Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zantac and other miracles

I've been meaning to post for a while about Liam's allergies/tummy issues.

It became apparent not long after he was born that Liam had some tummy problems. He threw up all the time. He also cried non-stop. It was terrible.

As my brother is allergic to milk, my first attempt to end the crying and throwing up was to cut out milk. It helped, but just cutting out milk products was not enough. I had to also make sure there was not a drop in my system. Ever. I began to read labels and know all the words that actually mean milk. Casein. Whey. Trace milk products. I discovered that Timbits had some milk in them, as one single Timbit (a donut hole from Tim Hortons) would make Liam throw up enough to soak my shirt. Fun times.

No sooner had I gotten rid of the milk, when the screamfest began. He cried 18 hours a day and slept fitfully for 6. And the 6 were not consecutive! I started doing a little research and discovered that although a small percentage of children are allergic to milk, a very large portion of those kids are also allergic to soy. It made sense: upon dropping all milk products, I had increased my soy milk intake. So I cut soy too. This worked. He stopped screaming and spitting up. I was even more limited in what I could eat. I did it gladly, for the health of this baby, but it was a hard adjustment.

A few months later he was beginning to eat solids. We quickly discovered that bananas made him throw up. Avocado did the same. Apples caused much distress. And oatmeal...well that was the mother of ALL reactions. He pooped 20-25 times a day. Green, slimy, allergy poop. It was disgusting and living with him being so upset was hard. It went like that for 2 weeks. On the third week it went down to 10-15 times a day. We considered buying shares in Pampers, then discovered that the store brand from Loblaws, known as Teddy's Choice, was a better option. The elastic in it was in the front and the back!

We were afraid to feed this child. Allergists were consulted. We were referred to a pediatrician. We were told that the milk and soy allergies were "sensitivities" in the allergy world, which meant he did not require an epi-pen and he was likely to outgrow it. We were also given a list of things not to give him and things to wait on until he was a year. Including wheat, eggs, and milk. Slowly, we fed him veggies and then a few fruits. Rice products were good. But we tried new foods sparingly and with hesitation. Aspargus resulted in a 4 hour screamathon. He hated carrots and peas. And at 9 months the doctor laughed because he was orange from all of the orange and yellow veggies he ate.

Around 9 months I tried a little soy in my diet again. I didn't push it much, but did relax my rigid standards from before. It seemed okay. I tried dairy and our lives fell apart again. Dairy was out. Over the New Year my Mom was visiting and I complained that Liam's sleeping habits were horrible and naps non existent. She pointed out that I was using soy (sounds a little like using coccaine in that context!). I was holding him while he slept and she watched him flip out in his sleep and sit up, still sleeping, and scream. I cut out the soy again. In my own sleep deprivation, this possibility hadn't dawned on me.

When Liam was about 3 months and screaming and throwing up all the time, I mentioned to our doctor that I wondered about acid reflux. She said the meds they give to small ones was risky and was shown to cause heart problems. We backed away from the idea. At 10 months, I went back to her and pushed the idea again. He never slept right. Always tossing and turning. Naps were nonexisitent. And he still screamed every single time he woke up. Plus, there were several people who asked if we'd looked into it. This time the doctor proposed we try liquid Zantac.

The second day of the Zantac Liam seemed chipper. He's a pretty happy kid when he is awake anyway, but if he could have whistled, he would have. I wasn't sure if this was coincidence or if he felt better. We waited. He started the Zantac on a Thursday. The following week he had some of the best naps of his life. Then, on Wednesday night, Ray called me at work: where was the rice milk? I assured him it was the small container in the fridge. There was a small pause and Ray said in a quiet voice, "Laura, that's soy milk." (I'd bought it by accident when going for the rice milk, which was in the same kind of container, right next to the soy milk on the shelf.) I had a moment of total-body panic. He'd been drinking soy milk. Only 2 weeks before, me having a little soy in my diet resulted in horrible sleep and an unhappy baby.

And then I took a breath and realized something: he'd been drinking it for 2 days...and there had been fantastic naps and no screaming. Suddenly I had a glimmer of hope.

I can't say it is all acid reflux. Certainly, I don't dare to give him oats again soon. But he's been fine and I am back on soy products. We've introduced wheat and eggs, with no problems. That boy LOVES himself some bread! And he naps...most days. Plus, the naps are no longer done at 20 minutes either. We now get naps of 1-2+ hours.

His nighttimes are still challenging, but we are working on them (and that is a whole other post). Last night I heard something amazing: Liam woke up and did not scream. He sat in his crib and chattered to himself happily for about 15 minutes, before he got annoyed and yelled for us. And his yelling does not have the same tone. He's annoyed or trying to get our attention, but it is not the blood-curdling howl that has woken us up day and night for the last 11 months.

Tomorow is 11 months.

Happy 11 months, dear Liam. I am so glad you feel better.


Lisa said...

HAPPY 11 months SWEET LIAM!!

T- said...

I hope things continue to get better!

Happy eleven months, Liam!