Wondering where I have been these last few months? Well. I will tell you. I have been trying to get my baby to sleep. Or sleeping myself, in the rare event I have been successful.
Bumby is a fantastic baby. He barely ever cries. He eats well. He laughs a lot and loves the kids. He is very fat and adorable. But he does not sleep, at all, ever. He falls asleep easily, but if left unattended, rarely stays asleep for more than 40 minutes during the day, and rarely sleeps more than two hours in a stretch at night. Still, at seven months old, this is the case.
At around four months, I took Bumby to Michigan to visit some family and friends. I may have mentioned that one of my friends, who has reflux herself, and is blessed with two babies with severe reflux, watched Bumby playing for about an hour, heard me complaining about my lack of sleep, and said very definitively, “He has reflux. Get him to the doctor.”
After a bit more hemming and hawing, I finally did it. They gave me a prescription for very low dose of Zantac and told me to have him sleep on an incline (which we had been doing, with no success). The Zantac did nothing, so we went back for more. They quadrupled his dose, and he stopped projectile vomiting 15 times after each meal. This was a success! However, he became very constipated, so he still. did. not. sleep. We started giving him prunes, and water. The poop started moving again, and at last our baby was comfortable. He still needed to learn to sleep well, but the intervals started stretching out. First it was a three hour chunk of time, then four. We transitioned him to the crib, and the four hour chunks became somewhat reliable. A few blessed times, we heard him stirring and talking on the monitor, then… nothing. He put himself back to sleep, waking only once in the night to eat. I was giddy, drunk on sleep.
But then… for those of you with reflux babies, you know what happens next. Bumby ate, and grew, and gained weight. His body adjusted to the Zantac. The four hour chunks of time dwindled to three, then two and a half, then he was waking every hour again. What is going on? Is this a normal developmental night waking problem (he’s teething, he’s learning to crawl, he’s growing)? Or is it the reflux? Finally, the last symptom would come back — he would start coughing and choking, then spitting up, a little at first, then after every meal, then many, many times after every meal. Back to the doctor, weigh the baby, increase the dose. Enter constipation. Then his little body adjusts. A few weeks of sleep, and then the long stretches of sleep start to decrease as he gains weight and the medicine loses effectiveness. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s miserable for us. But if I am tired, what must it be like for a seven month old baby getting this little sleep? His eyes are constantly red-rimmed. They have a little rash around them because he sucks on his hands and then rubs his saliva in his eyes so often. Sometimes when he wakes from a nap, he looks up at me, miserable. Mama, I’m tired. And yet, he doesn’t cry. He laughs a lot, and loves his siblings. I think he is being quite a trooper through all of this.
We are currently in the “adjust the dose” period, which means that he has now gone about 3 weeks without sleeping more than two hours at a time. It always takes us a few weeks to assure ourselves that his night-waking doesn’t have another cause, because we hate to medicate him more than is absolutely necessary. And he is in fact teething, and learning to crawl. But yesterday, we upped his dose just a little bit on our own, pending a call to the pediatrician, and he slept for four hours straight before waking to eat. When he did wake, his shirt was soaked in spit-up.
I feel so bad for the poor little dude. Slowly, we are learning though. Next time he starts waking, we will take him to the doctor first, not only as a last resort. We will offer more and more prunes as we adjust the dose, to stave off the constipation. Probably just as we get our heads around this challenge, he will outgrow it though, right?