Wednesday, June 26

Milk Was A Bad Choice.

Prologue: This is a extremely wordy retelling of Jack's woes, which I feel are very important -- but perhaps not everyone needs a play-by-play. The summary is at the bottom, should you care to skip the (very important!) details. But why would you, really? What if your baby, or future baby, suffers the same bloated fate?!


Poor first-born children. They are such guinea pigs.

This motherhood gig is a learning experience, trial-and-error and that sort of thing. Trial by fire, perhaps.

And by fire, I mean crying. Trial by crier. Forever and ever, crying without end, amen.

"Mom, stop it, you're embarrassing me!"

You see, I thought maybe I was being a bit of a wimp, mom-wise. Maybe Jack wasn't so "bad" as a newborn. Maybe he wasn't really that fussy, and I was actually the one making a fuss about nothing. 

I remember reading that a newborn's crying typically peaks between weeks six through eight, averaging two to three hours a day (dear God, that still sounds like a lot). Jack cried and yelled an awful lot as a wee babe, but not more than three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks -- and that's the cut-off for a colic diagnosis. Also, they are supposedly not able to be comforted by anything if they're colicky. He usually calmed down an awful lot during and after nursing.

His pediatrician told me that he was just an exceptionally ravenous, big baby (and yes, I still think that's true) and to be sure I was feeding him on-demand -- no such thing as a schedule for this boy. 

A friend at work mentioned silent reflux (shout-out to Allison, thank you for the tip!) so I started keeping Jack upright for awhile after nursing and vowed to mention this possibility at the next well visit. I kept telling myself maybe it was getting better?

My own mom mentioned that he pulled his legs up slightly when she was holding him and walking down the stairs, which I'd noticed too -- but I just figured that was normal (like the Moro reflex, perhaps? I don't know...) I called the nurse at the pediatrician's office to ask about it, and she said his vision was improving at this age and he was probably just reacting to depth perception differences. That sounds sort of ridiculous now, but again, I just chalked my doubts up to a lack of experience and expertise. 

Basically, I decided that he was just really hungry, and that I was just a clueless first-time mom who had no idea what she was in for, weeping-wise, with a newborn.  I was also comforted by the fact that he was gaining weight really well, sleeping through the night, and that his fussy period would certainly have to end eventually. Probably around three months, four if we were unlucky. 

Well, last Friday was the straw that broke this mama's formerly patient back.

He cried a lot, and it was that dreaded pain cry... the one that sounds like he is on the rack. And I was sick of hearing it and chalking it up to normal gas, or insatiable hunger, or any other run-of-the-mill complaint. Something was wrong, and as he drew his legs up again while I walked down the steps, I got really mad at the world for not figuring out what was bothering my baby. Mad at the world and at myself, really.

I called for a sick appointment and booked it to the doctor's office.

Of course, once we got there, he delivered a massive poop and was all smiles for the pediatrician. I asked her to take a look at it (yes, the poop) and she sent it off to be tested (who enjoys doing that as a job, I wonder?) She said maybe he had a milk protein intolerance or really bad reflux -- but then, it was odd that he was sleeping through the night. I was instructed to eliminate all dairy and start him on some Zantac. We'd see how he was doing in a month or so.

Excuse me, a month?

I left feeling depressed about the prospect of waiting so long (a few weeks) for him to get noticeable relief. Also, a foreseeable future without cheese was more than a little sad. It's important to note at this point that I was never extremely gung-ho about breastfeeding, but it's healthy and nice and bonding and convenient and free. So aside from a few formula supplements when he was in the NICU and shortly afterward, months ago, Jack was exclusively breast-fed.

But between the fact that what put him in the NICU was referred to as "breastfeeding jaundice" and the possibility that he was now reacting to me eating my beloved cheese and ice cream, I was about ready to throw in the towel on nursing. We made it to almost four months, he got all sorts of good antibodies and brain benefits, and anyway, I'm pretty sure Einstein was formula-fed, so it's not exactly Satan's juice. 

Clearly, nursing does not guarantee your baby will be a genius -- because I was also a breastfed baby, and here's what I did next. I went home, mixed up a bottle of formula, and gave it to my hungry Jack. And a few hours later, he projectile vomited, exorcist-style. All over me, my mom's furniture, the carpet. I sprinted to the bathroom with him. He looked a little alarmed for a minute, then saw our soaked reflections in the mirror and beamed.

Ah, yes... formula is made with cow's milk. Milk protein intolerance, maybe? Oops. I cut the cheese (ha!) from my diet, along with ice cream, butter, beef, and every other delicious thing one might eat. I also went out and bought hypoallergenic formula.

The doctor called yesterday -- turns out he's not intolerant of milk protein (cheese for me again!) It looks, based on the testing of his explosive diaper, like he's actually lactose-intolerant. That is an extremely rare condition for babies to come by naturally, and I have my doubts. But there are some folks in both of his families who don't do very well with dairy (clearly, not me), so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

What I really think -- and LLL supports my theory (but of course they do) -- this is a case of secondary lactose-intolerance due to oversupply. Basically, I make a lot of milk, and he gets full on the gas-producing sort that "arrives" in the beginning of nursing. I've suspected this for months now, but the idea was poo-poo'd (pun intended ) at his one-month checkup. He has all of the symptoms -- even the very fast weight gain. It literally says that these babies "may frequently be misdiagnosed with colic, lactose intolerance, milk protein allergy, reflux, or hypertonicity (stiff muscle tone)." Fists of fury, anyone? Basically, you can have too much of a good thing.

In either case, he has been living the life of a lactose-intolerant who only consumes milk for months now. So yeah, no wonder he's been a tad fussy. We just started, but our game plan is to continue feeding him the hypoallergenic formula (which is dishearteningly expensive and smells like old socks) and occasionally give him the gassy liquid gold that is breastmilk... until the next doctor's appointment, when I will arrive with my theories and a million questions. 

And thus, you have another update in the ongoing saga of Hungry Jack's grumpy intestines. With any luck, the literal and figurative winds will magically change in the next few days and my baby with the goofy smiles and hilarious little laughs will emerge from his prolonged fussy period for good.

The shame...

Summary: Jack might actually be lactose-intolerant, or I might have a serious case of milk oversupply that is making him secondarily lactose-intolerant (which means, it will go away soon). Important to note that I am not a doctor, but his real doctor did explain the first possibility to me, and I have mother's intuition and a shameful Google addiction, so I think the second possibility is what's actually happening.


  1. Poor Jack!!! :( Don't you just wish he could talk already to tell you how he feels? Haha!!

  2. Have you thought about getting a second opinion? Mother's instinct is a powerful thing; don't let anyone just dismiss you b/c you're not an MD.

    Keeping your Jack (and y'all) in my thoughts.

  3. poor jack and poor mama! i absolutely hope it gets figured out soon!

  4. I'm so sorry you're going through so much! I hope you get everything figured out and that the next months go much more smoothly.

  5. Wow - motherhood requires some keen investigative skills. Hope Jack is doing better!