Monday, September 19, 2011

Tubes :(

It feels like forever since I wrote that last post.  So much has happened, much of it good!  We had a wonderful summer and went on an exciting road trip adventure for 2 weeks.  I'd like to write a post with some details and pics from the trip when I have more time.

A second ENT opinion has led us to decide to go ahead with ear tube surgery for Bug.  The surgery is tomorrow.  I hope with my whole heart that this is the right decision.  Again, we are doing this to find out more about his hearing (which seems to be pretty good, to me) and not because of ear infections (he hasn't had any).  We did not come to this choice easily or lightly, and I know I won't sleep well tonight thinking about it.  I know it is a routine procedure done all the time but this is MY baby.  He's not yet 10 months old.  I am sure everything will go fine and he'll be giving us his irresistible grin again very soon after the procedure.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tu-be or not Tu-be

Tu-be or not tu-be, that is the question.  Okay, that is an awful play on words but I could not resist.  The issue that I am referring to will become clear momentarily.

First, a quick update about my return to work.  The lack of updates should not be taken to mean that I was swallowed up by my employment-parenting responsibilities with no way to contact the outside world.  Any of my friends in Facebook know that I'm still somewhat active there.  Actually my lack of blog updates means that enough time has passed since my return to work that I have already worked 1/3 of the days remaining until summer vacation.  Not that I am having an awful time of it or anything.  I am actually enjoying the "break" from the house and the opportunity to be making connections with friends, colleagues and clients again.  The routine of it has been an adjustment, for sure, as there are many things that need to be organized on the nights before work and the mornings before I leave.  Pumping is a bit of a pain.  And I'm darn tired most nights afterward, but, really, I was tired most nights before I went back to work.  That's the reality of life with an infant and a toddler.

So, about the aforementioned tubes ... I'm referring to the ear tubes that the ENT has suggested for Bug after he turns 6 months.  He just turned 5 months, by the way.  Yet another dilemma has presented itself to us in regards to this guy's health.  Here's what we know:

- he continues to have fluid in his ears, although the levels seem to vary
- he shows more and more signs of hearing and making sounds, while there are still signs that he is missing some sounds
 - he has had no sign of ear infections (yet)
- tubes are usually done after multiple ear infections/chronic fluid, though I haven't seen much about tubes in babies as young as Bug
- kids who get tubes later (18 months or later) seem to catch up with their language despite having had chronic fluid/infections
- we really don't know if his hearing loss is due to fluid or if it is a real loss requiring some intervention, in which case time is of the essence
- excess fluid/mucous may or may not be related to food sensitivities, depending on which doctor we're talking to
- this food sensitivity thing remains a mystery to us, but Bug is growing well, happy and sleeping well, so we're just going to continue as we are (breastfeeding with me removing the major allergens, slowly adding foods back if symptoms don't worsen - even if there isn't a lot of improvement)
*** As a side note, we saw the allergist today and Bug tested negative on a skin test for milk & milk proteins, soy, wheat, peanuts, nuts, egg white, cat, dog, and dust mite allergies. 

This is surgery that we are talking about here, with general anesthetic for a 6 month old.  Is it necessary?  Will it be worth the risk for the potential outcome?  Are answers about his hearing essential at this very stage in his life or can we wait this out for awhile?  That is what we are trying to figure out.  As with many of these types of decisions, I flip back and forth on this one.  Writing this out helps, though.  Talking to other parents who have decided to either have tubes put in or wait also helps.  Our next steps are to, hopefully, do a phone consult with the audiologist and then we will talk to the pediatrician on our next visit and see what she recommends.

ETA:  I have consulted with several speech and language pathologists, a hard-of-hearing classroom teacher, a special ed teacher, and multiple parents having had somewhat similar experiences (though their kids mostly had persistent/frequent ear infections).  So I'm definitely doing my homework on this!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wondering and Waiting ... Something Else To Worry About

To distract me from my feelings about going back to work in just over one week, I decided that I should update this blog with the latest about Bug.  There have been many appointments with a multitude of medical professionals but, sadly, not a lot of answers.  His digestive problems continue.  The good news is ... I have a roughly 6-month-old-sized 4 month old.  Weighing in at over 17 pounds, he is at the top of the charts.  Despite the challenges to his GI system, he is clearly thriving, a fact for which I am so very grateful.  Here is my "little" chunker:

A big concern for us right now is possible hearing loss.  Bug failed 2 newborn hearing screens, resulting in a referral to an audiologist.  The wait was frustrating - there was a delay while the clinic arranged for coverage of a maternity leave - but the results of the appointment even more so.  First I must say that the actual process of preparing for the test was a feat in itself - we were instructed to keep him awake and hungry in the hours before the test so that he would feed and sleep during the test.  This involved Chris taking the afternoon off of work and performing all kinds of exciting tricks in the backseat to keep Bug from nodding off while I drove.  Luckily, he wasn't too upset with us.  Unfortunately he did wake up during testing and they were only able to test one ear - the one of concern.  The verdict?  Fluid in both ears, definite hearing loss in his left ear possibly related to fluid (or not), and they want to retest in a month.

So my obsession right now is to get the fluid out of his ears.  We need it to be gone for the next test so that we can get accurate results.  I've taken him to our osteopath and my  chiropractor in hopes that some minor adjustments might help with drainage.  We have an appointment scheduled with an allergist, and await a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist.  Is there a food connection?  Possibly, although usually dairy is the culprit and I am confident dairy has left both of our systems by now.  Poor Bug has been congested since birth.  I am heartbroken to think that he cannot hear us at 100% (and maybe hasn't since he was born) and I just want to know if it is fluid-related or not, so that we can do whatever we need to do to help him.  I can see signs that he can hear us but I also see signs that he misses some sounds.  I worry about how his language development might be affected if we don't get to the bottom of this soon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Big changes are underway for our family!  I've had this post sitting in drafts for weeks, waiting for everything to become official and public so that I could share the details.

Living and working in Canada allows me the opportunity to take a one year maternity/parental leave with benefits which, while not the same as full salary, make it possible to live fairly comfortably while staying home with the baby.  If we choose, my husband and I can split the leave.  I was able to stay home for 15 months with Lovey before going back to work.  I always wished that there was a way for Chris to enjoy part of the leave, but it just didn't make sense financially at the time.

This time is different.  Chris's employer is implementing a pay cut.  He works 5 days per week + overtime (for which he is not paid - long story).  I am fortunate to have a job in which I make a similar salary to Chris while working 60% of full time - 3 days per week during the school year only.  When we look at the numbers, with a pay cut, it just doesn't seem to make sense for him to work 5 + days, and miss so much family time, when I could work 3 days per week and bring in only a little bit less of income.  (Reading this makes me think about how private people tend to be about finances and incomes and such, and stigmas/judgments about who makes more or less than their partner - does that stuff still happen?!?!)

And thus we began considering the possibility of me returning to work early.  Here is my pros and cons list:

Cons of going back to work early:

- breastfeeding/attachment relationship may be affected (Bug will be 4 months old)
- pumping - UGH!
- lack of sleep + work = ???
- 1.5-2 hours of commute time 3 days/week will affect family time and routine on those days
- financial impact = we'll definitely be taking a hit requiring creative budgeting

Pros of going back to work early:

- more family time together - 4 days per week and the summer
- more balanced responsibilities
- Chris has the opportunity to stay home (and he is an amazing father and will benefit, as would the boys, from all the time he will have with them)
- short work period (about 40 days total in 3 months, and then the summer off)
- fairly flexible work schedule (I can pick which days I work, to some degree)
- less pension to pay back
- opportunity to travel together in the summer (Chris doesn't get summers off like me and has limited vacation time) = Road Trip!!!

How much is our time together as a family worth?  What it really comes down to is this:  we will never again have an opportunity to spend so much time together with our babies.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime stage in our lives.  Working 3 days per week so that we can have 4 days per week and a whole summer together is really a sweet deal.  I can pump, I've done it before (for a 15 month old so not as intensive, let's say, but it's doable).  I can cope with the lack of sleep and make up for it on my days off.  Chris is very supportive and I know he will help me as much as he can.  We live fairly frugally anyway, so the financial piece should be workable. 

We've both given our notice to our employers, so it's a done deal.  I'm back to work April 4th.  Now we just have to iron out the details, and I have time to work through the anxiety I feel about being away from my youngest baby for 3 days per week!!!  Truth be told, I'm pretty excited - about going back to work and a job that I truly enjoy and about all the possibilities for our family over the next 8 months!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Withdrawal Is An Ugly, Nasty B!%@#

And it turns me into one.  Luckily my very patient and supportive husband is aware of the forces that are currently at work here.  We remember this from last time - gluten withdrawal.  Since learning of my own sensitivity to gluten and as a result of previous attempts to go gluten-free, I definitely noticed a connection between removing gluten and my mood.  First, I am a total mess going off of it, and second, I am a happier, more energetic person once I get through the withdrawal.  I have actually wondered how much my past struggles with depression might be connected to my consumption of gluten.  If anyone had told me years ago how much different foods we eat can impact so many facets of health, I never would have believed or understood.  Now, after taking out certain foods and observing the changes, I'm a believer.  (It doesn't make it any easier, though.)

I have spent most of this evening in tears.  We found blood in Bug's diaper today.  The tiniest little streaks, but very much there and bringing me right back to the hell of 2 years ago.  How can this be happening again?  I thought we were getting so close to figuring things out.

So with the withdrawal, the discouragement, the tail-end of the nastiest flu I've had in a very long time, and the typical sleep deprivation of motherhood, let's just say I'm not a big ball of fun and happiness right now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contemplating An E.D.

Well, here we go again.  E.D. = Elimination Diet.  We've made some progress but we continue to see symptoms of food reactions with Bug.  Every time we seem to be getting close to "baseline," there is a setback.  It doesn't help when I do stupid things like eat food at a retirement party and, though I remembered to ask if there was dairy in it, I totally forgot about soy.  Of course there was soy on that chicken.  And, I should really just pass on food prepared by anyone else because the reality is that there is always the chance that the staff misunderstood or is not fully informed about hidden ingredients, cross-contamination, etc.  I need to stock my purse with more snacks to keep me going when I am out of the house.

So last night I began thinking about starting another elimination diet - not as drastic as the one that I did with Lovey, but to help narrow things down a bit more.  I'm going to pick a few foods from each food group and take out the other common allergens (wheat/gluten, egg, corn, nuts, citrus, and fish/shellfish, which I don't touch anyway).  I'll have wheat-free oatmeal, green smoothies, rice and chicken or turkey, potatoes, carrots, and a list of about 20 or so foods and ingredients that I will limit myself to and cross my fingers that it isn't any of them.  Without the major allergens, you would think we should be ok. 

Do I want to do this?  Heck no, but it took us over 7 months to get on track with Lovey's sensitivities and meanwhile he was in discomfort and damage was being done while he was reacting.  He is still reacting to dairy.  My hope is that we can figure out what's going on with Bug much sooner - he is already 2 months old - and maybe even prevent any longer term problems.  I hate seeing him feeling so uncomfortable :( 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What To Share and Will They Care?

So I've been thinking about names - a better name for this blog and a blog nickname for the new baby.  No luck with the blog name so far.  Any suggestions?  As for baby number 2, let's go with Bug - as in Snugglebug.  He really is awfully snuggly :)

I guess the question might be, why not just use my sons' real first names?  It's a fair question as I use their names freely on Facebook and I post their pictures on there (and here), as well.  I guess I feel that I have more control over who accesses my Facebook information than I do over this blog.  I don't mind if strangers read my blog, especially since I share information about our food sensitivity journey which might be helpful for other parents.  However, I'm not 100% comfortable revealing too much identifying information about my kids to people I don't know.  Not that there are many people reading my blog - yet?  I'm not kidding myself, though, that this sense of security isn't false and I'm aware that it is kind of a double standard to use their pictures and not their names.  But it's the call I'm making, for now.

I know some parents who do not reveal any information about their children online and are uncomfortable with any pictures, names, etc. being posted.  I know others who share anything and everything, who have no concerns about privacy.  I make no judgments of how any parents choose to approach this issue.  It's a tough one, and very personal.

What are our responsibilities, if any, as parents in terms of protecting our kids from exposure on the internet?  This is an unprecedented issue for parents to tackle.  My parents never had the opportunity to share pictures of me, details of my personal life, or their thoughts on parenting me with, well, potentially people all across the planet.  And being that these things were an impossibility in my childhood, I am not sure that I can give a qualified assessment of how I would feel about them if they hadn't been (if that makes sense).  Would I be embarrassed?  Angry?  Or would it even matter to me, if so many of my peers were in the same boat?  Am I over-thinking it and the children of today really won't care that their lives were so much more publicly documented than those of any generations previously?  Before they become old enough to make the decision about sharing private information for themselves, that is (and we know how that can turn out).

Still, for me, how much information and which information is shared about them, and with whom, is always a consideration.  Hopefully it will be of some consolation to my children, should they ever feel slighted, that I at least tried to be ever mindful of the fact that what I am sharing belongs to them.  Sharing what isn't technically mine to share is a liberty and privilege that I am claiming as their mom.  After all, it is every parent's natural instinct to want everyone to know how wonderful their children are.  Now we just have the ultimate tools to make it happen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Little Bit of History Repeating

For anyone wondering how the food sensitivity story ended for Lovey, well, it didn't.  It hasn't.  He continues to be unable to tolerate even small amounts of dairy however he seems to be okay with *most* other foods.  I'm never fully convinced that there aren't other foods that he reacts to.  But he is really thriving and there are no other ongoing symptoms or patterns, so we do not restrict his diet otherwise.

Lovey stopped nursing just past 2 years - probably a result of a combination of factors, not the least of which was a tanking supply due to my pregnancy.  He self-weaned, so we achieved that goal, though it was bittersweet.  I really thought he would ask to try it once the baby arrived, but he didn't.  I guess he was really ready even if I wasn't.  The good news for me was that it allowed me total freedom in my diet.  And did I enjoy it!  While I didn't add dairy in on a daily basis, I definitely indulged.  After all, I was pregnant and very, very hungry!  I did struggle with the worry that I was exposing the unborn babe to dairy and possibly exacerbating/creating a dairy sensitivity in him.  Interestingly I began to have some interesting reactions of my own after eating dairy, which confirmed the testing that I had done which indicated that I also have a sensitivity.  Boo.

And now for more bad news ... it looks like we are dealing with a food sensitivity situation with this baby, too.  We were so hopeful at first.  The first diapers looked good.  But then we started to see the same symptoms as with Lovey.  Congestion, fussiness, gas/discomfort, reflux, bad diapers.  I had pretty much cut out dairy from about a week before his birth but after things looked good, I admit I had some pizza just to see what would happen.  So I went off dairy again, problems continued.  Went off soy, problems continue.  Now I'm looking at maybe tomato because there might be a pattern.  It can take a few weeks to see improvements.  And the feelings of discouragement are starting to set in again.  I start to wonder - is it me?  Is it my milk?  This is further complicated by an oversupply/overactive letdown issue which can cause some of the symptoms.  There is overlap.  It is crazy-making.  Thankfully he is growing and developing very well and the symptoms are not as extreme (i.e. no blood) so I feel that his sensitivity(s) are likely less severe than Lovey's.  And, of course, we have lots of knowledge and experience behind us, which should help us figure this out fairly quickly.  *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our New Addition

Well, I have decided to give this blogging thing another shot. I think I lost steam partially because I was so busy and also because I didn't have much of a "following" to motivate me. But I realize now, reading back over my old posts, that I like to read what I wrote. It's kind of like finding an old diary, only much clearer and well-organized.

So, yes, I am going to write an update about Lovey's food sensitivity/allergy situation at some point. There have been other significant developments, however, that bear mentioning. As Lovey approached 2 years, we began talking about expanding our family. Next thing we knew, I was pregnant again! So, we now have TWO little boys in our family! Boy #2 (haven't given him his blog nickname yet) was born on November 27, 2010, and I think that our homebirth story, to my best recollection, would make a lovely first return-to-blogging post. I promise that I've included no gory details but it is, after all, a birth story so if the words "contraction," "dilated," or "push" make you squeamish, you may wish to sit this one out.

On Friday morning (Nov 26) I saw my midwife, Kaelyn, and she checked me (my choice) - I was 1 cm and 40% effaced. We joked that maybe she triggered something. Well, my water broke on Friday night around 7:30. I wasn't totally sure so Kaelyn came and checked me, and confirmed it. Contractions started when I went to bed, around 11ish and they were regular for a while, about 6-8 minutes apart. They kind of petered out, which worried me because with Lovey my labor stalled and that is one of the numerous reasons we had to go to the hospital. Everyone kept reminding me that this was a different baby and different labor, but it was hard not to compare because that was my point of reference, right? Anyway, I couldn't sleep and I woke Chris up to hang out with me around 3 or so. In the morning, Kaelyn advised us to go for a walk and to try some homeopathic remedies to help get the contractions more established. It was lovely because it was the first real snow flurries of the season and Lovey had a blast, shouting "Snow!" with glee every few minutes. So cute!

After lunch, Chris and I decided to have Lovey go to my parents' house so they came and picked him up. I had really hoped that he would be there for the birth but we realized that we were tired and needed rest, and I needed Chris's full attention and support. I found that Chris putting extreme pressure on my lower back during a contraction would help immensely. At around 3, I went to lay down and suddenly the contractions started coming fast and furious. Chris called our primary midwife, Rhea (who, I would like to mention, was not even on call but had attended Lovey's birth and, it seems, was determined to be present at this birth and we love her so much for this), at 3:30, and she arrived at about 4. She checked me and I was at 6 cm. She called Kaelyn who arrived shortly after that. I was laboring in the shower.

Maybe around 5 they moved me onto our bed. I was at 8-9 cm, and I just remember that shortly after that I felt like I needed to push so they said go ahead. I wasn't pushing effectively for a bit so they literally sat me on a birthing stool, on the bed, for a few pushes, then moved me back onto the bed, on my back. I pushed for about an hour total, and holy moly, crowning and pushing him out was painful! I guess I did not expect it because I was medicated for Lovey's birth. Man, did I just want him out!!! Chris helped to catch him, and announced his gender, and cut the cord (which was loosely around his neck but Rhea quickly dealt with that with no issues). Rhea and Kaelyn felt that he was a bit pale so after putting him right on my chest they blew some oxygen in his face. He was fine - more than fine, actually - perfect!

He was 8 lb 6 oz and 20.75 inches long (not 21.75 inches as I had previously thought and reported to everyone!).  Rhea and Kaelyn checked our vitals and did the after birth type stuff. We ordered take out and just hung out for 3 hours. Rhea ran me an herbal bath and put me in it, and they cleaned up everything while I relaxed with Chris and baby. It was amazing!!! Our midwives were just so fabulous!  I told them I loved them a few times, I think.  Then they tucked me into bed and left us to snuggle with our new babe.

There were moments during the labour and during the pushing, especially, when I thought, "What did I get myself into?" and "Is it too late to go to the hospital for an epidural?" (umm, yah! Way too late! LOL). I had to tell myself that there was only one way out and that was to keep going! But, at the end, I felt like a superwoman!! Being at home made it possible to have him naturally, and I am so grateful that we were able to have this experience.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dug up an old post

I stumbled across an old post that I never published for some reason, from April 19, 2009. So I went ahead and published it. In it I talk about Lovey's almost first steps, among other things. The funny part? The following day he actually did take his first real steps and the guy has been running everywhere ever since!