Warning: this post is going to be graphic. I can’t write a post about Luke’s digestive issues without going into details about his stools. I figured if I’m going to talk about his stools, I might as well include pictures (which I’ve taken to show his doctors). I know when I was googling “blood in baby stool” I wanted to come across some pictures. I hope these will help others who are searching, wondering if what they are seeing in their baby’s diapers is normal.
You’ve been warned. If you’re squeamish about this kind of thing, feel free to stop reading and come back on Wednesday when I’ll be posting a new dinner recipe for a meatless burger.
If you’re still reading, you must be interested in what’s been going on with my little man. He’s been diagnosed with MSPI, which stands for Milk Soy Protein Intolerance. This means that his immature digestive system has trouble breaking down the proteins in milk and soy. It does not mean he is lactose intolerant or that he is necessarily allergic to anything (although he may be, it’s too early to tell).
We’ve been lucky in that many babies with MSPI cry all the time or are extremely fussy. Luke’s never been that way. The main way we knew there was a problem was through his irregular stools. Normal breastfed baby stools are mostly yellow, sometimes seedy, with a watery or creamy consistency. Luke’s dirty diapers have always been slimy and full of mucus.
Occasionally they are specked with blood, both black and red.
He was also extremely congested early on in his life, a sign of a dairy sensitivity.
Another symptom is erratic sleep patterns. Luke can easily go from an angel sleeper to a nightmare with no rhyme or reason. Over time I’ve noticed a correlation with blood in his stool and his most mucus-y diapers to his worst sleep. Whatever is going on in there to cause the irregular stools must not feel great and therefore causes sleep disruptions.
The only way to “treat” MSPI is to eliminate the culprits from my diet (since I’m breast feeding). At 8 weeks I eliminated all dairy. It takes at least a month (probably more) for all dairy to be out of your system, so it was a waiting game. The only improvement I saw was his congestion cleared up, but his stools remained the same.
At 12 weeks there was still a lot of mucus in his diapers and also visible blood, so the next step was to eliminate soy. After this his diapers turned from mostly green to mostly yellow and his projectile spitting up stopped (I didn’t know if that was related or not and still can’t be sure). The mucus and blood were still present in his stools.
This is when his pediatrician referred us to gastroenterologist. By the time we got in, Luke was 19 weeks and I’d been off of dairy for 11 weeks. The doctor still thought, however, that dairy was in my system and causing the problems. He said I could have unknowingly eaten hidden dairy. This is true, but highly unlikely given my diet. I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, which is where hidden dairy lurks. He advised me to either switch to a hypoallergenic formula or wait and hope Luke outgrows the intolerance by 9 months.
I took Luke back to his pediatrician and she said it’d be worthwhile to cut out more foods that could be causing him problems. I then cut out wheat, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. After two weeks his diapers were still full of mucus, but I hadn’t seen any visible blood in that time. I decided to start adding back in foods to see what the reaction would be. I added back in eggs first, and there was no change.
A week later, I added back in peanuts and tree nuts. I’m not sure why I did these at the same time; I should have done one at a time. Within days, I saw visible blood again. I can’t be sure if they were the cause, but I decided to cut them out again. I put in a call to the pediatrician and she advised me that although it could be the peanuts or nuts, wheat also takes at least a month to get out of your system, so the wheat could still be the cause.
After 6 weeks of eliminating wheat, Luke’s stools finally started to look normal. They were consistently yellow, more creamy, and without visible blood.
We had two weeks of normal-looking stools. This was the good news. The bad news was it took me eating a diet free of dairy, soy, wheat, tree nuts (except coconut), and peanuts to get there.
After 2 solid weeks of good diapers, we decided to start solids (a few weeks earlier than we planned at 5.5 months old) Details about that are a whole different post, but I will give an overview as it relates to his digestive issues. We started with yellow squash. The first two days there was no mucus or blood in his stool–they stayed the same. On the third day there was still no mucus, but there was a small amount of blood. It seems the solid food, even the very small amount, was difficult for his digestive tract to handle.
The next day I accidentally used almond-coconut milk in my oatmeal. I’d been using coconut milk and for some reason just grabbed the wrong box. Later that day, I was so hungry (snacking is the most difficult on this restrictive diet) and figured I’d already had almonds that day so I might as well go all-out and I had a banana bread Larabar, which has almonds. Later that night, his stools were back to mucus-y. I couldn’t believe how quickly they changed his stool consistency. That was on Wednesday and his stools have been full of mucus ever since. I guess it will be a while before I can have almonds. I am just waiting for them to work their way out of my system (should be less than a week) in hopes that his diapers go back to normal.
We’ve decided to hold back on any more solids until his next doctor’s appointment this week. We’ll see what she advises. I can tell that the road to feeding Luke is going to be filled with twists and turns and will most likely not be easy any time soon.
I breastfed Meghan until she was 2 and assumed that I’d do the same with Luke. At this point I am just taking it one month at a time. I love breastfeeding and think it’s hands down the best nutrition you can provide for your child, but eating such a restrictive diet has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
At this point I am just praying that Luke with outgrow his food sensitivities and be able to eat a normal, non-restrictive diet one day. Breast feeding a baby with MSPI is a crazy journey, but I’m grateful I’ve been able to continue to provide Luke with the nourishment of breast milk despite the challenges.
Curious about how this journey continued with Luke? Here’s an update at how things are going with breastfeeding with MSPI at 15 months!