medicine free by May 3

About three weeks ago, we put Bumby on amoxicillin for an ear infection. He’s had the same nasty ear infection since about mid-February, and just can’t seem to completely kick it. We had suspected a mild penicillin allergy the last time he was on it, but ultimately decided it was a combo of the high fever, pneumonia, and two horrible viruses that he had — and not the amoxicillin after all. So I said sure, okay. If that’s the best for ear infections, let’s give it to him and hope it clears it up once and for all.

For a week, he seemed fine. Ear clearing up, no reaction to the amoxicillin.  We simultaneously decided it was a good time to try to wean him off his Prevacid. The problem with treating a chronic condition like acid reflux is that the only way to know if you still need the meds is to take the person off the meds and see how they do. Prevacid weaning is known to cause “rebound acid,” meaning reflux symptoms in a person that would otherwise be fine, so you kind of have to push through the discomfort and see how they do once they are completely med-free. We opted for a very slow wean, using an entire month to take him down step by step. We also started a probiotic regimen and a low-acid diet to try to get his gut healthy and comfortable.

Then, on day seven of the amoxicillin, this happened:

Bumby Rash

I was rather terrified, and rushed him in to the pediatrician. An allergic reaction, they said. Give him Benadryl to keep him comfortable and let us know how it goes. It should start to clear up within 24 hours. The following day, he was worse, so they prescribed a low-ish dose of prednisone (a steroid) to help him clear up what was now an “inflammatory” reaction, which I guess is worse than an allergic reaction.  The day after that, it was even worse. I will spare you the photos, because they are completely heartbreaking. He was miserable — itchy, hot, covered in red splotches. His eyes were starting to swell shut.  I was even more terrified, and rushed him back in to the pediatrician. They gave him a shot of steroids in his fat little arm because the inflammation had progressed to his mucous membranes. THIS POOR KID, you guys. Also, for the record, he still had the ear infection.

The steroid shot kicked his inflammatory reaction’s ass, though. Five hours later, his skin was completely clear, although it was a little bruised looking in certain places where the inflammation had been really bad. But now, we had to taper him off the steroids. Apparently you have to give the body time to adjust and take over the work that the steroids were doing. So we were on a 10-day wean from the steroids.

You want to know what’s worse than a toddler with an ear infection?  A toddler with an ear infection and roid rage.    He was so mad, all the time mad. No, you can’t go out that door, let’s go out this one. Head-slamming against the ground, tears, screaming, kicking tantrum.  It got worse and worse as the week progressed, because the steroids amped him up so much he couldn’t sleep. He was also literally eating as much as I was, which meant he was constantly hungry.  Always eating, always running, always crying, and never, ever, ever sleeping.

After a week of this, I was totally fried. On Saturday morning, my wife got out of the shower and I told her that in the hour we had been up, Bumby had seven tantrums. I tried to calm him and sit on the couch with him, and he slithered off my lap to the floor and started SLAMMING the side of his head against the ground. My wife sat down next to him, and stuck her finger in his ear. He immediately calmed. Oh yeah. The ear infection.

We went back to the pediatrician, where the receptionist greeted the lot of us by name. The ear was scary-infected still, so they gave him a z-pack after we refused an antibiotic that could cross-react with a penicillin allergy in about 10% of people. So starting on Saturday, he was on Prevacid (although down to a half-dose by then), steroids, and antibiotics. It’s going really great weaning him off the meds, we tell ourselves. Oh hey look! A molar! Awesome. Also, he has broken 30 lbs due to eating everything in sight while on the roids.  I guess that’s why people take them to “bulk up.”

It has, however, improved since then. He finished the steroids on Monday and I gleefully threw that shit in the garbage. Today, he had his last dose of antibiotics, and I gleefully threw THAT shit in the garbage. The ear does not seem to be bothering him, nor does the stomach. He is back to eating a normal-for-Bumby amount of food (which is to say, approximately as much as your average 10 year old). He’s down to 1/4 dose of Prevacid and doing great with weaning off of it — he only has half of his nighttime dose and nothing in the morning anymore. After about a month of frequent night-wakings, Bumby has slept through the night for two nights in a row. Honestly, the 2mL of Prevacid he is on probably does almost nothing to reduce his stomach acid, so I expect he has really and truly outgrown the reflux. We’re keeping on with the low-acid diet and the probiotics. We’re going to delay his 15 month booster vaccines, which are due on Friday, because HOLY SHIT this kid has had a lot of crap pumped into his body in the last month.

Now, he is happy and healthy. We had a laughing fit this morning after I told him “Nopity-nope-nope” could he open the drawer and eat Mommy’s earrings. A week ago this would have been 30 minutes of screaming. Instead, he pointed at the drawer and said “Nope nope” and cracked up, over and over.

On May 2, he will get his last-ever dose of Prevacid.  On May 3, our little boy will be completely medicine-free for the first time in about 10 months. Hallelujah.

operation bumbysleep: the worst night, and the best

The worst night

Two nights ago, I nursed Bumby to sleep, like I always do. Well, I nursed him, then I rocked him, then I placed a sleeping baby into his crib. It was relatively painless.  He hadn’t nursed fully, so before I went to bed, I decided to pump.  I had a business trip the next day, so I would be away from home for over 16 hours, and I thought an extra bottle couldn’t hurt.  At midnight, he woke up.  I tried to nurse him, he did not want that.  I tried to rock him.  He did not want that.  I walked around holding him, patting his back.  He screamed, and screamed, and screamed.  I tried to rock him again.  He flung his head backward and bashed it on the arm of the rocking chair, and screamed.  I stood up and bounced him, and he kicked me hard enough in the bicep that I almost dropped him.  I persevered.  Time went by.

My wife came up as I was sobbing, he was screaming, and I was shouting “STOP HURTING ME!” at a baby who was kicking me in the arms and chest while simultaneously pulling my hair.  I handed off.

After 20 minutes or so of my wife doing all the same things that had not been working for me, we stopped.  We laid our wailing baby in the crib, and she patted his back.  He calmed down, we stepped away.  He cried again.  She patted again.  He calmed, we stepped away, we left the room.  This went on, and on, and on.  Sometimes, patting didn’t work, and we picked him up.  Once, I went in to pat and he stood up, wailed, and clung to my arm with the most pathetic face I have ever seen.  I picked him up, he calmed, and I set him down.  Repeat, repeat.  When he got particularly wail-ey, and wouldn’t be soothed by holding or patting, we set him down and decided to give him 30 seconds.  We stood outside his door talking about whether we were okay with how this was going.  We are both adamantly opposed to letting him cry it out. This wasn’t that, but it wasn’t always far off either, especially at that moment when we were standing outside his door as he cried. It was only a short while, a minute at most, but it was probably the first time in his life when we had not responded to his cry. Listening to us outside of his door, he quieted.  It was around 2 am.

At 2:15, we were lying in bed, and listening to Bumby make all kinds of little baby mouth sounds over the monitor.  He was not crying, just chirping to himself, chewing his fingers, occasionally amusing himself enough to giggle a bit.  And then….. he just wasn’t.  It took 2 1/2 hours, but he went back to sleep on his own, alone, in his room.  At 4, he woke, and I nursed him.  He fell asleep easily after nursing, and I put him back in his crib.  I got up an hour later and went on my business trip with a solid 2 1/2 hours of sleep under my belt. It was the worst night he has had since he was born.

The next day, I fretted.  I was away from my baby for his morning nursing for the first time ever.  He had fallen asleep alone in a dark room for the first time ever. Did he feel abandoned by me? Was he angry?  Was he doing okay?  I have read all the sleep research, and I agree with Dr. Sears on this point — If you do something to get your baby to sleep, and he’s not himself the next day, he’s telling you that what you tried wasn’t okay with him.  But I was away!  Was he okay with what we had tried?  I didn’t know.

I called home, and learned that he had been happy all day. He took a nice long nap in the morning, over 2 hours, to catch up on some of the sleep he missed overnight.  He ate well, he played, he laughed.  He was okay.  I was not, but that was for me to work on.  After all this, I am not sure I was ready for a baby who didn’t need me multiple times in the night, a baby who would only nurse once.  But the way things were going clearly weren’t good for him, so we had to try this.

The best night

That night, we committed ourselves to staying the course.  I would nurse and rock Bumby to sleep like usual, but if he woke in the night before 4 am, he had to go back to sleep on his own.  We would help him calm down, but going back to sleep was his job. We set the stage for him.  I gave him his reflux medicine, and he ate dinner.  I put him in his jammies and changed his diaper. I put a couple drops of a fennel/catnip natural gas drop that we just got onto his pacifier.  I turned on his nightlights and his heater so his room was dim and cozy.  I sat down to nurse him, and he was PISSED OFF.  Just like in the middle of the night the night before, he would not nurse, he would not be soothed by rocking.  I thought about it, and realized that I had just nursed him about 2 hours before, because the business trip had thrown off my nursing and pumping schedule.  So I got a small bottle, maybe 2oz of milk, and gave him that instead.  He sucked it down, snuggled into my belly, and drifted off to sleep, just like that. I picked him up and set him in his crib, no drama.  He stayed asleep.

He woke at 10:30 or so, and I gave him back his pacifier.   He rolled onto his side, and went back to sleep.  Thanks, mama.

He woke at 12:30 wanting to nurse, but no dice. My wife went up, and patted him.  He screamed louder — you are not mama, and you do not have milk for me!  She stepped out for a second.  He calmed almost immediately as she stood outside his door.  She came down, and we went back to sleep and so did he.

He woke at 4:45.  I snuggled in the big bed with him and nursed him.  He drank a full meal, rolled onto his back, and went to sleep.  I roused him to burp, then put him back in his crib.  He snuggled in, grabbed his blankie, sighed, and went back to sleep.  I went back to bed myself.

He woke at 7:45 with a diaper full of poop and a smile on his face. He slept over 10 hours, and woke up three times. This is the best night we have had in months.

We are committed now.  We will make him as comfortable as possible so that sleep will come easier for him.  We will help him get to sleep at the start of the night, with a full belly and a comfortable room and even some rocking to help him transition from his busy day to his nighttime.  If he wakes at 4am or later, he can have a snack.  But if he wakes before that, or if he doesn’t fall asleep nursing, going back to sleep is his job.  We will always respond if he cries, and he will never be left to cry himself to sleep, but in the middle of the night he goes in his crib awake, because he needs to go back to sleep on his own.

I am sure we will have more setbacks, more nights like the worst night before we have more nights like the best night. But for the first time I have some hope. I think his reflux medicine is working, and I think his gas drops are working, and I think he’s finally comfortable.  He liked the bottle at bedtime, so if it seems like there is not enough milk to nurse, he can have another one if he wants so that he goes to bed with a  belly full of milk and can make it to 4am.  I love putting him to bed gently and having him fall asleep in my arms.  I love nursing him once in the night, so I am in no rush to night-wean completely, but a partial night-wean and some self-soothing in the middle of the night seem to be good for him.  And also good for me.

Operation Bumbysleep: Adventures in GERD

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?

Operation Bumbysleep 1.1 – in which I am the Worst Mother Ever

Last Friday, my sister needed to get a steroid shot into her epidural space to alleviate some pain associated with a slipped disc.  She was nervous, so I told her I would come in and sit with her before her appointment. We were going to get some food at a deli afterward, and then I would head home.  Operation Bumbysleep had been carrying on with moderate success (naps improved, nights much the same, with the exception of putting him down easily in his crib at night for an hour and a half before bringing him down with us).

Long story short: I went into the city. The appointment took longer than I thought.  The lunch eating took longer than I thought.  Bumby refused to nurse politely in the restaurant, which means he did not really get a good meal, because while I am all about public breastfeeding, I am not about public boob exposure while a screaming baby draws attention to my toplessness.  While changing Bumby’s diaper during my sister’s appointment, I discovered a disturbing rash on his abdomen.  I texted a picture to my wife and asked if she thought I needed to get him to the doctor.  I had to drive my sister home from the Upper East Side to her apartment on the Lower East Side at 4pm on a Friday because her back was numb and I didn’t want her taking the subway (although – this is why there are CABS, people).

The end result was that at 4:48 on Friday, I had a starving baby and was driving up First Avenue looking for a place to pull over and feed him when my wife called.  “YES! I think you need to get him to the doctor!”  Now she tells me.  I can’t call while driving, the traffic is horrific, and of course there is no place to pull over on First Avenue.  I am a ball of stress.  She reminds me, over the screaming, that I had promised to go to the Boy Child’s baseball game at 6.  Although we live less than 15 miles outside the city, there is no way I am making it in this traffic in less than an hour.  I hang up on her.  I pull over into a no standing zone —  hydrant, I think — and call the pediatrician, who of course is already closed even though they are supposed to be open for another 4 minutes AT LEAST.  My wife calls back.  She has also called the pediatrician, while googling baby rashes, and decided it is a post-viral rash from Bumby’s cold.  Meanwhile, Bumby is crying and screaming through the whole thing.  I get back on First (because the FDR is even more backed up than the surface streets) and keep driving.  Bumby is long overdue for a nap, but won’t sleep in the car because he is starving.  And has a rash! And is exhausted!  But at least I got matzoh ball soup?  Ugh.  I was so frustrated with myself, which was exacerbated by my wife calling while I was navigating through Manhattan rush hour traffic with a screaming baby to tell me she was also frustrated with me.

When I finally get on the FDR at 6, we are creeping along at less than 5 miles per hour.  Bumby is screaming and hyperventilating.  I see a stalled car on the shoulder and take the opportunity to pull over in front of it, throw my flashers, and climb into the back seat to feed Bumby.  At this point, I don’t care if it’s legal, I don’t care if I get a ticket, I don’t care if the truck drivers crawling past at 5 mph get a good eyeful.  Bumby is starving, and I am going to feed him.  I figure that if someone goes off the road, firstly, they will only be going 5 mph, and secondly, they will hit the stalled car before they hit us.

After I feed him, he zonks out.  I am 45 minutes late to the baseball game, and Operation Bumbysleep is thoroughly fucked for the night.  He is so overtired that he cries all evening and won’t go down.  He is up every hour all night long.  I feel I deserve this punishment, because of being the Worst Mother Ever.  Saturday naps were short and ineffective, and Saturday night was just as bad — lots of fussy crying, difficult to get down.  When he was up for the day at 4:30 Sunday morning, my wife, who had forgiven me for being the Worst Mother Ever, decided to take him on a little driving tour of City Island and then read and play in his room while I got some much-needed sleep. Sunday he took 4 long naps — two of them were over 2 hours — and he was back to being a delightful baby.  He went down easily last night, so I had some hope he would sleep a couple longer stretches, but he still woke every hour or so to eat all night long, until he was up for the day at around 5.  This was tragic, as I am super anxious about a work meeting I have today, and really didn’t want to go into it on four hours of broken sleep.

In summary: Operation Bumbysleep was derailed by my own foolishness, but we have had some success.  He is still a much better napper than he ever was before, even if he is no better at night.  He is getting too hot in the swaddle, and it’s too small for our big boy, so we bought him a mesh Woombie that’s made for bigger babies and will keep him a little cooler. We’ll see how he likes it. I am inclined to keep him in it all night and put him in the pack and play in our room to see if he sleeps better near to us but not with us, although I love sleeping with him and don’t really want to let it go just yet.  I was also pondering the Magic Merlin suit, but I’m afraid he’ll totally overheat in it, and I’m not sure whether it will work as well as the swaddle. Any thoughts on the Woombie and the Merlin suit would be greatly appreciated. The naps are great but this mama is desperate for some nighttime sleep.

PS The rash was gone in the morning, so we decided it was indeed a post-viral rash.  Whew.

Operation Bumbysleep – 1.0

Two nights ago, I had the worst night with Bumby that I have had since he was born. Worse than the growth spurts, worse than when he was a newborn. He was up about every 45 minutes and literally would not sleep without my boob in his mouth. Blame it on his cold, blame it on his approaching the four-month mark, blame it on whatever you want, but by the time he was awake for the day at 5:30 am, I wanted to die. I fed him until 6, then I looked at my wife, who was about to get up for work, and said, “Please just take him. Take him away from me.”  She put him in the stroller because she needed to walk the dog anyway, and he slept 2 1/2 hours straight.  Of course.

I became convinced that proximity to me was causing him to nurse WAY more frequently than he actually needed to.  He also hasn’t been napping for shit.  He used to be a pretty great napper — I could nurse him to sleep, ooze away, and sometimes he would sleep on the bed for two hours like that.  No more. I haven’t had more than a 30 minute nap in ages.  His total sleep is declining, which makes him over tired, which makes him sleep even worse. Something had to give.

Enter Operation Bumbysleep.  Step One is to get him to fall asleep somehow other than nursing or time in the carrier, and stay that way for some period of time. Even if it’s short. We need to create some sleep associations that do not involve parts of my body.  I have had some success with the swaddle, but I thought he was a little too big for it.  You know, because he’s the size of the average 7-month old. But it seems like he wakes up because his arms float all over the place while he sleeps, and eventually whack him in the face or cause him to startle, so yesterday afternoon, when he seemed tired, I gave him a diaper change, jammed him into the swaddle but left one arm out so he could get his thumb if he wanted it.  I gave him a pacifier, and I placed him sleepy but awake under his mobile, which he likes.

Operation Bumbysleep fail.  He watched the mobile for a while, then got bored and started whimpering.  I sat outside his door to see if the fuss would turn into a cry.  It did.  My wife and I are both adamantly against letting him cry it out, even for a little while, so I went in and tried to comfort him without picking him up. This seemed to piss him off even more.  Sleepy but awake. HA.


 I tried a new approach. I re-swaddled him with both arms in and popped a pacifier in his mouth. I closed the blinds and sang a ridiculous and repetitive song.  It goes like this:

Oh my little baby, what you need is a nap, nap, nap.
Oh my little baby, I will help you sleep.

Over. And over. And over.  His eyelids drooped, and his body became a dead weight.  He spit out the pacifer.  I put him into the crib and walked away. Total time: 15 minutes.  Operation Bumbysleep success.


  He slept like that for an hour, when he woke up hungry. He seemed sort of pissed off to be awake, and he fell asleep twice while nursing. I didn’t want him to have a nursing sleep association though, this was kind of the whole point.  So I woke him by changing his diaper, which needed to be done anyway, and started again with the swaddle and ridiculous song. The first time or two that I tried to put him down, he woek up sort of mad, but he eventually did stay down. It took almost 30 minutes, but he slept another hour.

In the evening, I let him nap in the carrier, because I needed to walk the dog and I could NOT sing that stupid song anymore. He got about a 20 minute catnap.  At bedtime, we started our normal routine — diaper change, walk with dog in stroller. Normally we come in and I nurse him to sleep at this point, but our plan was to nurse and keep him awake, then do the swaddle-singing business to get him down.  While we walked, we debated what to do when he woke to eat. Bring him back into bed with us, so the transition to his crib is gradual (and mama gets more sleep – I can usually doze while I feed him in our bed)?  Nurse then sing/rock him back to sleep?

He fell asleep in his stroller on the walk.  This has never happened before — it must have been from all his great napping. We figured we would get 20 minutes of sleep before he was awake and wanting to nurse, so when we got home I put the infant seat in his room and shut the door.  We climbed into bed without him for the first time since he was born.  After a while, my wife whispered to me in the dark, “Be careful what you wish for.  I miss Bumby!”  I missed him too.  He slept until somewhere after 11:30 this way, and when he woke, I brought him in with us. He seemed very happy about this.  He nursed at that time, then again at 2:30 and at 4:45.  This seems like a lot, but it was such a vast improvement! Most importantly, he fell asleep and I could move him away from me a little, so I could actually sleep while he slept.

He was such a happy baby when he woke up today!  He was up for the day about 8 1/2 hours after falling asleep.  Once, at around 5:30, he woke, but  he went back to sleep without nursing.  I think he legitimately needs less sleep than some other babies his age, because I tried to put him down after being awake for 2 1/2 hours, and he was not having it. He dozed for 15 minutes and was back up.  I wore him out by letting him play with toys, have a bath, do some tummy time, and get dressed, then tried our swaddle/singing routine.  He was asleep before I could close all 4 sets of blinds in his room.

I think we will carry on this way for a while before we start trying to rock him down in the middle of the night or cut nighttime feedings. Ideally I would like him in our room at night anyway, at least until 6 months, and our little butterball is already too big and heavy for his bassinet. Which, for the record, he never slept in.