Tonight I am continuing our reflux saga… you can read part 1 here if you are interested!
We’ll start with the bad and ugly and end with the good…
I’m rewinding a little bit from the end of the last post. I realized that I didn’t really document what life was like trying to feed a baby who didn’t want to eat. My hope is that someone out there will be able to relate to our story!
The Bad and the Ugly
So, in December of last year, we were pretty much in survival mode. I think that there were two things that made life really difficult.
1. The time involved.
Feeding Owen took all of my time! I was still pumping at this point (he refused to nurse) and supplementing with formula. That was time consuming. Then I had to feed it to him… more time. Owen could only be fed in his room with the door shut because if anything was around that was more interesting than eating, then he would rather do that. This meant that the older two boys spent a lot of time fighting and getting into trouble while I was feeding Owen, because if he was actively drinking out of his bottle, I was not going to pull it out of his mouth! My husband and I were remembering these days just recently… if we so much as sneezed, that distraction could end the feeding. I remember dropping the boys off with my parents while Jordan and I went shopping. They had a 4 0z. bottle to feed to Owen. It took them almost 2 hours to get him to finish the bottle! Life revolved around feeding Owen. (It still does, to a much smaller extent.) We cut way back on going places, because he wouldn’t eat in public.
2. The mental stress.
Jordan and I both felt constant pressure to keep Owen fed. His appetite was not sufficient to keep him growing. His weight gain was poor, and he fell from the 10th percentile in weight to the 1st. All through this time, however, he always looked healthy (he was short, too, so he looked proportionate). Thin, but happy and developing. People looked at us funny when we said he had such problems, because he looked like nothing was wrong. We did an upper GI test in November, and it came back normal. Our pediatrician decided that he was probably just going to be a small guy. I felt like there was this constant mental battle going on in my head… Is he just small (I’m very small) and going to have a small appetite? But then why does he cry when we approach the chair where we feed him? Why does he fight eating so strongly? The other two boys were SO chubby – both above the 50th percentile in weight at all times. Does Owen just have different genetics? Or is something wrong that we need to get to the bottom of?
One night in December, I posted my frustration with feeding Owen on facebook. A friend of ours put us in touch with a feeding specialist that she knows. This lady spends all her time working with kids who have various feeding issues. Just what we needed! It wasn’t that our doctor didn’t want to help, but I’m not sure that he had ever seen a kid like Owen before.
My first conversation with the feeding specialist was at least 45 minutes, and I came away with so much hope! She was confident that Owen had silent reflux. Even though it makes most kids scream and spit-up, she sees kids regularly who deal with it by refusing to eat. She told us that reflux medicines do not stop reflux from happening (common misconception). They just make it less acidic so it doesn’t burn. She was concerned about Owen’s hoarseness. We decided that even though the reflux medicine was not helping Owen’s appetite a whole lot, that we should definitely be on it to prevent damage to his esophagus. He probably had a perpetual sore throat, which led to the bad eating. She also told us to elevate his mattress on one end – I hadn’t done a lot of positioning things with Owen because he was never fussy, he just hated to eat. But the feeding specialist said that the more we could cut down on how much he was refluxing, the less pain he would have.
I asked her about feeding him in his sleep. He was usually willing to take a bottle in his sleep, but it seemed weird to feed him this way. Definitely not something any of our friends were doing! She said that if he took bottles willingly in his sleep, to do it. The more nutrition we could get in without fighting with him, the better. We didn’t want him to develop aversions to eating. (We are still dealing with aversions, by the way… so it wasn’t a magic solution. But feeding him in his sleep allowed him to gain weight for several months.)
Once we started feeding him while drowsy, we settled into a schedule for the first time. Owen was 7 months old at this time. He would have small feedings while awake (2-4 oz.) and then larger bottles at his nap times (4-5 oz.). Some days he would fight the bottle, and we would have to get him to sleep before feeding him, but at least he was eating!
And More Good
As with any trial, the Lord worked all things together for good during this time (Romans 8:28). Some of the blessings were very unexpected.
One day, I was feeding Owen (in his room with the door closed), and Aidan and Gresham were fighting. This was so frustrating. I could hear Aidan saying all kinds of ugly things. I wanted to stop him, but Owen was actually eating. By the time I came out of Owen’s room, I was furious! I took Aidan into my bedroom to talk to him, and I let him know all the things that I had heard him say. Aidan broke down in sobs about how sinful he was. He was sad that he had such ugly things in his heart, and that he was capable of such evil toward his brother. He cried and prayed for God to forgive him and save him.
We still aren’t completely sure if Aidan really has saving faith, but this was a clear start. God’s ways are clearly not our own. I would never have chosen this trial for our family, but God used the fact that I was not able to stop Aidan’s words to reveal the sinfulness of his heart. I responded to his actions with sinful anger, but God used it for good in our lives. Thanks be to Him!
Next time we’ll talk about two more health professionals… The GI doctor and the Dietician!