Monday, January 31, 2011

Dairy, soy, reflux, and sleepless nights: ADIOS!

     Way back at Carter's 2 month appointment, I mentioned that perhaps something I was eating was causing all of Carter's reflux issues.  The doctor assured me that if he was having a reaction to something I was eating, he would have rashes, stomach pains (he was still a fairly happy spitter at this point), and mucousy poo.  (Gross, right?)  I agreed that he really didn't have those symptoms.  She offered to give me a milk-free diet information sheet...I declined.  I mean, he didn't have the symptoms.  Right?
     Fast forward to mid-December.  Eczema on head gets worse.  I assume it's bad cradle cap.  Tons of babies get that.  He starts writhing and becoming a little ninja while trying to nurse.  I assume he's being impatient because things aren't as quick as they once were and he's more impatient than he once was.  He stops sleeping through the night...I assume that the holiday schedule has him wonky, we need to eliminate the paci, he wants to chew his fingers and we should wean off the swaddle....you name it...I tried it.  There were lots of good reasons for his crazy behavior.  It all seemed unrelated.  So, fast-forward to his appointment at 4 months.  We decide to up his reflux meds from Zantac to Prevacid.  I assume this will help the night issues, which I have decided are gas/tummy related.  Whew.  Peace is coming right?  Wrong.  Nights still stink.  I am getting desperate.  We have been up at least every hour after midnight since mid-December.  I am getting TIRED and I want my little "sleep-through-the-night" and "smile-during-the-day-baby" BACK!  I call the lactation consultant about it being related to foods in my diet.  She assures me it's not.  I call the nurse at our pediatrician's office.  She assures me it's not.  (To their credit, I didn't really tell them about his green poo or head eczema because I already knew what was causing that.  Bummer on me.  They also didn't specifically ask...bummer on them.)  I'm at a loss.  Finally, while I am changing him one night, I notice that there is a red, sandpapery bump on the back of his arm...in fact, there are also little red dots on his back.  Not many...but a few.  And the bump on the back of his arm looks a lot like these two little bumps on his cheeks.  Could that be a rash?
     This was the moment it came together for me.  If that was a rash...then it could be related to the rash on his head.  If all that was eczema...and I counted his poop characteristics (which I'm sure you don't need details about) in as symptoms...he had classic MPI symptoms.  (Milk Protein Intolerance)  I am so grateful for forums that educated me about this...or I would have ever known.  I spent that evening rocking Carter to sleep and reading about MPI on my favorite forum: http://www.babywhispererforums.com/  They had a whole section on MPI...and whoa.  I was certain by the time I laid him in the crib.  I called the dr's office that morning and told them I'd really like them to test for blood in his stool to confirm a food intolerance/allergy.  They told me to bring in 3 dirties...and before you know it I was in the dr's office, waiting for results.  
     And I was right.  So...I have cut dairy out of my diet.  My "gallon a week" is gone...along with cheeses, butter, and all the hidden dairy that are in breads, bagels, cereals, sauces, chocolate (except Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips...thank you Jesus!) and the million other things that strangely have dairy in them.  I also learned through reading, and later my pediatrician, that 30-40% of children who are intolerant/allergic to the protein in cow milk are intolerant/allergic to soy.  So....I decided to go ahead and cut out soy as well.  If you want to know what has soy in it, pretty much circle the entire middle section of your grocery store.  If it's processed, it totally has soy in it.  My plan is to get Carter feeling great (it takes about 2 weeks to get all the dairy/soy out of my system...and then another 2 to get it out of Carter's) and then see if I can reintroduce some hidden soy (soy lecithin and soy oil are in EVERYTHING and sometimes don't bother people with soy allergies...especially through breastmilk)...and then possibly soy.  My prayer is that the milk is the offender instead of some remote thing I'll have to figure out through random elimination.  If things aren't better by week 4, I'll need to go on a really restricted diet and introduce things in slowly.  (Allergy tests are really unreliable when babies are this little.  There are a lot of false positives and negatives...not really helpful.  So...they basically just let you know your baby has a food allergy by looking at symptoms and testing for blood in their dirty diaper.  If this is there, they usually recommend cutting dairy since this is the most likely offender.  If it's not that, they help you try to figure out what it is through an elimination diet.)  The elimination diet would begin around the time that we would be introducing solids...so that would kind of be a mess.  I wouldn't really know if the new solid was causing a reaction...or the food I was adding to my diet...so we'd have to put off solids...which I don't really want to do past 6 months.  So...it would be nice if it's not something random!

     Here are some amazing positives to this whole experience:
  • I have new hope for helping Carter feel better.  There is nothing like hope when you are just stumped about why your child isn't sleeping and why he's writhing while you're feeding him.  Hope makes working through those problems totally doable.  
  • Things do seem to be getting better.  He has been spitting up like it's his job the past two days...but really seems to be happier, overall.  That makes my heart SING.  I just hope we continue to see improvement over the next weeks.  My prayer is that the intolerance is just to milk and that we won't have to keep experimenting!  I don't mind cutting things out, but I want him to feel better yesterday!
  • We didn't eat a ton of processed food before.  Cutting it out isn't that big of a deal.  At first, cutting soy and dairy out seemed extremely daunting and I wasn't sure what I was going to eat!  Now, I am getting a lot better at reading dairy and soy code on nutrition labels (why can't they just put...milk...stop with the code!) A lot of the things we ate before...I can still eat.  Just...not my gallon of milk or my millions of ounces of cheese.  Or...ok....my chocolate.  (Again, yay Ghiradelli!)
  • I have such a supportive group of people around me.  I have had the most precious messages from friends who have walked or are walking through the same experiences.  They're sending me what they have already learned...helping me know what is safe.  Mama has looked up recipes for me and forwarded websites my way.  Steven doesn't eat all the things I do miss in front of me, choosing to eat along with my modified diet, for the most part.  I mean, he can have cheese on his meals and have real milk in his cereal.  But, he's not asking for separate meals....even though I'm eating a million vegetables...which he doesn't so much love.  
  • There are tons of foods I can still eat!  Really yummy foods.  And it's probably a lot healthier.  This is the diet you seriously can't cheat on! :)
     The only real and significant bummer is going over to people's houses and eating out.  It's just kind of difficult.  So...if I have to bring my own food to dinner....you'll know why.  It's just difficult to find food in restaurants that is soy free.  And it's hard to ask someone to cook a meal without dairy or soy...they'd have to do so much research...and I don't mind bringing my own.  :)

     So anyway, that's the down low on the whole dairy/soy-free diet.  What I'm taking away from this is...my "Mama instinct" is a God-given breath of wisdom in my heart.  I really would have never pushed this issue on my own.  The Holy Spirit literally kept bringing it to my mind, urging me to re-think...even when the idea had been shot down several times.  I need to trust my "Mama instinct" as a really reliable source when talking to the doctor.  Our pediatrician is AMAZING.  She really is patient, really listens to what I say (i.e. did the allergy test even when she didn't think that was the problem...because I thought it was) and is very, very smart.  However, she doesn't get to observe Carter all day/every day like I do.  I am the ultimate source of information about my baby boy.  That means I am responsible for the brunt of the research/notetaking/work of keeping him healthy.  I am his advocate.  
 
     So...since our entire world is not actually revolving around dairy and soy (well..ok it has a little, but there are other things going on!) I'll move along.

     I got a message a few weeks ago about making "Moby" wraps for a friend for her to give to her family/friends for shower gifts.  She was looking for a wrap, tied up, with some instructions.  Here's what I made:







     The "C" is her last initial (so she can use it with other children")  It's just a simple tactile point of reference that shows her where the middle point is for wrapping purposes.  It needed to be simple so that the stitches didn't compromise the integrity of the fabric as it stretched with the baby's weight.  I was really happy with the way it turned out.  It's a light, "t-shirt" material...and a fun, bright, hide-baby-stains color!  I've got four more in the works for her.  (She's got a lot of friends with babies on the way!)  I love sharing the wrap.  Such a simple lifesaver!  It is literally the thing I use the very most.  I mean, I might use the Moby as much as I use diapers.  (slight TL exaggeration there...but not a big one!)

     As another update, Steven and I are getting involved with a new ministry that is starting up in our church.  We are working to help form a "Lifeline" to support our missionaries.  The fear our church has is that we are "sending" missionaries financially and with some prayer, but are missing intentional care for them.  Because no one is specifically focused on each missionary family, we fear that needs are going unmet, prayer requests are going unheard, and the things God is doing are not being proclaimed in our congregation.  So...the plan is to assign each missionary family to a family on our Lifeline team.  Each family on this team in committed to "sending" our missionary in a manner "worthy of God" by staying in touch through e-mail, sending care packages, intentional prayer, communicating needs and joys from the missionaries to the church family, facilitating/networking for them on the homefront when specific needs arise...etc.  We are so excited about this!  Steven and I have always felt a call to missions...but so far, have never felt the specific call to go overseas.  For now, this is our calling.  To support missionaries in their work...that our hands will help theirs do His work.  We are so blessed to be a part of this ministry...and are so grateful to have a church who is committed to those who work with the "least among us".  

     Small "Carter milestones" update.  Lately, when he's nursing, he get's super distracted and bends all out of shape.  (Please get better with the dairy/soy free diet!)  He wriggles and archs...and generally spends a ton of time not eating.  However, I've noticed that holding his free hand in mine at least helps the situation.  He puts his hand in mine...and everything just gets calmer.  It makes me smile.  :)  I like holding hands with my sweet boy.  He's getting stronger and stronger...sitting up by himself a little better each day.  He is also kicking and trying to pull to a standing position every time I hold his arms or hands.  Oh...but the best thing is his laughing. It used to take a small circus to get him going.  Now...all I have to do is run my fingers over his ribs, and I can play that baby like a piano.  He laughs and laughs....even sometimes with just a little "weeee" while driving his stroller.  He's such a joy!  One little giggle from his lips sends Steven and I reeling.  We're pretty in love, I'd say :)

     More pictures coming soon.  Baby dedication and lots of family in a couple weeks.  Hopefully, a healthier/dairy and soy free baby coming in the next weeks.  I'm definitely hoping more running since we were totally de-railed by the colds and really sleepless nights lately.  I hate that we've gone downhill a little in our running.  I am totally going to have a non-improved time in our next 5k coming soooooon on March 5th.  I mean...I hope I can even run the thing in 30 mins.  Sigh.  Oh well...I'm just going to be thankful that I can run a 5k...at least we haven't backslidden past that point!  Also coming soon...my first "quarter of a century" birthday.  I like birthdays.  I don't mind getting older...I mean...why fight it?  What can you do?  (I may have a new attitude about this once I'm out of my twenties...but for now... :))  Aaaaand, I can have Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  Have I mentioned that?  I think the next few weeks are looking very wonderful indeed :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We're still here...

I haven't been updating as much as I would like...and I really don't have time right now.  However, on my list of things I'd like to get done, blogging sounded the easiest.

Carter has a little cold right now.  What a bummer!  Steven had the exact same cold last week and was SO careful not to give it to Carter, but...it seems he got it anyway.  His little nose is just full of snot (cute, right?) and his cry is hoarse.  He's also got a little cough that I'm watching carefully.  Luckily, no fever, but that is being monitored too, much to his despair.  Actually, having his temperature taken is a much happier affair than when I go after his nose with the syringe.  Wow.  He HATES that.  I've used saline drops and sat in the steamy bathroom to help loosen things up.  I think it's helping, but he definitely does not enjoy the process!  I am really hoping he feels better soon!  His whole disposition tells me that he isn't feeling his best.

Since before Christmas, our sweet boy has been waking on the hour after midnight till morning.  Of course, this was even BEFORE the cold.  You can imagine what the last few nights have been like!  Anyway, it has been the craziest mystery trying to figure out what is going on.  Interestingly enough, his days have really been coming together.  He's done a super job of going to sleep independently in his crib, napping around the same times each day...just really hitting a stride in his daily schedule.  But at night...at night, the whole world crumbles.  I've spent the past weeks trying to figure out what in the world was going on.  I'm certain you don't want to read this whole process blow by blow, but I think I've figured out that he just can't transition through each sleep cycle to the next without having his pacifier...which keeps falling out of his mouth.  So...after the cold is gone...it's going to be time to wean the pacifier away.  I'm not against pacifiers, but I am if they require me to get out of bed every hour.  We'll see how it goes.  I've been working today just a little during naptimes, and he seems to be okay with it so far.  After the cold is gone, hopefully we can teach him to sleep without that pacifier and be back to dreamy nights!  Although I am sure teething will have something to say about that when it comes along.

Another thing that may very well be keeping our little one up is the amount of growing he is doing!  He is really developing muscles now!  He is finally getting that little thumb around things, making him great at grabbing what is in front of him.  All that is in front of him then gets a free ride to his mouth!  He is drooling up a storm and gumming everything in sight.  I keep waiting for a tooth to pop through...but none yet!  He's also really working those "crawling muscles"....he looks like he could scoot along if he could just get traction!  It's quite funny to watch.  He is still rolling from tummy to back...but I think he's getting ready to start rolling from back to tummy.  When he's on the changing table, he will look directly back, arching his back and balancing on his little head and tilt one way or the other.  Talk about a new level of diligence at the changing table!  He's  a curious, fun little man, trying to fill all his schemas about the world around him!

Picture break:

 Trying to wiggle out of the Bumbo.  I love this face.

 Such a happy little guy!  

Two happy guys! :)

In other news, I gave a seminar for the 2011 student teachers in Clemson this week.  It had been rescheduled in a last minute sort of way because of the snow, so I ended up giving the seminar with Carter in the Moby.  Have I mentioned how much I love that thing?  He was sooooo good.  He smiled and cooed at all the girls (and the few boys that were there :) ) and then went right to sleep.  Ah......thank you baby!  It was a lot of fun for me to give the seminar.  I enjoyed being with the students, talking about teaching...and introducing Carter to Clemson!  

Also, Carter has outgrown almost all his swaddles that velcro shut...but totally can't handle sleeping without one yet.  I know he can't be swaddled until adulthood, but the swaddles above are sold at buy buy Baby and are amazing.  You can check them out here.  (No, they aren't paying me to say this...not that type of blog...I just really like them!)  They are huge...so I can wrap him in them without him being able to get free...AND they are muslin so they are super soft and very light.  I am wrapping him a little more loosely every day so that eventually he can go to spend the night at his friends' houses without needing their mother to wrap him in a sheet before bed :)  

Even when I don't update often, I feel like I am sometimes guilty of "over-updating" this thing.  I mean, how much of our lives could anyone possibly want to read about?  However, I did want to share one thing I've been learning about lately as a new mom.  Our church is reading through the Bible in a year together.  I've done this before, and I love how the Lord always shows us new things through His Spirit when we read the Bible.  So, I've been reading in Genesis and I kept noticing a recurring trend.  Parents keep trying to control and manipulate things and people so that their children can have a better life.  Sarah didn't trust that the Lord was going to give her a child as He had promised, so she gave Abraham her maidservant.  Eventually, the child that came from this lack of faith became a thorn in Israel's side.  Later, Rebekah didn't trust that her favorite child would be treated fairly by Issac, so she convinced her son to sin so that he could steal his brother's birthright and blessing.  Laban, concerned that his daughter would not find a husband to love her, tricked Jacob into marrying both his daughters, who lived in contention with one another their entire married lives.  Jacob ends up leaving in deceit, and Laban didn't get to see his daughters again.  Over and over, these parents led their children in sin in an effort to protect them.  Over and over, this created negative consequences for their children.  I want Carter to have a blessed life just like these parents wanted for their children.  I am begging God that He will give me the wisdom to help Carter follow Christ in obedience instead of manipulating situations for his short-term benefit.  I know this isn't going to be natural.  But I am praying that God will give me enough grace to do what is supernatural as Carter's mother- to put his entire life in Christ's hands and trust Him completely.

Last thing (I promise)...I stink at memorizing Scripture.  I always have.  I just have trouble with it.  Recently, I have committed to memorizing one verse per week.  I am studying it, putting it around the house where I can see it consistently...and even making songs with the words.  The songs are totally ridiculous, but they help me remember the promises!  One of the last verses I memorized was Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted."  The word "snare" is the type of trap that would be in the woods to catch small animals.  A trap that would be unexpected.  And yet, the word "brings" is a word that implies it happens every time...like cause and effect.  When we fear man, a trap WILL come, but not necessarily where or when we would expect it.  Like when people ask me how I do certain things with Carter, I can become defensive, fearing they will think the way I do it is wrong.  Or I can go to the other extreme, wanting to do it just the way "everyone else" does so "they" will think I'm a good mom.  The word "man" here can mean both mankind and individuals.  I don't want a fear of what "everyone" thinks...or a fear of what specific friends or family members will feel about me to shape my parenting!  I want my parenting decisions to be based on the wisdom that Steven and I find in our dependence on Christ!  And here is the precious promise: "...he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted."  The word exalted means, "put in a high, safe place".  Not necessarily a place of honor, but a place where we are safe in Christ.  When I look to God for my value as a mother, He will never fail to make me safe.  I am so glad, because no matter how I feel in the middle of the night when Carter just won't stop waking up...and I CAN'T figure out what is wrong, the truth remains that God has put me in a high place where the traps that come from the opinions of others or myself can't get me.  Praise Jesus!
*sidenote: This is absolutely not directed at any one person or group of people.  Actually, almost everyone in my life is so good about giving me advice without telling me what I should or shouldn't be doing.  I am just insecure and prideful enough to base my mothering on what I think people will think.  Just so you know.  I like advice!

Okay...that is a lot of reading.  I'm going to try to keep up a little better, but I can't make any promises.  I have a sweet baby to play with!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let it snow and snow and snow and snow and snow.........

Carter will look back at pictures of his first winter and WISH he would have been aware enough to play in it!  Our house is a winter wonderland...I don't know exactly how much we got, but it was a lot!  We have had so much fun today snuggling, snacking and watching movies...as well as getting caught up on some laundry.  Hey...you have to do some grown-up things on occasion!






Our little snow angel had a great day...and we did too!  I don't know what beginner crawling looks like, but Carter was doing some funny pre-crawling moves today involving pushing his little bottom way up in the air to try to get his legs folded underneath him!  Unfortunately for him, he also pulls his arms back so his chest/face is flat on the ground at the same time.  Not going to be crawling anytime super soon, but it's fun to see him progress and grow.  

Enjoy the snow...and don't drive!  Here in the South, our roads aren't prepped and we don't know how to drive properly.  And even if you do, someone else on the road with you probably doesn't!  Snuggle in and enjoy hot chocolate and snowmen!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Whirlwinds of snow and schedules!

     It's looking pretty gray here...I'm excited about the coming snow.  I'm especially excited that I don't have to go out in it if I don't want to.  I know that, in a few years, I will be out happily making snowmen, refereeing snowball fights, and taking pictures of beautiful snow angels.  However, this year I will be snuggled in with my two favorite boys, preserving my warm toes!
     Carter went to his four month visit on Wednesday.  He is a healthy, healthy boy!  He weighed 14 lbs, 1 oz and measured 25.5 inches, putting him in the 31st percentile for weight and the 77th for height.  He's long and lean like....well, not Steven or me...but like a few members of our family!

(If you were circling the thing that doesn't belong in this picture featuring long and lean people...guess who would get the circle?)

     I talked to the doctor some more about Carter's worsening reflux, and she recommended switching from Zantac to Prevacid.  We are making the transition this week, taking less and less Zantac while the Prevacid gets into his system.  I think it's helping.  It's so hard to know what exactly is going on his his little system!  The doctor did tell me she didn't think it was related to anything I was eating and to continue keeping him elevated after feedings and at night.  Hopefully the Prevacid will help him feel so much better.  I can't stand the thought of his tummy hurting all the time!
     While we were on a pretty awesome schedule before Christmas, the holidays blasted that to pieces and left us with happy memories and some work to do on our routine.  So far, he has seemingly lost all interest in finishing meals and is more concerned with playing all day so that he can eat at night.  No.  Fun.  But, it's all a season, and before I know it, he'll be sleeping through the night again.  I am so blessed that I can rest during the day sometimes if we've had a particularly grueling night, and I certainly don't take that for granted.  I am just praying that we will soon rediscover eating full meals during the day so all of us can sleep through the night happily again!
     The doctor also said that Carter was "remarkably strong", especially in his trunk.  That made me proud, though I know I have quite little to do with it!  He is very strong through!  He is not the least bit interested in crawling at this point, still hating everything that has to do with being on his tummy.  He mostly just pulls his arms back by his side, lifts his little bottom in the air, and then starts crying for me to PICK HIM UP...please.    He is VERY interested, however, in sitting up.  And pulling up.  He LOVES to sit on his bottom and pull up on our hands to a standing position.  He can't sit up by himself yet, but he does like to sit up with us balancing his little bottom so he doesn't fall over.  I think he likes being able to see as well as using his muscles!  He is also starting to reach out and take things with his hands.  Hair, jewelry, spoons, cups, toys...if it catches his eye, those pudgy fingers are going for it!  It's fun to see how his motor skills are improving every day.  You can SEE his little mind working so hard!  Another big favorite of his these days is playing with his toes.  He pulls those feet up to his face with his hands and just wiggles and stares.  Especially while I am changing his diaper!  You can imagine that those two activities aren't really complimentary.  Talking is another favorite hobby, from cooing and gabbing to shrieks, he loves to hear his voice...I have no idea who that sounds like.  Perhaps Steven?
     It feels like we just haven't slowed down one bit since Christmas, hence the rather neglected blog.  I want to share and record our memories, but I also really do have to do laundry or we will have to resort to using dish cloths to dry off from our showers!  Steven is starting a bible study for men on Monday nights tomorrow (unless, of course, it is canceled due to snow, which I anticipate), I am speaking at a seminar in Clemson for student teachers on Thursday while Carter hangs with his very special Aunt Susanna, and we're both involved in a new ministry at our church to support the missionaries that our church has sent to the mission field.  Steven is in AP school for work, so he is trying to be a good student and study.  I am trying to restore some order in our lives after the holiday rush, and Carter's baby dedication is coming up at church.  We are also trying to pick up our running schedule.  It is so hard to get out and run when it gets dark in the middle of the afternoon.  I don't even mind the cold so much as the busyness that just makes it impossible.  However, we are signed up for a 5K in downtown Greenville at the beginning of March, and I have a significant fear that my parents, who have been running together for the past few months and are signed up for the same 5k, are going to kick my little, half-their-age fanny.  Darn pride.  Must-keep-running-to-KEEP-UP-with-Mom!  AND we are both trying to make sure we don't miss one minute of this precious season of our lives.  It's kind of hard work trying not to miss anything!
     I think the most important thing I am learning right now is making Carter my ministry focus.  I think I feel the need and desire to serve others with my time and resources now that I am home full-time, which I think is good.  However, my main ministry is raising my sweet son.  Right now, that is a full-time job.  Literally.  And it doesn't begin at a certain time in the morning or end at any particular time of the night.  It's not particularly glamorous, but I am the one chosen specifically for the task...and no one can do it quite like I can.  Because I was chosen to be Carter's mom and Steven's wife, I am perfectly equipped for these tasks.  One day, I will have more time again to serve others outside of my family in a more significant way.  But for now, I keep reminding myself to stay focused on what's important and reminding myself that everything will get put away when we are retired and have less to do!
     I actually haven't taken any pictures to update here since the last blog...but we will have some snow pictures, I bet, by tomorrow.  I will try to take the time to update!

PS: I used Fed-Ex's site, www.blurb.com, to publish a book with all of the blogs I wrote during my pregnancy to give to Carter one day when he is interested.  (Or his wife, he may never be interested!)  It turned out so well...I love it!  Maybe I'll be ready to part with it in a couple of decades...I don't know!  Maybe I'll just keep it myself!  Regardless, if you want to print a book fairly inexpensively with lots of control over layout, this is an excellent website to use!

If you are local, enjoy the snow this week!