Tuesday, January 24, 2012

better days

"Gray skies are gonna clear up, just put on a happy face..."

Last week was quite possibly one of the most emotional weeks of my life. The decision to stop nursing was one of the hardest I've made. Not many people realize that last week was the first time I EVER gave one of my babies a bottle myself. There was never a need for me to give one before... I've been blessed to be with both girls full time since their birth and I just nursed full time because that's just what I wanted to do.

I also hadn't banked on the hormone crash that comes with sudden weaning. I spent two nights on the sofa, sobbing and curled up to my husband, asking if I was making the right decision. I was sick with a massive sinus infection, to boot, and spent several late nights awake coughing, hot towels on my face and crying. A lot of crying. Friday morning things came to a head when I had a bad reaction to some medication and I got extremely sick and laid on the floor of my bathroom for 3 hours.

And then, at some point in the day, the clouds parted and the sun peeked out from behind its cover.

Within a matter of hours, I felt as if I had stepped out of a thick fog I had been living in for 6 months. I literally felt as if I could see clearly for the first time in ages.

The baby slept a 9 hour stretch that night and after a bottle, went back down for another 4. 13 hours of sleep.

Everyone wound up sick over the weekend (save J, thankfully). Both girls have snot filled noses and lots of coughing. I landed myself in an urgent care clinic on Sunday morning begging for an antibiotic to rid myself of the drama going on in my sinuses. But we are all on the mend and discovering our "new normal." Because this is NOTHING like the normal of a week ago.

So, onward and upward.


Bits and pieces of life from the past few days?

1) Little L is potty trained. I am so proud of this. The pink princess potty "magically disappeared" one day, too. She still wears pull-ups at naps and bedtime but she often wakes up and goes to the potty herself and I find them dry when I take them off after her sleep. We have made several successful trips out and she has been at her Mother's Day Out class for 2 whole weeks in undies with no problem. I cannot believe I navigated this on top of everything else, but I am so glad I did.

2) Baby S had her 6 month check up today. I fell more in love with our new pediatrician as she was fine with my delaying this series of vaccinations and eliminating the flu shot all together. Baby S's little body has been through a lot in the past week, on top of being sick with a cold, and I just wasn't ok with her body being flooded with that stuff on top of everything else. I also think she is sensitive/allergic to eggs (I had whittled eggs and peanuts out of my diet on top of everything else before the great switch over) and I don't think that risk is worth it for the benefit of the flu shot. I much prefer the flu mist anyways, so I may just hold off on her getting any flu vaccine until she's old enough to get that (2). Beyond that? She had already gained almost a full pound from her appointment LAST WEEK and had jumped 10% in the weight percentile (29th to 39th). She was 66th for height (26.25") and 77th for head circumference.

3) Our formula is expensive. And it stinks to high heaven. I hate washing bottles, and I am quite OCD about the whole thing. I cannot leave a dirty bottle in the sink, so I have to wash them immediately. Even if it is 3 AM. I now understand why everyone around me complained about what a beating Dr.Browns are to clean.

4) FOOD. I am eating whatever I want again and I am loving it. I was afraid I might have a sensitive tummy to reintroducing dairy but I've actually been just fine. I'm sure I'll gain a bunch of weight back fast.

5) My husband is "glad to have me back." I was really shutting myself off in a shell before this decision... just not myself at all. I'm blessed to have a man who is so beyond patient and supportive.

6) All of the "to do's" that were sitting around my house unfinished (oh, there were MANY) have been tackled in the past few days. I've had the drive (and the time! 2 hour naps!!) to just get things done and I feel awesome. I had piles of random things I needed to tackle all over and I am just so happy to have everything done.

7) I am planning a THIRD birthday party. I have no idea how that it is possible. It was one of those daunting things I couldn't seem to muster up enough energy to just do and I forced the issue as a priority yesterday. We both agreed we couldn't stand do it here at the house again and I knew if I didn't book something now, I'd be out of luck pretty quickly. Party is booked. Invites are ordered. Cake has been picked and theme approved by the birthday girl. (It is SO WEIRD she has an opinion about it this year, but at the same time I love it.)

This is the day the Lord has made; I will be glad and rejoice in it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

6 months old; the next chapter in our lives

Last night around 4:45 AM, I had a huge "A-HA!" moment, and it all started with a burning breast duct last Friday night.

You see, I've tried to be as non-dramatic and whiny as possible with this whole nursing experience. I know I've complained some here and there but the absolute bottom line truth? My life has been miserable for the last 6 months. The MSPI diet has been brutal for me. I eat a small variety of things and I am constantly reluctant to put anything at all in my mouth. I stand around at parties and functions out with a glass of water and smile and act like I don't mind that I'm not able to eat anything. My body has been in complete and utter revolt. I've lost 30 lbs in 6 months with zero exercise. My hair is coming out in clumps. I'm having bizarre skin issues. My digestive system has been so screwed up, I've worried if I have somehow created my own food intolerances or if I've damaged myself. I have had so many blocked ducts and milk blisters, and no one can tell me why.

Beyond me, baby S has just never been right. We had good days here and there, but generally speaking, she has always been fussy, cranky and sleepless. I haven't had more than a few hours of sleep in a stretch for as long as I can remember. In fact, I'd say that my average sleep each night for the better part of 6 months has been 4 broken hours, at best.

This is not a life that benefits anyone. Anyone.

Just for the sake of "breast is best."

Friday night I started feeling an intense searing in my right breast. I had no idea why and hoped it would just go away. It persisted the entire weekend, but I had no fever, no lumps, nothing to indicate mastitis. The pain got so great Saturday that I actually caved and called my ObGyn's emergency line. He was kinda shocked because I never even called his emergency line once when I was pregnant. (Either time) I suggested to him that I maybe had thrush but there were no classic symptoms on me or the baby but I didn't know what else it could be. He suggested ibuprofen and heat and call him if it didn't get better.

Nothing helped. It didn't get better.

But I rode it out until Tuesday and went to see him. He told me he couldn't believe how frail I looked. He checked me over and said there was no obvious explanation for the pain and called the hospital lactation consultants to ask for their advice. They said it could maybe be an early case of thrush, to take the baby to her pedi and have them check her. If she was positive then we both probably had it and he could treat me as such. He looked me in the eye and said he was really concerned for me and wanted me to consider switching to formula.

Pediatrician visit went exactly as I expected. Baby S showed ZERO signs of thrush. But she did show signs that she has been dropping in weight percentile... AGAIN. She's in the 25th percentile for weight. She is so skinny. Pedi suggested maybe the crazy every-hour-on-the-hour night waking is related to acid reflux and she needs TWO full doses of preva.cid a day.

I sat in the parking lot after this visit and cried. I was so sick with a sinus infection, I could barely talk, and my breast was burning and my baby was crying in the back seat and I just felt... really hopeless. For the first time in a long time I felt broken.

And I came home and I told my husband that I wanted to try formula.

And we did.

I won't say that it was easy. I have been beyond emotional the past 2 days over this. Last night when she woke to eat at 4:30, I could tell she wanted nothing more than to snuggle up in bed and nurse. And I wanted the same. But I knew it would only serve to confuse her. So J gave her a bottle while I lied in bed and quietly felt hot tears running down my face (and lots and lots of snot running down my throat--ugly crying + sinus infection=VILE combo) and after she went back in to her bassinet and he got back in to bed, I laid there and cried for another little bit... and then it happened.


I love nursing. She loves nursing. But it ISN'T WORKING this time. We are happy together for those 15-20 minutes while she's eating. After that? She's miserable. I'm miserable. I feel like I have no life. I have no ME. I have no time to give my husband. I have less time to give little L than I can stand. I'm constantly holding a fussy baby who won't nap and whose tummy is bubbling and I'm up all night long, groggily fighting my way through all of this, all for the sake of keeping up nursing. I've spent HOURS and HOURS of time on my phone (while nursing or holding a fussy baby) googling allergies, MSPI, thrush, burning breasts, milk blisters.... MAKING MYSELF SICK with worry over what the best thing to do for her is and what will happen when she turns 1 and how much longer will I have to nurse her and WHEN WILL MY LIFE EVER GET BACK TO NORMAL?!

The noise of all of this has been utterly deafening.

And I realized at 4:45 AM that what I've been doing all this time has NOT been working. It is time to try something else. For every one's sake. At the very best, for her to be less fussy and my family to get back to normal and enjoy life again and at the very least, for me to be ME again.

Today? She laughed and smiled and played for 2 solid hours without fussing one time. She went down for a nap without screaming and she has been asleep in her crib for 2 hours.

I don't know what is to come. 24 successful hours on a hypoallergenic formula doesn't mean things will be perfect. But it does mean that it is time to press ahead on this chapter and close the other one firmly behind me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

bow to the pink plastic throne


That's right. You're staring at the face of my weekend. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, to be exact. I'm not quite sure what possessed me to FORCE the issue of potty training. Maybe it was the fact that I am tired of paying for pull-ups, the biggest scam in all of the diapering industry. (they are MORE absorbent than diapers and do not promote any desire to pull them up and down oneself, I promise) Maybe it was because I boldly announced to everyone within earshot during the entire month of December that at the new year I was going to make this priority.

MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE MY CHILD IS ALMOST THREE YEARS OLD!!!! And one of only TWO children left in her MDO class (10 kids total) that is still showing up to class with wipes and pull-ups.

Either way, I woke up Saturday morning and decided this was THE weekend. I have loosely read just about every potting training method on the market (and only then just outlines online for free--I never bought any of the books) and the 3-day method appealed to me the most and seemed the most practical. I didn't even follow the program word for word, just decided to take the basic structure of it and do it my way.

I mean, ultimately we were driven to this point because it was my fault I didn't push the issue when she was actually ready. She was quite ready when I was 8 months pregnant but I? Didn't have the patience or desire to deal with all the effort at the time, and she lost all desire once her sister came. And let me tell you, if you haven't potty trained someone yet, there is a LOT of effort involved. At least for us there has been.

SO. That is all I'm going to say about the details of potty training her because it is really her private business, literally. She's actually doing pretty darn good at this point, I'm quite impressed with her. Accidents have been had and I am POSITIVE will continue to be had. However, we are off on the right foot and it is too late to turn back now. I am committed to this effort. I pray to be 100% there by her 3rd birthday in March.


Also? I have this on my hands:

This is what my wise best friend refers to as the classic "teething pose." This baby has been shoving her fingers in her mouth non-stop for 2 weeks. Her temperament has been wonderfully sweet and easy going the past few days, but she's definitely been "complaining" about the pain in her mouth. (I swear it sounds like she's saying "mama" over and over again, though I realize she isn't) Today I took a peek in there while she was having a small screaming frenzy and I saw a small white nub poking through on the bottom front along with 4 swollen and bloodshot looking bulges in her gums. How is it possible my little bitty baby is already getting teeth???!! This makes me want to cry. She'll be SIX MONTHS old in 9 days.


Other random things?

*I dropped my phone in the new adorable case my husband gave me for Christmas and though the case totally did its job and saved the phone, the lovely thing cracked and broke.

*We discovered Whole-Foods prepares MSPI friendly pizza in store in a brick oven open flame. Husband got me one Saturday night sans cheese with artichoke hearts and garlic. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

*I caved and tried the dark chocolate last night. With the wine. I think we're ok. She was quite fussy this morning, but see above photo. I didn't notice that white nub until this afternoon so I'm betting white nub = source of morning fussiness instead of chocolate. (at least this is what I'm hoping, because that chocolate was SO GOOD) (as an aside, having a baby who is MSPI with reflux and nursing combined with teething and regular baby stuff is just downright HARD--it is so difficult to read them and determine what exactly is going on sometimes!)

*Little L told me today, totally unprompted, that "mama is my best friend." TEARS IN MY EYES, friends.

*God reminded me this week that even though things in my life often seem crazy, overwhelming and some days down right insurmountable, that I should always choose JOY. Happiness just happens from time to time, but joy is a feeling we choose to have in spite of all our circumstance. And my word, I CHOOSE JOY.

Hope this finds you all joyful today!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Butter me up!

We discovered last week that baby S is still QUITE intolerant of milk. J went to pick up take out from one of our favorite restaurants and the chicken breast which we had specified to have no butter on it looked a bit shiny and suspicious when he brought it home. There was no denotation anywhere on the take out container, the receipt or the bag that it was made without butter. His online order clearly showed he had specified no butter and they've always been great about accommodating us in the past, but I should have trusted my gut instinct. Instead, after hesitating for a few minutes, I tore in to that piece of poultry as if it were my last meal because I was starving.

Within 12 hours, I realized it was definitely the wrong decision.

There were some very bad days and nights in this house following that incident. I decided that, for now, I will no longer be eating outside of our house. At all. It isn't worth the risk and it is unfair of me to expect some unknown person to put my babies' food allergy at the forefront of their mind in this situation. I am not the majority by any stretch, I am not even the minority at this point. I am tiny blip on a radar for a huge operation that is in the business of serving mass amounts of people food. Good food lathered in butter.

In wake of this event, I have really decided to ratchet down on the food situation. I had a pretty good control over it all before, but I was getting lazy. We were eating out a few times a week, trusting strangers, and I was falling in to the bad habit of making the same 3 or 4 meals every single week. That's just not good for anyone. And yea, I'm tired and I'm not at all interested in cooking at the end of a long day that started at like 5 AM with a crying baby, but if I am going to keep nursing then I've got to make this work.

So. That's how I started off 2012.

But I have decided to do my best and turn each bad situation in to a positive somehow. This was just a way to help us test whether or not she is still suffering from MSPI at 6 months. And now we know and I will not make that mistake again.

After a long and thorough trip to Whole-Foods, though, I stumbled across an MSPI-friend margarine AND a dark chocolate bar.

That's right. I said chocolate.

I am kinda scared to eat it. It has been sitting on my counter for a few days. All of the ingredients are totally safe but there's a cross contamination caveat on the package and after last week I'm just a bit shell shocked. The cross contamination warnings have not been an issue on any other thing I eat but I'm just leery about a company who makes chocolate bars for a living. Though, at the same time, it's been almost 6 months and I also have a lovely bottle of Cabernet sitting next to it and I think I'll likely cave soon.

I do hope everyone else's year started off on a better foot than mine!