So...today was another well visit for Carter. He gained another 11 oz. since last week, so he's rapidly approaching nine pounds! He's grown two inches, as well. He got one shot, which he did not enjoy. Overall he's doing great, with the exception of the fussiness and spitting up we've been dealing with for a few weeks now. The doctor and I were discussing the reflux issue. It's hard to tell whether the Zantac is helping. We had a couple good days, followed by a couple rough ones. While we were there he pooped a bit, and she noticed that there was some mucus in it. I've always looked for it, but honestly, breastfed baby poop all looks sort of mucus-like to me! She took it to check for blood, which would indicate a cow's milk sensitivity since it inflames the digestive tract. It wasn't visible to the naked eye, but it was there. So...yeah. I'm bummed. The doctor suggested a three-week trial of dairy-free eating to see if it makes a difference, as it takes that long for the proteins to exit completely.
I'm sort of at a loss, because dairy is in so much of what we eat. It's not just milk, cheese, and ice cream. It's in so many things under different names. Eating out is almost impossible. I have a hard enough time figuring out what to feed my family, since the boys aren't big on veggies and I try to keep things relatively low-ish in fat and not spend a ton of money. So much of what we eat has some element of dairy, from cheesy or creamy sauces in pasta side dishes, to cheese on things like pizza, sandwiches, salads, and tacos, to snacks with chocolate. The thought of cutting that out is almost impossible...and the amount of food in this house that I can't use accounts for a pretty significant sum of money right now.
The easy answer would be to stop breastfeeding and switch him to formula. He'd be fine and I could eat what I want. The problem is that I generally like breastfeeding and know that it has a lot of benefits for him. In addition, the formula he has to be on is ridiculously expensive. It's about $36 per large can. As estimator I saw online says that if the baby drinks 12 oz. per day (which may be about what he has to consume anyway once he starts daycare to supplement beyond what I can pump), we'd need 1-2 cans every two weeks. So we'll already be spending that much even if I continue breastfeeding. Just imagine if he was drinking that for every feeding!
Here's the thing. I obviously don't want Carter to be uncomfortable. I don't like the thought of blood in his poop. The spitting up and gassiness is certainly annoying. BUT...based on the fact that his symptoms aren't that hardcore, I'd have to think he's on the lower end of the spectrum. Given lots of patience, we'd get through. My guess is that Jacob had the same issue. I gave up milk in my morning cereal and gave him gripe water, and we all survived. He wasn't even on reflux meds at the time. Carter could be different, certainly, but like I said, he's had good days here and there, and I've only been giving up some dairy. I've been using rice milk in my cereal, and certainly could use that in other recipes if need be. Because it doesn't seem to be super-serious, it makes it tempting to give up what I can and try gripe water in hopes that it gives him comfort where I fail. It seemed to work when I gave it to him a couple times prior to the reflux meds, and if it needs to become a daily thing, that's fine. But is that bad? Does that make me a bad mother that I can't sacrifice for his comfort?
The thing is, it's not just me sacrificing. Craig and Jacob will have to deal with changes, too, and that stinks. And there's always the stress of trying to figure out what to cook for them, because that's hard enough for me right now without these limitations. We've (unfortunately) relied on a lot of processed foods, particularly for side dishes and quick dinners, and a lot of those have obvious or hidden dairy. I don't have the time to cook multiple meals. Even with dozens of suggestions from friends of mine via Facebook, I'm not even sure where to begin. Part of me is thinking that I should use the gripe water for the next few days, use up as much of the dairy stuff in my pantry as possible, do some shopping to replace what I can and plan some dairy-free meals, then give it the best shot I can for the next few weeks to see what kind of a difference it can make. Everyone's insisting it's not too bad once you get into it, so I guess we'll just have to give it a try and see. Hopefully little bits here and there won't cause much of a reaction and I won't have to give up everything, but it's definitely going to be a challenge.
This situation has mom guilt written all over it no matter what I do, but for Carter's sake I need to give it a shot and hope it helps him. In the meantime, it's becoming clear to me that I'm going to have to fight wishing away the next ten months or so, in order to get to a point where this intolerance might fade away, which it should. And for that, I know we're lucky.