In which I engage in a very lengthy discussion about poop and why my kids can’t eat anything that tastes good. In other words, I will commit every Internet parenting sin and describe my kids’ diaper contents and go on about how super speshul their needs are and why I am amazing for figuring it all out. Everyone who is not my dad might want to skip this post.
Medically speaking, “allergy” means something very specific. The kid that eats a single peanut and starts getting hives and wheezing has an allergy. Those types of responses are caused by the kid’s immune system. Most everything else is some kind of intolerance. Except that when you say intolerance people think you live in a tree and are making sh*t up so I prefer to go with allergy anyways.
Whether an allergy or intolerance is suspected you will probably endure actual allergy testing first. I guess this is because even though the tests are fairly inaccurate, at least they have a test. Unless your kid responds to one of these prick tests or blood tests (not all kids who are truly allergic even do!) then the way to “diagnose” is to feed your kid the offending food and see how miserable they are.
Based on this “method”, both of my kids are said to have FPIES (Food Protein Induced Entercolitis Syndrome.) Some symptoms are cut and dry, like bloody diapers. Others, like extreme fussiness, are not. If your kid’s symptoms fall under the latter heading then people will think you’re full of it. You might even think you’re full of it sometimes and question whether you’re seeing patterns where there are none because you’re so desperate for the screaming to stop.
That brings me to B. True to form, he wasn’t exactly by the book. His major symptom was misery. So basically a lot and a lot and a lot of screaming. All.night.long. Also he was neeeeeedy all day long. (How much of the neediness was personality and how much was the fact that he was in serious pain most of the time I guess we’ll never know —> talk about maternal guilt.) Additionally he had eczema, but we were way more troubled by the screaming. Lots of people told us, “Eh, babies cry! He’ll grow out of it!” or “He’s just manipulating you and you need to let him cry it out!” As I paced the halls with a screaming-bloody-murder-baby trying to shhh, bounce, snuggle, nurse, binky, whatever him, I couldn’t imagine what he was possibly trying to manipulate me to do since I was doing EVERYTHING. I knew he was in pain but it was really hard to get to the bottom of it. Anyhoo, long story short I eventually took dairy out of his diet and then mine (he was doing some solids and some nursing by the time we figured it all out) and he stopped screaming at night and the eczema cleared up. Voila! So pretty much I didn’t care if someone thought I was full of sh*t because my kid no longer seemed to be in pain and I slept better (very low bar.)
B was really helpful with the research on this topic.
With F, also true to form so far, he follows the manual exactly. He started exhibiting major congestion really early on. We rushed him into the ped who diagnosed him with a cold, which made us feel like terrible parents for ever letting him leave the house. But the congestion never got worse or better. Plus he had constant green and mucusy poo and was puking a fair amount. After maybe two or so weeks of no change with his symptoms, I cut out dairy for a couple of days. And what do you know his cold was cured and his poop went back to normal baby poop. Oh, except once the green was gone I could see the little specks of blood in his diapers. It didn’t even require a visit to the office, and over the phone my ped said there is a 99% chance those things were caused by a dairy allergy/intolerance/whatever we are calling that.
Very little upsets this chill little dude, so at least there’s that.
With F now, we are hoping that any residual symptoms are a result of some dairy still floating around in my system and/or his and not that he has issues with another food on top of dairy, like soy or eggs (shoot me now.)
With B now, we are pretty much committing to the crazy people who live in trees diet and going gluten-free for a while to see if he gets more of an appetite and maybe gains some weight. I’ve even heard that people with Celiac can develop a dairy allergy (intolerance) as a secondary response because their system is so inflamed from all the gluten. So maybe in the end he will get to trade the allergy fairy his dairy issues in exchange for gluten issues?
“Let’s just go paleo and maybe start doing Crossfit.”
Oh, the other thing I’ve learned so far is this stuff takes a lot of Googling and obsessing on the part of the parent. Thankfully, I guess, ‘obsessive Googler of medical issues’ is my middle name. We are really lucky to have an awesome and attentive pediatrician who takes serious time with each kid, but even she is never going to draw the connections between my diet and the kids’ symptoms without my paying attention and reporting it first. That’s not meant to be self-congratulatory as I clearly still have no idea what’s going on with my kids and their intestinal bleeding etc. It’s just a fact that you do have to be a touch obsessive and willing to document trends to get to the bottom of these things since there are no medical tests.
I like to think I’m hot on the trail of these issues… maybe.