Sweet Chili Chips

I know it doesn’t sound like they would be that appetizing, but these sweet chili brown rice chips are really good. They were sampling them at Costco and both E and I liked them. They’re wonderfully crunchy with just the right blend of spicy/sweet. And they’re made from brown rice so eating handfuls of them is healthy! (Ahem.)

They’re also good for people with food allergies. They don’t contain milk powder and they’re wheat/gluten-free for those with celeriac disease.

E is on strike

For over a week now E has refused to drink any soy milk and I don’t know why. (In case you didn’t know, E has serious food allergies to several things including cow’s milk which is why he drinks soy.) For the last several months he has been taking a bottle of soy milk before his nap and one before bed time but over the last few weeks he’s been drinking less and less of his bottles.

Then about a week ago he just quit cold turkey. He doesn’t want anything to do with the soy milk. If I pop the bottle in his mouth he’ll fill his mouth up and then let the milk dribble out the corners of his mouth and down his neck. He thinks it’s hilarious (but predictably, I disagree).

I’ve tried putting it in a sippy cup but as soon as he tastes what it is he spits it back out. I’ve also tried a couple different brands of soy milk and even chocolate soy milk but it doesn’t make a difference. It’s pretty frustrating. He’s been drinking soy formula/milk for eight months. What changed? What’s going on inside his wee little brain? His behavior is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I worry that because he can’t have other calcium-rich foods like yogurt or cheese he’s not getting enough calcium but he does takes a couple of those gummy calcium vitamins a day which should help. I don’t want to overreact but I just don’t what to do. Should I just let it slide for a while or if I should call his pediatrician to see what he says?

Meh. What do you think? Any ideas?

…but there’s good news

I took E to the allergist yesterday. Yesterday morning I had a funny feeling that something was wrong with our appointment and so I called the office to confirm the time. But I was on hold for so long that I gave up and just took E to the office at our scheduled time. Well, my intuiton was right. It turns our that one of the secretaries had cancelled our appointment! I have no idea why and apparently neither did she. But she talked to the doctor and they squeezed us in; we did have to wait for an hour though. It was a good thing I didn’t talk to the office before we got there. If we had they would have made us reschedule for who knows how many months later.

So the allergist confirmed that E is “genetically a very allergic little guy.” The blood test he had done showed high levels of allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts and nuts. (His cashew level was at 100!) The nut-thing came as a little bit of a surprise to me since at his last appointment we only knew that he was allergic to milk. They just wanted me to avoid eggs and nuts with him as a precaution. But now that he has confirmed allergies to eggs AND peanuts AND tree nuts AND milk…well, it’s kind of daunting. I felt like crying when the doctor told me. The doctor said that it would be dangerous for E if someone who had been eating nuts kissed him on the face or changed his diaper without washing their hands (!) Also, he’s almost definitely going to have hay fever and there’s at least a 50% chance that he’ll have asthma. It’s a good thing that N and I are nerds because it doesn’t look like E is going to be the brawny captain of the football team. (Or is it because N and I are nerds that E won the genetic lottery that he did…discuss!)

But the good news is that E isn’t allergic to soy. (Yay!) Now he is free to enjoy the wondrous world of soy-based products. I’m actually quite excited. They now make soy-based cheese and yogurt and things; it will be nice to have some more options to give him. And if you haven’t tasted real cheese, then you wouldn’t know how lame soy cheese is, right? The allergist gave the okay to start him on soy formula which will maybe help him put on some weight and which hopefully he’ll like better than the Nutramigen formula. I’m still breastfeeding him but my supply is dwindling and E isn’t that interested in it any more and so once he’s established on the soy formula I’m going to wean him.

And then I’m going to enjoy me some dairy goodness.

Recipe: Wacky Cocoa Cake

I don’t know how often I’ll be posting while I’m out of town, but I prepared this post in advance. If everything is going well, E. and I are currently frolicking in the Pacific Northwest September sunshine (or more realistically and just as awesome, I am sleeping in while my mom plays with E.)

Last week my friend Emily came over for lunch along with her cute baby boy. Her son J. is only one week older than E. and so it was fun to see them ‘play together’ (i.e. try to claw each other’s eyes out and steal each others binkies).

Emily knew about how E. and I can’t have dairy or eggs, and so she brought this cake over for dessert. It was super good. I think I’m going to make it for E.’s birthday in November. Emily said that her mom got the recipe from a cocoa recipe booklet and from what I can tell, there are a couple of different versions of it online. This version also has a recipe for non-dairy frosting to go with it. (I’m super grateful for all of the vegan resources that exist for avoiding eggs and milk products, but I have to admit that I feel like a bit of an impostor when I buy my vegan margarine, soy milk, and no-dairy, no-egg cookies. What would the hippie clerks at the health food store say if they knew how much I love a good medium-rare sirloin? Worst…vegan…ever!)

Anyway, this cake is great for people with food allergies or those living overseas who might not have convenient access to baking ingredients (Hi, N.’s mom and dad in Pusan!)

Wacky Cocoa Cake
(This is a doubled recipe: it makes enough for two round pans)

Mix together in a large bowl the following:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Then add the following liquid ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Stir until no lumps remain. Pour into two 8″ or 9″ rounds. bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. That’s it!

I know I’ve been remiss about posting new photos of E. but with things having been so crazy the last couple of weeks, I haven’t taken any. I will make up for it while we’re on this trip and will post photos when we get back. Have a good weekend!

Just Call me ‘Pollyanna’

Since I stopped eating dairy and eggs on Sunday, I’ve been thinking about this whole situation. I know I was a little whiny in my last post, but there are quite a few positive things about having to stop eating dairy and eggs because of E.’s food allergies:

I have a decent health food store ten minutes from my house – I checked it out yesterday, and they have a ton of options. There was a whole section of dairy-free, egg-free cookies. I’m trying to avoid junk food anyway, but knowing that there was junk food I (and later on E.) could eat was a big morale booster. It’s just nice to have options, you know? I also bought some soy milk. The taste isn’t that bad, but the texture leaves something to be desired; it’s pretty watery. But I can totally see E. liking it. It really does taste like melted ice cream. And I also found some dairy free soy margarine. It must be REALLY hard to have food allergies if you don’t have a source of alternative types of food around. I consider us very lucky in this regard.

It will probably help me lose weight – Most of the foods I tend to overindulge in contain dairy or eggs (ice cream, creamy pasta sauces, Kozy Shack pudding, pastries, etc…). I was surprised to find out that most normal breads don’t have eggs in them (but delicious bakery desserts do). This whole thing is making me more mindful of what I eat.

It will help me learn what foods contain things E. needs to avoid – I was pretty surprised to discover how many foods have milk products in them. I’m learning to read labels closely, but a lot of the time milk or egg products will be listed as something other than ‘milk’ or ‘eggs.’ While I’m not supposed to have any allergic foods at all, it’s good for me to learn using myself instead of E. If I accidentally eat something I shouldn’t, it won’t affect E. as severely as if he ate it himself. He’s still eating mostly baby food, so I can use this time like a set of food allergy training wheels. By the time he’s eating more table foods, I should be a pro at avoiding foods that are dangerous for him.

It’s good motivation to learn how to cook Korean food – For a while I’ve been meaning to learn how to cook more Korean dishes. Korean food basically has no dairy in it and except for certain dishes, it’s also pretty light on eggs. This whole thing is a great reason to learn how to cook more Korean dishes. Before this even came up N. and I liked eating Korean and other Asian food. But I think we’ll be eating more of it in the future, which is fine with me!

It’s teaching me empathy for people with food allergies – There’s a chance that E. might out grow his food allergies, but he might not. Either way, this experience is helping me understand what it’s like to not be able to enjoy common foods. It’s not really a life-or-death situation for me (I am trying my very hardest not to eat foods I shouldn’t, but since I wasn’t avoiding any allergic foods until last week, I don’t think one small slip-up now will severely affect E.), but I now feel anxious when a situation regarding food I’m not sure about comes up. Going out to eat or getting together at a friends’ house for dinner becomes fraught with anxiety. Before this, I simply took it for granted that I could eat anything I wanted to (whether I should have eaten anything I wanted is a different matter). It’s a pain to check the ingredients of everything and a real downer to have to avoid some restaurants all together because I know they don’t serve many things I can eat there. Food allergies make everyday life much more complicated.

My family and frends have been very supportive – Really, you have been simply lovely. It’s great to be reminded how many nice people I have in my life. Thanks for all the support!

Well, those are all positive things that have come out of E. having these food allergies. After going grocery shopping and restocking our kitchen with allowed foods, the situation seems pretty manageable. I think we’re going to be fine.

Et tu, Dairy?

So…it turns out that E. is allergic to milk (and by extension: normal baby formula, yogurt, cheese, the brand of teething biscuits he likes, and some baby cereals).

(Doesn’t he look terrified? He is–terrified of a future without dairy!)

Anyway, I took E. to the allergist (Dr. Broadbent) on Friday afternoon. I told her about the allergic reaction E. had had to the formula. I also mentioned that E. might have had minor reactions to dogs (his face broke out after my sister’s dog licked him) and something in humus (E. threw up after he had some last week, but it he might have just eaten too much). They did a skin test on his back for allergies to milk, dogs, sesame (it’s in humus) and soy. He had strong reactions to milk and dog. (The doctor was surprised by the strength of his dog reaction and said it would be best to not have pets in the home for at least a couple of years – sad!)

(This is his marked-up back. By the time we got home and I took this picture, his reactions had mostly gone away. He had several little red welts on it.)

The allergist said that E.’s food allergy to milk, his allergy to dogs (and most likely cats), and his eczema all indicate that he will probably have ongoing issues with allergies and possibly asthma as he grows up.

Dr. Broadbent said the best thing to do would be to completely eliminate dairy from E.’s diet. That means eliminating all cow’s milk from the breastmilk he drinks (and I produce) or switching him to a special hypoallergenic formula such as Nutramigen. The doctor also said that it would be best for him to avoid other highly allergenic foods such as eggs, peanuts, other nuts, and soy for a while. The theory is that the longer E. goes before he’s exposed to a food, the smaller the possibility will be that he’ll develop an allergy to it. That’s why the doctor doesn’t want to put him on soy formula right now. Because if you have allergies to both milk AND soy, well, you’re basically screwed.

The current best case scenario is that E. continues to be breastfed or drinks Nutramigen until after his first birthday, at which time he can have soy milk. And then (fingers crossed) after a couple of years of being on soy, he will have out grown his milk allergy.

Since the doctor doesn’t want E. to be exposed to any dairy, eggs, peanuts/nuts, or soy, I can’t eat any of those things if I’m nursing him (I can have some soy if I don’t overdo it). The restrictions are, to be honest, pretty daunting. Dairy would be hard on it’s own (I love milk and we eat a lot of things with cheese in them), but over the weekend I’ve been trying to think of things to eat that also don’t have eggs in them and it’s been pretty rough. Most breads and pasta either have eggs in them or were processed on the same equipment as things with eggs were. I never really paid attention to it before, but the majority of foods I eat have either milk or eggs in them in some form or another (or I wash them down with a tall frosty glass of milk).

On Saturday N. and I went out for a ‘last supper’ of sorts: I had pasta with cream sauce and we split a slice of cheesecake for dessert. The waiter overheard N. said that we were ‘celebrating’ and so he comp-ed us the cheesecake and asked us if it was a birthday or anniversary. We explained the whole thing, which I think was more than he wanted to know. (But, um, yay for free cheesecake!) After that meal, I quit eating the offending foods. But I hadn’t gone grocery shopping and so yesterday I basically ate just rice and kimchi.

I need to go shopping today to restock our kitchen with allowed foods. N. was pretty incredulous about all of the foods that are now off limits. He said that we should look at how E. does with the formula. It would be REALLY nice if formula was an option for E. I like nursing him, but even though I’m still pumping a couple times a day, I’m not getting as much milk out as I used to. Which means that it’s hard to leave enough milk for E. to be babysat or to take along with us to a restaurant where breastfeeding would be difficult. Being able to give him formula once in a while would be really convenient and would take some of the pressure off of me.

While we were at the clinic they also did a skin test to see if E. reacted to Nutramigen. He didn’t have a reaction, but Dr. Broadbent said to still be careful when I gave it to him for the first time. Last night I gave E. a couple sips of formula, and he later threw up. There’s a chance that he just had an upset stomach, but he was also scratching at his face which doesn’t bode well. There’s a possibility that E.’s in the 5% of kids with milk allergies that can’t drink this (or any) formula.

Sorry to go on and on and on. I was feeling pretty upbeat about everything over the weekend, but that was before I realized E. might not be able to take even the special formula. I’m going to wait a couple of days for his stomach to settle down and try the formula again, so I guess we’ll see. Today I’m also going to make lists of things I can eat (so far I’ve thought of fruits, vegetables, pita bread, and soy milk) and go shopping.

Right now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but I think it will all be okay.

This little guy makes me feel better about it all.

E.’s Kryptonite

On Wendesday night Grandpa and his sister, E.’s great-great-aunt Dorothy, took us out to dinner. I didn’t have a bottle of breastmilk ready to take along and so I decided to mix up a bottle of formula (using one of the many sample cans they gave me at the hospital) and take it with me for E.

After we settled into our booth at the restaurant E. seemed hungry and so I gave him the bottle and he drank the whole thing. Then, his face turned quite red and he threw up the entire contents of the bottle (my apologies to the wait staff at Sweet Tomatoes). His nose and mouth started dripping mucous and drool and he was rubbing and scratching his face vigorously.

Two and a half hours later we were checking him into the hospital for overnight observation.

Yes, just like Superman, E. has an near-fatal weakness. It turns out that

Since we wouldn’t all fit in one car, N. had driven Grandpa and Aunt Dorothy to the restaurant and I had driven E. in my car. After he threw up, E. seemed to feel a little better but was still flushed and itchy. I decided to leave the restaurant early and take him home. I got E. home and gave him some Benadryl, nursed him for a little bit, and put him to bed. He seemed really tired but still itchy. I called our pediatrician’s after hours clinic and spoke to a nurse. She was mystified about E.’s reaction to the formula; she hadn’t heard of anything like it. But she said it didn’t sound like it was necessary to bring E. into the clinic since he wasn’t having trouble breathing.

While I was on the phone with the nurse, I heard E. wake up and start crying. When I went to go check on him he was on his tummy in a pool of vomit and looked worse. (I have to confess that at this point I started to freak out a little). I picked him up and he threw up all over me. I realized that he really needed to go to the doctor. So I quickly changed him out of his vomit-soaked pajamas (noting that his legs and arms were now a bright solid red color), changed my own shirt, threw some things for him into my bag, and called the clinic to let them know we were coming in. N. had forgotten to take his cell phone with him and I didn’t have a way of getting a hold of him and so I just left him a note.

At this point E. was super tired and tried his best to fall asleep on the car ride to the clinic while I tried my best to drive there as fast as safely possible. As I was driving N. called and I told him what was going on. When we got to the clinic we saw the physician’s assistant and she said that it looked like E. had had an anaphylactic allergic reaction and that she was going to have the doctor who was on call come in and examine him.

When the doctor arrived he looked E. over and asked me if E. had possibly eaten any food at the restaurant that was out of the ordinary, like seafood. I told him that the only thing E. had eaten all day was breastmilk except for the one bottle of formula.

The doctor said that the danger with serious allergic reactions like the one E. had was that sometimes there is a secondary reaction in about 6 or 8 hours that can be as bad or worse than the original reaction. So the doctor wanted to give E. a shot of Epinephrine to stop the current reaction and than have E. admitted to the hospital to be put on IV fluids and monitored overnight. When the doctor told me this I felt overwhelmed–IV fluids? Overnight hospitalization? My poor baby boy! Just then N. and Grandpa showed up, which I was grateful for.

The nurse gave E. a shot of Epinephrine and almost immediately E.’s color started to clear up. The doctor told us to take E. to the hospital (which is only a block away from the clinic) and go straight up to the pediatric ward and the nurses there would be expecting us. We went over and as soon as the nurses saw us they started putting on their gloves and hustling to get an IV into E. so they could give him fluids.

It took them almost half an hour and many, many needle jabs to get the IV started. It was so hard on E. and really hard to watch. They needed me to fill out some paperwork and so I gratefully left N. with E. while the nurses were sticking him but I could hear E. screaming all the way down the hall. After I was done with the paperwork they STILL hadn’t gotten the IV started and so I went to go comfort E. It was pretty heartbreaking; E. was exhausted and was trying his best to go to sleep. His eyes kept fluttering close and then flying open every time they jabbed him. It took 3 nurses to hold him steady during all this time: they said that E. was really strong for his age. (They also all mentioned that they liked his hair.)

Anyway, things settled down after the IV was in and they put him in a room and hooked him up to a bunch of heart and respiratory monitors. It was a little hard to get the cords out of the way while I nursed him, but I fed E. and then put him in the hospital crib and he fell asleep right away.

There was only one adult bed in the room and things seemed to be under control and so I sent N. and Grandpa home. I filled out some more paperwork and then around 2am I went to sleep. The nurses popped into the room to check on him every couple of hours and changed his IV a few times.

In the morning N. came by and brought a change of clothes for me and a few other things. While N. was there the doctor came by to check on E. The doctor said E.’s allergic reaction was pretty mysterious. They didn’t know if he’s allergic to cow’s milk or to something specific in Similac. A cow’s milk allergy would be unusual since I eat a lot of dairy and the proteins that trigger cow’s milk allergies pass into breast milk. Either way, E. needs to see a pediatric allergist so it can get sorted out. I need to call the allergist they recommended later today to get an appointment. It will probably be a few months before we can be seen, though.

The doctor also proscribed Epipens for E. so we can keep one with us just in case he has another serious reaction. On the way home I picked them up from the pharmacy. (I like how “Jr” is in a fun font. Cutest needle ever!)

Until we get his allergy figured out, E. (obviously) can’t have any formula. I was planning on breastfeeding E. until he turned one anyway, but I have to admit that now that formula simply isn’t an option I’m feeling a bit more pressure.

E. seems to have made a full recovery, other than being a little tired from the lack of sleep. After we got home from the hospital yesterday he took a nap and when he woke up he enjoyed bopping around in his jumper.

And for something completely different:

Good news! Sometime during all of the hoopla E.’s tooth finally broke through.

…so there’s that.