A mom has described the moment she “burst into tears” after her baby finally slept the whole night, after months of anguish resulting from an allergy to formula.
Yet businesswoman Dee Tran’s story took one more turn when she decided to share a video to social media chronicling how her son Oscar’s anguish ended after he began consuming breast milk donated by a friend.
Within hours, Tran was contacted privately by fellow moms from across her native Australia and beyond offering breast milk donations.
Around 83.2 percent of infants born in the U.S. will be breastfed at some point in their lives, according to the CDC. Of those who are not, multiple factors can play a role in parents opting to seek out alternative methods.
Lactation and latching issues, concerns over a mother’s medication or worries about infant nutrition and weight gain are key considerations. Some also face unsupportive work policies or lack the necessary parental leave.
Tran told Newsweek her situation was a little more complex. “I run my own fashion e-commerce company and having maternity leave was something I never had the luxury of,” she said. “After giving birth through an emergency C-section, I soon found myself back at work after a few weeks of recovery. I tried so hard to breastfeed and pump in-between as everyone had recommended, however due to the operation and stress, I wasn’t producing enough.”
Despite persevering, she began to supplement her milk with bottles of formula to ensure Oscar was well fed. However, after about a month she began to notice his skin was “flaring up” with what looked like baby acne.
When she initially took him to a doctor, she was told it was likely eczema. Then one day, around two months later, she said Oscar began to break out in hives and was coughing and vomiting.”We rushed him into the hospital and that’s when we found out that he had a dairy allergy,” she said. “The pediatrician prescribed us with a formula for his allergies. The doctors said this is a common allergy and that he may grow out of it one day.”
‘Sleep Deprived, Stressed and Helpless’
By now the stress of the situation, coupled with the pandemic, owning a business and the fact Tran was already busy raising two more boys under the age of 3 was taking its toll: she was struggling to produce milk. “My body simply wasn’t responding,” she said.
Having decided to wean Oscar off breast milk entirely, Tran was horrified when, after his first full day on the allergy formula, her son’s body began to swell up again. “He couldn’t stop scratching and crying in pain as he bled and his skin wept,” she said.
Another emergency visit to the hospital followed, with Oscar prescribed a rice-based formula but eventually the same problems began to arise.
“Oscar broke out once again worse than ever. His sleep was terrible, waking up four to five times each night since birth. We thought that maybe he was just a difficult sleeper,” she said.
Tran said the situation left her “sleep deprived, stressed and helpless.” More formulas were tried out but each time, around the 10 day mark his skin would break out again.
She said it was around this time that “the regret of giving up breastfeeding him” began to really hit hard, with Tran unfairly blaming herself for what had happened.
Then one day, at a kid’s party, while telling a group of moms what had been happening, one of the women who had had a baby around the same age suggested giving him a bottle of her own freshly pumped breast milk.
“I was hesitant at first, but I just wanted Oscar to feel full and happy again,” she said. “After that day I did my research and looked into donated breast milk. I remember thinking that it’s so weird for him to be drinking someone else’s breast milk.”
The CDC notes that “very few illnesses are transmitted via breast milk” and while the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Food and Drug Administration recommend avoiding internet-based milk sharing sites, milk banks are available to those in need.
Tran’s situation was different. For one thing she knew the donor personally so, when she offered her a freezer stash of breast milk, Tran did not hesitate in saying yes. What followed changed everything.
‘It’s Okay To Get Help’
“For the first time since birth, he finally had baby skin, soft, supple, bouncy and clear. He finally slept through the night for the first time in his life,” she said. “I remember I burst into tears when I saw my happy little baby again. I became determined to try and find him milk whilst looking for a longer-term alternative.”
That was when she began to post videos on social media telling her son’s story. The footage blew up, racking up millions of views on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.
“I was flooded with messages from moms offering to help,” she said. “From that day onwards, we drove around Sydney picking up milk on a weekly basis from moms. Sometimes we’d get three to four bags and other times we would get 40 bags.”
Tran said she “couldn’t be more grateful to all the moms that have helped and continue to help us.” She said that they still don’t know why Oscar can’t drink formula but at 15 months old he’s got his smile back. Tran said she hoped sharing her story on social media would send a message to any moms out there who might be going through the same thing.
“You’re not less of a mom just because you couldn’t make your own milk to feed your baby and it’s okay to get help,” she said. “At the end of the day, all babies deserve to be healthy and happy.”
How To Tell if Your Newborn Is Allergic to Formula
An allergy to formula or, more specifically, a cows’ milk allergy can be indicated by a variety of symptoms.
These include skin reactions like an itchy rash or swelling of the face, lips, or around the eyes. Stomach aches, vomiting, colic, diarrhea or constipation can also be an indicator along with hay fever-like symptoms like a runny or blocked nose. An eczema-like skin condition that does not improve with treatment can also be an indicator.
More severe allergic symptoms include swelling in the mouth or throat, wheezing, a cough, shortness of breath, and generally difficult, noisy breathing.
If you have a family dilemma, let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.
The post Mom Overwhelmed by Strangers’ Kindness After Baby Develops Formula Allergy appeared first on Newsweek.