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.