BB was about 2 weeks old. We had come home from the hospital from her birth and were trying to settle into a new family life. Jo’s milk had only just come in and BB was struggling to feed and after every feed would vomit. Not in a “I’ve over fed” kind of way but in a “power vomit i have had way to many tequila shots” kind of way.
Every feed was the same. My new standard dress attire was the dagiest clothes I owned (easy to wash) and a terry towel to mop up the vomit. After a week of being home like this Jo and I decided that this could not possibly be normal. We went to our local Dr for advice and were told that it was normal and that BB would settle down in a few weeks. A few more days passed. BB still screaming after every feed as if she was being tortured.
We visited two other practises to see if we could get a second (and third) opinion. All Drs answers were the same. Keep feeding she will settle down soon enough. This could not be right. Jo and I would take it in turns pacing the house cuddling BB consoling her while she screamed uncontrollably whilst the other one slept. It was only way we could keep it together. I remember late one night I was able to settle her and she fell asleep in my arms, I think I cried for about an hour that night, I felt lost, I felt like i was failing as a father. I could see my daughter was in pain and I had no clue what to do to take it away. I felt helpless. Surely fatherhood was not this difficult.
At around the end of the second week at home (yes we had gone through a fortnight of vomiting and endless screaming) one of the three Drs gave us a throw away comment of “if you still think something is wrong in a few days take her to hospital and they might be able to work it out”. I remember walking out of that Dr’s surgery feeling like an idiot, feeling like I was over reacting. Jo felt the same. That was a Friday afternoon.
Sat morning rolled around and the new formula (2nd one we had tried) was delivering the same painful results for BB. Jo was still breast feeding as well. A friend came to visit, to see our new addition. She mentioned how small BB looked. It was like a knife through my heart. I wanted her to say she looked well and healthy and happy. I was gutted. I could see on Jo’s face that she felt like a failure. Her own child was wasting away and she couldn’t stop it. The friend left and we rolled back into our routine. About 5 in the afternoon BB had just finished a feed and let out a massive vomit. I was covered the floor was covered, she even hit the other side of the couch which was 3 feet away. That was it. I saw red!!!! I told Jo i was sick of this crap and no one helping us and we were taking BB to hospital right now.
We drove to the hospital, on the way we talked about what we would do if we were told nothing was wrong. I had come to the firm believe I was going to trawl the internet, forever if i had to, to find out what was causing my daughter to waste away. Once at the hospital we went to emergency. I asked to go up to the special care nursery but we were told that because BB was 2 weeks old she was not considered a new born and we would have to see a Dr from the emergency dept. great….. Just great.
After a 30 min wait we were in. We spoke to a nurse first who weighed BB. She had lost almost 500g from birth. The Dr came and said he needed blood. Only way to get it was from BB’s heel. This resulted in about 15 mins of BB screaming as they kept getting air pockets in the blood tube and had to keep trying.
After waiting about an hour we were told that there was nothing medically wrong with BB and that she was going to be transferred to Swan districts hospital so they could monitor her feeds. BB had lost a lot of weight and if she didn’t get a good feed very soon her organs would start shutting down. Just what i wanted to hear, my daughter was dying.
Feeling dejected once again we took her to Swan Districts hospital. Jo and BB stayed in hospital that night and I went home. I was lost. Couldn’t sleep couldn’t eat. No idea what to do. 8am rolled around and I was waiting at the nursery door to be let in. Jo explained that last night they were able to get BB to keep 2 feeds down with only small amount of vomiting (compared to the Mt Saint Helen’s volcano vomits we had grown used too) by keeping her up right. Jo started using this tactic after every feed and it helped to a point. The pediatrician came around and spoke to us and said that BB was a lazy burper. We had learned online that there was a few things that she could take for that (infacol). We asked the Dr if we could get some and he told us that it was a load of crap and didn’t work. Jo spent 3 days in hospital with BB and managed to get her to start putting on weight. Day 3 the paed came and spoke to us again. I asked again about anything to help BB feed and he and the nurses kept telling us breastfeeding is best. We should not be using formula as its bad for the baby. I felt like a criminal…….. This is when I snapped.
I asked the Paed did he have any children, he said no. I said well I have one and I am starting to see that I am the only one around here who seems to give a flying f@?k about her not being in pain anymore. I knew if I could take the pain away she would feed. Jo felt the same. The paed made some stupid comment about it was my first child and i had a lot to learn but I was now not listening to this clown. In my mind I was thinking of all the ways I could torture him so he could feel the pain BB was feeling. Jo and I ended up lying about BB’s birth weight so we could get her released as early as possible. To be honest I was walking out of the hospital that day with BB. If they wanted to stop me they would have needed a well armed swat team cause anyone who stopped me from taking Jo and BB home would have met a violent end.
During our last visit by the paed he was looking at BB and holding her and she power chucked all over him. It was spectacular. Like something out of a B grade horror movie. He was covered. I tried hard not laugh but was secretly giving BB high fives in my mind. This was the first time we had a member of the health profession of WA admit to us that BB might have reflux. Jo and BB were discharged with strict feeding instructions. They were still banging on about breast feeding was best and formula was evil. Once we got home Jo and I Googled everything we could about Reflux babies. Over night i became an expert. BB was kept upright or on a slant all the time. We changed everything about the way we handled her. We gave her infacol. BB started to gain weight, not massively but enough for Jo and I to stop worrying about her dying.
Over the next six months we tried everything to fight the reflux. We joined online groups, we googled it, we even spoke to a nurse in the eastern states (friend of Jo’s on Facebook) who gave us some good ideas. We even took BB to a naturopath. It was this guy who told us BB was Dairy and gluten intolerant. He put Jo on a gluten and dairy free diet so BB would not get these from Jo’s breast milk. I said I would do the diet too. After 3 weeks i thought we both were going to die from malnutrition. Jo couldn’t go on and neither could I. This was when he suggested Soy formula as an absolute last resort amongst a whole bunch of other things. He said we should continue the diet and breast feeding and come back in 3 weeks…….. I bought a can of Soy formula on the way home.
Well would you believe that BB started stacking the weight. She started sleeping through the night. She became happy. She was a different baby. We couldn’t believe it. Soy formula changed our world. Finally, finally something took BB’s pain away. It broke Jo’s heart to stop breast feeding but she knew it was for the best.
At the end of the day nobody knew BB like we did. After everything we went through, all the sleepless nights, all the crap advice, the almost Nazi responses to us telling Dr’s it was reflux, all the diets, formulas and baby handling tricks Jo and I knew what was best.
These days I take Dr’s advice on board, evaluate it and then think whats best for my child? And that is what I end up doing… What I think is best for BB.