Health

My Petite Pantry – Lila’s Journey

Petite Pantry - Lila's Journey

Hi, my name is Laura!

I am mummy to a sensitive little tot who has many, many food allergies and intolerances.
My husband Scott and I have been on quite an eye-opening journey on our quest for health and healing.  I’m thrilled to say that we have seen amazingly positive changes in my daughter’s health by overhauling our diets and lifestyle.  The results have been slow but overwhelmingly positive!

Our success has motivated me to begin a little blog (My Petite Pantry) to share the recipes I have developed along the way.  I have great hope that my recipes will help to nourish, comfort, and delight other families with similar struggles… especially the breastfeeding mummies out there who sacrifice so much for their allergic and/or intolerant babes.

Anyway, to stop beating around a bush let me tell you ‘the story so far’ of my sweet Lila Daisy, the sparkliest little girl I have ever met, who also happens to be the little girl who calls me ‘mummy’.

My pregnancy with Lila was a mixture of joy and awe at the miracle taking place inside my body.  I simultaneously experienced moments (AKA months) of horridly unglamorous morning sickness like many women before me.  I also spent much of this time concentrating my mind on positive birthing stories and quieting unhelpful fears that tried to plant themselves in my head.   Much to my own scepticism I took a hypno-birthing course and did all the homework diligently.

Long story short, the birth was a dream come true and I even got to finish delivering my own baby!  With a rush of overwhelming love, relief and heady euphoria I held my baby girl for the first time, and all was right in my world.

Over the following hours and days my husband and I soaked up the miracle that was our ‘Daisy girl’, but slowly things began to unravel.

She didn’t take the breast until six hours after birth and did not feed well from the start.  Our breastfeeding story is a novel in itself so I will try to give you a brief summary that results in only a little yawning!  I ended up with chronic Mastitis in both breasts that resulted in four months of oral antibiotics, and two re-hospitalisations (during which I received intensive antibiotics via IV for 72 hours – each time).  The antibiotics resulted in a rather extreme thrush infection in my breasts requiring three months of intensive antifungal treatment.

You might be wondering what this has to do with my little girl.  You see, she was exclusively breastfed the entire time, so she was technically medicated too.   More and more the research shows just how detrimental both antibiotics and anti-fungals are to our entire microbiome, and unfortunately my little girl was not an exception, in fact she was of the most vulnerable, and her poor little body continues to suffer terribly from the damage that was done.

From four weeks of age we noticed our little girl begin to show signs of extreme gastrointestinal distress.  Her nappies varied from dark greeny brown to frothy fluro green and always had an unhealthy dose of mucous.
  
In the hours following her first vaccinations she developed a high pitched scream and level of distress that will haunt me forever.  After speaking to a ‘nurse-on-call’ we ended up presenting at our local hospital with a nappy full of jelly-ish blood, and a floppy, unrousable child who would suddenly burst into bouts of hysterical rigid screaming that could not be comforted.  Unfortunately life with a newborn continued to be a high stress time in which our daughter suffered and we would receive no answers.

At six months of age – and six months of numerous doctors, hospital visits, IBCLCs and Osteopaths – she continued to suffer from extreme sleeplessness (she would wake in distress every 2-20 minutes *every single* time she slept), reflux, passing blood, gut lining, and mucous in nappies, extreme gastrointestinal distress, constipation, vomiting, eczema, and poor weight gain.

Finally a paediatrician advised me to trial a dairy free diet guaranteeing that CMPA  (cow milk protein allergy) was her problem.  After a month on a dairy free diet (and a reduction in bloody nappies) her level of distress hadn’t reduced at all.  In the subsequent months we removed soy, gluten, eggs, nuts, and fish.  Removing these foods made very little improvement to her reflux and distress.  During this time her constipation got to a point where she was on quadruple the dose of 2 laxatives at once – used alongside suppositories – to no avail.  At this point she was completely dependent on enemas to pass a bowel motion and her distress had my mummy heart in shreds.

 

During that time my mum mentioned a compounding pharmacy that made a product to help babies with “extreme unexplainable colic”.  I promptly visited this pharmacy and spoke extensively to the pharmacist who referred us to their in-house Naturopath.
At this point of utter desperation I was willing to try anything, as long as it wouldn’t result in greater distress for my little girl.

The Naturopath listened to our story attentively and gave us a clear plan forward.  Meanwhile, he scared the pants off me about the reflux and laxative medications that we had been administering to her, thankfully he gave us natural alternatives that worked SO much better than their conventional versions.  

After multiple evaluations he recommended a new diet for Lila (and I, as her breastfeeding mother).  This allowed us to carefully (and successfully) trial Lila on eggs, nuts and fish but required us to remove corn, rice, legumes, lentils, nightshades, mushrooms, yeast, garlic, ginger, and apples, as well as dairy and soy.  This change in diet made the biggest, positive change for our Lila so far and she began to gain slightly more weight, her eczema reduced, and her vomiting ceased.

Unfortunately I knew that things were still far from right with my little one and at 12 months of age I took her to see an Integrative Practitioner (both a qualified GP and Naturopath) with a special interest in gut health and allergies.   He initially prescribed some melatonin drops to help her settle at night (at that stage it was taking over 3 hours to settle her).  He also ordered a comprehensive stool analysis, multiple blood tests, and urged us to remove any preservatives and additives that remained in Lila’s diet.

The result from the stool analysis was rather alarming and found that Lila had an overgrowth of some particularly nasty bacteria.  One strain of bacteria was of particular concern because it eats away at the intestinal wall.  These perforations in the gut lining cause food proteins to leak out into the body (where they aren’t welcome) and, to put it simply, allergies are born.  Unfortunately, until we could heal Lila’s gut we were to expect more food sensitivities to appear and her symptoms to either stagnate or keep spiralling.

As overwhelming as this was to discover it was a relief to know a little about what was going on.  To my despair treatment involved round after round of antibiotics.  Going against my gut, we proceeded with treatment.  This part of the story gets rather foggy for me.  But the gist of what happened is that after 5 courses of antibiotics, and a child in an absolute world of pain, I pulled the plug on her treatment.  With nothing else to offer us our Doctor decided to take a ‘wait and see’ approach and I delved head-first into managing and treating what I call ‘Lila’s labyrinth’ on my own.

At eighteen months of age she had been failed by medical professionals more times than I care to recall, and I had a gutful of condescending language and useless (if not damaging) treatments.  My approach was simple.  I followed my mother’s intuition.  I kept a diary of what we ate, where we went, and how she was each day (sleep, poo, reflux, behaviour, sinuses, development, and skin condition).  I weaned her off all alternative supplements for her sleep, reflux and laxatives, and managed her symptoms the best I could through diet and lifestyle. Over time we honed in on triggers and adjusted our lifestyle accordingly.  Lila began to gain weight, sleep better, her eczema all but disappeared, she was able to pass bowel motions without assistance, and her reflux became manageable.

At two years of age we took Lila to a birthday party where she came in contact with dairy and soy.  Over the next three days we watched a complete unravelling in the health and happiness of our little girl.  Her reflux came back with a vengeance, as did her eczema.  After much crying and complaining of a sore tummy she passed shreds of gut lining, blood, and mucous in subsequent nappies, but most terrifyingly she experienced a series of worrying episodes that I would later learn were “most likely allergy-triggered absence seizures”.  

This reaction resulted in a midnight visit to the Royal Children’s Hospital and a thorough assessment by one of today’s leading gastroenterologists.  Relieved and nervous we felt that we would *finally* get our little girl the medical diagnosis that she (and we) so desperately needed.

Fortunately/unfortunately no such diagnosis was found.  Instead the gastroenterologist told us to keep “doing what we are doing”.  That her allergies are “real, alarmingly unusual, and may or may-not diminish as she grows”.  It was concluded that the level of antibiotics and antifungals that she has received was essentially like an “atomic bomb to the gut” and we should expect improvement to be very slow.  Moreover she impressed the need to be “extremely vigilant” that Lila doesn’t come into contact with any dietary or environmental triggers, that is, until a controlled trial is scheduled in a few years time.

So, where are we now?  We eat a meticulously careful, ‘from-scratch’, whole-food diet that is free from dairy, soy, grains, legumes, lentils, beef, potato, eggplant, apples, preservatives, additives, and seed oils.  Our diet optimises healing foods and whole-body nourishment whilst also catering to the needs of the fussy toddler palate.  
If she receives an allergen we fill her with preservative free organic prunes and plenty of filtered water.  This flushes the offending proteins out of her body as quickly as possible, minimising the amount of time these proteins can damage her body.  
She has regular magnesium salt baths to help her body with detoxification and all household products and toiletries are as clean, pure, and homemade as possible. 

I manage this whilst I continue to read medical journals, papers, and research during the twilight hours.  I’ve come to learn that education is key, especially in the area of gut health where the research is still rather new and many doctors are often fairly ‘green’ on the topic.

Now to you reading this story, if this world of gut-health and healing is new to you, or if it feels overwhelming, please know that there is a fabulous, loving community of mums out here who are willing and happy to offer support and advice.  Mostly, I urge you to educate yourself.  I know that for most of us mother’s time is scarce, BUT whenever you do find a little time, grab it with both hands, and read the latest literature out there.  I’d also encourage you to keep an open mind to the very powerful ability of food to be your, or your child’s, medicine.

Last of all I’d love to leave you with one of my delightfully allergy-friendly recipes.

This lovely little recipe is simple, quick, and perfect with a cup of your favourite tea.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Love L x

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Coconut Slice

Coconut Snow Slice

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or less to taste)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

1

Line a square baking dish with baking paper.

2

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blitz on high until well combined and sticking together.

3

Press into your prepared tray and place in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for half an hour, before devouring.

4

This is best kept in the fridge or freezer, unless of course you prefer it melty and gooey.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Gena
    August 16, 2017 at 4:46 am

    Thank you for posting this Mel, and thank you for sharing your story Laura. You have certainly been on a long road to healing and have endured so much along the way. I’m happy to hear you have found some great success with diet. ❤️

    • Reply
      Mel
      August 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Hi Gena,

      Thanks so much for popping across and commenting x

  • Reply
    April
    September 17, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Reading your post reminds me of the torment we went through with our son and eczema, a sudden allergic reaction to banana at 6 months of age caused half a decade of misery for him, the eczema was so bad that it affected his learning and ability to sit still, and required constant wet wraps, creams and cortisone. It was when at 6 years old he had a very bad recurrence with bleeding and a staph infection following a bought of pneumonia and 6 months of antibiotics that we stumbled across a Dr (while hoping to get a script filled without waiting for an appointment with the dermatologist) that suggested healing his gut first. Within days of a gluten and dairy free no nightshade diet he was healing…..6 years he had suffered. He is 10 now and hasn’t had eczema since. I sincerely hope that you will one day get the relief that we did.

    • Reply
      Mel
      September 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Hi April,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story and so happy to hear that.

      You can connect with Laura at: https://www.mypetitepantry.net/

      Many thanks,

      Mel x

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