As I mentioned before, by 1 month of age, our previously sleepy baby had turned into one who cried almost all of her waking hours. At her 1-month checkup, the pediatrician said she either had just straight reflux or reflux caused by a protein allergy, and that most babies who, in earlier times would have been diagnosed with untreatable "colic," actually have one of these problems. Hers was confirmed by a test of her stool for blood, which was positive. The first course of action was to try prescription Prilosec for seven days. If the Prilosec didn't take care of her tummy pain, the doctor said I would have to go on a total elimination diet to get all potential allergens out of her diet, and will then slowly add foods back in to pinpoint the problem foods.
We tried the Prilosec and it did help, especially for the first couple of days, but even though I had decided to rid my diet of obvious sources of dairy at the same time, since that's the most common irritant for babies, as the week wore on, it became clear that something else in my diet was bothering her as the crying and spitting up increased again. That meant that I had to go on the strict elimination diet to try to get her to a baseline with no allergens and irritants and then try to figure out what would bother her as I added things back in. I have to mention at this point that I don't know if I would ever have tried this diet if our fellow-seminarian family had not just been through this process with their son and found that it worked. In the context of a well-child visit, through which our baby screamed, the doctor's sudden introduction of such an extreme method, without that previous exposure to the idea, would most likely have been dismissed by at least me, and probably by my husband, too. As it was, I was ready to do anything to help her feel better and stop crying all the time.
So I started out the next Monday morning eating only chicken and turkey; apples and pears; potatoes and sweet potatoes; and rice. The doctor said I could season with salt and pepper only and cook in olive oil. That was it. It only took a couple of days before I added sugar and cinnamon, so that I could have a rice-milk based rice pudding for breakfast. Then all I could do was wait. The doctor had said not to add any foods in until after 10 days, but I found out from my friend who had done the diet before that everything she had read said it takes 1-2 weeks for dairy to clear the mother's system and another 1-2 weeks for it to clear the baby's system. 4 weeks! 4 weeks of nothing but those 7 foods? Never eating out or eating prepared-type or processed foods from the grocery store? Eating nothing at potlucks or coffee hours? What had I gotten myself into? And all this with a crying baby who didn't seem to be improving.
After about 9 days I realized she was doing better and decided to add in some fresh fruits and vegetables that weren't likely to irritate her any further. So far so good. Then on the 13th day I had almost convinced myself that any improvement in her disposition was because of her maturation and not really due to my crazy diet. As a result, when the temptation came to eat a little bit of the apple pie I had made for Thanksgiving, but not eaten at Thanksgiving because it had butter in it, I ate a bit. I shouldn't have, but if I hadn't, I would have kept on wondering if all this diet stuff was necessary. That little bit of butter caused us two days of pain for our little one. On one of those days, we had to change our clothes multiple times because of her copious amounts of spit-up, which she hadn't even been prone to before the treatment process started. There's nothing like the terror of putting something untested or unapproved in your mouth because it's going to hurt your child. If it were just going to affect me, I might let little things slide by, but one look into her pitiful little face is enough to make me swear off whatever delightful thing to eat causes her pain. It's not easy. I really miss pizza most of all, but I'm not starving, either. I guess you could say this is my nativity fast.
Hopefully, she'll outgrow her sensitivities before she's a year old, likely by 6 months or so. We have another doctor's appointment next Monday, so we'll have to see how she's coming along weight-wise and if there's any other treatment that we can give her on bad days when I've tried something that doesn't agree with her.
So, for now, my days are filled with mostly holding her and not getting housework done. I spend entire church services in the basement parish hall, where I can't hear the service, nursing and burping her. It makes it hard to decide to even go to services sometimes!
Please continue to pray for us, especially for Laura. We will be traveling over the Nativity Holiday from Dec 18- Jan 4, so we ask you to pray for travelling blessings as well.
As a side note, my girls and I have been trying to color one ornament a day for a Jesse Tree (we still don't have a tree, but maybe next year). I wanted them to have a way to get into the spirit of anticipating Nativity. You can find out about the Jesse Tree here: http://festalcelebrations.wordpress.com/2007/12/27/jesse-tree-project-2008/