Posted By Posting
Mar 01, 2013
Tough times! Depression and Reflux
My wife has a history of depression and suffered quite severe PND after our baby was born. Baby is now 5 months old and although we love her to bits and she gives us some great moments of joy, life is beginning to get a little too tough. We started out with pretty severe colic for the first 6 weeks which my wife couldn't handle at all (we clocked the baby screaming pretty much non-stop for 7 straight hours on one occasion so even without the PND most would struggle). "Luckily" I lost my job around this time so I have been able to help way more than the average dad (I do 80% of the nighttime duties which are still many at 5 months). We had her on Zantac and gaviscon from around 6 weeks and moved from breast feeding to formula at that time too, as the breast feeding was causing more stress for my wife and meant she couldn't take her own meds. We saw a marked improvement then and the near disappearance of the colic screaming. We thought it was a hallelujah moment but it was a false dawn. We were told she has silent reflux (she only vomits infrequently but on the ultrasound she is refluxing every 5 or 6 minutes). Although she is regularly cranky during the day she is quite manageable, but at night she is a different animal. Putting her down can be a 2 hour mission as she wakes easily a few minutes after dropping off (ie reflux). but the real problems start about an hour after she gets into a deep sleep. She literally wakes every 5 mins and she tosses and turns like a swarm of bees have attacked. Giving her the pacifier or some milk will calm her down briefly, but guaranteed within the hour the bees are back and the 5 min cycle starts over again. After you have fed her once she wont settle for longer than a few minutes for the rest of the night. She has been on losec for a few weeks now and just started on Imodium a few days ago after dygesam had minimal impact. If anything she is getting worse now and our gastro pedi dr has told us medication wise she has exhausted the options and time is our final treatment. This scares me as I cannot even contemplate getting a new job and my wife regularly breaks down and effectively gives up (temporarily) on our baby due to her own depression issues. I am struggling a little now as well with the sleep deprivation and worry about finances etc. what's nearly worse is my siblings and friends are raving about how happy they are with their new babies whereas I have given up on putting on a front and have started telling people how hard it really is, though my wifes depression is not common knowledge. I think a lot of people think we are soft first time patents who can't handle a few sleepless nights. Can someone who understands please cheer me up and maybe offer some hope?
Mar 02, 2013
Lorenzo b.4/25/07 1 week in NICU w/ aspirate pneumonia from a reflux episode; diagnosed GERD at 9weeks; Used Zantac for 5months. Currently using Chinese Medicine and Craniosacral Therapy. GERD, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sensory Processing Disorder. Ask me about breastfeeding a refluxer! Pic: day 5 in the NICU.
I am so sorry that you and your family are suffering so much with this right now. I want to give your post the lengthy reply it deserves, but I won't be able to do that until tomorrow or the next day. In the meantime, please know that you and your wife are definitely not alone! So many of us who are/have been on this forum have been through the kind of hellish parenting experience you are having now, and the great hope I can offer you is that, to the best of my knowledge, we all survived the worst of it and with no more long term insanity than we took into parenting with us! Don't let the happy people with easy babies get you down -- be honest with them, and I'll bet there will be at least a couple of them who will prove to be a source of support. It always irritated me when people told me this when my son was an infant (because I didn't feel there was any hope for it), but I'll say it anyway -- if there is any way that you can get some uninterrupted sleep, do it. Every time it is available, SLEEP. Sleep deprivation makes everything, EVERYTHING, worse.

I will write more as soon as I am able. When you are feeling at the end of your rope, try to imagine all of us mamas and papas who have haunted this site, and others like it, standing there with you -- we know what it is to feel what you are feeling, and we are there to help hold you up when you feel like you are going to come crashing down.

Oh, and try eliminating dairy from her diet ASAP -- I can't say I know any refluxer who can tolerate it well in infancy.

Mar 06, 2013
Lorenzo b.4/25/07 1 week in NICU w/ aspirate pneumonia from a reflux episode; diagnosed GERD at 9weeks; Used Zantac for 5months. Currently using Chinese Medicine and Craniosacral Therapy. GERD, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sensory Processing Disorder. Ask me about breastfeeding a refluxer! Pic: day 5 in the NICU.
I am so sorry that you and your family are suffering so much right now, and I can completely relate. There were times when my son was an infant (and not to scare you, but a few later, too) when I really thought I was maybe not going to make it through parenting alive. Like your daughter, my son had predominantly silent reflux and his sleep was seriously affected by it. I had no help or relief, day or night, so I can absolutely relate to the desperation I hear in your post.

The first thing I want to say is, please note that, in spite of what I said about not being sure I would survive parenting, I am alive, as is my son, and we are both happy. He still has reflux, though it's far less problematic than it was when he was little (he's almost 6 now), and there are challenges, but nothing I can imagine will ever compare to what those first three years held. That's how long it took me to put the many puzzle pieces together to understand what was happening for him, and that is why I am forever returning to this forum -- because I don't want anyone else to have to struggle like that for so long.

So lets start with the practical stuff that might help you right away, and we can talk about the bigger picture a little later. What is your daughter's sleeping arrangement right now? In spite of what you may be told about how babies are supposed to sleep, most of us here discover that, eventually, we have to take the risk of doing something someone recommends against because we are going to lose our minds if we don't. A good first step is elevating the head of her sleeping surface (and I can give you many ways to do that if you need suggestions). Some find that stomach sleeping is what works for their little one. I found it impossible not to sleep beside my son, since he woke so often and nursed constantly. Can you and your wife work out a schedule that allows for each of you to have some uninterrupted sleep time, even if it means that you are basically awake at night (ala graveyard shift) and sleep during the day? Parental sleep deprivation will make everything, EVERYTHING, worse. Get creative about it -- try to find anyone who is willing to be with your baby during the day while you sleep. Look into new parent support groups in your area -- they are often offered by hospitals and birth centers -- where you might find resources for respite care, as well as support for what you are going through. All that said, I will admit that, because I chose to breastfeed and because my son screamed in the presence of anyone else, I lived with the sleep deprivation. It was not good. I don't regret it, because I did what I felt I needed to do, but it was the hardest experience I've ever had to live with that level of sleep deprivation.

Regarding her sleep, after deep sleep stages, she is probably entering lighter sleep stages, in which it is much easier to be aroused or awakened by internal or external stimuli -- like reflux, or gas, or anything else that causes discomfort or pain. Watch her closely for signs of gasping, snorting, or coughing when she wakes up at these times, as there can be a correlation between GERD and sleep apnea. There is also a correlation between GERD and sensory processing issues -- because infants with GERD experience so much pain and discomfort during a time when their neural pathways are developing so rapidly, it isn't unusual for them to develop problems with sensory integration (ie, responding in typical ways to stimuli). It can get very complicated when both GERD and sensory issues are at play, as they can each trigger the other in a susceptible child, and it can be very hard to interrupt the cycle. You may want to do some reading at for more information about sensory issues (and I recommend going to the menu on the left margin and scrolling down to "Helping Baby Sleep.")

As far as her doctor's statement that all medication options have been exhausted, from what you've written, that doesn't sound accurate and I would consider getting a second opinion. Also, has anyone helped you explore the possibility of allergies/intolerance?

And finally, as for the wellbeing of you and your wife, please look into any and all options for support and treatment in your area. Just like GERD and sensory issues, depression and sleep deprivation can create a vicious cycle that can tear a family apart (believe me, I know from personal experience). Do everything you can to take care of yourselves so that you are capable of taking care of your daughter and each other. Whatever you do, don't try to go through this alone, and don't let other people convince you that you are overreacting to the situation.

Wishing all three of you the best...

Check with your
doctor first!