An Update and a Rant

IMG_2990Everything is fine in these parts.  Looks like Scrunchy is going to make it.  Two more days until we’re out of the woods, but he seems like his old self. Bullet dodged.

Max laughed for the first time on Mim’s Birthday.  He laughed when I tickled his feet.  A very special moment for me.  I fell in love all over again.  He’s so much more now.  More what is hard to explain.  Just more.

Max is regulating himself out and as long as I hold him in the day, sleeping a lot.  At night, if he isn’t screaming in pain, see below, he only wakes twice and usually goes back to sleep immediately.  This I can deal with.

We’re, Max and I, venturing out.  Last weekend we went to Bauhaus and Media Markt.  This week he’s been to the grocery store.  He and I are working stuff out and he’s becoming fun.  My little partner.  It’s like when I had Ginger, the best dog IN THE WORLD, except harder to get in and out of the car and he has my toes.   And Max is allowed in every store.

Even though things are looking good and I’ve even brushed both my hair and my teeth today, I need to rant.

Rant starts here.

Max has reflux. It’s painful for him.  The bad attacks happen maybe twice a week.  The other times, it’s there, but minor and I can do things to help him, like hold him upright for hours on end or feed him to help his hiccups or his throat.  The bad times, he screams as if I’m pulling off his limbs one by one.  He wakes up screaming this way.  The screaming and crying add gas to his tummy which starts this cycle of gas crying.  It’s awful.

I’ve done my research and I’ve tried all sort of different techniques to help him.  None of them work consistently.  Did I mention he’s in pain because he is.  How do I know this?  Oh, because I’m with him 24/7 and I’M HIS MOM. I know his pain cry.  In fact a stranger would know his pain cry.  It’s heartbreaking as opposed to just ear-drum shattering.

This acid reflux is not merely a sensation that surprises him.  It’s not due to overfeeding.  It’s not because I feed him sometimes every hour or for an hour at a time if he wants it. It’s because his little parts aren’t strong enough yet to work correctly – two doctors, a midwife and fourteen books have told me so. I get it.  I understand how it works.

Off to the Dr. I go.  I was warned by Alice that they don’t do anything for reflux here, but I was sure our Ped, who has been wonderful, would listen and prescribe an antacid.(I had this little fantasy that my doc would prescribe and I’d call Alice and she’d have a reason to come down here and we’d get her baby girl medicine and then Alice and I could go get decaf lattes and get our toes painted and talk while our husbands watched the babes for a few hours.) I wasn’t looking for the big guns.  I just wanted something like Tums for babies to see if it worked and then we could either go forward or if it worked, just stick with that as needed.

Well, my regular Ped wasn’t there.  I got a different Dr. in the practice.  She listened to me for about 30 seconds, interrupted me to tell me:

  • Stop feeding him so often – only feed him every 2-3 hours and only 5 minutes each breast
  • If he cries, do something with him like go for a walk
  • Change from BF to thickened formula to help keep things down
  • The problem is that babies systems are immature, there is no medication to help with that
  • He’s not in pain.
  • Esophagi is never damaged by acid reflux.
  • There isn’t such a thing as a baby antacid and if I intend on using adult antacid, I will poison him, did I want to poison my child?

She didn’t even wait to listen to my answers until I cut HER off mid-sentence with the phrase ALL Germans love “They have it in America.”

This was followed by my response, made in my head because I couldn’t get a word in, let alone my own diatribe:

  • Yeah, lady, I’m looking to poison my kid.  Stop with the bullshit, purposefully or not, meant to put me on the defense and shut me up.  It doesn’t work on me.
  • All my research says that when BF-ing, feed on demand.  Babies stop when they’re full and if Max wants to hold on for a few more minutes, I have no problem with that.  I’m here for him not the other way around.  If it makes him feel better, wtf, why not? It’s not the cause of reflux – you just told me that.
  • I tried the 2-3 hour thing – didn’t help with the reflux and made us all miserable and It’s not the cause of reflux – you just told me that.
  • So if he cries at night, like when he wakes up screaming in pain, I should just tell him we’re going to walk it off because you know, 6 week olds are big boys now.
  • I’m breastfeeding.  We’ve worked everything out (thanks to Maria, Alice, Christina and everyone else who commented and e-mailed me much appreciated advice).  I am pumping so as to have a bit stored up so I can leave the house once in a while and again, it’s working.
  • There is medication to help with motility, btw, and there is medication to help with the symptoms of acid reflux which is what I was looking for, you dolt. Have you heard of Zantac – made by GlaxoSmithKline.  Have you heard of that company?
  • Esophagi can be damaged by acid reflux.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Really?  Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? It’s called esophagitis – Max doesn’t have it, but perhaps you’d want to examine him?
  • And last but not least, there is baby antacid – how about Mylanta  – it’s made by  Merck – ever heard of them? It’s a pharmaceutical company located here in Darmstadt.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would rather not dose up Max at all, but when he screams in the night out of pain, I want to stop that pain.  If she had said, there is medication but we don’t like to use it because it had adverse side effects or people over use it or anything other than “Medication like that does not exist.” I could have understood. If she had heard me out perhaps I wouldn’t have been so pissed.

But she didn’t.  She cut me off, didn’t listen to me at all and gave me the old party line of feed him only every 2-3 hours. Then suggested propping him up to sleep (uh how?).

So towards the end of the interview, because she never once looked at Max it couldn’t be considered an exam, I told her I finally understood why Germans were so hip to homeopathic remedies – the medical community pushed them there.  Even if homeopathic remedies don’t work, people are listened to and given something they are told will work even if it isn’t more than sugar or salt and scientifically disproven.  At least they feel more in control.

In the end, she told me that she had discussed it with the other Dr and he agreed with her.  “Of course, he did”, I said, “but you haven’t heard me or examined Max and you talked to the other Dr., not me, so why would either of us think he would say anything different?”

This and the homeopathic comment did not endear me to her and the interview ended with us  both wishing each other a good afternoon.

You know, American doctors might over-prescribe, but there has to be a happy medium between that and the desert of medication here.  There has to be a doctor in Germany who has a different opinion on this reflux.  Max and I can deal with his.  It isn’t that severe, but what about babies who really suffer and the reflux is severe.  Do these babies just tough it out?

Looks like Max and I are going to have to make a drug run to America. Bummer.  That makes me so sad.



15 thoughts on “An Update and a Rant

  1. If you put Max to sleep in his car seat, that will help. Elevating his crib is done by books under the feet at the head. If he sleeps in your arms, sleeping on your shoulder is elevation.
    Amusingly enough, I have Zantac left over from when it was prescribed for my 9 lb cat (he had reflux) so I laugh when a Dr. says it can’t be given to a baby because she/he is too small.

    Yo can find other dr’s, as I said to Alice. I have fired pediatricians. And if I had the experience you had, and no exam had been given, I would walk out after informing the dr. she would not be paid as she had not actually examined the patient.

    That said, you may still not be given any help in this country.

    And you go, for standing up for what every real pediatrician should know: breastfeeding is best and thickened formula is from the middle of last century (and giving formula when one doesn’t have to is a recipe for breastfeeding failing). But what do you want from Germany: I have actually been told by another mom that her ped told her that after 1 year her bm was no longer beneficial to her baby. I wonder whether peds here are actually in the pay of formula companies. And if a dr can actually belive that, no wonder Germans can believe in homeopathy.

  2. “the phrase ALL Germans love “They have it in America.””

    I laughed so hard at this one that I just about spit my tea on my screen. Too true.

    At least the doc didn’t yell at you.

  3. Wow. There are sleep wedges (like this that you can use for bed time too. If you can’t find one, let me know and I’ll look in to shipping you one.

    Did you check Kellymom? I also found this post, which might offer some ideas (

    Also, a friend of mine used Colic Calm–– I’ll send you that too if you want to give it a try.

    I actually believe in homeopathy and natural cures, but I suppose I am a bit of a hippy. 😉 I’m sorry you are having such a rough time with the German doctors/midwife. 😦 I wish I were there to help you more.

  4. Jen,
    They think everything we have back in the US that they don’t have here must be inherently evil. Although, after the NYT article I do feel a little bad I imported Zicam and forced Uwe to use it to ward off a cold, but he still seems to have a sense of smell so we’re good.

    Good luck Mama and I SO hear your cries about the differences in medical care here (which you wouldn’t logically think…). Farrah Faucett must have been pretty desperate to come here!

  5. I was going to post something eloquent and thoughtful, but that adorable picture stopped me dead in my tracks and all I can say is…

    “Oh my god, I think my milk is coming in!!”


  6. My son was prescribed “IC Omeprazole 20 M/Sodium Bicarb”, which was to be administered “3ML (6MG) By mouth once to twice a day.” This was when he was just under six months old.

  7. Doctors, no matter where you are, can suffer from the “I’m an MD, I’m a God” syndrome. From an early age, I saw my mother battling with physicians, and I’ve had to do the same.

    But there has GOT to be access to someone who will give you more than the party line. And with the wonders of the Internet, I think you should be able to get over the counter baby medications mailed to you there.
    Or would they ban them at the border?

    Even my sister-in-law, who started as the queen of attachment parenting, all breastfeeding, all natural everything, gave in to medications when my nephew had (as my brother told me with a touch of pride!) the worst GERD their pediatrician had ever seen. It passed, there was no long term damage and he is now a handsome, 9 year old bundle of energy.

    Have you seen, a website for the Pediatric/Adolescent Gastric Reflux Association? Lots of information and lots of support from fellow sufferers.

    Hang in there, Jen. It is the hellish thing of all to see your child in pain and not be able to cure it instantly. But I’m afraid it goes with the job.

  8. Screw the doctor. There are a lot of those numbskulls running around Germany, but there are some (a couple) good ones too. I’ve got a special way to stop them in their tracks, I just say my husband, an Uni-Klinik professor, thinks otherwise, and they shut up and start working with me.

    They do seem to be very misinformed about breastfeeding though.

  9. Blimey, definitely time to fire that doctor and find one that will give Max what he needs. I can’t believe they didn’t even examine him to confirm your suspicions. I think they do just let them scream it out here and blame it all on “Kolik”. My two didn’t have reflux so I honestly never really heard about it until my nephew (also a Max!) was born in 2001 and suffered terribly until he got some meds. It just doesn’t seem to be mentioned much in Germany. BUT these two link seem to indicate that Omeprazol CAN be prescribed in Germany for infants and there’s also mention of Domperidon as a motility agent.

    Also, Zantac is called Zantic here and Mylanta is Maaloxan

    What I do when I got to the docs is to print out any and all information I can find, even if it’s in English, and just shove it right at them and make. them. listen.

    We all want your little guy to feel better!

  10. Glad to hear the four-footed tykes are ok. 🙂
    Sadly not surprised that the doc is an ass. I’m visiting my SIL and new nephew in Berlin, also named Max and also suffering through colic. I’ve already heard enough full body sobbing to have a glimpse of understanding for what that must be like every night. Hope you find a better source of support for remedies, however temporary. Keep on not accepting no for an answer.

    Hope the little guy gets through it soon.

  11. I don’t have much to offer but support here. My son was also VERY colicky and often threw up. The Dr (though still in the US) eventually put on him on baby Zantac until he was 1 1/2. It was a rough beginning but the Zantac seemed to do the trick and eventually he grew out of it.

    I remember once a bunch of mothers were talking about how often we feed our children and I said something like “every 2 hours.” Their mouths went agape. When you kid throws up 3/4ths of what they are eating, they need to eat more often!

    Please let me know if I can be of any help but until then, hang in there. It will get better and sooner rather than later….

  12. Oh I hear you. I have one of those wedges mentioned above. My boys are 3 now, and I’m happy to pass it your way.

    We went through the “it’s not reflux, really it’s not” for 8 sleepless months. Then we moved into the “no baby has lactose intolerance” phase for another sleepless 6 months. Then we moved into the “he’s not sleeping because you’re still nursing, and everyone know you can’t nurse twins” phase until I put cotton balls in my ears and stopped listening.

    Lefax helped a bit, but mostly what made a difference for us was 1) the wedge 2) a dairy-free diet for 3 years. I would have killed for Stateside medicine, kudos to you if you can manage it (and don’t even get me started about the doc’s reaction if you take a Uristat here for a UTI. That’s where the fun *really* begins!

    Good luck and wishing you silent nights (and naps).

  13. Martin had reflux and is lactose intollerant. Which lead to mammoth vomits and lots of screaming. When he was 5 months old my milk dried up and we went on to bottles and the situation got worse. Ending up with me having very severe post natal depression, which it took me 3 years to recover from.
    In the UK I was given Gaviscon to thicken his bottles of lactose free formula and medication to give him at night before his feed, so that we both at least got some sleep.
    Both of the problems are much better now but it was a pretty bad time. I was lucky to have a good health visitor, GP and Paediatrician, who listened to me even though I was more than a little crazy at the time.
    I have a friend who is a health visitor in the Uk I can ask her what you can buy over the counter and I can get some brought over in 10 days, if you want.
    Look after yourself , as well as Max…….you are important too.

  14. Wow. I have to say . . . I love my ped up here. However, she like every doctor has very strong opinions about things. She can rub people the wrong way and women in my circle (wow that makes me sound like a gangster) have left her for it. However, I tend to agree with her, so there you go.

    Also, the docs in the US can be just as crazy as here in Germany. An article in the New York Times (?!) basically said that giving your baby herbal tea could kill it. The doctors here prescribe it. My ped here in Germany said to introduce solids at four months and if he liked it, try meat at 5 months. My friend in the US: her ped said no meat for the first year. Now her overly picky child won’t go near the stuff and Christopher will chew on a schnitzel like there is no tomorrow.

    Christopher had some vomiting issues as well. Mostly because the kid won’t slow down when he is eating. I got some really great stuff to mix in his bottle to thicken up the milk and it worked really well.

    In the end it is all about the filter: taking in the information and making a decision you feel comfortable with.

    I think you are doing fabulous though! Look at those cheeks! So cute! Also, I did not try the grocery store until Chris was 8 weeks and I was terrified the whole time and wound up begging Matthias to go with me.

  15. If you never read or consider anything else I ever write to you again – as a person who’s been to doctor after doctor here looking for someone who didn’t fit the example you just gave of Max’s ped’s (only GP’s) and searching unsuccessfully for 7 years – when you get a doctor that makes a diagnosis without even examining you, or Max, LEAVE.

    Gather up your stuff, shake the dust off your feet, find someone else. Find however many someone else’s it takes. Get someone who listens to you seriously but doesn’t even *begin* to listen to you until she/he looks the little guy over from head to toe.

    I have an excellent pediatrician and she’s recommended a list of other excellent medical profis for children (there must be a club!). The treatments she prescribes for my children are confirmed when/if she needs to send me on up the ladder and the big dudes (surgeons, specialists) agree with everything she’s doing, and it works! The fact I can say I have an excellent pediatrician means they exist here.

    I on the other hand have had several (3-4) GP’s like Max’s ped and they never did a single thing for me. I have no clue how these people kept a practice going. They were snake oil sellers.

    But the point is, run far, far away if you can, and get someone better for your ‘little’. Don’t even give them a second chance. In my experience it won’t get better.

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