Ohhhh it came as a big shock for us when Adu (let's call my baby boy so) was suspected to have developed what is called Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). It was kind of indigestible for us when it was explained. Apparently the infant's immune system mistakenly sees the milk protein as something the body should fight off. And this causes an allergic reaction, which can cause an infant to be fussy and irritable, and cause an upset stomach and other symptoms.
It all started with Adu throwing up, losing appetite and crying in the night for a couple of days. He is otherwise a no-cry baby, very cooperative in all terms till now and a happy baby in general. He made us call the health care number two nights in row and then we took him to the hospital. Seeing the symptoms the pediatrician suspected him to be allergic to cow's milk. We just nodded, not understanding it fully. Only when they explained in detail did we realize what it exactly was.
If the diagnosis turns out to be true, Adu will not be able to have any milk or milk products till he grows out of this allergy, which can be in a year, or two or three or if he is not so lucky more. And as for the immediate consequence i was asked to stop eating everything dairy if i were to continue nursing him; else I could choose to stop nursing him and switch him to full time formula. This would first be evaluated with a dairy-free diet for two weeks initially, observing him, followed by a dairy diet for a couple of days. If the symptoms recurred, I'd have to quit dairy as long as i wish to feed him.
The source of the problem, as we speculate was that he was on formula part time. It was inevitable for us to feed him formula in his first week, when my supply was low, and he had high bilirubin levels for 3-4 days (infant jaundice) which required him to eat lots of food and digest it in order to reduce it. And subsequently too, he needed formula feeds a couple of times a day, when I could not fill his lil tummy. The formula is generally based on cow's milk, and the baby had apparently developed an allergy towards the cow's milk protein. And this had surprisingly happened after 5 weeks. I could not take it in that an Indian baby would be allergic to something as inherent as milk!
Now coming back to the point, I definitely did not want to stop nursing him - already i was feeling bad for having to give him a couple of formula feeds. So the only option for me was to stop dairy for now. Coming from a traditional South Indian vegetarian family, this was indeed difficult for me - especially now, as my postpartum diet consisted of large amounts of milk and ghee. It was then that i realized how addicted i was to dairy!
My meals consisted of addition of spoonfuls of ghee and ended with curd rice, my snacks consisted of milk, my bakes consisted of butter or other dairy, my filter coffee would not taste the same without milk, my tea was full of milk, the innumerable Indian sweets that I loved were full of ghee or milk.... the list was endless (Wondering about my calorie intake reading the above, well, I'd burn these fats too, so i'm definitely not obese :D )
I'd feel like crying when people around me would get themselves a good cup of filter coffee, or offer me something with milk forgetting my diet. I'd see the pack of sweet lying in the counter and miss it already.
And my little baby could not have these too, till however long it was... that was even sadder. Trust me, i was planning for his first birthday cake already! And I had been thinking of what all to bake for him as soon as he started eating them... I'd started calling him Krishna, and now that seemed like a paradox. It was a difficult week for me...
Now about ten days into the diet, it does not look as dark! I've indeed survived... but then I realize how difficult it is to quit some habits and addictions... especially when it comes to food. I now know why non vegetarians find it so hard to give up meat. In fact, I myself would think of becoming a vegan time and again but had not gathered enough will power. It is not impossible but not easy as well...
Anyways, now I'm hoping that his diagnosis turns out to be false and I get back to my original diet, but also prepared if it turns otherwise. I know it is not impossible... and in a place like this, there are definitely alternatives too...