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June 20, 2011

Acid Reflux

Henry has seen/been treated by 8 different medical professionals since coming home from the hospital: a lactation consultant, 3 pediatricians, a resident pediatrician, a nurse practitioner, a chiropractor, and a pediatric gastroenterologist. This is crazy. This is not how I imagined our first three months of doctor visits would go.

When I was pregnant, Morgan and I interviewed a pediatrician that came highly recommended by my OB. We really liked her and thought she would be a great fit for our family long term, but there was one caveat, she was heavily pregnant herself and would be going on maternity leave shortly after Henry's birth. Morgan and I thought pretty hard about if we were alright with it. What if there were problems? What if she decided not to return to work? Would we be OK with seeing someone we had never met in her absence? In the end, we decided that we really liked her, and it was worth giving her a shot. After all, she would only miss two well-baby checkups. And in the grand scheme of life, what is two checkups? We were looking for someone for the long term, for Hen and for the babies who will hopefully follow in the next couple years. We never thought about what would happen if Henry was a high maintenance baby.

Flash forward to today, Hen is a high maintenance baby. Great. We've seen 8 different people. 8! In 3 months! And I regret our decision. 

Well, long story short, Henry has finally had a diagnosis that can be treated! With medicine! We finally didn't hear "he will outgrow it - usually by 3 months." Yay! The diagnosis - painful acid reflux - heartburn. And don't get me wrong, I'm not excited that he has acid reflux, I'm excited that some doctor - the 8th finally believed me when I said that something was wrong with my baby.

If you have met Henry, then you know he is not a very happy or easy going baby. I was willing accept that, except for the screaming. It always sounded like pain to me. But I had at least 4 of the 8 medical professionals say it was just colic, there was no pain, and that he would outgrow it. Well over the last month it seemed to increase, he had a harder time sleeping, he got more and more crabby. We had less of the happy playful Henry. He never wanted to be put down...and the list goes on and on. Basically, he wasn't outgrowing his "colic." It finally got to the point where he was refusing to sleep flat on his back at night. Notice, I said flat on his back. He was fine on our chests, or in his bouncer. This was odd to me, if it was colic why would it matter?
So I did some research, asked around on some parenting websites, and came up with reflux. Then I contacted the doctor and said I believed Henry had reflux. After describing Henry to her (she was new to us) she finally agreed that it sounded like Henry had it. But she still refused to give medicine without trying a few things - inclined sleeping at night, shorter more frequent feedings, and spending time upright after feedings. Well none of this helped him, and finally after two days of trying this stuff, and an incident where Henry screamed for 30 minutes after spitting up, the doctor finally prescribed Zantac.

So after 3 months, my suspicions were finally confirmed, Henry was in pain. And while it makes me happy to finally be able to fix the problem. And by the way, Henry is much happier since starting his medicine a couple days ago, and has actually slept through the night twice! I'm also really angry. Angry at myself for not pushing this issue. For not being more of an advocate for my child from the beginning. I should not have taken the doctors word. Or accepted a diagnosis that didn't seem to make complete sense. You hear it all the time, but you really have to listen to your instincts as a parent. And I'm glad this is a lesson I was able to learn so early on. I will NOT make this mistake again with Henry or my future children. I am their advocate, first and foremost.

Second, I'm angry with the doctors. Not a single one suggested reflux. They heard "he screams for hours" and all said colic. Not one of them asked if he gagged and coughed a lot, they didn't ask if he was congested, they didn't ask if he had trouble sleeping flat, or if he fussed when he ate. Not a single one asked about reflux symptoms. They took the easy way out, and just said colic. Even after we mentioned things like his congestion, or his spitting up, to the various doctors, they never brought up reflux as the cause of these things. It wasn't until later when I researched, that I even realized these were reflux symptoms. But why didn't they? They are the doctors. I truly believe that we would have gotten this diagnosis sooner, had we only seen one doctor. She would have heard all the symptoms and hopefully put it all together. But they all knew about the screaming...and they didn't ask. That's why I'm angry.

And while I'm ranting, I might as well say I'm pretty sad about the situation. Sad that I spent weeks wondering if I was doing something wrong. Should I just let him cry? Is he getting to used to being held? I feel guilty there were times I had to walk away from him while he was screaming so that I wouldn't lose it. But really he was in pain, and needed comforting. Finally, I'm sad that Morgan and I didn't get to really enjoy Henry during his first couple of months. Especially now that I know 1/4 teaspoon of Zantac twice a day would make him such a different baby.

But we can't turn back time, and the last three months were what they were. I just have to be happy we have a solution, at least it appears we do. Here's to hoping there wont be a 9th doctor.

Wow, this got really long. Congrats if you actually read the whole thing.

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