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04 Apr

Cross-posted to Facebook!

Hello, friends! I have been sharing happy and cute photos of Jack left and right but today I want to let you guys know about something somewhat serious with regards to Jack’s health: he and I are struggling with milk/soy protein intolerance (MSPI), severe silent reflux, and laryngomalacia. 

What does that all mean? 

Well, laryngomalacia is basically a floppy larynx and it sounds way worse than it is. If Jack and I visit you or you visit us, do not be alarmed if he squeaks and squawks while nursing, especially if he is excited. He also occasionally chokes and coughs while nursing but again, do not be alarmed. I am CPR certified and am very aware of what’s going on with my son. He has not had a severe situation yet and hopefully he never will. Laryngomalacia can get worse before it gets better but between his first and second birthday it should fix itself. Time is the best medicine in this case!
Next up is the silent reflux. Jack has pretty severe reflux but he does not spit up very often. He also loves my boobs! Because he is a champ at breastfeeding he’s gained weight like a beast. My boy is pushing 14 pounds at two months of age and that’s awesome! But he unfortunately suffered for weeks before we managed to convince a doctor that it wasn’t colic, I am not a bad mom, and he’s not a difficult baby. Now that we have him on reflux medication, both Jack’s and my qualities of life have improved exponentially. I’ll put a tiny plug here saying that I am dealing with postpartum depression. PPD is a beast and I’m not embarrassed to say that I am fighting it tooth and nail but FINALLY being able to sleep and not constantly hearing my baby scream in pain are doing wonders for my mental health. 

Lastly is the milk/soy protein intolerance, or MSPI for short. I saved this one for last because it is the one with the biggest impact. 

Jack seems to have an intolerance to certain proteins that he is being exposed to through my breastmilk. The early signs of this intolerance are reflux (see above!), irritability, eczema-like rash, not normal dirty diapers, and sleep disturbances and irritability. These symptoms can progress to ulcers throughout the whole GI, failure to grow and meet milestones, and life-long problems with digestion, speech, and hearing. All not good things!

Sadly there is no test for MSPI. The only way to see if he is suffering with it is for me to remove all sources of the offending proteins from my diet then wait a month for the proteins to clear both of our systems. If Jack’s symptoms improve then he has an intolerance and I stay on the diet until he grows out of it or weans. If his symptoms don’t improve, I will have to reevaluate everything. There are other things he could have intolerances to and other conditions that could be causing his difficulties. I’m hoping against hope that it’s just MSPI for my baby’s sake. 

Eliminating all sources of dairy/beef protein and soy protein from my diet is hard as hell. Read some labels and realize how much whey and soy lecithin is in EVERYTHING! It is so so so so so hard for me to meet my calorie needs for a day. As a breastfeeding mom, I need a good 500 extra calories to maintain a healthy milk supply. That means that I need 2100 to 2300 calories a day! I also need to make sure I’m getting enough protein and calcium. And that’s not even taking into account the emotional strain of no more chocolate or cheese. But, let’s be honest: I love Jack more than I love chocolate and cheese!! 

This means (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT!!) that if we visit you, I have to be very, very careful with what I eat. If I consume ANY dairy, beef, or soy, it will stay in my milk for two weeks and then take another two weeks to clear out of Jack. Any mistake I make in my diet will result in a month of suffering for my son. Do not be offended if I bring my own food or seem picky about what I eat. Chances are you know me well enough to know that I friggin’ love food so you will understand that it’s hard enough to be on this diet without having to explain myself or defend my choices constantly. Just bear with me and be patient. 

Thank you for reading!

30 Mar

I love Jack more than I love cheese!

It has been seven weeks and one day since Jack made is grand appearance! He is awesome beyond imagining and I love him so! He is my sunshiney love and when he smiles my whole reason for being is apparent. 

The last few weeks have been challenging. Chances are when you read that, you thought, “yeah, newborns are challenging!” If that thought popped into your cerebellum then you, my friend, are amongst a group of people who had a  similar thought. And that thought almost drove me insane! 

To be fair, there was a perfect storm of factors that together had a cumulative affect of exhaustion-induced psychosis on this new mom. My support team is wide-spread across the country and while emotional support came readily in ample supply in-person physical support was scarce. Nick has an uncanny ability to sleep through events that would wake a corpse. 

To add to it all, Jack was suffering. He was crying a lot and inconsolable many times. He was angry nursing, pulling off the breast and screaming, beating and clawing my chest, and choking. He was also comfort nursing so frequently my nipples were getting torn up with no hope of healing. Poor little Jack was also suffering apnea events, frequent, gassy and painful hiccups, green, mucousy diapers, and a dozen or more wet diapers in a day. He could not – and let me be clear when I say COULD NOT – sleep on his back. This doesn’t mean “mom wouldn’t put him down” or any variation of that. It means that my darling boy was in pain when he was laid flat on his back. 

To the ignorant, lazy, and/or egotistical medical practitioner, this collection of symptoms means a colicky baby, a difficult baby, or a bad mom. All of which are not only patently untrue but also in essence impossible. 

After weeks of seeking care and being failed left and right I finally broke down on Jack’s and my doctor’s office. She interpreted my emotional breakdown as an acute situation and wrote Jack a prescription for Zantac and instructed me to seek psychiatric help. That night, after Jack’s first dose of Zantac, our lives got back on track!

The most disruptive and stressful symptoms improved within thirty minutes of his first dose and that night Jack slept for the first time since his first few days of life without showing any signs of pain and discomfort. This means that I slept! It was as if someone had swapped my baby out for one that was the exact same except he wasn’t in pain. I even suffered a bit of anxiety in Saturday feeling as if I somehow “broke” my baby because he was sleeping so much. In truth, he was sleeping the correct amount!

This gave a name to Jack’s tormentor: silent reflux. This is reflux where the baby does not spit up and where they also gain weight and grow just fine or even better than fine. The latter is Jack’s case: he was 12 pounds 2 ounces and 23 inches at six weeks and three days. My big boy!

Now that the fog has cleared, I am stuck wondering what exactly causes my son’s extreme silent reflux. It could simply be an immature sphincter. But an immature sphincter does not cause the other problems. The other problems could be unrelated. 

Or he could have milk/soy protein intolerance, or MSPI. I’ll let you do your own reading into it if you’re interested. Simply put, it fits and more importantly, it is something I can combat on my own without affecting Jack too much. All I have to do is remove any and all sources of dairy and soy from my diet and wait. 

So begins my journey. I eat a fair amount of obvious dairy products: rice pudding, yogurt, cheese, milk… I don’t consume a large amount of obvious soy but I’m finding trace soy in the form of soy lecithin in just about everything. All of my favorite protein-rich snacks have whey protein in them. Thankfully, I can eat nuts! And fruit. 

The most difficult to find item so far is bread so today I’m going to make my own soy- and dairy-free bread using this recipe. Wish me luck! The results will be forthcoming. 
And even more than luck in the bread-making wish me luck in helping Jack. He’s the one who really matters here. I’m willing to do anything to help him because I seriously do love him more than I love cheese!

Have some photos because I love you!

07 Mar

Jack in the Fox!

Little Jack is one month old today. It’s been an amazing month, so full to the brim with love and joy. There’s been some dark spots to be sure but any sadness is overwhelmed by the sweetness of my baby boy. 

In the beginning, there were significant rough patches. I won’t go into too much detail but I’m not ashamed to admit that postpartum anxiety and depression paid me a visit. Things are improving slowly and steadily. I’m getting between four and six hours of sleep a night and snagging a nap during the day. The biggest frustration right now seems to be my milk supply. It’s so finicky!! I’m engorged in the morning and drained in the evening. I can’t wait for it to even out!

There are some significant things I want to remember:

All of the baby smells. I love every scent associated with Jack. I seriously love the otherwise repulsive smells. His diapers don’t smell bad at all!! 

His hands. They are so tiny and yet so big. I love how he moves them in his sleep. I love how he holds my breast when nursing. I love his grip on my finger. I love to kiss his fingers. 

Waking up and seeing his face. We are bed sharing right now because it’s the only thing that works. I love waking up and looking down and seeing him. He is so sweet and peaceful when he’s sleeping. 

Speaking of sleep… I love his sleepy expressions! He moves through a whole range of emotions while he sleeps usually starting with a gummy grin. I’ve seen smirks, sly smiles, huge grins, anger, pouting, consternation, surprise, and fear. All while his eyes are closed! Sometimes a laugh will sneak out. Other times, he will cry out in fear or pain. It’s all sweetly precious. 

Oh. Yes. Also, he is so cute when he cries!! He goes “ooo-WAAH!” and I can’t stand it. 

I’m sure I’m missing things but Jack just fell asleep so I’m going to try and snag a wink. Here are some photos I took of him at three weeks old and one on his one month birthday. 

09 Feb

First off, a few disclaimers: this is my birth story and it will likely be very different from yours. 

And that’s great! We all have unique situations so respecting the differences is normal. Next, I would NOT have had such a positive outcome if I didn’t have an amazing support team. Nick was an awesome birth coach. My nurses we stellar. The doctor who did the delivery was perfect. Jack was awesome. Thanks to them, I can look back with fondness on February 7, 2017. But now, without further ado, Jack’s birth!

On the 2nd, I saw one of my OBs and she stretched and stripped me a bit. I had cramps and bloody show that night but didn’t think anything was serious enough to warrant concern. In truth, I went into labor that evening, I just didn’t know it because I’d never done any of this before. 

From Thursday to Monday, I suffered through pre-labor symptoms that I kept brushing aside as too weak to be anything significant. Oh, how wrong I was!! 
Sunday to Monday I got about 5 hours of sleep and spent the day putzing around. I felt physically great (other than the sciatica) and debated going to work. 

Ultimately I decided against it and made Nick a super tasty dinner of mini meatloaf and vowed to go to bed early to catch up on lost sleep. Nick and I also wanted to try some sexy business but it failed and we just snuggled down for and early night. Nick was asleep for just about 5 minutes when I sneezed. I felt an ache under my boobs and a moment later I heard and felt a POP! My water had broken from a sneeze at exactly 12:57AM!! I woke Nicky up and called L&D. The on-call doc suggested I rest up and wait 8 hours or so to come in. 

I tried. I really, really did! But the contractions were strong. My whole body was shaking so hard. I actually gave up on a natural birth at this point, believing I was so weak that I couldn’t even stand pre-labor. The contractions were about 30-50 seconds long and coming reliably every 5 minutes. After calling my mom and talking to her for a bit, I broke down around 2:30 and we headed to the hospital. 

When we arrived, the on-call doc was there and condescendingly suggested that I was weak and came in too soon. A quick check showed I was at 4cm and 90% effaced. I was strapped in to monitors and shown to a room. I spent the next couple of hours laboring as quietly as possible on my left side while Nicky slept. My blood pressure was moderately high but my labs came back clear for preeclampsia. 

At around 7AM the doc came in and said she was going to start me on pitocin to “jump start” my labor. I felt SO DEFEATED!! I had thought I was in labor! That’s when my angel of a nurse came to my defense. She told doc I was experiencing some intense contractions and they must not be showing on the monitor due to being on my side. I flopped onto my back and suddenly the monitor flared to life, registering some big, strong, regular contractions. The doc left in a huff, saying under her breath how she’d already put the order in for pitocin. 

Shift change at 8AM saw my first L&D angel nurse leave and a new one take over. The first was named Jamie. The second was Kelly and if these two hadn’t been a part of my team, I wouldn’t have done it. The same goes for my husband, son, the doctor who actually did the delivery, and a high school senior who wants to be an obstetrician who asked to witness my labor and birth. 

Kelly stood by me as I labored and suggested I get in the shower and use a birth ball. I wanted both of these things so I leapt at the chance. At this point everyone thought that I, as a first time mom who was only at 4 cm about 5 hours ago, had many, many hours to go. I had convinced myself that what I felt wasn’t that bad. When Kelly asked my pain level, I’d moan back “Four. Maybe. It’s tolerable. I can do this.” I still thought there was so much time left! 

Oh, yeah. By the way. You can totally talk through contractions if you think they aren’t real. It’s tough and you growl, grunt, moan, and gasp your words but totally doable. 

At 8:57AM Kelly came in and got me hooked back up to monitors to check baby and my progress. She witnessed me riding wave after wave of contractions. She and Nick just kept talking to me, encouraging me and praising me. This positive reinforcement was key. I hopped in the shower for a few minutes before I realized that the urge to poop I was feeling was actually maybe an urge to push my baby out. I called for Kelly and she checked me and OOPS!! I was 9 centimeters, totally thinned out, with a baby on the way.

A flurry of activity occurred and all I remember is the darling high school student, Tyler, and Nick helping me hold my legs. I was so FREAKING TIRED at this point because I had been up nonstop for around 30 hours. The delivery doctor swooped in and he was one I had actually seen during some of my prenatal visits. I was worried at first that I got him because he was my least favorite but he did a stellar job and I’m grateful I got him. 

It took me a lot of tries to figure out pushing. I was just so damn tired. I almost fell asleep between contractions and actually missed pushing during at least two of them. But my team was cheering me on!! Kelly called me a “rock star” and Tyler was in awe. Nick never ever stopped talking even when I screamed in his ear, clawed his back, and pulled his hair. 

What gave me the final burst I needed was reaching down and feeling a full head of wavy hair. My god that was awesome!!! I pushed and pushed. Doc was going to do an episiotomy but held back, not wanting to intervene at all in my natural delivery. Instead he guided a tear and let my body do what it needed to do.

At 10:03AM on February 7th, my son Jack was born. He weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He was placed on my stomach and opened his eyes. He stared at me so intently and was so alert. I was stitched up, handling the pain very well thanks to my son’s gorgeous face and deep, earnest stare. I spoke softly to him and it was so obvious he knew my voice. 

Tyler, the student, felt very faint after everything and had to leave for a bit but was back and had a new, deep appreciation for life. Nick had tears in his eyes and was beside himself with love. My normally unenthusiastic doctor was thrilled with me. Kelly could hardly contain her joy at my success. She asked me my pain level. I told her four.

Jack and I enjoyed our golden two hours and he took to breastfeeding like a champ. He has passed every exam with flying colors. That thick, full head of hair made him a staff favorite. I kept my rock star status, recovering beautifully. We left the hospital on February 8th, approximately 36 hours after arriving. 

08 Oct

22 Weeks, 1 Day!

It’s been a while but a lot has happened! Perhaps the biggest news is that the little Nugget that was only a couple weeks old in a previous post has grown! The Nugget is now a 22-week old fetus and is VERY active! I love this little baby so much it’s a bit ridiculous. 

During the first trimester, I had some rough times. I lost around 13 pounds and hemorrhage my esophagus. I was vomiting three to five time daily during the worst of it. I ended up dropping one of my summer courses but it all turned out okay. More on that later, though…

With the exception of the very first OB visit, Nick had been with me for every tummy check and ultrasound. He is unbelievably supportive. I literally have no clue how I would have made it through some of the rough parts without him. Nick learned the baby’s gender during our 20 week ultrasound but I have opted to remain ignorant. I kind of love not knowing while he knows… 

As for a symptom update, well… it’s all pretty normal pregnancy stuff! I’ve got a healthy, somewhat large, active baby and a body that is changing to accommodate said baby. I’ve got sciatica like a BEAST in my left hip. I pee all the time. My breasts are absolutely ginormous. My round ligament is protesting so much stretching. Fatigue and hunger hound me constantly. AND I AM SO HAPPY! 

The baby is due in February and I just can’t wait! 

Now I mentioned something about school earlier. I’ll keep this short and sweet…

I GRADUATED! 

I am also no longer taking classes this semester because the college made a huge mistake with regards to my degree requirements. I didn’t need to take classes so I dropped and requested refunds. I am getting my refunds and my degree and yay! Not having class is awesome. I can work lots and focus on baby when I need to. The refunded tuition is a nice little boost to our future fund, too!

OH! I also got a new car. It’s a shiny, red 2016 Prius because I’m a tree-hugger. Sometimes I drive my Prius to mommy yoga. Sometimes I drive it to the recycling center. Whenever I drive it, though, one thing is for sure! I’m a hypermiler and damn proud of it!

Lastly, as a bonus, have some photos from random times throughout the summer. 

07 Jun

3 weeks, 3 days

I’ve had 2 positive tests and, as of today, I have officially missed my period in its entirety. 

But that isn’t really what I want to document here. I want you to know how I feel in this very early and still uncertain stage.

There have been close-calls in the past but none as sure as this one. I’ve never had a positive test before! Just a sketchy feeling, an intense hope, a deep desire. That feeling is still present but there’s also a totally missed period and tests backing it up. 

I am elated. I am seriously beyond excited. I cannot fathom my future and for once, that uncertainty is a nice feeling. It’s not dreadful… Just expectant. Which is to be expected when you’re expecting. I am so focused on what’s going on inside of me that the bad things going on around me don’t matter so much. The negativity no longer matters. 

I can’t wait to meet this person! I hope this little buddy sticks around. 3 weeks isn’t very far along and I’m fully aware that many things can go wrong but I’m also aware that more often than not, those things don’t happen! I’m planning for a full term, healthy baby to be born in February. 

Due date calculators put baby due in the first week of February. I haven’t yet seen a doctor (but I have an appointment scheduled next week) but I feel the date is a little later than that. A second or third week of February date seems more accurate but we’ll see. 

In the meantime, I have a few symptoms to report: Breast tenderness has been rampant for the last week. They aren’t just sore – they also feel like there’s scalding, twitchy fibers running through them from the nipple inwards. I’m also sooooo fatigued. Though I did have a wonky sleep schedule over the weekend so that could do it. Lastly, as of today, nausea. I’m munching some saltines and water and burping. Ugh. It’s not bad enough to vomit though I did dry heave once but it is causing some righteous vertigo. I guess the vertigo can be its own symptom. 
Official reveals will come in July. I’m planning a little get-together for my mom and will make the official announcement for her then. Sue and Shelly will get their announcements when we are all together for Pierogi Fest at the end of July. It is unbelievably difficult to not tell Shelly and my mom. I kind of tell them everything and turn to them for support and advice. Not having access to them as resources has left me scrambling. I can make it a few more weeks then I can give them the news. … I hope!

That’s pretty much it for now. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure this little mote of life has the best shot I can give it. Wish me luck!

08 Aug

The 1st Gallery

Galleries! Or maybe just gallery right now. 

I decided to juice up the way I’m going to put photos here and went and got Juicebox. It’s kind of awesome! It allows me to do clean and simple galleries that work on pretty much every device. PCs, Macs, iPhones, Android, and various tablets. 

My first gallery is of those fancy snowflakes because they’re pretty and all ready to go. 

Check it out! 
Gallery – Snowflakes
On a not photo-related note oh lord hormones make me sick sometimes. Ugh.