Monday, February 13, 2012

"Is Her Face Always Gonna Be Like That?"

( I started this post like 3 weeks ago, but I'm just so over talking about this already. Haha. Forgive me if this is shorter than you expect!)

That ^ precious gem was from a flamboyant cashier a few weeks ago before he said a single word to me in regards to Norah's cheeks. I nearly said "No, but people will ask YOU a similar question if you don't learn some manners, sir/ma'am"
While this post isn't about how I nearly lost hope in all humanity after dealing with increasingly rude people for the last 7 months, though it could be, I wanted to share the information I got from Norah's new doctor this week.
After months and months of elimination dieting, lotions & creams, sleepless nights and cheeks, wrists, thighs and ankles scratched raw, I threw in the towel [and several millions of dollars] and started looking for a doctor that would be able to help us.
I feel like every second of free time I've had where I wasn't meal planning, editing, [facebooking, pinteresting, doctor whoing...whatever] and being the general supermom/wife that I clearly am, I have been looking up dairy and egg free recipes, learning about Gut And Psychology Syndrome, and rubbing lotion on Norah. But when we came back from Rockport, it seemed like her immune/digestive system was completely shot. Every bite of everything she ate caused her to break out in hives. I'm talkin bananas, sweet potatoes, CHICKEN BROTH, everything made her break out, it was awful.

It started off as this:



Then once eggs and dairy were cut out it was good until the hives:


So here's the part where I'm supposed to get all medical and tell you what's going with Norah and the whole world goes "Oooooh, DUH!" But, guess what? Most people just don't get it. So I will briefly explain, to the best of my knowledge, what is going on, and you can do more research if you want ;]


All babies are born with weak intestinal linings. This is why they can only have liquids, ideally breastmilk, for AT LEAST six months. Around this time, their gut lining starts to heal and close up. Lots of people start to introduce solids at this point [as I did] and that's [arguably] fine and dandy. BUT- if that gut isn't healed or properly lined to be able to digest the food you put into it, it can reek havoc throughout the body. The amount of area of which this can affect ones body is mind blowing. From hives, to asthma, to psychological disorders... the list is never ending. I can't believe how one organ [albeit a GIGANTIC FRIKIN ORGAN] can effect so much of your body. Ok, so babies need their gut lining closed before starting solid food, you with me so far?
Well, it turns out, *I* have leaky gut. My gut never fully healed. My mom said that my cheeks were just like Norah's were until I was about 2. I was vegetarian for many years [vegan briefly, but I liked cheese too much] and shortly after starting that, I became lactose intolerant. [It actually makes perfect sense to me now.] I was severely depressed during these years [leaky gut and a severe lack of vitamin D with no iron didn't help] I was still vegetarian during my pregnancy with Lily. To get enough protein, I ate peanut butter every single day, at least once but usually twice. Leaky gut gets worse with pregnancy [hello, your intestines are being pushed and stretched by another human] I found out early in my third trimester that "some studies show" children whose mother ate excessive amounts of peanut butter had children with peanut allergies. Lily has a life threatening allergy to peanuts now. It's essentially my fault, NBD. [studies actually do show that of every woman observed, those who did not eat any peanuts during their pregnancy had 0% peanut allergies among their children, interesting, huh?] I also had a six month long, terrible, marriage crushing yeast infection that was impossible to treat.Take a look through Lily's first year- still vegetarian, severe post partum depression, Lily has dangerous peanut allergy. Lily turns a year old, God tells me to start eating meat, I find out I'm pregnant with Norah. But this time, I'm armed with a year of extensive foodie research and know a lot more about how to keep me and my baby healthy. So every day I eat lots of lean protein, very little carbs, very little sugar, 2-3 hard boiled eggs and 1-2 oz of cheese. Yeast infection arrives at about eight/nine months, so MUCH later than it did during the first pregnancy. Norah is born, face is clear for a few days, small dots start to come around when normal baby acne does, but never goes away. Her face gets really bad when my PPD kicks in again. She shows signs of being ready for solids much earlier than Lily, and since now I know everything there is to know about baby nutrition [sarcasm] I start feeding her.
Can you see where I'm going with all of this yet?
So since she was 3 months old I have been on a strict diet of no eggs or dairy- which is in a LOT of food. No butter, no goat's dairy [FETA] all and any food that has even the tiniest trace of eggs or dairy. It's been very tough. But, her body hit it's breaking point. About two months ago it just kinda gave up on trying to digest food. It's allergy alarm went off to everything she ate as if to say "No way man, I'm not ready" even though she'd been eating food for a while. It was then, after giving her benadryll after everything she ate, then essential oil baths, I decided I needed to find some help.

If you'd like to know the doctor we decided on, please feel free to email me [mae annette at gmail dot com]/message me on facebook. He is locating in Arlington, Texas [also sees patients in Plano once a week] and is very kind, knowledgeable and I believe that he cares about Norah. We tested positive for major egg, lactose, and casein allergies as well as a mild soy, sugar, wheat, gluten, and red meat. So...I've eliminated all of those too, with the exception of red meat, I am allowing myself some of that. And we are both Vitamin D deprived [insert me drinking a quart of chicken broth a day] It is down to just meat and veggies around here. And Norah is starting to show some improvement as well! She can now tolerate some chicken, green peas, banana, sweet potato, coconut anything [she LOVES coconut!] and chicken broth, which she proudly drinks from her sippy cup.

I never knew I had so much self control. This has been VERY hard for me. But, it's not like dieting. It's not like I can say, "Oh screw it! I'll just do some extra minutes on the treadmill tomorrow to make up for this butter in my oatmeal" [ya, let's not use brownies as an example...I am lightyears away from brownies right now...] no, any slip up costs us dearly. Scabby red face, itchy thighs and ankles, up all night screaming. That my friends, is not worth it. Eamon also DESPERATELY wants to take me out on a date to a nice restaurant. He wants to romance me with some of my favorite food [He knows just exactly what I would do for a lemon square, ladies. My standards are not that high.] and get me out of the kitchen for a break. But...I just can't right now.

STOP THE PRESS.
SUSHI. If I get sashimi...this might work out. Can't get any sides, but I may be able to eat a whole raw salmon filet. So sexy.

Anyway, there's that. And there's my size.
Every pregnant woman gets really sick of hearing "LOOK HOW BIG YOU'RE GETTING" every time she walks out the door. It's always said with good intention, but, it just kinda wears you out. [Or maybe it's just me and I'm taking this generalization of females too far. My bad.] Let's talk some numbers here. I was 205 the week before I had Norah, 185 [almost my Norah weight]at 8 weeks, and now I'm 145...I feel like a bag of bones...and boobs. It's bizarre. We won't discuss the fact that my clothing size kinda freaks me the hell out. I'm not a Betty or a Peggy people, I'm a JOAN. ...Right? Ugh. I don't know how long it's going to be like this, but I'm trying to find the awesome in being a size that I used to associate with prepubescence. [Insert major self loathing for realizing my double standard on size issues] When I read this, I had no idea what size I was, got pants a week later. Now I know that I am "Very Very Skinny"

From Tina Fey's, Bossypants.
Remembrances of Being Very Very Skinny

  • I was cold all the time
  • I had a pair of size-four corduroy short shorts. That I wore. To Work. In the middle of Manhattan.
  • I loved it when people told me I was getting too thin.
  • I once took a bag of sliced red peppers to the beach as a snack.
  • I regularly ate health food cookies so disgusting that when I enthusiastically gave one o Rachel Dratch she drew a picture of a rabbit and broke the cookie into a trail of tiny pieces coming out of the rabbit's butt.
  • Men I had met before suddenly paid attention to me...and I hated them for it.
  • Sometimes I had to sleep with a pillow between my legs because my bony knees clanking together kept me awake.
  • I had a lot of time on my hands because I wasn't constantly eating.
  • I ran three miles a day on a treadmill six days a week.
  • I felt wonderfully superior to everyone.
  • I didn't have a kid yet.



We should leave people alone about their weight. Being skinny for a while (provided you actually eat food and don't take pills or smoke to get there) is a perfectly fine pastime. Everyone should try it once, like a super-short haircut or dating a white guy.


Now that I've convinced you to go buy Bossypants, I should add, THERE IS HOPE for us!
All of this dieting, and supplements, and being able to see my hips will eventually stop. We are eating only these foods bc they are easily digestible. So over time, when our gut is healed, we may be able to start adding in some foods we weren't able to before. I'm sure that will be the day Jesus comes back for us as I can't see how that day could possibly get any better. Norah's face looks so fantastic, and that does make me very happy. Here is the latest not phone picture I have of her. No retouching of her little face needed!



If your child has food allergies, asthma, eczema or any of the above mentioned problems, I would highly suggest getting this book and finding a doctor near you with some experience in healing leaky gut.
Thank you for reading all of this [or just skimming through to find what looks like could be funny/informative/held against me in a court of law.] I hope it gave some good insight into what we've been dealing with lately.


Happy Monday!
[We get the keys to our new house today!!! More on that later ;)]
Mae

6 comments:

Shianne said...

Thank you for this post!!
While it's an awful, exhausting, frustrating thing to deal with, and I'd never wish it on anybody, I'm also thankful that I'm not alone.
We've done everything we can...eliminate literally everything but meat (which we are now buying pasture-raised, to avoid soy feed in it) and organic fruits & veggies.
We've tried homeopathics, herbs, salves, creams...
I've been at my wits end every day since Thanksgiving, as the eczema on my sweet baby girl has gotten so bad, neither of us has slept more than a few hours each night.
Her face is the worst.
It started at 3 months for us, got better, got worse, was almost gone and then came back 3 times as bad as it was the first bad time!!
But we are finally seeing improvement, since I started a modified GAPS (still breastfeeding, as she's only 8 1/2 months), adding omega & dha, and super strength probiotics.
I knew I needed to heal my body in order to help hers, especially since we'd been on extreme antibiotics (and my pain medication, due to a homebirth turned c-section), as those totally destroy everything good in your body, it was just a matter of finding out which way to heal it (naturally) - raw juicing, GAPS, etc.
Praise Jesus for a light at the end of the tunnel though, as the GAPS is (slowly) working.
I look forward to not crying every time "C" has a scratching marathon (which prompted my making her a gloved sleep jacket, so at least the skin could heal and not have her little nails getting her face, making it worse), and having her be able to be comfortable in her skin - no itchy eyes, cheeks, forehead. No scratched legs or arms.
Eczema is a BEAST, and we have finally found something to not just contain it, but hopefully, utterly destroy it!! :-)

a giant, a babywearer and a little kung fu panda said...

thanks so much for sharing mae. i love the way you write. and i can't image how many times you wanted to share that to people who just glanced norah's way.

Haley Galloway said...

I just had a MAJOR revelation reading this post. My niece had the same exact skin issues. JUST AWFUL! The poor thing would itch and itch and itch. She is going to be 2 next month and her skin problems are pretty much clearing up on their own it seems but for the longest time my entire family tried to get to the bottom of what exactly she was allergic to.

It never even occurred to me that it could be because of introducing solids too early! I have heard of leaky gut but never realized that it could be the source to my nieces awful hives and skin irritation! They did take her to a dermatologist and all he did was prescribe cortisone for her skin which seemed to help. I remember one day giving her a cupcake with chocolate frosting and anywhere the frosting touched her skin she broke out in awful hives. I about kicked myself for that. It was always a process of elimination with her. What foods work-what foods don't work.

I'm glad your baby is healing and her skin looks beautiful! Good for you for sacrificing so much to take care of her! And thank you for this blog!! I am so much more enlightened about all this now!

Hiltons said...

Thanks for posting!  I've been dealing with Jocelyn's legs and parts of her body being covered in red patches/inflammation, and I understand how it is so consuming...researching...trying different creams...trying to figure out the food causing it. I have started down the path of GAPS(read the book this past weekend) and am seeing some improvement already.  Going to a doctor in March to give me some further guidance.  It is SUCH an undertaking but you are doing a great thing for your daughter!  Rather than just fixing the symptoms, you're getting to the root cause, which will be so beneficial to her long-term!  Btw thanks for the badger balm recommendation.  That stuff is amazing!

Sarah R said...

Mae, this is truly eye opening. I remember getting into arguments with my in laws over feeding my daughter table food too young (as in, when they babysat her at 6 weeks, they fed her chicken gravy!) She never had a reaction, but if I am ever blessed with more, I will be more adamant about standing up for my baby.
You, Mae, are an awesome mama. Those girls are blessed to have you!

Becka said...

I didn't start my daughter on solids too early, but she had patches on her skin exactly like this when she was breastfed - on her cheeks, in her scalp. I took her to the dermatologist who prescribed some cream for her, but was stumped by what it was. He thought it was eczema, because her daddy has psoriasis.

Flash forward a year, I give her the very first (and last) PB&J sandwich and she broke out in head-to-toe hives not more than 20 minutes later. I suspected a peanut allergy so I called an allergist who did a scratch test. She's highly allergic to peanuts and just about all tree-nuts. Seriously, the weals from the test were enormous.

Looking back now, I think those patches on her skin must have been after I had a PB&J myself and transferred it to her through my breastmilk. Poor little darlin'. She's so sensitive, she can't even have anything packaged on *equiptment* that processes peanut products without having a reaction.

But I thank the Good Lord she only gets hives and intestinal issues rather than asphyxia. We do have an epi-pen handy, just in case though. Glad to see your little one is better now!