Thursday, March 28, 2013

Raising the White Flag

I signed off my last post feeling so confident. I was sure I knew the right course of action and given enough time, I would prevail. Well, that wasn’t exactly how it happened.
After I signed off last time I knew I needed to start adding food back into my diet. I could no longer keep my body functioning as it needed to and drink only formula. We tried carrots, snap peas, prunes, and hemp milk. It seemed once I put it into my body he started to fuss and complain. Within 12 hours he was screaming in pain.

Patrick stopped sleeping through the night and the number of diapers a day began to increase. He started vomiting again and I worried we might be headed back down our dark road. I felt so confused. I thought I was helping my baby, now it seems I was hurting him again.
On Monday Patrick began to yank himself off my breast after sucking for a short time. It seemed like it was bothering him again. By that afternoon I switched back to Elecare and stopped breast feeding. He seemed to be doing a little bit better but not much. The agony of it all was more than I could take.

Patrick woke early on Tuesday morning and I got up to make him a bottle. I had about three ounces of Elecare leftover from the night before sitting in the fridge. I also had a little less than two ounces of pumped milk sitting next to it. I figured together they would make a perfect morning bottle.
I warmed it up and he eagerly took it then spit it out. He began to suck then pop his head back, similarly to what he was doing the day before. I knew he was hungry and he began to cry out of frustration. I went into the kitchen and made him a new bottle of only Elecare.

I came back into the room and gave him the bottle. He took it like a champ and grunted with relief as he took the first few gulps. Jason asked, “What did you do?”
I sighed and said, “I made him a bottle without breastmilk.”

We shared a knowing look and he softly said, “I’m sorry.”
I nodded and replied, “Thanks.”

I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness. I am just not able to feed him anymore. He does well as long as I only drink formula, but the moment I introduce food, he begins to have problems again.
It isn’t worth it to go through all this to only end up in the hospital again. I have to do what is best for Patrick, and right now, the best thing for him is Elecare.

I am comforted by knowing the formula I am feeding him tastes good and is good for him. There is nothing more I can say other than, I gave it my all and it didn’t work out as I had hoped, but I have a healthy baby and that is all that matters.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back from a break

By Wednesday of last week I had become concerned. My body was showing signs of distress and I worried my bowels had completely shut down. Jason suggested I try to eat something to help things along, “You haven’t eaten anything substantial in over two weeks, I think you need solid food in order to get things moving again.” On Friday my doctor prescribed MiraLax.
I began to fret that if my bowels had indeed stopped working, it might impact my breast milk. Oh, the stress! On Thursday I ate some snap peas as they were calling me from the produce isle. No change. I broke down and had a sausage patty on Friday morning. Patrick suffered after that.

Now, part of getting back into eating from an elimination diets is to eat smart. You only eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible (i.e. raw veggies, plan meat, whole fruits). I know that. But, try telling that to a stomach that has had to smell sausage cooking all week! The moment my brain told the rest of my body that we were eating, my stomach demanded, “WE ARE EATING SAUSAGE!”
This isn’t your run of the mill sausage, mind you. This is fresh from your packing house sausage. No preservatives or fillers, only real meat and spices mixed together to make an amazing breakfast treat. I figured I was safe. Not so much.

So, Patrick’s stool changed back to green and his tummy was obviously upset. Way to go Mom! Now, you have Momma guilt to top off your breakfast! I continued to eat formula the rest of the day but nothing in Patrick really changed. When my doctor finally got back to me, apparently he has been busy, he prescribed a laxative.
With everything that Patrick was going through, I wasn’t going to add on to it the potential side effects of taking something to make me go. He goes enough! So, on Saturday I took my meds like the doctor ordered and had me a day of eating real food all day long. I figured if I was off breastfeeding for the day, I might as well enjoy it.

I started off my day with pancakes, but no sausage since we had run out and the rest was frozen solid. For lunch I had one brat topped with sauerkraut and fries and a beer. I was stuffed. Jason laughed and pointed out that my stomach had probably shrunk. No doubt. No dinner for me, there was simply no room!
Now, had I been doing this the right way, I might have started with some broth and worked my way up to some bland chicken and rice. Well, if you don’t know by now, I don’t do things like other normal people, I am a bit crazy. So, I jump right in and enjoy the hell out of my splurge day, as we used to call them.

Thankfully, I didn’t have any ill effects, and Patrick was recovering - thanks to my supply of frozen breast milk. Then Sunday morning came, and surprisingly, I actually craved formula! Silly me, I thought I could put my splurge day behind me and move forward. That was until lunchtime. Oh man, I wanted to eat leftovers so bad! Off with my formula I went to pout in the corner. Oh, this is tough.
I continued to feed Patrick stored breast milk and pump to maintain my supply. For the record, that is such a pain in my *&^! Some days I just want to stop. Around 2:00 p.m., I began to seriously consider quitting. I ran out of stored milk and gave Patrick straight formula. I could tell he wasn’t happy, but he ate it anyway.

About fifteen minutes later he spit up. This wasn’t his usual spit up, it was a thick, mucousy type spit up. I had never seen this and I became a bit alarmed. I quickly looked up on the Internet and the most reputable site (it had sources) explained it was related to GERD. I had that word…GERD. But, it went on to explain that GERD can be remedied best by breastfeeding.
Can I hear an AMEN?? It was as if the spirit world sensed I was buckling under the pressure and needed to give me a boost of guilt to keep me going. I mean, how I can let my boy suffer with GERD when studies proved that breastfeeding naturally alleviates symptoms!

So, after 24 hours had passed since my last real food meal, I went ahead and gave Patrick the boob. Funny, I can tell such a difference. He really enjoys breastfeeding; it is a struggle to get him to finish a bottle. I am rewarded with no spit up.
I finish writing this post with Patrick passed out from being milk drunk on my lap. I love that about breastfeeding. Prop that Boppy on my lap and he sucks away while I can type. Can’t do that when you are holding a bottle! Oh, the reasons just keep piling up.

On a good note, I am back to my ‘ol self again and feeling great. Now, to fix me a drink, of formula that is…



Monday, March 18, 2013

What? No Coffee?

This morning as I tasted my breakfast and remarked, “Hmm, I think I like my shake a little thicker.”

Jason laughed and said, “I don’t think anyone has ever said that about formula before, are you becoming a connoisseur?”

I laughed, “Yes, I guess I am!”

So I think the right amount for one meal is 8 scoops to every 12 ounces, or 10 scoops for every 16 ounces, depending on how hungry I am. Since I prefer smaller, more frequent meals, I think the 12 ounces will work best, but, ohhh, how I miss breakfast.

Today I made pancakes and sausage for my son Ian. The pan was nice and hot which made the patty sizzle as it hit the surface. Within moments the familiar aroma of breakfast began to make its way to my nose. I smiled knowing that in a few weeks I might be able to eat it again; such a small sacrifice to make for a big return.

I think this morning was the first morning where I didn’t curse myself for giving up coffee. I was still tired but I didn’t dread facing the day without my steaming cup of java. I wonder what other fascinating facts I will learn about myself. I mean, facing life without coffee in the morning? Wow, that is crazy talk!

The other big change brought on by this diet is our dining habits. Eating together is very important to me, that is, until I can’t eat. Now, Jason and Ian eat together and I do dishes or breastfeed Patrick. It makes me sad that I write this as my family enjoys one of my favorite dishes, but again, it is for a good cause and for a short time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Are we there yet?

Over the past two days my resolve has been tested. I am holding strong, but it sucks. Yesterday we went to Stations of the Cross and afterwards met up with everyone else for soup and bread. To make matters worse, I had forgotten to drink my shake before we left; the temptation to eat was great.

The heavenly aroma engulfed my senses as I walked past the steaming pots of soup. For over an hour we sat and chatted with everyone but I focused on Patrick. Anytime I am thinking of eating anything, I remember why I am doing this and I no longer have the desire.

Today was Ian’s birthday and I made my first cake from scratch. It was chocolate cake drizzled with powdered sugar frosting and green sprinkles. My brain screamed, “I want cake!” Normally, I would be helping myself to two or maybe three pieces. All I could do was watch as everyone else enjoyed their cake.

The hardest part is trying to cook. Normally I try to cook based on what I feel like eating. Well, right now I feel like eating everything! I also sample what I am cooking to make sure I have it tastes right. It is a bit frustrating to hope for the best when I set out dinner. So far the only complaint has been when I added too much kale to one dish.

My body seems to be tolerating the diet pretty good. Tonight I had to start taking some Citrucel because things aren’t working so normal in that arena. I doubt it will cause Patrick a reaction, so I am not worried about that. I can see why the nutritionist was concerned about my lack of fiber intake on the diet, hopefully Citrucel does the trick.

I started getting concerned the other day when my hair began to look a little dull. It was the first time I began to worry what impact this was having on me. I styled my hair today and it looked the same as it ever did. Maybe I was just having a bad hair day.

The biggest change has been my hands. Normally they are so dry they hurt. That was the first sign that something was wrong before I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I couldn’t use enough lotion, it seemed nothing worked, or if it did, not for very long. For the past few days the dryness has greatly decreased and is located only at the base of my fingers. I take this as a good sign.

It seems like I have been on this diet for a long time but we are only at day 10. I feel like I am running a marathon and I am getting tired but I just passed the two-mile mark. This is going to be a long, tough road. But every time I breastfeed my baby, I forget all the hard stuff and rejoice in the fact that he is doing better and it is all because of me.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Resuming Breastfeeding

After being on the diet for three days, I was asked if I was worried that Patrick wouldn’t breastfeed after being on the bottle for over a week? What?? That happens?? I guess having breastfed successfully with my first son for ten months, I assumed this one would be the same. But, this experience was nothing like my first baby and I began to panic.

I immediately went to my baby, who was sleeping at the time, and woke him to breastfeed. Yes, it was too early, but in my mind, I had to know! I mean, if this wasn’t going to work, why the heck was I going to go through this Elecare diet if Patrick refused my breast? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Just like a champ, Patrick breastfed like he had never stopped. I think part of the reason was that he had made it to the eight-week mark before having a bottle introduced full-time. Whew, that is a relief. But then I looked down and my breasts looked pretty pathetic. How was I going to get my milk supply back?

I started pumping, but this isn’t exactly easy with a two-year-old that wants to know why Mommy can’t play. Things weren’t improving. I upped my water consumption, but still no improvement. A quick internet search later and I found that I needed to have baby feed constantly. Well, it was the weekend so I left all duties to Jason while Patrick and I hung out in bed all day.  It took about five days but everything returned to normal and we were breastfeeding full-time!

With this concern out of the way, what impact would the diet have on me?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Elecare Diet

One week ago today I found myself sick with worry in the hospital room. I had spoken to many doctors and they all seemed to have their own theories. Through it all, one doctor seemed to be the most sure of the prognosis – Dr. John Feerick. This man is my hero.

He looked at my baby and he looked at me with unwavering eyes, “Your baby has a milk allergy.” This did not come as a surprise. I had suspected it once I found bright red blood in his icky, green stool. I was a breastfeeding mother and after some research I found I needed to take out every speck of milk from my diet. Two weeks later baby Patrick had shown some improvement but began to take a turn for the worse when the vomiting started.

Dr. Feerick explained that it would be best to give my son only an amino acid based formula and to discontinue breastfeeding. My heart was broken. I had such strong convictions against formula feeding and I wanted nothing to do with it. But, I couldn’t deny the fact that breastfeeding was literally killing my son. I gave in and accepted the fact that there would be no more breastfeeding for me.

The next day I noticed my baby began crying and was increasingly fussy. Great. The hospital prescribed Maalox. Patrick was taking it after every feeding. This wasn’t working either. Giving him that much medicine, even though it was every two hours, couldn’t be good for such a little body. Dr. Feerick came in again and I began to ask serious questions about the possibility of breastfeeding if I only consumed the amino acid formula.

One might question how I even considered such an option. There were rules I had made for myself as a mother and one of them was: I would never feed my child something I myself would not eat. So if I was planning on feeding my son formula, the only thing he could ingest without having a reaction, why couldn’t I eat it too thus making my breast milk good for him again? Dr. Feerick was open to the option and said he did know of one other mother who had done it and found success. He also mentioned it might help my ulcerative colitis.

On that remark I was sold. I would use my body as a processing plant; by consuming that which my baby could tolerate, I would produce breast milk he could eat without getting sick, and Patrick wouldn’t have to take iron supplements or the Maalox. I could see no downside to my new diet. Course, that was until I began to tell the rest of the medical staff of my intentions.

The dieticians were the most concerned and I honestly feared they were considering contacting Child Protective Services. Thankfully, after research they relented and said they could find nothing wrong with my diet, and cautiously gave their okay. I almost cried with relief.

Dr. Feerick was on board with my diet and sent me home with some samples. I have Neocate and Elecare. I will need to consume one can per day to meet my necessary daily caloric intake. Each can provides me with 1900 calories. I personally need 1400 calories and the remainder 500 calories will support my ability to breastfeed my baby.

The first time I tried Elecare I thought it tasted pretty terrible. I think most of it was because I told myself it would. After I chugged it, it didn’t taste so bad but my stomach wasn’t too happy. I think it was asking, “What the heck was that?” After two days I could tell I had flushed out my system. I wondered if I was ready to try breastfeeding.  The concern is: will my baby still want to breastfeed after being on the bottle for over a week?