A complex tapestry

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We had a mixed bag of Maddy over the weekend. One day was basically an entire meltdown. We think it was a bit of some teething blues combined with sensory overload from her new week at daycare (for an interesting read on how great days at daycare or school can turn into a wreck of an evening or weekend, check out this article posted by the SPD foundation: The let-down-meltdown). The poor thing’s engine was running so fast, she couldn’t calm herself enough to sleep, or even feel comfortable in her own skin. Eric and I both worked hard at reducing her stress, but it literally took until 5pm before she started to perk up. Fortunately, I was all emotionally charged to deal with a hard day after a long, overdue chat, with my good friend, Jules, the Thursday before.

The next day was with an incredible, amazing, so much fun Maddy. We met some good friends at a nearby Chuck E. Cheese’s for some lunch and play. Maddy loved it – she enjoyed the small rides, and dancing with the mouse (which, 7-year-old Georgia correctly pinned as creepy, haha). Maddy did so well, until the very end when she was clear with us she was ready to nap (which, of course, is typical baby stuff, so that doesn’t even really count ;)).

The third day of our long weekend was spent having lunch with two more good friends, and Maddy had another stellar day. She giggled and giggled watching Loki play with their dog, Charlie. At first she was a bit wary of Charlie, a chocolate lab who is much bigger than Loki, but it didn’t take her long to approach her with no fear. She giggled as Charlie licked her face, and Maddy even laughed when Charlie knocked her on her bum a few times.

We also managed to squeeze in two family visits over the weekend. Our favourite moment was during dinner at Eric’s parent’s house. Maddy picked up the lid to her soy yogurt and started licking it. In the process, she gave herself a yogurt facial. She then turned to me, covered in yogurt, and said, “Nom, nom, nom.” Everyone broke out in laughter. Maddy grinned, wiped the lid on her face, turned to look at the table, and laughed an almost evil sounding laugh. She continued to do this for a few minutes, clearly enjoying the attention she was getting. I know I’ve said it before, but, man, when Maddy is feeling good, she has such a little personality. She just shines, and is so much fun. I am so looking forward to getting to know this side of her much better.

Conversation during parts of our visits made me think that I should share some of the bits and pieces of what I’ve learned this past year from the numerous professionals we’ve been in contact with. Each professional has added a slightly different expertise, and has really helped our family, and maybe it could help one of you, too.

Before I get into this, I should warn you, I’m someone who values both traditional medicine and alternative medicine. I have had success with using the strengths of each to address multiple issues in my life. Additionally, as an Epidemiologist it is obvious that I believe in the importance of research (as opposed to anecdotal evidence). But, I also know that not everything has been studied in research (and frankly, not all things can be studied in that way), and so I don’t close my ears to anecdotal reports, either. Will you find what I’m about to tell you outlined in peer-reviewed journal? Likely not. Regardless, it is pretty interesting.

Let’s go way back to pregnancy. My pregnancy with Maddy, although not the most enjoyable 9 months of my life, was pretty uneventful. I had the typical aches and pains (morning sickness, headaches, back pain, fatigue, etc.), but nothing out of the ordinary. I later learned that there was something interesting about those 9 months. My morning sickness lasted from week 5 until week 25. I had 20 weeks of awful, all day, morning sickness. Twenty weeks where I lost weight and ate little more than bland pasta, crackers, and bread. Twenty weeks of Eric pulling the car over on our daily commute so I could vomit out of the car door. Twenty weeks where I could do little more than lie on a couch, abandoning almost all after work and weekend activities (and where I literally spent hours lying on the concrete floor of my office at school). I know I’m not alone in this experience, in fact, I tracked my sister, Lindsay’s, path almost down to the day. At the time, we just thought we were unlucky. But, is that all that was going on?

From two different professionals:

  • Often women who report more extreme (lasting longer than typical or just plain worse) morning sickness to this professional later discover they have food intolerances. The professional believes that the stress of pregnancy on the body causes an increased reaction to these foods, which is expressed by morning sickness.
  • GI problems like Celiac Disease can be triggered by the stress pregnancy puts on the body (this is also true of other autoimmune diseases that are believed to be caused by both genes and environment). For more information, this article is a good starting point.

Now, of course morning sickness is (unfortunately) a normal part of pregnancy. What I’m talking about here is a more atypical expression of morning sickness.

When I first heard this, I thought, huh, interesting. But, it didn’t stop there. In a consultation with another professional, she asked about my morning sickness. I thought it was heading in the same direction as above… but, it wasn’t. She went on to tell me that in her experience:

  • Mothers who report experiencing more severe morning sickness are more likely to have babies that suffer from colic, particularly caused by reflux and food intolerances. Um, Maddy – check, my Nephew Logan and Niece Chloé – check, check. It is also important to note that some researchers are suggesting that untreated food intolerances can actually cause reflux in an infant, as well. This website briefly discusses the food intolerance/reflux link.

She went on to describe to me why some believe there is a link between morning sickness and colic. In all honesty, I don’t remember the details. It was something about levels of acid in the body. What I do remember, is her take home message:”If you get pregnant again and have bad morning sickness, come see me for some homeopathic treatments to reduce your nausea and reduce the likelihood of another colicky baby.” It might not be research, but after the year we just had, it sure can’t hurt to try.

It is also known that:

  • Mothers who have food allergies or digestive issues (or asthma/eczema) are more likely to have babies with the same issues. Ashley, Maddy… Ding, ding, ding! Lindsay, Logan, Chloé… Ding, ding, ding! This website discusses this link.

Additionally:

  • Babies born via c-section are more likely to have digestive issues (now, this one I knew pre c-section, it was one of the reasons I desperately wanted a vaginal birth given my family history of digestive problems). This is because of the bacteria the baby swallows while passing through the birth canal (that they don’t swallow during a c-section). An article from The Telegraph talks about this bacterial protection.

Now, this gets even more intertwined, as there is a high correlation between reflux/food intolerances and SPD in babies and children (again, Maddy, Logan & Chloé). This correlation is discussed in the book, The Out-of-Sync Child. Some things various professionals have told us:

  • It is believed by some that trauma in early life (e.g. pain caused by reflux, food intolerances, an injury) can often trigger SPD as a way to deal with the constant painful sensory input. You will find on this site that “has allergies” is included on the list of what causes SPD.
  • The healthier the gut, the better the symptoms of SPD (the same is true for other neurological issues). An interesting video on the link between Autism and gut health narrated by David Suzuki can be found here: Autism Enigma.

Now, it is important to remember that food intolerances will cause a gut imbalance (too much bad-gut microbes, not enough good-gut microbes). In other words, it causes an unhealthy gut.

Morning sickness and undiagnosed food intolerances in the mother can increase the likelihood of food intolerances in babies. Food intolerances in babies can simultaneously trigger reflux, unhealthy gut, and/or neurological disorders. The symptoms of neurological disorders can be worsened by an unhealthy gut. It’s all a complex tapestry.

If anything, I should be thanking my wee little Maddykins for cueing me into my own digestive issues. Perhaps without all of her struggles, I would still be completely unaware that I have Celiac disease. I only hope that all of this knowledge I have collected will help if and when we choose to chance fate with another babe, and prevent that little one from going through what Maddy has had to.

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7 responses »

  1. huh… I found this all so interesting reading this. Even though I’ve lived a lot of it. Makes me wish I’d re-scheduled that appointment I had booked with the naturopath when Logan was 4 months old…

    • Some of this came from our naturopath, but some was from our OTs and some from our holistic nutritionist. Interestingly, most of their advice supports what the other says even when talking about completely different things.

  2. That is so interesting! I spent 33 weeks of my pregnancy vomiting, some days I too couldnt get off the bathroom floor. I also had a C-Section. Hailey has reflux and was the most miserable baby for the first 8 months of her life, and also has multiple food intolerances. Thanks for posting, I’m looking foward to reading the links (when someone finally goes to bed).

  3. Pingback: Getting anxious over here « sewrite

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