Just a little background . . .Cora has had a very strange food journey. It all started when she was 4 months old. All the sudden wasn't sleeping through the night anymore, so I, in true first-time parent form, called the pediatrician saying, "What the heck?" (It is funny to think back on this because now she rarely sleeps through an entire night). But the nurse suggested that we try feeding her some rice cereal before bed to help keep her tummy full. It backfired. She was up for hours screaming. About a week later we tried again during the day. A couple hours after she ate, she started an episode of severe vomiting that landed us in the emergency room because she was lethargic and we couldn't keep her awake. But by the time we saw the doctor she was totally fine. He said he didn't know what it could be and suggested that we just follow up with our pediatrician. She didn't know what to say either except that no one is allergic to rice, so it probably wasn't any sort of allergy. She suggested that we stop with the rice cereal and move onto fruits and veggies. So we did, and all was well for the next few months. And then it happened again when I tried feeding her a banana strawberry oat smoothie jar of baby food. We went back to the doctor and she said it was time for us to go see a pediatric allergist.
We made the trek to Austin to find out that Cora has a syndrome called FPIES (Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome). Serious name, not so serious condition. It is just a reaction to specific foods that usually includes vomiting. And most kids outgrow it by the age of 3. We also found out that she did have a "normal" rice allergy as well. She was about 7 months old when we found all of this out. Her doctor ordered that she avoid ALL grains until she was old enough for a food challenge.
Well back in October she finally reached that age and we went in for the dreaded process. The plan was to go to their office early in the morning and feed her rice cereal throughout the day under the doctor's supervision to see how she would react. She was not allowed to eat or drink anything else all day. She is addicted to milk so I think that was the part I was most nervous about! She would also have to have an IV port as a precautionary measure.
I was SO grateful to have my mom there with me all day to help us out, along with plenty of new toys to keep her distracted! They started with putting the IV in, which was a disaster. She apparently has "rolly veins" so they had a really hard time getting it to go in and had to try several different places as she was screaming her head off. But the nurses were AMAZING and so helpful. After a while and a lot of blood, they finally got it!
That was for sure the hardest part. Next, she received the first feeding of rice cereal. She HATED it. She is typically a super slow eater and it has to be HER idea to eat. But since we were on a strict time schedule with the feedings, she had to eat a certain amount of food in a certain amount of time. So we had to hold her down and force it down her throat. But other than that, she was a champ all day!! She played with her new toys . . .
AND took a nap (miracle) . . .
They even had a little TV in the room we were in so she was able to relax and watch some new movies!
We were there until 5pm and she had NO reaction!! WOOHOO!!!! So after that we were able to start incorporating rice into her diet. We will have to go back in February to do this all over again with oats to be able to give her any other grains, but the rice is a great start!
Overall, the food challenge was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Her doctor is amazing and the entire staff was just wonderful! Their office is in a section of the Dell Children's Hospital complex in Austin. Spending just 5 minutes in the lobby of their building made me realize how blessed we have been to have such a healthy little girl. My heart was aching for the other families there that have to deal with serious medical issues on a regular basis. I need to always remember them in my prayers, especially this holiday season!