I started a post on Evie’s 2 month old update (she turned two months on August 29th), but it got put to a halt by our trip to the hospital. I had no idea it would be such a long visit, or the amount of testing she’d end up going through!
At six weeks old, Evie passed out when she was crying. When I say crying, it was a very fast escalation of first smiling then turned to sudden anger/frustration. I immediately picked her up to console her when I felt her body go stiff and she was not breathing. This lasted for about 2-3 seconds and then she returned. Those were the longest 2-3 seconds of my entire existence. I was beside myself and didn’t know what went wrong! I called her pediatrician immediately (I would have called 911, but she was back to normal yet exhausted) to see what she thought. I explained to her that I used to do that as a child as well, just not that early. I know I was at least high-chair age. She told me that at least 6 months or older for children to pass out/do breath holding spells was considered “normal”, but not at 6 weeks!!! Evie is otherwise a completely healthy baby, and she was not shaking or anything during that moment, so the pediatrician told me if she does it more, she’ll likely need to go in for some testing. Well, Evie did it two more times before her two month check up. We brought her for her check up last Monday where we discussed in length about these “episodes” and what can be done. I received a call the next day saying we need to go in to the hospital, overnight, for testing to rule out anything that could be wrong. This may sound crazy, but I was not worried something was wrong with her. I truly did not think that she was unhealthy or would have any sort of diagnoses that she’d have something for life. That was helpful when the series of invasive testing proceeded over the course of the next three days in the hospital. The poor thing went through so much, and even though I wasn’t worried something was terribly wrong, I was an absolute mess watching her go through it all.
When the GI (gastrointestinal) specialist arrived before the 24 hour test began, we got so many answers just by us describing her symptoms and observing Evie for herself. Luckily, but unfortunate for Evie, she had a mini episode right then and there. She was laying on her back happy and coo’ing at the mobile above the bed when she suddenly stiffened up and let out a loud, painful sounding cry. I immediately scooped her up and looked at the doctor in horror–and that is when she looked at me and said, “that was reflux.” I was confused because she didn’t spit up, but the doctor explained that with silent reflux it often does not come all the way up, it simply gets just to the esophagus and either goes right back down or stays there a while–both of which can be very painful. She also said that is why she passes out. Wow. That was a lot of resolution for my husband and me in a few short minutes!
The 24 hour test/study was to find out if Evie has reflux, what type (apparently there is not just one), and to what severity if she did in fact have it. There were so many wires, tubes, and cords (as you can see from the picture!) for this test it was difficult to hold her and move her around during that time. The poor thing had to have a a thin, plastic tube up her nose and down her throat with a sensor that measures the amount of acid backing up into the esophagus called a pH test. It measures how often and for how long stomach acid enters the esophagus, and how well it clears the esophagus. So there we were in the hospital keeping entertained by the mobile I asked the nurse for which we attached on the bed, swinging in the swing, and bopping around to Taylor Swift (very carefully!). The diaper changes were challenging (see how close all those wires are?!) and she ripped the tape off twice on her cheek. They told me “she’ll get used to it” and I thought “you don’t know my child”. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Finally what seemed more like 72 hours rather than 24, the man was back to relieve her of all the equipment and discomfort. We had to wait there a few more hours to get the results back. Luckily, all the tests done prior to that one came out normal. She had blood tests, a neurological test (above) to make sure that her passing out was not a seizure or anything to do with her brain, an upper GI test where she had to drink barium and they did an ultrasound of her intestines, and a few x-rays. I’m still upset she had to be exposed to radiation and go through all that, but I know it needed to be done if we wanted to get to the bottom of everything.
The specialist came in a couple hours later to let us know Evie did in fact have reflux (GERD), the silent type, and she’d need to be put on medication. Of course I immediately wanted to run because I did not want to put her on anything. She said babies with mild cases are put on one medication, moderate two, and severe three. Evie fell in the moderate category and I was so sad to find out one of her silent reflux episodes lasted for an entire 23 minutes! That’s a long time to have liquid just sitting in her esophagus. No wonder she gets uncomfortable. It’s surprising how much she’s happy and smiling amidst all that! She prescribed her on Prilosec and erythromycin. The Prilosec was a two time a day prescription, morning and evening. The erythromycin four times a day before her bottles. I could seriously go on and on and on about why I don’t want her on these meds, but I also know that with silent reflux it can really damage the esophagus and create lasting damage and a poor association with eating for her because she would relate it to pain. And now, 34 years later, I finally found out why I was passing out in the high chair for my parents. They thought I had “colic” as a baby, and by the time I was old enough for the high chair and they tried feeding me, I’d get pissed off and pass out. My silent reflux, never diagnosed, went on too long and by that age I did not want to eat. So, Mom and Dad, I wasn’t stubborn! I was in pain. I really do not want Evie to get to that point. Since we left she had bad diarrhea and the doc said she can go off the erythromycin and just stick with the Prilosec. Mini victory I suppose.
My husband and I have also been doing everything we can to minimize her discomfort and help her naturally. We feed her upright, keep her in that position for at least 20 minutes after, change her diaper before feeding, and I’ve been giving her the homeopathic remedy Nat Phos x6 immediately after she eats. The testimonials out there say so many good things, so maybe we can even get off the Prilosec sooner than later, even though the doctor did say she should outgrow it by 9 months to a year old, and never needing to increase the dosage she gets. There is more about that remedy here and here.
Have any of you had experience with reflux?! I wrote a post here for adults, but did not even think about babies! I know it is very common for babies to have, around 25% of all babies have some form of it, but unfortunately some have it worse than others like Evie does. If you have any tips, insight, or stories of your own please share!