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The Ribena baby – our own experience

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Over the past few years I have learnt a lot from reading about the personal experiences of others and so I thought I would share our own.  If you’re looking purely for information and advice then just skip this one – I won’t be offended!

Our beautiful little girl arrived September 2010.  It was a normal delivery at midday and by teatime we were back home eating lasagna with my parents.  At this point all was calm, but it was not going to stay that way!  I now know that newborns are supposed to be sleepy for a few days post birth but that was certainly not our experience.  As the night went on she became more and more unsettled.  I would feed her until she fell asleep but within 10 minutes she would be awake and crying again.  The crying came in waves and was so intense that she would turn purple.  This went on until 3am when we tried a dummy and she eventually settled for a few hours.

The next day my husband’s parents visited and brought a wonderful cheese board for lunch, knowing that I’d missed all the soft cheeses you can’t have when pregnant.  Needless to say I ate a lot of cheese that day!  That night the crying was even worse.  Looking back I should have taken her back to the hospital.  But at that point, as a first time mum, I had no frame of reference and thought it was colic and would pass.  Unfortunately it didn’t pass and the crying became fairly constant.  She would feed quite happily and be content for around 20 minutes afterwards but then the leg kicking and writhing would start followed by the screaming which would last until the next feed.  She was exhausted, I was exhausted and my husband was exhausted.

When she was 3 weeks old I took her to the GP who told me that some babies cry and sent me on my way.  I left and cried my way home, pushing my screaming baby in the pram in front of me.  Once home I continued to unsuccessfully settle her all day, all that night, all the next day, and so it went on.  After a little research we tried her on Infacol and Colief which seemed to help marginally but the next few weeks were still horrendous.  We were all sleep deprived and I couldn’t put her down long enough to make lunch or even pop to the loo.  We had recently moved to the area and I didn’t feel we had friends to call on and we had no family nearby, although my parents came to stay frequently.  The health visitor found me in tears and suggested I had signs of postnatal depression, which I didn’t.  I was concerned for our baby’s well-being but I hadn’t bonded with her at all and was worried that I felt no love towards her.  I found it hard to see other babies being pushed contentedly in prams or mums out together enjoying a coffee and I think I honestly grieved for the parenthood I was expecting and what other new mums around me seemed to be experiencing.  And all this was accompanied by a fairly constant shrill cry very close to my ear.  After a few weeks of this I bought a baby carrier and the day times got a lot easier.  She would settle to sleep in it which meant the crying stopped for a while and I had two hands again!

When she was 7 weeks old we went away for the weekend to a friends wedding.  Looking back the weekend involved a lot of dairy – goats cheese starter, cheesecake, another cheeseboard -and by the Sunday our little girl was very unhappy.  On the Monday she was even worse and wouldn’t even settle in the carrier.  She didn’t sleep all day and by 9pm she was pale and slightly floppy.  We took her to hospital and she was admitted to the children’s ward where she was diagnosed with silent reflux.  We were sent home with gaviscon, ranitidine and domperidone and told that we would have a different baby within 72 hours.  We left feeling hopeful but there was no change with the new medications.

After a week I took her back to the doctor.  This time it was a locum who didn’t seem to know much about babies.  He suggested she had an unsettled stomach and should be put on clear fluids for 3 days so I was to give her nothing but sterilised water.  When I pointed out that my 8 week old baby would get no calories from just water he told me to give her ribena instead.  For 3 days.  Instead of breastmilk.  I was shocked and in desperation I took her back up to the hospital.  She was readmitted and became known on the ward as “The Ribena Baby” so I guess the staff were shocked too!  It was decided that we should give the medication another week so back home we went for another week of inconsolable crying and very little sleep.

At 9 weeks old she was readmitted once again due to the lack of improvement.  This time we saw a different consultant who told us that she may have a food intolerance and that as a breastfeeding mum I should try eliminating cow’s milk from my diet.  We were willing to try anything so after a lengthy few hours at the grocery store I went strictly cow’s milk free.  Turns out she was also intolerant to soya but after a few weeks of trial and error our screaming baby was a lot more content.  She didn’t improve completely due to other multiple food intolerances which only became apparent after we weaned her, but after a long 9 weeks we left the inconsolable crying behind and started to enjoy parenthood and finally got to know our little girl.

It shouldn’t have taken 9 weeks to reach this point.  Frustratingly, at no previous point had cow’s milk intolerance been mentioned and yet it is a common cause of colic and reflux.  I genuinely hope that this blog will help someone else to reach the explanation for their own baby’s inconsolable crying in a lot less time than it took us.  I’d also love to hear other peoples stories of overcoming inconsolable crying so please make sure you comment below.

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About Jenni

Faith, family and food pretty much sums up my life! I'm a happily married Christian mum of three and I live in Liverpool in the UK. I enjoy being creative and love the challenge of parenting, although I'm a physiotherapist in my spare time. I hope you enjoy my efforts and musings.....!

4 responses »

  1. Hi, thank you so much for sharing! I have a 3yo daughter who has a mild wheat intolerance, an 8 month son who has cow’s milk protein allergy/intolerance (not sure which) and I’m allergic to peanuts!
    Looking forward to reading more… 🙂

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    • Thanks Rebecca. Sounds like you’re juggling a few things too! Different intolerances in your kids can make family cooking a real challenge, can’t it? I’m glad you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written so far. There’s lots more to come, which will be more relevant as I plough through the colic phase and onto the allergy/intolerance side of things. I bet you have lots of experience of your own to share so if you ever want to add anything just pop it in the comments section. Thanks so much for commenting, it makes this a much more ‘connected’ adventure!

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  2. Identical experience with baby crying and doctors responding that all babies cry. Surely not THIS much. 7 years on and still on a very limited diet with severe and chronic constipation. Inflamed and damaged bowel etc etc. my best advice for the constant crying is a baby sling. Also co sleeping helped for us but wouldn’t like to recommend due to established risks.

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    • Thanks for commenting and adding your own advice Lisa. The baby sling was a lifesaver for us too. Initially we bought a baby carrier but it was killing my back as she was in it all the time so I settled on a basic wrap. And I did a lot more co-sleeping with our second than I had with the first. I’m sorry your child is still having issues 7 years on. That’s really hard for all of you. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. x

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