Henry’s health journey is a long one and not always so pretty. Over the last year, I have realized something very important about what it means to be a parent and how to run a photography business that deals with families. It’s not enough to communicate over email before a session. It’s not enough to learn how to take amazing images (the mechanics, the posing, the editing). It’s not enough to send out a gallery on time. It’s deeper than that. It’s about building relationships. It’s about getting down to the kid’s level and talk to them face-to-face. Laughing with them. Chasing them. Playing with them. It’s about communication. It’s about an experience not just business. This year as we walked into 4 different doctor’s offices, I learned that when you speak to a child you instantly win the approval of the parent. When you remember details about their lives and ask questions, those same families want to come back. They feel important because they are important. I only hope this has changed my very nature and the way I interact with each one of my clients – old and young, big and small.
Working with newborn’s I learned a lot about babies and different stages they go through but I had not actually walked that as a parent until this past year. I knew baby acne was a thing and that it would come in his first month of life but I never knew it would look this rough at times. Then cue the nastiest stuff I have ever dealt with – the cradle cap or what we referred to as the cradle crap. Looking back I feel like these things presented themselves for a reason. Everyone and everything you read says it’s just hormones releasing from their bodies but I think there’s more to it than just that.
Month two was the beginning of gas, spitting up, blow outs and the continuance of the nasty cradle cap and when we started giving Henry daily baths just to keep his head moist and dry. You knew it was bothering him since he continued to scratch it especially when we would lay him down to sleep for naps and bedtime. Luckily this never detoured his sleep habits since he started sleeping through the night since 6 weeks old. We would try putting olive oil, coconut oil, oatmeal, lotion, anything and everything on it. We would comb it, brush it, put a hat on it after lotion but nothing seem to work. Finally after more than a month it started clearing up but unfortunately it took his beautiful newborn hair with it. He would scratch and pull it out and it was the saddest thing. This was probably the beginning of socks on his hands.
About this time, before we went into the 2nd month well visit, we started noticing some strange red sort of rash on his tummy and diaper rashes that would never go away. We tried to get into a doctor’s appointment (that we had already confirmed and showed up in the office for) but was declined. We begged to see the doctor but they said we weren’t allowed and needed to find a new pediatrician. At that point, Mama Bear instincts kicked in and I was searching frantically for someone to take us. We finally found one in Lawrenceville a few minutes from my hubby’s work (it was nice for him to be able to come to the visits with us). We finally made it in around 3 months at that point after all the paperwork was transferred from the old doctor. We went in hoping for answers and willing to do anything at that time. The pediatrician weighed him, measured him and did a look over his skin. She said I believe he has a staph infection of the skin and we need to give him bleach baths in lukewarm water, apply steroid cream and lotion within 5 minutes of getting out of the tub. We thought, ok. We’ll try it and see if it helps. Sure enough it went from this to this in a day.
We already liked this doctor so much more than the previous one simply because she looked us in the eye when she spoke to us, made sure we understood everything and asked if we had any questions AND we didn’t wait but two minutes in the room for her whereas we waited 45 minutes in the room for the other doctor (which is not fun for a mom who is breastfeeding or with a newborn baby). We walked in, checked in, and as we sat down, we were called back to our room, then the doctor came in almost immediately after the nurse was done. THIS is how they should run a doctor’s office I thought.
Now, most people would agree with this course of treatment and do it and we did for a a little over a week but thought it was a bit scary to keep giving him bleach baths every day and applying so much steroid cream to his precious skin. When we went back in for our one week check up, the doctor was thrilled with the results and said keep doing the bleach every other bath since “his body doesn’t know how to deal with his own staph (skin)”. She gave us a number for a dermatologist if we wanted to get a second opinion. We debated whether or not to do it but when we saw that not doing the bleach baths would cause the rash to come back, we made an appointment.
Oh those specialists doctors that think they know everything really rub me the wrong way. The nurse did all the measurements and told us that the dermatologist would be in shortly. I think it was close to 25 or 30 minutes by then. As a new mom who is breastfeeding, you never know whether you have enough time to feed your kid when your in a situation like this – will the doctor be in just a minute or two and you’ll have to stop feeding but then the kid will be upset or do you deal with a hungry child just to make sure he’s available to be checked over by the doctor. Looking back now, I will always just feed my child when it’s time despite what they need but my child needs to eat at that time. The doctor finally came in and went straight to her stool by the door and introduced herself… to the stool. She never looked at us and opened the chart. She said “what are your concerns?” My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief because she hadn’t even looked at his chart for why we were there. Ok. Well, our son has this red rash all over his body and we are worried about it so can you look at it and give us your insight on it? I mean let’s be a doctor and look at our child. During the entire time we were waiting for her to come to our room, our son was without clothes, just in a diaper because undressing for measurements and then redressing then undressing again isn’t what they like to do in doctor’s offices. So, he was cold, hungry and clearly didn’t want to be in there so he was crying the whole time she was talking to us. I was holding him first and in hopes that he would calm down if we were by the window, but he only got more upset. The doctor didn’t come closer to us, nor did she speak up any so I passed our son to my husband and moved closer to the doctor to answer her questions and to hear her. She did a once over on his body, opened his diaper to see the rash was there as well and just said “he has eczema and you need to put cream on it every day.” I said ok but I don’t think eczema lives in the diaper area since it’s so damp there. She replied “it can.” Ok. Could it be a reaction to an allergy? Can we run some tests to see if he has any allergies? Should I try to stop eating gluten and dairy just to see if it would help? “No, it’s not an allergy. It’s just eczema. Is he scratching?” Lady… look at him. Yes he scratches. Her response, “I’ll call in this cream and an antihistamine for the itching.” Great more meds. We would really like to know WHY he has the eczema. Can we not run some tests? Another nonchalant reply of, “We don’t need to run any tests just use this and come back for a follow up.” I just looked at my husband and shook my head. We left that visit thinking, Why in the world did we come? That was a complete waste of time and money.
In 2015 my husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called hashimoto’s disease where the body attacks your thyroid and causes the body not to function the way it is suppose to. We had already dealt with the generic specialists doctors and were never impressed. We did have a bio nutritionist who was the one who actually diagnosed Jerry and encouraged him to change his diet completely especially after doing the ALCAT (a food sensitivity test). We had already changed the way we ate and what we drank so we knew there is always a reason for things. Looking back now, we know God took us through that overhaul of our diets and lifestyle then to help us go through another with Henry. You could say we became those prius driving (yes we have a prius), granola bar eating, all organic, whole foods, no crazy chemicals couple but we did it for our health not because it was popular or a fad. This only helped us and encouraged us over the last year.
We were not satisfied with either one of those treatment plans – bleach baths, steroid creams, and pumping our child with drugs every day if we didn’t have to and had no bases for doing so. I then started looking for a holistic, integrative, functional medicine doctor. Fortunately I found a pediatrician, Dr. Jamilet, that could take us the next day for an appointment. They were so nice over the phone, answered all my questions and told me exactly how it would work. Wow. What a relief already. Since it was so quick to get in and it was in Johns Creek, Jerry couldn’t go with us. I walked in praying, God, please help this doctor find what’s wrong with Henry and help us to walk out with relief and answers. As the elevator doors opened, I looked around and it was to inviting – it looked like an entrance to a nice spa.
I was met at the desk by Neu (the nurse practitioner) who took our filled out paperwork and walked us back to the exam room. She took all Henry’s measurements and looked Henry in the eyes, talked to him and asked to hold him. My heart was already growing two sizes bigger. The pediatrician walked in, introduced herself to me, shook my hand, and then looked at Henry and introduced herself to him. Wow. She looked at my son. First one to do so in almost 4 months of life. I told her all that we had been through, my medical history, my husband’s medical history, our concerns and then she looked intently at Henry all over. We were at this appointment for 2.5 hours and only spent about 30 minutes without someone in our room since I was breastfeeding. She noticed his lymph nodes behind his ears were extremely swollen and looked at me and said, “Something is going on in his body and we are going to find out what. It is in over drive and I’m not ok with just calling this eczema.” Oh Thank you Lord! Someone who seems to be on my side. Who cares about my son. She then took several vials of blood and talked ever so sweetly to Henry while we held his arms down to get it. At that time, she suggested to go ahead and stop eating dairy and gluten (remember, I asked the dermatologist if I should do that…) and that she was going to run several tests – his liver, thyroid (for any autoimmune disease), immunoglobulin levels and allergies.
She thought she would get a few results back in about a week but it would take about 3 weeks to get all the results back. This is the reason I love this office – they called a week later to inform me of the immediate results. Food allergies. All 8 common ones. Believe it or not it was a good thing I wasn’t going to give up. Peanuts and Milk were a class 6 out of 6 – meaning they were off the charts and he was extremely allergic to them. We went back in twice and did more allergy tests since he was testing positive for so many. Here is a running list we have now:
- Peanuts (class 6)
- Milk (class 6)
- Eggs – yolk
- Eggs – whites
- Goat’s milk
- Brazil Nut
- Peas (class 6)
- Sweet potato
- Maple Syrup
- Green beans
- Since he was registering for all the beans so far – avoiding all legumes
- Avoid all tree nuts except pecan or walnuts straight from the tree
Try going through just a few of the items in your pantry or fridge and tell me what you could have after elimination this list. Fruits, veggies and meats were left. Every time we received a new list, I would have to stop giving Henry any of the breastmilk I had saved up. This means I could throw it away or give it to someone who desperately needed it. The Lord placed a very special momma in my life at exactly the right time. Remember I told you that I had been pumping and breastfeeding this whole time? Well, this one Momma couldn’t produce milk and she did not want/couldn’t feed her newborn formula so we met up and I gave her my entire freezer stash. Each time I would receive a new list of allergies, I would text her to meet so I could gift her my milk. We both found comfort in a new Momma relationship that otherwise wouldn’t be and I am so thankful for that.
Since I had done no eliminations until he was 4 months old, we needed to go in repair mode of his intestines as quickly as possible. We started him on a probiotic, vitamin D and a supplement called glutemine that was suppose to help repair and rebuild his gut. We also continued giving him baths EVERY day. It’s part of our bedtime routine at this point.
Almost immediately after I stopped eating the top 8 allergens, we saw a difference in the rash on his stomach, now it was just on his back – and I came to realize that was from the oats, garlic and coconut I had still been consuming until I knew it was on his list at month 6.
Some people may ask why not just put him on formula? Well, that could have been somewhat of a solution if there was a formula that didn’t contain any of the above ingredients. So, life/diet change #2 in 3 years was happening again in our household. Since America only knows garlic as a seasoning, we can’t eat out – if we do, I get a plain salad with olive oil dressing. Not a very exciting or fulfilling meal if you ask me. We would see his skin get better and then it would have a flare up and mostly because we hadn’t completely eliminated everything from my diet until June. We knew it would take 2 weeks to get out of my system and then an additional 2 weeks to get of Henry’s system before we would really tell if it was working. The whole pump and dump theory would not work in this case since the those foods are still lingering in the body for two-three weeks after eating it. So, no chance of “cheating” is involved. If you really want to loose weight – have your diet completely dependent on another human beings well being… you will have no desire to “cheat”.
Beginning of May compared to the end of May:
Our last visit to Dr. Jamilet in August. He was so happy and looked so healthy!
We still have flare ups and that could be because of new allergies developing or that could be an environmental allergy that we are unaware of but we have definitely seen a huge difference since we eliminated the foods we do know are a trigger. He never had gas, blow outs and rarely any spit ups after the diet change. I would say that it’s not a “normal” baby thing, that it’s the body’s way of telling you something is going on. At the beginning of October (10 months old) we started the wet wrap suit at night. This is a footed zipper sleeper like article that we soak and ring out then put dry clothes on top of. He was not a fan of it at first but now I don’t think we could do without it. We have noticed a HUGE difference in the moisture in his skin when we put him in it.
After finding out Henry was allergic to coconut and oats… that pretty much is every beauty product there is unfortunately so Momma needed to find an alternative lotion that would help keep moisture in his skin. Olive oil, 100% cacao butter, and essential oils (lavender, argan, aloe, tea tree and frankincense). We were using beeswax to help combine everything but a friend suggested to take it out and see if we saw a difference and we did. You can see what our lotion looks like in the picture above. It’s super easy to make too!
Even though Henry is allergic to about 20 (common/main) foods, we still find a lot he can eat and he has never turned a single thing down. He eats chia seed pudding, prunes, a breakfast hash we came up with – butternut squash, ground meat of any kind, quinoa, chard, sage, and walnuts. He also eats plenty of greens – broccoli, chard, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, avocado, even Cold Pressed Green Juice from Trader Joe’s is his favorite which has kale, spinach, apple, cucumbers, celery, lemon, and ginger. He loves pork chops and bacon – clearly my son. 🙂 At 6 months of age, after getting all the test results back, we started him on solids – slices of avocado first then pieces of banana, prunes, mango smoothies, oranges, butternut squash. He’s never turned anything down and would probably eat all day if you let him. We decided from the beginning we weren’t going to do rice cereal and try baby led weaning (chunks of food instead of pureed baby food) which has worked extremely well for us.
You might think that the eliminating of foods would be the hardest part. It isn’t. It’s the constant scratching of exposed skin that is the worst. Since May, Henry has basically been dressed in long sleeve shirts, pants and socks unless he’s getting changed or in the bath where we put socks on his hands. He gets lotion applied throughout the day and rarely has any exposed skin for any length of time. There is something about the scratching that is so frustrating and stressful for you as the parent and as the child. It could be a way he’s learned to self sooth and/or habitual or his skin is so dry that it itches beyond what we understand. However it could be his response to his body’s stress level (immune response) due to the allergies and eczema. Whatever it may be, we have found that keeping him dressed in footed “sleepers” has stopped the majority of itching and he can play and be a kid instead of constantly scratching.
Despite all of these things that have come up, Henry has been an extremely loving, happy, and playful baby. He is thriving, eating foods like us and smiles/laughs freely. Part 3 of this series you will see his monthly pictures we did to show his ever changing size and the different places we took his milestone sessions. It may be my favorite blog post yet.