Adventures in breastfeeding an allergic baby
Some of you may know that I was 18 when I got pregnant with my first child. I was a child for all intents and purposes. Hanging out with “that boy” was probably not the smartest thing I ever did, but I did end up with a wonderful little boy that changed my life forever.
I attempted to breastfeed him at the insistence of my mother (yes mom, you insisted) and HATED it. Hate probably isn’t even a strong enough word. I was uncomfortable, in pain, confused, to me there was nothing natural about it. I felt like my baby just wasn’t doing it right, the pump was a monster, and I was too embarrassed to leave my house. I lasted a mere 5 weeks before running my ass over to the WIC office crying for formula.
Fast forward 11 years (yep, 11 almost to the day) and I present you with the birth of my second and last child. He latched on like a champ. He ate and ate. And in the hospital, I was like “Yup, look at my boobs, I really don’t care if you see them.” I was not embarrassed to breastfeed in front of everyone that I encountered for that 1 year. My kids friends would be over and I would simply say “Look away for a sec, I need to feed the baby” they were 11 and 12, so they should have a bit of exposure to the REAL purpose of boobies. I was modest, no one saw more than they could see on Prime Time Television or Must See TV, there was no indecent exposure.
For me, it was FREE, convenient, was cleaner, was faster, was easier, and completely natural. Oh how a decade can change things.
BUT…. 4 weeks into it, the baby was all kinds of messed up. His poo was goo, his skin was dry, he was screaming all the time. Throughout my whole pregnancy I was convinced I would finally have a child that could eat out anywhere, enjoy school parties, and go to friends houses without putting the other parents into a panic. Yeah, well… wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t get my wish.
So I quit eating dairy. 100% all dairy. Not that hard to do, because I knew all the right foods to eat and all the ones to avoid. 2 months went by, no change. The pediatrician I had at the time told me to also stop eating soy. I clearly remember saying to her “Oh, that won’t be hard, I don’t eat anything that’s soy” and she sent me on my merry way. I went home and started to read labels. Oh.Em.Gee!!! Soy was literally in EVERYTHING in my house. Everything. I went a whole month more eating everything but dairy. By this point the baby was pooping blood. I’m a horrid mother.
So I stopped eating soy. Reluctantly. Never once did I even go back to eating dairy, that wasn’t the issue for me, being dairy free is really nothing for me, but that DARNED soy!! It’s not only in food, but in lotions, soaps, flavored tea, and more!
Food became my mission. My obsession. My goal. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and The health section of the local grocery stores became my hangout spots. I stopped eating out (because I had to) and couldn’t eat at any holiday get together’s unless I brought food. That Christmas was horrific. We were running late and I grabbed NO FOOD and spent the whole day starving as there was not one morsel of soy free food in my relative’s houses. It was horrible.
I suffered. I hated it. I’m a fatty, so I obviously love food, but suddenly food was my enemy. I fought my enemy. I won that war. I breastfed my pumpkin faced baby for 1 full year. We made it to his birthday, and I nursed him laying in bed one last time. I snuggled him close, breathed him in. I kissed him softly when he was done and said “I love you my sweet boy, Happy Birthday.” I cried because I knew that was it. I stayed on my diet from hell for a few more days just in case… and a few days later on the 4th of July I ate. Everything. All of it. I didn’t stop. I read no labels. I didn’t care. I felt like a prisoner for the better part of a year, and I had just got out of the slammer.
I gained 40 lbs while breastfeeding. I gained another 30 when I quit. I’ve never been bigger, but it was worth it for the health benefits, the bonding, the closeness, the love. I’d like to add “the savings” onto that list, but I fear that my food bills ended up being more than my formula expense would have been since his insurance covered the Neocate in full for that whole first year, but I didn’t care. I wanted to breastfeed.
So if you need to go dairy free to breastfeed, do it happily knowing that you’ve got it easy. If you have to go soy free… I’m here for support. My biggest advice would be:
Yes, potato chips are soy and dairy free. No, you don’t need to eat 7 bags of them a week.