Monday, March 06, 2006

I want some chocolate and I feel guilty

Ironically, the same weekend the Academy Awards were presented, I lost my chance at winning ‘Parent of the Year.’ This is a post full of self-doubt, guilt and a tiny little bit of pity party thrown in for good measure. If you’re not up for a downer, skip this one.

Miss L. had three outbreaks of hives following consumption of and/or playing with American style cheese. Since I’m a follower of the general guideline once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and thrice is a trend, I decided there was something in that cheese that L. was allergic to. At her one year checkup, her doctor agreed with me and suggested that it was probably an allergy to the dye used.

The next week, I contacted Kraft to ask them what precisely they meant by ‘artificial color’ that appeared on the ingredient list. March 1, I had my answer (apocarotenal and annatto, if you care to know). I thought we had the mystery allergy solved. Just skip giving the baby anything with ‘artificial color’, ‘apocarotenal, or ‘annatto’ in the ingredient list. Since L. is still very much on a baby-type diet, this was easy enough to do. Further research on the web revealed that annatto was a known allergen and could cause hives outbreaks.

L. had been getting the occasional bottle of whole cow’s milk with no apparent problem, so I didn’t think anything about it when I gave her a second bottle Saturday afternoon. She had been fussy all day, and I was pretty stressed out by it so I left her in her crib and walked away for a few minutes. (Note: Why oh why do these kinds of things happen while Mr. W. is not home with me?)

S. had been a little banshee, probably a result of the Albuterol she had been taking to control her asthma symptoms that had been completely gone for 18 months, but that’s another post. I let her play outside so long as she remained in full view of our living room window. She had just come inside to ask me if she could still play outside, when L.’s fussing turned into full-blown crying.

I went in to pick L. up out of her crib and carried her out to the living room to change her diaper. I got as far as laying L. down, while trying to tell S. that yes, she could go outside when I realized something was very wrong with L.’s face. She looked like she was covered in 100+ bee stings, her eyes were puffy and when I pulled up her onesie, I saw welts going all the way down her torso to her belly button. I briefly considered calling 911. Since L. was still yelling normally, I decided her breathing was not affected.

Mommy instinct took over, and I stripped L. down and plopped her in a slightly warmer than lukewarm bath. Thirty seconds after I started washing her, she settled down and became her normal cheerful self. Somewhere around ten minutes into her bath, the swelling went down on her face. An hour after that, all signs of redness were gone. The only marks were a couple of scratches she gave herself while she was so itchy. She has received no milk products of any kind since then. She did develop red welts all over her bottom after yesterday’s poop, but thankfully, that has been the last of it. Mr. W. bought some soy milk, and we started her on that last night.

So here I am with a 1 year old who clearly (I think) has an allergy to milk, and I’m scared. I don’t know what I should do next. I worked so hard to diminish my milk supply so I didn’t have to worry about pumping during the day only to have this happen. Should I re-establish my daytime supply? Should I just wean her altogether? If I don’t wean her, I will need to eliminate all dairy from my diet as well as hers. After my experience with broken bones, I’m afraid to get rid of my primary source of calcium. If I do wean her, I know I will be a wreck since emotionally I’m just not ready for that. I’m feeling guilty for all the milk I drank while nursing her, and I’m fretting about what I should have done differently. Did we introduce milk too quickly? too slowly? Why didn't I think that maybe it wasn't just the cheese? Why was she able to tolerate milk for two weeks with no problems before? Or maybe all that fussiness was not just her teeth coming in?

I have not talked to our doctor yet because Mondays are a zoo at the clinic, and I want him to spend some time with me/us discussing this latest development. Wish me luck. I'm hoping to get L. in to see a pediatric allergist very soon.


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