Way back on January 1st of this year I posted about my daughters colic: The Colic Chronicles – Episode 1. At the time, I truly thought it would be a nice series of posts describing our couple of months of dealing with colic: what worked, what didn’t and basically provide some support for others who might end up experiencing the same thing. Well, it turned out to be more than just “colic” and my planned series of posts turned to mush as I dealt with a baby that SCREAMED night and day and threw up constantly. We were living a NIGHTMARE, and my poor daughter was caught in the middle. We knew something was wrong, but what?
We were at the doctor’s office every week for over a month trying different things. I was breast-feeding so the thought was that it was reflux or some sort of digestive problem. She had x-rays, urine tests, blood tests, you name it. They even talked about doing some GI tests which involved putting tubes down her throat and making her utterly uncomfortable for a few days. I prayed it wouldn’t come to that. After trying all the reflux meds, one of which – Reglan – made her jittery, the doctor (whom we adored) suggested we try not nursing her for a day. I was floored by this! Not feed my baby? The doctor suggested that she might not be able to process the breast milk; that she might have a milk protein allergy. So, Abby got nothing but Pedialyte for a day. The biggest challenge with that was getting her to take a bottle as she’d never had one before.
While on the Pedialyte, once she was taking the bottle…sort of…we noticed something – she didn’t cry and scream like she was before. Here we are, NOT feeding our baby and she seems happier. I can’t even begin to explain how confusing that was and how bad I began to feel since I had been the one feeding her and therefore causing her pain and discomfort.
The doctor was pretty sure we had isolated the problem, but now what? In order to confirm her suspicion, she suggested we try giving Abby a hypoallergenic formula for a week while I pumped and see if her discomfort continued to subside. They gave us samples of Nutramigen by Enfamil and within 2 days we noticed that she had still not screamed at us and was spitting up less. We were then faced with a dilemma. Do I try an elimination diet and risk her having more problems, or do we look at this expensive alternative as a cure and continue with what we know works. We opted to stick with the formula. When your baby has been that uncomfortable and you finally fix it, YOU DON”T MESS WITH IT! As disappointed as we were that she only had the “benefits” of breast milk for 2 months, we knew we were doing the right thing.
So, as I dealt with engorgement (I can’t believe I said that out loud, let alone in public) and the issues my body had with weaning my daughter, we had a new baby! She was no longer screaming AT ALL and was happy and content all day. She napped very well and was sleeping great, in her crib, at night. We were finally ready to breathe a sigh of relief. At least until she got her 4 month vaccinations. Since then she will forever be known as “Crabigail” but that is a story for another time.
Since my daughter had been on the Nutramigen, we were shelling out $300-$400/mo just on formula, which is quite a shock when your plan is for the baby’s milk to be free. It was worth it for her comfort, but I had been doing some research on the web about babies and milk protein allergies and I discovered that some insurance companies are covering infant formula when prescribed by a physician. I also learned of a hypoallergenic formula that was available only by prescription, thus making it more likely the insurance will cover it. In addition, this formula was supposed to help with reflux as well, and Abby still spit up quite a bit and was still showing signs of reflux.
I contacted my insurance company, Tricare (my husband is a retired Navy Veteran) and asked them if they would cover Neocate infant formula in cases of severe milk protein allergy and reflux. After over an hour on the phone with Tricare, they indicated that it was a covered benefit (they would pay 80%) provided the doctor could present adequate medical proof of its necessity. A team of nurses would then review the information and determine if they would cover it.
We met with Abby’s doctor (a new doctor…long story) and told him what we found out and he told us that he would do whatever the insurance company asked to get them to cover the formula. In the meantime, he wrote a prescription for the Neocate so we could get her started on it and make sure she tolerated it well. Neocate runs anywhere from around $39 to $55 for A 14 OZ. CAN which is over twice the cost of regular formula. The cost varies depending upon where you get it. We were getting it from Walgreens for around $39 per can but we knew that if the insurance approved it, we would get reimbursed. We spent $600 the first month she was on it while waiting for the insurance to make a decision.
Our insurance Company went back and forth with Abby’s doctor requesting numerous additional information, but in the end, one month later, they approved the coverage and set us up with an account through Apria Healthcare. They UPS the formula to us and although their prices per can are on the high end, our 20% cost share is around $170 per month, much better than $600 or even the $400 we were spending for Nutramigen.
Abby is now six months old and while she still spits up frequently and is on Prevacid to help with her reflux, she has gained weight steadily (although she’s barely in the 50th percentile for weight while in the 95th percentile for height) and aside from the fussiness that appears to be in her nature (nothing like her mother, nope…not me), she seems quite happy.
If you have a young infant and are experiencing any kinds of colic or symptoms of discomfort with your baby, I really recommend that you ask your doctor about the different types of formula if you are formula feeding or about elimination diets if you are nursing. I have done extensive research on colic and its symptoms and there is a ton of new evidence that suggests that it is likely due to reflux or a food allergy. I’m no doctor but I am convinced that no baby (or the parents) needs to endure colic, especially if caused by a food allergy.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment here or email me through our contact form at the top of the page. Additionally, a simple Google search for your baby’s symptoms, or any of the formulas I’ve mentioned will provide a fantastic list of useful resources. The internet is a wonderful tool for researching ideas and suggestions to help your baby, but please always check with your doctor before implementing any of them.