Fatherly Stuff: The Reflux Paradox

Mar 16, 2014

The Reflux Paradox

In the great classical novel “Dante’s Inferno”, hell is portrayed as nine distinct rings of immense suffering with each subsequent ring possessing an increased level of agony for its inhabitants than the one before it. It’s an excellent piece of literature, but I believe there is a tenth ring of hell that Dante Aligieri neglected to add into his book, perhaps a mercy move intended to shield the readers from an unspeakable horror.
Of course, what I’m referring to is living with an infant who has acid reflux.

Okay, I admit that might’ve been a little hyperbolic, but maybe if I tell my story, you’ll see how my description might not be so far from the truth:
Prior to the birth of our 2nd child, my wife and I came into the situation with what we thought were eyes wide open. We’ve been through this rodeo before and while adding another kid to the mix would undoubtedly be challenging (a few sleepless nights here, some stressful days there, etc.), we figured that we’d be ready for whatever that might come. However, what I didn’t expect was for him to have reflux and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the toll that it would take on our entire family.  

When our baby boy finally did arrive, the first week of life was wonderful. He was a happy little squishy thing and the whole family was beginning to settle in nicely with our new addition. I had taken off work to help out the first week the baby was home, and we laughed because it felt like a mini vacation. He was perfect. However, sometime during the second week we noticed that things slowly began to change. Not only did he start waking up at night more frequently, the length of time he was crying for stretched for longer and longer periods. Moreover, the pitch of his cry was ear-piercingly loud, to the point that our neighbors could hear him. At first, we assumed that there was nothing seriously wrong and he was just doing what a baby does while experiencing a bad case of colic, but deep down, I think we both knew that something wasn’t quite right.

It started to feel like all the baby did was scream and scream and it was virtually impossible to comfort him. Through desperation, we tried everything that was suggested to us to console a “colic” baby

Car rides

Wrapping him up and going for long walks

Running the vacuum, or (if it was loud you name it we ran it)

Rocking and shh’ing


Baby wearing

Bouncing on a yoga ball

Extra burping

Hazelwood necklace

Gripe Water

To our (and our neighbors’) dismay, the baby continued to cry for hours on end. Eventually, this issue started to cause our family to unravel at the seams.  My wife, being a SAHM bore the brunt of the consoling efforts and would constantly have to carry him in order for him to stay calm. This aggravated an old back injury and she has been working with a physical therapist in order to help relieve the pain. Our older son, who is also home with his mom, started to noticeably misbehave more than usual. The lack of sleep, coupled by stress, put a bit of a strain on our marriage. There would be days that I would come home from work and my wife would be in near tears from the utter exhaustion and frustration that came from taking care of a baby that cried all day and an unsettled four year old. I think the hardest part for all of us was the utter powerlessness we felt, since our biggest responsibility as parents is to protect our children from harm, but it seemed as though we were utterly failing at our duty. We knew that this couldn’t go on much longer.

We turned to our pediatrician and the baby was ultimately diagnosed with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and put on medication to help ease his symptoms. 

We thought this was the answer to our prayers, and while the crying did decrease a small amount, we still had a “colic” baby on our hands. We scoured the internet, consulted with family/ friends in order and were determined to find a solution. We felt that there had to be a reason why he was so uncomfortable and we no longer “colic” as the reason. Our hard work finally started to pay off when someone suggested to my wife to start researching food sensitivities in infants and since she was breast feeding at the time, she used the process of elimination to determine which foods were the culprit and remove from her diet:

dairy, wheat and eggs

With each elimination, we began to see a slight change in our son’s demeanor. Slowly but surely we were again beginning to see the amount of time he cried each night get less and less. We realized that the reflux was in part due to an adverse reaction to those foods. With the suggestion of our pediatrician, we also introduced our son to an Infant Probiotic.

We were starting to see a small light at the end of what had felt at the time to be a never ending tunnel.

In addition to the food sensitivities, a friend suggested a chiropractor that specialized in pediatric care.  Call me crazy, but I had personally never heard of an infant getting or needing a chiropractic adjustment. However, we did our research and felt that it was worth giving it a try for the sake of our son. To my surprise, the adjustments were gentle and the baby actually seemed to enjoy them. After just few visits we again began to see a positive change with even less crying and better sleeping.

It was beginning to feel like we were slowing regaining our happy, smiling baby back and along with that, our sanity.

There were truly times when it felt like it was never going to end, but giving up was never an option. In our difficult moments, my wife and I found strength in each other in order to fight what was an ongoing battle every day that no one could have prepared us for.

 Our son is now 8 months old, and while my wife is still continuing to eat a gluten, dairy, and egg free diet, he is slowly starting to show improvements every day and we were able to completely take him off his daily medication for reflux. We have been so thankful for all the advice and support that we were able to receive from family, friends and online communities as well. 
Here are some helpful links about GERD and food sensitivities:

Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/food-sensitivity/

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