• Month 5 of parenthood: Constipation, sleep training and some answers

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    Guys. This was the worst, scariest month. But there was also, at last, a ray of hope..!

    Where to start?

    Okay, so the tough and terrifying parts. We’d had a light brush with constipation before when summer started (just a few tiny firm specks of poop and less frequent #2s – a bit of cooled boiled water got things going again). But this time was for real … and plain water was not cutting it in terms of getting things flowing. It turned into days between poos – just a couple of days, at first, then more like 4 or 5. The last time we got up to 8 days, and he was MISERABLE, so I gave him prune juice in desperation and that seemed to unblock him. Those last 3 poop nappies were dark, smelly, and looked super weird. Plus, they had solid pieces in amongst the mess (the solid mass that came out after 8 days mass was truly horrendous). He screamed and cried while pooping, which just cut straight to my heart. And did I mention that at one point, he strained so hard he burst a blood vessel in his eye? (That didn’t even result in a poo – nothing happened after that incident, not even a fart.)

    Our GP didn’t seem to take my concerns very seriously, so I set about figuring out how our health insurance works, and booked in to see a paediatric gastroenterologist.

    On the dairy front … yep, my suspicions have been confirmed for sure. After cutting ALL dairy (including as an ingredient in anything), we FINALLY got a good night out of him again … our third ever 7-hour stretch. When I had a tiny bit of brownie and cheesecake as a test (oh so delicious) we had an awful night and all his symptoms reared up again … the reflux, arching his back and spitting up, the fussing and random piercing screams, the gas pains and struggles to fart at night, the eczema and dry skin.

    Naps were a screamfest, an absolute shitshow, for a week or two. He just fought and fought and fought. As soon as we’d walk into the hallway he’d lose the plot, god forbid we even step into his room! Then one day, after a big day (Wriggle and Rhyme at the library in the morning, Space group in the afternoon) he went down for his last nap quietly, and from then on was back to normal.

    And on the upside, we’re now putting him down awake every time for naps and nights. It went surprisingly well! I did a LOT of work last month to get him napping in the cot and not feeding to sleep. (Vigorous pram rocking helped with the transition, along with patting and shushing, as per Plunket recommendations.) I was amazed the first time I laid him down at bedtime, bracing myself for a long tearful protest. Instead, after a few whimpers, he was out! Honestly, that shortlived burst of crying was off and on and didn’t even last 10 minutes. And so it went from then on, until the end of the week when…

    We had chicken pie for dinner. I knew I should avoid the pastry, as it would have had butter in it … but I consumed a little bit, just a few mouthfuls. Straightaway, that very night the effects kicked in. It was a bad one. Sigh.

    I also started to suspect nuts might be an issue, along with chocolate/cocoa (even though I got vegan chocolate, Spud was suspiciously spewy afterwards). Annoying as it was keeping a food diary, I’m so glad I put in the effort – and that I started doing it in a physical journal. Much easier to review and spot trends than when scrolling through an endless iPhone note.

    T is a total dairy fiend (could drink multiple litres of milk a day, devours ice cream, yoghurt etc like it’s water) but has cut back during this time … and is spending noticeably less time on the toilet. Somewhat annoyingly, he still doesn’t take it THAT seriously – the other day he actually said to me, “I bet he would have been fine, he’d eventually get used to dairy.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? How many times have we been up at night helplessly trying to console our screaming child as a result of getting dairy-ed (yes, it’s a verb in the allergy world)? Don’t get me wrong, he has supported me in going dairy-free (and since he does almost all the cooking, that’s vital). And the chicken pie incident seemed to finally convince him… but I know he thinks this is something I’ve overblown. Clearly, Spud is super sensitive to dairy. But the degree to which he reacts isn’t extreme. So while I’m glad he doesn’t, you know, go into an anaphylactic state – it is harder to get taken seriously at this level.