Silent Reflux is not as silent as you think.

Silent reflux is something I had never heard of until one late night when I ventured onto Dr. Google after my child’s actual doctor mentioned it. Dr. Google had a lot to say about silent reflux, but didn’t quite hit on the emotional toll it would take on our entire family.

Let me back up. My third kiddo, Sophia, was a pretty easy baby in the beginning, well, days 1,2 and 3. She nursed really well, she ate a ton and always wanted to eat. I mean. Always. I’m a pretty modest person who gets self conscious about my body, but let me tell you, after about day four, I don’t think anyone in my family hadn’t seen me breastfeeding Sophia. In-Laws included. She was insatiable. So feeding was nowhere near on my radar for something she was having a problem with. She wasn’t spitting up the way my first baby had, and she wasn’t constipated like my first and second were. She was just an insatiable eater.

She didn’t love sleeping, though. I tried mentioning this to my husband, her doctor, my family, my friends…anyone who would listen to me. They all had the same response, we were outrageously lucky with our first two and Sophia was more “normal” Ok, cool, cool, you know what’s not normal, trying to function on no more than an hour of sleep at a time.

I tried everything, I tried co-sleeping, I tried putting her in the bassinet, I tried putting her in this rocking thing, I tried putting her in a less rocky-rocker thing. It was all fruitless.

One night I had fed her and she fell asleep next to me in the bed, suddenly I woke up because of mom-spidey-senses and looked at my one month old. She looked like she was possessed and having a seizure. Her back was arched, her eyes were bugging out of her head and she started screaming. Not crying, I mean screaming bloody murder. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t home because he had drill that weekend.

I picked Sophia up and was trying to comfort her, but she was arching, screaming and eye bugging. I called the pediatrician on call and left some sort of crazy voicemail,  “my daughter looks like she’s having a seizure, but I’m pretty sure she’s breathing because she’s screaming, but her eyes are weird and she’s arching her back and she’s screaming… she is in pain. My baby is in pain. Call me back.”

Sophia’s pediatrician called me back and sounded super sleepy, but ready to help, she asked me a few questions and said “it sounds like acid reflux flaring up” I said “she doesn’t have acid reflux” she said “Well, it sounds like she does, make an appointment in the morning” I replied, “I’m not sure you understand what is happening. My baby doesn’t need a couple tums, she is flipping out, arching her back, screaming, eyes bugging. BUGGING out of her head” The Dr calmly replied, “sounds like textbook acid reflux, keep her upright….” the rest of what she said is a blur because I was fuming that my Dr didn’t realize how emotionally traumatic this was.

Fast forward about 6 weeks later after several Dr’s appointments and an appointment with a specialist at Children’s we discovered that miss Sophia does indeed have silent reflux and that soy and dairy trigger it. Soy and dairy. In case you haven’t tried to avoid those ingredients lately, let me fill you in. Your days of pre-packaged, pre-prepared, pre-anything are over.

I ate very little and I lost a lot of weight but Sophia finally started gaining weight. In some ways, it was a win-win. But, it was unpleasant. I even tried to find a formula that would work because once I started checking labels I realized I couldn’t eat anything already made and you can imagine that with two toddlers and a non-sleeping baby, I kind of needed pre-made food. Sadly, I couldn’t find a formula that didn’t trigger her reflux, not even the super special formula that costs a million dollars and has nothing in it but sunshine and magic.

Silent reflux is not life threatening in the least, and it’s more common than you might think, but it is tricky to diagnose. Part of the difficulty is that there is no excess amount of spit up. She would reflux her milk up enough for it to burn, but not get rid of it. So she wanted to eat ALL. THE. TIME. Eating made her feel better in the immediate, but also worse when she was lying down, or after 5 minutes… And since she was just a wee little thing, she couldn’t think long term. So she ate and ate and ate.

We eventually pushed past it, and were lucky that it wasn’t long lasting. But it was very difficult. I had friends, and even family, think I was being an over the top mom because no, I couldn’t have just one bite of ice cream. I had tried that, and guess what, even if I didn’t care about my baby’s comfort, the price tag of one bite was a gassy, angry baby who doesn’t sleep all night. Not worth it. I need my sleep.

So, I had a spring and summer of no ice cream, nothing pre-packaged, but a happy baby. I’m really glad we went to a specialist because she was able to give us much more in depth information and a better treatment plan. Now, at 20 months, miss Sophia can have soy and she can have some dairy, but seems to be lactose sensitive so far. But she has minimal reflux and is a happy, chubby little toddler! She’s also now my best sleeper of the three! Way to go, Sophia!

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