May
15
2009

  William Can't Eat Dairy

It appears that William can't handle dairy in my breast milk. Which is a little weird to me since breast milk IS dairy, but this is apparently a common thing.

William has been having diaper-rash problems since his last days in the hospital. First we tried regular rash cream like our family doctor recommended (triple-something, I forget what brand specifically), but it didn't help at all. Then Terry and I read more about it, and discovered that antibiotics can cause a yeast-type of diaper rash. Since William was on some heavy-duty antibiotics in the NICU, and his rash matched the photos of yeasty rash, we sprayed him with an antifungal for a few days, and that helped considerably. We also gave him "open-air" time without a diaper (we just put diapers under him rather than wrapped around him, it worked pretty well). But there still remained a persistent bit of red rash down there.

He also was going through a lot of diapers. I didn't think anything of it, babies go through a lot of diapers. But Terry was frustrated why no baby books warned about just how many diapers an infant would go through. They all said "at least 6-8 per day", and William was probably going through more than a dozen.

Terry investigated this, and read about dairy allergies in babies. The symptoms are a ring of red rash in the butt, discomfort while pooping, gassiness, baby acne that spreads to the shoulders, arms, and chest, inability to gain weight, and going through a whole lot of diapers. William had all these symptoms, so we figured it would be worthwhile to see if we could fix it, especially since the doctor is making us go in for weigh-ins every week since she's pretty worried about the lack of weight gain.

So starting Sunday afternoon when we put all this together, I've stopped eating dairy or wheat (another common allergy, so I figured I'd avoid both at once to speed William's recovery). But I suspect it's the dairy that is the problem; if William has gained weight this week, I'll probably add back wheat to my diet and see if any of the other symptoms return. It takes a while for the dairy to work its way out of both our symptoms, and while his rash/acne doesn't seem to have improved much, the rash on his butt has finally disappeared completely, which is a relief. He's not quite as gassy as he has been, so that cuts down on his crying a little, too. And he is definitely pooping less, we're having more diapers simply wet, less poopy ones, so that's easier for us to manage, too.

It has been more of a nuisance for me to give up dairy than a hardship. I got some fake-milk earlier this week, and the almond milk tastes fine with granola. I haven't tried the coconut milk yet, but I suspect it will be refreshing. I do miss cheese and ice cream, but I was eating A LOT of them in these past weeks, so it's not that bad to give it a rest. The wheat abstinence is a little more difficult since I'm supposed to be keeping up my carb intake to help my breastmilk production. But Terry has been making all kinds of fancy rice dishes, and we've been eating delicious hash browns every morning, fried with meat hash, onions, and scrambled eggs. And I can snack on popcorn (without butter), corn chips (with salsa), and potato chips (without dip).

Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that he'll outgrow this allergy. Technically, it's probably more of a dairy "sensitivity" since he hasn't had any really bad symptoms like vomiting or anything. And it could be he just had symptoms because I was eating so much cheese, milk, and ice cream, and maybe he can tolerate a little bit. It would be nice to get cream back in my coffee, I've been drinking it black since I eschew "non-dairy" creamer (it creeps me out the same way Cool-Whip does, I don't touch the stuff).

I'll ask the doctor more about this when William gets weighed tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to a summer of just sorbet instead of ice cream, and I can understand why some women switch their kids from breastmilk to non-dairy formula in these situations. Anecdotally, when I mention William's dairy problem to other women, I've heard that some doctors told women that their children are allergic to their milk, and they have to switch to formula. Can you imagine?

We'll see how it goes. I think William's rash might be a combination of things-- perhaps some is the hormone-fueled baby acne, some might be razor burn where his new hair is growing in on the sides of his head where he was shaved, some might be heat rash, some might be allergy-related eczema. So altogether it can look pretty bad, but it might not be indicative of a serious problem, just a number of different problems.

We have a family doctor instead of a pediatrician, so she's not super-focused on problems specific to infants, but she's probably seen enough skin issues like this to have an opinion. Plus I can have her take a look at that tick bite of mine. It doesn't itch anymore, but there's still a red spot (although not a red RING like for Lyme disease), and it's been nearly a week.