Friday, July 23, 2010

Got milk? Then, no thanks.

Of course, as a first time mom, I worry about things that may not concern more experienced parents. It took a while to learn Noah's cries, to know when he was hungry, angry or just plain bored. Even now I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between when he is truly in need or just merely fussy.
However, there was a time, when Noah was younger, that his cry told me something was far from right. Mostly a happy baby (people still comment on his eager smile and ready laugh), he would transform into a first fussy, then wiggling
, then wailing child. This transformation happened almost always around the same time, a few hours before bed, and lasted well into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes the crying would last all night.
When inquiring others about this phenomenon, I would usually get the response, "Sometimes babies just cry." Google and Web
site searches made me think that
Noah might have colic.
But my motherly instincts told me the mood swings were something else. Noah seemed to
be in pain, arching his back and kicking his legs. And he had constant gas.
So, after a few trips to our pediatrician, it was suggested that Noah might have a food allergy. And the most common food allergy for babies is milk. To test the theory that this was indeed the culprit and the cause of all our long nights, I eliminated milk products from my diet. Therefore, the protein found in dairy that some babies have trouble digesting would not pass on to Noah through my breast milk.
Now, eliminating dairy is much harder than it sounds, especially for someone who has never had to follow a special diet before. Yes, I love cheese and ice cream, and I was sad to see those go. But the hardest thing was knowing what I could safely eat. There are so many foods out there that have milk or butter as an ingredient, and others that have milk "byproducts" such as whey. Finding foods I could eat at restaurants was very difficult. Finding something I could eat at a fast food joint was near impossible.
So I educated myself on foods, menus and ingredient lists. And after a few weeks of sacrificing some of my favorite dairy products, as well as foods like bread that simply had milk as an ingredient, I was rewarded by having a much happier baby.
For almost two months, Noah slept well through the night and displayed his usual happy demeanor while awake. Kris and I were delighted.
But then we hit a snag. Noah started exhibiting some allergy symptoms again, including gas, a small cough, a rash, fussiness and, the most alarming, trace amounts of blood in his stool. After the doctor ran several tests, we decided either milk was still managing to slip into my diet or Noah had another, undetermined allergy.
The solution? Switch from breast feeding to an allergy-sensitive formula.
I struggled a little with giving up my plan to breast feed until Noah turned one. But we had made it seven months, giving him the antibodies and healthy start he needed. So Kris and I decided the change needed to happen.
And once again we have a smiling, healthy baby.
We are holding onto the hope that Noah will outgrow his milk allergy, like many babies with allergies do. I hope one day he will enjoy cheese and ice cream like his mommy. But, for now, he is growing and gaining weight and sleeping through the night, at least when he's not teething.
Now I'm just trying to figure out the best way to have a dairy-free cake at his first birthday party. I may try to make the cake myself (poor Noah) or find a vendor to make it for me. But my son will have something sweet that he can smush all over his face.