Friday, February 25, 2011

Sweeeeet Potato

Carter got his first shot at solids on Wednesday night!

Pre-sweet potato:

This was the face he made when I started to feed him, but then stopped to help Steven do something with the camera.  Clearly, he didn't approve of the hold up.

The delectable sweet potatoes.  Seriously.  I ate several bites.  He didn't mind.  

First bite...YUM!  I know some babies take one bite the first day, then a little more the next day, unsure of it all.  Not Carter! He cried if we even slowed down!

So we shoveled some more yummy goodness in him!

He would grab our hands to get the spoon in if we hesitated.

We finally had to cut him off.  We thought his digestive system might appreciate the entire sweet potato not going into his system on day 1 of processing solid food.  Carter shot us a look that showed what showed his less-than-thrilled feeling of the potatoes going in the fridge.

Hopefully, the solids are going to be a good thing.  He spent the first night passing lots of gas and pooping.  I fed him a little more solids with some ground rice Thursday morning to hopefully make it a little easier to digest and to give him the day to work it through his system instead of dealing with it through the night.  And I limited it a little more!  One would think the child is starving!

PS: I know you're not supposed to introduce two new foods in two days...especially to a kid with allergies.  But I'm working on the assumption that sweet potatoes and rice are pretty safe for Carter considering that's basically all I've eaten for two weeks...and he's been getting better.  Or was...before I ate that blasted oatmeal.  Hopefully, things will be clear again soon and I can introduce an avocado to my diet so he can try that next.  I know we're kind of doing this in the middle of all the allergy craziness, but he was so ready for solids, it felt wrong to keep making him wait.  Hopefully, this will help with the night wakings as his system gets used to it....we'll see!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free Bonus

Tuesday was one of those perfect days when it seems like everything was JUST RIGHT.  I gave Carter his first bath in his little tub.  We've been using a little mesh seat in the big tub...which was a perfect fit.  Except our sweet boy is obsessed with all things to do with water...and would lean forward to try to splash his hands...and tip the seat.  In his little tub, he can sit up all on his own and splash away.  He really, really loved it.  That's a nice way to start a morning: a happy, splashing baby that smells of sweet Johnson and Johnson.  

After a morning of housework and a good nap for Carter, we went to Trader Joes for the first time.  I really loved it.  I found a lot of things that I have learned about that are safe for me during this Elimination Diet.  (Rice milk, rice flour, rice syrup, rice cereal..both hot and cold, potato chips, banana chips, apple juice, and three kinds of rice pasta!  All of these are made only with the whole food..rice, potato, banana, apple...and some combination of salt, pepper, and olive/safflower/sunflower oil.)  I was so pumped!  It was invigorating to find new foods that I can have without introducing through a trial.  I gave those banana chips a serious run for their money!  Yum!  It's also funny how my taste buds are changing.  Rice Dream makes a rice milk that is flavored with vanilla.  I tried it a month ago when I first went off dairy and soy.  I was okay with it to put it in my granola (oh..the days of granola!) but I didn't like it other than that.  I tried it yesterday...oh. my. gosh.  Can we say it is just like melted ice cream?  Haha...it's the little things I guess.  With my new ingredients, I made a crust and put apples in it last night.  I baked it and put some of the brown rice syrup on top when it was finished (I wasn't sure how it would cook and didn't want to waste)  It was so yummy!  (Again...different taste buds :))

So while I was in the grocery store, I met a lady who used to work with La Leche who knew an UNBELIEVABLE amount about the Total Elimination Diet and food allergies in breastfed babies.  She gave me so much encouragement and information and directed me to more.  That was such a blessing!

When we got home, I found that the pictures we finally ordered for Carter's frames in his room came in!  They look so great...and complete his room.  6months later :)

Then...because it was 75 degrees in February, Steven, Carter and I went on a picnic.  Steven grilled our chicken, because he's amazing like that, and I packed potato chips *yay!* and apples and we were off!  We had so much fun taking pictures and eating.  Carter had a blast staring at everyone as they passed and waving his arms up and down in excitement when they looked at him.

A few pictures from our picnic:










So this whole story isn't just to give you a blow-by-blow of my great day...though I think there is something to be said for such a great day in the middle of what is a bit of a challenging season for me.  When we got home that night, Carter started his battle against eating.  Arching and writhing and crying all the way through his extremely short feed!  Argh!  Why!?!?  Is he just distractable because of his age and his new awareness of the things around him?  Is this still a reaction to the oatmeal?  Is he just so dissatisfied with the milk and needs some solids?  Is he getting enough?  He didn't eat very much all day, now that I look back!  

My day felt ruined.

So here's the takeaway, now that I'm a few days into this new frustration of Carter refusing to eat very long on top of all the issues we are dealing with.  There are really good days.  There are really bad days.  Sometimes, there are bad moments in in really good days; sometimes we have to find the really good moments in bad days.  My friend Kyle's mom, a lady of incredible wisdom, went through a terrible bout with a difficult disease.  On the other side, she often says that today is a free bonus for her.  They didn't think she was going to live to see each day that she has experienced  post-sickness.  Every day is something she was promised she would never see by the doctors.  It's a free bonus.  She wakes up every day, blessed by her free bonus of a day she thought she might not see.  I'm the same way.  I don't deserve today and I'm not promised tomorrow.  I will not let circumstances rule my attitude about my bonus of today!

I think it is fair to vent off some frustration on bad days.  I think it's okay to acknowledge when we are upset and not very grateful for what we've been handed.  But I think it would be terribly shortsighted and immature of me to stay there.  We're reading "The Age of Opportunity" by Paul Tripp with our small group.  It is a book about parenting teenagers (we're reading ahead :) ) and one thing he talks about is helping your teen see that they are not the center of the world by pointing them to the Lord.  By helping them live in a true awe of the God we serve...in seeing Him correctly, we have the right perspective to view ourselves...to not be so consumed with ourselves.  The way to teach teens this is not to mash down their throat how big God is and how small they are.  The way to teach them to see God as holy and ourselves in His perspective is to see that ourselves.  It is in dwelling in the Lord with them that they learn how to see God correctly.

That's where I am.  Dwelling on the Lord...His work..His people...His Holiness...I'm seeing what seems so consuming, frustrating and overwhelming shrink back down to it's correct size.  It's not disappearing or necessarily minimizing in importance.  Carter's allergy and tummy issues are still a very serious and upsetting issue for me that gets a lot of my attention.  But it isn't controlling my heart.  

So...Tuesday...was a free bonus.

A good day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Phone call from the doctor

The doctor called.  I love her so much.  She's such a great doctor.

But it turns out she really doesn't know a whole, whole lot about food allergies.  *sigh*  I think I expected her to have this really well organized plan with information I didn't already have from my research.  I thought that I would feel encouraged and well informed at the end of the conversation and know exactly what to do.

Not so much.

But...she did tell me that my current plan seemed good...and that if things didn't go well, she knew a good pediatric allergist who COULD give me the help I needed.  So...even though she didn't give me much, I appreciate that she was upfront about it and is willing to refer me to someone who does know more if my plan fails.

We are still trying to recover from the oatmeal.  I was so discouraged this afternoon when Dr. Greene called with no information and bummed that I was still changing green, mucousy diapers and trying to feed a squirming, writing in pain baby.  (I can't wait till "mucousy diapers" doesn't come up in my conversations.  Sorry for all of you that I gross out on a daily basis.)  BUT, the Lord provided some good encouragement.  I went on a search for things I could have...or different ways I could have them...and I found some things!  I've been so strict that I hadn't really thought of plain rice cakes (to you that probably sounds gross...to a person eating six things....heaven!), rice noodles, rice flour, and rice syrup.  I could really dress up some of my plain meals with those!  AND I figured out a way to dry my apples for a different type of treat...baking them is good too, but I've done that a lot.  It also occurred to me that I could make baked sweet potato fries!  Yum!  I still can't add things like sugar or seasonings, but I hope the brown rice syrup will be yummy for some sweetening so I can make a very modified rice pudding, some sort of hot rice cereal for the mornings, maybe an apple tart of sorts...I don't know...we'll see.  I'm sure it won't be "normal"..but I so don't care!

Next up to try to introduce: avocado, sunflower seeds, raisins, grapes, carrots, craisins.  I don't know what I want first!  I think I may try the sunflower seeds and then the raisins so I can have a fast snack.  Not sure.  It takes FOREVER to get things added....especially if he reacts and we have to wait for him to clear up.  Those foods alone with probably take me the next month or more to add.

Oh well.

I'm just so grateful for google and all the millions of websites that have helped me self-educate about all this so I can continue breastfeeding him.  Which brings me to an important point: why the heck am I doing all this?  Do I have some sort of crazy need to feed Carter breastmilk?  I haven't been asked this point blank too many times...but I see it in your eyes.  So, to answer your question:  No, I'm not a breastfeeding Nazi and I don't just love it so much I can't bear to wean him.  In fact, breastfeeding is really hard for us.  It always has been.  (Remember our rocky beginnings?)  The reflux made it even harder with all the twisting and arching and crying.  I've had plugged ducts, mastitis, tons of general discomfort, and a big cramp in my general schedule.  We STILL haven't completely weaned off the shield, and I can't really take turns with feeds because...I'm the only one with the food!  BUT, I do treasure the time I've spent in that rocking chair.  I do treasure the health benefits he has and will have from the milk.  AND, believe it or not, breast milk is the number one way to help children avoid and heal from food allergies.  Even though what I have eaten has caused a lot of problems for him, continuing to breastfeed with a modified diet is the number one proven way to help him heal and outgrow these intolerances.  So...that's why I'm eating rice like a little Asian girl.  My "mama radar" says that it's best for him...for us.  I know it's working (save the oatmeal test) and he's getting better.  That's worth every minute.

*Disclaimer.  I know not everyone is able to or desires to breastfeed.  It's not right for every family.  I don't judge any mommy for her choice.  Just for the record.  Sometimes I even look at you with a little envy ;)

That's the update.  Thank you for all of the encouragement, advice, and help you've been.  And a special hug to my precious husband who has eaten more of these six foods that he would EVER hope for...and has heard more about how much I'd love a piece of chocolate/ice cream/Moe's/cinnamon/sugar/popcorn...than should ever be endured.  You're the best, my love.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Treasure Maps

The adventure of parenthood needs a treasure map.  A good, wrinkly, used, marked-up-by-parents-who-have-been-on-the-journey map.  The kind you find and keep pulling in and out of your backpack along the trip to make sure you are on the right path.

Wouldn't that be nice?

If we were all heading to the same place...with the same pirates...I guess that would work.  But parenting isn't a set destination.  Even if we had a perfect map and followed the route exactly, we wouldn't all end up with the same results because of the variable in every parenting experiment.

The kids.

They are all so different and have different needs.  Just when you read about, trial and error experiment, talk through, and figure out a particular element of parenting, another thing you don't know about rears its head.  And every solution is unique to that child.  I know there are some similarities...and thank goodness you can google and talk to other moms about things.  That's the only way I've kept us all alive...literally.  But I'm learning to not try to fight through the problem so hard.  I'm learning to take a bit of a more laid-back approach (or as laid-back as I get) to figuring these things out so that it's not so consuming. Because that's not sustainable when I consider that there are going to be things like this...

Forever.

I'm fairly certain there will be "things to figure out" for the rest of my life when it comes to parenting (and everything else).  As all of you know, my most recent puzzle has been figuring out why Carter's tummy was so achy.  This has been a problem since birth...but the journey to figuring it out completely is still ongoing.  We are blessed that we did figure out that it was a food allergy.  As you know, I eliminated dairy and soy for a week and a half with NO improvement and major flare ups.  So I then, following the Dr. Sears elimination diet, took those allergies to task and eliminated everything.  I may take a really, really long break from chicken, squash, zucchini, rice, apples, and potatoes after this.  Sweet potatoes are still pretty yummy in my book :)  BUT...I have a happy baby who is sleeping through the night and happy during the day.  He has started waking up to eat twice at night...but I'm certain it is just because he is ready to start solids.  Hopefully, we can do that this coming week when the doctor calls me back.

So the next thing to do is to reintroduce foods.  I'll start adding one food at a time...waiting four days to see if there is a reaction, and then moving to the next thing.  If there is a reaction (yucky poopies, night wakings, screaming during feedings, eczema flare-ups), we'll know not to eat that anymore.  It seems like a crazy way to do it, but allergy tests are not very accurate at this age...so it's the only way to find out.  While we're doing that, we'll also be starting him on solids.  So I'll introduce a food to my diet, wait four days to make sure it's safe, introduce a food to him, wait four days to make sure it's safe...and so on.  At least, I think  that's the plan.  The doctor is supposed to call Monday with a more cemented plan for me to follow.  We'll see what she says :)  We had also weaned Carter off of his reflux medicine for awhile to see if things were any better on the diet...and have put him right back on.  Yes...it is definitely helping!

I introduced oatmeal last night.  I'm really hoping to be able to keep that so I can have something "breakfasty" for breakfast.  I cooked it with salt (can't have sugar yet) and an apple cut into chunks (good idea Mama!) and it was probably the best thing ever.  I had it for dessert last night and breakfast this morning.  Crossing my fingers that this is a "safe food"!

We'll see what the treasure map says next.  I'm just grateful we seem like we've past through the "Dark Lagoon of waking-up-every-hour-after-midnight-for-two-months" and are sailing on to the next adventure.  Allergies, you may walk the plank!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

 Paparazzi 

 Giggles for Mama

 Meeting his new cousin

 Listening to what Baby Hancock is whispering to him!

Ahhh...could life get any better?

Monday, February 14, 2011

All you need is love...

Well...maybe not all you need.  But that's just my literal, logical self....that no one likes on Valentine's Day.

So.

Happy Valentine's Day!  All you need is love!

If all you need is love, my boys and I certainly were bursting at the seams with our necessities this weekend.  Grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles flooded our house to spend time together and attend Carter's baby dedication.  The miles and time spent for a ten minute portion on a church service should speak volumes to Carter.  They sure did to his parents.  It was ten minutes.  But it was ten minutes that speak to the way Steven and I pray to raise our son.  Ten minutes surrounded by generations of family that have sacrificed their wants, needs, comforts, desires, and time to raise children in Christ.  

I always have trouble with presents.  I know it seems super silly, but I get really overwhelmed at birthdays, Christmas, showers and the like.  How can I possibly do a good enough job showing people how thankful I am that they would spend the time, money, and thought to purchase something for me.  Choosing me over themselves, they kindly give me something to help me...and it overwhelms me!  Especially when I think further about what my grandparents and parents have done for me, I get overwhelmed thinking of how I can treat them with the same kind of selflessness that they treat me with.

I know I can't.  But now, with Carter, I know I don't need to.  I know I would never measure what I have done for him on a balancing scale with what he is doing for me.  That would never even cross my mind subconsciously.  I also know that the people that pour into me do it as an act of grace and love...completely undeserved.  So...to try to pay it back almost cheapens it.  What I can do is pour into those that can never return the favor for me.  To "pay it forward" in a sense.  

It's not like grace is a new concept for me.  But I think I'm learning about an angle of it that I haven't seen before.  It's a pretty beautiful angle.

Surrounded by these generations of love, grace and service, we dedicated Carter to the Lord's work on Sunday.  Whatever He has for him...we submit to that.  We promise to teach and guide Carter to the Lord, that he may choose Him for himself and love others with the love given so selflessly to him.  

I didn't plan to blog about Carter's dedication on Valentine's Day...but I'm pretty sure the day of Love is the perfect occasion for it.

Happy Valentine's Day!








PS: It's taking an awful lot of love to continue eating such a limited diet.  I am still enjoying the apples and sweet potatoes, but the rest of the food is getting pretty old.  Really...there's nothing wrong with any of it, I'm just SO tired of eating the exact same thing all day, every day.  I feel like an addict, craving all the foods I can't have.  And I'm only six days in.  And he seems WORSE!  What!?!  I have read that babies usually go through "withdrawal" type symptoms toward the end of the first week, and that they typically clear up within the next week and things really start improving.  I REALLY hope so!  It's worth it to do this crazy diet if it makes Carter feel better.  It really stinks big time when there is no improvement!  Sweet baby boy is also eating like a horse.  I don't know if it's a growth spurt or just a readiness for solids, but he is eating two full feeds in the middle of the night now and eating really well during the day.  Whew...with solids and the allergy problem under control, I'm hoping things get a little easier for the both of us soon.  

I do know that my first reunion with chocolate of any kind will be a completely out of control experience.  My sweet tooth is screaming!

But...you've seen his face...sweet little eyes...chubby little legs.  He's so, so worth it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letter to Allergies

Dear Allergies,

You are currently winning this contest.  You have me up all night long soothing gas bubbles out of my sweet baby boy.  You have me doing an inordinate amount of laundry because aforementioned baby spits up all day long.  You make him spit up if he lays flat, if he sits up squashing his little tummy, if we hold him just the wrong way, if we hold him just the right way, and sometimes for no other reason than because the food is ready to defy gravity!  Allergies, you have given Carter eczema on his cheeks, back, and head (which only counts for a half point because I have some cream that at least takes you out for awhile between flare-ups).  You make me Shout everything my child wears because there isn't a diaper he can't blow out thanks to what you do to his belly.

But watch your back, Allergies; this mama is the competitive type.  I've never met a bad guy I couldn't take down, and I have serious doubts you'll be my first.  I've cut my diet down to chicken, rice, sweet and regular potatoes, zucchini, squash, apples, and bananas.  You know who's allergic to those?

No one.

And when you're gone, Allergies, I'll just introduce foods back one at a time until I figure out where you hang out.  Then we'll dismiss you from our kitchen along with whatever food you're living in.  It's only a matter of time now.

Take this as fair warning Allergies.  Besides the laundry, sleepless nights, and diaper blowout messes...you're messing with my baby boy.  Ahhh, you should have known better Allergies.

Consider this our last conversation...I won't be seeing you or your dirty work much longer at all.

Signed,
An angry mama fighting for the baby's belly

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A possible new blog feature???  If I can keep up :)






Monday, February 7, 2011

3 Pretty Flowers

I got three pretty, pretty flowers from my one-of-a-kind husband today.

I got the first this morning when I woke up.  I sleepily fed and changed Carter after a particularly relentless, long night and then padded into the kitchen for the same breakfast I've been eating for a week.  I knew there was a PILE of dishes from yesterday (Super Bowl party cooking coupled with a busy, busy weekend= a MILLION dirty dishes) as well as random accumulations of things on our dining room table.  But in the middle of all that was my first flower.  A perfect love note, written the night before and taped where I would see it this morning.  It was just the thing to send my heart to flutters and encourage my day.

The rest of the day was so sweet with my baby boy...but so busy.  I ended up starting supper much later than normal...which meant that it wasn't quite finished when it was time for Carter to be fed and put to bed.  My second flower was my handsome knight taking over our meal, making my plate and putting it in the microwave, and getting his lunch ready for tomorrow. (Did I mention he is eating my extremely limited diet with me?  His perspective is that it is silly to make separate meals, it's not fair to watch someone eat what you can't have everyday, and that the diet certainly can't be unhealthy for him.  Ahh...I love him!)

When I got back from putting Carter to bed, the MILLIONS of dishes that I washed and had propped up all over our kitchen were put away and all our dishes from supper were washed.  All I had to do was eat my dinner and enjoy my sweet husband's company.  The perfect third flower.

I don't like getting flowers.  I know a lot of people love the beauty and the thought...I just can't get past the practical costs of something that dies and serves no logical purpose past aesthetics.  Steven knows that and loves me the way I feel loved.  Even though it would be easier to buy flowers on his way home, he loves me the way that reaches down into MY heart...words and help.

I am so blessed to have Steven for a husband...and I am so grateful Carter will look to him to learn to be a man.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday, flare-ups and squeals of delight...

     It's been a week and a day of the full dairy/soy free diet.  (I cut out most dairy last Tuesday and Wednesday as well...but I didn't really know what I was doing at that point and ate a lot of hidden dairy and soy those two days...so they don't count.)  Anyway, things have kind of leveled out.  It's a bit discouraging.  He's, overall, still seeming happier for the most part:


 The sitting up only lasts so long...
 Faceplant!

     But, the past two nights have been rough.  And his eczema is back on his head.  (The rash on his cheeks still hasn't gone away yet.  I know you can't really see it in these pictures...but it's there around his jawline.)  He also had another green, mucousy poop (gross, right?) and lots of gas.  *sigh*  My hope is that this is just the proteins still working their way out of our systems.  Everything I read says that it takes about 4 weeks to completely clear up.  Even knowing that, it's still discouraging to see an actual flare-up when you think it should be gradually getting better.  I have been charting everything I eat so I can figure out if there are other foods that bother him...but I can't really see anything that is different about the last few days.  hmmm.  I guess we'll just be waiting it out for now.  I don't mind the waiting, actually.  I just hate if I'm still eating something that hurts him!  Aaaaand, I'm tempted to just cut out all major allergens in an Elimination Diet...but then it'll take me longer to figure out if it was just dairy after all.  I don't know.  It's a tough call.  I guess if I went on the Elimination Diet...I would at least get him feeling better sooner...I think.  What I really wish is that there was a blood test that was accurate for every disorder/intolerance/disease/problem in the world.  Wouldn't that make diagnostics easy?  Or if I had access to a real-life Dr. House on call who would take all my rather small health concerns seriously.  :)  Both of those situations would make me happy.

This is the face I will be making if I can't figure out what he's allergic to!

     But in the meantime, we are enjoying Carter's newfound voice.  He's been making lots of sounds...for a long time.  They have just jolted up a notch in the past week.  Cooing, giggling and soft sounds have made way for pterodactyl-like screeches that make people in Wal-Mart turn and laugh...and make Carter smile with delight in the sound he made.  His squeals are pretty much his favorite sound right now.  My favorite sound is the outright-laughing he does these days.  Finding those tickle spots are my favorite hobby!

Do I ever just stare at this little face while rocking him long after he's been asleep?  Yes.  Yes I do.

      I did find two dairy/soy free recipes to take to our Super Bowl party...so I will be able to snack with everyone else!  The snacks and commercials are all the Super Bowl really offers me...I just don't follow the NFL to care about much more than that.  BUT...I will be cheering on the Packers for my dear, dear sister-in-law Sarah.  And laughing at the commercials.  And juggling a baby :)

     Final, little update.  The weather/life/sickness has made running obsolete.  Oh. My. Gosh. The 5k on March 5th is going to be bad news.  Except...it's not like I'll lose a scholarship or something.  It is just for fun.  So..I guess it's not all that big a deal.  My pride, however, better be prepared.  Things are going to be gasping/limping/slowlygettingbeatbymyparents ugly. :)

     Happy weekend!