The Turning Point: When Katie Stopped Eating
Read part I, II and III in this series:
When Katie stopped eating at four months, it took a few days for us to get worried. We had heard about the babies in an earthquake who survived six days without food or water and two days didn't strike us as dangerous. We were wrong.
We were very lucky to have an appointment with Dr. Brash just days after moving back to Washington DC. The old pediatrician had told me so many times to stop worrying about Katie's poor weight gain that I had finally stopped thinking about it. But this new pediatrician took one look at Katie's skinny legs and prominent ribs and realized that it was time to worry.
The first thing the new pediatrician did was to look at all of Katie's previous measurements very carefully. She explained that knowing Katie was at the 3rd percentile was bad but it was even more important to know if she had started out higher and dropped. Sure enough, Katie had started at the 50th percentile and her personal growth "curve" had completely flattened out. It wasn't a curve any more. It was a straight line showing almost no weight gain at a stage in life where babies are supposed to gain rapidly.
The pediatrician then listened very closely to Katie's lungs. She pointed out to us that Katie seemed to be using a lot of energy just to breathe. She said that was a sign that our daughter was sicker than we realized. I tried to reassure her that Katie was just going to be small, but she told me that small babies start small and gain weight just a little slower. But Katie had started out at 6 lbs and fallen off the chart. She set up an appointment for the next day with a pediatric gastroenterologist and told us how to watch for dehydration.
We were astonished at how two pediatricians could look at the same child less than a week apart and see a completely different picture. Katie had gone from eating only 12 ounces per day to completely refusing food. We didn't think this was all that much of a difference, but the new pediatrician was alarmed. She hadn't lost any weight, but one pediatrician told us to stop worrying and one was obviously worried and wondering why we weren't.
This was our introduction to how some doctors at the time just didn't take infant acid reflux seriously at all. Later, we would meet doctors who used more aggressive treatment than others.
It can take a while to find the right doctor who takes your child's health seriously but doesn't get too carried away. But it's worth all the hassle and effort because your child's health depends on it.
I'm so glad that Katie stopped eating completely. If she had continued only drinking 12 ounces of formula per day, I might not have found a doctor so quickly and she would have been even more malnourished.