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April 03, 2012

Infant Fainting and GER

As you can tell by my post title, this is not gonna be a pleasant topic. The past week has been the hardest thus far in this new parenting adventure. By hardest, I do mean most frustrating and most helpless. Seeing our baby girl cry out for hours and not being able to alleviate her pain and discomfort is the hardest part about being a parent for me. And while I've been told "babies just cry", I think we all know that as a mom, you must follow your gut and not ignore what you feel your baby is telling you. And this week, I tried to ignore it and chalk it up to teething or just gas (both of which I do think are contributing to a bigger issue), but it seems there may be a bigger issue.

On Sunday evening, the Husband and I had an uneventful day indoors with our little one. Annabelle didn't nap too well, but she was jolly in the AM and had a few bouts of fussiness throughout the day but we gripped ourselves for what was becoming our usual evening fussy period that would sometimes be handled quickly or leave us both in bouts of exhaustion. We were good about taking turns and making sure neither one of us hit the limit. We both tried very hard to maintain our happy faces while holding her so she couldn't sense our own frustrations in not being able to take away her discomfort.

So back to Sunday night...Larry is holding her while I am making dinner. We are talking about how she is crying and he just says that we are doing the best we can. Well mid-cry (as in she is crying out loudly), Annabelle "just went limp" in his arms. I did not witness this, but was by her side seconds later when my Husband said "Hon, Annabelle isn't moving!!" Of course, I'm thinking what!?!?! So no more than 3 seconds has gone by when i'm by her side. I reach out to take her from his arms and she's looking at me a bit woozy and out of it. She just seems a bit milk-coma like and tired. Within a minute of me holding her, she snuggles into my chest and proceeds to fall asleep. So I am thinking, she's just so exhausted she must have just fallen asleep. My Husband is white as a ghost (and by that, I mean whiter than his typical white self LOL) and I just say "don't worry, she was just sleepy! She's breathing fine and seems ok." I continued to hold her like this from that evening til the next morning only to put her down to change her diaper.

As we continued to talk about what had happened, my Husband said "i hope she doesn't have narcolepsy" and i just laughed in response. And that's when he said "It was just so weird, she was crying and then just passed out... like she fainted or something" and that's when I realized he wasn't over exaggerating or being overly worried - he was telling me as a matter of fact, what happened. So I got a little worried. And only a little b/c by this time, our Annabelle was her normal bi-polar - fussy & then giggly - baby.

Well google is your best friend and worst enemy. It seems babies can faint. Anything from Baby Breath Holding spells (BHS) - which usually don't happen in younger infants - to Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) that causes actual fainting. Many other parents witnessed their babies turn blue or have to revive them in a sense by blowing in their face. We did not have to do this, so i assumed it wasn't so serious... NEVER ASSUME!

The next morning (Monday), I called the nurse's line at our pediatrician's office. Talk about Mommy Guilt, they made me feel horrible for not taking her to the ER immediately. Now, we have worked really hard to not be those overly freaked out first time parents and I was pretty proud of us for not freaking out and being all nutso ... apparently, in this situation, that was the WRONG thing to do according to the nurse. The nurse said she had never heard of such a thing as babies fainting. But since she appeared to be back to her "normal" self, they said we should still bring her in to have a Dr. look at her.

So we did... and the result, our Dr. was not as judgmental as the nurses and she did not make me feel crazy. She said her daughter also had BHS and that she was aware it usually didn't happen in infants Annabelle's age but that it could. She checked her out and said she was 100% A-OK but that she was concerned as to what may be causing this excessive fussiness/crying which in turn caused her to faint. And since this occurs in infants with GER, that was her first thought.

Does Annabelle have GER?

We know all babies have a slight case of reflux, but even at her 1 month appointment we were concerned with possible GER. She had wheeziness from an early age and while she wasn't a "happy spitter" we knew she could have it.

According to Dr. Sears, here are some clues to know if your infant has GER:
  • "Frequent spitting up or vomiting (not all babies with GER spit up)
  • Baby isn't outgrowing the "colic" and/or spitting up
  • Frequent blasts of crying that are painful cries, not just baby cries
  • Your gut feeling tells you that your baby "hurts somewhere"
  • Bursts of nightwaking "as if in pain"
  • Colicky, abdominal pain after eating, even as long as one hour afterwards
  • Poor sleep habits, restless
  • Writhing as if in pain: drawing up legs, arching back
  • Erratic feeding patterns. Refuses to feed or wants to breast or bottlefeed all the time.
  • Frequent "wet burps" or "wet hiccups"
  • Throaty noises: swallowing noises, choking, gagging
  • Frequent, unexplained colds, wheezing, and chest infections
  • Stop-breathing episodes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Spits up like a "volcano""
So while she does not have ALL the symptoms (I underlined the ones she has), she has quite a few. The excessive drooling which I thought could be from teething could be from the reflux. The arching of her back could be from gas or the reflux or from both. I still think she has the gas and I do think she may have slight gum sensitivity from her teething process, but now it seems that GER may be the biggest culprit of them all.

The Dr. prescribed baby Zantac, or liquid Zantac, which Annabelle does not like. She cries when I give it to her and so far she's only had it twice. It makes me feel awful to force her to take drugs at such an early age, but if this reflux is burning away at her esophageal lining, I know I have to do it.

So far, her excessive drooling has stopped. She slept from 7 to 9, then woke up to cry for about 20 minutes and then conked right out again until 3 am. That's the longest she ever slept. I think there is trace amounts of alcohol in the Zantac so it could be that or it could be from her finding some relief. I'd like to think its both and not just the alcohol. She seems calmer throughout her sleep with less bouts of waking herself up struggling to fart... although she still did that this morning for a little bit. She did have a small spit up this morning and continued with the hiccups after her meal, but so far she seems happy.

The Zantac helps to block the acid from being absorbed, so its a milder medicine than the Prevacid which will stop acid production all together. I can still give her this with the simethicone for her gas.

Early this morning, after I gave her the medicine, she cried for a minute or two and then she nursed and fell right back asleep. I held her upright for the next 45 minutes looking online about zantac and infants. I wanted to try something more holistic or homeopathic and have such guilt about giving her this medicine. I went to bed after that and Larry was also awake. I couldn't help but cry and telling him what I failure I felt like that I couldn't provide for Annabelle what she needed to get through this stage. All babies have immature digestive tracts and they outgrow it, I just wish I could somehow give her what she needed to get through this ok without the drugs. I feel guilty for giving her drugs. I feel guilty that she hates to take the drug.

This mommy guilt is no joke.  Larry reassured me that i'm doing a wonderful job and doing more than I could possibly do, which I'm grateful for his words - but somehow I still feel like I'm not doing enough...

So for all the moms out there who never knew your baby could faint from crying too much, be aware. It happens. They are fine usually after, but take them to the ER right away. And I am not an advocate of the Cry It Out methods or anything that makes you ignore your babies cries (especially at this age when they have no other means of communicating), just know that if you do go that route, really know your baby's cries... b/c I knew deep down her cries were from pain, but just kept hearing "all babies cry" and tried to ignore them. And I will NEVER ignore them again. All babies do not just cry to cry. There is an underlying discomfort, pain, or unhappiness there...

So that was our scare for the weekend and our current health situation. Again, if its not one thing it another... motherhood is so damn amazing, but i think its because it is so damn stressful, frustrating and difficult at the same time.

But to leave this post on a happy note... here's a picture of our lovely little girl...

at the end of the day, this is what gets me through each tough moment.


  1. Aww I'm sorry you had such a rough weekend but you are doing great,it's all a learning process. Hunter has some of those symptoms as well but none so bad at this point that I think he needs to go to the doctor. The fainting thing is scary, I would have freaked out, especially after him having to be in the NICU for breathing issues.

  2. Wow, that is so scary. I am so glad everything is OK, though, and I think you are doing a GREAT job as a mom!

  3. hi amy, it's so rough with a newborn isn't it? you're doing a great job though...

    i'm sure you've been told this before but since you didn't mention it, i thought i would just add it. are you sitting annabelle up for at least 20 min after each feed? don't lie her down but put her upright for at least 20 min to help with the reflux. eowyn had reflux too so i feel your pain....sigh.

  4. Hi Ami, did Annabelle ever have another faint episode or anything else unusual? I have a 6 week old baby that just had the same thing last night (Sunday night) so I took him to the Dr this morning and he mentioned the reflux or a possibility of seisure (but he wasn't sure on any of them) so we did some blood work today and everything also came back normal. My baby has all the same symptoms as Annabelle for reflux, but no vomit or spitting up. Please email me with any information you may have. Thank you so much,


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