Since we knew Elianna's formula was keeping her from getting completely better (to baseline), when we introduced almond milk we also lowered the amount of formula we were giving her to help make sure it was a successful pass. Once we determined it was safe, we went back to 100% formula and moved on to the next trial.
Over the next couple weeks there were a lot of complications, but I couldn't help feeling as if something was just a little not right, and after going back on to the formula 100% she was actually worse. I knew that when you remove a food trigger and then reintroduce it the symptoms could be worse or more immediate because T-cells can identify it faster. I kept shrugging it off, but then over the next three weeks, this added to a couple of other fails, and she just didn't get any better.
For the first time ever her weight started to decline very slightly, her respiratory symptoms were horrible, and we were even failing diaper cream on her butt. This was not boding well. We returned to the allergist who continued with the original instructions: pass almond milk and then transition her off the formula entirely. The concept that her intestines were not going to heal entirely, and that she may not pass any other foods while still on the corn based formula, was one that I could understand in my head. However, the idea of putting my 18 month old on a diet of home made almond milk, and a teaspoon or so of fruit at dinner, was not a very comforting thought. This had to be insane. But the plan was to move quickly and get other foods into her diet. For a child with sensory and food issues this was a lot to expect, and I was spending a lot of fearful time on my knees praying.
I waited until the following week when we went back to see the GI and the nutritionist, so that I could ask if this plan was as insane as I thought. Truly, could an 18 month old survive on only almond milk? Surely not. My mommy instincts were going through the roof. The GI tried to reassure me by saying that 80% of a child's calories between 12 and 24 months of age come from milk (ok but that is for kids who eat food right?), and the nutritionist said that it would be low in protein, so if I could trial and add hemp milk, then lamb, and a gummy multi-vitamin that he recommended, we would be good to go.
Wow. That seemed like a good plan, but a lot of steps to conquer. And could we do it quick enough to not be detrimental to her health? Again I was reassured that she has never had failure to thrive and definitely is in good enough condition to go a month without worrying that she isn't getting her daily recommended nutrition.
That certainly did not sit well with this mama. A month of transitioning off of the formula, and onto only home made almond milk, while trialling these other new foods? What if she failed one? What if she needed weeks to heal?
What about the fact that she was not healed to begin with and I listened to her cough up her lungs and wake up screaming for air every night?!?
I prayed, and I fretted, and I researched, and I consulted others that I could trust, and the answer was all the same: no one could tell me what the answer was, and the doctors were giving me what they felt to be the best answer. I called and spoke with the pediatrician who gave me an immediate referral to the top pediatric nutritionist at the local hospital, but it would take time to be processed and get in. How long?
The following week her symptoms of illness continued, and we decided to take the plunge. I began making almond milk, and we began the transition. And I was afraid.
I was afraid for her nutrition, I was afraid for a possible reaction once she was on that much almond milk, and I was afraid that if we had to go back to the formula we would not be able to.