Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Moooom, Don't Be So Dramatic!

I can almost hear these words coming out of our little Emma's mouth. Let's just say she's adjusting to this whole formula thing just fine. No emotional scars on this baby... just give her some food -- any food -- and she's fine. She doesn't even seem to mind the horrific smell of this stuff (although it makes me want to gag!).

It has been really nice letting other people feed her and not stressing about pumping and replacing bottles. Besides giving me a break, it's a good way for her to get more comfortable around others. As some of you already know, she is a little particular about who holds her.

She even took a bottle from me okay. She was a little confused about how to suck at first, but eventually figured it out and was done in 2 minutes flat. Of course, that was a bottle of breast milk. The real test is when I try to give her formula, but she's taken it fine from everyone else, so I'm thinking positively.

She doesn't seem to be reacting to the formula either. She does have some dry skin on her cheeks all of the sudden, but I also gave her cereal the other day for the first time in a long time and it was caked all over her face. So, it might be from that, but I'm keeping a close eye on it. But if all goes well, she'll most likely be weaned by this weekend or next week at the latest.

I am also doing better than I expected. I thought for sure I would cry through our first bottle-feeding together, but I found myself more worried about her swallowing air that I didn't even think twice about it. Before I knew it, it was over, and I was fine. A much easier transition than I expected.

I have to say that I will miss the late-night feedings the most. That was the only time Emma nursed like a "normal" baby -- all snuggly and not so EXTREMELY wiggly. There is something special about no one else being up in the house and the two of us spending some quiet, relaxing time together. As most of you know, the words quiet and relaxing don't exactly describe miss Emma -- AT. ALL. But during our late-night feedings, she nurses and ends up falling asleep on my shoulder. Her sweet face always ends up facing mine and I snuggle with her, cheek to cheek. That is of course, in between kissing those chubby cheeks and little lips a million times. It is in those moments that all of this is worth it. Every single second. By the way, for those who are wondering, I will be nursing our next child for as long as I can. Like I said, totally worth it.

So we're doing great. Emma slept a pretty long stretch last night after Jeff gave her a bottle, so maybe we have finally turned a corner. Still, I'm not holding my breath. I don't count on anything happening more than once with this little peanut. I just treasure the moments when it goes well. It's the only way I stay sane. Plus, we are going away to Geneva this weekend, so I'm sure her sleep schedule will be all off and we'll be starting from scratch next week. BUT, we'll get spend some quality time with the B clan, and I may actually be able to order food from a menu, so I'm looking forward to it. I wonder if they have an Aurelio's in Geneva… :o)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Moment of Truth

So yesterday was Emma's follow-up with the GI. Her reflux has been bad (not worse, but not better); she's been constipated; she had lots of blood in her stool last week (after going almost 3 full days without a bowel movement); and she woke up crying 3 nights in a row after I ate some Vegan chocolate cookies (allergy-free AND delicious I might add...). So, I was expecting to be told formula was the next step. I was sad, but spent the last week praying about it and slowly came to terms with the fact that this was best for Emma. Plus, I've been having goofy things happening to me and have been registering record low numbers on the scale, so I was okay with it. I thought.

Then the GI tests her stool and not only is the consistency okay, but there was no blood. In other words, she's fine. The blood from the other day was because of her "constipation," which is actually normal, according to the GI. He said he has seen breastfed babies go 10 times a day and some go every 10 days. Our peanut is growing still -- currently 14 lb, 13 oz and 26 1/4 in -- so her body is absorbing what it needs and getting rid of it WHEN it needs to.

Oh, okay. But what about the reflux?

The Prevacid won't stop it from happening; it will only make it less painful. The rest she will have to grow out of over time.

Okay, so what does this mean?

Well, the diet has obviously worked, which means I can continue breastfeeding. I should be happy, right? But I'm not. Jeff really thinks it's time to move her to a hypoallergenic formula. But if I do that, it's for selfish reasons, not for Emma's benefit like I have been telling myself for the last week. That's hard for me. I feel like I'm letting her down.

Still, she IS uncomfortable when she nurses (I can tell it hurts her), and I am literally driving myself crazy about the eating thing. The second she cries, I rack my brain, "Oh crap. What did I eat?" I think the cookies put me -- and Jeff -- over the edge. It wasn't like I was cheating and had a slice a pizza. I ate something I thought was safe, but it still seemed to hurt her. And being responsible for physically hurting your child is a horrible feeling and terrible burden. I cried and cried out of guilt: I didn't need the cookies. How could I do that to her? That's when Jeff said, "Enough is enough."

After MUCH discussion, we've decided to wean her for the next week or two. It won't be the easiest thing I ever do, but I guess it is for the greater good. I hope. Part of me is relieved, while the other half is sad and full of guilt. The good news is I have an awesome support system. Jeff has been really supportive, and I know his concern is only out of love. He has a vested interest in Emma and me, so I know he has thought long and hard about this. And my mom and sister have also been great listeners, as have my close friends. Thank you everyone for your patient ears and kind words. I know I can get a little nuts sometimes and talk in circles, but you were all loving and non-judgmental. Thank you.

I guess it's all about letting go. A part of the parenting role that I just have to get used to. I guess part of me still felt I had some form of "control" if I was the one feeding her. But in the end, her true discomfort -- her reflux -- is nothing I can "fix."

As far as being sad about weaning, my mom reminded me that I will be sad no matter when I decide to stop breastfeeding Emma -- whether it's now or 6 months from now. So true. And maybe, just maybe she WILL sleep better at night (although I have to add that ALL current research says food has nothing to do with sleep patterns). Still, if we can eliminate one or two night feedings, maybe her reflux won't wake her up and she will be able to sleep comfortably -- hopefully.

So then came the moment of truth -- Emma's first formula feeding. She's never had anything but breast milk, but she took it okay. I wasn't there, but Jeff said she kind of looked at him like, "What's this?" and played with the bottle for a few minutes. Then she must have decided she was hungry enough, so she sucked it down. All of it. So now we wait and see if she reacts. The formula still has the proteins in it (which cause the allergic reactions), but they are supposedly broken down enough for her to easily digest. We will see. If she's okay, she'll be on formula from here on out (even it is $25 a can... yikes!). If not, I will continue to breastfeed. That's the plan.

One upside, of course, is I will be able to eat, eat, eat! It's weird to think about. I'm so used to water, veggies, organic oat bran, rice milk, fruit, and organic chicken and turkey, that anything else will feel "wrong." I guess that's the positive I received from all of this. I have always liked eating healthy, but now I even enjoy cooking healthy, as in from scratch. That's right... from scratch. I even made homemade French fries (in Canola oil) for Jeff the other day. Not rocket science and certainly not very healthy, I know, but the point is that before I would have never entertained the idea, especially when a McDonald's is just down the street. Why bother? Now I see how fun it is. I am making Jeff homemade spaghetti sauce tonight.

Overall, I plan to incorporate my new healthy habits into our everyday meals. I have to say that God is so good -- He always brings a positive out of every experience. Heck, if I didn't have the gestational diabetes, how would I have had the discipline to stay on this new diet? His plan is always perfect.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have planned my first splurges, and they are NOT healthy. Let me indulge you all: it will start off with a Starbucks white chocolate mocha (soy, no whip) for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I so miss PB!!) for lunch, and Aurelio's pizza (extra sauce) for dinner. And brownies for desert, of course. Not that I've put that much thought into it or anything.

So there you have it. Our first major parenting decision has been made. We just pray it was the right one.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

In Case You Missed the Email...

Our lil' fashionista in her lil' chair...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Brusha, Brusha, Brusha

"What, don't all 5-month-olds brush their gums?"

Monday, January 09, 2006

One of Our First Family Photos

This is from Emma's baptism, which was a few months ago, but I've been meaning to post it for a while now.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

They say to never pray for patience...

...otherwise, God might give you LOTs to be patient about. Well, I guess you could say that's where we are at right now! :o)

Overall, the GI appt. went well, although we didn't learn anything we didn't already know. He agrees that Emma has reflux and upped her prescription to Prevacid since the Zantac wasn't doing much of anything. This is quite the concoction. It took Walgreens two days to get it ready. I guess it's some sort of compound. We have to refrigerate it and shake it REALLY well before giving to her. She gets it twice a day about 20 minutes before a feeding. This is supposed to lower the acidic levels in her tummy and hopefully eliminate the pain she is feeling. We're praying that it works no only to eliminate the pain, but that it helps her (and us!) sleep again. The last few nights have been pretty bad. Maybe 1-2 hrs sleep tops. Of course, her cold hasn't helped, but thankfully that is going away! We don't need one more thing keeping Emma up at night. The Prevacid can take a week to 10 days to kick in, so pray, pray, pray!!! Jeff and I are truly at our wits' end.

The GI also agreed that she has a milk allergy and most likely a soy allergy too (quick fact: 50% of infants who are allergic to dairy are allergic to soy). Her stool tested positive for blood and is always mucousy -- sure signs of an allergy. And although you can't really get a clear answer as to what an infant is allergic to, with Jeff's milk allergy and my lactose intolerance, we're pretty sure that's the issue. I also have noticed that milk, red sauce, my prenatal vitamins, and products with major soy seem to affect her, so I'm staying away from all of those, as well as eggs and peanuts (just in case). Her reflux could or could not be connected to her allergy, but there's no way to know for sure.

The doc also encouraged me to continue breastfeeding up until my 6-mo goal, which made me happy. Although there are special formulas out there, he believes the benefits Emma gets from my milk override any negatives. We're also not introducing any dairy into Emma's diet until she is after a year old. My poor little bunny has to wait that long to enjoy cheese! Oh well, if I can survive that, so can she -- at least she doesn't know what she's missing! :o)

So there ya go. We have a follow-up appt. in 3 weeks to see if there is any improvement, and we'll go from there. Maybe I'll end up breastfeeding longer than 6 mo, but we'll have to see what's best for Emma. The GI doesn't want me to go on an elimination diet to target her allergies because he doesn't really feel they are conclusive and in the end, will drive me crazy (as if I'm not already?). Anyway, I sort of agree with him, although my friend Cara is having success with it. Still, I figure this guy does this for a living, so I'm going to trust him, and I'm just going to do my best without going completely insane.

The massive lack of sleep does not seem to bothering Emma though. She is smiling and talking up a storm and has definitely found her toes. She is almost rolling over from back to tummy -- she's so close! And sitting up is just around the corner. She can do it by herself in her Boppy, and the other day, she lifted herself up from an incline position and sat up for several seconds. The GI even said during her exam that she was almost there. I'm excited but sad at the same time... where does the time go?

Her new fav toy is her exersaucer -- she really amuses herself in it and methodically plays which each toy (I detect some anal traits here...God help her if she's like me!). She also loves anything she can get her hands on and put in her mouth. She also is VERY vocal -- as in she knows what she wants and you better listen and respond ASAP. And so it begins... :o)

Jeff and her are also bonding a lot lately. Since my exhaustion has reached record levels, he's been really good about taking her on weekends and the nights that he is home. It's really cute to see them together, and Emma really knows her Daddy now. Heck, yesterday he got her to take two naps that were over an hour. THIS. NEVER. HAPPENS. We're not sure if it was the meds kicking in already or if she was just beyond exhausted, but it was encouraging. I also got her back to sleep today for another hour+, so we'll see. We can only be positive at this point for the sake of our sanity. Thankfully we have our faith to give us hope. We know God wants Emma better just as much as we do!

That should do it for now. One side note: Great Great Grandma Emma turned 92 today and is as healthy as ever. In fact, we plan to pay her a visit this week, so updated pix to come. Stay tuned!