Living With (And Cleaning Up After) A Reflux Baby

Copyright 2006 Angie Hewerdine

It’s amazing how messy a baby can be, and how much mess a parent is capable of dealing with. I used to be squeamish. You know… the type of person who would gag if someone else hinted that they even felt like throwing up. That was before I became a Mom. Now, I can handle any bodily fluid with ease.

Shortly after my second child was born it was obvious that she would give my stomach a run for it’s money. Ruby was a reflux baby, diagnosed at just one month old.

Gastro esophageal reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach are pushed back up into the esophagus and expelled. Reflux in infants is associated with frequent spitting up, upset stomach and persistent hiccups. Apparently, reflux is common among infants, but to this day I still have not met a baby that could out-shine Ruby. My baby didn’t just dribble, she gushed!

I remember holding up a box full of bibs at my baby shower, remarking that we would never be able to use them all. Use them we did, and often. So often we bought dozens more. I was washing up to 2 loads of bibs and urped upon clothes each day. She and I would each go through 4 or 5 shirts in a single afternoon.

I had to warn people about Ruby’s ‘problem’ before I let them hold her. I figured that way they couldn’t blame me if they got wet. When they did get ‘hit’, I always came back with the retort ‘Don’t worry, it’s breast milk. It won’t stain!’ Words of comfort, indeed.

I wondered if it was something in my milk that was making my baby’s insides rebel. Perhaps my love of garlic and onions? Our pediatrician assured me that this was not the case, and she prescribed Zantac and Metoclopramide for my baby – two very grown up drugs for one very small human. At first I was skeptical. I tried to cut back on the medication, hoping that the reflux had run its course, but within hours of her not receiving her meds Ruby was at it again, thoroughly soaking the spaces around her small body.

It always tickled me to see how little her vomiting actually phased her. She’d blow chunks midway through a smile, and still be grinning when she was finished. The medication helped, but by no means did it stop her from throwing up. We just got used to the mess and took precautions. We walked around with towels over our shoulder. We carried extra clothes, not only for Ruby, but for me as well. Burp cloths became known as ‘barf rags’ and we never went anywhere without at least ten of them.

Over time, just as the doctor had said it would, the condition eased up as her little body continued to develop. We have been able to take her off the medication, though my baby geyser still erupts at least 3 times a day. I no longer cringe at the familiar sound of liquid hitting the floor. I just hope she outgrows it before puberty!

Cleaning up messes is just part of being a parent. With Ruby, I got more than I bargained for, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!