Well, as you already know, I am a mother of three boys all under the age of 5. One of the nuances of these three little bundles of joy is that they all have a milk protein allergy. This has been a work in progress for me and for my family as at first, I panicked. As I have been sharing my new-found knowledge, I have come to see that most people disregard a milk allergy as a possibility since it means changing everything about how you live. And this is especially true for those breastfeeding. However, it really isn’t true. The main two changes are improved knowledge and pre-planning. As you can guess from this blogs title, I am a disorganized mother. So, needless to say, if I can do it anyone can do it. At this point, my entire family is living (happily) dairy free but when we first found out it was a milk allergy I did not think that would be possible.
How did this come to be you ask. How did I find out? Well, when Carson, my second son was born (2 years ago) he was a great baby. He slept really well, wasn’t fussy and was generally a joy to have. Until about 6 weeks!! Around that time, he started to eat non-stop (and I forgot to mention that I was breastfeeding), wouldn’t sleep and was very congested. The worst symptom was his gagging. He would gag while sleeping, while riding in the car or any other completely horrible time when you could almost not get to him quick enough and you weren’t sure he wouldn’t stop breathing.
As any rational mother would, I started looking into what I had changed in my diet. I consulted a lactation specialist, my doctor, his pediatrician and about every nurse or mother that I knew for thoughts and advice. Being a product of the technology age, I ,of course, checked Web MD and other internet research options. The lactation consultant, my doctor and his pediatrician had no real great solutions. The final answer was it couldn’t be allergies or he would be a complete mess when he got older as allergies get worse with age and it was probably my diet so eat more mildly and watch how he reacts.
The result of the internet research was much more efficient, it turns out. Right from the beginning, it said MILK PROTEIN ALLERGY!!
I was devastated. First, at this point, I have no real idea how much stuff milk is in but I do know that milk is in my ice cream, peanut butter cups and cow’s milk which I LOVE!!! How can this be…..no one I know has this. I have never even heard of this before. His response does not seem to change depending on what I eat–he is always stuffy and gagging. Can’t be this….must be something else.
So, for about two more weeks, I research and ask questions and research and as questions. To no avail…….Finally, sense hits me and I discuss with my husband the need for me to go milk free.
He was not convinced. He thought I was crazy and was not greatly supportive of the idea. He wanted Carson to feel better but not have to change anything himself.
So I started. I thought I was living milk free eliminating all obvious sources of dairy. Every now and then I would forget and eat something but for the most part was dairy free. Still no change…..See it couldn’t be a milk protein allergy…….No milk and still having issues.
On with the formula. I started with a soy based formula but that was worse. Now, he was gassy and constipated along with his congestion and gagging.
Then came the Alimentum.
I tried it for about a week and he was still having lots of problems so I again thought–not a milk protein allergy, must be something else.
Back to breast milk.
And I must say that I was a die-hard breast milk or bust kind of mother (remember, perfection. No Way my kid would do better on formula!!)
Breast milk made him worse.
I talked to older mothers who said, maybe he is allergic to breast milk. I was like “really, is that even possible? what did mothers do before Similac? LOL!”
Of course, it is not possible to be allergic to breast milk (a topic for another day). Has to be something else.
Well, I needed to make a change and commit to it and fast as my husband and I were going away for the weekend but I didn’t have enough dairy free breast milk to feed Carson for the entire weekend.
So, we went back to the Alimentum. Carson was 6 months old at this point.
He was on it consistently (no breast milk) for about 1.5 weeks prior to seeing any great changes.
But from about 2 weeks in, Carson was much much better. Sleeping overnight-all night, eczema improving, no congestion and best of all NO GAGGING!!
At 6 months, we introduced baby food but I was so particular to make sure it was dairy-free that I made it myself. I wouldn’t let him with anyone that I didn’t trust would keep him away from all dairy.
At his 1 year check up, his pediatrician stated that I should try cow’s milk again because most kids grow out of it (and I am still not convinced that she thinks it is a cow’s milk allergy anyway). She says mix 1/3 cow’s milk with 2/3 Alimentum and see how he reacts. I was skeptical but I tried. His belly started churning immediately and he was gassy, fussy and up all night (I meant all night–no sleep at all).
I switched to 8th Continent Soy milk as it is actually better than milk in calcium and fiber that next day. That next evening, he ate his normal dairy free routine with 8th Continent Soy Milk and he was back to his old self–sleeping all night and happy.
Since then, my other two sons have been diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy and they each present their own challenges. (which I will cover in the future)
I haven’t tried again to see if it is any better because we are all living dairy free and again, happily.
It is possible.