Food Allergies: Bye Bye Milk and Eggs

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As moms we are sort of prepared for curve balls. It seems like just when I get comfortable with our current situation before I know it something new is thrown our way!

Our most recent curve ball was thrown a couple weeks ago when it was confirmed Morgan (our 15 month old) is allergic to milk and eggs.   On the surface I thought, well, no biggie, until I realized just how MANY things have milk and/or eggs in them!!!

I know there are a TON of parents out there with kids with food allergies, so I would LOVE your tips & comments.

So the curve ball wasn’t completely from left field.  When Morgan was a baby she had bad colic and reflux.  Since  I was nursing exclusively I sort of thought she might have a food sensitivity to things in my breast milk. I started paying attention, and if I had cereal for breakfast, about 4 hours later she would be MISERABLE.

The lactation consultants at Milkalicious suggested I cut out all dairy, tree nuts & berries and it seemed to make a big difference.  My colicky baby turned the corner at month 4 and me,  nursing with a dairy-free diet, had about 6 – 7 great months, where she was overall a very happy baby. Payback for the first 4 months of hell for sure!

But I never knew FOR SURE if it was in fact a food thing, because a lot of babies grow out of colic around that time anyway.   But what I did know is I didn’t want to chance it, so I remained dairy-free until I stopped nursing.

Then, around 10 – 12 months her irritability kicked in again. I blamed it on teething, separation anxiety, hurdling so many milestones like walking, etc.  But now that we know it’s a food allergy, it makes TOTAL sense as this was the age we started her on more and more solid foods and I weaned from nursing.

A little after her first birthday, I tried giving her a sippy cup with whole organic milk to try.   She took a sip, then immediately spit it out. Then watching what happened I thought “uh oh” she might have a milk allergy. EVERY spot where the milk touched her body turned into white welts and a red rash.

So of course I didn’t give her any more milk and at her 12 month doctor appointment I showed a picture to my doctor that I took with my iPhone and she referred us to a pediatric allergist to find out if there were other things she was allergic too.

It was weird, as we had been giving her cheeses, and different things with milk in them and on the surface it seemed like she was OK with them.

So at the allergist they did a skin test on her back to test for 16 different things.  It was awful when they had to prick her back, but it only lasted a second.  We held her and waited for the results. The milk and egg test spot swelled up almost immediately.

On a scale of 0 – 5, she was +4 for both milk and eggs, which is a pretty strong allergy. The milk I knew, but the egg one was a surprise.  I just thought, “thank God we took her to get tested.”  I wouldn’t have known for sure, except for the obvious whole milk, but we were told to avoid ALL things with milk or eggs in them.

We were sent home with hand outs, including lists of words that could mean “milk or egg” and it was apparent we were going to have to become major label readers.

It’s a bummer.

It didn’t FULLY hit me until we were at a party recently and I didn’t have lots of her own food packed.  She started doing the point and “num num” sound wanting food and there was really nothing there she could have. No Goldfish, no Pirate’s Booty and certainly no birthday cupcakes. And I got a little sad, I have to admit.

But it’s all a learning process and from now on I realize I have to pack a bag of her own special snacks to bring to parties and anywhere I go.

And, lucky for me, my friend Melanie is the owner of Sensitive Sweets, a bakery specializing in cakes and cupcakes for for those with food allergies.  Melanie has been a wealth of information as her son has severe food allergies.  I am going to have her whip me up a yummy batch of milk-free and egg-free cupcakes so I can freeze them to take to parties from here on out.

And eating out hasn’t been an issue that much yet, but this seems like it is going to be a real challenge.  Guess we will cross that bridge when we have to.

The Good News.

My family eats pretty healthy overall, but there were snacks in our cupboards that I have been giving to Emma that I thought were semi-okay.  Then I started reading labels and it SHOCKED me just how many things have High Fructose Corn Syrup in them!

I don’t know much about this, but I know it seems pretty bad for you.  Even things like graham crackers, salad dressing & ketchup have it in them.  Shocked.  I told my husband we are purging our kitchen with anything with HFCS in them. So this allergy will end up helping ALL of our family by eating “cleaner” and a little more pure.

And, thanks to stores like Trader Joe’s, Mother’s Market and Whole Foods, there are a TON of options out there that are alternatives to the traditional dairy.  Again, a whole new world, and I end up shopping better for the entire family.  Did you know you can buy rice milk or yogurt?

After 2 weeks of clearing her diet, her skin cleared up (she had a chronic mild rash on her cheeks & trunk) and she has been in a MUCH better mood.    So, it is working, which is the most important thing.  I just wish I had figured it out sooner.

So moms! If anyone out there has dealt with food allergies and has any tips/advice/suggestions I would love to hear your story.  I am just starting this journey and would love to learn from those that have paved the way before me!

XOXO
Jen

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Lessons in Surviving The 1st Year!

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Today is my baby girl’s 1st birthday!  I can’t believe how fast this past year went. And how much I have learned.  I thought baby number two would be a breeze – I was an old pro – right?!  WRONG! This past year pushed me to the edge as a person more than any year in my life.  As a mom and as a person.

When I had my Dream Dinners party a month ago, I met this sweet mom who was planning her son’s 1st birthday.  It was to be a huge event.  She is Korean and she told me in her culture, the 1st birthday is a big deal. Way back when, the mortality rates for infants in the first year was high, so for a baby to survive the first year was cause for big celebration.

I thought this was a very sweet and significant lesson and it got me to thinking about surviving this first year, not just baby, but mommy too!

So here are the lessons I have learned about surviving the 1st year of my second child’s life…

1. NOTHING was “easier” the second time around for me! I had heard, oh, you will be soooooo much more relaxed, you will enjoy it more, you know what you are doing…HA!!  To endure those hard newborn days with a bright-eyed bushy-tailed 3 year old was 100 times harder than I thought.  To have my attention, time and one pair of hands split between two little humans with different needs was also way harder than I thought.

2.  The sleep-deprived newborn days are torturous, but they go fast. I remember sitting up in the middle of the night thinking life will never be the same.  I will never sleep again and I will never feel normal ever again. I sometimes wanted to sob in the darkness because I was just SO DANG TIRED. When I got like this, I would sing the song in my head “It won’t be like this for long” by Darius Rucker and it would get me through.   I saw it on Oprah when I was pregnant and it made me cry. The song is SO TRUE. If you have 3 minutes today, listen to this song.  Beautiful message.

3. Babies are game changers and you have to be willing to adapt.  Just when you think you have something figured out and things are going somewhat smoothly, they will change the game.  Be it by teething, sleeping (or rather not sleeping), new developmental milestones, changes in mood or fussiness, eating.  You can’t get comfortable for too long.  If things are going well – ENJOY IT – for exactly what it is at that moment!

4. Just when you think you can’t take something for one more day, it will change for the better. Thanks to my cousin Angie for this quote. She has two older kids.  She knows.

5. Control.  Say good-bye. The more I fought to keep control over something, the more frustrated I became.  Learning to let go of things and realize I don’t have total control is an ever-challenging goal for me.

6. Nursing problems – get help if you need it! I had no nursing issues whatsoever with baby # 1.  Nursing was the last on my list of things to worry about because I had already nursed one baby.  With Morgan, I had several problems that persisted through her first 4 months.  I got a lot of help.  In fact, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without the support and expertise of the people at Milkalicious.

7. Reflux & colic can almost send you over the edge. My baby had severe reflux and colic for her first 4 months and it was 4 of the most challenging of my life.  If you are facing this, just know it WILL get better.  I promise.  The early days can feel like hell on earth. But she outgrew it, and we SURVIVED!

8. Seeing my oldest become a sibling has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to see my daughter as a sister.   The unprompted sweetness and kindness she shows her little sister make my heart soar.  No one told me about this.  I love it.  It has made me feel really proud.

9. I have no idea what she “should be doing” as far as anything milestone-wise! I am not reading any books this time (because I have NO time) so when she does something new, it’s like “hey!  look what baby did!  wow!”   The 2nd learns in such a different way – mostly by watching her big sister – and that has been so cool to witness.

10. I realized that for the better part of most days, I’m outnumbered and I need help. I used to think it was a sign of weakness to need help, like I couldn’t handle it all myself, but this time around I smartened up and have gotten more help.  Being a mommy is hard, so get help if you need it!  Find a college babysitter here and there for a few hours, ask family to help, share babysitting with friends.  You got the idea – we were not meant to do this alone!!!  And leave the guilt at the door!

11.  I have realized this year just how crucial it is to have something just for me… time to take care of myself. I made my health a priority and have made regular exercise (running for me) something that is not-negotiable.  No excuses.  I always was filled with excuses before.  No time, no energy, blah blah blah.  My advice, if you are feeling run-down, spent, exhausted, unhappy, start to take 1 hour 3 – 4 times a week to exercise and you will not believe how much better you will feel all around.

12. Anything is possible if you believe you can do it.

13. The love I feel for my children is so equally overwhelming it can almost take my breath away. I never thought it was possible to love another child like my first, as I had never known love like that before. Then Morgan arrived and it was astounding to me how much the human heart has the capacity for such overwhelming love.

14.  Close mommy friends, my “mommy peeps” are more important than ever. And by mommy peeps, I mean the mommy friends you can be REAL with.  The people that you can call when you need to cry, or laugh, the people you can complain to or share joys with and you know you will never be judged. The sort of friends you don’t have to start the sentence with, “I really love my kids, but…”  Or the ones that you can have a play date and if your kid is a nightmare or does something embarrassing, you don’t have to worry that they think you are a bad mom, because they KNOW you.

15. Fifteen is a favorite number so I think this is a good place to stop.  The biggest lesson I have learned this year, is that the most challenging years/times can also lead to the most positive change. These are the situations that force you to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person.  This year almost kicked my butt but I feel so empowered that I SURVIVED,  and we survived as a family. I am coming out of it feeling stronger overall.   Our family feels stronger.  And complete.  It’s a peaceful feeling.  We made it through together and we are happy.  I really believe our kids are here to teach us about life, love, and ourselves.  And what a GIFT that is.  This baby, my one-year-old baby, has been one of the greatest gifts I could ever imagine.

So a very happy happy happy birthday to my Sweet girl!

Have a great weekend everyone, and have a VERY HAPPY and SAFE 4th of JULY!!!!!!

XO
Jen

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This Mother’s Day…

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…will be better than last years for me.

I was crabby last year on Mother’s Day.  Thinking about it now makes me laugh.  I was about 34 weeks pregnant, hormonal, uncomfortable and knee-deep in managing my gestational diabetes.  I was bitter.  I felt like that Mother’s Day of ALL Mother’s Day I should have been handed the world on a silver platter.  My poor husband could do no right. He grilled fish for dinner without asking me, and I was not in the mood for fish.  The nerve!  Oh my gosh, I was a nightmare.

What a difference a year makes.   This Mother’s Day already feels like the BEST one ever, and it is not even Mother’s Day yet!  I have a healthy, happy 10 month old and a spunky, growing up so fast, almost 4 year old. Life is GOOD.

Here are my two little monkeys that make me a MOTHER.  A very, very happy mother.   Sometimes I think “I am so happy God gave me these two!”  I feel so lucky to be their mom.  I often look at those two little faces and wonder how I got so lucky.  Must be living right or something.

This Mother’s Day, all I want to do is be with my family.   Maybe a little outing to Laguna and a margarita and chips & guac on a patio somewhere would be fun too, but mostly I just want to be together.

I wish all of you hard working moms a VERY happy Mother’s Day!   Our job is hard no doubt.  It’s relentless, 24/7 work. But it’s the best job in the world.

Thank you for reading my blog, I appreciate all my mommy readers more than words can express. So what are YOU doing this weekend?

{QUICK NOTE ON THE BABIES MOVIE EVENT on Saturday, May 8th!   The time has been changed to 3:00pm! }


{Photo by Image 23 Photography
taken at the GeTogethers Valentine Event}

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BABIES the Movie & Milkalicious Special Screening

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There is a new movie opening this Mother’s Day weekend called BABIES and it looks SO cute.  It follows four babies from birth through their first year in four very different parts of the world.  From the first breath to their first steps, this visually stunning movie celebrates the parent/child bond that forms during the early stages of baby’s life.  Watch this cute trailer by clicking on the graphic…

Milkalicious Breastfeeding Boutique in Aliso Viejo is having an exclusive screening of the documentary film BABIES this Saturday afternoon!  Here are the details:

Milkalicious Mother’s Day Event
Saturday, May 8th, 2010
3:00pm (UPDATED TIME!)
Rancho Niguel 8
25471 Rancho Niguel Road, Laguna Niguel, 92677 (click HERE for a map)

$10/person

There will be giveaways, a raffle and movie munchies.  Bring the whole family!  You can purchase tickets online, in-store, at the theater or by calling 949.831.6455.

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Free Milkalicious Workshops

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As a new breastfeeding mom (for the second time), I have loved having Milkalicious as a shopping and nursing resource this time around.   For those of you that aren’t acquainted with Milkalicious, it is a darling breastfeeding boutique in Aliso Viejo.

The other night I was reading the book “Pinkalicious” to my daughter and accidentally said “Milkalicious” when reading it to her.  She doesn’t miss a beat these days, so  she looks at me as says “MILKALICIOUS??” and starts giggling.   I guess I had  Milkalicious on the brain! 

I have to share an AMAZING resource the boutique offers that I experienced firsthand –  FREE breastfeeding clinics  every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 10am – 11:30am. 

When we went to our 2 week doctor appointment  for Morgan, she had barely made it back to her birth weight because of her reflux.  The fact that she was not gaining enough weight early on really messed with my head. 

Even when she started gaining weight when we got her reflux under control, every time she was fussy, I was thinking “Is she hungry?? Is she getting enough??”

So, I went to a Milkalicious workshop to find out.    The first thing they do is take your baby’s pre-feeding weight on a scale.  Then, you nurse and weigh them afterwards so you can see approximately how much milk they are getting.   

In the meantime, a lactation consultant is there to walk around and answer any questions.  And it was fun to sit and chat with moms that all had babies roughly the same age.  

They had a sheet to tell you approximately how many ounces per feeding your baby should be getting for their weight.  Turns out that Morgan was getting exactly as much as she should be.  I left feeling so relieved.  It was just nice to have the reassurance.

They also offer private lactation consultations in-store or at your home for a fee, along with other classes.  Whether you are nursing your 1st baby or your 5th, when nursing issues arise, it is SO helpful to have an expert to turn to for help.  Us nursing moms need all the support we can get!

You can register for classes online or call 949.831.6455 (MILK).

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