Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Mommy Files: Tummy Troubles

Everything about being a new mom is completely foreign.

Just when you think you've got things mastered,
Baby decides to start preferring/doing the complete opposite.

Trial and error has become an everyday occurrence in this household.

Maybe you can relate to some of our experiences.
Maybe not.
Maybe you're horrified by some of the things we've done to survive this whole parenthood thing.
But I like to think of this as the judgement-free zone.
Can we agree to that?

Either way, I'm going to share some things we've learned and mistakes we've made along the way. Please share your experiences too. Because I'm always gaining my best info from other mamas.

I chose this week's topic simply because I've gotten so many questions and several e-mails regarding reflux. So let's talk tummy, shall we?

And because I like to get a little crazy and mix things up a bit, let's start with the moral of the story.

Always trust your gut (no pun intended). You are mom. Doesn't matter that you're new at this. Your instinct knows best.

Knowing Something Was Wrong

It all started when Lyla turned 6 weeks old. Something dramatically and instantly changed.
We went from having a super chill and extremely happy newborn, to a full-blown fussy baby.

It lasted for about a week when I knew something was wrong.
We all know that newborns cry a lot, but this was different.
My instinct told me Ly was in pain.
This was also about the time she started projectile spitting up.
*P.S. All babies spit up (some even projectile), but this does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your baby.*

Every time she ate, things would get bad.
Spitting up.
Arching her back.
Sometimes for hours on end.

Luckily, the screaming fits were somewhat infrequent.
I kept thinking to myself how lucky we were to not have a "colicky" baby.
You know the ones.
Poor sweeties who cry for hours on end for days/weeks/months at a time.
Lyla was never like that. 
Although infrequent, when she did have one of her hysterical meltdowns, they lasted for hours.
She seemed so uncomfortable.
And in so much pain. 

So we took her to the doctor.
All the symptoms pointed to reflux.
Our doctor (who we trust and love so much) put her on reflux medicine.

Instant relief.

We also tilted her crib and held her upright for 30 minutes after eating.
*Worked wonders.*

We breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Our happy baby was back.
...Or so we thought.

Things Get Worse

About 2 and a half months went by.
No problems.
I think Lyla cried maybe 3 times in that time period.

Then at around 4 months, the problems returned.
Gurgling sounds in the belly.
Curdled spit up a couple hours after eating.

The weird and somewhat frustrating thing was that her "episodes" were so unpredictable.
Sometimes, I even wondered if we were imagining them.
Except for one time with my mom, she never had one in front of grandparents or friends.

But suddenly, the episodes seemed to get more frequent.

Our nerves were on edge every time we took her out.
So we just stopped taking her places.
We simply had no idea when, where, or long a severe meltdown would last.

Her longest episode lasted for 3 hours.
Unconsolable screaming and kicking.
Refused the paci.
Refused to nurse.

We went an entire month without taking her out in public.
Except to friends' houses two or three times.

The only thing that would calm her down was us pressing as hard as we could on her belly for hours at a time.
Until she would finally fall asleep.

We took her to the doctor two more times.
Tried two more medicines.

Nothing helped anymore.

The worst part? We knew her cries were for a purpose. She would look intently in our eyes while tears streamed down her face. Her eyes were begging us to help. And she was just so needy.

Finding Another Solution

My mom and several friends kept suggesting to take her to a chiropractor.
Apparently some specialize in reflux and colic.
I was skeptical, to say the least.

But what did we have to lose?
Nothing else was working.

So Gabe took her to the chiropractor.
He was *highly* referred by several friends.
Plus he specialized in babies.
And one of our chiropractor friends said he was the absolute best, and trained chiropractors from all over the world.
I was still nervous.

After her first appointment, Gabe came home and filled me in on the major details:
1). The chiropractor was confident Lyla did not have reflux.
2). But there was indeed something wrong with her.
3). We needed to take her off her reflux medicine...immediately.
4). I needed to change my diet for the next 2 weeks to turkey, chicken, bread, cheese, and green beans.
5). We would need to bring her in every day for the next two weeks for treatments.

I nearly fell over.
A lot of information to process.
And take her off her medicine?
We tried that twice, and it was a total disaster.

I needed more information ASAP.

The Real Problem

He went on to explain more.

Lyla may not have had reflux, but she did have a problem. The valve between her small and large intestine was loose. So when she ate, food would leak out of that valve, travel up, and go back through the intestines causing some serious P-A-I-N.

This is also a common cause of...colic.

So...my baby has colic? But, wait a minute, what?

Basically, when Lyla ate too much, the valve leaked, and she would be in intense pain until the food worked its way back through her system. Subsequently, she would cry until she felt better. Sometimes this took 2-3 hours.

According to the chiro, around 40% of all babies are diagnosed with reflux. Unfortunately, around 90% of those cases are not actually reflux at all.

But, I was so confused. If Lyla didn't have reflux, why did she have all the symptoms? And more importantly, why did the reflux medicine work like a charm (at least for awhile)?

He actually treats babies with reflux. And he said in the rare case a baby actually does have reflux, the most common thing they will do is constantly cough and choke while eating and then start refusing food all together because it is so difficult for them to swallow.

We all know Chunkin never refuses to eat. Ever.

And why did the medicine work so well if she never had reflux?
The medicine can be unpredictable. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. But it does tend to mask the real problem if a baby doesn't have reflux.
Most babies grow out of their "reflux" by 3-4 months.
Therefore the medicine can mask the real problem for that short time.
But in Lyla's case, she wasn't outgrowing it.
And the real problem persisted.

And in Lyla's case, it was so hard to "diagnose" because she had a mild case of colic.
If her case was mild, my heart goes out to those who have babes with severe cases.
Because this "mild" case was strong enough to nearly send me into cardiac arrest.

How the Treatment Works

He "tested" his theory with Lyla by simply pressing on the area where this connector valve is located.
Sure enough.
Instant pain.
And screaming for about an hour.
He pushed, and simply made the food work its way through her little system.

Then she fell asleep instantly.

He did that for two weeks straight.
Laid her on a pillow in his lap.
Pushed on the valve.
Simply strengthening her muscle.
To make it stop leaking.

Every treatment got better than the last.
We even took her to his house on a Saturday when things got bad at the beginning.
His house!
For two hours.

That's service, I tell ya.

Did We See Results?

All I know is that Lyla hasn't had one single episode since our treatments have started.
We could see instant relief on her little face.
She's been off medicine for 4 weeks.
She has more energy.
She rarely fusses.
She smiles all day, every day.
She can actually be placed on her tummy without screaming.
She can sit without projectile spitting up.
She just looks more comfortable.
She loves snuggling and cuddling now.
She can actually make it through an evening without having a meltdown.

We have a baby who is significantly happier.
More comfortable.
And is clearly pain free.

I'd say it worked.

So, believe what you will about chiropractors.
But it worked for us.

And I'm now I'm a believer.
So incredibly thankful for Dr. S.


Adam & Abbe said...

YEAH! Love this! Love Dr. S!

Taylor said...

Poor baby :(. Glad she's doing much better! Thanks for sharing this. After reading, I suspect that Liam may have had the same issue, but I think now that he's 8 months, things may have finally resolved on their own (hopefully). We went through a period at 4 months similar to this and the doc said colic (which I had always heard wrapped up around 3 months) and increased his reflux meds dosage. He did OK on the reflux meds, but they never totally solved the problem. He's still on them, and has improved significantly over the past 2 months, so hopefully he has finally grown out of it. I'm going to keep an eye on him though, as I was hoping to take him off the reflux meds by now. I'm also going to keep this in mind if I have similar problems with any future babies :) It's really great that you trusted your instincts - we definitely have them for a reason! Hope you all are doing well!!!

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing! I love hearing about different remedies...even thought we luckily don't have this problem, you never know! So glad you got sweet little Lyla feeling better!!

Jessica said...

And P.S. You're not the only one who feels like its an accomplishment to just put on mascara!! ;)

Kyla @ The Simpsons said...

Poor girl, so glad you found some relief for her.

So awesome that your chiropracter let you come to his house!

KRISTIN said...

The pain cries are the WORST! :( Kenley is 2 months and she will do this high pitched scream from time to time...usually it means she needs to burp and she's fine after I burp her, but the sound just hurts my heart! You're such a good mama for not throwing in the towel and trying to find a way to get your baby relief! Glad she's doing better! :)

Amanda said...

So glad Lyla is feeling better! It's heartbreaking to hear a baby cry like that. This is good information if we ever have a baby with "reflux." We thought Judah had silent reflux, because he seemed to be in pain after eating but NEVER spit up. Luckily it resolved on it's own by about month four.

Carolyn said...

Lyla is lucky to have such caring parents! I'm so glad that you found out what was wrong and were able to fix it! :)

smithec said...

Ang! After 3 months of MAJOR COLIC with Boone, me in tears most every day trying dozens of different things for the pain I KNEW he was feeling, we finally took him to Dr. S. And after three weeks of daily treatments he worked a miracle for us too. We also went to his house, twice. His sweet wife. They are so generous with their time.

Aren't you just so thankful for such a dr, and to think he lives in our city?!?! So blessed. Glad you found him!

We should get the kids together sometime to play!

Tickled Pink Mandy said...

Oh my gosh. I literally had tears in my eyes reading this. Poor baby girl. That sounds so painful. And I can't even imagine the pain for you as her mom, not knowing what to do! I'm so so so so glad this Dr. has helped you guys out. What a blessing. I hope this post helps other mommies out there! xxoo

Ally said...

My name is Ally and my high school teacher Molly Young(now Romer) sent me to this blog! If I had to write my own about my son it would sound just like this!!! Now I feel it is time to take him to a chiropractor. Can you give me the reference to yours?! Thank you so much for letting other mommies read your blog, helped me a lot!