Our post today is a guest blog entry from Tamar Warga, mother of four food allergic children, author of “A Taste of Freedom” cookbook and the blogger behind Kosher With Food Allergies. We’d like to thank Tamar for guestblogging for us today!
Mothering multiples, while incredibly rewarding, is no easy feat. Double the diapers, double the laundry, and double the feedings. Throw multiple food allergies into the mix and you really have a challenging situation. We were thrilled to welcome twin boys into our family (especially after having 3 girls in a row). From the get go these guys were miserable, fussy, and adorable.
At first their diagnosis was uncertain. At 7 weeks of age they developed eczema (a very itchy rash) that gradually spread from their face to their torso in spite of multiple visits to dermatologists (and many topical steroids). Our babies slept little, grew very slowly, and fussed a lot. One night, my husband and I left the boys for a much needed night out (3 whole hours). I let the babysitter know that if we weren’t back in time for the next feeding to give them Similac (a milk-based formula). We returned just as one of the babies had had 1 oz of formula. I noticed that he was breaking out in easily visible pea-sized hives all over his scalp.
Fast forward past a dramatic ambulance ride to the ER and a new milk allergy diagnosis. I immediately eliminated all dairy from my diet and was awaiting a dramatic transformation in our babies’ behavior, weight, and skin. It didn’t happen. I was confused. After food allergy blood work, we discovered that the twins were allergic to milk, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and other grains. The list would grow even longer when we introduced solids. Knowing the enormous benefits of breastfeeding, I was committed to nursing them and had to radically alter my own diet. I dutifully eliminated the offending allergens from my diet (and lived on chicken, rice, vegetables, and non-dairy chocolate). Voila, the transformation occurred. Their skin became baby soft and smooth (not a trace of eczema) and they were much more settled.
While the skin and fussiness symptoms improved, their weight was still in the “failure to thrive range.” What to do? All of the regular formulas were either milk- or soy-based. It was a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, Dr. Amy DeFelice at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia, who introduced us to a medical formula called “Neocate.” She taught me to nutritiously (and calorically) maximize every sip and every bite they took.
I continued to breastfeed and supplemented with Neocate. The boys gained weight beautifully and safely. They began to thrive in all ways. They even plumped up a bit. My friend, upon seeing their new rotund look, nicknamed them “tweedle dee and twiddle dum.”
The boys are 12 now and have outgrown many of their food allergies. I’ll always be grateful that there was a miracle formula which helped them thrive. Parenting food allergic children is definitely a challenge but thanks to Neocate, it is not insurmountable.
- Tamar Warga