I know… a discussion on vomit seems like a strange topic, especially since I haven’t posted in such a long time. But I have been emailing back & forth with Stef, who commented on a post a while ago, and vomit has been a prominent topic!
It’s a classic case of… “if I knew then what I know now”…
As a result, I thought I’d spend a few moments explaining Henry’s various types of vomit. For us, Henry various types of vomit were due to different causes, and once we learned to identify the different types, we could work on solutions.
Type 1: Thin & Immediately at the end of eating
Sometimes Henry would throw up near the end of feeding, or immediately afterward. He would puke once, maybe twice, then feel immediately better. It was usually quite thin and looked almost the same as what had just gone in. The OT used to tell us it was reflux from his tube, but I’m now certain it was simply because we were feeding him too much. We used to feed him what the dietician & hospital doctors said he “should “ have… which was way too much for him. Once we started recognizing his signs for being full, and starting feeding him less, this type of vomit went down. Not away altogether, but a lot less. Plus he kept gaining weight because the food that was going in, stayed in!
I had a real struggle with feeding him less than what the”experts” said he should have. I had visions of him starving; back in the hospital; near death. When he was first born there was such an emphasis on getting as much food into him as possible, that it was very hard for me to let this go. Even after I saw the feeding him less was working, I would still panic; feed him a bit more and make him throw up. Then, of course, the mama guilt would be in overdrive. But eventually I learned that less is ok; and as he continued to do well I continued to be more confident in my ability to decide for myself how much he should have. This was very much inline with my overall confidence in Shawn & I being the “experts” on Henry… specialists are the experts in their particular field… we are the experts on Henry.
Type 2: thick, often between meals or at the beginning the next meal
This was the vomit that I really didn’t like. Henry would sometimes throw up 1 hour or more after eating. Sometimes it was near the next meal or even just after the next meal had started.
It was very thick, and he would throw up several times; not feel any better; and remain unhappy for a long time afterwards. The vomit was thick and had a lot of phlegm in it. He would often choke on it and couldn’t get it out of his mouth. We would take a cloth and try to help wipe out his mouth.
This vomit was due to his allergies. He just wasn’t digesting certain foods and they would stay in his tummy until it got so full he would throw up. Because he wasn’t digesting it, there would be a lot of tummy acid in it, and it was very uncomfortable for him to throw up. Sometimes if I fed him something with a particular colour (like red beets) I could tell that when he threw up, what was coming up was his food from 3-4 hours ago.
For us, it was Dr Bratt, the Naturapathic doctor, who first suggested that this type of vomit may be due to allergies. I already suspected that Henry may be allergic to something and had searched until I found someone who supported me, but it was Dr Bratt who identified this particular type of vomit as possibly from the allergies.
If the allergy testing hadn’t provided any answers, her next suggestion was a stool sample analysis. We never had to do this test, so I don’t know a lot about it, but apparently if someone is having a hard time digesting foods, doing a stool sample analysis will show what foods are being digested as well as they should be, and what foods are not being properly digested.
Type 3: Thin, Between meals
Henry did have some good ol’ fashion reflux vomiting, but it was very little compared to the vomiting that resulted from the allergies. His reflux vomit was generally between meals and smaller amounts. It would often happen when he’s be coughing a lot, pushing in attempt to fill his diaper or laying down.
His core muscles weren’t strong enough so when there was any pressure on him abdomen his muscles couldn’t keep the food down. Having an ng-tube may have exacerbated this, as his tube stopped the muscles at the top of his tummy from closing all the way, so liquid would escape easier.
There wasn’t much we could do about his coughing, other than to ensure we turned off his food if he was eating at the time. Even then, he would usually throw up. We eventually started adding some PEG to his food which helped the vomiting when filling his diaper. When laying down, we used a crib wedge to raise his head up a bit when sleeping and this seemed to help.
This type of vomit seemed to resolve itself as he got stronger. Once he was starting to sit up supported and his core muscles started to work, we noticed this got better.
Type 4: Colds & flu
Now at just over 2 years old… Henry barely ever throw up. Any time he gets a cold, the first sign is often throwing up. I think he’ll always have a sensitive tummy. Even this is very infrequent now. I think he’s thrown up once, maybe twice in the past several months.
There are definitely foods that he’s not “allergic” too, but that are harder to digest: beets, tomatoes (ok for one day, but not too many in a row), brussels sprouts, melons. Now… whether he’s actually allergic to them or not, I’m not sure. Foods won’t show up on the allergy test if a person’s never been exposed to them. So perhaps he is, maybe he’s not… I just don’t include them and it works out fine.
Shawn & I were just chatting about how different our lives are now compared to one year ago. This time last year we were still trying various commercial formulas, Henry was throwing up constantly, and our lives were ruled by his stomach. Now… sure… eating is still a bit different in our home. But Henry eats lots of the same foods other toddlers do, he loves helping make dinner and we all sit down to dinner together at the table.
What a difference a year can make!