We were at Trader Joe’s in Raleigh after Ada’s appointment with her pediatric gastroenterologst. She needed to go, so I went to the bathroom with her. When she saw herself in the mirror she pointed and said, “Ada!”
It was good for me. I needed to see her do that. I was upset after appointment and it really wasn’t that bad. But she has dropped even smaller on the weight charts… from the 7th to 2nd percentile, and the doctor is concerned now that there may be a reason other than food allergies for her slow weight gain, so she had some blood drawn to test her thyroid, iron and celiac genes and different things.
I know her iron was good when they tested it at 8 months old, so if it isn’t now and she’s still a little breaskmilk-aholic who eats primarily meat for solids, it would be interesting to know.
At her 6 month blood draw, she nursed through it and life was good. This time, she screamed through it, and the two and a half minutes felt like 30. I think some hormonal thing happened with me and I wasn’t myself the rest of the day. I was upset. I just wanted to be at home. My muscles felt all weird like they do when you have an adrenalin rush.
And to add to it, I was not expecting anything other than the positive vibe of her last visit, when her weight had been going up and she hadn’t reacted to a food or been sick.
But before this appointment, she’d been sick, not eating any solids really for 4 or 5 days, throwing up what she nursed, and had some accidental food exposures. A string of them really, since the end of January.
So while yesterday I was upset and overreacting, today I’m thinking more along the lines that she’s had a rough few weeks and if I get really strict on our diet and watch her like a hawk at playdates and vaccuum the floor immediately after Azita eats (instead of later that night after Ada’s already eaten a bean that fell on the floor and started a chain reaction), then she will heal from her exposures and start feeling better.
And maybe something will come back on the blood tests. That’s a catch-22 in and of itself. If everything checks out well, and she still doesn’t gain weight, the doc wants to do a scope– sticking a little camera down her throat and checking to see if the villi of her small intestine are damaged already and if she is absorbing nutrients. Also checking for a few other things.
So one the one hand, you want it to check out well. And on the other, you don’t want to do a scope! Our doctor puts babies under general anesthesia to do the scope, and after the blood-draw screaming, I don’t ever want to have to hold her down for anything again, ever. I realize that may not happen, but you want to minimize the amount of times! So the scope would definitely be something you don’t just decide on lightly, though it is a quick outpatient procedure.
Poor kid. She’s probably just small and has a lot of food allergies, or as the doctor suggested, maybe just one or two big ones where the cross contamination is a big deal, like gluten or corn.
But if there is something else, as parent, you want to do the right things to figure out why.
When she waved and pointed and smiled at the mirror it did help me though. She’s intelligent, she’s social, she’s amazing in every way. There are worse things than being small, worse thing than physical ailments even.
And thank God I live in a country where food is all around us and we have all these options to take her to a specialist, to keep rearranging our diets to try to find what works for her best.
I’m going to eliminate rice for a few weeks because it is most often what she has eaten when she throws up, although if she’s had a food exposure, she’ll throw anything up for a few nights.
And I’m the cheerleader in the Foodlab group at Yahoo where we share recipes and talk about our kid’s symptoms, telling other moms, “Hey, it’s just a food. Your kid is more important. There are dozens of new foods you’ll grow to love,” when they are having a hard time cutting out dairy or something else.
But the rice really had me bummed, like upset and seriously wanting to cry about not eating it. Well, not rice, but the amazingly yummy rice flour muffins and cookies I make.
I got over it though. Just a few weeks. So I’ll get any food exposures out of her system, I’m going to buy a new pan just for me and Ada since Payman and Azita often cook eggs and beans and tofu in the shared pans, eat little or no grains, either for the sake of them or to cut down on cross contamination.
And maybe in 6 weeks she will have gained some weight. She’s had a hard week with the fevers and all– she even looks skinnier and paler. I’m trying to get back my optimism today. Weight is not an indication of health.
But really, when people stop to say how amazing it is your baby can walk at such a young age, and you tell them she’s 15 months old and they get that look— that look like they are thinking something might be “wrong” with her, you do think about it.
You find yourself stuck in this weird mommy-guilt-paradox. Either it’s my fault she isn’t gaining weight because there is another food I haven’t cut out that I suspected, like rice. Or it’s my fault because all this crazy effort and eating just meat and veggies and rice and teff flour baked goods isn’t working.
And of course, none of it is my fault. And I can’t fix everything. And sometimes answers aren’t found easily, sometimes not at all. But after holding her down yesterday while they drew blood, I knew these things but didn’t feel them. Nobody wants to feel like their child would be healthier if they had figured something else out sooner.
And sometimes I do feel that way, but I know the truth is that we’ve actually figured out a lot. I went with my gut when she was 3 months old and quit eating dairy. Gluten followed. Corn followed. Then beans. We figured out so much and come so far from a baby that would just cry and cry and cry while I walked around the house with her after I ate bread and oatmeal cookies. A baby who had rashes and mucous covering her diapers, instead of healthy breastfed poo.
So maybe there is something else going on. I tend to think that maybe we take it for granted how far we’ve come with her health and her body and gut just need more time to heal and soon she will digest food better and gain moreweight. I can’t do anything more right than keep avoiding the foods that make her sick, giving her breastmilk, and going to her doctor’s appointments.