When I became a mom, I knew there would be sacrifices. “It just comes with the territory,” I was told and the sooner I came to terms with it, the easier it would be to adapt and create a new reality for myself and my family. In my mind, the sacrifices were basically like not going out as much with friends (the most obvious one), no longer getting my beloved 8+ hours of sleep, and probably just looking like a frump every day for a very very long time. While all of those things ended up being 100% true, one thing I did not anticipate having to say au revoir to was the things I ate. Goodbye to delicious candies, desserts, fast foods, and basically all the things that give you an upset stomach but taste amazing. Breastfeeding has honestly been such a rewarding experience, but it’s been a little rough.
After the first month, we noticed that Savannah was crying more than she should. She looked like she was in pain almost every time she ate and taking a poo was a nightmare! The poor little thing looked and acted like she was drinking poison – which in hindsight, she actually was. The worst part though were the spit ups. It just seemed like there was a constant flow of milk coming out of her mouth, regardless if she had just ate or not. I kept thinking this cannot possibly be normal! But for some reason our pediatrician was hesitant to call it what it was – an intolerance. I still don’t quite understand why he didn’t want to say it was that when her symptoms were incredibly obvious. Maybe because so many people these days claim to have one, he didn’t want to join the bandwagon? I don’t know. So, instead of waiting on a yes or no from him, I just decided to take a stab at eliminating things from my diet to see if that would resolve any issues. I had heard that if a baby has an intolerance, its most likely from dairy or soy. Well I heard soy was in absolutely everything and I didn’t particularly want to have to deal with that if I didn’t have to, so I went with dairy. Which was devastating, I looooove all things dairy. Up to that point, I ate a yogurt at least once a day, every day. During my pregnancy it was one of the few things that didn’t make me feel like throwing up. Even before I was pregnant, dairy was a huge part of my diet – I ate yogurt, cream cheese, cheese, ice cream, and those were just the obvious ones. What I learned about a week into this new diet is that dairy is actually in quite a bit of food and in order to really eliminate it from my diet, I had to start reading labels. I could do this. Just no more bread, no pastries, cake, bagels, donuts, you know, everything good and great in this world. Well cut to two weeks later and her symptoms had lessened but weren’t gone by any means. By that point her pediatrician was on board, so then I was told to cut soy.
Now to most people, cutting out soy doesn’t sound very scary. The only thing I could think of that possibly had soy was soy sauce, which I know sounds completely ridiculous. I seriously couldn’t have been more off base. The first thing you need to know about soy is that It has a million different names. Apparently, soy is so bad for you that they came up with different names so people who read the labels wouldn’t immediately put it back on the shelf after seeing the word “soy.” So anything that says “natural flavor” – it’s soy and it’s not natural unless it immediately specifies what’s natural about it. Also, good luck trying to find out what “natural flavor” actually means or what’s in it because I have done a LOT of research and nobody seems to know or at least admit that they know. Vegetable oil also has soy in it. Cool. That’s in a lot of stuff. Those are the two obvious ones that I have come to look for when checking out labels but trust me, there are a lot more words for it that I just can’t pronounce or really remember. Our pediatrician has a list on their website of known products and terms for soy and so I usually just pull that up if I find something, I want to get at the grocery store. Basically, I had to cut out almost all processed foods. I know this sounds great in theory long term, but it is so so difficult in reality and short term. I didn’t realize how much I relied on premade food like bagels, cream cheese, granola bars, even coffee creamers! Everything had either dairy or soy in it. It made me really analyze what I put into my body and forced me to pay attention to what I’m actually buying at the grocery store. First off, I felt like I was hungry basically all the time, but I was eating a ton of homemade meals and finding recipes and brands that go along with my no soy no dairy diet. I gotta say – if there were any time to be forced to cut those two ingredients out of your life completely, this is the time! There are so many brands out there popping up left and right that make allergen free friendly food that is SO GOOD! My favorites I’ve found so far are Dave’s Killer bread, silk almond milk creamer, earth balance soy free butter, and Hannah’s Hommus – soooo good! These are now officially staples on my grocery list, even after I stop breastfeeding and can rid myself of this crazy diet. If you’re curious as to what I actually eat now, first let me tell you I have to basically plan each of my meals out now, there is no spontaneity goin on here because those types of treats are NOT cheap! So I have gotten used to eating a lot of salads, salmon, chicken, apples (a LOT of apples), berries, carrots, celery, POTATOES, rice, avocados, eggs, natural peanut butter…you get the idea. I have developed quite the bland palate, but I do actually feel great! When I’m not hungry. Which is a lot of the time.
So cut to about two weeks ago – right when I think I got the hang of this whole no dairy no soy diet, our sweet sweeeet little Savannah Bee throws us another curve ball. Her symptoms come back in full force one day and by day 2 we are at the pediatrician trying to understand WHAT IS HAPPENING. Our pediatrician looks at me with a pretty sad face and says, “it looks like she is showing an intolerance to something, maybe bread or eggs? Have you been eating any of that?” UHM HAVE I? HAVE I? I had only eaten that same combination every day for the past 2 weeks and LOVED it. I woke up each morning excited just to eat it. I’m not gonna lie, I tried so hard to not cry in that office but I did, I cried. I could tell she (we had to see a different pediatrician that day) wanted to give me a hug but because of COVID-19 rampant at the moment, I felt her sympathy through her eyes peeking through the top of her face mask. Don’t worry, I saved the big tears for Trevor, but I couldn’t help it. I had no idea what I was going to do and I just felt defeated. But I really wanted to make this work and help my little girl just feel good, so we created a new game plan. We needed to let her stomach heal from the intolerance so the plan was to have her drink formula for 3 days, which should give my body enough time to wean off of eggs and gluten. I have nothing against formula at all so I was fully prepared to make that switch because at the end of the day, the only thing that is important is that she is getting the food she needs to be a happy and healthy baby girl. The first day was pretty rocky but she accepted the bottle and formula. Awesome. But by 9:00am the next morning, she was over it! Just out right refused anything in a bottle! It was so horrible; we could tell our poor Savy was so hungry, but I knew if I breastfed her it would be like putting poison right back into her body. We tried Pedialyte on its own and breastmilk mixed with formula in a bottle, but it just wouldn’t take. So by that evening, I caved and breastfed her. It broke my heart all over again seeing her basically attack my boob because she was so hungry! I vowed from that moment forward that I would breastfeed her for as long as she needs it, even if I lose my sanity a little bit at a time along the way.
As of today, I am dairy, soy, and egg free. I have slowly integrated gluten back into my diet because I was pretty sure that eggs were the culprit seeing as I had just added them heavily into my diet but wanted to be sure just in case. It seems to be going well so far but I am prepared to cut it out again fully if she starts to get uncomfortable again. I am finding new ways to cook and create new fun meals that don’t hurt Savannah’s stomach and actually fill mine. Keep in mind, I have in no way mastered this! I have had slip ups galore with soy and dairy (still a little soon to tell with egg) and I have to be ok with that because I am not going to be perfect. I absolutely want the best for my baby girl, and I am always going to try to maintain that, but whats best for her could also change next week! So I am learning to just go with the flow. Now do I get instantly angry when Trevor enjoys a breakfast burrito with sausage, eggs and tortillas? Oh, for sure! But I just remind myself that I’m doing this for baby girl and to just take it one day at a time. Give me a couple of days too and I’ll be able to create my own version of a breakfast burrito – just a little less flavorful.