2012 and beyond …

2012 was pretty uneventful. I plugged along. Using every spare moment I had to research and learn about Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.  2012 was the year I decided that heck, maybe I should jump on the gluten free wagon as well. Now, now, don’t be so quick to judge … I’m not a slow learner, just really stubborn. And, food was, well, my comfort. I loved (and still do to this day) the smell of freshly baked bread out of the oven. And, even though I made all that yummy delicious gluten free stuff for the kids, I didn’t eat it because I didn’t think I was worth the extra money. Seriously, that was my mentality. Maybe it was the years of sleep deprivation that made me think that I couldn’t possibly be intolerant to all the foods as well. I was in denial people! So yes, 2012 was my year in a way.  I swore off gluten completely … no more cheating. (Yes, I had tried to be GF for a while, but the bread always called out to me!) So, yes, no more cheating. I also dropped the dairy.  I felt incredible. The constant bloating (I’d always lived with it, so I never realized I even had it until it was gone) was GONE! The diarrhoea GONE (sorry to be graphic, but it is an incredible thing when you’re body works as it should!) My hypothyroidism GONE!  My high cholesterol GONE!  Yes, all because I went gluten free and stuck to my guns. And, it turns out, I was worth it. I felt good and even my husband noticed a difference in me. Although, what he noticed was that I wasn’t such an angry person all the time. Thanks honey! But seriously, my moods stabilized and I just felt like I was walking on a cloud after adjusting my diet. It was like I was a new person. It just makes me think of how many people are out there in the world like me. How many people are intolerant to something, but the signs are so subtle that they go unnoticed or ignored (like I did). The best part about going gluten free, is that I can eat all that good stuff gluten free and feel great after words. I don’t have to run home because I have a gut ache or I’m not tired and grumpy all the time after eating that gluten filled cinnamon bun. You see, I’m 33 years old, and just more than a little stubborn.  I can have all that stuff, just GF baby!


The Naturopath

After taking Oliver off dairy … I thought I’d won.  We’d had one night of sleeping through the night and I was ecstatic. I felt like a walking zombie and just one night of him sleeping through the night was enough for me … but after a week he was back on more antibiotics for tonsillitis. I knew that I couldn’t figure this one out alone … I called a naturopath. Our first appointment was in March 2011. In was in awe of her vast knowledge base immediately and I felt very overwhelmed. The moment Oliver walked in the door she talked about him being Celiac or gluten intolerant. She knew it immediately and I knew that there was going to be a lot of work in the future and a lot of learning on my part. She immediately tested him for IgG allergies. His tests came back saying he was intolerant to gluten, peanuts, dairy, citrus, and eggs. I was shocked and I really didn’t know where to turn. But, she was (and still is) an amazing doctor. She told me to take my time in absorbing all this new information, but to get him off these foods. I took two days to organize my plan of attack and then we knocked off all the foods that he was intolerant to. From that moment on, he was a completely different kid.  He stopped banging his head on the floor profusely, the black circles around his eyes disappeared, he never had another cold, tonsillitis or ear infection, he was sleeping MUCH better and most importantly he was SOOOO happy!  We focused on healing his gut … he had daily probiotics and still has them today. We continued to see improvement in Oliver with each passing day, week and month. And, when it was time to reintroduce the foods that he was intolerant to, we found out quite quickly if he had a problem with them. Oliver continues to be off gluten, dairy, citrus and peanuts to this date. Every time we tried to introduce any of these foods he had either diarrhea, coughing, or poor behaviour.  Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs with Oliver’s diet, but we believe that this lifestyle is important for his health.

So, now that we had gotten over the hurdles of changing Oliver’s diet we decided that Charlotte needed to see Oliver’s naturopath as well.  Charlotte was 12 months old.  She had had so many ear infections in her life and so many antibiotics and I knew, this wasn’t good for her. By this time I was no longer nursing her, I had tried every kind of formula and ending up putting her on soy at 7 months. It was the only formula that she didn’t outright react to. But, she still wasn’t sleeping. The first time I took Charlotte to the naturopath, she immediately told me to get her off the soy formula. I did. And, she slept. Not all night, but it was a HUGE improvement. I also put her on the gluten free, dairy free, peanut free and citrus free diet. (I know, I know, I guess I was in denial still that Oliver’s diet would probably help Charlotte as well!) She also steadily improved. The biggest change I noticed in Charlotte was that her constant tonsillitis disappeared after going soy-free. Her chronic constipation vanished. I no longer needed to give her a daily laxative. So, how you might ask, or what did I feed her? As if I didn’t have enough going on, I started making my own formula. I found a recipe online and I showed it to my naturopath. She gave me the green light to start feeding it to Charlotte. She thrived on it.  Charlotte had ear tubes put in December 2011 ( 15 months old) and we’ve never had a problem with her ears again. Her tubes fell out just six months after the surgery. The ENT was baffled  that after falling out so quickly, she never had another ear infection again. I wasn’t. I believe that he constant ear infections were from the soy she was consuming. No soy, gluten,  or dairy = no ear infections.

We continued to see the naturopath every few months. I often refer to her as my guardian angel. Seriously, if I hadn’t taken the kids to her, I don’t know where I’d be today. I know that Oliver would be a very different little boy. I’m sure that he would be on Ritalin and be deemed as the “bad” boy in his Kindergarten class. Instead, he is the boy that is quiet, calm and so very smart. (He’s not an angel, but close to it!) He is well behaved and so very grown up for a 5 year old. Charlotte sleeps through most nights now as well and is doing wonderfully as well.  I am a big believer in naturopathy (more so everyday!) and I know that even though this lifestyle isn’t always “easy” it’s our way of life. It keeps us healthy ….

#2 …. Here she comes!

Charlotte was born in October 2010. She was born full term and I had a normal delivery with her. She was … and still is … a beautiful girl! I found out right away that Charlotte is a very determined little girl.  She was born at about 7:30 pm and she stayed wide awake until at least 2 or 3 am. I immediately had issues with breastfeeding, just as I had with Oliver. I had continued to take my thyroid medication throughout my pregnancy and had my levels monitored closely. I tried so hard to exclusively breastfeed with Charlotte, but in the first few days she was losing weight and I just had nothing to give her. I started pumping immediately (just as I had done with Oliver) to try and increase my supply, but I had to supplement with formula for a few days regardless. I remember sitting with her in my arms the night after she was born … in a chair … all night rocking and singing to her … but still she screamed and screamed, just as Oliver had. Both my husband and I cried that first night at home … thinking why again?! So, after that first night Charlotte continued to not sleep, but slept slightly better than Oliver did. Oliver continued to be dairy free, but was still having some issues. I had gone dairy free as well, and felt better … the terrible stomach pains that I often had before, had seemed to disappear with being dairy free. Still I was tempted by delicious ice cream and yogurt and all the yummy things that I missed which contained dairy. So, after Oliver was in bed, or out of sight, I would cheat … just a little, but enough that it would affect Charlotte. After a while, I thought to myself … this is stupid and I am silly to be “cheating” when I know that it bothers her poor tummy … Oliver had improved being dairy free, so in my mind, Charlotte must have been plagued by the same thing. I went dairy free and continued to try and breastfeed. After some time, I just couldn’t keep up with the demand, and had to go on a terrible drug … Domperidone…which is used to increase breast milk supply. This isn’t what the drug is meant to do, but rather a side effect of using the drug. So, I started taking these pills, multiple a day…and I felt terrible. I had constant stomach problems and I generally felt unwell. But, I really wanted to continue to nurse … after all, everyone, I mean everyone around me told me breast milk was what was best for Charlotte. And, I agreed, but boy I had a hard time trying to provide this to her. So, life went on … I was dairy free or at least I  tried. Still, I did cheat. I still had my coffee with creamer. I considered cutting coffee out all together, but hey, I hardly slept at night because of my newborn baby and my 2 year old was up still at least 3 times a night …for one thing or another … but mostly just awake. So, I was once again exhausted.

By the time that Charlotte was two or three months old I was beat. Or at least I felt that way. It was December … you know that time of year to be jolly and all. Well, I did the craziest thing imaginable that December. I tried Oliver on dairy. I really don’t know why I did it, other than I probably felt guilty of all the delicious treats I thought Oliver would be missing out on come Christmas time.  He turned into a completely different kid. The diarrhea came back, a runny nose, chronic cough and very, very poor behaviour. Then, Oliver had tonsillitis and ear infections constantly.

January came and went and I had spent most of my time at one doctor or another for either of the kids. By the end of the month, Oliver had been to the doctor twice for tonsillitis … only getting a prescription for antibiotics once. Then 12 days after starting the antibiotic we were back for a stronger prescription, this time for a double ear infection. With each prescription we noticed that Oliver kinda went “crazy” for a lack of a better term. By this time he was almost 2 and a half years old. He was busy running around and talking up a storm. But after taking the antibiotics and along with other times that we couldn’t pinpoint a cause, Oliver acted strangely and not like himself. He would lie down on the floor and bang his head profusely into the hardwood, he would cry and throw tantrums, so much so that I was afraid to leave him in a room alone with Charlotte. I was afraid that he would hurt her. He continued to be up most nights and it didn’t matter what we did, he just wouldn’t sleep. And, the diarrhea was back with a vengence. To top it off, I was seeing a chiropractor with Charlotte to see if he could help her to improve her sleep. Yes, it was a busy month, but again, I’ll do anything to try and get my kids healthy.

February continued on the same as January. Two days into February I was at the doctor, with Charlotte this time. She had an ear infection and was started on antibiotics. She was just over 3 months old at the time. So, now I had two kids on strong antibiotics, both not sleeping and one little boy who was not himself at all. You see, I knew that Oliver was gentle and kind and he loved his sister, but there were moments, when his eyes seemed to be glazed over, black circles under them, that I didn’t recognize him. He would be aggressive with Charlotte, walk up and hit her and then immediately start crying about it. He knew it was wrong to hurt her, but it was like he didn’t have control over his own body. On February 4th, I knew something was terribly wrong with Oliver. I found blood in his stool. I took him into the ER immediately. He was still taking his antibiotics and still not doing well. I saw the paediatrician shortly after arriving. I told him the full story. Oliver had been off dairy, but we had started him back on it. Oliver had multiple bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections, etc, etc, etc. The doctor looked me in the eye and told me that the blood in Oliver’s stool was “no big deal and normal sometimes”. When I asked him whether or not the antibiotics and the severe diarrhea were related along with a dairy intolerance. He looked at me and said “No way”.  I was told to go home and continue on with the dairy and with the strong antibiotics. I was p.o.’ed. I was so angry that this person just brushed me off and brushed Oliver off. I was terrified of what was happening inside Oliver’s little body. I looked at him lying on the stretcher and I thought to myself … No way. No way is this the way it should be. This is not NORMAL. I vowed to myself that I would find an answer. I would find out what was causing this beautiful little boy to turn into a terror. I had seen the true Oliver. So had my husband. He was a sweet, innocent, beautiful little boy. This wasn’t normal. I went home and I cried and cried that night. What could I do to help him? I knew what to do for starters … I stopped the antibiotics.

I did my research. I stayed up most nights researching, over the internet, reading blogs and books and whatever I could get my hands on. 13 days after being in the ER that day I took Oliver off dairy again. The next night Oliver slept through the night for the first time in his life. He was almost 2 and a half years old …

The Next Chapter …

Within a few weeks Oliver was “better”. His constant diarrhea had stopped,  he was sleeping better and in fact, he’d had a few nights of only being up in the night a few times, instead of the usual five or six times. Life seemed to be getting better for Oliver. I was dealing with my exhaustion, but still felt like there was something more happening with my own body. I decided it was time that I took a trip to the doctor myself. I suggested to the doctor (who wasn’t my family doctor) to have my thyroid levels checked. You see, hypothyroidism runs in my family and both my mother and my grandmother have it. I knew that I was so exhausted and at this point, I felt like I was unable to cope with even the smallest things. I would find myself crying several times a day and I just felt like my life, even thought it was slightly better with Oliver being “better”, was still so hard to cope with. So, off I went and this particular doctor told me that I probably had a classic case of the baby blues and not to worry, they would go away in time. He didn’t want to do the simple blood test to check my thyroid levels, but I persevered and insisted that he did. He warned me before giving me the paper that 99% of cases like mine were just the baby blues or postpartum depression and that it was silly to be doing this blood work. I went and had the blood work done and I waited. Within two weeks I was called back to his office and he told me …”well, I almost never get to tell women in  your circumstances that you do have hypothyroidism.” I was overjoyed … I mean I had felt like total garbage for so long, I didn’t even know what it was like to feel “normal” again. I wanted to slap him and say “I told you so”, but yeah … I didn’t. I started on my medication that day and felt better slowly. Our family continued on like this for some time … months. I had started Oliver on fortified rice milk and felt better about the whole calcium thing. We stayed away from dairy completely. Life just went on for us. And so, after several months, we decided that #2 should come along. I mean, we’d had a few nights of decent sleep … and why not? #2 couldn’t be as difficult or as “colicky” as Oliver ….. boy, were we wrong!

In the Beginning …

Hi! If you’ve come across my website and have stayed to read this much it’s probably because you are living gluten free … or are seriously contemplating it.  I’ve been living  gluten free for almost 2 and a half years now, but my children have been gluten free for longer. You see, I came across this gluten free lifestyle not just on a whim, but because my kid’s lives (one in particular) were turned upside down by all the foods their bodies were trying desperately to digest, but just couldn’t.

Oliver was born in September 2008. By all accounts, he was healthy and sort of happy. You see, I had the child that was deemed “colicky” by everyone, including my doctor. He slept no more than 2 hours in a row and the first few nights of his life, he was up almost around the clock. He cried and cried and just when I thought he was going to stop, he cried some more. I was trying my best to nurse him, but along with all the stress of having a child that didn’t ever stop crying or sleep for that matter, I was struggling. I was told by my doctor …”It’s okay. Keep going. You’re doing fine.” I continued on, not wanting to be a failure to anyone, including Oliver and myself. I watched as other Mom’s around me had an easy time (I say easy, but of course I can only see what I see …) breastfeeding. Little did I know that this very trying start to Oliver’s life was just the beginning.

Oliver continued to cry and not sleep more than 2 hours well until he was over 18 months old. I continued to struggle with nursing until I decided to end it at 11 months old. I was going back to work and decided to switch him over to whole milk. At the beginning, all seemed fine. He drank the whole milk back like he had been starving for 11 months. I was devastated, but soon realized that if this was what was best for Oliver, then so be it. After a few weeks, I noticed a change in him. He had chronic diarrhoea and then he began to get sick … first with a constant runny nose and then swollen tonsils and ear infections. Now, if you know me, which you don’t, you’d know that I’m a pretty smart girl. I’m able to put two and two together without too much trouble. So, off I went to my doctor. When I filled her in on my suspicions, that dairy was making Oliver sick, she looked at me as if I was crazy and as if I had three heads. I made the mistake of suggesting to her that maybe I should try and take him off all dairy products to see what happens. Her response was “Absolutely not! He’s a growing boy and he needs his calcium.” I just sat there and didn’t know what to say other than, “okay”. I left her office feeling like a complete idiot. I felt like a failure and I thought, why can’t this just come easy like it seemed to for so many other moms?  Maybe this whole not sleeping more than 2 hours thing, isn’t so bad. Maybe the constant diarrhea that Oliver had was okay … maybe even normal?!? I got home and I sat down and I looked at my beautiful boy and thought to myself, it’s not supposed to be this hard to be a mommy. I was exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally. Did my doctor know more about my own child than I did? Was she the one up every two hours at night, trying to soothe and comfort this crying, miserable child? No. I decided that enough was enough. I needed to do something and heck, I’d been with Oliver for 13 months now, I must know something about him, right? So, I cut all dairy products out of his diet. My husband supported my decision (I know I’m a lucky girl to have a supportive husband) and so our journey began…