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Is my baby hungry, in pain or tired? Or just unhappy :(

(22 Posts)
PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 20:57:21

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this post. I'm sorry if it turns out to be a bit long.

I have a very grouchy baby and it makes me so sad. He is 13 weeks.

He cries on and off throughout the day and my instincts tell me he is over tired, but he just won't settle and cries himself to sleep for every nap and bedtime. I think he has gone to sleep without crying only a handful of times since he was a newborn, and usually only for the morning naps. When he has self settled it has been the most beautiful thing to watch, but its such a rarity.

He is ebf and will not comfort suck - he often cries or just refuses when I try to feed him, he only seems hungry every 3 hours and comes off the breast in about 8 minutes. He sometimes will take the other breast but only for a few sucks. He rarely falls asleep at the boob anymore either so I can't use that as a prop! I just don't know if he is hungry and don't want to fall into the trap of 'if in doubt feed', but when I do he rarely takes it.

He's currently up stairs screaming in my husband's arms. I don't think it is hunger, as once asleep he sleeps for 6-8 hours. Surely if hungry he would wake before then? He eats for 10 minutes once in the night, and always self settles in the middle of the night- but never at bedtime! He has maintained 25th centile so I'm fairly confident he's not hungry, but it does make me feel so useless when we can't settle him and even the boob won't calm him down. He is literally inconsolable. I'd love a baby that feeds all day every day. I love bf. Don't get me wrong - when he's hungry he loves it and grins at me, the most heart melting thing. But I wish it was the cure all it seems to be for other people! I'd say 1 out of every 10 crying episodes can be consoled by a feed.

He sleeps between 2 and 4 hours during the day, but won't nap for more than 45 mins. Getting him to nap is my latest obsession, and people say to me that if I was more relaxed about it, he would sleep more easily. I could cry when he wakes early from a nap.

I also can't shake off the idea that he might be in pain. He arches his back and bangs his head when he is screaming. I have tried gaviscon for reflux as he has several other symptoms, but it made him so constipated after just 2 days that he cried just as much over one measly, hard poo. Infacol doesn't work but gripe water sometimes does. Re the reflux, I am not quite sure if he is sick which makes him cry or if he cries so hard he makes himself sick. Also its impossible to administer the gaviscon so I gave up. He resolutely won't take a bottle and spits it out when I try with a syringe.

I am sure he sleeps more easily at night when he has slept longer during the day, but getting him to do that requires me to walk for hours on end which I just physically can't keep up on a day to day basis.

I am so envious of people whose babies sleep easily on them, or who cosleep, but cuddling him doesn't help and lying next to him doesn't calm him down. The only thing that does is time. Of course I don't put him down crying, I couldn't, but I relentlessly carry around a crying baby which makes me feel awful. He looks so unhappy.

Usually, after an hour or so of crying and being walked around, he calms down enough to be put in his cot awake, and then goes to sleep quite calmly with us rubbing his tummy/shushing/rocking the moses basket. This is what is strange - he's not afraid of his bed or anything like that. Sometimes he goes to sleep wimpering which looks sad - am I cruel? We always stay with him. If we let him fall asleep on us, or on rare occasions at the boob, he wakes up in his bed 10 mins later, realises he's not where he was, and needs resettling, although this is a fairly quick process. So over all, we have found it's more successful to put him to sleep in his bed, even if it takes forever. I guess you could say we are doing a pared down version of PUPD.

Things have been this way since he was about 7 weeks - so as you can imagine we are totally shattered and can't go on like this for much longer. We have had he same bedtime routine all of this time - 6pm feed, 630pm bath, 7-730 pm feed in dark with mozart playing, then bed. Except the bed is preceded by crying and he usually conks out around 830-9pm.

I feel so awful that by 3 months we still can't recognise his cries and work out what he needs. I can't bear the thought that he's in pain and we can't help him.

Thank you so much for any advice you might have.

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 20:57:37

my god, that's an essay. I'm sorry!

TittyBojangles Sat 17-Sep-11 21:15:46

Sounds like my DS at that age. A lot of the wanting to be close etc is NORMAL baby behaviour and will improve, honest.

The crying/arching back etc was my DS, he would never fall asleep feeding, fed really quickly and often seemed in pain feeding. We tried the usual keeping him upright after a feed, raising the head of his cot, and then gaviscon (which helped but was such a pain to get into him). I went to the GP, descibed his symptoms, said I thought it was silent reflux and asked for ranitidine, was prescribed and the symptoms really improved after a few days. I should have gone earlier.

I'm not saying your DS has silent reflux necessarily of course, just that if the gaviscon didnt work then it might be worth trying something else.

Im not sure about your not wanting to 'if in doubt feed' I think this is probably the best approach and like you said, if he doesnt want it he wont take it. If it IS reflux then little and often is better for them (though my DS didn't agree).

Not sure I have been much help, but I HAVE been where you are and survived. I know how you feel and its crap.

beckieperk Sat 17-Sep-11 21:29:15

I'm so sorry....I have no practical advice but I just wanted to say there is no way you are cruel or bad parents in any way. (Your post brought a tear to my eye!) My ds is currently being medicated for reflux and colic and it is completely heartbreaking! I used to cry with him sometimes when I could do literally nothing to help....except cuddle him and tell him over and over again he will be ok. sad You should definitely see your gp and if necessary 'demand' a referral to a paed specialist at your local hosp. I wish you all the luck in the world....and hope things improve for you before you lose your marbles. My ds likes being held really close (almost under armpit so his back was quite arched!) sucking a dummy and sushing. Sure you've tried this or something similar...but worth mentioning. Fingers crossed. smile

beckieperk Sat 17-Sep-11 21:35:26

I agree with titty too....deffo offer breast. My ds fed a tiny amount all the time just about....not very practical but soothing nonetheless. My boy has been improving but he is only 7 weeks old....so things could go either way from here. Been referred to a specialist though to try and nip it in the bud, been this way for 4 wks already.sad

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 22:03:27

Thank you so much for your quick and lovely replies.

I do offer a boob pretty much every time he cries, but he rarely wants it. No one seems concerned about this as his weight gain us fine. But I will keep trying!

I will persevere with the GP. However I'm not totally convinced he has reflux. While he does have most of the symptoms, there is no pattern whatsoever. Everything is so random, all I know is that the crying always ends up with sleep. Which is why I thought it might be overtiredness - but surely overtiredness wouldn't cause such extreme unhappiness. I think I am so tired I can't distinguish one day from the next, so it's so hard for me to see a pattern. I don't want to medicate unless I'm sure he has something wrong- but I guess until he can talk, we'll never know! I do think the gaviscon helped, but the few days we tried it he was getting over his vaccines so bike he wasn't being sick, he was crying lots anyway which we found hard to distinguish from the injections. Then came the constipation! One day withou tit and he's been sick again so I guess it must have been working. All the symptoms are much worse from about 4pm onwards.

Tittybojangles- I know that closeness is normal behaviour, but I don't feel as if that's even what he needs. I will never stop cuddling him while he cries, because I hope that in the long run he will know he is loved, but holding him dies nothing to console him.

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 22:04:12

Sorry for iPhone typos!

TheRealMBJ Sat 17-Sep-11 22:08:34

PemPem congratulations on your DS.

He sounds just like mine at that age smile. He didn't have reflux, or anything wrong with him, he was (still is) just high needs. They do grow out of it, but I did find that White noise helped A LOT. Have you tried the Hoover, tumble drier, wave sounds etc?

thisisyesterday Sat 17-Sep-11 22:11:01

op he sounds a lot like my ds2, who turned out to be intolerant to egg and dairy and was reacting to it via my milk

have you thought about keeping a food diary and seeing if he is worse on days when you have eaten certain tjhings, or a lot of something specific?

ds2 did have other symptoms though... eczema on his cheeks, mucousy poo, very curdled looking sick

thisisyesterday Sat 17-Sep-11 22:11:58

ds2 also would refuse breast a lot when upset and just cry and cry and cry inconsolably

RitaMorgan Sat 17-Sep-11 22:17:12

45 minute naps is very, very normal at this age by the way - my ds also only slept 45 minutes at a time until 7 months, and there was nothing wrong with him at all.

Grumpla Sat 17-Sep-11 22:19:52

Oh love, he sounds JUST like my friend's DS (actually not quite as "bad")

He suddenly got "better" at about five months. Sometimes I think you just have to keep plugging away. Make sure you are looking after yourself as much as you can. It will get easier. With my friend's DS it seemed to really coincide with being able to roll and sit up - we theorised that maybe that helped with the colic??? - but whatever it was, it improved.

"what mothers do" by naomi stadlen has a lot of helpful stuff on comforting your baby - basically just encourages you to keep offering that comfort even when nothing seems to work. You are doing your best and that is a tremendously admirable and worthwhile thing - though so hard to remember when you are staring at a howling baby.

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 22:39:23

Thanks again

TheRealMBJ- he used to live the sound of the hairdryer but that seems to have lost its appeal! I think maybe I just have a high maintenance boy too. But I do want to exhaust other options incase he is suffering.

Thisisyesterday- I have been meaning to keep food diary but have been so exhausted/disorganised/preoccupied. I will do so this week. No sign of excema, his poos are liquid withe the occasional mucous- not sure what 'normal' baby pop looks like! His sick doesnt bother him if it's just milk, but when it makes him scream it is watery with lumpy bits of milk in.

Rita- I don't think that 45 min naps are necessarily unusual, I was just thinking that maybe he needed more sleep and was, as a result, severely over tired. Both his parents are very much in need of lots of sleep!

One other possibility that has been suggested- could it be teething? He sucks his fist a lot and dribbles, but not excessively. Was also told that teething can cause vomitting, and the sickness is a relatively new thing (last 2-3 weeks).

Thanks again everyone x

dycey Sat 17-Sep-11 22:42:26

Sounds like my dd who is 6 weeks - won't sleep flat at all in the day (sling), cries during and after feeds, won't comfort suck or feed to sleep, is awake for HOURS in the evening being ticked, shyster, given finger to suck, swaddled and played White noise..... Quite exhausting after a long day with my 2 year old..,.

Can't decide if I should see my gp or if this is just normal colicky baby???

She possits curdled milk and burps and hiccups hours after her feeds......

So tiring isn't it. My first born was so easy in comparison so I can't tell how normal this is!!!

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 22:44:35

Thank you too Grumpla- many people have told me it will pass with time. I'm sure it will. I just cling onto the idea that there might be something more we can try.

There are good times in all of this. There are several periods I. Every day during which he laughs, plays, feeds well and makes me so happy. He can be so adorable. He is usually more calm when we're with friends, we are both more relaxed. But the bad times seem to be more frequent. Or maybe I just remember them more...

pootlebug Sat 17-Sep-11 22:46:40

Have you a sling - a stretchy wrap or similar he can sleep in in comfort? Me dancing about with a sling helped my dd when like this. As did standing next to the cooker hood with the extractor on full blast. In fact she slept in her Moses basket next to extractor with me on the sofa across the room as it was the only way she'd settle

I wouldn't worry too much that he only does short feeds - both of mine were 5-mins-and-done feeders and both were fine on that. They did feed fairly often though.

I hope things improve soon and please don't beat yourself up about it...it sounds like you are doing a great job.

thisisyesterday Sat 17-Sep-11 22:48:12

dycey that could be reflux? not wanting to lie flat, burping, hiccuping and being sick after feeds....
def worth a trip to GP imo even if only to rule it out

PemPemLondon Sat 17-Sep-11 22:51:58

We do have a sling, but he'll only sleep in it on the move, so not really in the house. He cries a bit When I first put him in, zonka out when j get outside the front door, and then cries again when I wake up. I think he feels constricted, but it is good for short naps. I can take him too far from home incase he wakes and wants out. So I en up walking round and round the block!

Am off to sleep now. Thanks all.

lesstalkmoreaction Sat 17-Sep-11 22:59:42

Does sound like reflux I would get it checked out but also perhaps worth trying cranial osteopathy which was amazing help for a friends child who was crying all the time.

BoffinMum Sat 17-Sep-11 23:07:33

You are doing such an amazing job. I would have gone nuts by now.

TBH PemPen if you are both more relaxed with friends, then perhaps spend more of your time with friends?

PemPemLondon Sun 18-Sep-11 09:21:11

Thanks for the ideas everyone. Am going to enjoy him as much as I can today, while he'a still in his morning good mood, then take him back to the gp this week and see what he thinks about the reflux.

BoffinMum Sun 18-Sep-11 17:24:32

I think that's the way forward, and reminding yourself it won't be like this forever. Unsettled, colicky babies really do seem to suffer and even the most experienced pair of hands is often at a loss as to how to make things better. Perhaps in years to come we will learn more about what is going on and how to help, but for now, a bit of love and care and patience goes a long way.

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