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Bad blogger! We are alive although this blog doesn’t seem to be. To the extent I’ve been on the Internet lately it’s been to obsessively Google allergies and obsess over health issues that are really not all that serious but have still taken over my brain. Also now I’m Googling toddler insomnia a lot. Is that even a thing? We were up for the day today at 2 am so I’m thinking yes, it is.

The insomnia thing doesn’t require a vivid imagination to picture. Basically there isn’t a lot of sleeping going on which is strange and seemingly out of the blue. Despite his first two years, B has actually been a great sleeper for a while now so I’m not sure what is going on there. I will say that the 2 hours spent in bed today listening to the Pandora Lullaby station would’ve been lovely under other circumstances though. Sort of like a really tired spa vibe, punctuated by cries from a baby who is also sleeping poorly.

Maybe it's the fatigue but I uncontrollably giggle every time I see this shirt.

Maybe it’s the fatigue but I uncontrollably giggle every time I see this shirt.

On the allergy front, we are trying some reflux meds with B to see how that goes. (The insomnia started before that so I don’t think they are related.) Giving medicine to a toddler is sort of like sticking your head in a lion’s mouth under the best of circumstances, so again I probably don’t need to paint a vivid picture of what that’s like with a toddler who has been waking up between 2 and 4 am every day.

Early bird gets the train.

Early bird gets the train.

We finally got F to a happy place on my diet of 6 foods (squash, potatoes, bananas, pears, coconut, and peanuts). They did a test for microscopic blood just to confirm everything was happy, which he passed. I cried because I was so relieved. Then I gave him the prescribed iron drops because all the bleeding has depleted his iron stores somewhat and guess what! It made him bleed again. So I cried again. Now his doc is trying to find another supplement that won’t do that, which is hard since we don’t know exactly what he is reacting to in the drops anyways. And in the meantime I’m continuing on my exciting diet. At this point if he starts bleeding again we don’t really have a good option to replace iron so I really don’t want him to bleed again. I have made a few small changes, however, which have gone fine. I added in dates so I can have peanut butter cookie Larabars, and I added in wine for mental health.

Allergy update

There is good news and bad news with both boys.

B is doing a lot better! Ever since I took him to the doc for a height/weight check he has been eating what appears to be a semi-normal toddler amount. So either he’s been f@%#ing with me this whole time and finally realized he pushed me too far when I was going to test him for Celiac, or something changed.

Coincidentally (or not?) that same visit was when the doc told me to cut soy out of my diet for F. Probably B stopped getting most soy then too since he eats a lot of what I eat. Then after about a week of great eating and me scratching my head, he had a soy hot chocolate from Starbucks. Two hours later he had some obvious tummy troubles, and then basically didn’t eat for the next 2 days. As soon as that was over he was back to consuming almost enough calories to live on. So, until he proves me wrong again, I’m going with the theory that he has not only a dairy allergy/issue, but a soy one as well. The good news there is (maaaaybe?) we figured it out. His mission on this planet is to make me crazy and shave years off my life though, so I’m not putting a lot of stock in this diagnosis at this point. I’m just excited that for now he is eating something. The bad news is if it was the soy then I basically poisoned him for almost 3 years.

He was sent by aliens to test the limits of maternal sanity. This device is how he uploads data to the mother-ship at night.

He was sent by aliens to test the limits of human maternal sanity. This device is how he uploads data to the mother-ship at night.

Speaking of poisoning my kids, F is still having issues. They even seemed to be getting worse not better after I cut out dairy, soy, wheat/gluten, eggs, corn, and tree nuts. Then I ate a ton of gluten-free Rice Krispies mixed with rice protein powder (don’t be jealous!) and his body completely revolted. Now in the traditional allergy world rice is supposed to be super safe and hypoallergenic so wtf. Basically though his reaction was so bad that the doc was saying we needed to test him for anemia and put him on “hypoallergenic” formula immediately if it continued. So since I want to keep nursing him (for reasons I’ll go into another time) and I think we can eventually get to the bottom of this, I’ve gone on an elimination diet. Dr. Sears has a popular one, I mean “popular” with the really small group of moms who have to go down this road, but it is rice based and requires meat so no thanks. I made up my own and it includes bananas, pears, coconut, squash, potatoes, and peanuts. Basically I’m eating just that (plus coffee and diet sierra mist because sanity) and hoping F gets better. Then if he does I can add foods back in one at a time and look for any reaction. I’m keeping a running list of ok foods.

Since taking this pic I've added chocolate, which opens doors to chocolate pb and chocolate coconut milk and coconut ice cream.

Since taking this pic I’ve added chocolate, which opens doors to chocolate PB, chocolate coconut milk and chocolate coconut ice cream.

You would think it would be horrible and I’d be wasting away, but you’d underestimate my ability to eat straight peanut butter for days. I haven’t lost a pound and haven’t totally gotten sick of PB yet so hooray. Fingers crossed he can quit it with the bloody diapers and projectile vomiting. The good news is F is doing better on this diet so far. The really good selfish news is I don’t think I have to cut out peanut butter and change my blog name. The bad news is obviously that this kid has issues with food and introducing solids should be a lot of fun.

"You're not dumb enough to give me rice cereal, are you?"

“You’re not dumb enough to give me rice cereal, are you?”

In case anyone cares here are the common triggers for FPIES. They aren’t your parents’ allergens.

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America’s Birthday Party

B asks SO many questions that have complicated answers he really can’t process. Rather than dumbing things down and simplifying, since that never satisfies him anyways, I try to give him a version of the real answer (if I know it) and let him take away from it what he will. But really sometimes the simplified answer is the best one.

Me: Tomorrow is a special day, it’s the 4th of July!
B: What is the 4th of July!? Is it a holiday?
Me: It’s the day we celebrate America!
B: (Blank stare)
Me: It’s the anniversary of the day we declared our Independence from… ehh not gonna go there. It’s the anniversary of when we became a country, well that’s not exactly right but that’s just a simpler way to think about it. I think people might consider the constitutional convention when we officially became a country? … Ummm we will go to a parade and watch fireworks and eat cake!
B: Is America having a birthday party??
Me: Yes. Yes it is. That is exactly how I should’ve explained it to a 2 year old, thank you B.

USA!

USA!

They’re going to take over the world

F had his two month checkup the other day and is 90th percentile for height and weight, but only 40th for head. B had his growth check and is 10th % for weight , not super tall (percentile depends on how you want to measure the tiger), but 90th for head. (He has gained and grown some, although not tons, so we are refraining from panicking for now to give him some more time.) Anyways, they could not be more differently proportioned, and I can’t stop picturing this:

In this case they are both geniuses of course.

In this case they are both geniuses of course.

Also, the doc said it’s reeeeally rare for kids to have the issues that F does from anything other than soy and dairy so suggested we try probiotics for a few days on the theory that he just hasn’t healed yet from those two things. Guess he’s really special because it isn’t working. Time to eat only tree bark and see if that can help him. Send your favorite vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, taste-free recipes! (She did say nut issues were exceedingly rare so I could keep those for now, hooray!)

Breatharian

Turns out the dairy was not enough. Cutting it out made F’s symptoms way better but not totally gone, which means he’s reacting to something else in my diet. Now I’m dairy and soy free in hopes that this helps him. (50ish % of kids who have the dairy issue also have soy issues so this is the best guess as to what the lingering irritant is.) I am also a lifelong vegetarian (not for any particular reason other than I’ve always thought it’s gross, my kids are allowed to eat meat, my family ate meat growing up I just flat out refused starting at 10 months old, etc etc. Yes it’s weird and maybe it’s somehow genetically my fault that my kids can’t eat anything.)

Once you take out meat, dairy, and soy, this does not leave a lot of things I can eat so that’s been fun. The doc said if F’s not better by Monday then either it isn’t soy, or it’s soy and something else on top of the things-that-taste-good-cake. We will pursue other testing to rule out things that are not food allergies/intolerances/whatever, but assuming (hoping?) those are negative then I have a few options. I can do a total elimination diet until his symptoms go away and then slowly add things back in to figure out the problem, or try him on some hypoallergenic formulas (which I’ve heard of FPIES kids reacting to anyways soooo…) Motherhood has turned me into a total hippie so it shouldn’t come as a shock that I might be about to start a diet of rice and tree bark.

 

Ingredients for a fun weekend!

Ingredients for a fun weekend!

The good news is that coffee and Diet Coke are allergen free. (Unless some heartless, horrible person tells me otherwise?) Don’t think for a second this eating plan is going to force me to make healthy choices.

Good thing they're cute. (And good thing it isn't affecting F's growth!)

Good thing they’re cute. (And good thing it isn’t affecting F’s growth!)

Fingers crossed he is miraculously cured over night and I can proceed with the relative cornucopia of food options on this vegetarian, dairy-free, soy-free diet of mine!

Toddler astronomy lessons

A few weeks ago, in those crazy newborn days that weren’t really crazy this time, my mom took B to the planetarium. I honestly didn’t think he’d get a ton out of it except that it was a big space (haha) outside of the house where he could run around and look at shiny things that weren’t his baby brother. I stand corrected and he is obsessed.

Just hanging out on Mars.

Just hanging out on Mars.

They came home with a set of inflatable planets, we have since bought one planet book, and we are wearing these things out. We’ve explained how we live on Earth, how Earth and every other planet goes around the sun, how the sun gives us heat and light, etc etc. We’ve also tried to explain the whole concept of outer space in general and how if you take a rocket ship up through the sky and past the clouds you eventually leave earth and are in space. I’m not delving into these topics because I think it’s time for space camp or preschool is falling short with their curriculum, he just keeps asking! And I truly have no idea how to explain these things that I don’t even understand at a 2 year old level. So here are some of the conversations we’ve had on the topics of astronomy and astrophysics (filed under things I never thought I’d discuss with my toddler):

B: Mommy, is Pluto a dark dwarf planet?
M: Yes! (I know this one.)
B: Why is it a dark dwarf planet?
M: Well it’s dark because it’s very far away from the sun and we call it a dwarf planet because it’s small.
B: Why is it small?
M: Ehhh it never gathered enough mass in the aftermath of the Big Bang? Umm it has similarly sized orbiting bodies that it hasn’t pulled into its gravitational field so that’s why we say it’s small?
B: BLANK STARE
M: Well, that’s just the way it formed a long time ago in the solar system.

B: Mommy is Mercury very hot!?
M: Yes! It’s the closest planet to the sun and that makes it very hot!
B: Is it the hottest planet in the WHOLE WORLD!?
M: Ehhh well the whole solar system… see we live on ‘The World’ which is the same as saying the Earth so Mercury is a different world…
B: BLANK STARE
M: It’s very hot! Ouchie I’m on Mercury and I’m burning!
B: Why is it so close to the sun?
M: Oh god, umm, something about the Big Bang again and gravity and… That’s just the way it formed a long time ago in the solar system!

B: Mommy, why do the planets move around the sun?
M: Uuuuhhh well the gravity of the sun keeps them close to the sun and something knocked them into motion a long long time ago and they don’t ever stop because there’s no friction… or something, I’m making this up…
B: BLANK STARE
M: That’s just the way they formed a long long time ago in the solar system!

Even trains orbit the sun! (F is riveted.)

Even trains orbit the sun! (F is riveted.)

In conclusion B probably needs a few more years to be able to process more abstract concepts and I definitely need a lot more science classes before we’re really ready to tackle this one. But at least he’s taking an interest in science and that makes me giddy! Also, I know he’s listening closely and my glorified version of ‘just because’/total non-answer is sinking in. The other day I said to B, “My head is itching… I hope you didn’t bring home lice. Why do you think my head is itching?” And he announced very proudly without missing a beat, “That’s just the way it formed a long long time ago in the solar system!”

(We don’t have lice and my head is not a planet.)

What I’ve learned about allergies in babies so far

In which I engage in a very lengthy discussion about poop and why my kids can’t eat anything that tastes good. In other words, I will commit every Internet parenting sin and describe my kids’ diaper contents and go on about how super speshul their needs are and why I am amazing for figuring it all out. Everyone who is not my dad might want to skip this post.

Medically speaking, “allergy” means something very specific. The kid that eats a single peanut and starts getting hives and wheezing has an allergy. Those types of responses are caused by the kid’s immune system. Most everything else is some kind of intolerance. Except that when you say intolerance people think you live in a tree and are making sh*t up so I prefer to go with allergy anyways.

Whether an allergy or intolerance is suspected you will probably endure actual allergy testing first. I guess this is because even though the tests are fairly inaccurate, at least they have a test. Unless your kid responds to one of these prick tests or blood tests (not all kids who are truly allergic even do!) then the way to “diagnose” is to feed your kid the offending food and see how miserable they are.

Based on this “method”, both of my kids are said to have FPIES (Food Protein Induced Entercolitis Syndrome.) Some symptoms are cut and dry, like bloody diapers. Others, like extreme fussiness, are not. If your kid’s symptoms fall under the latter heading then people will think you’re full of it. You might even think you’re full of it sometimes and question whether you’re seeing patterns where there are none because you’re so desperate for the screaming to stop.

That brings me to B. True to form, he wasn’t exactly by the book. His major symptom was misery. So basically a lot and a lot and a lot of screaming. All.night.long. Also he was neeeeeedy all day long. (How much of the neediness was personality and how much was the fact that he was in serious pain most of the time I guess we’ll never know —> talk about maternal guilt.) Additionally he had eczema, but we were way more troubled by the screaming. Lots of people told us, “Eh, babies cry! He’ll grow out of it!” or “He’s just manipulating you and you need to let him cry it out!” As I paced the halls with a screaming-bloody-murder-baby trying to shhh, bounce, snuggle, nurse, binky, whatever him, I couldn’t imagine what he was possibly trying to manipulate me to do since I was doing EVERYTHING. I knew he was in pain but it was really hard to get to the bottom of it. Anyhoo, long story short I eventually took dairy out of his diet and then mine (he was doing some solids and some nursing by the time we figured it all out) and he stopped screaming at night and the eczema cleared up. Voila! So pretty much I didn’t care if someone thought I was full of sh*t because my kid no longer seemed to be in pain and I slept better (very low bar.)

B was really helpful with the research on this topic.

B was really helpful with the research on this topic.

With F, also true to form so far, he follows the manual exactly. He started exhibiting major congestion really early on. We rushed him into the ped who diagnosed him with a cold, which made us feel like terrible parents for ever letting him leave the house. But the congestion never got worse or better. Plus he had constant green and mucusy poo and was puking a fair amount. After maybe two or so weeks of no change with his symptoms, I cut out dairy for a couple of days. And what do you know his cold was cured and his poop went back to normal baby poop. Oh, except once the green was gone I could see the little specks of blood in his diapers. It didn’t even require a visit to the office, and over the phone my ped said there is a 99% chance those things were caused by a dairy allergy/intolerance/whatever we are calling that.

Very little upsets this chill little dude, so at least there's that.

Very little upsets this chill little dude, so at least there’s that.

With F now, we are hoping that any residual symptoms are a result of some dairy still floating around in my system and/or his and not that he has issues with another food on top of dairy, like soy or eggs (shoot me now.)

With B now, we are pretty much committing to the crazy people who live in trees diet and going gluten-free for a while to see if he gets more of an appetite and maybe gains some weight. I’ve even heard that people with Celiac can develop a dairy allergy (intolerance) as a secondary response because their system is so inflamed from all the gluten. So maybe in the end he will get to trade the allergy fairy his dairy issues in exchange for gluten issues?

"Let's just go paleo and maybe start doing Crossfit."

“Let’s just go paleo and maybe start doing Crossfit.”

Oh, the other thing I’ve learned so far is this stuff takes a lot of Googling and obsessing on the part of the parent. Thankfully, I guess, ‘obsessive Googler of medical issues’ is my middle name. We are really lucky to have an awesome and attentive pediatrician who takes serious time with each kid, but even she is never going to draw the connections between my diet and the kids’ symptoms without my paying attention and reporting it first. That’s not meant to be self-congratulatory as I clearly still have no idea what’s going on with my kids and their intestinal bleeding etc. It’s just a fact that you do have to be a touch obsessive and willing to document trends to get to the bottom of these things since there are no medical tests.

I like to think I’m hot on the trail of these issues… maybe.

Goodbye Ben, Goodbye Jerry

Well it’s official. F is following in his big brother’s footsteps and has the same dairy allergy. Our pediatrician said I can try eating dairy again at 9 months and see if he tolerates it. She said a lot of kids grow out of it by then so there is hope, but since B didn’t then there is less hope. Goodie.

What do you mean fake cheese tastes like vomit? I love vomit!

What do you mean fake cheese tastes like vomit? I love vomit!

In good news, it was really not painful to diagnose this time. F’s symptoms were even more cut and dry than B’s, and I knew what I was doing and didn’t waste any time ignoring it.

There is more bad news however, and that is we areĀ  starting to wonder if B has a gluten allergy. (I know, I know, how very hippie and trendy of us. The kid is kind of turning into a movie star with all of his special dietary requests as it is.) There is a blood test for Celiac, which our ped said she could go ahead and order now since he does have a lot of the symptoms, or we could wait it out a bit and see if his symptoms get better. The trouble is every symptom he has could be explained by Celiac or by something else so who really knows. We are still deciding what to do about testing given how not obvious the whole thing is plus a toddler blood draw sounds a lot like sticking your head in a lion’s mouth.

Maybe it's because he's from Mars and needs to be following a Martian diet of orange rocks.

Maybe it’s because he’s from Mars and needs to be following a Martian diet of orange rocks.

And so that is what I’ve been doing with all of my mental energy lately, diagnosing allergies. I guess you could look at it as a fun sort of mystery if it weren’t for the whole troublesome health effects and cutting out entire food groups thing. Also, allergies are sort of like horoscopes at times. You can read a list of symptoms and be like, “Well yeah! My kid has those!” Symptoms for Celiac in a toddler include irritability, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, etc. So basically being a toddler is a symptom. Granted some of the other symptoms are a little more cut and dry but still it’s a little bit of a mind f&*%. Yay.

First postpartum run

More accurately that title would read ‘first postpartum workout of any kind and first run in foreeeeeever.’ I was thankfully able to work out, to some degree, on the elliptical until F was born but I had to quit running in December due to pretty bad pelvic pain/my entire skeletal system nearing collapse. I really, really, really like running. I know that is weird and somewhat annoying and at times I have complained about it and said I hated it, BUT being actually unable to run proved to me once and for all that I am obsessed. Not to go overboard on the cheese factor, but I don’t really feel like myself unless I can run. (I also don’t feel like myself when there is a parasite living inside of me but that’s another issue entirely that just compounded the feeling.) Needless to say, when I was pronounced cured of pregnancy and got the go ahead to start running again I was beyond excited and ready to do too much too soon and render myself immobile again. Yay!

I promised myself I would start out easy, with just walking. That promise lasted a few hours until I actually put on shoes to go for a walk and ended up jogging. The next day I did some elliptical and .5 miles of running on the treadmill. Then since those felt good I figured I was invincible so time to go big. (It sounds like I’m foreshadowing some kind of disaster here but I’m not. Or at least that disaster hasn’t happened quite yet.)

So Saturday morning I loaded up the double BOB (34 lbs), B (26 lbs), F (13 lbs), F’s car seat and adapter (8 lbs), and loads of snacks/drinks/supplies (who even knows how many lbs) and set out. If you do the math that is over 80 lbs of cargo. If you do more math you’ll realize that my 6 week old weighs half as much as my almost 3 year old, yikes.

the cargo

the cargo

All was going well until less than a mile into our run a firetruck stopped and the driver rolled down his window. I figured somehow he must’ve been able to tell that B was a fan but nope he just asked if I was “doing ok with that thing?” I replied that I was and congratulated myself on looking so out of shape that emergency responders were concerned.

At around a mile I told B we were going to turn back since I didn’t want to do too much. He was having none of that and I was so excited that he was into it that we kept going. As we approached the 1.5 mile point, which also happens to be up a huge hill, I asked B if he was going to give me a high five when we got to the turnaround point. At this point I was crying a few melodramatic tears of joy at being back out there/knowing I was going to complete 3 miles since we had to get back to the car/sharing this experience with both boys even though one was asleep/yadda yadda. Well we made it and I asked for my high five. B looked very confused and said, “Where is the fire station?” I told him, “Umm it’s 5 miles to get to the fire station, we aren’t doing that today, that will have to wait for another time. Are you going to give me a high five?” My miniature Bob Harper replied, “Not today Mommy. Maybe next time when we go to the fire station.”

victorious

victorious

We made it back to the car and I still got no high five from B. Although a mom pushing a single jogging stroller did tell me I was awesome, which was much appreciated after the fireman and my own son knocked me off my self-congratulatory pedestal.

So in conclusion: I love running, I’d rather do it pushing 100000 lbs than carrying any extra lbs at all, firemen are nice, and I’m going to have to work a lot harder if I want to impress B.

Our bedtime routine and nights right now

I have not talked nearly enough about sleep lately so hopefully I can make up for that here. I think it goes without saying that the word ‘routine’ is used loosely?

We had a pretty set rhythm down with B going (you know, as set as he allows things to be) and are still in the midst of figuring out how F fits into that but I’ll just go with what an average night looks like for us right now. The word ‘night’ is used loosely as well, since we start this whole process around 5:30 or 6 pm sometimes and are usually up around 5 am.

It takes a lot of steps to achieve this level of squished discomfort.

It takes a lot of steps to achieve this level of squished discomfort.

So here is what we do:

-Get milk ready for B. (We mix almond milk, hemp milk, and a little baby oatmeal since non-dairy milks tend to be less caloric and filling.)

-Get both boys in nighttime diapers and F in PJs. B has started REALLY caring about what he wears and PJs are on the no-no list so he just sleeps in a shirt and pants. FINE, WHATEVER.

-Usually G is still not home at this point so the three of us pile in the big bed and read stories while both boys have their milk. Why, yes, this is an athletic feat on my part as F is nursing and B demands that I, “Read the book with two hands, Mommy!!!!”

-Mercifully, G tends to come home around this step in the process so when F inevitably doesn’t go right to sleep or needs a new diaper, or B complains that, “His feet are touching my train!!” or something, G can take him. This is the part where things can get hairy if I’m on my own but I need to grow up about that.

-We brush teeth (for those of us that have them), turn off the lights, whine about how the lights are off and it’s too dark to see even though it’s still broad daylight, negotiate keeping the bathroom light on, turn on the white noise machine, and I stay with B until he falls asleep. Often both of us pass out.

-G rocks/walks/whatevers F to get him to sleep and then either puts him in the pack n play next to me, or if G is going to stay up and watch soccer anyways then he puts F somewhere in the living room next to where he’ll be. On those nights then G waits for F’s first wake up and gives him a new diaper and sometimes a bottle before bringing him to me. On the nights F is in the pack n play then I diaper him and then he joins us in the big bed.

Sometimes all goes well. Sometimes not.

Sometimes all goes well. (Sometimes not.)

-F wakes up 2-4 times a night, usually 3, which isn’t so bad. B did the same at that age and slowly grew that number to about 10000000 so I have absolutely zero hope that this will continue. F also rolls and inches himself forward which is terrifying me right now and I’m not really sure what to do about it? I keep him at least a foot away from the pillows and a foot away from the edge of the bed (he’s too young for a bedrail) which gives the rest of us no room and I still worry he is going to bury is face in a pillow or roll off the bed. (Our bed is maybe 10 inches off the ground and he would land on carpet so not a real crisis just preferable to avoid.)

-The boys and I are all up before the sun, at which point I require one cup of coffee per child before I can address anyone else’s needs.

So that’s pretty much the ‘norm’ in our house and now I’m curious what other people do??