My poor baby can’t catch a break. The first few weeks of her life we discovered she had lots of gas. It seemed to cause her pain, she would wake up from a dead sleep screaming, pass gas, and then fall back asleep. It broke my heart so I looked up ways to ease her discomfort.
We used gas drops, gripe water, and I gave her a massage every evening. It really seemed to help for a while. Around 6 weeks old she started having predicable “fussy times” in the evening. I hear they call this the witching hour. I figured it was normal baby crankiness. We talked to the doctor about it and she threw that stupid, ugly, annoying “colic” label on it and we went on our way. Why such animosity towards “colic” you ask? Because I think it’s a catch-all for “I’m sorry, your baby is upset but since they can’t talk, I can’t tell you why.”
Finally right around 8 weeks old I was changing an especially stinky poopy diaper when I noticed a streak of blood in the diaper. I knew instantly that this explained everything and that SOMETHING wasn’t right. I called the after-hours nurse at our pediatrician’s office and she told me not to worry… it was probably nothing… That just didn’t sound right to me (I know I don’t want blood in MY poop!) so I called the pediatrician’s office the next morning and spoke with my doctor. She had me bring Harper in with a few recent diapers. They tested the diapers in the office and confirmed what I already knew. She had blood in her stool.
The doctor told me that the most likely reason is a Milk Protein intolerance. What does that mean??!
Well, you’ve heard of lactose intolerance, I’m sure! Lactose intolerance in the inability to process the sugars found in cow’s milk. Babies can have an intolerance to the PROTEIN’S in milk. This is entirely different and presents a whole new set of challenges. Milk proteins can be found in most vegan (read: fake) cheese and dairy replacement products. Read the label on your favorite foods. Do you see butter, milk, cream, whey, casein, sodium caseinate? All of these (and more) are milk or milk protein derived.
Our options were: 1- stop breastfeeding and put Harper on a special formula that is free of all allergens. Or 2- eliminate the problem foods from MY diet, wait two-four weeks for the proteins to be out of my milk and re-evaluate. During this time I could continue breastfeeding… I choose the latter option. I’m just not ready to give up on breastfeeding yet.
I went through my pantry and read the labels on everything. I sent 3 grocery bags of food home with my mom and went grocery shopping to stock up on “safe” foods. I did some research and found that an overwhelming majority of babies with a milk protein intolerance also have a soy intolerance, so I made the decision to cut soy from my diet as well. Soy comes in many forms (soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy flour…) so it is really hard to avoid. I spent 3 hours at the grocery store the first trip, just reading labels and searching for safe foods! I came home with a lot of chicken, turkey, nuts, fruits and veggies. I found a vegan pesto recipe (basically pesto minus the cheese) and found a gluten free bread that is also safe. I’ve experimented with different recipes, found substitutions (coconut oil works great in place of butter and olive oil is great for adding flavor and moisture to just about anything.) I’ve learned about food labeling laws, and I’ve realized that I won’t be eating out much for the duration.
It’s been challenging and there are times when I saw a Pizza Hut commercial and wanted to throw in the towel… But after 3 weeks of strictly dairy and soy free, I can see a difference in Harper’s mood, attitude, and even sleep patterns. I have a totally different baby now!
It’s so rewarding to see such effort pay off.
Do you have allergies? How do you manage eating out and eating at other peoples house? I’ve noticed eating out is incredibly difficult and some places are better than others at listing allergens. What’s your experience like?