Signs & Symptoms of Infant GERD

My son was diagnosed with Gastro Esophageal Reflux (GERD) at 6 weeks old.  I felt horrible but relieved at the same time.

He would cry and cry and cry.  Constantly crying.  The only thing that would calm him down was a bottle.  And he would spit up most of what he was eating.  He would eat, spit up, cry, eat, spit up, cry and then finally fall asleep for about 10 minutes and then wake up, cry, eat, spit up, etc.  That was my life.  Babies spit up.  I knew this.  But I was confused because my son seemed to spit up everything he ate.  I read stuff online about spitting up that said that it’s probably less than it looks like and as long as your baby is gaining weight, not to worry.  Well, he was gaining weight, so I tried not to worry.

Since everything I read told me not to worry about my son, I just worried about my sanity.  I couldn’t do anything but try to soothe my crying son, feed him and then clean up his puddles of spit up, and then run to the bathroom while he was able to have a short nap.  There were times I looked at him as he cried and screamed, cried myself and just begged him to calm down.  I felt like the worst mother in the world because no matter what I did, I couldn’t soothe my baby.

I ended up figuring out all the puzzle pieces – though it took more work than I thought.

  1. I finally convinced my husband that I needed help.  And that I needed the help of my mother, who is a pediatric nurse.  This was harder than it should have been – but I’m not here to talk about that.
  2. We finally got the doctors to pay attention by describing more vividly my son’s symptoms.  Spit up and crying is not a red flag for GERD.  This is just normal baby reflux to doctors.  But things like back-arching, constant cluster feeding, neck arching – those are red flag symptoms for GERD.
  3. I finally realized my baby was sick – and I could focus on helping him get better instead of worrying about how good of a mother I was.  Of course I couldn’t soothe him with lullabies and cuddles when his throat was burning.  But I could do my best to make sure he got the right medical care.

And it’s still a journey.  And it will be a journey until finally he outgrows his GERD.  But that’s how baby GERD goes.

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