Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 10 - Aha!

One of the biggest challenges of doing GAPS or any other elimination diet with a nursing child is that there are always two sets of variables that can affect the child's symptoms. There's what the little one is eating and then there's what mama's eating. Ideally, mama is eating exactly what baby is eating so there's no doubt about what caused a problem when it arises. But this is often impossible, at least in the long term. (We've been at this for a year.)

One thing I've found is that there are some things that bother Ellie's tummy when she eats them, but don't affect her when I eat them. Things like broccoli or green beans or other fibrous vegetables, for example. But sometimes I get a little carried away in hoping that something I discovered was bothering her will still be OK for me to eat. This was the case with goat yogurt.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 9: Fermenting and Playing

Last night went remarkably well so we are cautiously putting duck egg yolks in the "safe" category. I feel like it's a little too early for a big "hurrah!" because some foods have taken days before they caused a reaction for Ellie, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

After having several good nights of sleep in a row (one waking to nurse is so much easier than two or three) I felt a burst of energy this morning so Ellie and I tackled some fermenting projects. I have made sauerkraut several times before, but never with much success. Thankfully my new friend Chris posted awesome tips on her blog for how she creates fail-proof kraut. I incorporated some of her tips and the kraut already looks better than any of my other batches. Ellie had fun helping me pound the cabbage:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 8 - Being brave

I have been so nervous about this day for weeks. Ellie is allergic to eggs and it terrified me that one of the first things you add after Stage 1 (if not the first thing you add) is raw egg yolk. I made a compromise and bought duck eggs, something we've been wanting to trial for a long time but just never felt brave enough. People say that the proteins in duck eggs are different enough from chicken eggs that some people with an egg allergy can tolerate them. An added bonus is that I bought pastured duck eggs, meaning the ducks weren't fed soy or corn feed. Since Ellie is intolerant to both soy and corn - this should eliminate another variable.

So I heated up some chicken soup this morning and separated two eggs, plopping a yolk into each of our bowls. I whisked the yolks into the hot soup and celebrated with Ellie that we were going to have an "eggie" for breakfast! The soup went over well and I had another yolk with my lunch. I had a minor tummy upset after lunch - not sure if it was the two yolks or what ...? One of Ellie's early symptoms for an egg reaction is a big bumpy rash all over her chest and that didn't happen today. The next symptom is her waking up all night with stomach cramps and screaming and crying, so we'll see how tonight goes. I am feeling cautiously optimistic. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Days 6-7 - Turning a corner

Thankfully things got better right when I really needed them to. Last night my daughter's bedtime was disastrous and I was super nervous about another bad night, especially because Ian had left for another business trip. I postponed my own bedtime for a long time, assuming I'd just have to get up and nurse if I went to bed too early. But I didn't hear a peep from Ellie and finally crashed at 11:30. And the next thing I knew - it was morning! She slept through the night!!! This is always the first sign that she is on the right track.

I am still trying to sort out why Ellie is doing great at naptime and terrible at bedtime and I think I've narrowed it down to the goat milk yogurt we introduced three days ago, which she's been having after her nap. I think one of the big learning curves for me is realizing that what was working on SCD may not work now that we're doing the GAPS Intro. For example, Ellie was drinking a cup of yogurt a day on SCD, so we thought it would be no big deal to give her 1/4 cup of yogurt on her first day. I'm pretty sure that was  BIG mistake. I realize I need to take every. single. word. of the GAPS book seriously, and not think we can skip some parts because "we're different." If Dr. Natasha says to start with 1 tsp. I need to start with 1 tsp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Days 2-5 - WOOF!

So day 1 felt oh so manageable and exciting and then Ellie and I woke up the next morning feeling like a truck had hit us. I was nauseous all that day and Ellie was a WRECK. Unconsolable crying, telling me her tummy hurt, etc. etc. I could barely get it together to make soup. Oy. Thank goodness Ian had returned home from his business trip on Day 1 and was able to take Ellie for a few hours the afternoon of Day 2 so I could lay down and try not to throw up.

One of the things I find fascinating about all of this is that I came to SCD and then GAPS having "no health issues" of my own. I was "perfectly healthy." But the reality is that my gut health was in bad shape, and then I passed that bad ecology on to my babe, who manifested much worse symptoms than I ever had. Her issues have included over her short 21 months on Earth: reflux, failure to thrive, a gazillion food allergies/intolerances, stomach cramping, aversion to eating and some symptoms of dyspraxia, which I had never even heard of until I read the GAPS book. But when I look back on things, I did actually have quite a few health issues - they were just minor and chronic and typically not something you'd go to the doctor for. But as I'm seeing those symptoms fall away through SCD and now GAPS I can see how truly unhealthy I was. I've lost weight, my cycle is much more regular that it used to be (it took me two years to conceive Ellie), I rarely have trouble with PMS or cramps anymore (I used to be bedridden for a day every time I got my period) and the minor reflux I used to be annoyed by at bedtime is gone. So hurrah for health!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 1

It is the end of day one and I am wiped out. Changing your own diet while mothering a child coping with the same changes is exhausting. Overall Ellie did really well today. She ate four bowls of soup (yay!) and took a good nap.

Today was one of those days where I felt like the only time I was sitting down Ellie was nursing. She has these "high need" days where she doesn't feel well and nurses for comfort. I also somehow got a lot done - I made the vegetable medley ferment with beet, cabbage, garlic and dill from the GAPS book and I got another batch of beef broth started. I even dashed out to buy an immersion blender (so excited about that) and to get some more bones/meat/veggies at the store. I feel absolutely ridiculous at the meat counter these days ordering so much stuff and saying things like, "um, can you saw those bones in half so I can get the marrow out? Yeah, thanks." 

Ellie was extremely fussy this morning, which I think had more to do with the aftermath of our last-minute banana binge yesterday. She also had a terrible diaper rash. Then she was a wreck late this afternoon. I think that was caused by hunger because I didn't have an afternoon snack prepared for her and then dinner was running late. As soon as she ate some beef butternut squash soup she said, "tummy feel better." Phew! But then her tummy hurt again at bedtime so who knows what's going on. Navigating her tummy problems has been so challenging and I'm anxious for her communication to keep improving so I can get a clearer picture of what's going on. Or maybe GAPS will actually fix her tummy problems so we can stop trying to figure it out. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

I was surprised by my lack of cravings today. I was very satisfied by my chicken veggies soups for breakfast and lunch and the beef soup for dinner was really good. I had grown accustomed to having a sweet snack after putting Ellie down for her nap - something like an apple or banana with almond butter or some almond cookies. So when I came downstairs from putting her down I felt that pang for something sweet, but was able to just observe it and move on. Hopefully the cravings stay that manageable!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finally ready to start

The thing that's interesting to me about patiently plotting out a big change and making small steps to prepare for it, is that by the time it's time to make the change you can feel completely ready. In the past I've been the type to jump quickly into big changes - completely unprepared - and then find myself overwhelmed. The past three weeks of preparation for starting the GAPS intro have had me feeling anxious and then suddenly today I feel totally ready. Amazing!

I think my biggest anxiety about starting GAPS is that we will be hungry. We came to SCD in part because Ellie was labeled "failure to thrive." She was below the third percentile for her weight and falling. Her weight started dropping when she was about 10 months old - the same time we introduced dairy and soy, both of which we quickly discovered she was intolerant to.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inching closer

A lot of people who give GAPS advice say that you should slowly inch your way towards the GAPS diet rather than just switching from your current diet to GAPS overnight. This is excellent advice. First of all, it takes weeks to stockpile enough stock and meat in the freezer to get through the beginning of the intro diet. Second of all, it can be painful to wean yourself off whatever will be hardest to go without on GAPS.

For me, that thing will be sugar. The GAPS diet doesn't allow any fruit at the beginning and very limited honey. And I am actually planning to do the intro without honey because I suspect Ellie and I may have candida (a yeast overgrowth that causes a host of health problems and thrives on sugar). So over the past three weeks I've been slooooowly weaning myself off honey and fruit.

It's interesting the changes I've already observed. For whatever reason honey and fruit tends to make Ellie and I a little emotionally unstable (I'm putting that nicely). The first time I trialed raw apple, she started hitting me. I thought this was really odd. Tried it again a few days later and I had to pull her out of library storytime because she was hitting other kids. She is not a hitter (like, ever) so this behavior was very concerning. Unfortunately the same goes for mama. As I've been eating less and less fruit, I'm more aware of it's affect when I do have it. Off sugar I've been feeling a lot more cool, calm and collected (which is a big deal with a very needy toddler in the house). The last couple times I've had a piece of fruit I've completely lost my temper with her within a half an hour. Crazy stuff! I haven't had honey for about two weeks now and I've noticed I'm falling asleep at night much more easily than I used to. A couple days ago I had a weak moment and ate two dates and I was lying awake until 1:30 a.m. I think a few lessons like this are helpful to see that GAPS isn't onerous depravation but a healthy change we need to make to feel better.

So while it will be sad to say farewell to honey and fruit, I think the breakup will be good for everybody. Hopefully as GAPS does its work and our guts heal we'll be able to handle fruit and honey with more grace.

I'm at the place where I wish we were starting GAPS tomorrow but I know we're not ready. I have 6 pounds of chicken legs, wings and necks sitting in the fridge, ready to turn into more stock tomorrow. Then, tomorrow night I pick up a shipment of veggies and pasture-fed meat from a food buying club I just joined. So it's looking like a Thursday launch date.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting ready to start

I am writing my first blog post at 12:30 a.m. because the yogurt I'm making for my daughter will be done fermenting at 1 a.m. and this is the kind of thing you find yourself doing when your kiddo is on GAPS. Well, technically we aren't on the GAPS diet - not yet. We've been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for the past 96 days (yes, I'm counting) and we're about to transition to the GAPS diet. What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and what is the GAPS diet, you may ask. This is a questions I'll be much more successful answering when I haven't been awake for 20 hours.

I felt compelled to start this blog as a response to how isolating all of this can feel. Having a sick baby is confusing and isolating, to say the least. Then, when the baby doesn't grow out of the "colic" but just develops more confusing and ambiguous health problems, the isolation gets worse. Then, in order to address the health issues, you go on a series of crazy diets in order to make the baby better ... well, you get where I'm headed. Now we find ourselves in a place where we can't eat at restaurants - we can barely eat at the grandparents' house. SCD and GAPS are intense commitments and intense experiences. But they are ultimately transformative experiences - at least I'm clinging to the hope that we'll have the transformative experience many others report having.

Another reason I decided to start to this blog is because I am nursing my little GAPSter, something I've come to find is fairly rare. At least I think it's rare. In all my online SCD/GAPS networking, I've yet to find another nursing mama who is doing the diet simply because it is what their nursing child needs to improve their health. It feels like a crazy thing to do, and some people have told me that in not so many words. But it's the right thing to do for my baby. We're in this together. As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains in the GAPS book, babies with GAPS syndrome have severely screwed up gut flora, and we get our gut flora from our mamas at birth. So I figure if I got Ellie into this mess, I'm going to get her out.

GAPS begins sometime this week. Haven't decided if it will be tomorrow or Thursday or some day in between. And I'll be writing about the experience here.