Chapter 1: Birth to Age One
He was born as many other healthy babies are, with ten little fingers and ten little toes. He was jaundiced soon after birth, so he needed a special ultraviolet blanket… but that isn’t too uncommon for babies.
Elijah was breastfed exclusively until I began solid foods sometime between 5-6 months. Very soon after, Elijah developed severe eczema. I mean– severe.
His cheeks eventually were always red– and oozing (forgive the graphic description).
His elbows were so itchy, he’d scratch himself at night so much that his elbows would bleed. I had him sleep next to me for many months to keep an eye on the scratching.
His pediatrician told us to try Zyrtec for the eczema- similar to Benadryl, but without the sleepiness. It worked for a short while… until the day his lips swelled up after giving him the medication. It was back to Benadryl and topical creams. While the creams helped, we couldn’t keep on this way… Benadryl was only given in the most severe circumstances. Something had to be causing the eczema.
One day, I gave him a baby food jar of peas. A few minutes later, a red bumpy rash appeared on his chin and his lips began to swell. I gave him Benadryl.
I was still breastfeeding, and at some point I put myself on an “elimination diet”. I eliminated dairy. I saw some improvement, but still I could see he wasn’t clear of his rash and and itchiness and discomfort.
I also eliminated wheat. I saw more improvements. I spent about 3 weeks eliminating dairy and wheat food products from my diet.
By now, Elijah is almost a year old. It is summer. We go camping. Elijah becomes very ill, throwing up repeatedly. By the time we return, he is hospitalized.
His weight gain had gone off the chart, in a negative direction. He was below zero. His blood pH was off, and he was dehydrated from all the vomiting. After some IV fluids, he is better.
I switch to a different pediatrician. I am advised to take Elijah for food allergy testing at Childrens Hospital and to see an allergy specialist.
Food allergy testing confirm his allergies, but the results are surprising. Elijah is allergic to (are you ready?):
dairy (all dairy products)
egg (egg white & yolk)
Many of the “first baby foods” I had been giving him– he was allergic to– like bananas, rice and oatmeal! The peas was a definite sign, so the test only confirmed the actual occurrence. I had not yet given him dairy (thankfully).
Elijah was put on a special formula after hospitalization, called Neocate. Neocate is not found in your local pharmacy, nor is it covered by insurance. It is ordered directly from the manufacturer. This formula has proteins already broken down so allergic and protein-sensitive children like Elijah can safely digest it without harm. At the time Elijah drank it exclusively like other children drink formula or milk, it was the only product like it on the market. And it is very expensive.
It saved his life. Once on the formula, he began to gain weight and began to grow.
I saw a nutritionist for help with his diet. She helped me identify the 8-10 foods we knew he could safely eat. He is now one year old, and he can only eat: sweet potato, beef or chicken, millet, quinoa, potato, carrots, squash, pears and apples. These are the ones we know for sure.
The nutritionist gives me guidelines for how to feed him with only the above, and how to add new foods to his diet. We make a list of new foods to try and she gives me instructions on how to add new foods, one by one, and check for reactions.
In chapter two, I’ll share more about this special diet.