A year without chocolate ice cream?

About three weeks ago, Lego came down with diarrhea. That day, he also slept all day long, with only brief periods of semiwakefullness in between long naps. Since I had been told in the hospital that infants with diarrhea ran a risk of dehydration, I called his pediatrician’s office and asked if there was anything I should do (other than breastfeeding him as normal) to take care of my little guy. They said I should come in. I was a bit surprised, since with stomach bugs, there really isn’t much to be done and since I had told the nurse on the other end of the line that Lego was still wetting a normal number of diapers, but I followed her advice.

 Lo and behold, the doctor said he probably had a stomach bug and there was nothing to be done but breastfeed Lego normally. 

 The next day, Lego spit up a lot, so I figured the doctor had been right. The day after that, Lego seemed all the way better. Then, five days later, he started showing the same symptoms. This time they lasted three days before going away. On the third day, I called his pediatrician again and asked if I should be concerned, considering he had gotten better and then gotten the same symptoms again.

“No,” they assured me. “Sometimes a virus will just come back after a few days. It’s perfectly normal for babies.”

This rang a bit false to me, but I tried to stop worrying. After all, the next day he seemed to be getting better.

Four days later, sick again. This time I’m pretty sure it’s not just the same virus. Something was wrong with Lego. Not wanting to cough up another copay but not knowing what else to do, I took him back in.

This time, a different doctor told me that diarrhea is very hard to define in breastfed babies. Some babies simply have very watery stools, and that’s normal for them. Feeling a bit intimidated, I didn’t mention to him that watery stools weren’t normal for my baby. Then he drew a diagram of the digestive system (even though there was one hanging on the wall) and gave me a detailed explanation of what acid reflux is and how babies often get it because their stomach muscles aren’t well developed yet. Feeling a bit intimidated, I didn’t mention that babies with reflux don’t also get diarrhea on their spitty days.

I did ask whether an allergy could be the problem. I said that I had given Lego formula a few times and he seemed to do all right with it, so I didn’t think it was milk. I asked if there were other foods that might cause digestive problems in an infant. He said there weren’t and that a milk allergy seemed very unlikely.

So, the diagnosis was that I had a baby with reflux and looser stools than most. Great.

I went home and looked up the symptoms for milk allergies in breastfed babies. My search led me to La Leche League, worldwide champions of breastfeeding. The page I found listed common allergies, common symptoms, and ways to find out what your baby is allergic to (if anything). I realized that if the pediatrician had asked me questions like, “Does he have problems sleeping on the days when he has diarrhea and is spitting up?” and “Does he sometimes have red around his eyes or a jelly-like substance in his eyes?” and “Does he cry when offered the breast?” I would have emphatically said yes. I had noticed all these things but kind of assumed they were normal for babies. Instead, he ruled out allergies without giving the matter a second thought.

So. To figure out what Lego is allergic to, I have to go off each suspect food for a week. If his symptoms improve, I can be pretty sure that that food is the culprit. To be absolutely sure, I reintroduce it to see if he gets sick again.

This week I’m off milk, since it is the most common allergy and thus the most likely. In fact, I was allergic to cow’s milk as a baby, so that makes it even more likely.

Next week, I’m off chocolate. The next week, eggs.

I really really really really hope he’s not allergic to chocolate. Can you imagine a year-long Lent? No chocolate cake. No chocolate chip cookies. No chocolate ice cream. No 60% cocoa Ghirardelli squares. No chocolate milk. I’m craving chocolate just thinking about it.

The thing is, though, I’ve been off milk for two days now, and Lego seems sicker than ever today. And I had four of the aforementioned Ghirardelli squares yesterday.

Pray for me, dear readers. Pray for my soul.


  1. You could always use carob as a substitute for chocolate. It tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike chocolate.

    Mmm, carob.

  2. That’s a vicious lie! Blech, carob.

    Ruth, I hope you figure it out and that it’s not chocolate.

    Bill’s allergic to milk and peas. I have no idea how long it took to figure out the peas part. The milk part was pretty quick, though. His parents did something I thought was very smart and had some shirts silkscreened with the words “No Milk, No Peas.” That’s what they would send him to day care in so there was no excuse.

  3. First, ten points to you for being a smart mom and figuring out what your lame-o doctors didn’t bother to look into.

    I’m sorry Lego has been sick, and I sure hope it isn’t chocolate.

  4. Seriously, I totally want chocolate now, and I’m supposed to be eating well. Hmph. My favorite part of this was the sentence, “Does he cry when offered the breast?” I don’t know why that struck me as so funny.

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