Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reflux Rears Its Head

Today I started Alex on his acid reflux medicine (Zantac). I have been almost paranoid about the boys having reflux because of our horrible experience with Amelia. I have tried really hard to make sure that I am not overreacting to possible symptoms the boys have, because I did not want to put them on any medicine unnecessarily. But, it is pretty clear that Alex has reflux.

Amelia was a "silent refluxer," meaning she didn't exhibit the classic reflux sign -- spitting up. We did get her diagnosed and on Prilosec relatively early, but as it turned out, the medicine wasn't strong enough and the pain she was having led to problems sleeping. We endured months of walking the floors with her at night and frequent nursing (which, we now know, soothed her throat), eating issues that led the doctor to tell me she was under-nourished, and the doctor telling me that some babies are "just difficult."

In the end, we took Amelia to a specialist when she was nearly a year old. She was ulcerated all the way up the back of her throat. I felt like the worst mom in the world! Especially when I thought about all the nights she would cry instead of sleeping, and I realized she was crying because she was in pain.

Alex spits up at every feeding, but not usually a lot. But, he has started to not sleep well. He usually takes 30- to 45-minute cat naps, while his brothers are sleeping an hour and a half to two hours. At night, his brothers are sleeping straight through, but Alex is waking up about three hours before them. And Alex looks tired, poor kid! He started waking up screaming and it would take me 5-10 minutes to get him to calm down. Often he'd go back to sleep on my shoulder, because being upright helped keep the acid down. Then I heard him gulping when he swallowed. That was Amelia's primary sign of reflux, so I immediately called the doctor.

Alex is still a much better sleeper than Amelia, but he doesn't sleep nearly as well as his brothers. Yes, some of that can be personality, but we also know from past experience just how badly reflux can interfere with sleep. In Amelia's case, she didn't sleep through the night until she was almost a year old, and she still struggles to sleep through the night at almost three years old. She just never really learned how to sleep long stretches.

The amazing thing about Alex is that, just like Amelia, he is the happiest baby, even though he has every right to be miserable. Hopefully the Zantac will work its magic and we'll be back to three children who sleep well at night -- even if Amelia still doesn't!

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