Way back at Carter's 2 month appointment, I mentioned that perhaps something I was eating was causing all of Carter's reflux issues. The doctor assured me that if he was having a reaction to something I was eating, he would have rashes, stomach pains (he was still a fairly happy spitter at this point), and mucousy poo. (Gross, right?) I agreed that he really didn't have those symptoms. She offered to give me a milk-free diet information sheet...I declined. I mean, he didn't have the symptoms. Right?
Fast forward to mid-December. Eczema on head gets worse. I assume it's bad cradle cap. Tons of babies get that. He starts writhing and becoming a little ninja while trying to nurse. I assume he's being impatient because things aren't as quick as they once were and he's more impatient than he once was. He stops sleeping through the night...I assume that the holiday schedule has him wonky, we need to eliminate the paci, he wants to chew his fingers and we should wean off the swaddle....you name it...I tried it. There were lots of good reasons for his crazy behavior. It all seemed unrelated. So, fast-forward to his appointment at 4 months. We decide to up his reflux meds from Zantac to Prevacid. I assume this will help the night issues, which I have decided are gas/tummy related. Whew. Peace is coming right? Wrong. Nights still stink. I am getting desperate. We have been up at least every hour after midnight since mid-December. I am getting TIRED and I want my little "sleep-through-the-night" and "smile-during-the-day-baby" BACK! I call the lactation consultant about it being related to foods in my diet. She assures me it's not. I call the nurse at our pediatrician's office. She assures me it's not. (To their credit, I didn't really tell them about his green poo or head eczema because I already knew what was causing that. Bummer on me. They also didn't specifically ask...bummer on them.) I'm at a loss. Finally, while I am changing him one night, I notice that there is a red, sandpapery bump on the back of his arm...in fact, there are also little red dots on his back. Not many...but a few. And the bump on the back of his arm looks a lot like these two little bumps on his cheeks. Could that be a rash?
This was the moment it came together for me. If that was a rash...then it could be related to the rash on his head. If all that was eczema...and I counted his poop characteristics (which I'm sure you don't need details about) in as symptoms...he had classic MPI symptoms. (Milk Protein Intolerance) I am so grateful for forums that educated me about this...or I would have ever known. I spent that evening rocking Carter to sleep and reading about MPI on my favorite forum: http://www.babywhispererforums.com/ They had a whole section on MPI...and whoa. I was certain by the time I laid him in the crib. I called the dr's office that morning and told them I'd really like them to test for blood in his stool to confirm a food intolerance/allergy. They told me to bring in 3 dirties...and before you know it I was in the dr's office, waiting for results.
And I was right. So...I have cut dairy out of my diet. My "gallon a week" is gone...along with cheeses, butter, and all the hidden dairy that are in breads, bagels, cereals, sauces, chocolate (except Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips...thank you Jesus!) and the million other things that strangely have dairy in them. I also learned through reading, and later my pediatrician, that 30-40% of children who are intolerant/allergic to the protein in cow milk are intolerant/allergic to soy. So....I decided to go ahead and cut out soy as well. If you want to know what has soy in it, pretty much circle the entire middle section of your grocery store. If it's processed, it totally has soy in it. My plan is to get Carter feeling great (it takes about 2 weeks to get all the dairy/soy out of my system...and then another 2 to get it out of Carter's) and then see if I can reintroduce some hidden soy (soy lecithin and soy oil are in EVERYTHING and sometimes don't bother people with soy allergies...especially through breastmilk)...and then possibly soy. My prayer is that the milk is the offender instead of some remote thing I'll have to figure out through random elimination. If things aren't better by week 4, I'll need to go on a really restricted diet and introduce things in slowly. (Allergy tests are really unreliable when babies are this little. There are a lot of false positives and negatives...not really helpful. So...they basically just let you know your baby has a food allergy by looking at symptoms and testing for blood in their dirty diaper. If this is there, they usually recommend cutting dairy since this is the most likely offender. If it's not that, they help you try to figure out what it is through an elimination diet.) The elimination diet would begin around the time that we would be introducing solids...so that would kind of be a mess. I wouldn't really know if the new solid was causing a reaction...or the food I was adding to my diet...so we'd have to put off solids...which I don't really want to do past 6 months. So...it would be nice if it's not something random!
Here are some amazing positives to this whole experience:
- I have new hope for helping Carter feel better. There is nothing like hope when you are just stumped about why your child isn't sleeping and why he's writhing while you're feeding him. Hope makes working through those problems totally doable.
- Things do seem to be getting better. He has been spitting up like it's his job the past two days...but really seems to be happier, overall. That makes my heart SING. I just hope we continue to see improvement over the next weeks. My prayer is that the intolerance is just to milk and that we won't have to keep experimenting! I don't mind cutting things out, but I want him to feel better yesterday!
- We didn't eat a ton of processed food before. Cutting it out isn't that big of a deal. At first, cutting soy and dairy out seemed extremely daunting and I wasn't sure what I was going to eat! Now, I am getting a lot better at reading dairy and soy code on nutrition labels (why can't they just put...milk...stop with the code!) A lot of the things we ate before...I can still eat. Just...not my gallon of milk or my millions of ounces of cheese. Or...ok....my chocolate. (Again, yay Ghiradelli!)
- I have such a supportive group of people around me. I have had the most precious messages from friends who have walked or are walking through the same experiences. They're sending me what they have already learned...helping me know what is safe. Mama has looked up recipes for me and forwarded websites my way. Steven doesn't eat all the things I do miss in front of me, choosing to eat along with my modified diet, for the most part. I mean, he can have cheese on his meals and have real milk in his cereal. But, he's not asking for separate meals....even though I'm eating a million vegetables...which he doesn't so much love.
- There are tons of foods I can still eat! Really yummy foods. And it's probably a lot healthier. This is the diet you seriously can't cheat on! :)
So anyway, that's the down low on the whole dairy/soy-free diet. What I'm taking away from this is...my "Mama instinct" is a God-given breath of wisdom in my heart. I really would have never pushed this issue on my own. The Holy Spirit literally kept bringing it to my mind, urging me to re-think...even when the idea had been shot down several times. I need to trust my "Mama instinct" as a really reliable source when talking to the doctor. Our pediatrician is AMAZING. She really is patient, really listens to what I say (i.e. did the allergy test even when she didn't think that was the problem...because I thought it was) and is very, very smart. However, she doesn't get to observe Carter all day/every day like I do. I am the ultimate source of information about my baby boy. That means I am responsible for the brunt of the research/notetaking/work of keeping him healthy. I am his advocate.
So...since our entire world is not actually revolving around dairy and soy (well..ok it has a little, but there are other things going on!) I'll move along.
I got a message a few weeks ago about making "Moby" wraps for a friend for her to give to her family/friends for shower gifts. She was looking for a wrap, tied up, with some instructions. Here's what I made:
The "C" is her last initial (so she can use it with other children") It's just a simple tactile point of reference that shows her where the middle point is for wrapping purposes. It needed to be simple so that the stitches didn't compromise the integrity of the fabric as it stretched with the baby's weight. I was really happy with the way it turned out. It's a light, "t-shirt" material...and a fun, bright, hide-baby-stains color! I've got four more in the works for her. (She's got a lot of friends with babies on the way!) I love sharing the wrap. Such a simple lifesaver! It is literally the thing I use the very most. I mean, I might use the Moby as much as I use diapers. (slight TL exaggeration there...but not a big one!)
As another update, Steven and I are getting involved with a new ministry that is starting up in our church. We are working to help form a "Lifeline" to support our missionaries. The fear our church has is that we are "sending" missionaries financially and with some prayer, but are missing intentional care for them. Because no one is specifically focused on each missionary family, we fear that needs are going unmet, prayer requests are going unheard, and the things God is doing are not being proclaimed in our congregation. So...the plan is to assign each missionary family to a family on our Lifeline team. Each family on this team in committed to "sending" our missionary in a manner "worthy of God" by staying in touch through e-mail, sending care packages, intentional prayer, communicating needs and joys from the missionaries to the church family, facilitating/networking for them on the homefront when specific needs arise...etc. We are so excited about this! Steven and I have always felt a call to missions...but so far, have never felt the specific call to go overseas. For now, this is our calling. To support missionaries in their work...that our hands will help theirs do His work. We are so blessed to be a part of this ministry...and are so grateful to have a church who is committed to those who work with the "least among us".
Small "Carter milestones" update. Lately, when he's nursing, he get's super distracted and bends all out of shape. (Please get better with the dairy/soy free diet!) He wriggles and archs...and generally spends a ton of time not eating. However, I've noticed that holding his free hand in mine at least helps the situation. He puts his hand in mine...and everything just gets calmer. It makes me smile. :) I like holding hands with my sweet boy. He's getting stronger and stronger...sitting up by himself a little better each day. He is also kicking and trying to pull to a standing position every time I hold his arms or hands. Oh...but the best thing is his laughing. It used to take a small circus to get him going. Now...all I have to do is run my fingers over his ribs, and I can play that baby like a piano. He laughs and laughs....even sometimes with just a little "weeee" while driving his stroller. He's such a joy! One little giggle from his lips sends Steven and I reeling. We're pretty in love, I'd say :)
More pictures coming soon. Baby dedication and lots of family in a couple weeks. Hopefully, a healthier/dairy and soy free baby coming in the next weeks. I'm definitely hoping more running since we were totally de-railed by the colds and really sleepless nights lately. I hate that we've gone downhill a little in our running. I am totally going to have a non-improved time in our next 5k coming soooooon on March 5th. I mean...I hope I can even run the thing in 30 mins. Sigh. Oh well...I'm just going to be thankful that I can run a 5k...at least we haven't backslidden past that point! Also coming soon...my first "quarter of a century" birthday. I like birthdays. I don't mind getting older...I mean...why fight it? What can you do? (I may have a new attitude about this once I'm out of my twenties...but for now... :)) Aaaaand, I can have Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Have I mentioned that? I think the next few weeks are looking very wonderful indeed :)