I've been trawling the internet looking for useful information, but I really seem to be drawing a blank.
Given the fabulously supportive network of people on Twitter and in the blogging community, I'm really hoping someone might be able to help me out - our GP has been worse than useless.
Ruby was an absolute dream of a baby right up until she was 6 months old. She slept all night, was happy and very alert. I breast-fed her but she had a bottle of Aptimil formula at night.
At 6 months I weaned her, and she started with the usual mush. The very first 'food' that passed her lips was a Petits Filous which she LOVED. Generally a good eater, she enjoyed fruit and veg, scrambled egg, cheese pasta etc etc.
But from around this age, it all went wrong. She practically never slept through the night again (at 4 and a half she still doesn't sleep through every night). She was wingey and winy and cried a lot more than she ever used to.
Admittedly, around this time lots of things are happening, not just the transition onto solid food. She started teething - each and every tooth was a nightmare, and she got very ill with each one. She became more aware of her surroundings and this is typically where separation anxiety starts up.
I carried on breast-feeding her at bedtime up until her 1st birthday.
Ruby has always had a big 'round' tummy. Even as a tiny breast-fed baby, she had what looked like a beer belly. I mentioned it to several doctors and health visitors along the way, and they told me this was 'normal ' even though none of my friends babies or my nieces and nephews - in fact no other baby I knew - had a belly quite like this!
And so we carried on. With sleepless nights, endless runny noses and night time coughing. We went to the doctor who dismissed it - children are always picking up bugs so it was probably one cold after another I was told.
I went back again and said her nose NEVER stops running and her coughing is keeping her awake at night - could it be an allergy? Could we get her tested? At which point we were prescribed some anti-histamine. It cleared up a bit.
By the age of 2 and a half, Ruby was complaining of a tummy ache. Back to the doctors. 'Nothing to worry about.'
By the age of 3, she was complaining of tummy ache not quite every day, but very often. One day I was phoned by nursery to say she was huddled in the toilet crying so much because her tummy hurt. I took her straight to the Health Centre.
She was poked and prodded. I was asked whether she vomits. How is her poo? Because she was neither sick, nor had constipation/diarrhoea I was told it was 'unlikely to be anything - probably just growing pains'.
Off we went.
The sleepless nights continued. She'd thrash about at night, crying out in her sleep, scratching furiously - or wake with inconsolable tears.
Several more times we went to the GP. Each time we were sent away. On our last visit, the doctor sent her out of the room. She asked me lots of questions about her general behaviour (rather than her health) and basically told me she was probably having me on. This was more than likely attention seeking.
I was told to ignore her complaints of tummy ache for one month.
I felt like a monster. She'd be clutching her stomach, pleading "but Mummy it REALLY hurts. It hurts all the time, deep inside my tummy".
Ruby had been having milk at night time right up to now (aged 4). Frankly, with such erratic sleep, I was too scared to change her routine, so stuck with what I knew would send her off. At age 4, she accepted she was 'a big girl now' and didn't need a bottle of milk at bedtime.
Instead she'd take water to bed - she still wanted the comfort of a bottle/beaker to hold. But her sleep improved. We'd get maybe 4 nights a week where she'd sleep through. We no longer had so much of that crazy thrashing in the night, the runny nose and the cough.
It was only one night, when she'd asked me for some cereal before bed that I pulled all this together in my head. That night, after a bowlful of cereal with milk, she was back to her old self - thrashing about, scratching madly at her skin, crying, waking up.
This was about 3 weeks into the 'ignoring her' phase and I decided enough was enough.
It struck me like a lightening bolt that maybe she had an allergy to milk. After lots of conversations on Twitter, and some Googling, I felt it was unlikely (due to her age) that she was lactose intolerant, but maybe she as intolerant or allergic to cow's milk protein.
Se we tried our own diet experiment, totally cutting out cow's milk from her diet. This was a challenge - she tried and didn't like - soya milk; rice milk; almond milk; goat's milk; hazelnut milk. We finally settled on buffalo milk - which didn't seem to have any adverse effects on her, but is devilishly hard to find in the shops!
She loves goat's cheese and butter so that's fine.
However, after not being able to get hold of buffalo milk for a few days, we tried again with goat's milk. She'll drink it, but within a few hours she was complaining of a tummy ache - the first time in 6 weeks since we cut out cow's milk. Sorry - this may be too much information - but her poo has changed too in the last 2 days of goat's milk. Although not diarrhoea, it's not 'formed' properly and is broken into lots of little bits if that makes sense.
It may also be relevant that she always had peculiar smelling breath - kind of yeasty? That's now gone too.
Is it possible that she can be ok with goat's milk products (yoghurt, cheese etc) but not the actual milk?
At age 4 and a half, how much dairy does she still need in her diet?
Where do we turn next? Am I going to have to face the GP again and tell her what we've discovered? Can I insist on a test?
Please help if you have any experience of allergies or in tolerances because I don't know where to turn. x