... because Gastroesophageal Refulx (GER) is an asshole and it makes my babies scream. Two of them, anyway.
About ten days ago, we noticed that Seal and Elephant (Babies A and C) were having a very hard time eating. At first, we thought it was just when they were nursing, but then we realized it was nursing or bottle feeding. It has never shown up in our Lion, baby B, who had NEC in the NICU, who was the "sick" one. He slurps down bottles, nurses like a champ and falls promptly back to sleep.
For the two experiencing the pain of reflux, it goes something like this:
Baby acts HUNGRY and roots around, opening mouth for a nipple of some sort. Is placed at the breast or given a bottle of breast milk, and latches on happily. Then, after a few swallows, Baby's eyes open wide and they begin to cry. Then, they make the saddest face ever and scream at the top of their lungs while arching their backs stiffly. Often, they are inconsolable, and we pace the house, holding them upright while they try to root around on our arm for some food. When we try the bottle or breast again, the whole thing usually starts over, but sometimes they've had enough of a break that they can keep eating. Sometimes, they exhaust themselves crying and fall asleep in our arms, only to wake up hungry again in an hour or so.
I talked with our pediatrician last week and she saw the babies to ensure there was not something else going on and put them on Zantac, the first line of defense of babies with reflux. (I should add that preemies are at a high risk for it, and that it often does not show up until the sixth week of life or so.) She said we'd give it a week and if it was not dramatically improved, talk about other options. Well, it got worse. The poor guys spent at least every other feeding crying so hard, while we did all the things we could to comfort them: feed them upright, give them little bits and breaks in between, hold them up after eating for about 30 minutes or more. Please keep in mind that it is usually two adults trying to manage this along with another baby and a three-year-old who would like some attention, thank you very much.
Our daughter, A, has already had a really hard time since the babies life-altering arrival (sibling post forthcoming), and she does not tolerate their crying well. Honestly, it is LOUD and stressful, and frustrating for adults, so I can only imagine how it makes her feel. When it first started, she used to ignore it, since it was for short periods, but now it can go on for an hour or more, and she often lets out the most highly pitched screams ever heard. Just in case we forgot about her, which we did not. Let's just say she is watching a lot of "Super Why" and "Sesame Street" right about now.
Yesterday, we decided to move on to Prevacid, the "big guns" in baby reflux, and hope it makes a difference. Their first dose was this morning, so we shall see if it helps. The pharmacist said we could see results in as little as a day. Their pain is so obvious, and I know that caring for one baby with reflux is challenging, without any other children or multiples in the house. I have cried with them many times.
Yet another reason why reflux is an asshole is it makes them unable to nurse when they are having a hard feeding. I have held them up in some crazy positions, which can help sometimes, but usually, I end up pacing the house with my breast hanging out, "shooshing" and trying to get them to latch on to me, a bottle, anything. The contrast between the two Reflux-y ones and Lion is that he never cries when he eats, nurses like a professional nurser, and is soothed by food. The other two are made worse by eating, which is the ultimate comfort and nourishment one gives a baby.
It is emotionally tiring to see our sweet boys suffering, and I am hoping with all hope they get some relief soon. All I want for Christmas is Reflux-Free Babies.*
*And three extra hours in each day, and exclusive nursers, and my body back. Just in case anyone has Santa's ear...