Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TMI Alert! Gus is Regular

I know I’ve mentioned here before that Gus had some constipation issues, and I wanted to update on that. I know. A whole post about poo? Gross. When did I become THAT mommy blogger?

I swear I’m not.

The thing is, we solved our problem, and I just want to put it out there because if, through the power of Google, I can help out anyone else that’s going through what we did, it’s worth it to talk about poo for a few paragraphs.

Just thinking about those dark days makes me stressed out. For months, from the time he was about 11 months old, until sometime after 15 months, Gus was pretty much chronically constipated. He would go about 3-7 days between. Sometimes he’d have to work so hard that he’d cry and sob. A few times we had to help him out, rub his tummy, put him in a warm bath while he screamed and grunted. His poos were like big hard rocks. Oh, and sometimes there would be blood in his diaper. Yeah.

It was really really really stressful.

We tried everything diet-related we could think of. Cut out anything that’s binding. No carrots. No bananas. We limited his dairy. We loaded the kid up with fiber, and at the same time kept him super hydrated. We even gave him about 6 ounces of prune juice every day by mixing it with his milk. He ate tons of green vegetables, fruits, kidney beans, you name it and we tried it. We got to the point where we were afraid of giving him even a bite of cheese or white pasta. Our life revolved around getting our kid to poop. I was constantly counting the days between. It was always in the back of my head, I looked at everything through the scary “Toddler Constipation” lens, and it made for really stressful mealtimes.

We had people tell us to give him Miralax, but we were pretty adamant that we wanted to treat the problem, not the symptom. We try to avoid giving him drugs if we can, I mean Dan and I are both the kind of people that, for the most part, stay away from over-the-counter cocktails. Tylenol is pretty much the extent we go to for treating our own illnesses.

So I started really doing some heavy research, and found articles talking about evidence that linked cow’s milk with constipation in babies and toddlers. It seems to be a very common problem for young children to have intolerance to the dairy protein found in cow’s milk, and usually most grow out of it by the time they’re school-aged. There were hundreds of comments on these online articles with parents just like us, who ditched the cow’s milk with their toddlers and saw an immediate change.

It was worth a try. Gus was drinking less than 12 ounces of cow’s milk a day, which our pediatrician thought was perfectly acceptable, but it was the only thing we hadn’t changed in his diet. And coincidentally (duh), it was the only thing that we had introduced into his diet at around 11 months old, when this mess started.

Then I started researching all the alternatives to cow’s milk. Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk… Wow. It’s sort of overwhelming how many alternatives are out there, but it’s pretty evident that Soy is the closest alternative to cow’s milk. It has loads of protein and calcium, just not as much fat as whole milk, so you have to compensate for that lack of fat in other areas of the diet.

We thought we’d give it a week.

Holy crap (literally). It was an almost IMMEDIATE fix. I am not exaggerating. Within a week we had a whole new “regular” kid. And we didn’t even realize it at the time, but he was so blocked up you could see it in his big tummy. He went from having a protruding baby pot-belly to a flat toddler’s stomach within just a few weeks.

Craziness. The most frustrating thing is that it took us so long to figure out. And now that we have, people in my life are coming out of the woodwork left and right with opinions in agreement with the research I found. My mom is a nurse, and she’s talked to a number of doctors now that shun the cow’s milk, especially for little ones, and will go on and on talking about its detractors. I guess I live in a bubble, we just always drank milk, in mass quantities… does a body good right?

It all just goes to show that we know our kid best, and we need to trust our instincts instead of waiting for someone else to solve our problems. We had consulted with our pediatrician, but she just kept telling us to do the same stuff that we were already doing. Give him more juice? First of all, juice isn’t good for kids, and I’d rather not give it to him at all, and secondly, we were already giving him up to 8 ounces a day! Then she said 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Umm… he pretty much was only eating fruits and vegetables at that point because we were afraid to give him anything else. The kid ate broccoli and green beans and pears like he was stranded on a desert island and hadn’t eaten in weeks… shoveled the stuff in. It wasn’t until I really started to put things together, the time-frame, the fact that we had given up all other dairy yet the kid was still chugging 12 ounces of cow’s milk a day. So dairy like cottage cheese and yogurt is constipating, but whole milk is fine?

Ugh. Now I’m rambling. Anyway, there you have it. Problem solved! I have to admit, as a parent of a toddler, I don’t usually get to say that. We never seem to actually solve problems, usually solutions are only temporary, or they’re of the, “he’ll grow out of it” category. We zig, he zags. One little issue sort of dissolves over time and a new one pops up. It all sort of runs together.

But this problem, I declare, has been solved. And it is awesome. For the first month or so after we made the switch to soy, I was excited when Gus would have an uneventful, normal poo, nearly every day. This is what we were praying for during those dark days!

So the definitive sign that we are really done with that horrible problem? I now dread poopy diapers, like any normal mother who does not analyze and obsess over her kid’s bowel movements. That normalcy is extremely comforting.


Lisa said...

Yay for poo! I'm so glad to hear that it's been working for him. It must be a huge relief for all of you...literally, but in different ways. :)

Good work, lady. Your relentless research paid off!

Andrea said...

Way to go Gus! Somewhere out there another mama will be Googling about her own baby poo stressors, and will come across this post and find it so heplful :)

Mandy said...

I can totally relate to this right now... Mason is only pooping about every 48 hours and it is driving me nuts! I get so excited when he has a poopy diaper which is something I never thought I would do! I talked to the doctor about it and she says as long as he is still eating regularly and is still being himself we have nothing to worry about but it sure seems to me like he should be pooping more! Anyways it is nice to see that I am not the only one who has had to obsess over poop. I am glad you found a solution for Gus and that he is feeling better now, that has to be such a relief for him and you.