When we switched to a real food formula I told myself that I would only go back to Elecare if Juliana's symptoms were noticeably worse. Even if her symptoms were exactly the same, I would continue to choose the real food formula over the 55% corn syrup solids formula.
Those first few days on raw milk formula were great. No reflux! No diarrhea! She was sleeping well and seemed happy and comfortable. And, an amazing development - she started drinking from a straw!
But then we experienced a brand new problem... constipation. Pasteurized milk can cause constipation but raw milk shouldn't. Apparently Juliana's little system just isn't recovered to a point where it can handle a diet of mostly milk. For some time I have suspected that she has low bile production and this constipation issue has helped confirm that thought. Per the suggestion of a knowledgeable Weston A. Price leader I started using raw milk kefir as the base of the formula. That helped but only a little bit. Fresh carrot juice also helped but not to the point of solving the problem.
I was in limbo for several weeks considering my next step. Go back to Elecare? Not an option. Go to the liver-based formula instead? I had a list of excuses and reasons why I didn't want to do that: she has only one safe meat right now (lamb). The liver formula is so, so much more work to make. I like knowing the exact amount of calories in the milk formula, whereas with the liver formula it feels a little less certain. I liked that she was quickly gaining weight on the milk formula.
On the other hand, constipation wasn't acceptable. So on 12/1 I made my first batch of lamb liver formula. Very quickly Juliana was no longer constipated. Still mourning the loss of the milk/kefir formula, I decided to add it back in. She now gets 50% liver formula and 50% milk/kefir formula. For awhile this seemed to be the perfect ratio of ingredients....
But now I am not as sure. Juliana has a bit of eczema on her cheeks and that really concerns me. It's popped up just in the past week or so. She's pooping just a bit too much. She has a small diaper rash but I don't like the looks of it. A typical mom might not pay much attention to these things, but to me they are red flags. I don't know if these are possible die-off/detox reactions or if they are indeed a food allergy. In either case I suspect the lamb. She was on raw milk formula alone for over three weeks and in that time she did not have any eczema or any diaper rash.
One interesting item of note: she likes her lamb formula very, very much. In fact it's not uncommon for her to finish a whole bottle of it! She doesn't like her kefir formula as much, I think because the kefir is so sour. I think this could be an important clue because the lamb must not bother her stomach if she is so willing to drink it.
So... we're getting there but we're not there. I can't call anything a complete success when she has eczema, even if it is a very small patch. Same deal with the poops (I pay an inordinate amount of attention to poop!)
I am still contemplating my next steps. We are in a decent position right now but we still haven't arrived at a real food baseline. I think that once we get to that point I will be able to push her in the direction of eating all of her food orally. I am eager to get to that point and hopeful that we are close.