Thursday, April 30, 2009

vaccines and colic

leon had his first DTaP vaccine on friday. now, i'm not an anti-vaccine person, although i hate seeing my baby in pain even for a tiny moment, but there is something strange about his behavior since then.

4 hours after the vaccine, leon woke up from a nap screaming at the top of his lungs. i tried feeding him, but he was super unhappy. he continued to wail for over 2 hours before matthew called the doctor. they told us to give him infant tylenol because he had a low fever (99-100 degrees) and was crying. he continued crying for another hour, no matter how hard we tried to soothe him. the vaccine info sheet says that inconsolable crying for more than 3 hours is considered a severe reaction and may result in him not continuing the booster shots. well, we'll see what the pediatrician has to say about that.

the next day his fever persisted, and the crying kept on going. we gave him more tylenol throughout the day. now, leon is an intense baby, but whenever he cries, i can usually localize the problem. there's the whine-cry that comes when he's sleepy but can't quite fall asleep. the sharp, sudden high-pitched cry means a diaper change (i.e., he just wet the diaper and needs it changed RIGHT NOW). there's also the hunger cry, which takes on a funny rhythm, almost like a cry-grunt. and when he's bored, well, that's a less severe cry.

but this new cry is really something else. it keeps going and going, he whips himself into a frenzy and starts choking because he's taking sharp fast breaths. his face and body turn red, and he seems so furious.

the fever subsided by the end of the second day, but i've noticed that he cries like this beginning around 7pm now. i'll feed him, put him down so i can eat dinner, and the crying commences. matthew picks him up and tries to soothe him, but the cries only intensify. i wait for as long as i can take it, and then i stop eating my dinner, run to leon, scoop him up, and the crying stops. he looks at me, and my response is: can you possibly still be hungry after eating for a solid 15 minutes 20 minutes ago? the answer is yes. so i feed him again for another 20 minutes. and then, if i'm lucky like tonight, he drifts off to sleep. if i'm unlucky, the cycle starts all over again. a diaper is changed, happy gurgling, and then in a flash, screaming and wailing that comes out of nowhere.

is this colic? is this a side effect of the vaccine? i don't know, but it's wearing us out. we've tried giving him the pacifier, but he keeps spitting it out. he wants me. this means feeding for 15 minutes and then sleeping and sucking for 20 minutes more before my arms fall asleep.

can a baby develop colic after 9 weeks? i don't know. but i suspect this new crying has something to do with the vaccine. he's always been a difficult to soothe baby, but the ferocity of his cry has completely taken us by surprise. usually it's a constant pathetic whine that is punctuated by sharp cries. i don't know what to do, but it seems that something is not right with him. i wish i knew what it was. i can't tell if he's hurting, or if it's more of a psychological thing. maybe he's going through a major growth spurt and is mighty pissed with me because i'm not feeding him every 20 minutes? he's a lucky boy that his mama doesn't have a milk supply issue. i am hoping things will improve next week. evenings and nights are the toughest. the only thing that keeps us going is that he wakes up in the morning smiling and chuckling as if the past 12 hours were a dream. if it weren't for those moments, i would be in a sorry state right now.


romaine said...

How awful, I don't have any answers for your questions, but I think you should trust your gut and persue it with a doctor as much as you can or maybe make contact with a group against vaccines - they may have heard about a similar reaction. I have always had my kids vaccinated at the times suggested and I haven't seen any bad reactions other than a slight rash and fever, but I think there may be something valid to objections against the vaccine schedule, etc.. Doctors seem to want to dismiss anything that may seem vague to them even though if they lived it, maybe it would impress them more. At just a few weeks old, my son seemed to have a really hard time pooping. The doctor just shrupgged it off and said that at that age it would be impossible to be constipated, but since then and to this day, my son has pooping issues (he is 6 going on 7) including very bad constipation.

Anyway, I am sending best wish thoughts to you all!! If I come across anything related to Leon's reaction, i will let you know.

Stephanie said...

Boy, it sounds like colic (weirdly enough, one of the anthropology classes I took in college had a long unit on colic, so I have ended up reading a lot about it).

If you haven't come across the Mayo Clinic's website, you might find it useful:

But is sounds like you guys are pretty much doing almost everything officially recommended for colic - holding, soothing, feeding.

I hope he snaps out of it soon. Hang in there.

pam said...

Erica, that sounds like colic -- Caitlin had the same experience. That gas really does hurt, and that would account for the sudden scream. Frank told me the DPT usually causes slight fever and pain in the thigh and headache, but that will subside after a day or two. If you want to chat more about this, give me a call :)

Heather Maxwell-Hall said...

oh goodness. poor you and baby.
i'm reading happiest baby on the block right now and he covers colic in detail. a few moms had raved about the book for calming babies in general, but soothing colic in particular. i highly recommend it if you don't have it already.

Melinda said...

My son was just like that and life was a bit of a living hell for a while. He may have a sore leg from the needle but it does sound like colic, which my son did have. I tried a few things but there doesn't seem to be much you can do apart from soothing him and making sure he hasn't got wind. I found the 'colic hold' worked well. (Baby lying up your crooked arm on his tummy, head near your elbow).
It won't last forever, it just feels like it - hang in there.

melissa k w said...

I'm glad to revisit this old post, as I'm wondering if little Hugh has developed colic at 8 weeks now. We've had several days in a row now of pretty much all day fussiness which sometimes becomes full-on screaming, and is definitely worse at night. He hasn't had his vaccinations yet either. I suspect it's got something to do with being overtired. I've read and people have told me it gets better at 3 months. I hope so. Of course that is also when I go back to work. Sad momma.

erica said...

hugh might be overtired. leon takes more naps now (only 1 hour at a time), and it helps a little. but for the past 4 nights i've been feeding him 5-6 times between midnight and 8 am. i'm pretty exhausted.

i've heard that it gets better at 3 months. it hasn't for us, but i hope it does for you, especially since you have to go back to work!

Jessica said...

I was doing a search on "colic and vaccines" when I came across this blog. The exact same thing is happening to my baby girl after she got her first set of vaccines. When she screams, she grabs her ears, so we thought she may have an ear infection. When we took her to the ER (it was the weekend) the doctor told us she had devolped colic and she did not have an ear infection. The only difference we have with you and your son is that I had to stop breast feeding at 6 weeks. Upon the doctor's suggestion we have switched to soy formula instead of the regular formula we've been using. It seems to have helped slighty, but not too much. She was 10 1/2 weeks when she got her vaccines. My question to you is, how long did he cry like this for? A few days, weeks, months? How was he after his 2nd round of vaccines? I really appreciate it! I am devastated because I can't help but feel responsible for causing this horrible pain she must be going through.

erica said...


i'm so sorry to hear about your situation. leon cried for almost two days really intensely, and then in the evenings for about 3 weeks. after that the intense sharp crying diminished.

we decided to follow the Sears schedule for the second round, and he was much much better.

the ear-tugging while crying is still something he does, and i think it's pretty common for most babies to do this.

it's hard to say if the vaccines had anything to do with the crying, but i guess it's not unusual for a baby to develop colic at later than 3 months.

Jema said...

Yes, unfortunately it IS the vaccine. Do some homework on it. Here is a video to get started with, which I really like because the speaker is a medical doctor and all documentation she uses comes directly from the scientific journals themselves. I have stopped vaccinating my children. Get educated on the subject in order to make an educated decision regarding vaccines. This is all about our children and I feel it is tragic that we do so much harm to our children just because "the doctor said so". Informed parents have the right to do the best thing for their children. Bytheway, there are new studies linking colic to vaccines.

ItsAwonderfuLife said...

No vaccines here! I have two boys. You really should do a lot of reading up on the vaccination question, to do or not to do? Labels like "sids "and "colic" are things that don't have a true explaination. Often these things occur after a vaccine. My boys are a lot healthier than their vaccinated friends and recover from illness at a much higher rate. We practice good immune system habits, eating, sleeping, and get a lot of exercise. I hope your LO is ok.

Alexis crescent said...

The same thing happened to my EBF daughter. She used to sleep thru the night (started sleeping 6 hours per night at 3 weeks old, and gaining weight well). Then last Wednesday she got her 8 week vaccines and immediately things were not right. She puked immediately, and then cried until trembling for about 30 seconds, and then passed out. She had a fever of abt 99.9 that night and cried inconsolably. Ever since then she hadn't slept well at night, or during the day, and she's started to have colic like symptoms starting every night at around 7. She was never colicky before. No way am I getting any more vaccines. I swear they're unnecessary anyway -- I mean, really, weighing the risk of the vaccine against maybe getting whooping cough? Not worth it. I eat organic and stay away from fish to keep my milk healthy and free of mercury, only to have a doctor inject aluminum and all kinds if chemicals and who knows what into her!? I'm so mad I didn't say no to these shots and I really worry about the damage I may have needlessly done my daughter.