Please forgive me if I am posting in the wrong spot, it's my first time doing so.
I am in real need of some help regarding my diet and health and that of my exclusively breast fed 8-month old son. I am hoping that someone on here can give me some advice, as I am exhausted beyond functioning properly! I know pieces of my problem topics are probably discussed separately in some archives, but I have so many issues that I am hoping someone can help me spot the "missing link" that the docs can't. I have spent and spent on doctors, natural and not, and paid so much out of pocket especially to the natural ones that insurance doesn't cover, so I cannot spend any more going to doctors that as usual will probably not have some answers for me. This post is sooo long and I am so sorry but I wanted to make sure that people reading this had enough info to understand what is happening. Thank you for reading it! Ok here goes:
For the little one:
The little one is really having some issues sleeping through the night, waking two to four times per night to nurse. I can't figure out if he is hungry from growth spurts with teething, or needing comfort from teething, or why. But he sleeps max of 5 hours maybe once per week, if I am lucky. Usually it is bed at 8pm, wake around 10, 2, sometimes 4 and then 6. If we are lucky he may sleep till 7. I tried taking away his afternoon nap and he is grumpy and still wakes as much. He is teething and I suspect that has alot to do with it, but he also has gas and some diarrhea, which could be teeth, or as I suspect, something in my diet. When he was four months, he stopped sleeping through the night which he had been doing since very small. He started having blood in his poo, which improved after I took gluten, ANY trace dairy, and almonds out of my diet. The pediatrician and my doctor have really been of no help, suggesting early weaning and starting solids. I have delayed solids because of all the food allergy history in my family. He still constantly has a red ring rash around his anus that waxes and wanes, and when he had the blood in the stool, also had eczema across his belly that is still there time to time. His skin is SO dry, with all the fat I eat I would think my milk might be better than that, I can't figure out what I am missing here, or what I should omit. He is still gassy every day, but I can't afford to leave out any more foods from my diet, and don't have the energy to keep trying to test them and still not figuring out what is the culprit? I can't afford $400 food allergy tests right now that may or may not give results. I don't know whether to start some solids to help "fill him up" before bed a little bit, or if I should continue to delay the solids. I don't want to give him food if he does not need it, but maybe he does? Since he eats so much in the night, should I try and "reset" him so he eats more during the day, like try to hold him out at night? He never seems to be hungry after nursing during the day though, so I don't want to stuff him either. I always nursed on demand for my daughter, and I feel like it would be going against following his demand doing that. (?)
OK, here some family history:
My father (and his mother who passed away of digestive issues) has very bad gluten intolerance, causing migraines for 25 years and rheumatoid arthritis, and has multiple food intolerances. My mother's father was an alcoholic and schizophrenic (associated with gluten intolerance), her brother is exhibiting the same symptoms now. My mother has recently figured out that she is very intolerant to gluten and almonds, and now we suspect her father and brother's problems came from that as well, undiagnosed. My mother was also fed sweetened condensed milk as a baby (yikes!) because she did not tolerate formula, and remembers being made to "drink her milk" as a child and it making her nauseous. Now she is of course lactose intolerant, can tolerate kefir only.
SO...for my diet:
I have recently found out I am gluten intolerant, getting migraines same as my father. Almonds do the same to me. Both these intolerances may have been going for a long time but showed up after my second pregnancy (I heard that pregnancy stress can bring it out?). I have never felt good eating dairy except for raw cheese, been off it for a long time. I was a vegetarian for 7 years, in my twenties, eating the heck out of soy, until I found out that it was the culprit behind my years of digestion issues (constipation, bad digestion, low thyroid symptoms). So currently I am gluten free, nut free, soy free, dairy free. I have always had sluggish bowels, and even now that I am regular, it is still not quite "right" (leaning towards constipation symptoms). I am always cold and extremely thin, cannot gain weight (I know the breastfeeding drains me, he eats alot and often and is 23 pounds at 8 months) but I do know people who are just fine and are nursing their 3rd or 4th child or more! I eat tons and tons of good fats, lots of avocado, flax oil, coconut oil (slathered on everything thick!), bacon fat, chicken fat, eating dark meats and bacon (maybe I don't absorb the fat and that's why I can't keep weight on?) I cannot tolerate any dairy, and it gives the nursling extreme colic. I know that ghee would be so so good for me but can't tolerate it. I tried a little raw grated cheese (I mean a tsp. or less) the other night on dinner and he was screaming in pain! My daughter was like that too when she was nursing. I have no access to raw dairy but suspect with my dairy allergy being casein related, that I would not do well on it anyway. So I cannot get any good fat from raw dairy. I have tried properly prepared yogurts and kefirs and they make me nauseous, so I suspect casein more than lactose for me. I am very adventurous in food but the one thing I will never be able to stomach is organ meats. I know how good they can be but it is just not an option. I do try to follow Nourishing Traditions type diet whenever possible. I do like fish eggs and eat them some but they are sooo salty to eat alot. I eat seafood, lots of salmon and smoked lox, but don't do too well with shellfish and not sure if it affects the little one so I dont eat much. Can't eat almonds, they give me a headache like my mother, and I am afraid to try other nuts, and they don't digest well for me anyway, I have always felt sick after I eat peanuts and walnuts etc. I had some headaches after eating some nectarines and prunes and guess that I am getting a cross reaction as I am intolerant to almonds which are int he same family. I eat fruit, mostly berries, apples, grapes, plenty of veggies, raw and steamed always with plenty of fats on them, cant have nuts or dairy for protein so I eat bison (watching beef for cross reaction to dairy for my son), chicken, turkey, fish and some eggs (but not too many because have not determined if they affect my son as an allergen thru my milk) and hummus and Eden brand beans cooked with kombu since I don't have time to make my own right now. I try my hardest to eat properly prepared grains, like soaking quinoa overnight and soaking oatmeal before cooking it (with raw vinegar), try to make my own gluten free sourdough when I have time but have had problems with my starter going bad and just dont have the energy sometimes. So half the time my breakfast is yeast-free gluten free toast, or gluten free Udi's toast, with raw honey and good fats. I know those type of improperly processed grains are not good, but some mornings after the baby has kept us up all night and I slept 3 hours, I cannot even think about worrying about my sourdough that day. If I make a dessert I try to also soak the flour ahead, but don't always have time either. I stay home with my three year old daughter and the baby so it may seem like I would have plenty of time but I do stay so busy! I know that I eat more carbs than I should, but I am having so much trouble finding things to snack on, I am always starving with the baby draining me, so sometimes I reach for a toast with coconut oil, hoping it is better than a cookie but knowing it would be better to snack on chicken or something no-carb, but not feeling like I could digest meat for the third time that day. I eat some sunflower butter but too much of it does not digest well. Many times protein for me does not digest well, I have to take enzymes alot of the time to digest an improperly combined meal, or lots of meat. Strangely enough, sometimes I am starving, and eat a snack, and then feel too full or sick, not having eaten much. And if I need a snack in the afternoon, if I eat anything but fruit, for some weird reason, I feel heavy and kind of sick, like it doesn't digest. I drink spring water with trace mineral drops in it, sometimes drink blackstrap molasses in hot water for the minerals, some rice and hemp milk (I know processed and has sugar but I have to drink so much nursing and water gets so so old), and small bits of fruit juice to flavor my water. (FYI we shop at Whole Foods, so none of these items have chemicals, colorings, additives etc in them, and we buy organic and grassfed whenever possible). I make bone broth after roasting a whole chicken pretty often, and try to incorporate the broth into meals when I can for gravies etc, though I know I should drink mugs of it, I am not "there" yet and need help how to use broth more and better. I don't drink any kombucha or much fermented veggies, again, because of the nursling. I drink some herbal teas and the occasional decaf instant coffee, but that is rare. I wish I could improve my digestion, but after trying enzymes and ginger which don't do a hole lot of good, I don't really know what to do.
OK, what my problems are:
I am of course run down and tired from 5 months of waking 2 to 3 times per night to nurse nurse nurse(sleeping 4 to five hours each night), but on top of that my skin is super dry, cracking finger tips that won't heal and flaking skin despite 1 tsp of cod liver oil each morning. My hair is coming in gray at a super rapid rate compared to before the baby was born, sprouting 5 and 6 white hairs each place I find one. I have a hip that constantly hurts with arthritis and now my back and feet are developing this too (my dad and his mother have severe arthritis), my memory is SHOT, cannot remember things even a few minutes after and cannot recall facts well. I cannot gain a little healthy weight (I am 36 yrs old, 5'7" and 108 pounds), my skin is "crepey" and doesn't snap back into place. I just feel so old and worn out, like I am twice my age. I have so much trouble falling asleep, and staying asleep. My eyebrows are getting thinner and thinner too. I have feeling that my adrenals are worn out based on symptoms, but so far no blood tests have come back with this and my doctor thinks I am a hypochondriac. She just told me to stop nursing so I could not be so drained, not an option for me. My thyroid panel came back a tiny bit low, but nothing that stood out for them to give me anything for it. I can't take many supplements, most bother my son. I do take 1 tsp cod liver oil in the morning, half a dose of Floradix (I tested slightly anemic after giving birth, and iron in my multi constipates me), I take about 3000 to 4000 IU of D spread thru the day, a plant based cal/mag, no multi because I haven't found one that doesn't bother my son. I don't even know if any of these things are absorbing in my body. Would love to take probiotics but have yet to order the one brand (expensive) that is truly dairy free. I am sure I have leaky gut, have had bouts with candida all my life, and with the gluten damage up until this year and lots of food allergies, I am sure I have that . But I can't do much in the way of healing with glutamine, GAPS diet, etc etc until I am not nursing anymore, which could be two more years! But my worst problem is that my teeth are decaying out of my mouth. After years of mercury fillings, then removal of them all, a little detoxification years ago before getting pregnant, and now more fillings after crowns and two root canals, one recent (I know the problems with them but it was my only choice at the time), they are falling apart. I have read that a GAPS style primitive diet like Nagel recommends can heal teeth, but again, I can't have raw dairy, not willing to eat organ meats, am I stuck with losing them all? Last time I went to the dentist I had four new fillings done. My mother has osteoporosis and porous teeth like me, her mother too, so I know I have to be extra careful.
Can anyone have any ideas, suggestions, tips that they can offer, or resources to point me towards? I am so desperate here, so far doctors either get tired of me complaining about these problems, or suggest I see specialists like a gastro who I know will do a few tests and then put me on some awful drug that I am not willing to take. I need help in the way of what exactly should I be eating based on the fact that I need lots of calories and need to heal my gut but am so restricted by food allergies. What supplements should I take or not take. I have spent thousands of dollars on all kinds of specialists, naturopaths, and wonderful holistic docs over the years but no one can put all of this together for me to make me feel better. I have always learned much more by reading forums and blogs and posts of other people who have had good results, so I am hoping there is someone out there that has been in my situation before and can help. I would be so grateful! Is there anywhere that gives Nourishing Traditions style meal plans and ideas for snacks, weight gain etc while on allergen-restricted diets? By the way, I have read several places that improperly digested food for the mother will result in food proteins and toxins in the milk that affect the baby, but when I take an enzyme, I never know how much good it does, or if it is maybe not good long term for my son, or even if it makes him fussy.
I guess my main questions are:
1: How do I know whether to start him on solids now or wait and continue to delay them? I don't want to cram him full if he does not need them, but if he is nursing every two to three hours in the night, maybe he is hungry?? I know my pediatrician is going to say, "sure give him some rice cereal" which I don't want to give him anyway.
2: What can I eat for healthy snacks while nursing that will put some weight on me that are easy to digest and don't involve gluten, dairy/casein, soy or nuts (maybe not too many eggs until I know if they affect him or cause me headaches)? They can't be too heavy either, or they will make me sick. I mean, I just ate one and one half gluten free toasts with sun butter and coconut oil on them, with some hot decaf tea, and I am almost "too full".
3: Does his night waking sound like a teething 8 1/2 month old boy, who is around 23lbs? He slept well through the night until 4 months, woke alot from 4 to 5 months, did ok at 6 months and then has woke 2-4 times per night since then. How can I get some blocks of restful sleep occasionally? If I could just get like 5 hours in a row maybe twice a week I think I could function better? My daughter always slept well in the night barring the occasional growth spurt or short teething spurt. It's like my son has been teething for 5 months!
4: How can I improve my digestion and leaky gut while nursing, since I cannot try GAPS diet yet? And I really need to keep my teeth, am I doing enough to have enough calcium and minerals to not have bones breaking and teeth decaying?
5: Thyroid tests came back low side of normal, but dr said they are in ok range. Lot of my symptoms point to adrenal fatigue but I am note sure and have no dr to tell me what to do if so, and not sure if I could take anything else for it while nursing anyway. Is there anything I could be doing for now to relieve some of these symptoms?
Thank you for your help and advice!!! I always do so much research for my health issues but have yet to put this all together now that there are little ones in the picture. Maybe this will also help some other women looking for the same answer too.