Systemic eczema. No weight gain. Extreme fussiness. These were all ways my infant son’s allergies were showing themselves. When we took him in for his six-month checkup, my youngest child was covered in eczema and had gained only 1 ounce in 2 months, despite my nursing him every 2 to 3 hours. Something was clearly wrong.
Thankfully my pediatrician was able to get us to an allergist quickly. We found out that my son was severely allergic to dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and soy (and briefly wheat, but this resolved itself fairly quickly). This was a lot to take in. Not only would this diagnosis eventually dictate everything my son could eat, but since I was nursing, it dictated everything I could eat, too.
I have to admit, I spent a few weeks feeling pretty sorry for us. I didn’t know what to eat, most packaged food was off limits and I missed easy grab-and-go meals. But I quickly learned how to “veganize” most baked goods, found some meals that were simple yet nutritious and enjoyed lots of fruits and veggies. And my baby? His skin cleared up, he spent more time smiling than crying and he started getting a little chub on those sweet skinny limbs! In fact, he was thriving so much I ended up nursing him until he was two (way longer than I did with my older children). Look at the clear skin on my sweet little guy by 9 months!
Sure, there were times it was hard, but the benefits far outweighed the challenge! Here are a few tips for you sweet mamas going through this right now.
1. Find a few simple recipes that work for you. Every week I cooked a chicken in the crock pot , shredded it up and kept it in the fridge. I’d eat it with rice, avocado and salsa most days for lunch. No, not the best variety, but it was tasty and healthy and always gave me a quick lunch option.
2. Pump for special occasions. Every year my college friends and I have a girls weekend. This is my one non-negotiable time with my friends and we were headed on a foodie tour of Charleston, SC. I worked for months leading up to the trip to pump and freeze my milk. I was able to go on a trip, eat whatever I wanted (and believe me, I took advantage of this), “pump and dump” and be able to come home to my healthy baby. A decent breast pump (I used this one) helped me enjoy a little cheat every now and then.
3. Remember you are learning how to cook for your child! Once your child is ready to move past baby food, you will have tried and true recipes for him/her. Now that my son is four, people ask me all the time what he eats, how I cook for him, how we avoid allergens when we aren’t home, etc. But honestly I did all the “grunt work” when he was still nursing and now it’s just second nature to me!
This is a topic I could write about forever. From nursing to weaning to keeping my preschooler safe from allergens when he is away from me. Please feel free to ask questions if you are going through a similar situation! Here is a take from another mama who went through a similar situation.