When I left off in Part 2, we discovered that Sweet P had a dairy intolerance and were trying to figure out what to feed her. I think that is the most stressed that I have been since bringing her home. I was very hopeful since we had found an "answer" to all of her discomfort, but since she had been given only donated breastmilk for her first 3 months I was nervous about formula and how she would take it. Our pediatrician gave us 3 options for feeding her.
1. Find breastmilk from dairy-free donors.
2. Make our own formula using raw goat's milk. (Yes, our pediatrician is 'crunchy' and we love it!)
3. Nutramigen or Alimentum hypo-allergenic formulas
I asked about trying soy formula, but our pediatrician said that at least 1/3 of babies with a dairy intolerance also have a soy intolerance, so she wouldn't recommend it.
Our preference was definitely giving her breastmilk from dairy-free donors, but as you can imagine, it is hard enough to find donated breastmilk at all, let alone from someone on a special diet! We were out of our own supply, so unless we found someone immediately this wasn't a do-able option for the following day. My second choice was actually the goat's milk formula. However, this wouldn't work immediately either because we didn't have all the ingredients, some of which are pretty obscure; and we definitely didn't have raw goat's milk on hand! Most of the ingredients in the formula are not something you can just run to the store to find either. The goat's milk would have to be purchased at a local farm or at the Farmer's Market and I would have to order many of the ingredients online and wait for them to arrive.
So, this left commercial formula. I'm not opposed to formula, I just don't prefer it. To be quite honest, my main concern are the GMO ingredients in formula. I know they are considered safe by the FDA, but as a personal choice for our family we try to avoid GMOs as much as possible. So, if there had been an organic hypoallergenic formula it would have been an easy choice for us. Unfortunately there is not, but there IS a lactose-free organic formula and I had friends who had great success on it, so I thought I would try that first before moving on to try Alimentum or Nutramigen. It was a huge mistake! Sweet P actually took the formula quite well, but by Day 2 on it she became a disaster! Her screaming was awful, her spitting up was out of control and her poops were mucousy (which we actually only rarely had before, even on the breastmilk). So, on the evening of Day 2 I sent Mr. Piñata to the store to pick up some Alimentum since it was our best and only option at that point.
The first several days on Alimentum were rough. She continued to have the mucousy poops, was very, very fussy, kicked her legs in discomfort a whole lot, was incredibly gassy, slept horribly and spit up worse than ever. Mr. Piñata was convinced we should go back to breastmilk since she had never been this bad, but I knew we needed to give it at least a week to see how she would do on it. Plus, I had this horribly guilty feeling and suspicion that it was the lactose-free formula I tried for just two days (that still had dairy proteins in it) that was still wreaking havoc on her system and needed to get out.
So, we hung in there with the Alimentum even though it was still awful. Her spitting up was really bad and at her bedtime and nighttime feeds she was particularly screamy and difficult to feed. The pediatrician decided this was likely due to reflux and decided to add Prevacid, in addition to her Zantac to see if that would help these feeds. I didn't like doing two medicines, but the doctor wanted to wait until we were sure the Prevacid was helping before taking her off the Zantac. In the meantime I was also posting in several breastmilk sharing groups, seeing if I could connect with donors who were dairy-free and seeing some small offers come in. A friend of ours from church who just had a baby offered to go dairy free and start pumping for us! We seriously know some amazing and generous people!
Then, within about 5 days of being on the Alimentum and 3 days on the Prevacid we started to see a happy and contented baby again! It was glorious! She started smiling at us regulary and jabbering to her toys during playtime and started sleeping slightly better. Actually, one night she only had ONE night waking (then it went back to three, but it was still progress)! This confirmed that the formula I had originally tried with her for just 2 days was not good on her system and that she definitely couldn't have dairy. So, we have continued on the Alimentum and Prevacid and are moving in the right direction.
At this point I am so grateful that a formula like Alimentum exists! I'm not wild about the main ingredients, but if it makes our sweet girl comfortable and happy, I'm grateful for it! I would love for her to end up having more breastmilk than formula, so we are slowly building up our supply from generous donors. We even got a donation of 800 oz yesterday, which is about a month's worth of breastmilk and I love seeing our deep freezer fill up with breastmilk. Our pediatrician recommends making changes slowly, so we started with one and now we are doing two bottles of breastmilk a day with the rest of the feedings of Alimenum. But, if she continues to do well with it, we will keep adding in more breastmilk as we have it. The big question is if Sweet P will continue to do well on the breatmilk donations. We know confidently that she is intolerant to dairy, but don't know about other foods, including soy. And of course, there is always the option of trying the goat's milk formula now that we have time to get the ingredients. But, we will hold off on that for at least a month or so since we know she's doing well for now. Ideally she will do well on the breastmilk and donations will continue to come in and that will be her main food and we will supplement with formula. But, it's good to know that the Alimentum is here no matter what, so our sweet girl will definitely not go hungry.
It's amazing how long the first 3 months of her life seemed. It was so hard to have a clearly uncomfortable and upset baby and not know how to help. I know everything we have done along the way has helped her, from the baby chiropractic and natural remedies, to the tongue and lip tie release, the reflux medicine, and finally the switch to being dairy-free, but it was so tumultuous to get there! Before we were able to see how content she was off of dairy, we really thought that she had a temperamental personality (especially based on what our first pediatrician said), but now we are seeing her real personality and it's absolutely precious! She loves to give big smiles and even a few little giggles. She is so calm and loves sitting in our laps and looking around or playing contentedly with her toys. I feel so horrible that she went over 3 months feeling uncomfortable. But, I'm grateful we found answers and are able to enjoy this sweet girl more and more every day. And I'm told she won't remember those first few months so we can one day just tell her that she didn't like dairy and can leave out the details, right?