I Can Do Anything for Four Weeks...Right???
"He just looks perfectly healthy to me!"
She kept saying it. Like 5 times during the visit. But I knew it wasn't true.
I'd known there was something different about my son for a while now. His breathing just didn't sound quite right, especially when sleeping...when I could get him to sleep, that is. Sleeping had always been a challenge for him. It seemed like the slightest thing would wake him. At the time of the appointment, he was almost 18 months old and the longest stretches of sleep he had ever given me were a handful of 3-5 hour ones...in his entire life! I had told the doctor this, too.
"He looks just perfect."
Yes, he looked fine. But the breathing had gotten worse as he started eating solid food...when I could get him to eat solid food. I have never had such a picky eater, and he still preferred nursing over eating or drinking anything else.
This was not perfectly healthy. This was not perfectly normal. The few times I could get him to sleep on his own I would lay awake and pray for him as I listened to his labored breathing. Did we have mold in this old house? Was it something I was eating? I cut back on my dairy and wheat intake. Three of my other children had shown sensitivities to these, so I thought it was a good place to start, even though his symptoms were different than theirs had been. With my other three, I had seen immediate results. I wasn't seeing that with this little guy. Maybe because I was having a hard time completely eliminating those foods? I did some research and decided his adenoids must be enlarged. I started giving him a homeopathic remedy that seemed to help some.
But the doctor wasn't interested in talking to me about these things. She just told me that he was too little for surgery and he looked "perfectly healthy". Maybe because I hadn’t brought it up to her until now? I could have shown her a video of my son's breathing at it’s worst, but I didn't. I didn't want to talk to her about it anymore, I was too frustrated. I was hoping to have someone help me navigate getting my son feeling better, not schedule a surgery. I wanted to find out what was causing his adenoids (an important part of his immune system) to be enlarged, not simply cut them out! So I took matters into my own hands and ordered a sensitivity test for him.
Getting the results back changed my whole world. There were a lot of "red" and "orange" foods on the list (foods that he was highly reactive to were printed in red, moderately reactive foods were orange) that we ate every day. All dairy (cow, goat, and sheep), salmon, clams, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sesame, chickpeas, celery, and garlic were red. Wheat, corn, apples, and oysters were orange. My baby's digestive enzymes and gut bacteria were all below normal range. The recommendation was to cut out all "red" and "orange" foods from our diet for four weeks so his body could heal and then reintroduce them back one at a time and see how he handled them.
Do you know how difficult it is to avoid garlic??? It's hard! If something isn't sweet, it usually contains garlic. And a lot of packaged foods have apple in them, too. Like I said, I have dealt with food sensitivities while nursing before, but it was just avoiding dairy or wheat in those instances, not a whole long list of staples!
I looked at that list and thought, "Ok, I can do anything for four weeks, right? Surely I can do this for four weeks. I'll start Monday (it was Wednesday) so I have time to shop and mentally prepare." But then I looked at my baby and thought, "I want to do everything I can to get him well as soon as possible, I am starting right now!" And I did. I ordered him a probiotic and made sure that he ate enzyme boosting foods every day and avoided all his "red" foods as best as I could, and only allowed myself one "orange" food a day, if any.
Denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Jesus is hard work. But it's what Jesus did for us, and that is what I have been reminding myself when I turn into a big, fat, whiny baby about what I can't eat. And I am ashamed to admit, I really have been a big baby about it! There have been people asking why I didn't just wean my son, but I feel like that would have been a terrible mistake. His body is already fighting to get healthy, he needs all the immune boosting properties of breastmilk to make that happen! Plus it is a precious bonding time for us. I have never forced a child to wean, it has always been a natural and easy process with each one of them.
This food elimination not been an easy (its never easy to deny your own selfishness) but today is day 27! I have not done it perfectly (like I said, there is garlic lurking everywhere!), but I couldn't be expected to. I am only human. The good news is that even with my blunders I am seeing the fruit of my labor. My son is breathing better. Not completely, but it has consistently gotten better.
And he is sleeping!!! Especially the past two weeks he has slept 6-8 hours a night on several occasions! Ladies, that is such a big deal!!! I was definitely feeling at the end of my rope with the lack of solid sleep. 19 months is a loooong time when you are only sleeping 2 hours at a time…
So, even though it has been really hard to deny myself many of my favorite foods, it has certainly been worth it.
The hard things we do for the ones we love are always worth it, aren’t they, mamas?
When my oldest had trouble wetting the bed, my searching for the reasons brought me to one mommy blogger who said that when she cut out wheat, her son stopped wetting at night. So I did it and it worked! She was three at the time, and now looking back at her infancy I realized that there were signs of that sensitivity all along (chronic diaper rash, fussiness, trouble sleeping, nasal drip) but I just didn't know to see it. So that is part of the reason why I am sharing my story today. Going through hard things is tough, but you may never know how God uses your story to help someone else.
And I want to remind you, mamas, that we can do hard things!
I mean, I have given up cheeeeese for goodness' sakes...if I can do that, surely I can do anything...sorry, I am pretty silly about the cheese!
I don't know how things are going to go after tomorrow (Day 28). Because my son is still not completely cleared up, I think I will need to do at least another week of the total elimination. Then I will go from there. I'm really thankful that God has brought me this far and I know He will continue to be with me as I work to heal my son.
I went to my doctor for help because I wanted someone to guide me on this journey. How silly of me, I already had a Guide!
God is always with you, mama, through every step of your journey. He will give you the strength you need to get through whatever is going on. He is amazing that way!
So much love,