An update on Andrew’s diet

I mentioned near the beginning of the month that we had discovered that Andrew does not deal well with the bovine milk protein that comes through in my milk (a condition called allergic colitis), that I had gone off dairy, and that he seemed to be improving.  I’ve now been off dairy since around 1pm on Thursday, September 30 (not that I’m counting or anything) and thought I’d give an update on how Andrew and I are doing.

Andrew is doing much better.  Over the first couple of weeks, we saw a dramatic improvement in his comfort level, cheerfulness, and the quality of his stools.  About three weeks in, however, it seemed like he was moving backward.  I felt quite unsettled about him, and called wonderful Mary, our midwife.  She connected me with a friend/client who has dealt with allergic colitis with a few of her babies and who has, through necessity, become an expert.  It was very helpful to talk with her, and I tweaked a couple of things after our conversation, including dropping goat cheese, as her experience indicated that it is any dairy, not just cow dairy, that causes trouble.  That helped a bit more.

Early this week, with Andrew still having the occasional pre-bloody (I can explain that in more detail if you really want) or blood-tinged diaper, I became more convinced that Andrew is one of those babies who cannot handle dairy or soy.  I have generally avoided soy products for years now, but I had not realized how many innocent looking foods have soybean oil in them.  I’ve peeled off a whole other layer of the dietary onion this week. And it seems to be paying off.

Just to give you an idea of the changes I’ve made, here are some of the things that are in the works in our kitchen:

Things at which I feel the need to develop proficiency/for which I need to find recipes that are dairy/soy free –
~ Tortillas
~ Mayonaise
~ Biscuits
~ Potato soup – a fall/winter staple in our home.
~ Popcorn. I tried it tonight with seasoned salt (and olive oil to hold the salt on the popcorn). It was passable, but nothing to hoot and holler about. I’m looking for ideas.
~ There are more on my mental list, but I can’t find the mental paper it’s on. I guess that’s a sign that I need to write it down with pen and paper.

Things I’ve tried/am trying –
~ Experiments in substituting for butter in various recipes. I have some coconut oil, but it is quite pricey, and I’m definitely not going to be making cookies with it at a cup or cup and a half per batch.
~ Today I tried an idea suggested by a friend – using mashed up white beans as a substitute for butter. I found a recipe for oatmeal cookies using beans and they were quite yummy. I’ll post more about this on my Love You Can Eat blog, because, well, it qualifies!
~ I have a batch of artisan bread dough in the fridge so I can start making bread again. Need a carrier for my homemade apple butter, you know. (Store-bought bread is pretty much an automatic fail)
~ I made cornbread last night. I generally use bacon drippings for the fat in my cornbread, so the only sub was almond milk instead of buttermillk. Quite tasty.

Foods for which I’m developing appreciation (read: my sanity savers) –
Almond Milk
Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
Dark Chocolate that doesn’t use soy lecithin as an emulsifier
Almond butter on gala apples
(Do you see an almond theme here? I’m extra grateful that almonds are an alkalizing food, or I would be in a world of hurt!)

In the midst of our food journey, I am thankful that we do not have to be concerned about one of the most common side effects of allergic colitis, failure to thrive.

A few additional trip pics

I know.  Alright already with the trip pictures!  But there are a few from Dad and Mom Smith’s camera that I didn’t want to leave out.  Click to see them larger.

Creation Museum Trip ~ Day 4 – Sat. Oct. 9 ~ Last Day

Saturday was our last day at the museum, and we had originally talked about leaving in the early afternoon. More on that later.  Heh.  We struck camp and had the van loaded by around 10.30, and ate breakfast on the way to the museum. Not as early as we had hoped, but still pretty impressive for the 12 of us and all our gear.

Our first workshop on Saturday was the Buzz about Bees workshop with Doug Nelson, a home schooling dad of seven whose family business is bee keeping. Doug is also the bee keeper/educator for the Creation Museum. We are interested in adding bees to our repertoire at some point, so we soaked the bee workshop, and were thrilled at the opportunity to go out to the museum’s bee hives later in the afternoon to watch and learn even more.

The Snakes Alive workshop was also a hit with our family, since Jonathan has all of us trained to appreciate snakes and other reptiles. Rick Teepen has an extensive collection, taught us some interesting things about the animals, and best of all, has a passion for Jesus Christ and brought out some very practical spiritual truths.

A highlight of the day for this newly-dairy-free mama was a Chai Latte from the Palm Cafe at the museum. I normally avoid soy like the plague, but I couldn’t resist this one time treat. It was yummy!

Some shots here and there around the museum on Saturday:

Worlds of Creation, the other current planetarium show, highlights the wonders of our solar system. Here is the Smith gang waiting in line for the show:

After our late afternoon trip out the bee hives, we made our way to the bookstore for our final visit. Some of the Blessings and Jonathan spent birthday money from Papa and Gramma Byrd. Instead of leaving early, we “closed down” the museum before hitting the road, so we arrived home around 3am. That’s just how we roll.

It was a fun, memorable, and educational trip. I’m already looking forward to the next time!

Creation Museum Trip ~ Day 3 – Fri. Oct. 8 ~ Campground/Museum Fishing Night

 Our original plans for Friday were to spend some time checking out the neat state park at which we camped.  There is a bison herd there, hiking trails, and an outdoor museum about the mastodon.  Alas, due to a fluke with the campground office, we wound up needing to move to a different campsite on Friday, which changed our plans for the day significantly.

We “slept in” until 8.30 Friday, then enjoyed a breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked on the campstove (firewood at the campground was quite pricey).  After breakfast, we struck camp, hauled everything to the other end of the campground, and set up camp again.  It took several trips, was quite an ordeal adventure, and I was thrilled with everyone’s attitudes in the midst of the inconvenience.

Once we got the foodstuff to our new campsite, I started cooking lunch.  We had an easy version of sloppy joes that I cooked in our biggish cast iron pot.  Three pounds ground beef, a couple cans of pork n beans, and a bottle of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce.  Plus an egg left over from breakfast that would’ve gone to waste if we hadn’t used it.  Yummy.

We made it back to the Creation Museum in time for the late afternoon showing of the Created Cosmos planetarium show.  We had seen it last year, but the extent of God’s creation is beyond comprehension and the CC show does a fantastic job of showing off the vastness of His universe.

Friday evening after the museum closed, there was a special Members Family Fishing Night.  The Blessings did some fishing, I did a lot of camera-play, we roasted brats and marshmallows over the fire, and the Blessings got to ride Gomer the camel.  It was a fun and special time.

Another grocery stop for Saturday’s food and some more sushi, and we were on our way back to the state park for another (slightly less frigid) night of camping, our last this trip.  The Blessings went straight to bed, and we grown-ups weren’t far behind.

Creation Museum Trip ~ Day 2 – Thurs. Oct. 7 ~ At the Museum

Highlights from Thursday:

Buddy Davis day!  We planned our trip to coincide with a day when Buddy Davis would be at the museum.  We enjoyed the workshop where we learned from Buddy how to draw and to sculpt pteranodons, as well as gaining knowledge about pteranodons and other dinosaurs.  Later in the day we attended a concert by Buddy, which was a treat.

In the Dragon Legends Theater, a video about dragons and dinosaur runs on a loop.  The theater is small, cozy, and a perfect quiet spot for nursing.  We watched the video once as a family, and I enjoyed it multiple additional times throughout our visit.  If you ever visit the Creation Museum with a nursling, the Dragon Legends Theater is your friend.

The Dinosaur den is an area of the museum showcasing a multitude of dinosaur sculptures (the lion’s share of which were sculpted by Buddy).  The family checked it out while I fed the little fella.

Our initial tour through the bookstore was on Thursday, prepping for a purchasing visit that would come just before our departure.  So much fascinating stuff.

On our way back to the campground Thursday night, we stopped at “our” grocery store – groceries for dinner/Friday, dark chocolate (with no dairy!) and sushi for a treat.

A farkle game with the four oldest Blessings was a fun end to the day, though we were all shivering by the time we concluded the game.  The night-time temps were in the low to mid 40s and we were glad for our blankets.  Andrew slept in many layers in “bed” with Jonathan and I.  He probably stayed warmer than I, but I was glad we could keep him warm and comfy.

(Trying out the WP slideshow feature below… I like it except that it doesn’t look like you can click on individual pics to see them in a larger size.  Any thoughts on picture format?)


Creation Museum Trip ~ Day 1 – Wed. Oct. 6 ~ On the Road

Our trip to the Creation Museum with Dad and Mom Smith began early Wednesday morning.  When Dad and Mom arrived about 9, we had most of our packing done and the van emptied and ready for packing (Jonathan worked late the night before, so emptying the van was a last-minute job).   The goal was to leave by 10.00, and we drove out of the driveway the first time at 10.35, a record for us.  Then we went back for the coats. 

After having new tires put on the van while we took a family walk to Dollar General, we got on the road for real.  Until the first stop 20 minutes later for gas/potty break.  Such is travel with a large family, and I wouldn’t trade it.

It was a beautiful day for a road trip.  A rest area where we stopped (Goshen Rd Rest Area in Illinois, for the curious) was a nice spot for a few pictures.  Later we saw an interesting vehicle adapted from a motorcycle and … something.  We arrived at our destination – Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, KY – after dark, set up our campsite, and had a yummy supper before settling in for the Freezing Cold Night.

(Click on the pics below to get a better view)

Adventures with Andrew

We’re in the midst of a new adventure with our sweet Andrew.  He had a rough week this week, with lots of misery, crying, and poor nursing.  On Thursday he started having blood in his stool, and after the second time, I called our pediatrician.  While I waited for her to return my call, I did a little online searching, so it did not shock me that, after hearing my recitation of Andrew’s troubles, she recommended that I stop eating dairy.

It seems the type of bloody stools Andrew was having are most commonly indicative of a reaction to bovine milk protein (cow’s milk protein) in the mother’s milk, also known as allergic colitis.  The degree of sensitivity varies; I’ve heard tales of moms who can’t eat one chocolate chip without causing a reaction, and of moms who can return to eating yogurt and/or cheese.  But for now I’m avoiding anything with any milk product in it.  I discovered that includes store-bought bread. I don’t eat much of that anyway, but it was a hint as to how pervasive dairy is in our food and what a big job I have ahead of me.  I might do some experimenting later, but for now I’m being ultra careful.

I’ve been concerned about Andrew’s digestion for a while now, and recently discussed my concern with the pediatrician at his four (almost five) month check, but the blood was the first thing that was definitive enough to point the way to helping him.  And he obviously has been processing well enough to gain weight like a champ, so I guess we needed a red flag to give us some direction.

Dr. H said we could expect an obvious improvement by Monday if dairy is indeed the issue, and we have already seen a change for the better.  Andrew is happier, nursing better, and the bloody stools seem to be on the way out.  It has been so wonderful today to see him smile and laugh.

I’ve learned that I’m far from the first mom to deal with this, and that I have several friends who have dealt with similar situations in the last year.  They have said very little about the issue, whether because it hasn’t been a big deal for them or because they did not want to complain, I’m not sure.   

I don’t want to complain either.  Aren’t you relieved?

At the same time, I want other moms who deal with this to know they’re not alone, so you’ll probably be hearing about my dairy-free journey from time to time.

It is hard.

I love dairy.  I love my extra sharp cheddar cheese, my quesadillas, my cream in my tea, etc.  I keep thinking of new things that, for now, I will no longer be enjoying.  Tonight was pizza night, and I did my best to fix myself a good consolation meal… and the black bean salsa salad was wonderful.  But it wasn’t pizza.  When I went to the grocery store this afternoon, I fought tears the majority of the time because I kept seeing yummy things I couldn’t eat.


he is so worth it.

We don’t know what the next few months will bring as far as food is concerned.  But I’m thankful that it looks like we can do something as simple as adjusting my diet to help Andrew feel better and be healthier.  That is so much for which to be thankful! 

When I hear that little chuckle as Mama comes in for the tickle, I’m sure that the sacrifice is worth it.

And when the time comes that I find myself once again eating ice cream and having my Earl Grey with honey and cream?  You’ll probably hear the shouts of rejoicing.