Tag Archives: No2

Milk-Soy Protein Intolerance and Living Dairy-Free

8 Jan

I had never heard of milk intolerance before becoming a mom.  Lactose intolerance, sure.  But milk protein intolerance is completely different.  Not really an allergy, MSPI (milk-soy protein intolerance) is when the body is unable to safely process the large protein molecules found in cow’s milk.  As a result, the stomach may overproduce acid and the intestines become irritated, leading to mucus and sometimes blood.  Both my babies were born with an MSPI.  And, being a first-time parent, my first baby suffered for 3 months because I just didn’t know enough to ask more questions of the pediatrician or to advocate for myself.  But as it turns out, all my knowledge and experience still left me unprepared for my second baby’s MSPI as well.

Bean was 8 weeks old when I finally called “uncle” and went to a lactation consultant for help with my screamy baby who was clearly hungry but fussed every time I attempted to nurse her.  She had gone from the 35th percentile to the 10th but the pediatrician didn’t have any ideas for me other than to try formula.  Every feed was a nightmare and getting her to eat required a combination of baby wearing and bouncing on a big exercise ball in the bathroom with the fan running.  It was exactly the kind of horrible breastfeeding experience that prevents new moms from nursing long-term. But I never suspected a milk intolerance because her symptoms weren’t as severe as her big sister’s.

My oldest would projectile vomit after feeds, her diapers were filled with mucus, and the pediatrician found signs of blood in her stool.  But with the littlest, the only symptoms were her fussiness and her trouble breastfeeding.  I spent 8 weeks convinced it must be something else before the LC suggested I visit a pediatric gastroenterologist who diagnosed her right away.  Grudgingly, I went on a dairy fast, giving up any food with soy or milk protein.

Within a week, I had a whole new baby.  She was sleeping better, screaming less, and after two weeks, had jumped back into the 30th percentile.  It was, quite frankly, a miracle.  I had seen similar results with Doodlebug, but giving up the dairy was so hard on me emotionally, that we ended up using hypoallergenic formula with her.  I remember rocking her in the big reclining rocker at my parents’ house sobbing “I’m sorry” over and over as I filled her up with formula.  Looking back, it was absolutely the best thing for both of us.  She thrived on the formula and it immediately alleviated much of the anxiety I was suffering from.  With Bean, giving up the dairy didn’t seem as daunting, perhaps because I had already had some practice.  Also?  My overwhelming PPD and OCD the first time around made breastfeeding torturous, let alone an elimination diet.  With Bean, I was mentally healthy enough to take on the added challenge.  And is is a challenge.

It’s been 2 years, and though we keep attempting to introduce dairy into her diet, every week spent with milk results in sleepless nights and a cranky toddler.  I’ve been able to reintroduce cheese into my own diet (I could hear angels singing, folks), but for the first 18 months, I was completely dairy-free.  I wouldn’t wish such a difficult diet on anyone, but it is possible, and for some mom-baby pairs, may make life much easier overall.

So let’s be honest.  Dinners weren’t so hard to modify.  After all, spaghetti and meatballs is dairy free, as is most grilled meats, fresh fruits and veggies, and many breads.  But how did I live without cheese (and ice cream, and milk, and cookies, and chocolate)?  While there are really no good soy and milk-free cheese substitutes (I really did give them a fair shot), I found that hummus often worked in place of cheese in fajitas and even sandwiches.  Whole Foods sells a cheese-free pizza with roasted veggies that is pretty yummy for those days when you Just. Want. Pizza.  And So Delicious makes coconut milk yogurt, ice cream and my favorite, coffee creamer.  I actually prefer the coconut coffee creamer now.  Coconut milk is great for baking, as is Earth Balance soy-free margarine, and to my surprise, cocoa butter isn’t actually butter and contains no dairy!  So as long as your chocolate doesn’t list casein, milk, or whey as an ingredient, you can eat it!  Lindt makes a dark chocolate that we really love here, but my favorite trick is to buy a huge 1 pound block of 65% chocolate from Whole Foods.  We chop it up and snack on it for a month!  The key for me was finding substitutes for my favorite foods so I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself of the comfort foods I loved.

Here are some of my favorite MSPI and Dairy-free resources:

MSPI Mama – tons of recipes and resources, including a QUICK START recipe list for the first few weeks of MSPI eating when everything is so overwhelming.

MSPI Mama links to restaurant allergen information HERE

More facts about MSPI

The differences between allergies and intolerances from PIC (Protein Intolerant Children)

Tasty Eats at Home – my friend Alta writes about her food journey and has many recipes and resources for eating dairy and gluten-free

The best advice I can give you is to be realistic with yourself about how the MSPI diet is affecting your happiness.  If it makes you miserable, it may not be worth continuing to breastfeed your MSPI baby.  But it DOES get easier with time.  After about 6 months I stopped missing cheese, and these days, I don’t even mourn the ice cream any longer.  Truly.  It also had the added benefit that watching my diet carefully taught me to be aware of my food.  I eat a much healthier diet now, just because I learned to read ingredients and to cook more food from scratch. But each mom has to decide what’s best for her family. Hopefully you have enough support no matter how you decide to address your baby’s MSPI.

Thank You, Target

3 May

I don’t shy away from nursing in public, for a host of reasons.  Mostly? I’m just feeding my baby.  And I’m not about to put the discomfort of a few strangers above the needs of my child.  But since Bean is 16 months old, she doesn’t often need to nurse while we’re out and about.

Today was a different story.  No matter how many times I offered a sippy and no matter how many toy aisles we walked down, she desperately wanted to nurse in Target, in the middle of our shopping trip.  She signed for milk half a dozen times, but it was when she signed “please,” that I finally paused my shopping to indulge her.

I found a quiet spot behind the children’s clothes and plopped myself down on the ground near the stroller display.  A Target employee came over to ask if I was okay, uncertain why I was sitting on the carpet.  When she noticed I was nursing, I braced to defend myself.

And then she said, “There’s a rocking chair on the endcap where you’ll be more comfortable.  Do you want to move there?” I thanked her and assured her I was fine, finished nursing Bean, and went about my shopping.

I’ve only ever had two strangers address me while breastfeeding.  I’m fortunate that they have both been kind.  And this?  This was exactly how a nursing mother wants to be (and should be) treated when nursing her child, especially by a store employee.

Target has gotten a bad rap in the last few years for their treatment of nursing mothers.  And if I had been treated poorly today, you’d better believe I’d share.  But I bet there are many positive stories, too, and I wanted to be a part of accentuating the positive.

Thank you, Target.  Your team member treated me with kindness and respect.  I really appreciated it.  I hope this is a sign of progress in your company since November of 2011.

Also?  You’re welcome for the $120 I ended up spending despite my short shopping list.  You win.  Again.

Vlog Ramblings and Adorable Baby Shenanigans

20 Feb

This is all I’ve got today, folks. Happy Humpday!

And then I shared my boobs with the internet…

25 Jan

I never imagined that I would find myself  nursing past a year, nursing uncovered in public, or advocating for breastfeeding.  And I certainly didn’t expect to write about it or post pictures of myself nursing on the internet for all to see.  And yet here I am. And I’m somewhere in this photo set from Gina’s 72 hour Facebook photo ban campaign.  And if you follow me on instagram, chances are you’ve gotten a few peeks, too.  So why am I sharing something I had always considered so private?

It’s been a hard road breastfeeding this baby toddler, but one I’m so glad to be traveling.  From dairy intolerance, to oversupply and overactive letdown, to thrush, to sleep deprivation, the struggle has been intense but the the payoff is enormous. Sleepy milk-drunk newborn smiles… snuggles given freely after a morning nurse… watching the numbers on the scale grow because of your milk… the first time my baby signed for milk… being physically connected to my baby long after she has left the womb.  And of course the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-researched and well-documented.  Breastmilk is alive – full of antibodies, cells, and proteins.  Breastfeeding has nurtured me and my baby for the last 12 months.

Let me say that though the benefits are great, breastfeeding or breast milk is not best for every baby-mother pair.  Maybe a mother tries to nurse and has to stop because of supply issues, medication incompatibility, depression, her baby’s needs, or any one of dozens of reasons.  Maybe she knows from the get-go that breastfeeding isn’t a match for her parenting style or lifestyle.  Perhaps she just doesn’t want to.  I fully support each mother’s choice to make such a personal decision for herself, and I truly understand why formula or bottle feeding moms sometimes feel defensive when faced with a statement such as “breast is best” or when a mother is nursing, uncovered, in front of her.  After all, my first attempt to breastfeed fell apart (which ended up being the best thing for both of us) after a few months and I remember not understanding why breastfeeding moms thought what they were doing was so special.  Now that I’ve been nursing for over a year?  I get it.  It can be magical.

Am I a better mother because I breastfeed my baby?  Of course not.  Just as a mother who carries her baby in her womb is not a better mother than one who adopts or uses a surrogate.  Being a mother is about more than where your child comes from or how they are fed.  But just because it doesn’t define me as a mother doesn’t make it unimportant or any less beautiful.  Carrying my babies in my body felt empowering, and similarly, breastfeeding No2 has been a life-changing experience.

And so, I choose to share.  I want to support mothers who are considering nursing or are currently trying to breastfeed their babies…I want to normalize something that carries stigma in our culture…and to celebrate checking something off my life-list.  It’s been an enormous part of my daily life for the last 13 months and I don’t think this space would be complete without its story.


By the way, this is what breasfeeding uncovered usually looks like for us.  Nothin' to see here, folks. ;)

By the way, this is what breasfeeding uncovered usually looks like for us. Nothin’ to see here, folks. 😉

She Walks!

13 Dec

This one?  Is fearless.  Such a different little person from her big sister.

Quiet.  Easy-going.  And mobile.

Send wine.

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Not For Weak Stomachs

10 Dec

It’s been a hard month or so here.

Six weeks ago I tripped over the preschooler and tweaked my back while keeping myself from falling or dropping the baby.  The following day, I walked into my bedroom after bathing the kids and collapsed on the floor in agony.  My L4 disc blew.  Again.  For the third time in 2 years.  My screams terrified the baby while I begged my husband to call my mother and then an ambulance, in that order.  Within three minutes, the room filled with firemen and a medic was pressing his knee into my back to ease the tremors that the shock were causing.  They rolled me onto a frigid metal board and carried me down a flight of stairs and the stone steps leading from my front door before loading me and my exposed nursing bra into the ambulance.  I refused any pain medication on the ride, not knowing what was compatible with breastfeeding.  The medic called me “one tough cookie” upon our arrival at the ER.  One IV of morphine later, the pain subsided and I was both high as a kite and severely nauseous.  I spent a week in a haze of codeine and bed rest, only to suffer a seven-day regimen of oral steroids that brought on a severe (but temporary) depression.

Four weeks ago, I contracted what I can only describe as officially the world’s worst cold.  Not quite the flu.  More than a cold.  Body aches, fever, congestion, fire throat, zombie brain, and finally a hacking cough.  It’s still not completely gone.

Eight days ago, I woke up at 1am with my heart racing, almost jumping out of my chest.  My first thought was a random panic attack and I wondered where my Ativan was.  Then the vomiting began.  And continued every ten minutes for three straight hours.  The heart palpitations only increased and between my fatigue and signs of dehydration, I graced the ER with my presence once again.  The male nurse who placed my IV tossed each vial of blood he took for tests onto the bed as if it was the bane of his existence.  I have never had such a painful needle stick.  And yet I could kiss him for bringing me the Zofran.  And though the nausea ended early in the morning, the following day’s fever, body aches, and fatigue had no magic cure.  It took until Saturday – seven days – before I felt like myself again.

Six days ago, my mother took the preschooler overnight so DH and I could focus on my recuperation.  DH took some Tums in an attempt to cure his indigestion and I prepared for the worst.  At 10:01pm, I watched on the video monitor as the baby threw up over the side of her crib.  There is nothing worse than the sound of a baby attempting to cry in-between dry heaves.  I started nursing her in-between bouts of nausea just so she wouldn’t have an empty stomach.  We snuggled in the guest bed until morning, when her nausea subsided and her body relaxed into a deep sleep.

Three days ago, we packed everyone up and drove 40 minutes north to my parents’ home.  It’s not easy for me to ask for help, but DH was still on the mend, the baby needed my constant attention, and the television is incapable of providing my preschooler with any babysitting care other than distraction.  They were, as they always are, amazingly helpful and I started to think we were out of the woods.

Two days ago, No1 woke up at 5am and was sick every 30 minutes for six hours.  After the first hour, she began fighting the illness, insisting she was fine and wrestling with anyone who tried to help her.  She seemed to bounce back the quickest and yet this evening brought a relapse, complete with fever and nausea.

Yesterday, we left my parents sitting on the couch with saltine crackers.

And today, my preschooler threw up in the parking lot of my psychiatrist’s office on my $300 Clarks riding boots.  The fear in her eyes brought me to my knees beside the car and I held her through all three fits of coughing.

But when my psychiatrist asked me how I’ve been the last three months, I was honestly able to answer, “normal.”  I’ve been overwhelmed.  Stressed.  Short-tempered.  Exhausted.  And in desperate need of some intensive self-care.  But I think my reactions in every situation were typical.  And though not ideal, typical is a pretty great place to be if you struggle with mental illness.

I’d like to think it can only get better from here.  Knock on some wood with me, will ya?

Almost One

29 Nov

Maybe it’s the mid-cycle hormones, or all the pictures of friends’ new babies, but I find myself craving that newborn smell and the way a teeny baby fits into the crook of my arm.  I haven’t forgotten how hard those first few months were, and I adore this age – all the amazing milestones, the personality, the new experiences that happen between 6 and 12 months –  but as No2’s first birthday quickly approaches, I find myself increasingly nostalgic for her first few days and weeks.

Eleven Months

16 Nov

I’m linking up with Alison and Galit this week for Memories Captured.  I love how they encourage me to stop and smell the roses.  Even the bittersweet ones.

When did you become this little person?  The one whose favorite food is grilled chicken and peas?  The one who loses all her bones and slumps to the floor because the disappointment over the gated stairs has overtaken her entire being?

I held you last night upon your third wakening.  I couldn’t bring myself to put you back in the crib and have you dream for all those hours away from me.  It seems like only a moment ago we were one being.  And now here you are, weeks, days away from turning one year old.

It has been an amazing eleven months, sweet Bean.  You and I have accomplished so much together, learned so much from one another.  You have given me the first year I always wanted, unmarred by postpartum depression’s sharp talons.  And I have to admit I’m a little devastated it’s almost over.  Not just sad or nostalgic.  I watch you stand and wobble, try to put your socks on your toes, or color a little picture and as proud as I am of you, and as excited as I am to watch you experience your world, I mourn for the loss of the baby you were just the day before.

I want to sob, “Please don’t turn one.  Please don’t leave me,” and yet I know that you are not mine.  You came through me, but you are not mine to keep.  And so I will stand here helpless to stop time.  And I will try my best to let you grow.


When Birthdays Aren’t So Happy

14 Oct

No1 turned 4 this week.  Among the bittersweet celebration of her newest number floated tiny flashbacks.  Bit and pieces of the horror kept snapping me out of my happiness.  The 37-week induction for no reason, the 12 hours she spent in ICU because of fluid in her lungs, the second-degree cervical laceration, and the feeling of complete disconnect with my new baby girl.  One of my most vivid memories of the day she was born is being wheeled into the ICU and realizing I had absolutely no idea which baby was mine.

Four years ago, early in October, I lost who I knew myself to be.  It may be the anniversary of my baby’s birth, but it’s also the anniversary of the onset of my PPD.

Past birthdays haven’t been so hard.  But my birth experience with No2 was so beautiful and peaceful and my bond so deep and immediate, that the anger over how bad round one was has resurfaced.  It’s almost as if comparing experiences has highlighted how horrid the first one was.  I realize it’s water under the bridge. . . that I have an amazing little girl who knows that she is loved and feels it ever day with me.  Maybe it shouldn’t matter how I gave birth to her, but it does.  Those early days were filled with emotional and physical trauma, both of which I suppose I’m still healing from.

Today, we celebrated with a party.  A house full of preschool friends, yellow “happy car convertible” decorations, a Matchbox car race, crafts, and treats.  It was joyful and a celebration of everything No1 is in this moment.  She had an incredible time.  Incredible.  I’m choosing to focus on that.  Choosing to live in the present.

But in these quiet moments when my heart reaches back to the past and aches for what might have been, or regrets all the time lost to denial and naiveté , I am trying to be kind to myself.  I’m staying up late to play video games with my husband, imagining Velma’s face on each villain and alien creature.  I’m taking long showers, freshening up the pink in my hair, and wearing my favorite makeup.  I’m sleeping in on the weekends and going to bed early to listen to podcasts I know will send me off to dreamland.  I’m sipping my coffee slowly and microwaving it as many times as it takes to finish the whole cup hot.  I’m soaking in each “I love you,” from my now-four-year-old.

It’s okay to celebrate her four astounding years on this earth and grieve for the joyful birth and postpartum experiences I was deprived of.  And spooning chocolate frosting straight from the can into my face?  Sure has helped with both.

Why I’m (Sometimes) Glad I Stay at Home

8 Oct

Staying home is hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not starting any mommy wars here.  Mommy wars shouldn’t even be a thing, because obviously the children starting the whole thing.

“My mom won’t let me eat ice cream for dinner.”

“What?! Not cool.”

“I know!  Let’s pit them against each other.  They’ll be so busy fighting about who has it worse, they won’t have enough energy to argue with us about anything.”

So let’s all agree that we all have it the worst.  Every situation has its benefits and its drawbacks.  And no matter what your situation, I think we all have moments when we wonder if we’ve made the right decision for ourselves and our families.  I know lately I’ve felt overwhelmed by being at home at my children’s every beck and call.

And then this happens and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to stay home and not miss a moment.  Remind me of this post in a week when I’m fed up.  Again.

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