough milk or whether holding them a certain way will result in them emptying their feed all over you, your sofa, your shoes and your carpet, in one go. I’m not even sure why i continue to buy white baby grows, well i do know, they are rediculously adorable, but they are all covered in a lovely off yellow tinge from the pure acid that kid has to deal with. This stuff is radioactive and you just can’t get it out of anything.
Ernest has the silent type so although he vomited alot, he mostly suffered with that lovely burning sensation in his throat. Now if you were anything like me through pregnancy and had acid reflux or if you have just experienced it in general then you will know how dreadful it is. Imagine being a little baby where you can’t tell someone how you’re feeling or if it’s hurting. Ernest just gets on with it and still has a smile on his face when he’s just thrown up or he’s coughing because the acid is burning.
Weaning was going to be my saviour. I couldn’t wait for him to be old enough to start eating solids as i just thought it would instantly make life better for him and for us. You will always have conflicting views on when to start weaning and some might try at 4 months or others may start on the recommended age of 6 months. I assumed and was told by my doctor, that the earlier we started the better.
Me and Timmy were so excited to give Ernest his first taste of food. We had this image of him snatching the spoon and devouring everything. Since his birth, he has always been larger than average. I quite often get people telling me what a big boy he is, or people looking at me in shock or doing a double take when i tell them how old he is, like he’s a freakishly abnormal size. I like the fact he has rolls and huge fists and i laugh at the fact his legs are so chubby that he got wedged inside a Bumbo once. Honestly! I tried to pick him up to get him out and the Bumbo came with him! These are the moments that you wish someone was around to assist but instead you have to use a foot to hold said sitting apparatus down so you can yank your son from its clutches.
It’s funny really because when they say from 4 months, you wait until you reach that exact day like doing it the day before is going to have tragic consequences? I actually waited a little after because Timmy was still working away and i wanted him to be there so we could experience this momentous time in his life. I didn’t know what to expect or how he would react but i hoped it would be a great experience. We started Ernest on baby porridge first and he liked it. He looked a little bemused but he didn’t cry so we took that as a positive.
Being a baby with reflux meant that he wasn’t having a bottle every 3-4 hours. It was recommended that we try the little and often method so every 2 hours he was being fed. It was a nightmare. You couldn’t do anything for very long before you needed to stop what you were doing to feed him. If you wanted to make plans it had to be carried out with military precision so you can imagine how difficult it was trying to incorporate eating into the equation too.
Although i noticed a slight change in his behaviour pretty much straight away, after a few days Ernest was slipping back into that unsettled and pained crying that he’d had before. You could see he was desperately uncomfortable. Although he was only having a very small amount of food i think it was all a little too much for his tiny tummy. You just don’t think about these things at the time, especially as i had nothing to compare it to. There will be many people who have had a brush with reflux and who have their own thoughts on how to tackle it. I would spend days reading conflicting views or best results so in the end i decided to visit the health visitor to get some advise. She suggested that we wait a little longer so it gave him a chance to develop more and strengthen his upper body and neck.
I was so hasty in giving him food thinking it would solve everything, that i didn’t realise it just made things worst. This then led me to feel fearful to try again. I dreaded the thought of Ernest going through the same discomfort that when 6 months approached, it approached, came and went. Timmy kept asking when we were going to try again with the food but i would just brush it off and say that i needed to buy a high chair or feeding equipment. In the end he just decided it was happening and that was that. I knew he was doing ok with just milk as he hadn’t dropped from the 95th centile since he was born that i hoped i could string it out a little longer.
I then started to look at whether we would go down the puree or the baby led route. I liked the idea of baby led weaning more as Ernest would be taking the lead. I was so nervous trying him with food again but actually i could already tell that leaving it a few months meant he was more receptive to his surroundings, that i started to actually get excited again. I had planned out that we would try him on some banana first so we gave him his bottle and then set him up in his chair. I’m not sure if you can already tell how this part of the story is going to end? We chopped up some banana and gave it to him. He put it straight in his mouth and immediately looked puzzled at what to do next.
How great i thought, we were replaying a momentous moment for a second time. This became very short lived when out of nowhere our kitchen became the scene from the Exorcist where our son projectile vomited from one side of the room to the other. It was actually pouring out of his nose! Our Cheshire Cat smiles turned into horrified faces as we desperately tried to pull him out of the chair thinking he was choking to death. Ernest on the other hand couldn’t see what the fuss was all about? He didn’t cry once, he just looked a little shocked initially and then started smiling and flapping his legs around without a care in the world. I knew then that he was going to be ok and my worry was all in my head.
In hindsight it probably wasn’t the most intelligent move giving him milk before food, but like i said we find ourselves on an everlasting learning curve.
We are now two months into our weaning journey and i’m pleased to say that Ernest no longer takes reflux medication. We have had many ups and downs and a series of trail and error but we are slowly getting there. We are experimenting daily with different foods and being careful not to give him anything too acidic. I have also learned that peas can recreate the Exorcist scene so they are off the menu for the time being. It’s a very slow process in the beginning as the food intake is so small but as the weeks have gone on i can see my tiny little human becoming a grown up before my very eyes.
And as we predicted he cannot take the food off you quick enough. Although Ernest still suffers with sickness and acidic hiccups from time to time it has vastly reduced. I feel more confident to leave him on his tummy, but i just hope that his lack in doing so previously hasn’t slowed his development.
I now look forward to introducing new foods everyday and i love seeing Ernest’s reaction to it. Those funny faces, pursed lips, body shudders and rice toothed smiles make it all worth while.
That’s my boy.