Read Beth Anderson's first post about her daughter Katie's first days of life and GERD
Katie was born 17 years ago and doctors in Washington D.C. diagnosed her with acid reflux within days. But it was weeks before it had any impact on our family.
GERD AND DIFFICULTY BREATHING
The next several weeks were a blur. Nobody really expected Katie to settle in when everything was so out of control. Katie was in ICU for the first week, all our relatives came to town for my sister's wedding, and then I took the kids and lived at my mom's house for two weeks while my husband finalized the sale of our house. He had accepted a job in the Midwest while I was seven months pregnant. What were we thinking?
There was so much going on that we hardly noticed how little Katie slept, how much she threw up or how she wanted to be held upright at all times. She didn't really start crying much until she was about three weeks old. Gradually, she got fussier and fussier.
One evening we were watching TV and my mom noticed that Katie was skipping breaths. It seemed worse when she was on her back or when she was startled. We spent the next few hours with one eye glued to the baby and one eye glued to the second hand on the clock. After a dozen times where she stopped breathing for 10-15 seconds I called the pediatrician back in D.C. He called back right away and ordered an apnea monitor just to be safe. He told me the episodes were probably not a big deal but he never takes any risks with newborns. The doctors at the hospital hadn't thought a monitor was needed, but Katie's pediatrician, Dr. Domson, said it was mandatory for at least a week.
None of the adults slept a wink that night, but by lunchtime the next day, the monitor company had my baby hooked up and gave us lessons on CPR. I was so sleep deprived that I didn't hear much. Thank goodness my mom is a nurse. I felt safer with the monitor. It felt like having another pair of eyes watching baby Katie.
With GERD, parents rarely have control
The monitor went off constantly, at least every hour. Sometimes more. If Katie stopped breathing for more than 10 seconds, it would emit an ear piercing siren that would make the adults stop breathing. Every time Katie moved, the belt would loosen and the alarm would shriek. Every time we lifted Katie up, the alarm would shriek. And every time it went off, we ran to her crib as fast as we could.
The monitor guy said that crying is a good thing because it means the baby is breathing. Well, she was certainly crying every time the machine startled her wake. The machine was controlling our lives and driving everybody in the house nuts.
By the third day, the monitor went off and we'd rush into the bedroom only to find that 3-year-old Chris had unhooked "mommy's" baby and put the leads on a doll. He informed us that "his" baby was sick and needed a doctor. The poor kid was as stressed out as we were and was begging us to solve the problem.
Within a few days, the false alarms really got to us. I was so sleep deprived that I started sleeping though the alarms. Luckily, my mom and dad could hear the alarm - so could the neighbors. We called the monitor company and found out how to change the setting so that it wouldn't go off quite as easily. We reset it to 20 seconds instead of 10 and it didn't go off very often at all - only when the wires slipped.
The monitor company came at the end of the week and looked at the recording of the apnea episodes. Not one of them lasted more than 12 seconds. They called the doctor and he said the acid reflux was probably making her gag a little. He decided that Katie wasn't in true danger from skipping 1 to 2 breaths occasionally and they took the machine away before I could throw it out the window.
I felt an instant sense of calm. I felt like I might be able to gain control. Too bad it didn't last very long. A house with a gerdling is seldom quiet for long.
Read Beth's third post about her daughter's early life with GERD.
Published On: February 03, 2008