'Oh sure, my kids throws up every now and then too.' will be the remark of most parents about their kids. However, what they meant by throwing up is only a couple of mouth full of milk post feeding. For that, I will only call it regurgitation, which is very common in most infants. My child throws up between 20mls to 120mls of milk 2 - 6 times a day, every day, 24/7 till today. Her vomit has 'territorised' every corner of the house, including me. So what exactly is wrong with her?
Being an anxious 1st time mum, the 2nd time Baby Anais threw up, I insisted on seeing her paediatrician. That day, she was prescribed some Motilium and Zantac to increase her gastric flow and reduce her stomach acid. We dutifully fed her medicine and changed her feeding regime to 1 hourly feed, reducing the volume of each feed to help her to digest better. Both my husband and I lost sleep trying to feed her about 18 times a day but it did not help. Our baby was not gaining enough weight and her vomiting did not stop. We went on to look for a pediatric gastro specialist, Dr Marion Aw from NUH and were given a stronger acid inhibitor, Omiprazole. Similarly, it did not help and the medications were making her appetite worse. Moreover, she was also suffering from some of the side effects like rigidness of her body and irritability. Since she was not benefiting from her medications, we took a brave move to stop her medicines.
In the midst of it all, I've also changed my diet to rule out any chance of food allergy that she could have from my breast milk. We also bought different formulas to try. Nothing works. We even tried to put her upright after feeding, till we doze off sitting up in the middle of the night. Even her bed was elevated at an angle. That did not work too. We burped her, used all sorts of bottles we can find in the market, massage her etc. Nothing works. To make matter worse, the pain of feeding has also caused her to hate feeding so much that she always refuse to drink. By month 2, she refused to latch on and we can only bottle feed. Today, even feeding using a bottle is a challenge as she really HATE to drink. By month 4 when we introduced semi solid food, it was much messier than I thought. First she turns her head to avoid the food, followed by flailing arms to stop the spoon near her mouth and finally, the shadow-less flying kick to throw my spoon away from sight.
If dealing with a hunger strike baby is not bad enough, we also have overly concern grandmother who will listen to all sorts of advice from ‘friends’ on how to manage a puking baby. Things like Gripewater, leaving the baby alone to sleep instead of force feeding her, feed formula instead of breast milk, apply ointment on the belly, make sure the wind do not blow her head etc. Obviously none of the above put my baby’s weight up. It is even more challenging when we have very disparate opinions about managing Baby Anais and we always end up in bitter arguments. To make things worse, Asian grandmothers love to play the blame game and they have problem accepting the fact that the baby have a problem. They will find faults with the mother that is causing the baby problem from prenatal, antenatal till postnatal.
Family support is never more important than times like this. After getting over with the anxiety of being an ‘inadequate’ 1st time mother, I had to learn to manage an underweight child with feeding problem. I was initially overwhelmed by the challenge that I had to face and I am very thankful that my husband not only helped out a lot but also supports my decisions on ways to manage the baby. Without which, it would have been a very frustrating and agonising journey. Baby Anais is turning 6 month soon and things should be getting better... I hope. Nevertheless, patience is the most important lesson I’ve learnt and GERD is only a temporary problem which will go away as the child grows older. So I’ll just endure for now...