Gastro-oesophageal reflux

When my son Clint was born in June 1983 what should have been a joyous time soon turned into one of the most stressful situations I have ever encountered. From the moment he had his first feed he started being sick and I don’t mean a little of milk being bought back up which is normal; I mean projectile vomiting several feet on a regular basis.

As I had had an emergency caesarean section I was in hospital a week and even though he was constantly being sick no one would take me seriously, he screamed constantly and the nurses just kept telling me “he’s hungry feed him” I would explain that I had just fed him and that he had vomited most of the feed back up, however the nurses ignored this fact and told me to feed him again. I was discharged from hospital a week later and although I had expressed my concerns about sons vomiting these were not taken seriously and dismissed as a first time mother being over-anxious.

As a first time mother I was obviously very worried and spent weeks going back and forth between the health visitor and the doctors surgery, the doctor eventually told me to go away as I was a paranoid mother, well as I’m sure you can imagine I came away from the doctors in tears and my confidence was at an al time low.

My son was screaming night and day, so much so that the neighbours reported me to my health visitor who came to see me once again and suggested I change his milk to one for a hungry baby, at this stage I was willing to try anything and immediately went and bought some SMA white. I kept my son on this milk for a week, however it made no difference and he continued to vomit and scream night and day. My health visitor then suggested he might be allergic to milk and put him on Soya based milk.  This didn’t work either and he continued to vomit I would have up to a dozen vests and babygro’s each day that needed washing.

Because my son screamed constantly, he rarely slept, the neighbours often offered to take him out in his pram, however after half an hour they would bring him back saying he hasn’t stopped crying.  I even had the neighbours ringing the health visitor saying that baby is always crying.

I just couldn’t cope anymore so late one night I called out an emergency doctor and when he arrived he told me he had bet his wife that by the time he got here the baby would be asleep (he wasn’t).  The relief doctor examined my son and administered some medicine to my son that made him sleep; (I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called) he said he couldn’t give me a prescription for the medicine as it had recently been withdrawn from public use because a baby had died due to having been overdosed.

This screaming and projectile vomiting had by now been going on for months and I was at my wits end.  I just didn’t know where to turn so in the end I went back to the hospital where he was born and went up onto the ward and refused to move until a doctor saw my son.

At that very moment a paediatrician was just coming of duty and offered to take a look at him, he picked my son up who immediately vomited up all over him and when I say all over him the paediatrician was covered in vomit.  He admitted my son there and then.  I went home and slept almost 20 hours and when I went back to the hospital one of the nurses on duty told me “there’s nothing wrong with your baby” I stuck my head around the door into his cubicle and there he was in a baby bouncer inside a cot covered in vomit, so I called the nurse over and said “so why is he covered in sick then?”

The nurse shouted to another nurse to come and clean my son up, she then apologised to me. I don’t know if it was because at last someone was taking my concerns seriously or if it was because the whole experience had left me feeling inadequate but at that moment I just burst into tears.

Later that day my son was given a barium meal, (it’s a drink which is thick chalky) so they could take a scan of his intestines.  It turned out my son had gastro-oesophageal reflux an under developed food pipe that didn’t shut off, so the slightest movement caused his milk to come back up.  I was given a medicine called Gaviscon to put into his milk. Gaviscon made the milk so thick you had to cut the end of the teat off to allow the milk to come out.  We left the hospital with a large supply of Gaviscon and went home.

I gave my son his first feed since returning home, I sat with him on my lap with a large plastic sheet covering the living room carpet, after months of vomiting I was so use to him being sick I had covered the carpet to protect it.  After an hour of sitting him upright (by this time he had fallen asleep) I was finally convinced he wasn’t going to be sick, at last the nightmare was over or was it?

When my second child Kerry came along I request a bearium meal be performed, this request was granted and the results came back negative, however when my third child Sky was born 5 weeks premature she too was diagnosed as being a reflux baby, my doctor (I no longer had the same doctor as due to the way I was treated I changed doctors) prescribed Gaviscon, unfortunately this didn’t work for her, so when I went back to the doctors he prescribed something called Nestargel it looked like clear fish food flakes.  This made the milk look like wallpaper paste so I had to spoon feed her with it as it was so thick it wouldn’t come out of the teat even if you cut the top off.

I look back on my first experience of motherhood with some sadness, if only the doctors and nurses had taken me seriously or if only I had had the courage to go back to the hospital earlier then my son and I would have had a far happier experience.

I am happy to say that all three of my children have grown up healthy, and my eldest daughter Kerry gave birth to her son, my grandson in June 2009. I will never forget the way the health visitor and doctor treated me, my advice to all mothers is if you feel something isn’t right insist on seeing a paediatrician. My son and I went through hell unnecessarily if only someone had listened the story could have been very different.

Gaviscon Infant: – Generic name: Sodium alginate, magnesium alginate
Gaviscon Infant Powder, sodium alginate 225mg, magnesium alginate 87.5mg per dose
Side effects: Swelling of the stomach (gastric distension)

Nestargel – Generic name: Carob seed flour, calcium lactate
Drug description: Powder; 38 kcal/100 g
Manufacturer: Nestle

Thickening milk feeds may cause necrotising enterocolitis

If you are tired of ‘eau de baby sick’ and your muslin squares just aren’t absorbent enough then you need to upgrade to a burp cloth

© Sue Edmondson 2009

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