Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GAPS for FPIES: Part 1

If you read my last post, you saw that we were going forward with the GAPS diet/protocol to heal Sweet P’s FPIES and immature gut. Because she never had a vomit-to-shock reaction to any foods, we don’t know if she 100% has FPIES or if we are just dealing with an immature gut. Either way, the GAPS diet addresses both of these issues. I will preface the rest of the post by saying that neither Dave nor I are medical professionals, but do want to share what we are doing with others, in the chance that it helps someone.
GAPS came highly recommended from a friend of ours that had a daughter with severe FPIES, and so wanted to give it a try. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, so actually much of the research and protocols for the diet come from the understanding that our gut health directly affects our brain’s functioning. So, even though the focus of the GAPS diet is to work on gut health to help create a positive and healthy gut flora, many people to GAPS to help with issues like ADHD, Autism, and other health concerns that are related to the brain. Other than having heard about this diet, we were total newbies, so our first step was to buy the GAPS book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I love how she started the book off with the research that shows how, as a society, our gut health has deteriorated, and what the effects have been. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in the gut/brain connection.
From the research and reading we have done, when adults or children who have already been eating solid food get started on GAPS, it is recommended that they start with the Intro version of the diet (there is the Intro and then 3 stages). The Intro means starting with homemade bone broth and only meat products and a few select vegetables. But to be quite honest, we haven’t done much research in terms of how to do GAPS for grown ups or older kids, because we are obviously starting from scratch with our Sweet P. I felt overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how to start. So, Dave and I decided we would hire a GAPS practitioner. This is someone who has been trained specifically in the GAPS protocol by Dr. Campbell-McBride. We felt that even though it would be more expensive this way, that it would be worth it.
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She loves getting her broth from a spoon!

After some research and networking, we found a practitioner who has worked with multiple babies and children with FPIES and been able to get these kids on full, healthy diets by following the GAPS protocol. Knowing we have this woman as a resource to go to whenever we have a question or a possible issue puts my mind so much more at ease than if I felt like I had to do all the research on my own.
The practitioner we chose has been awesome and a wealth of information for us so far. I was afraid we were going to have to take Sweet P off of her Alimentum formula because it’s full of non-GAPS-approved foods, but she had enough experience to let us know that was not a good idea. What she recommended, and what we have done, is start with 1 tsp of homemade chicken broth (from a pasture raised/organic chicken) twice a day, and to slowly increase it until we eventually are able to replace the Alimentum with the broth while keeping 15-20oz of breastmilk in her diet. And by that point, she would hopefully be tolerating several solid foods as well.
We are about to start Week 4 and Sweet P is doing pretty well! The big key has been to go slowly. After 3 weeks she continues with the same amount of breastmilk and formula, but she now has 5 servings of 3-3.5 tsp of broth each time! I know it’s still such a small amount, but it’s progress! She did have one incidence of diarrhea-ish poo a couple of times along the way, so we have had to back up and then build back up again. This week I will add pureed chicken meat and fat to the broth (I previously skimmed that out), and if she does well on that for a week or so, we will start giving her tiny pieces of chicken to start practicing how to eat finger foods.
I know this will be a long and slow journey for us, but we are continuing to hope and pray that going the GAPS route will be so beneficial to her and her gut health in the long run.
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This picture actually has nothing to do with GAPS, but everything to do with how cute and hilarious this photo is from my birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant. She couldn’t eat anything while we were out, but she got to watch us eat, so that counts as related to this post, right? (Also, I know her car seat straps are a little low; rest assured that we raise them to armpit level for the actual car ride.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What is FPIES?

I have shared that Sweet P is likely dealing with FPIES. But, for most of you (like it was for me before), this is a strange acronym with which no one is very familiar. This is because it's only recently begun to be recognized and diagnosed more. Before October 1st, it didn't even have an official insurance code!

FPIES stands for "Food Protein Intolerance Entercolitis Syndrome." The basic definition is that it's a type of food allergy that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or even lethargy. What this means is that when certain proteins from certain foods are introduced to your child, the GI system rejects them and the body has an allergic reaction. However, instead of the usual allergic reaction people think of, like rashes, hives, difficulty breathing, etc., the body reacts through the digestive system. 


The way our allergist described it to me (in the most basic way I'm sure) it is that we have an immune system for our body, and a separate immune system for our digestive system. Instead of the body's immune system identifying a food as an attack against the body, the immune system of the gut identifies the threat and therefore tries to rid the body of the 'threat' through vomiting, diarrhea, etc. What makes it so difficult to diagnose FPIES is that there is no actual test that can determine what foods the child will not react well to. With typical IGE allergies, there are blood tests and skin patch tests that can be done, but these tests do nothing to predict or identify which foods a child will have an FPIES reaction to. The only way to tell if a child with FPIES will react negatively is to actually trial the food over the course of several days to see if there is a negative response from the digestive system. For many kids the reaction is quick and severe, with vomiting to shock episodes within 2-3 hours after consuming the food. I'm so grateful we haven't had that experience as it sounds so scary! We did discover at 3 months that one of Sweet P's trigger foods is dairy, but her symptoms were reflux, colic-like screaming and poor sleep. Her only other symptom so far has been diarrhea.

Both our pediatrician and allergist think that based on her exposure to food and the following symptoms she likely has FPIES, but haven't officially given us the diagnosis, since there is no official test to give and thankfully so far, even though she doesn't really have "safe" foods, her reactions have not been severe. Unfortunately, the most common FPIES trigger foods are typical first foods! Dairy and soy (the main formula ingredients of course) top the list, followed by barley, rice, oats, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, and squash. But, just because those are the most common doesn't mean that kids can't react to other foods as well. Sweet P ended up having issues with carrots and apples, two of the 'safest' foods for FPIES kids, so when a parent suspects that their child has FPIES, they will need to try each food slowly to be sure the food is tolerated well before adding new foods to their child's diet.

The symptoms and reactions are generally divided into two different categories, acute or chronic. Children with chronic FPIES symptoms usually have a hard time gaining weight and are lethargic babies, which can be extra stressful as you're trying to figure out what you can safely feed your baby. Vomiting, diarrhea, and other immediate gut responses would be included in the acute category. Although kids often have just one or the other reaction to a negative trigger food, some kids can have both. The only treatment for FPIES at this point is avoidance of trigger foods. Most children with FPIES just have a handful of foods that they can't tolerate, but some kids can't seem to handle any solid food, and this includes our Sweet P. 


Oftentimes parents don't realize their child is reacting poorly to foods until they try it in a solid form, but some babies are even sensitive to foods introduced through breastmilk. We are grateful that so far Sweet P has been able to take donated breastmilk as long as the donor is dairy free. I know it must be a difficult road for mothers who want to breastfeed and just can't seem to figure out what trigger foods are bothering their little ones. Oftentimes the baby ends up on hypo-allergenic or elemental formula because it becomes too difficult to determine which foods are causing the baby discomfort. In our case, Sweet P tolerated Alimentum just fine, which is a hypo-allergenic formula that is very expensive and can still be found in grocery stores (similar in content to Enfamil's Nutramigen). If the baby still reacts to these formulas, they can end up on elemental formulas like Elecare or Neocate. These elemental formulas are as broken down as possible and are made up of amino acids for easiest digestibility, but are even more expensive and are generally not as easily accessible. 

Thankfully, most children grow out of FPIES. Usually by age 2 or 3 kids can tolerate foods that previously made them sick. However, that's not always the case. I am in a couple of online support groups for moms of FPIES kids and there are several moms of 4, 5 and 6 year olds who still have zero, or just a handful of safe foods. This means the majority, or all, of their nutrition comes from elemental toddler formulas, while they continue to wait for their children to grow out of it. 

In retrospect, I think the buddy had a FPIES reaction to eggs, as after just a couple of tries with eggs and a very scary vomiting episode around 9 months old we avoided eggs like the plague until he was 2. We tried them again in muffins to start and by that point he had grown out of it. I remember it was a pain to be sure that there was never any eggs in any of the foods we offered him for over a year. And that was only one food! 

I hope and pray that Sweet P also grows out of this as well, especially since at this point she has yet to tolerate solid food well. If you are interested to learn more about FPIES some great resources are The FPIES Foundation and the International FPIES Association.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A suspected FPIES diagnosis

I guess I also could have titled this “Getting to the Bottom of Sweet P’s Tummy Issues: Part 4,” but this is a new adventure for us, so I figured I would start a new series of blogs on helping Sweet P get to the point of being able to handle solids. 
As of right now, at 9 months, we are still thinking that our sweet girl has FPIES, but there hasn’t necessarily been an official diagnosis since it’s a tricky condition to diagnose. But, I wanted to share our story of how we have arrived here.
At 5 months old she was still on 50% donated breastmilk from dairy-free donors, and 50% on Alimentum formula. I thought it would be fun to try some solid foods with her since with the buddy, it took a few months to get him used to eating food, and definitely a few weeks before he even swallowed what we fed him on a spoon. But, surprisingly, she took to it right away and ate a full baby jar of sweet potatoes on her first try! She was excited about food! I was so excited because feeding the buddy was such a struggle for so long while he was low on the growth charts, so I thought it would be so much easier this time around.
After that first success I introduced a few other first foods, like bananas and squash, but after a few days she had burning diarrhea. It was so bad that she screamed when I tried to change her diaper. I felt so bad, but decided her tummy wasn’t ready for solids yet, which didn’t matter since the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend solid food until 6 months anyway. But, when I returned to solids again at 6 months, the same thing happened again.
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She sure loved eating those sweet potatoes! Too bad her tummy ended up not liking them.

I emailed our pediatrician and let her know, and she suggested that Sweet P might have FPIES. I had actually heard about it before, but didn't know exactly what it was and did some research. To really simplify, it's a food allergy that affects the digestive system instead of the typical IGE allergic reaction (rashes, hives, difficulty breathing, etc.). In the most severe cases (which is actually pretty often), children have severe vomiting, even vomit-to-shock reactions to foods. Thankfully we have just dealt with diarrhea so far. Our pediatrician let us know that the most common trigger foods are dairy, soy, oats, rice, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans and peas- pretty much all the first foods!

With an upcoming beach trip with family, we decided to give her some tummy rest and go back to all liquids and would start with uncommon trigger foods when we returned. After about 3 weeks we started with apples, carrots, and blueberries. We started really slowly with just a few bites of apples, and stuck with just apples for 4 days. After she did well for 4 days, we added carrots, which also went well! Hooray! Then, we did 4 days of pears and planned on 4 days of blueberries. However, on day 3 of blueberries she had the awful diarrhea again. So, we thought this meant blueberries were not a safe food for her and planned to stick with the other three foods for awhile.
The problem with FPIES is that there is practically no research or definitive research on it. Until October 1st of this year, there wasn’t even technically a diagnosis code for it for insurance purposes! Very rarely do doctors have much experience with it, and there are many stories of parents being told their children just have bad stomach viruses as pediatricians or even allergists haven’t even heard of it. So I joined some online FPIES support groups and listened to the advice of other moms there who said that when their kids have a bad reaction they remove all solids from their diet for a couple of weeks. Our pediatrician said she didn’t have enough experience with FPIES to know the best course of action and thought a gut rest would be fine.
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Big brother enjoyed feeding her while that lasted.
We took a break for over a week and then added apples and pears back in and the diarrhea returned right away. After we tried carrots she had a huge vomiting episode. We were so disappointed and sad! We thought these were  safe foods for her and now we felt nervous giving her any solid food at all. With our upcoming move, we decided to go back to no solid foods until we could get into an allergy specialist. I got connected with a local mom whose daughter has FPIES and she recommended the allergist that they had been seeing.
In the meantime we were packing and moving and I did some research. The idea of continuing to try foods and just see if Sweet P would react didn’t sound fun to me. I got connected with another mom whose daughter had FPIES and was healed and eating regular foods within months after doing the FPIES after following the GAPS protocol. We continued to research and see what options we had and decided to go the GAPS route, which will go slowly and be quite a bit “outside the box.” More posts on that to come!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A new Home!

I hate that I haven’t written a blog post in so long, but we have had a crazy couple of months around here! After returning from our family vacation in July, within the time span of one week we put an offer in on a house (that we knew was kind of a long shot because it was over-priced, but we thought it was worth putting in an offer), finalized Sweet P’s adoption, hosted a small celebration for her at our house, negotiated said offer and came to an agreed upon price, freaked out because that meant having to sell our own house ASAP, and got our house decluttered, cleaned up, and on the market. And to top it off, on the 3 main days we had to get our house ready Dave got strep! Talk about a crazy week!

That week was the beginning, but then we went into the crazy flurry of open houses, negotiating the contract on our own house, inspections on both, mortgage company and rate research, and packing, packing, packing for a close date less than a month after selling our house. Add into that our continuous issues with Sweet P’s sleeping and tummy issues (that I will write more about on a future post), a stomach bug that went through our family a week after both contracts were signed, and the buddy's newly discovered skill of climbing out of his crib, and you get a very tired mama! Whew! I went to the chiropractor a couple of weeks ago and he told me he thought I had adrenal fatigue and I said, “Of course I do!” I have no advice on making your move less stressful or simpler, only the proof that we all survived despite the craziness.

IMG_0782 Family photo on the last day at the old house! Apparently it was too sunny.


We have now been moved into our new house for 3 weeks and we love it! We are finally getting settled in, and although there is no artwork on the walls and our bedroom is a complete disaster, our new house really feels like home. We just moved across town to a really family friendly neighborhood, and we have met more people here in the 2 weeks we have been here than in the 6 years we had lived in our previous home. That was one of our main goals as we wanted to raise our kids in a neighborhood where they can eventually ride their bikes safely with friends, and go to the community pool or playground and know all of the kids there; that’s what we got with this house!
  I was really nervous that we would miss our last house. It was our first house and we have the memories of bringing both of our kids home from the hospital to that place. We also put a whole lot of love, care, and hard work into that home and yard. And we loved our next door neighbors! So, we were both silently nervous that when we moved in here it would just feel like we were living in someone else’s house, but I will admit that having a bigger house and having a place to put everything is lovely. And it turns out, when you move all of your things into a home it quickly starts to feel like yours.

IMG_0886 After moving day in front of the new house! I don’t think I could possibly look any more tired.
We are excited for our future here. We have spent that past 1.5 years looking at houses on and off and this was the first house we could really see ourselves living in for the long run. We have enough space for another child (which we pray happens, but no plans for that yet!), and a big playroom where the kids can run around and make a mess in. There is definitely a lot of work to do on this home in the coming years, but we are grateful we had 6 crazy weeks that led us here. And now the plan is to never move again!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Officially Offical!

You may not know this about adoption, but in many states it takes months to make an adoption officially legal. In our state of Tennessee, you cannot make an adoption official until the child has been in your custody for at least 6 months. So, if you do an agency adoption, after the birthmother signs papers to terminate her parental rights, even though the child is in the adoptive parents’ custody, the agency technically has parental rights until you go to court and transfer rights to the adoptive parents.

It sounds complicated, but in my opinion, it’s a good system. We had to have at least two home visits from our social worker in the course of those 6 months to be sure that all was going well. I like this because it gives birthparents and everyone involved the assurance that the adoptive parents have the support they need, and that they are also caring for the child and meeting all of his/her needs. After those 6 months and two visits have passed, you also need to hire an attorney to represent you in court so that a judge will sign the paperwork to officially change the name (and birth certificate even!) of the child to be forever in your family.

And Friday was our day at court! It’s not often that going to court is a joyous occasion, but of course it was today for us. Our Sweet P if now legally and officially our daughter and her name has been legally changed to have our last name. My parents, sister, and our social worker were able to come too, so it was so wonderful to have family there to celebrate with us (and take pictures). The judge asked us questions to be sure we would raise her as if she came from my own body, and of course we gave an enthusiastic ‘yes’!
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We had the same judge that finalized the buddy’s adoption too!

We are so happy this day has arrived and are so grateful for our official family of 4!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sweet P at 6 months

Sweet P just turned 7 months old on Tuesday, but like many moms, I am way behind at pretty much everything! Hopefully I'll get around the 7 month update soon now that that's how old she is!

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Weight & Length
: This girl is growing like a weed! At her 6 month appointment she was 16 lbs 5 oz, putting her in the 56th percentile! With Little P we struggled to get out of the 4th percentile until he was 2 years old, so it's nice we don't have to worry about getting more calories into her like we did with him. She was 25.25" long and in the 30th percentile.

Sleeping
: Ever since nap training right before 4 months she has been napping great. She takes long morning and afternoon naps (1-2 hours each) and a short catnap (30 minutes or so) in the evening. However, she only slept through the night for about a month or so and we went back to waking about every other night. It was a bummer, but not too bad, especially considering how horribly she slept as a newborn. Thankfully after her middle of the night feed she's good at going right back to sleep.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sweet P at 5 months

Oh gracious I'm so behind on this blog! Eek! Since Sweet P turns SIX months in 3 days I figure I should write out her 5 month update! Thankfully we did take the 5 month pictures on time, I just haven't gotten around to writing the officially monthly update yet. If I HAD remembered I would have written more beautifully, but alas, I kind of forget what she was like a month ago already! 



Weight & Length: We really don't know since she didn't have a 5 month appointment. But, she is GROWING!

Sleeping
: We had much improvement in her sleep! Hooray! At 4.5 months she went down to 3 naps (the last one of the day is a 30-45 min catnap), and sleeping through the night most of the time. Well, sleeping through the night without a feeding. She would wake us up a few times a night needing her pacifier.

And actually, when we went down to 3 naps she started waking 45 minutes after going to sleep for the night. We tried a bunch of stuff to get her back to sleep, but most effective was an additional 2-3oz bottle, so we have just stuck with that. :) At least it's a "night feeding" we are still awake for.


Eating
: Sweet P has gotten a good amount of breastmilk donations from dairy-free moms! Hooray! She gets 1/3-1/2 of her daily ounces in breastmilk and the rest in Alimentum Formula. Dairy is her only confirmed allergy, but it's likely there are other food intolerances that we just don't know about and are impossible to figure out using donor breastmilk. So, if she has some days where she is fussy and her tummy seems upset we go back to 1/3 breastmilk and 2/3 formula, but when she's doing better she gets closer to 15 oz of breastmilk a day.

Clothing
: Sweet P is still wearing size 3-6 month clothes.

Personality
: She's getting sweeter and sweeter. She LOVES her big brother and he makes her smile an awful lot. She coos and babbles in vowels and loves using her sing-song voice to tell us all about her day. She still loves bathtime and playing in her playgyms and grabbing absolutely everything and putting it in her mouth. She is quite the excessive drooler, which made even more sense when her first two teeth popped in!




Milestones & Firsts
:
-First trip! We went on a weekend trip to Chattanooga and she visited her first aquarium. :) She was thrilled (not really).
-First time to sleep through the night! She slept from 9pm-8am with just one wake-up for the pacifier.
-Rolled over for the first time! Hooray! (She then went a couple of weeks on a rolling over strike, but returned to it in her own sweet time).
-Her first Mother's Day
-A BIG one! She got her first two teeth!
-She met lots of family members for the first time.



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sweet P at 4 months

Our sweet little girl has turned 4 months and is as happy as a clam! I feel like we have gotten to the "sweet spot" of babyhood. We are past colic and tummy issues and her reflux is now well managed with medication. Hooray! And since nap training, she's sleeping better both day and night. Even better! So, this girl spends her days eating, sleeping, smiling, playing and is still yet to be mobile and getting into everything. Hence, the "sweet spot."

It's so fun to see your baby get more interactive, but I know once she gets moving there will no longer be the option of leaving her in one spot to go to the bathroom in peace. So, I'm really enjoying this phase while it lasts. (I'll enjoy the next one too, but it will just be different).

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Weight & Length
: At her 4 month appointment Sweet P was 13 lbs, 11oz. She was in the 50th percentile, which we've never seen before since the buddy was always a little guy. She's not as tall, at 23.5", she's in the 22nd percentile. She's a growing girl with adorable rolls, pudge, and a roly, poly chin that needs to be washed at every bathtime (she gets so much lint in the rolls of her chin. ha!).

Sleeping
: I can't believe I get to say this, but she is sleeping like a pro! After we did nap training she now has three 1.5 hour naps a day and a short 30-45 catnap in the evening. As she turned 4 months she did have a night or two of sleeping through the night (from 9pm-6am or so), but we were just so grateful that overall she was having just one night waking and when we put her to bed for the night around 9pm that she actually stayed asleep for more than 45 minutes. This was definitely a month of sleep progress which has made the whole family happier and better rested.

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Eating
: Since discovering her dairy intolerance, Sweet P has mostly been on Alimentum hypoallergenic formula. But, we were able to find a couple of breastmilk donors who are dairy-free, so she is getting about 1/3 of her daily ounces of milk from breastmilk, which is such a gift! She eats 5 times a day and generally once at night, for a total of 25-30 ounces a day. I'm so, so grateful that feedings are no longer uncomfortable for her. Thank goodness for Prevacid and going dairy free!

Clothing
: Sweet P is wearing size 3-6 month clothes.

Personality
: This girl has the sweetest personality. She loves to give us big, cheesy grins and even some giggles. We can already tell she loves her big brother and is fascinated by his wildness and craziness. She's obsessed with putting her hands in her mouth and drools like crazy so we wonder if she will be getting some teeth before too long. She does get pretty angry and frustrated at tummy time, which contributes to why she hasn't rolled over yet and she also doesn't love riding in the car, so napping in the car doesn't happen anymore, which is unfortunate. Her favorite time of day is bathtime and she kicks her legs and points her toes, so we're thinking she has a future as a swimmer or a ballerina. She also loves snuggles and reaching out to us while we're changing her diaper, so she's a total sweetie!

Milestones & Firsts
:
-Discovered her dairy intolerance and trying formula for the first time
-Started "standing" with help and putting weight on her feet
-Started grabbing for us when getting her diaper changed
-Started sleeping in her Rock & Play at bedtime instead of needing to be held and rocked for 3 hours at bedtime. Yay!
-Started grabbing our hands while we feed her the bottle
-First Easter
-First real cold... yuck!
-Had her first baby-sitter besides grandma
-First technical "sleeping through the night" without a feeding (just needed her pacifier once or twice)    

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ugh! I'm the worst infertility blogger!

So, I realized how horrible I am for not posting anything thoughtful last week about Infertility Awareness Week. I knew it was the week and I even changed my facebook profile picture to this quote.

And instead of posting something great here, I posted some goofy thing I wrote about infant sleep. Blah! I'm the worst!

I WILL say that even though we have two wonderful kids now, infertility is still a part of me. It will always be a part of me. I'm so incredibly grateful for it because without it we wouldn't have the children we do, but it doesn't mean it has left any fewer scars.

Infertility is really awful. Awful. I can't even come up with words to describe how gut-wrenching it is to go through. And the adoption wait is also no fun. Especially when it has been proceeded by infertility and the stress and huge costs that come along with it.

Infertility is exhausting and draining in pretty much every area of life. It's physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and relationally draining. It was hard on our marriage, on so many friendships and relationships that I don't think I will ever truly know the depth of the impact it had. It costs us so many gobs of money I'm glad I didn't keep track. It brought me to question so many things about God and my faith and led to many nights of crying myself to sleep.

Infertility sucks.

So, if you are still there in the trenches waiting for your kids to come into your life and are trudging through treatment, or adoption paperwork or the adoption wait I think about and pray for you often. I know what you're going through and it's hard. No matter how strong your faith or how resilient you are, it's a tough road and it breaks my heart that anyone has to go through it.

So if you ever want or need to talk to someone I hope you will reach out to me or someone else close to you. It's truly an impossible road to walk alone. You are not alone and I hope and pray you have people close to you to walk with you in the journey. I would love to be one of those people for you because I know what it's like and my heart breaks with you.

So this post certainly didn't come out in time for the actual week, but here it is now. And believe me when I say there IS hope and peace and joy on the other side of the struggle. I can't tell you how long it will take you to get there, but I can assure you the struggle won't last forever. And I can't wait to hear how your journey ends because it will be a story of redemption and love I'm sure of it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Working with Waketimes

I know there are all kind of theories and strategies of baby sleep. There are those in the co-sleeping camp and those that put the baby in their own crib in their own room from the first night home. Some people wear their babies from the time they bring them home from the hospital, while like their baby to sleep in a stroller on the go.

For us, I'd like to think we're a mixture. I'm a planner and an organizer, so I will say I would prefer for naptime to happen at specific times and for certain lengths of time and for baby to sleep on my chest when it's convenient for me and in her crib when I prefer that (ha!). But, babies are babies and they will kind of let you know what they do and don't like by screaming at you until you get it. Or at least, that's how it has been for us.

If you've read some previous posts, Sweet P has been more of a challenge than Little Piñata was (he was sleeping through the night consistently at 12 weeks!), but one thing we have stuck with for both kids has been wake times.

Wake times was a concept I originally read about in the "Baby Whisperer," but have read other places like Weissbluth's "Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" and "Baby Sense" and in various articles and groups online and we're big believers! The theory behind wake times, is that you discover the "ideal" length of time your baby can stay awake at a time it makes putting them down for a nap MUCH easier. This period of time where it's easier to get baby to sleep is often referred to as "the window." This was definitely true about Little Piñata. For him, if we got him down for a nap in his "window" it was as easy as swaddling him, giving him a pacifier, putting him in his crib and patting him for a few seconds and he was out in less than a minute. So, as you can imagine we're big fans of finding "ideal" wake times. To put wake times into practice, it's also a good idea to have baby on a routine of eating, then some wake/play time, then sleep. The total wake time includes the time that baby is awake and feeding, so if you look at ideal wake time charts, young babies are often ideally not awake for long at all between naps!
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With Sweet P it has been harder to figure out her ideal wake times. First of all, she took so long to finish a bottle from the get-go (which in retrospect we now know was likely due to her reflux), that after an hour of feeding her, she would be over-tired already and hard to get down for her nap. We experimented with shortening, and lengthening wake times at different phases, and ultimately realized that even though her first wake time of the day needs to be short, the rest of the wake times are best if extended a bit. It made it extra difficult to figure out a wake-time when she was fussing or screaming so much of the day, and to be honest, most of those first two months are now a total blur! But, around 2 months we settled on a 1-hr wake time after getting up for the morning and one hour and 15 minutes the rest of the day. When we discovered these "ideal" times, putting her down for a nap could mean 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes of soothing, which is a big difference!

Once we found these ideal wake times for her we were so scared to ever experiment at all! But, it's good to remember that wake times are a moving target and might need to be shortened or lengthened based on sickness, level of stimulation, length and quality of the previous night's sleep or nap, and of course, age. As babies grow they can generally stay awake for longer periods of time. Then we dealt with her tongue tie release healing and she would no longer take a pacifier at all (likely because sucking wasn't soothing) and soothing took forever no matter the wake time. After lots of "pacifier practice" and buying every single pacifier Target sells and trying them all out and finally trying to stretch out her wake times to 75 minutes for the first wake time and 1.5 hours for the rest of the day, we were able to just rock her instead of bouncing, shushing and patting and she would fall asleep so much easier! So, it's so important that as babies change, so do their wake times, so never be too committed to a wake time.

In addition to wake times, you want to pay attention to tired signs. For Sweet P, her wake time are pretty precise, but with Little Piñata, once we got close to his ideal wake time we paid really close attention to his tired signs, and as soon as he showed some we rushed him off to his room for his nap. We followed this pretty closely for at least a year, and he was always very good at napping and sleeping well at night.

According to Marc Weissbluth in "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" (pg. 63) some of the tired cues to look out for are:
- decreased activity
-slower motions
-less vocal
-sucking is weaker or slower
-quieter
-calmer
-appears disinterested in surroundings
-eyes are less focused
-eyelids drooping
-yawning

If you miss that "window" of drowsiness where sleep is easier, you will probably find some signs of your baby being over-tired, such as:
-fussing
-rubbing eyes
-irritable
-cranky

So, the goal is to catch baby's sleepiness before she gets over-tired. If baby gets to that over-tired state it's a good idea to check the clock to see how long your baby has been awake. Then, you will want to shorten the amount of time baby is awake before the next nap since your baby wasn't able to stay up as long as you anticipated he/she could.

According to "Baby Sense" (pg. 48)here are some general guidelines of wake times for little ones. Of course every child is different and some kids drop their naps earlier than you'd like them to, but I like to have a general sense of how long babies at each age can handle staying awake before getting over-tired and have a harder time falling asleep.

0-6 Weeks (45 mins)
6-16 Weeks (45-80 mins)
4-7 months (90-150 mins)
7-12 months (2-3 hours)
1-2 years (3.5-4.5 hours)
2-3 years (4.5-5 hours)
3-5 years (5-7 hours)


Anyway, there's what I've learned about wake-times. I obviously wrote this post for HelloBee, but thought I would share it here too. :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting to the Bottom of Sweet P's Tummy Issues: Part 3

When I left off in Part 2, we discovered that Sweet P had a dairy intolerance and were trying to figure out what to feed her. I think that is the most stressed that I have been since bringing her home. I was very hopeful since we had found an "answer" to all of her discomfort, but since she had been given only donated breastmilk for her first 3 months I was nervous about formula and how she would take it. Our pediatrician gave us 3 options for feeding her. 

1. Find breastmilk from dairy-free donors.

2. Make our own formula using raw goat's milk. (Yes, our pediatrician is 'crunchy' and we love it!)

3. Nutramigen or Alimentum hypo-allergenic formulas

I asked about trying soy formula, but our pediatrician said that at least 1/3 of babies with a dairy intolerance also have a soy intolerance, so she wouldn't recommend it.

Our preference was definitely giving her breastmilk from dairy-free donors, but as you can imagine, it is hard enough to find donated breastmilk at all, let alone from someone on a special diet! We were out of our own supply, so unless we found someone immediately this wasn't a do-able option for the following day. My second choice was actually the goat's milk formula. However, this wouldn't work immediately either because we didn't have all the ingredients, some of which are pretty obscure; and we definitely didn't have raw goat's milk on hand! Most of the ingredients in the formula are not something you can just run to the store to find either. The goat's milk would have to be purchased at a local farm or at the Farmer's Market and I would have to order many of the ingredients online and wait for them to arrive.

So, this left commercial formula. I'm not opposed to formula, I just don't prefer it. To be quite honest, my main concern are the GMO ingredients in formula. I know they are considered safe by the FDA, but as a personal choice for our family we try to avoid GMOs as much as possible. So, if there had been an organic hypoallergenic formula it would have been an easy choice for us. Unfortunately there is not, but there IS a lactose-free organic formula and I had friends who had great success on it, so I thought I would try that first before moving on to try Alimentum or Nutramigen. It was a huge mistake! Sweet P actually took the formula quite well, but by Day 2 on it she became a disaster! Her screaming was awful, her spitting up was out of control and her poops were mucousy (which we actually only rarely had before, even on the breastmilk). So, on the evening of Day 2 I sent Mr. Piñata to the store to pick up some Alimentum since it was our best and only option at that point.

The first several days on Alimentum were rough. She continued to have the mucousy poops, was very, very fussy, kicked her legs in discomfort a whole lot, was incredibly gassy, slept horribly and spit up worse than ever. Mr. Piñata was convinced we should go back to breastmilk since she had never been this bad, but I knew we needed to give it at least a week to see how she would do on it. Plus, I had this horribly guilty feeling and suspicion that it was the lactose-free formula I tried for just two days (that still had dairy proteins in it) that was still wreaking havoc on her system and needed to get out.

So, we hung in there with the Alimentum even though it was still awful. Her spitting up was really bad and at her bedtime and nighttime feeds she was particularly screamy and difficult to feed. The pediatrician decided this was likely due to reflux and decided to add Prevacid, in addition to her Zantac to see if that would help these feeds. I didn't like doing two medicines, but the doctor wanted to wait until we were sure the Prevacid was helping before taking her off the Zantac. In the meantime I was also posting in several breastmilk sharing groups, seeing if I could connect with donors who were dairy-free and seeing some small offers come in. A friend of ours from church who just had a baby offered to go dairy free and start pumping for us! We seriously know some amazing and generous people!

Then, within about 5 days of being on the Alimentum and 3 days on the Prevacid we started to see a happy and contented baby again! It was glorious! She started smiling at us regulary and jabbering to her toys during playtime and started sleeping slightly better. Actually, one night she only had ONE night waking (then it went back to three, but it was still progress)! This confirmed that the formula I had originally tried with her for just 2 days was not good on her system and that she definitely couldn't have dairy. So, we have continued on the Alimentum and Prevacid and are moving in the right direction.
   


At this point I am so grateful that a formula like Alimentum exists! I'm not wild about the main ingredients, but if it makes our sweet girl comfortable and happy, I'm grateful for it! I would love for her to end up having more breastmilk than formula, so we are slowly building up our supply from generous donors. We even got a donation of 800 oz yesterday, which is about a month's worth of breastmilk and I love seeing our deep freezer fill up with breastmilk. Our pediatrician recommends making changes slowly, so we started with one and now we are doing two bottles of breastmilk a day with the rest of the feedings of Alimenum. But, if she continues to do well with it, we will keep adding in more breastmilk as we have it. The big question is if Sweet P will continue to do well on the breatmilk donations. We know confidently that she is intolerant to dairy, but don't know about other foods, including soy. And of course, there is always the option of trying the goat's milk formula now that we have time to get the ingredients. But, we will hold off on that for at least a month or so since we know she's doing well for now. Ideally she will do well on the breastmilk and donations will continue to come in and that will be her main food and we will supplement with formula. But, it's good to know that the Alimentum is here no matter what, so our sweet girl will definitely not go hungry.

It's amazing how long the first 3 months of her life seemed. It was so hard to have a clearly uncomfortable and upset baby and not know how to help. I know everything we have done along the way has helped her, from the baby chiropractic and natural remedies, to the tongue and lip tie release, the reflux medicine, and finally the switch to being dairy-free, but it was so tumultuous to get there! Before we were able to see how content she was off of dairy, we really thought that she had a temperamental personality (especially based on what our first pediatrician said), but now we are seeing her real personality and it's absolutely precious! She loves to give big smiles and even a few little giggles. She is so calm and loves sitting in our laps and looking around or playing contentedly with her toys. I feel so horrible that she went over 3 months feeling uncomfortable. But, I'm grateful we found answers and are able to enjoy this sweet girl more and more every day. And I'm told she won't remember those first few months so we can one day just tell her that she didn't like dairy and can leave out the details, right?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Getting to the Bottom of Sweet P's tummy issues: Part 2

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So, after I last wrote, we were leaving the ENT office and feeling confused about Sweet P's tongue tie and whether or not we should get the procedure done. We contacted the other specialist in town who is known for doing both tongue and lip tie releases and is the only person in town who adoes it with a laser. The crazy, miraculous thing was that they had a consultation later that afternoon because of a last minute cancellation! We thought that would be great to go in there and have her check out Sweet P and get our third opinion (the lactation recommended the procedure after being the person to discover it). The only reason we didn't go to this specialist in the first place is that she wasn't an in-network provider.
So, we headed in for the consultation that afternoon, unsure of what she would say and feeling pretty anxious. She said that Sweet P definitely had both a tongue and lip tie and that in her experience, every person she has done the release for has shown at least some improvement. She also said it was so quick she could do both then and there. We were also impressed with the difference in the laser technology and the quicker anticipated healing time vs. the release with a scissors. With the laser it instantly cauterizes the wound and there's no wound care (ie: bleeding) to deal with. She also wondered why we were told that bottle feeding would make a difference. She told us that how a baby sucks matters no matter which way they're being fed! We happened to agree, so, we bit the bullet and did the procedure for her despite the giant pit in each of our stomachs. (Who wants to do something they know will hurt their baby, even for the better in the long run? We had the same feeling at the buddy's circumcision at 2 weeks old.)

Thankfully, the procedure went well and Sweet P took a bottle right after the procedure and the next couple of hours she was only somewhat fussy. However, that night? Oh dear. It was non-stop screaming for at least 5 hours, despite the fact that we had given her Tylenol! The first few days of recovery were rough. We kept up with the Tylenol, but she still screamed through a lot of feedings (understandably so), and cried so hard when we did the tongue and lip stretches meant to prevent the ties from growing back. She was so, so fussy during the day and wouldn't even touch a pacifier, which was especially disappointing since we had finally found one she could keep in her mouth just a few days before the procedure. She had to re-learn how to use her tongue and take her bottles, so those early days required a lot of patience on our part during feedings. But, as she re-learned how to feed she was eating a lot more smoothly and not taking in nearly as much air.
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Have I mentioned that drool is a side effect of the tongue tie release?
Around the week's mark we decided it was worth it as feedings had finally gotten easier. However, she was still a pretty fussy baby. Sigh. We didn't like how our current doctor had dismissed so many of our concerns, so we took her to Little P's previous pediatrician despite the fact that her office no longer takes insurance (which was why we changed in the first place). We trusted her so much and just wanted her opinion even if it meant paying out of pocket for an office visit. She was so, so sweet and thorough and didn't dismiss any of my concerns like our other pediatrician. She met with us for so long and asked so many questions to help us also "get to the bottom" of Sweet P's upset tummy issues.

At the end of the visit, her suggestion was that Sweet P likely has a dairy allergy, or at least an intolerance to it. Even though Sweet P had been on donated breastmilk since she was 2 weeks old, if the donors had dairy in their diet and she had an intolerance, then it could very likely be hurting her tummy. So, we decided that after the 2 week mark of her tongue tie surgery (to ensure she was no longer fussy from that recovery and that it had healed correctly) we would try out some breastmilk from dairy-free donors. We had enough from my sister and a friend to last for 4 days, so the plan was to try that breastmilk for 4 days and see if her fussiness improved. The biggest fussiness issue we continued to have was that she couldn't be laid down at night from about 7pm-10pm and just had to be held and rocked. We were also dealing with the reflux despite her being on twice daily Zantac, so we wanted to see if the dairy would make a difference.

So, the following week we did four days of the "dairy free" breastmilk. By the third day we had a much happier baby on our hands! She was falling asleep so much easier for naps, would let us lay her down at night for at least 30 minutes to an hour (a great improvement!) and she was so much happier during the day. Her reflux also improved a lot and she was spitting up so much less than before. All of a sudden I felt like I was enjoying this sweet girl in a new way. This was also right at the 3 month mark, so we thought some of this might be attributed to her just 'growing out of colic'. At least, that's what we were hoping because our supply of 'dairy-free' breastmilk was gone.

From here on out we weren't sure what to feed her! This is where we currently are now. We are trying different things, mostly with not-so-good results. However, since we have yet to really find a solution of what to feed her I will have to put off the rest for Part 3. And I'm seriously praying that Part 3 (figuring out what to feed Sweet P long term) will be the last part. Because honestly, if there needs to be a Part 4, I might lose my mind.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting to the Bottom of Sweet P's Tummy Issues: Part 1

As I start writing this “series” I realize I have no idea how many parts there will be, because we’re still trying to figure everything out for this sweet girl. I want to write it all down not just so I remember what we did to help figure out her tummy issues, but also in case others are struggling with colic, reflux, and overall tummy discomfort or fussiness in their babies just in case it helps someone else.

From the time we brought Sweet P home from the hospital, she was sweet, but definitely fussier than I remember a newborn to be. I remembered that when we brought the buddy home from the hospital, he pretty much just ate and slept all day for at least a week or two. But, Sweet P was never this way. She was always more difficult to get to sleep and she pretty much never fell asleep taking a bottle, which I thought was so strange for a newborn. So, from the get-go, we knew her personality was different. She was more high strung and sensitive to things, so when she cried (err.. screamed) a lot at night or at feedings, I didn’t know if they were tummy issues or her personality. My first change was to get her on breastmilk instead of the high-calorie soy formula they sent us home with from the hospital. This definitely seemed to help her at feeding time and she was no longer constipated so much. But, we definitely still had lots of late night crying. Even at just 2 weeks old I remember several nights where neither Mr. Piñata or I could calm her down no matter what we did until well past 1am. This happened on numerous occasions so I thought she must have colic.

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Who me? Fussy?

I brought our concerns to our pediatrician at both her 2 week and 1 month appointment and he told us that some babies cry more than others. I explained that it seemed like she had kind of an anxious personality and wondered if that was what was making her scream, or if she was having tummy discomfort and he said they could be contributing to each other. He reassured us that babies cry a lot and that’s it. I left both times feeling like I wasn’t really listened to, but that I guess she was just a ‘normal’ baby while Little P had been ‘easy’ and kept doing what we were doing.

But, as she got closer to 2 months I just knew something wasn’t right. I read up on reflux and decided this was definitely a contributing factor to her fussiness. She had pretty much all the symptoms of both regular reflux and silent reflux, so I scheduled an appointment with the pediatrician. In the meantime I was connected to a local lactation consultant who also specializes in gut issues, so we took Sweet P there first.

I don’t know what we would have done had we not met this amazing LC! First of all, she discovered Sweet P’s tongue and lip ties and also recommended a few natural remedies to help calm the stomach acid she had going on, all of which was contributing to her reflux. I asked her if she recommended changing her diet from donated breastmilk, but she said it was better to try one thing at a time. So, we started Sweet P on Gerber Soothe, in addition to the probiotic she was already on and also added some powdered digestive enzymes to her bottles.Within a couple of days we definitely saw an improvement. She didn’t seem like she was in so much pain during feedings, but the nights were still rough.

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Ok, ok. I'll admit it. I'm fussy. (Please ignore our disaster of a coffee table in the background. ha!)
Our visit to the pediatrician was delayed because of an ice storm that closed their offices for most of the week (only in the South!), so we were unable to meet with him until a week and a half after meeting with the Lactation Consultant. So, then at her 2 month appointment I asked him about his recommendation of reflux medicine and he put her on a twice daily dose of Zantac and we waited to see if this would help as well.

In the meantime, I was very anxious to get the tongue tie procedure done to see if that helped even more with feedings and nighttime fussiness. Even though we had seen improvement, she was definitely not forming a good suction on the bottle and still taking in a lot of air. I was so hopeful that getting the tongue and lip tie procedure done would alleviate so many of her issues. But, sadly, the only specialist in town that would take our insurance didn’t have an appointment for 2.5 weeks in the future. In normal person time, that’s not too long to wait for an appointment, but in “baby days” that’s a long time to wait to see if it helps your baby’s eating and sleeping! Sweet P was still taking in so much air and spitting up so much in the middle and after each feed and I was desperate to get it done to see if it could help.

The day of the procedure we ended up seeing the nurse practitioner first who seemed confused as to why I was there when she found out I was bottle feeding and not breastfeeding. She then examined Sweet P and said that her tongue tie was so minor that “most ENTs wouldn’t even consider it a tongue tie.” I was shocked! I thought for sure that this was going to help her so much and to hear that she doesn’t even really have a tongue tie was so upsetting. We asked if a doctor could look at her as well (an actual ENT) to get another opinion before we left. He said similar things, saying that it wasn’t a severe tongue tie, that they would perform it if we wanted, but he would recommend to just give it more time and see if her feeding improved on its own. He also mentioned that if I were breastfeeding he would recommend to get it done to encourage the continuation of breastfeeding, but that since she was bottle fed that he wouldn’t do it.

I left the appointment so confused and upset. Of course part of me was relieved that our sweet girl wouldn’t endure the pain of the clipping, but I also felt less hopeful that her feeding issues would improve anytime soon. We got in contact with the lactation consultant that recommended we call another specialist in town, so that was our next step, but it left me feeling like our poor girl would continue to have uncomfortable feedings for a long time to come.

To be continued…

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sweet P at 3 Months

We made it to 3 months! I feel like the past 3 months of our lives have been a total blur. Sweet P is so very sweet, but also very difficult to figure out. The past 3 months have been a lot of trial and error, trying to figure out how to help her eat and sleep better and then wondering where the time went! There are days where I feel like I'm getting better adjusted to having two small children and then other days where I call Mr. Piñata at work crying and wondering when he will come home. Two kids is serious business. And when one of them poses a few extra challenges, it's even more exhausting! I wondered if I should really post about the difficulties we've had, but decided it's better to share so that if others are going through the same they will not feel so alone!

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Weight & Length: I'm not really sure about either of these, especially when she officially turned 3 months, but at 2.5 months she was 10lbs 11oz, so she had officially more than doubled her birth weight!

Sleeping: We have continued with the Baby Whisperer routine of "Eat, Play Time, then Sleep", during the day, but not as smoothly as it was in her first 2 months. She was harder to get to sleep (needed a whole lot of bouncing, shushing, patting, etc.) until we extended her wake time to an hour and 15 minutes right before she turned 3 months old. So, thankfully that part of daytime sleeping is easier. However, the 45-minute intruder is here in full force! It used to happen occasionally, but now she is up at the 45-minute mark at just about every nap. I know this is developmental, but I want to help her not be a chronic 45-minute napper her whole baby/toddler hood, so I try to get her back to sleep to sleep a little longer. This is successful about half the time, and even when successful she finishes the second half of her nap in the swing. 

Night sleep is still something we're working on. Her lingering colic symptom is that she needs to be rocked after her bedtime bottle for an hour or two. But, right at turning 3 months she would let us set her in her Rock & Play for about 30 minutes, but then she would need to be held and rocked again until we feed her one last time (a Dream Feed usually around 10). She would often sleep until 2-3am, and then sleep again until 7, which was awesome when it happened, but would still have some nights with 2 feedings in there. Thankfully there has not been any more 2am nights since 2 months when we developed the system of just rocking her through her fussy period and didn't try putting her down.

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Eating: At the beginning of March, Sweet P had her tongue tie and lip tie released. This meant a few very fussy days as she recovered (and some pretty intense screaming at night, poor girl), but within 3-7 days of her surgery she was eating much better. Previously she was taking in so much air that her feeds were taking forever and she was so, so difficult to burp and seemed very uncomfortable through most of her feeds. Thankfully, since the procedure feeding hasn't been quite so hard! She has been exclusively fed from donated breastmilk, so we are now in the process of seeing if her lingering colic and fussiness will be alleviated by a gentle formula or even dairy-free formula, but it looks like that will be our challenge going into her 4th month, figuring out for sure what she can eat.

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Clothing: She still fits in some of her 0-3 month clothes, but overall she's a solid 3-6 month clothes girl now! Personality: This poor girl had a rough first 2 months, but after her tongue-tie release, she's less fussy and more able to share her personality. She's definitely quieter than Little P ever was, and absolutely loves taking in her surroundings. She is unsure of new people holding her, but doesn't mind studying them. She loves to smile when we make funny faces or voices and she is so patient when Little P is "playing" with her (by shoving various toys in her face, ha!). I can't wait to see how these two grow together over the years. I think they are going to be very good buddies!

Milestones & Firsts:
First visit to church
Starting batting and kicking toys in her play gym
Started reaching for her legs and feet
Started grabbing toys
Starting holding her head up much stronger

Friday, March 13, 2015

Meant to be a big brother

One thing that was hard for me during the adoption wait was watching the buddy dote on babies wherever we went and know that I was unable to give him a sibling close in age. Ever since he was about a year and a half he was obsessed with every baby we saw and wanted to give them kisses and hugs. He also loved playing and "taking care of" his own little baby dolls, so we really believed he would make such a good big brother when the time came, but I worried that he would have to wait years to have that chance.

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We brought Sweet P home when the buddy was 2 years and 7 months old and it has been an exhausting, but wonderful age gap. In our adoption wait we never talked about him becoming a big brother or bringing a baby home because we had no idea how long we would wait and we didn't want to confuse him. We also thought we would have at least a few weeks notice once we did get picked and would do a crash course on older brotherhood at that time. But, in adoption you don't really have any say in how your journey goes and we were able to give him less than 24 hours notice that he was going to be a big brother! When we told him we were going to bring home his baby sister the next day his response was, "I can dress her like a mascot?" (He is currently obsessed with mascots). So, we obviously had no idea how he would react to a new baby in our house.

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The day we brought her home, we also had a whole lot of family that came over to celebrate with us. After everyone left the buddy looked at us and said, "When is Sweet P going home?" We told her she already was at home and that she was in our family and would live with us forever! And every since then he has settled into the big brother routine so beautifully. Sweet P is not an easy baby. When people ask the buddy what his sister is like he says, "She's tiny, she cries and she spit up," which is a pretty good description! But, despite this, he has adapted beautifully. He is so sweet and kind to her even when she's screaming or demanding our attention. As soon as he hears her crying he runs into her room to rock the Rock & Play or to give her a pacifier. When we're in the car and she's screaming for those first 5-10 minutes before she falls asleep he makes rhythmic shushing sounds and says, "It's ok baby; God be wif you" and it melts my heart. As soon as she wakes up from a nap he yells "She's awake!" and runs in to see her and kiss her. When she's sitting in her baby seat playing, he wants to sit right beside her and "play" along with her, talking to her about her toys and cheering for her when she bats a toy with her hand. Then he asks me to take a picture or if he can hold her, which I often just can't resist.

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Of course, he is no perfect child and when he gets mad at us for not giving us what he wants he will often say "I hit Sweet P," which we believe he says because he knows it will make us mad, not because he actually wants to hit her. Oh the joys of an almost 3 year old. Sometimes he does get jealous when I'm holding her and wants to sit on my lap while I'm feeding her, which we attempt and usually goes horribly. And of course, we had quite a few tough nights where her crying woke him up and upset him in the middle of the night, which is something that has thankfully gotten better with time (with the help of an additional sound machine outside his room as well).

Having two kids, especially with no notice, is a difficult transition. Dave and I often ask each other if we will ever be able to sit down in the evening together to watch a movie or even sleep all night in the same bed (more on how we cope with colic in another post), but we are so, so grateful for how amazing the buddy has done in this transition. Right now may be an exhausting and difficult phase for our family, but I look forward to seeing how these two grow up together and one thing I do know: the buddy was definitely made to be a big brother.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Sweet P at 2 months

So, I stink at blogging! I have all these ideas about blogs to write about babies, and having 2 kids, but Sweet P has had some challenges so I haven't exactly had time to write. You'll read more in the update. :) Thanks for still following me!

Well, the second month of Sweet P’s life was a lot harder than the first. By the end of her second month it seemed like we were in full-on colic and reflux. Not fun for anyone. Although pediatricians don’t seem to diagnose colic (in our pediatrician’s case, I think it’s because there’s nothing he can do about it), we definitely had at least 3 hours of screaming at least 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks in a row. I mentioned in her 1-month update that she didn’t sleep well from about 5pm-11pm, and in her second month many nights that fussiness extended to 2am! So, needless to say we’ve been exhausted around here. BUT, in the past couple of weeks we have tried several things to help, including starting Zantac and having a tongue and lip tie release, so we’re hoping we start to see some improvements in the near future!

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Weight & Length: Despite her reflux, this girl is not having issues gaining weight! At her 2 month appointment she weighed 10lbs 4oz, which was almost twice her birth weight! She was in the 30th percentile for weight, which we never saw with Little P, so we’re new to any area above the 5th percentile on the growth charts. She was 21″ long, which is closer to the 5th percentile, so we have lots of cute, chubby rolls.

Sleeping: I already talked about this in the introduction, but honestly, she sleeps pretty well except for that 5pm-midnight (or so) stretch. We follow the Baby Whisperer method of cycles of Eat, Activity, Sleep and thankfully that has provided for a fairly predictable schedule during the day. After eating and some “play time” she will usually sleep in stretches of 1.5-2 hours or so during the day (very often waking up at the 45 minute mark and either letting me soothe her back to sleep or just starting a new cycle again), and then after she finally falls asleep for the night (between 10pm and midnight usually, but sometimes later) she will sleep at least 5 hours straight, which is a blessing after that difficult late evening time! She does sleep in the Rock and Play due to her reflux and I don’t foresee us transitioning until we have her reflux more under control.


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Eating: Oh, the poor girl and her feeds! She’s obviously putting on weight, but she was uncomfortable during about half of her feeds and had a very difficult time with burps and spit-up (hence the reflux). We actually took her to an extremely reputable lactation consultant, even though I’m not breastfeeding, because she is known for helping babies with tummy issues. She recommended we give Sweet P a digestive enzyme and Gerber Soothe (one specific strain of probiotic) and we did notice an improvement within a couple of days, but not a 100% turn-around. She also pointed out Sweet P’s tongue and lip tie, but we weren’t able to get into a specialist for 2.5 weeks after we decided to proceed with the frenulectomy, which didn’t happen until after she turned 2 months. Due to her tongue tie she takes in a lot of air during her feeds, which we assume is what gives her gas and discomfort in the evenings.

Clothing: Why are baby onesies so much smaller than the same size in other clothes? She is in 3-6 month onesies, but size 0-3 months otherwise and when she wears her cloth diapers some of her pajamas are getting a little snug!

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Personality: When it’s not late evening or during uncomfortable feeds, Sweet P is true to her name and so sweet! She absolutely loves looking around and taking in her surroundings. And with those big, beautiful eyes, she’s just as cute as can be! She loves smiling at us, especially when she’s on the changing table for some reason. It’s so sad to see her uncomfortable during/after feeds and at night, so hopefully we can get that settled so she can let her sweet personality shine all day long!

Milestones & Firsts:
She had her first stuffy nose, which was not fun, but thankfully short lived (just a few days).
She started lifting her head during tummy time.
This one is pretty funny- she had a bath where she managed to pee, poop and spit up all in one bath. Ha!
First trip to the grocery store and grandparents’ house (and out at all anywhere beside the doctor)
She noticed her hands and started putting them in her mouth.
She started cooing and making sweet communicative sounds.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Our Sweet P (blog nickname) at 1 Month!

When we brought the buddy home over 2.5 years ago we had to write monthly updates for our agency. Even though it seemed kind of stressful at the time to sit down and write it all out, it really was a great opportunity to check out milestones each month and make a record of how much he had grown and changed. The agency that placed us with Sweet P doesn't have the same requirement, but I'd like to do the same again! Of course, I'm a full week behind, but at least she isn't two months old yet, so I'm not yet that behind.

Weight & Length: We had a check-up 4 days before she turned one month old and she was 20 inches long (up from 18.5) and weighed 6lbs 15oz (up from 5lbs 5oz at birth), so she's growing like a weed!  IMG_4799

Sleeping: Little Piñata was such a good sleeper from the beginning, so figuring out sleep for our little girl has been more of a challenge than it was the first time around. She naps well in the morning and early afternoon, but hardly sleeps much at all from about 5pm until 11pm or so, and then she sleeps in 4 hours stretches between feedings the rest of the night, so that's exciting! I'm grateful for the longer stretches in the night, but I'm hoping we can figure out a way for her to sleep well in the evening so I can start going to bed earlier. 

Eating: Sweet P's diet the first 2 weeks of life was soy formula they started her on in the NICU. However, she seemed pretty uncomfortable eating it from the time we brought her home, so we quickly switched to donated breastmilk! We have had donations from a handful of amazing women, and one woman who has given over 500 oz and plans to give more! So, we are very grateful to be well stocked for now. Little P has 8 feedings a day, usually taking 3-4 ounces at a time, so she's a good eater, which would explain the good weight gain!

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Diapers: Sweet P started in Preemie diapers, but at about 2 weeks old moved up to the newborn size, which she was in the rest of her first month. Clothing: We never had any preemie sized clothing, so our sweet girl went from swimming in her newborn sized clothes to fitting in them perfectly. 

Personality: It's so amazing how babies have their own little personalities right from the start! We kind of missed out on the first 9 days of her life, but were told she had a strong personality and was quite stubborn. We can kind of see this. If she doesn't want to sleep she does not want to sleep. But, when she's awake she is just the sweetest. She has made amazing eye contact from the start and loves staring at our faces, which is just so sweet. She definitely has her fussy moments where she wants thing "just so", which has led us to determine she's more of a sensitive baby ('touchy' baby in the "Baby Whisperer" personality types). 

Milestones & Firsts: Sweet P had all kinds of firsts this months, like first time meeting her family, going to the doctor, trying breastmilk, getting pictures taken, etc., but that would be long and tedious to share. But, some of the milestones for one month olds include smiling and making good eye contact, and she does both of those well! 
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