You would think that I would know by now what an allergic reaction in an infant looks like. You would think after all we have seen and experienced with Elena, that I would be an authority on the subject. In fact, I have received countless emails and phone calls from friends asking, “Is this a food reaction?” as they describe symptoms their children are exhibiting or send photos of rashes. We explained away so many symptoms when Elena was an infant. If only we had known then what we know now, right?
The problem is, these symptoms are never black and white. We were sure that Olivia had food allergies when she was a baby. Ironically, she was the only one I was sure about, and as it turns out, she has none. (See details of Olivia’s story here) Because I was so wrong with her, I was hesitant to make the same assertion about Wyatt. I didn’t want my hypersensitivity to lead to another incorrect assessment.
Sure, he was fussy. I just assumed that was colic. He was rashy, but so was Olivia. He scratched at his head when he was upset and he spit up a lot. I had logical explanations for all of it that did not include food allergies. There is no reason to jump to conclusions. Just because we have one child with food allergies, does not mean we are destined to have more.
It wasn’t until Wyatt’s 4 month well visit that it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I had my little list of “concerns” all ready for the occasion, like any other well visit. The nurse showed a little bit of concern after charting Wyatt’s weight because he had dropped from the 50%ile to the 20%ile. When the Dr. came in and asked if I had any concerns, I started nonchalantly listing them, expecting the usual, “that’s perfectly normal” reassurance. This time he just listened without saying much. I felt myself connecting the dots as I was speaking and listing the other pieces of the puzzle that I had not included on my list, but now seemed so obvious.
He cries a lot, especially in the evenings.
He seems to eat frequently and spits up a lot.
He has rashes on his torso and eczema that never goes away.
He still has terrible cradle cap.
He is only soothed by bouncing on the yoga ball (exactly like Elena as a baby)
I know he itches because he squirms all the time and scratches up his head and face when he’s in the car. Otherwise, I never put him down because I’m afraid he will cry and scratch. Until this moment, I convinced myself the scratching was just because he hates the car seat, but I know better. He itches. Of course he itches.
Wyatt’s scratching made him look like he had been in a fight with a bobcat every time he rode in the car.
Our pediatrician then stated that he had never done an allergy test on a 4 month old. The earliest he had done the test was 6 months. I just held my breathe. Elena’s allergy test at 9 months was horrific and I’m still not over it. (Elena’s story here)
He asked if I thought I could cut out all soy and dairy as an experiment. I assured him that would be no problem. That is one thing I know how to do all too well. The next morning, I began my and Wyatt’s dairy/soy free lifestyle and oh my. What a difference. Within a few days, he was less fussy and spitting up less. By the end of the first two weeks, I swear he was a different baby and had grown more than he had in the previous month.
Have you ever been so sick, but not realized it until you felt better? This happened to me with my thyroid. I found out in 2007 that I had Hashimoto’s and my thyroid was in bad shape. I started taking Synthroid and it wasn’t until I started feeling better that I realized how horrible I had been feeling before. The same thing happened here. After Wyatt became himself, I realized he had been sick. Even looking back at photos that at the time looked adorable to me, all I see is a sad, sick little baby. He was always exhausted and itchy and miserable. He would smile, but only if the time was just right. Although I didn’t know it at the time, other family members had concerns about his lack of activity and alertness. Now I question whether that viral rash he had a few months ago was actually a virus. Perhaps it was a reaction to something I had eaten.
After the dairy/soy detox, he is so happy and lively and active. The rashes on his torso and his cradle cap disappeared. He still has some eczema at the backs of his elbows and knees, but it has improved. He is much happier to be put down and play and he naps. He also spits up far less than he used to.
These photos are from “before” I eliminated dairy and soy. Notice how tired and weak he looks. Anyone who holds him is usually covered in spit up and even when he did smile, he always had some kind of rash or redness on his face:
These are Wyatt’s “after” pictures. He is so much more alert and happy now. He is active and loves playing with his sisters and with toys. Also, the matted hair from his cradle cap is now smooth and silky. He is truly a new baby:
This isn’t to say that Wyatt’s food allergy story is finished by any stretch. We still don’t know if he was reacting to the dairy, soy, or both. He could also have reactions to other foods. He does still have some rashes and spitting up. Also, since I rarely eat peanuts, tree nuts, or eggs due to Elena’s allergies, we don’t know if he would react to those.
Even though we don’t have all of the answers yet, I’m so glad my eyes have been opened. I’m sure we will do the testing soon after he turns 6 months old, so hopefully we can start figuring out what his food allergy profile will look like and hopefully it won’t be too different from Elena’s.
Most of all, I am ready for this sweet baby boy to feel good and be healthy. I’m heartbroken that it took me this long to put the pieces together. I always see stories about these superhero moms who sense that something is wrong with their child even when everyone else is telling them it’s all in their head. They turn out to be right and good old Mother’s Intuition is credited another success. Where was my Mother’s Intuition? It shouldn’t have taken that much. For heaven’s sake, this is my second time around with this scenario. Why didn’t I know until he was 4 months old? Every time I had an inkling that it could be food allergies, I followed it with, “but you know, I thought Olivia had food allergies too and look at how wrong I was”. Oy Vey!!!
All I can say is, Wyatt, I love you and I got this. Starting now.