"Tchau, Cow" Part I

About 3 weeks after Miss N was born, her easy going ways walked right out the door (just about the time my parents did as well!). She started waking up during naps, arching her back--screaming in pain and then finally falling asleep again--only to be rudely awoken by the same discomforts. She started spitting up (a LOT) of her milk intake, her bowels were bubbly, and our nights together began to be exhausting.

It would start around 11pm or so...and last until about 2 or 3am. There was lots of crying, swaddling, swaying, swooshing, rocking, bouncing, cuddling...and standing upright. As soon as she would calm down, I would lay down and she was awake and screaming again. I nursed, burped, cleaned up the spit up, rocked, bounced, soothed, and on many occasions, cried along with her. I spent most of those nights in the living room--the laptop displayed shows for me to distract myself from the exhaustion, and the soft glow of white lights on our banister (left up from Christmas) helped provide glistening night in the dark, long nights. On the weekends (and weeks he was home), Mr. H would dutifully take over and I would rest as much as I could for the coming week.

I received lots of advice, tips, and encouragement from family and friends who had survived the challenges of a "colicky" baby. I talked with lactation consultants, LLL advisors, and scoured the vast resources online. I concluded that the problem was two-fold: one being a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance (and forceful let down of milk)--the second being a food sensitivity. This post is about the latter. 

After several weeks of her colicky symptoms (and trying every colic/gas preventing advice out there), I decided to try the option of taking some foods out of my diet to see if that was the problem. I was hesitant, because I really did not want to eliminate anything...I like eating tasty, creamy foods!

According to KellyMom.com: A small percentage of breastfeeding mothers notice an obvious difference in their baby’s behavior and/or health when they eat certain foods. Cow’s milk products are the most common problem foods and the only foods conclusively linked by research to fussiness/gassiness in babies, but some babies do react to other foods.

After that first excruciating (for me) week without dairy and chocolate (yes. chocolate), Miss N began to sleep better, longer, and her crying at night was not nearly as dramatic. By the second week, as hard as it was for me (dairy is in every delicious dish!)--she was a new baby. She also started sucking her thumb which was wonderful for her to self-sooth (even though I dread dealing with that later). Within a month of the changes in my diet, Miss N was sleeping through the night and enjoying comfortable naps without the gassy pains that had caused her so much pain and sleeplessness.

I found many great resources online and made necessary changes in my meals. If you know me, some of the changes were a big sacrifice. (Cereal, anyone?) Some things that were on my regular shopping list that I gave up: cow's milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, string cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, cream cheese. Some things that cropped up over time that I had to pass on: ice cream (even many sherbets!), homemade frostings, some breads, shakes, hot chocolate, cookies with milk, some deli meats, crackers, soups, sauces, glazes, etc.

I began finding replacements for must-haves: almond milk instead of cow's milk, rice cheese instead of dairy cheese (soy cheese did not make the cut), coconut milk ice cream, to name a few. When there were no substitutes (or the didn't sound appetizing), I just made myself something different or prepared a dairy-free portion for my plate. It started out very challenging but now--almost 9 months later, it doesn't seem so hard.

There were days that I would have a bite of one of the boys' quesadillas or something...and sure enough, 2 days later we would have another long night. There were people who would ask me why I was making such drastic dietary changes when I could easily give my baby formula. For me--the sacrifice was a challenge but because breastfeeding is so important to me, it was well worth it.

The upside?

Miss N is a very happy baby whose previously frequent gassy upsets are now extremely rare. Also? The weight I gained while I was pregnant (and more!) melted off ...like butter. 

All because I wasn't consuming any!

Due to several requests for information on going dairy free and questions about baby's with dairy sensitivity, I will continue this topic in a Tchau Cow Part II. Stay tuned!


Miles said...

I love your dedication! I'm so glad you researched and did what it took to make Miss N's tummy happy.

And, YES! After going dairy-free, I lost so much weight and now that I'm slowly allowing more into my diet, the weight is all coming back. Crazy!

JosephJ said...

Wow. Just wow. Dairy is so ubiquitous, that is a life-upside-down change to cut it. Good for you for figuring out how to do it!