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A Determined Mother

Stephanie G. Downs
Littleton CO USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 9, July-August 2002, p. 129

I am a full-time working mother with two boys: Colin, born February 1997, and Christopher, born July 2000. My husband is a kindergarten teacher and director of a child care center. We live in Littleton, Colorado, USA and I work for the federal government. I was able to stay home with both boys for 12 weeks to firmly establish our nursing. At the time Colin was born, many articles were beginning to appear in the press about the benefits of nursing your child to age one, so that became my goal. Both boys were in child care centers close enough to me that I could still happily nurse them at lunch, but I sent expressed milk for the rest of the day. While at work I was lucky enough to have a "pump room" with a government-supplied breast pump.

At 11-and-a-half months, Colin abruptly stopped nursing. He absolutely refused the breast, and we moved on to cow's milk. When Christopher was born, I was eager to begin nursing my second child.

At around eight months, I allowed Christopher to taste some cheese from my pizza. Within 15 minutes, his face was red and blotchy. I was perplexed. A week later, he ate some noodles with Parmesan cheese in child care, and his entire face was covered in hives within minutes. He was tested by an allergist, and sure enough, he had a significant milk and egg allergy. My first child's diet, as of age one, had primarily consisted of cow's milk and scrambled eggs. I knew we had to find another way to provide adequate nutrition for Christopher. I immediately changed my diet to avoid any transfer of allergens through my milk and learned to cook using soymilk.

A few months after our diet changes, I managed to lose 15 pounds and Christopher was still nursing and doing great. I was getting a little worn out by the pumping so when Christopher was about 14 months old, I stopped using the pump and he began drinking soymilk during the day when he was away from me.

As if working full-time and breastfeeding a toddler weren't enough, we also have the challenge of keeping a highly allergic child "safe" from foods in a child care center toddler room! Christopher is now 19 months old and I provide all of his food, snacks, and soymilk while he is at the child care center. He nurses every morning and evening, and several times during the day on weekends. He is also co-sleeping with my husband and me so he can nurse during the night. At 19 months old, his nursing habits remain similar to how he was as a seven-month-old.

Frequent nursing hasn't fazed me in the slightest because I know how healthy he is and I believe the human milk will help him outgrow his allergies. Statistics indicate that most children will outgrow their dairy allergies by age three, so that has become our new goal for breastfeeding. So far, Christopher is happy to comply. The combination of extended breastfeeding and a careful diet plan, combined with a determined mother, has ensured a healthy toddler!

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