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?