I’ve talked a lot this year about Edward, my “orchid” baby.  He’s been fussier than your average baby and has taken a long time to settle down out of his newborn phase.  I’ve shared this journey of having a baby with some additional ‘issues’ with a couple of midwife friends.  Compared to me, these girls have had some hellish months trying to figure out what’s going on for their little people.  I’d like to share our journeys in case it might be of some use or comfort to other families going through similar issues.

 

Sarah’s Baby (Edward)

Edward was a pretty fussy baby from early on.  He was hard to feed, he was hard to get to sleep and he vomited A LOT!   He was on the bottle from around 4 weeks of age.  I noticed that when I used formula, his behaviour was FERAL!  We also noticed a drop in growth percentiles at his 4 and 8-week check-ups.  This led my GP and me to decide for me to eliminate dairy from my diet and try a special hydrolysed formula.   I tried this for about 6 weeks and it didn’t really make a difference.

He continued to be really hard to feed, would hate going on his tummy and always cried himself to sleep.  At around 12 weeks, mum suggested he might have reflux and I was willing try any theory so I gave him baby Gaviscon and thickener in his bottle for a few days –  he began to drink his bottles a lot more comfortable and so my GP prescribed omeprazole which he took for about 3 months.

I saw a paediatrician after this who suspected he might still be a little sensitive to something, as he had some eczema, but as I introduced food, he reacted to nothing!

He continued to be a pretty fussy baby until around 6 months and now at almost 8 months, he is off medication, eating almost everything, no eczema and FINALLY starting to sleep a bit better now that he can replace his own dummy.    He still vomits heaps but is growing well.

So ultimately – food allergies? No.  Reflux? Probably.  Orchid Baby? Definitely – It just took him a lot longer than your average baby to mature and outgrow the newborn stuff.   No need for me to follow up with any medical persons at this stage.  Mum? Beside herself, a lot of the time.  It was a hard slog.   When Edward didn’t settle down at the 12-week mark – it really started to wear me down.  I called my MCHN at around 4 months and asked for a referral to sleep school.  My Edinborough postnatal depression score was high.   BUT! Now that he sleeps better, I feel better! #sleepiseverything

 

Mary’s Baby

My girlfriend Mary*  (name changed), had her second babe,  a 35 weeker a few months before Edward was born.  She was in special care for a while and always struggled to breastfeed.   She was diagnosed with a tongue tie which was lasered at about 8 weeks of age, but this didn’t really help, in fact, it reattached and needed to be lasered for a second time, argh!!

In this time, Mary sought the assistance of lactation consultants, paediatric chiropractors, paediatricians, speech therapists and MCHN’s because of feeding difficulty.  She was very motivated to breastfeed!

Due to some mucousy poo and skin issues – health professionals recommended she eliminate dairy and soy from her diet.   The baby continued to be very hard to feed, taking only 5 minutes off the breast or taking up to an hour to take 80ml of milk in a bottle!!   There were weeks when bubs didn’t grow at all.

After a few months, Mary gave up on trying to breastfeed her baby and focused on expressing and being able to see the volume of milk baby was getting.   When she needed to give formula, she gave a rice-based formula whilst caused bubs to vomit profusely, so she then had to get the prescription formula from her paediatrician.    At this stage, she eliminated rice from her diet as well as wheat and egg – and baby’s poo’s normalised and her feeding improved within days.

This baby also had omeprazole in this time.

At nine months, Mary’s baby is settling down.  Mary reports she was a never a really unsettled baby and always slept quite well, but the growth was poor, she had eczema and the poo’s really mucousy.

Now – she is mix feeding with breastmilk and prescription formula, is having lots of solids other than rice, egg, dairy, soy and oats and continued to be under the care of a paediatric allergist.

Ultimately – tongue tie causing breastfeeding issues,  definite dietary allergies, eczema, poor growth.  Mum? Mary tells me there were times that she felt she was tearing her hair out and she felt very up and down emotionally as a result of these difficulties.

 

Samantha’s Baby

Lastly, my friend Samantha* (name changed), had her first baby at term, a few months after Edward was born.  Her journey is ongoing.

Samantha’s baby became increasingly distressed and irritable around the 3 weeks of age mark.  Crying, screaming, screwing up his fists, pushing mum away…. Health professionals suggested this was just part of the normal newborn behaviour but Samantha felt in her gut it was more than that.

He would only be content when upright, slept very short stints and had explosive mucousy poo’s.   Samantha tried colic drops with no relief.  At around 6 weeks he started having some fresh blood in his poo so saw a paediatrician at this time.   Again, more dietary elimination for mum!   Gluten, soy, eggs and dairy.   Baby became much happier within days.   He did, however, continue to have mucous and blood in his poo.   Another appointment, this time with a paediatric allergist – suggested to also eliminate nuts and fish from Samantha’s diet – and again, she noticed a further improvement of his behaviour within days.   So, mum has been on a very restricted diet and is having trouble with her caloric intake and excessive weight loss.

Feeding has been ok,  mum has lots of milk, so bubs has always been above the 95th percentile for weight but Samantha continues to see an LC and an osteo to assist with helping bubs to get a good latch.  Sleep is slowly improving.   His skin was always clear!

Ultimately – most likely to have some genuine food allergies, but given that baby has clear skin and good growth,  it might take some definitive allergy testing once the baby is older and on solids to really figure out this puzzle.  Samantha will need to continue to liaise with the paediatric allergist about reintroducing foods in her diet as well as introducing solids.

Mum?  Samantha reports this journey to have been extremely anxiety-inducing, finding it difficult to leave the house with a baby who screamed a lot, feeling exhausted and flustered.

So, whilst a degree of grizzling and crying is part of the newborn phase, there are certainly some babies who have more significant physical stuff going on, which will make them EXTREMELY unsettled and make poor mum and dad EXTREMELY distressed as well…..

 

if you feel like anything is a bit extreme – get a referral to a paediatrician!!!

 

You may also like to read:

Understanding the needs of your newborn

Parenting Strong

Unsettled Behaviour in the Newborn Baby