Gay Dad Life

Colicky Baby

Dr. Tafadzwa Kasambira, M.D., M.P.H. is a pediatrician who received his undergraduate training at McGill University in Canada, and graduated in 2002 from Tufts University School of Medicine, where he also completed a degree in public health. He completed his pediatric residency training at Harvard University in 2005, and completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University in 2008. He has been a medical officer at the FDA for the last six years. He and his husband are the proud fathers of three children.


One of several dictionary definitions of “colic” is the following: “A condition marked by recurrent episodes of prolonged and uncontrollable crying and irritability in an otherwise healthy infant that is of unknown cause and usually subsides after three to four months of age.”

These words will likely strike a painful chord in all parents who have endured the incredibly stressful experience of caring for an infant who has (or has not) been diagnosed with colic.  Many of us remember that time as if it ended last week, though years may have already passed. Some have forgotten what it was like, but others cannot now hear an infant crying in public without developing palpitations.

The ironic thing about that traumatic time is that most children get through it fine. They develop into healthy, happy, boisterous children, with little memory of the trauma they went through, while we parents are sometimes left to tend to the emotional battle scars.

My husband and I are two of those “survivors,” and our 6-year-old daughter, whom I will call Wordgirl, is a violin-playing, Spanish-and-English speaking, high flying gymnast who talks a mile a minute and possesses loads of energy. This girl was once a newborn who would see the bottle coming near her mouth, and let out a blood-curdling scream that could cause a house to shake.

We would have to psyche ourselves up to feed her each bottle. She would suck on the nipple for two seconds, then arch her back and wail for a full minute…suck again because she was starving, then wail as the milk hit her stomach. This went on for months, while my husband and I – first-time parents, at that – were at our wits’ end. It did not help that both of us are Type A, male professionals – we needed answers, and we needed them yesterday.

We would buy new types of bottles each week, change the formula constantly, give her Simethicone® drops, and utilize different positions for burping or soothing her. When my ideas from my pediatric training were exhausted, I would turn to my medical colleagues. We called her own pediatrician (since I am emotionally unable to be my own kids’ official doctor) frequently, and were constantly met with the same frustrating line: “It’s only colic. She’ll grow out of it. Wait it out for a few months.” We began to wonder if our concerns were being dismissed out of an erroneous assumption that two fathers were just clueless about the normal development process of newborns.

As a parent watching your tiny infant suffer through her most basic task in life, namely, that of eating, this was heartbreaking, and just not good enough. We knew that this was not normal, regardless of what the books, my own knowledge, and her pediatrician told us. There was something wrong, even to our nascent parental minds. We let her pediatrician go and chose another, then set up an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist. That was the beginning of Wordgirl’s recovery, and of our own.

Approximately 16-26% of healthy infants between the ages of one and four months are said to have infantile colic, based on the fact that they cry “excessively,” a time period loosely defined to be more than three hours per day, three days a week, for three weeks or longer. Crying often occurs in the late afternoon or evening, and is intense and high-pitched. The baby is difficult to console, and may have clenched fists, curled up legs and tense abdominal muscles.

The cause of infantile colic is unknown. Several potential clinical causes that have been explored include gastrointestinal etiologies, allergic causes, an underdeveloped and immature nervous system, changes in bacterial flora within the gut, and intolerance to lactose.

In otherwise healthy infants, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is not often seen as being a cause of excessive crying or irritability in infants. Diagnosis of the condition requires the recognition of clinical symptoms and support from endoscopy, during which a specialized tube with a camera and light is placed down the throat.  Abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach, and initial part of the small intestine are noted, and may include irritation and inflammation, or narrowing of the esophagus due to acid reflux.

Many infants who are diagnosed with colic, however, such as our daughter Wordgirl, receive oral acid-blocking medications to reduce the acidity of the stomach and thereby reduce gastro-esophageal reflux.  Physical methods are also advised, such as giving smaller, more frequent feedings, burping more often during each feed, and holding the baby upright while giving a bottle.

Her pediatric gastroenterologist also diagnosed her with a condition known as milk-soy protein intolerance (MSPI), an ailment in which the infant cannot tolerate certain proteins found in milk and/or soy. Classic symptoms include vomiting, bloody stools, watery diarrhea, and weight loss. Babies who have MSPI may appear hungry and anxious to eat, but have great difficulty when taking a bottle that contains milk- or soy-based formula.

Management of MSPI involves giving elemental milk formula, in which milk proteins (e.g., casein) are hydrolyzed into smaller pieces that the body will not recognize as milk protein, and are therefore digested more easily. Such formulas include Alimentum® and Nutramigen®, and the more completely hydrolyzed formulas for infants with more significant issues with MSPI, Neocate® and Elecare®.

Wordgirl’s symptoms were not typical of MSPI, although her response to the elemental formula was. The milk tastes horrible (I did try it, only once), but she soon realized that the milk did not cause her the pain that she had previously experienced. Her crying ceased; her weight began to increase again; and she became the happy baby during her feeds as she was outside of them.

There are many lessons that I hope to impart by sharing the story of our difficult first year with Wordgirl. The first is that as a parent, you should trust your instincts. Babies cry. But if you feel that the crying is out of proportion to whatever notion you perceive as being “normal,” contact your child’s pediatrician. If you feel that you are not getting the help that you feel that your child needs, find it. You and your baby’s pediatrician should be partners in the common goal of keeping your child growing and healthy.

*************************

Legal Disclaimer: This article is designed to provide general information related to pediatric care. The information presented on this article should not be construed as formal medical advice, nor is it intended to create a doctor-patient relationship. The content is intended solely for informational and not for treatment purposes.

This article is not a substitution for professional medical diagnosis or treatment.

References

Garrison MM, Christakis DA. A systematic review of treatments for infant colic. Pediatrics 2000;106:184-190

Kattan JD, Cocco RR, Jarvinen KM. Milk and soy allergy. Pediatr Clin North Am 2011;58(2):407-426

Vandenplas Y, Rudolph CD, DiLorenzo C, et al. Pediatric gastroesophageal reflux clinical practice guidelines: Joint recommendations of the North American Society for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) and the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009;49:498–547

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

Gay Dad Life

"Fridays with Fitz": A New Kid's Book Based Upon the Son of These Two Dads

Tracey Wimperly, author of the new children's book, said she hopes to give a more honest portrayal of the role grandparents play in the lives of children.

Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

Keep reading... Show less
News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse