Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Months have gone by...

I would be lying if I said it was in the blink of an eye. Because you know what? I wasn't it. The days were long. The nights were longer. Tears have been shed (by all members of the T household).. But here we are. 6.5 months in as a family of four and dare I say that I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Are you ready for the biggest, backtrack, catch up post ever?

Because, I think I'm ready to type it.

I think some distance will allow me to write about the past few months with some reclaimed sanity, humor and touching sentiment.  I think.

I left off with the scariest initials a mother of an infant who was born in the winter can hear. RSV. Man, that was bad. Tiny was so sick and he was just so tiny. There were all these things that we were trying to get a handle on. Acid Reflux, ear infections, RSV, explosive blow outs, crying. lots and lots of crying. I just kept saying to anyone that would listen that something wasn't right. Babies should not nap for 30 min at a time. Babies should not be jerking the knees up to their chins while they sleep. Babies should not cry for such extended periods of time. 

We were at the doctor's office every week, sometimes twice a week. The Nutramigen formula cost a fortune (or so I thought). We tried to get coverage from the insurance company and we were denied. Tiny T was put on several medications to try and get his 'reflux' under control. Some days were so long and I was so overwhelmed. I am not going to use the phrase Post Partum depression, I'm going to use the word, reality. My reality was that I had a baby that was uncomfortable for large periods of the day, who did not sleep much and an active preschooler who needed my attention. Most of my mommy friends are done having children, so I felt isolated at times. It's impossible to go the bouncy castle place with a 2 month old during flu season.  As a result, life was harder in a way that I wasn't expecting. There were days I felt ill-prepared to take on the task of two children and keep up with the house, and stay awake past 10pm to try an enjoy Dateline or The Voice with Mr. T.  It was also FREEZING and bundling everyone up was just not fun!

So what happened...Time, Support, A Diagnosis, Time....


We all just needed a little more time to settle in. Tiny T needed some time to have his GI system mature.  Toddler T needed some time to see that his routines may get bumped around a bit, but mostly life was the same around here. I needed some time to realize that I couldn't be as 'on the go' as I was with Toddler T. I needed some time to figure out what I could do, what I could not do and to learn to let go of any guilt in saying no. 


As always, I have my support system. First and Foremost is Mr. T. I am quite sure that there were (are??) days where he pulls into the driveway and says a quick Hail Mary that he is not walking into a tornado. I am sure that on the days that he walked into said Tornado he had the fleeting thought to quietly ease out the door and take another lap around the block. But he hasn't, not that I wouldn't blame him. He is a hands on, down in the trenches, lets solve the problem dad. I may not always like that he rushes in with a solution... But sometimes they work out. Case in point - hiring a cleaning lady. Mr. T and I can do lots of things and usually work really well getting stuff done. Since the day we brought Toddler T home,  we just never got on the same page with cleaning. Add in a crying baby, sleep deprived mom and a baby that did.not.sleep and the situation became embarrassing. The smell of fabuloso is the most heavenly scent I have ever smelled. And in time, when things stay calmer more consistently- Ms. Rosa and her girls will go. But for right now, I get giddy when I see her car pull in the driveway.

We also, had tons of support from our families and friends that took Toddler T on play dates and just helped how they could. 

I also talked about it. Hopefully, not too much... But I tried not to just smile and say that things were going swimmingly when they weren't. 

I am grateful everyday for my family and friends. Every.single.day

A Diagnosis

When Tiny was 6 weeks old, I told my mom that he had been diagnosed with Acid Reflux. She was not impressed. Furthermore, after 3 different medications to target reflux and little improvement and worsening symptoms, she became less impressed. It took me awhile to see where she was coming from. Acid Reflux is a very 'current' diagnosis. I am in no way trying to say that it doesn't exist and that it isn't awful. Because I do think that Tiny does, in fact, suffer with reflux. But, if a 'current' diagnosis is applied, then a physician can stop looking at alternate reasons for the discomfort. As in, sure he's still crying.. it's reflux. In our case, that line of thinking cost us two more months of increasing pain and discomfort for Tiny. After being on Nutramigen for almost 2 months, our pediatrician decided to do a repeat test on his stool to see if it still contained blood. It did. At this point, Tiny's weight was not great and he continued to have an allergic reaction to the trace amounts of milk/soy proteins in the the Nutramigen. 

Well, if I had complained about the cost of that formula.. We were in for some serious sticker shock.

Tiny T was put on an elemental formula. An elemental formula has all of the milk and soy proteins broken down. If a child is reacting to the trace amounts, their symptoms should improve if their bodies do not have to process those irritating proteins. I knew it was expensive. I had been researching milk/soy protein intolerance and saw that a fair amount of kids wind up on it. 

It is $48 for an 11 ounce can. Let me put that in perspective. A 20oz can of generic/ regular old baby formula is around $15.

But, before I go off on my insurance company crusade (that will be another post)... Let me go back to the point. We needed a correct diagnosis to get to Tiny T well. All of the reflux medications in the world would not have done one darn thing for the fact that his lower GI tract was recoiling with the milk/soy proteins and he was not able to take in the proper nutrition. Hence, the poor weight gain.

Today, he is six months old. He weighs 18.5 pounds and has gained four pounds in two months. His skin coloring is rosier, his eczema patches are clearing up. His stomach is not gurgling like percolating coffee pot at all times. 


I said it before and I'll say it again. We just needed some time to find our footing and I think we are headed into sunnier days. 

I have so much more to write and will try to do so shortly.. As I am typing, my FOUR year old is deep into serious Lego play with Mr. T. Tiny is upstairs sleeping and things are good.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Appreciating humor when life isn't too fun

Sometimes a humorous situation happens just when you need it.

Just when I was getting my feet under me, we hit another few rough days with Tiny T.  We noticed that he had a cough on Sunday. I wasn't too worried because he had his two month well check on Monday. He survived his shots but we needed to schedule a follow up weight check as his weight had a significant drop off in the percentiles. His doctor thought he had a little cold but was not overly concerned about the sniffles nor the weight.

Mr. T and I decided to try an keep a closer eye on the actual amount of ounces and continue waking him up at 11pm to feed him.  Then Tuesday hit and he didn't nap at all. Then Wednesday came and he didn't nap again and spent most of the morning crying. Crying in the swing. Crying in the bouncer. Crying in his crib with his glow worm playing. Crying while I held him.  It was a challenging morning and I started to get concerned. I started second guessing EVERYTHING I was doing as his mom. Was he overtired, under stimulated. Was it really acid reflux or did I just have a fussy baby.

Then I heard the cough. It was more like a cough, followed by a gag then a frantic attempt for him to catch his breath. I paused, and thought that that cough was not too normal. Then I turned into a doctor (terrible, terrible idea) and came up with the hypothesis that his cough was related to his acid reflux. I went further with this hypothesis and talked myself out of calling the nurse line because he was JUST there two days ago and examined by his doctor. I asked my mom and my mother in law for their opinions. They both suggested that I call the nurse line. But again, I didn't. I was fearful that I was becoming that crazy mom with one too many calls into the office. I began to feel like I couldn't read Tiny T.. when it was apparent that something was going on.

I woke up this morning determined to get out of the house. I still wasn't sure about what was going on with Tiny.. But I knew that Toddler T really needed a morning out. So, it was the MOMs club to the rescue. We had a monthly meeting and as God was my witness, I was going. I was going to chat with my friends, Toddler T was going to play with his and life would be good. 

There were some new members and I overheard one mention that her son was born on January 1st at the Town Hospital. I looked over and recognized her. I said, "Wow, we were at the Town Hospital at the same time. My son was born on New Years Eve!"  Her response stunned and mortified me in the same moment.  She said, "Were you the one that couldn't get an epidural."  Me, "Pardon me? I mean it took awhile for the epidural to come but I did get it."  New Mom, "Right, you had a c-section and had to wait. My husband and I could hear you screaming."  Me, "Um, I'm not really sure how to take that."

I was known to this family as the screaming girl in labor. Only in Mommyland such a scenario occur and then both she and I exchanged phone numbers to hang out during the day.

But seriously, she heard me screaming.........

It was perfect timing that such an embarrassingly funny story would come my way. I came home, got over myself and called the nurse line. Turns out a wet cough has nothing to do with acid reflux and the doctor wanted to see Tiny.  One nasal swab later and we were told that he has RSV and an ear infection. We were sent home with a nebulizer and an antibiotic.  

I needed a laugh today because RSV is serious (treatable but serious). I also needed to be reminded that my instincts as a mother are valid even if that means moving into the pediatrician's office.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Catching my breath and regaining order.

The last few weeks have been rough.  

But this week, things seem to returning to normal. I took both boys out to run some errands and to the book store. Toddler T got a new book and Tiny T got a chance to have lunch at Barnes and Noble.  We started making plans for play dates and I have made dinner 3 nights in a row.

Yesterday, I got up.. showered and dressed in real clothes, took Tiny T to Target and treated myself to a Vanilla Latte... not decaf but without whipped cream!  I have begun to make beds, sort, fold and put a way laundry. I am vacuuming and doing arts and crafts with Toddler T.  I am starting to figure out ways to order our day.  

One of my biggest challenges has been Toddler T and the nap situation. He naps and then cannot fall asleep until 9:30/10pm.  He doesn't nap and life is a challenge from about 4pm until bedtime. Also, I'm trying to figure out what works best for Tiny's napping needs. So, I'm trying something out. Every afternoon, I am trying to get Tiny T to take a longer nap in his crib. This has been a little time consuming and I felt bad having Toddler T sit in front of the TV this entire time. What I am doing is bringing the whole gang upstairs and encouraging Toddler T to read or play in his room.. even 'rest' on his bed. Once I've gotten Tiny down, I then go in and read a few more stories. I have no idea if it will work long term, but it's worked twice so far this week!

It is amazing how these little/big events can help a girl get her confidence and footing back.  It has also helped me to realize that switching to formula continues to be the absolute right decision for us. Regardless of where I stand in the breast feeding/formula feeding debate, my son is happier. He is smiling. He is content. This in turn has made me happier and content and trickled down to Toddler T and Mr. T. 

I would say life is bliss, but we all know that that would be a lie! I'm still sleeping in fragments and I did have a 7 week old spit up half his bottle all over me at 5:15 this morning. So we haven't hit the stage where life looks like a Johnson and Johnson commercial, but we are happier.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

An Ironic Follow Up

As I sit to type this post, a smile comes to my face.
Not because, I'm feeling exceptionally witty or have fantastic Tiny T stories.
But because of how ironic it is, following my last post.

I have stopped breastfeeding.

While it was 100% my decision, the factors that lead to this decision were a matter of Tiny T's health.
I still believe that a mother should be free to chose the method in which she feeds her baby, free of judgment and commentary. I still believe that had I been able to continue nursing, I would never have been 100% comfortable in public. I still believe that it is a tremendous undertaking, physically and emotionally.

With all of this, I am still sad.

Let me backtrack.

In my last post, I detailed Over Active Letdown and Foremilk/Hindmilk imbalance. Shortly after I typed that post, it became clear that things were still not moving in the right direction. The extreme block nursing led to a sharp decrease in my supply, right as Tiny T hit a growth spurt. But there was more and something wasn't sitting well with me. Tiny T continued to arch his back, scream, have explosive blow outs in his diaper, and he was not sleeping.

At his one month checkup, his doctor suspected reflux and we started Zantac. I continued to power through breastfeeding, got my supply back up and then developed a yeast infection. This was getting CRAZY. But, like The Little Engine That Could, I just kept repeating.. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."  I mean, all of the adds tell you "Breast milk is best", so surely my effort was the BEST thing for Tiny T, right?


One week after starting the Zantac, things were getting worse. We are talking all day crying, short naps, diaper rash and an inability to get the Zantac into Tiny's little body. First off, the stuff is flavored mint. Think peppermint schnapps. My little boy smelled like he closed down a bar after ever dose. He would drool, throw up and his clothes would reek of the minty awfulness called Zantac. The doctor wanted to see us with one request. I needed to dumpster dive for a dirty diaper so that it could be cultured in the office. Blood in the stool and a positive result for Milk Protein Intolerance. 

I could feel the tears welling up. I had read about this online and knew immediately that I would have two options. Go dairy free and wait up to a month to have the dairy fully leave my system or switch to formula.  I left the appointment with a new prescription for Prilosec, a sample can of Nutramigen and instructions to call the office with my decision within the next day or so.

Mr. T and I had a long conversation that night. We weighed all of the options. And for us and our entire family, dairy free was not going to be conducive to a happy home. So that was it. I stopped nursing that night. I'll be detailing my tips for beating engorgement in another post!

I wish I could say that it was smooth sailing. Quite the contrary. The next 48 hours were incredibly trying. Tiny T cried and cried and cried.  I anticipated a trip to the emergency room, because I have never seen crying of that intensity last for so long. I was also panicked that he had only had 9 ounces of formula in 15 hours.  I can only thank God that this 48 hours coincided with a trip to my parents' house. I am honestly not sure what life would have been like without support. Even with the support of two other adults, I was still short tempered with Toddler T. I felt as though my heart was being twisted in a knot, while my spine was being crushed in a vice. I was exhausted and nervous. I second guessed my decision to go right to formula without giving dairy free a shot. I felt guilty and selfish.  I was overwhelmed. I wanted to hide under the covers. It was exhausting and I'm sure I was no peach to be around.

The good news is, Friday morning ushered in a new day. We went back to the doctor to rule out a reaction to the formula or something more serious. I left that appointment feeling hopeful that in just a few more days, we'd really be headed down the right track.  This seems to be the case. Tiny T has been   doing much better every day and I truly believe that the Prilosec and Nutramigen are working. I also know, in my heart, that I would not have been able to live a dairy free lifestyle without feeling some resentment. I would constantly be hyper vigilant about what I ate. Any time Tiny T seemed fussy, I'm sure I'd agonize about what I ate in the week before. In truth, I knew it was beyond what I could reasonably do. 

In another way, I wanted my body back. It is almost two years to the day of my first ectopic. In this two years, I have had surgeries, countless shots, blood draws, diet changes, 9 months of a pregnancy, a cesarian section and every challenge of breast feeding. I was feeling spent.  I had the energy to keep breastfeeding but not to add in a dairy free life.

I had to remind myself what the nurse told me three and a half years ago. "Take the emotion out. Babies need to eat, and they don't care how they get fed."

So ironic, don't you think? I was never going to be a lactivist but am now feeling sad that after 6 weeks, I am no longer nursing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why no one will ever mistake me for a Lactivist.

I read this little article on MSNBC the other day.  The term cracked me up, Lactivist. I guess its the new slang for a Lactating Activist.  I have so many thoughts and opinions on breastfeeding I thought I'd share a few.

Before I start, here is the best advice I have ever gotten regarding feeding a baby. It was from a nurse from the pediatrician's office.  We were there for a weight check with Toddler T. It was the summer, he wasn't gaining weight. I was hot, sweating, frustrated and overwhelmed. I may have been crying. The nurse looked at me and said, "Your baby needs to eat. He actually doesn't care how he gets fed and it doesn't matter how he gets fed. He needs to eat. Formula, breast, or breast milk in a bottle. It doesn't matter."

She was so calm and supportive of whatever we chose, she just wanted me to take the emotion out of feeding.

This is my stock answer when people ask about feeding babies. Take the emotion out of it. Easier said than done as I am right at a crossroads with where we are going with Tiny T.

With Toddler T, I used a combination of breast, breast milk in the bottle and formula until he was 6 months old. When he hit six months, I made the jump to formula only.  I was proud of myself and thought that if I had another baby, maybe I'd stick it out a little longer.  I thought that maybe I'd get over my fear of nursing in public. I thought a lot of things.

Then Tiny T arrived and as I've written in the last post, I was completely engorged by the time I left the hospital. I mean engorged so that there was no way this child could latch on appropriately.  I was so desperate for relief, that I even ignored his incorrect latch JUST so he would be able to nurse. For the record, that was a HUGE mistake which resulted in bleeding and cracked nipples. Terrible. Simply terrible to look down and see your child with a bloody mouth and know this little bundle of joy was the culprit of your pain.

I continued to pump once a day so that Mr. T could help out with a night time feeding.  I had a visit with a home care nurse and she helped with latch. Things started to get better and for about 4 days, I thought we were on the up and up.

Then all hell broke lose. I got sick. Toddler T got sick. I was doing feedings with a surgical mask on to spare Tiny T whatever bug we had caught. And then the tell-tale signs of oversupply and forceful letdown reared their ugly heads.

Oversupply means that your body produces too much milk. I know, I know.. cry me a river.. better to have too much than not enough, right. Wrong. Oversupply is awful. The ratio of foremilk to hindmilk is off, and your baby gets too much of the foremilk. The foremilk is lactose heavy and the hindmilk has the higher fat content. So what you end up with is a fussy/gassy baby, who is starving and pooping green.  It is awesome. Next, is the forceful letdown. With this large volume of milk looking for an outlet and only having one way out - things get ugly. Imagine your sweet baby latches on and instead of a blissful slow pace of milk - he looks like he has just latched on to an open fire hydrant. He gulps, he spits, he chokes, he latches, unlatches and cries. A LOT.

Having been through this before, with Toddler T, I knew a few tricks, pump a little first, try and let some of the excess milk spray into a burp cloth and eventually it should self-correct. Well, this go around it didn't self correct. After a call to the lactation consultant, I decided to block nurse. Basically, this means feed the baby off one side only for 2-3 feedings to send a signal to your body to simmer down on the milk production. Right, well the problem is, the side that you aren't feeding on, gets engorged and then we are back to latch problems. Tiny T cries, I cry and I swear to anyone who will listen that I will give it one more week. If in a weeks' time things aren't better, I'm going to straight pumping and bottle feeding.

I wanted to get past my fear of nursing in public. I even bought a cute nursing cover and thought, I can do this. But as the days dragged on...my faith weakened. I mean, how in God's name is a girl supposed to nurse and angry, choking baby with milk spraying everywhere, while trying to remain both discreet and keep an eye on a busy 3 1/2 year old. Simply put, I was not nursing anywhere other than my couch until this situation was rectified.

So, its for all these reasons, that you will never catch me picketing a store with my baby nursing in public.  Breast feeding is hard. It has many benefits but many challenges as well. I think that the only thing we should do is support a mom in whatever choice she makes, for whatever reasons she makes it. Because breastfeeding isn't always the beautiful, bonding experience shown in the videos. It hurts, it can be emotionally and physically draining and there can be a whole host of reasons why it isn't always the best.

Here I am, four weeks into it and I'm not sure where I'm going. I know that Tiny T will be fed and he will grow. I also know this this whole process is 2 steps forward, 1 step back until we settle into our groove. I'm just hoping we settle sooner rather than later.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Having a newborn after getting used to a semi-independent little boy is similar to jumping into a freezing cold pool on a hot summer's day. It is a shock to one's system.


Here we are in week three and we are all still standing. How am I doing it? Well, it is very similar to how I got through the last two years; with a lot of help from our family and friends. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it, but I have had help almost every.single.day from returning home from the hospital with Tiny T.  I know so many moms who dive on in and are total superhero moms. I'm not one of them... I've learned to ask for and then accept help. It's so much better for everyone and generally people want to help.  My mom also reminded me that there is no need to be a martyr. If someone wants to unload your dishwasher or throw in a load of laundry, smile and say thank you.

This is exactly what I've done. I knew on some level that going from one to two children would be taxing, overwhelming, challenging and tiring. What I didn't count on was the emotional side of it. Splitting my time between a helpless newborn who is relying on me for everything and the an active 3 1/2 year old who has grown accustomed to a busy day with Mommy has been hard. I find myself hoping that Toddler T is doing ok with the transition. I worry that he feels I am passing him by for this baby but then when he skips off to spend the afternoon with grandparents, I'm sad that he seems so grown up.  

There are enough practical challenges to adjusting to a new baby - must we add hormones to the mix?

In all seriousness, we've had a few challenges.  

The hospital had run out of pump attachments, so I started off my breastfeeding journey totally engorged and about 2 hours away from developing mastitis.  Latching was a challenge and Tiny was losing weight and turning a lovely shade of pumpkin. Luckily (or unluckily) for me, I had become engorged when Toddler T was born, so I was able to get back on track in a few days. The things that helped; a marathon pumping session to drain all of the milk (think ONE HOUR and 8 OZ of milk), percocet to help with the pain, moist heat to help the milk let down, massage and a brief check in with the lactation consultant from my pediatrician's office.

Once I got passed all that, Tiny T made great progress with his weight gain and started to lose his pumpkin hue.  I continued to feel better every day but was SHOCKED at how swollen my feet were. When your UGGS are too tight across your ankles- you are in a SORRY state.  Mr. T and I started to eek out a routine for the nights and we were doing ok... Until, Toddler T started sniffling. Then he woke up in the middle of the night complaining of being 'chilly'. Then we got an automated call from his nursery school alerting us that a respiratory strain of the flu was making its rounds. Toddler T began to cough more, sneeze more and was generally miserable. Around this time, I noticed that I was feeling the same as Toddler T. So, out came the Lysol spray, Clorox wipes and masks for me and Toddler T.

The good thing was, my mom had been staying us for the past week- so we had a ton of help.  If it wasn't for her, I'm not sure we would have come out all smiles after a week of being sick.

But here we are, getting through each day. Some days have been better than others. Some have been worse. Today has been a good day. Toddler T is feeling better after starting antibiotics yesterday. Tiny T, gave us 2 nights with a 4 hour stretch in between feedings and I got out for a pedicure!

The two things I keep in mind are that - Tiny T has completed our family and the newborn phase is temporary.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The door shuts and its Game On

Well, no sooner had the security door shut behind me and I realized this was IT. I would not be discharged later that evening with instructions to drink lots of water and to take it easy. One look at the triage room told the story. The compression socks worn during a c-section were laid out on the bed and a gown was right next to it.  I guess this would be my New Year's Eve outfit of 2012.

I was told to get changed and that the doctor would be in to give me one exam and then we'd be headed to the OR.  What?? WHAT?? My bag was still in the car. Would we be those parents taking pictures with their cell phone cameras?  Did my parents know? What about Mr. T's parents?  We should call them. I must admit, I was having these thoughts in 2-3 minute breaks as that was how fast the contractions were coming. Which lead me to something else I was planning on with a scheduled C-section....


But no, there was no denying it. The pain was centered in my tailbone, problematic as I was laying on my back. Poor Mr. T was trying so hard to keep me calm. As this point, I had teetered right over into crazytown. At one point, he told me I was doing a great job. To which I responded, "Let's be serious here. I'm not. I'm not cut out for this. Where is the anesthesiologist????" The nurse tried to calm me down and made reference to the fact that he was on his way. I may have begged her to just be honest with me and tell me how long it was going to be. Teasing me "he's right next door" or "on his way", just wasn't cutting it.

Next in, was the Dr. who I'd never met before. She was nice enough and efficient. She informed me that I was 5 cm dilated.  Holy Crap, how'd that happen? And offered me one last change to change my mind and try for a V-Back. I told her that there had been enough changes and switches and I'd like to stay on track and go ahead with the C-Section and removal of the remaining tube. 

As my hysteria grew, my bag showed up with the camera. Mr. T put on scrubs and I was wheeled back to the OR.  Saint Anesthesiologist showed up and put an end to my pain in seconds. Then I started to cry- everything was happening so fast. We had been on this roller coaster for almost two years and now in a matter or minutes it was going to end. Luckily, Mr. T showed up at this point and was able to wipe away my mascara stained cheeks. (As emotional as I was, I didn't want raccoon eyes in those first pictures).  Everything progressed as a c-section should and at 7:15 pm on New Years Eve, our second son was held up over the curtain, Simba-Style (from the Lion King) and as I heard him scream and scream and scream, I exhaled fully in the first time for two years.