Thursday, July 23, 2009

Liquid Gold

So I am having a mommy dilemma, both of the emotional and the practical varieties. Sam, and the rest of us, have been struggling with acid reflux for about 2 months. It set in around 4 weeks of age, and has been rearing its ugly head since then. Georgia also had terrible reflux as an infant. It was awful. I have a vivid memory of being at my parents' house and her just screaming. Not crying, but screaming in pain for hours. She wouldn't eat more than a few ounces of her bottle, wouldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes or so, and whenever she was aid down on her back, she would start wailing withing a few minutes. I remember holding my baby girl, both of us crying, and my dad taking her out of my arms and telling me to go to bed and get some rest. After that we went to the pediatrician, got some Zantac, and things improved a lot. But we still had many problems, and went through all different kinds of formula until she ended up on a hypoallergenic one. It was called "liquid gold" in our house, because it cost just as much. But that formula was a gift from God. Within 48 hours, I had a totally different baby. One who ate. And slept. For 2-3 hour stretches during the day, and 12 hours at night. It revolutionized our home and life.

So when Sam started exhibiting signs of reflux around 3-4 weeks of age, I did not hesitate to talk to the pediatrician about it. She immediately started him on Zantac, and we started to see an improvement in his symptoms. She also suggested trying a lactose-free formula so it would digest faster. We did that for a week, but did not see much change, so we went back to the regular stuff. His dose has been increased with his weight gain (which has been astonishing to me!), rice cereal added to his bottles, and his symptoms have been pretty well controlled. But the past few days he has started having problems again. Not napping well during the day, screaming and pulling away from his bottle when eating, and needing to be held upright in order to be comfortable. So we went back to the doctor today.....again. He is now close to 14 pounds, but the current Zantac dose should still be helping him at that weight. So now we are going to try Prevacid. If that doesn't help things after a week or so, then we need to start changing the formula. And she suggested that hypoallergenic stuff again. I winced and groaned. She commiserated and chucked a few sample cans at me. These would get me through about 4 days. Two cans, FOUR DAYS!!!

I got in the car to drive to the drugstore and a feeling of panic set in. My pulse was racing, and I felt like I was going to vomit. How on earth could we afford to use this formula again? The Prevacid copay was 3 times as much as the Zantac. I glanced at the formula prices as I walked through the store. I stopped dead and did some quick math. Then I tried to hold down my own relfux. One can of "regular" formula is 25 ounces and costs about $23.00. We had been using the Costco brand which cost $10 per can. (WOOHOO!) The hypoallergenic stuff comes in a 16 ounce can and costs $27.00. Yup, you read that right. It costs 270% more for two-thirds of the amount. And at 35-40 ounces of liquid formula per day, that would mean using close to 2 cans per week. Cue mouth dropping.

So I started feeling sick. I had been thinking this was a possibility in the back of my head from the very first time Sam started refusing his feedings. But I kept saying to myself, "What are the odds that two of our kids would need to be on that? He will be fine with just the medication." So when the pediatrician brought it up today, a giant pit formed in my stomach. I was worrying about money. And then when Sam tried to get through his next feeding, I felt like an awful mother. He was miserable. Screaming. Red-faced. Gasping. And so obviously hungry. How could I think about the cost when my child was hurting? But I was, and I still am. How can I not in these times? Just more guilt to pile on the growing mound.

So I am stuck. I have a week to pray that the medication change will be enough. If it isn't, then we will have to face the music and figure out how we will afford this. Ugh.


  1. I've been here and back again...a word of guidance re: Prevacid. In the event that you were not completely advised about how to effectively administer this drug, let me share my wisdom on the matter. You must dissolve it in very warm water, about 10 mL and suck it up into a syringe, water, Prev. beads and all. Get all the beads into Sam as best you can. Then you have to wait 15-30 minutes before feeding anything. Otherwise, it doesn't have time to turn off the proton pumps and thus gets washed right through. Give it a couple of days, as it will take that long to see if it's going to make a difference. You still may need the Alimentum, but if it helps, it helps. Hugs.

  2. Good luck! I don't know how the system works where you are, but in the UK I know of people who've got soya milk on prescription for lactose-intolerant children. I hope you can work it out.