Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Infant Reflux or Classic Colic? August 8, 2011

Filed under: Gabriel Stories — parentsong @ 10:51 pm
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Once we were a few weeks into G’s life, we realized this baby was not going to be easy. He fussed and cried for most of the day and night. Once he calmed down at night, things got slightly easier. I still had trouble doing anything out of the house. I had to take him grocery shopping and occasionally to outings for our older child, B. I was known at the grocery store as the lady with the crying baby. Seriously. But I learned ways of calming him, mostly by holding him and keeping him happily fed. The problem was that he would spit up if I fed him too much. He pulled in his legs and squirmed through every nursing. He seemed as though he was in pain.

After we passed the 6-week mark, the time when babies generally calm down, I began to think we need an intervention. I had tried everything on my own that I could think of and had read about, but nothing seemed to work. After G’s 2 month check-up, we put him on Zantac. Our neighbor also had both of her children on this medication as infants and said it was “like magic.” Several other mothers told me they had their children on it, too. I was reluctant, but wanted to help my baby. After two weeks on the medicine, he seemed the same. Maybe he was a little more calm, but it was hard to say that it was the medication. It could have just been our perception- that’s how subtle it was.

I called the pediatrician to see if we could try Prilosec, a stronger medication for blocking acid reflux. Since this medication works in a different way, one would expect to see some change when transition from one to the next. We saw no difference, but gradually, G seemed to be calming (but still very subtle changes). Was it the medication? The pediatrician warned us not to stop the medication until he was sitting up on his own and more mobile. The reasoning was that people think that when the medicine starts working, you don’t need it anymore and that reflux tends to be less of a problem when babies are more vertical (i.e., sitting up on their own).

Around three months, we still weren’t convinced that G was suffering from acid reflux. He still spit up after almost every meal and I was still feeding him in small doses frequently through the day and night. He was still crying, but not quite as much. After about 4 weeks on Prilosec, we decided to stop the medicine, AMA (against medical advice). We gradually decreased the dose. We noticed G started having digested spit up: the kind with the little white bits in it. Up until now, he only spit up pure breast milk. Now that the acid was actually digesting his food, it changed a bit. He did not become more fussy, but continued on his normal curve toward improving.

How can you know if your baby is suffering from acid reflux or colic? Unless tests are performed, which they are generally not in this country, one can never really know. It is just treated with medicine (hence so many babies taking the medication). The more I learned about colic, the more I felt that this was G’s situation, especially since the medication did not make a huge difference. We also intuitively felt that it was more likely colic. I remember several times with my first child that people told me to trust the “mother instinct.” I could only trust my instinct after several weeks of carefully watching my son and learning about colic and acid reflux.

At the time, it felt like it would never end. I thought we would be stuck with a very difficult baby, but that is not the case now. Now we are just catching up on sleep, er, sort of.


Sleep and the Post-Colic Baby July 5, 2011

Filed under: Gabriel Stories,Parenting — parentsong @ 12:17 pm
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Colic is a funny thing. I have read loads about it since it appears that is what our son, Gabriel, was suffering from for the first three months of his life. Suffering? Maybe. It is hard to say if it is actual suffering or just not able to acclimate to his new world. The idea of the fourth trimester seems to ring so true for colicky babies. They just cannot calm down unless they are held, rocked, and given a steady noise, such as shhhing or white noise. Basically, put them back in the womb!

One thing that stands out to me from my reading adventures (online and through books) is that when the colic ends, you often have a overly-tired baby on your hands. Trying to get the baby to sleep is of utmost importance because up to this point, he or she has not learned a lick of how to do it on his or her own.

This was certainly true for us. Gabriel showed the classic symptoms of colic: crying for hours on end from about the second week of his life until about 13 or 14 weeks. It gradually got better, it wasn’t like he hit three months and BAM! no more crying. He eased his way out of it. To get through it, we did whatever worked, which included breaking our rule that the baby does not sleep in our bed. As a post-colic baby*, he still ends up in our bed for several hours a night and often awakens there. But the important thing is that he is happy.

I have treated his fourth month of life very much like I would treat a typical baby’s first month. We have not imposed any sleep schedule on him because in my mind, he has only just started being able to self-regulate and develop some natural sleep pattern. I just focused on helping him to get as much sleep as possible. At four months old, he takes 4-5 naps a day and spends 1-2 hours awake between the naps. At night, he is up around 4 times between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. He averages about 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Much better than the 8-10 hours he was getting at the peak of the colic. He also eats NON-STOP. But that’s for another post.

So this is where we are. Where are we going? The therapist part of me has put together a list of questions to help me decide which route to take in sleep training. Our first, Briony, was sleep-trained at 9 months. After failed attempts using a few different methods, we ended up “Ferberizing” her, or a gradual extinction method. It took less than a week for her to learn to go to sleep on her own. Gabriel is a different person and will likely require a different approach. I’m exploring that right now.

*Post-colic baby: The state of being for a baby emerging from colic, usually the first 6-9 weeks following the colic spell. I made up this definition, but it makes sense to me.


Recovering from Colic June 14, 2011

Filed under: Gabriel Stories,Parenting — parentsong @ 9:30 pm
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Peaceful napping, mostly when not in a crib

I think the “worst” is over. Though, apparently, when raising children, things don’t get harder or easier, they just change. While there are many challenges of parenting I expect, things such as sleep deprivation and having to eat standing up or use only one hand for everything because the baby cannot be set down, there are some things that I do not like to be challenged by. Having a baby spitting up constantly and crying for many hours of the day is not fun. I just wanted to get through it. And we have. Now, we have a very happy, alert, spunky 3 ½ month old.

The problem now is that sleep is still a major issue. I have many books on sleep in infants and I understand how it works. Weissbluth is the only author I have read that acknowledges the effect colic has on the infant developing healthy sleeping habits. I believe that parents can really make or break a child’s ability to sleep well.

Happy most of the time, now!

I want to help our child learn to sleep. He currently wakes every 30 to 45 minutes from a nap and every hour to three hours in the night. This says to me that he cannot make it through natural arousals that occur in all sleep. We adults have learned how to stay asleep through having to move or adjust in our sleep. We don’t wake up full of vigor in the middle of the night because we were uncomfortable or had an itch or heard a car door shut. We mostly remain unconscious of it and carry on sleeping. By 12 to 16 weeks, infants have the ability to do the same thing. Hmmm, I guess we are dealing with a habit at this point.

While I am not quite ready to jump into hard-core sleep training just yet, we are devising a sort of plan to assist our child in getting the gist of sleeping. I’ll lay it out in another post, and hopefully report great things as time goes on.