Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Lesson Learned in 2012

It's okay to be right and to know you're right and to know when your neighbor is wrong. But it's rarely a good idea to try to convince the person that they're wrong.

I think that's especially true with the kind of people who are prone to getting chips on their shoulders who then suffer a broken relationship that deeply affects their lives. They start to see a loose collection of events as closely related symptoms of one huge problem. It's the difference between "We don't work well together anymore" and "I always knew you were working for the Devil!"

Once they've decided someone is an agent of the Devil, it's very easy to justify anything they could possibly do to take that person down. And if there's collateral damage, well...that's unfortunate, but we're fighting the DEVIL here.

They're too far down their rabbit hole. They will never see how wrong they are. Don't waste your energy. Go ahead and defend them, speak well of them--don't make anything worse, but also don't expect them to do the same for you. They've hardened their hearts and will never desire anything but vengeance (especially if there also exists an inability--or unwillingness--to empathize with their fellow humans). Every tool is fair game to them: gossip, manipulation, crafty politicking. Good-hearted people often cannot win against such tactics. It's easier to just realize that fact from the outset.

I still can't quite understand what would make a person take look around and say to himself "I've been through some turbulence lately, but I've made it through, and now everything is far better than I could have imagined. Praise be to God for the blessings I've received"...and then turn around and through gossip, manipulation and crafty politicking try to exact revenge on groups of people for that turbulence. Is this how baptized and redeemed children of God show their gratitude to Him for those blessings? To me, the cognitive dissonance is resounding, but they really don't seem to notice.

They just don't know they're wrong and there is no convincing them. The devil is always at work in the church, indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Evil Wheat

I'm beyond sold. I have tried so many products and read so many books, all which came with so many user/reader testimonials proclaiming "this changed my life!!!!!!!!1" only to find the effects for myself were not nearly so dramatic. Well, I have finally read a book and made a lifestyle adjustment that I will shout from the rooftops. It has been three months and I'm only more convinced.

Everyone needs to read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. Every part of me has not wanted this to be the real thing. From the first time I saw its cover with stacked bagels looking delicious, I thought, "Oh no. I don't even want to hear why I shouldn't be eating that." Yet a part of me realized that I must be addicted to bread and pasta if I felt like a junkie, jealously guarding my stash. So last March, feeling I needed to make a change, I read it. The tone might come off as sensationalist at first, but there's a lot of scientific analysis to back it up. However, many authors could look at similar data and come up with completely different conclusions or only look at data that support their arguments, so it comes down to credulity on the part of the reader. Thus, the proof is in the pudding.

I'll pause here: everyone should read this book, or at least start with Dr. Davis's blog (just google "wheat belly"). In a nutshell for the uninitiated, modern wheat is vastly genetically different from the wheat our grandparents grew up with. Modern wheat causes blood sugar to skyrocket, it has a chemical component that acts as an opiate, and it causes a plethora of inflammatory responses in the body.

We gave up almost all wheat as a family last spring and immediately enjoyed the effects. It has been long enough now that we have backslid a few times only to become more sure that wheat-free is the way to go. And the longer we're off wheat, the more positive the effects.

Heartburn? Gone. No matter what else we eat, we only experience heartburn if we've overindulged in wheat products (pizza, sandwiches, bagels, etc.). Furthermore, Erich used to take Prilosec every day. He had taken it every day for at least seven years, and it had to be the brand-name product, and if he missed a dose, he suffered. On a wheat-free diet, he no longer has any need for this drug. That's money in our wallets, not to mention all the benefits of not depending on pharmaceuticals to feel normal.

Bloat? Gone. The weight loss has not been super dramatic, but we no longer carry around those extra ten pounds of water weight. The uncomfortable full feeling I used to feel after meals all the time, even while I mindlessly sought out something starchy for dessert--no more.

(BATHROOM STUFF, not for the squeamish: we both have fairly immediate negative effects from consuming wheat, be it gas or "the runs." I had a recent backslide into wheat consumption that has brought to light some things. It is wheat that used to cause my frequent bloody stool. That shouldn't happen, right? Well, it doesn't if I avoid wheat.)

Skin? Much clearer all around.

Most importantly, and I often forget this was the deciding factor for embarking upon this experiment, my little nursling is much better and happier. My recent backslide reminds me how it used to be. His sleeping habits deteriorated, he has been very gassy, his poops have been nasty, and he has strange rashes, diaper and otherwise. My little boy is sensitive to wheat. I wonder if I could have helped Lily in the same way. Eliminating dairy seemed to help, but her little issues didn't disappear. And speaking of Lily, now that there's less wheat in the house, she's not eating very much of it. She used to snack on pretzels a lot and now doesn't. So it seems like she's eating less, but no one needs to be mindlessly snacking and she's still growing like a weed.

I now wish I had known about this before my bloatacious, high blood sugar and high blood pressure pregnancies. How much easier it would have been to limit my weight gain! And the ever-present question: could I have birthed them naturally? Maybe they wouldn't have grown as big, maybe my blood pressure would have stayed normal and not put the pressure on at the end, necessitating induction (pharmacological for Lily, "natural" with Walter--castor oil, evening primrose oil, membrane stripping, etc.). There's never a way to know for sure, but I will be wheat-free next time around and we'll see what happens.

Now that I'm on this side, I really wish I had taken the plunge sooner. I hear so many people say, "That's never going to happen. [He/she/I] will never give up wheat." I think one has to be addicted to think that way. Giving up wheat has been so much easier than cutting calories. I truly believe I could do this forever and be much better off for it. Diet-wise, I know I have more improvements to make, but this is becoming for me the bare minimum. Wheat is bad. Amen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bath Hijinks

Walter hasn't had a decent bath in a while. He's looking a bit greasy and has a doctor appointment this afternoon. I place the roly-poly boy and a towel on my bed and quickly grab the infant tub and take it to the bath tub. I turn on the water.


I'm trying to squeeze in a shower toward the end of Walter's nap. Lily needs help with the potty while I'm in there. My shower comes to an abrupt end. In my haste, I forget to push down the little thingy that makes the water come out of the tub filler instead of the shower.


Water starts shooting from the shower head and landing on my head. Gratefully, I notice that only my already-wet hair got wet and not my clothes. Walter is still on the bed, so I struggle with getting the excess water out of my hair as I look to make sure he doesn't have a death wish. I'm glad to see that Lily is there to entertain him. That is, until I notice her peculiar posture. She is suffering from, for lack of a  better term, Toddler Poop Problems, and sure enough, she's having an accident right there. I rush her to the toilet, admonishing her for going in her "shorts," when I realize the tub is currently filling with water that's far too hot. I look in on Walter again and empty the tub to start over. 

Finally, I get the tub filled and I decide it's time to take out the little newborn seat part of his tub. He's not a confident sitter, but he's sitting well enough and he's too big for it anyway, so hey, let's try it! Hmm, not so much. I get him stripped and in the tub and he immediately starts kicking and thrashing. Not struggling, mind you. He LOVES the water. I try sitting him different ways, I try leaning him back, I try lots of things only to conclude that unless I keep a tight grip on his arm at the very least, he's going to thrash himself right underwater. Indeed, his face goes half under at least twice and he doesn't react except to keep trying to kick, thrash, and roll. I lather up his head and try to rinse it while Lily stands next to me making constant and ever-changing demands for cups to pour water. 

I decide this bath needs to be over now when I realize I never brought his towel into the bathroom. Enter my helper monkey-in-training, Lily. I ask her to go get me the towel from the bed. She's off. Little did I know at first that she went to her own bed.


This morning, Lily stumbled like a zombie out of bed and informed me ten minutes later that she needed to use the bathroom. I take her and discover evidence of an overnight accident--both "numbers." Upon further study, I'm rather puzzled. She usually doesn't have accidents without waking up and making a fuss, and this had definitely happened hours earlier. I went to her bed to investigate the sheets, when I find something peculiar: almost totally dry sheet, on top of which sits a rather soaked (sniff: yes, urine) burp cloth. She can't tell me what happened, but when I ask if she had an accident and cleaned up with the burp cloth, she says yes. I leave it on her bed to deal with the laundry later.


Lily re-enters the room--with her urine-soaked burp cloth. "Here's the towel!" she cheerfully declares. I try to send her again to the right bed for the right towel, but she's not up for the task. Walter has calmed down slightly and I've made sure the water level is very low. I take 2.3 seconds and dash for the towel myself. Limb-by-slippery-limb, I get the slick little rubbery ball of rolling boy flesh out of the tub and wrapped in a towel. I take my first full breath in 15 minutes.

I hear greasy babies are all the rage this season.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Typical Night*

8:45 Get home from church (Ascension Day!)
9:30 Lily asleep
9:40 Walter asleep
9:45-11:30 Rare quality time with husband (Downton Abbey and folding laundry)
12:00 Walter wakes up, can't go back to sleep due to stuffy, runny nose
12:30 Still nothing works; I grab robe and blanket and resign us to the La-z-boy.
12:55 Walter asleep

12:57 Panicked whining and crying from Lily's room
12:58 I try to rouse Erich, as I'm sure Lily is wetting the bed. I turn up the volume on the baby monitor and return to the recliner.
1:05 Distant cries subside, I drift off, hoping Erich has done something.

2:40 Walter and I both wake. He's hungry. I feed him and manage to get him happily sleeping flat. I return to bed.

2:55 Lily's awake again. I ascertain that Erich did not go to her earlier. The scent of warm urine hangs in the air as I discover her and her sheet completely wet. I undress her and plop her, naked and sticky, on the toilet and return to her room to strip the bed. Clorox wipe and dry the table cloth serving as moisture barrier. Erich shows up. I hand him new pj's and underwear and he tends to Lily. I put on a new fitted sheet. Erich returns with Lily who is refusing to put on any clothes for some reason. I flirt with losing my cool and so fetch a glass of water for my scratchy throat and return to bed, extremely grateful that Walter didn't do anything more than a few isolated cries.
3:30 Return to sleep interrupted periodically by sniffly baby

7:30 Walter awake and up for the day
8:15 Lily up

*Okay, this was much worse than typical but better than the worst. I'm thankful Erich made extra coffee today.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Food Allergies

The more I know, the more I realize I don't know. Is that true for just about every topic imaginable? I don't know--probably!

I have never in my life had problems with food allergies, at least that were obvious. I always assumed an allergic reaction meant rashes and trouble breathing soon after eating a certain food and being really sure that you shouldn't eat that food if you don't want to risk that kind of reaction. But over the past few years of my life I've been pondering food sensitivities and intolerances and realizing reactions can be subtle but no less disruptive. It's not always obvious when a food sensitivity is present. By paying attention to my eating patterns, I've slowly started to pin down intolerances linked to general bloating, skin problems and digestive difficulties.

Two years ago, I had a baby who seemed to react to dairy proteins in my breastmilk. I finally gave up dairy in all its obvious forms and we both started feeling much better in many ways. My cravings for dairy products disappeared, I lost a few pounds, my skin cleared a little, I stopped feeling like there was barbed wire in my guts, and I had more energy.

Here's the thing, though: after more than a year of avoiding most dairy, I tested the waters again. No reactions! I can now have cheese and occasional ice cream without suffering the consequences. I think. It's still mysterious and I think I still have a limit, but the situation has certainly improved.

Now I've gone through another pregnancy and am nursing again. Around the moment my baby turned twelve weeks old, I felt what I call The Big Shift. Postpartum weight loss halted and started reversing. Suddenly changing hormones made me feel strange sensations. After a few days or weeks, I seemed to settle down hormonally again: I felt not like a big, soft brand new mother but more like regular me, slightly altered. The most mysterious thing I noticed was a frequently itchy face. Also, my old common digestive disruptions returned. Back in my no-dairy days, I suspected I would experience further relief if I also gave up wheat/gluten. But I could not fathom giving up my precious bread and pasta, so I never did.

But lots of tiny signs added up to one big feeling that I needed to make a major change. I read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and finally, with great difficulty, announced to Erich that I was going off wheat, and to my surprise and delight he agreed unreservedly to do the same. We both lost significant weight right away and knew we would stay with this diet for a while if not forever.

It has now been about a month and we are very pleased. Each time we cheat and have some wheat we both suffer heartburn and mental fog. I think Erich has benefitted even more than I have from a wheat-free diet.

I am still on my food journey. Even without wheat and while avoiding most dairy, my food intolerance signs persist. Furthermore, I have had two events that point very clearly to food allergies, either entirely new or newly worsened from a nearly imperceptible level. One of these occurred after eating pistachios, the other after eating peanuts. I suffered major itchiness and rashes, constricted breathing and significant digestive upset. I'm pretty sure these nuts are problematic for me, but it's proving difficult to link specific symptoms to individual foods eaten. Once a vision of going into anaphylaxis while home alone with my tiny children crept into my imagination, I decided it was time to bring in the health professionals. My nurse practitioner ordered blood work for me, including the food allergy panel. I know it's only a starting point and may not identify food intolerances, but I know I'm allergic to something, and I'd love an easy method to figure out what. If the results aren't conclusive enough for my peace of mind, I'm looking at a full elimination diet to figure out what all is bothering me. That does not sound fun, but I do believe it would be worth it. How is food any good if it actually does harm to my body?

I just don't know.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Parks and Rec

Erich and I enjoy watching the sitcom Parks and Recreation. If you are not in the know, it's a documentary-style show set in a fictional small city in Indiana. It's funny and clever enough to make its inaccuracies forgivable.

But as an adopted Hoosier by marriage, as someone who spent many long car rides in my life going back and forth between Illinois and Michigan, and as someone who lived in Indiana part time during my college years, I must set the record straight on a few issues.

First, the ways in which the Indiana setting is believable:

1. They mention real Indiana towns like Indianapolis, Gary, and Muncie.

2. Corn.

Ways in which the Indiana setting is not believable:

1. Asian people. Let's be honest; there aren't very many Asians in small town Indiana. They're all over the background in this show!

2. Small mid-century modern houses. Very California.

3. Beautiful weather all the time! Okay, I don't actually expect them to film in Indiana, but the lack of leafless trees and other marks of changing seasons is very noticeable.

4. The one that inspired this post came up in last night's episodes. One of the characters has a vacation home in "the foothills." THE FOOTHILLS?? Of what mountain range? Anything resembling foothills near Indiana would be far out of state and thus no one would be casually referring to them as "the foothills." Or driving to them in one evening.

Other than that, it's a top-notch, very funny show. Go Parks and Rec!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I haven't given a lot of thought into writing my birth story with Walter. Lily's was a marathon multi-post on my other, pretty much retired, blog. I'm going to keep everything here now, and it's not exactly the place for gory details.

The significance of Walter's birth was its status as a failed VBAC. That simple fact is extremely disappointing and hard to recover from, both physically and emotionally. The easiest part has been caring for and loving this delightful human, so I've been spending most of my time and emotional bandwidth on that.

So here is my birth non-story. First, a refresher of my experience with Lily: induced five days early for high (borderline, actually) blood pressure; cervadil, pitocin, water artificially broken early on, in labor for 14 hours, quickly dilated to 2-3 centimeters, no progress from there, c-section at 10:50pm. Healthy baby, 9lb 1oz, 22 in, never in any distress throughout labor.

Walter: went into labor naturally 8 days late with water breaking and very frequent contractions at 2 am. Admitted at 3 cm at 7am. 20 total hours of regular, intense contractions including pitocin augmentation in the late afternoon. Maximum progress: 3 cm. In other words, no progress. C-section around 11pm. Healthy baby, 8lb 12oz, 20 in, never in any distress throughout labor.

I don't think it takes a degree in obstetrics to see the probable issue here. Two labors which began vastly differently ended almost exactly the same way. Maybe there really is something wrong with my body that it can't birth babies. At least not biggish ones who may have had (at least in Walter's case, I believe) insurmountable positioning problems.

Then of course there are all the questions for next time. I spent nearly two years obsessed with my VBAC, and it never happened. Do I go on the hunt next time for a provider who would allow for a trial of labor after two c-sections, knowing it's pretty likely I'll fail again, or do I stick with what I know and like and simply plan for the best possible c-section? It is pretty darn tempting to just schedule a birth for a convenient time of day. Being post-op in the middle of the night is awful, and after a long day of hard work, no less. I was so exhausted but I could never sleep because of automatic compression boots, automatic blood pressure cuff, constant interruptions from nurses for who knows what. Would it be unwise to hope and plan for a VBAC only to throw in the towel after a few hours of no progress? To have gone on the hunt for a supportive provider and probably driven a great distance for prenatal visits only to have everything end the same yet again? Because I do have extremely supportive providers whom I love--they just don't do VBA2Cs. These are tough questions. It would be so much easier if only there were some way to definitively know why my babies can't seem to come out without a scalpel.

But it just isn't that easy, and I can put on my big girl pants and accept that. It doesn't mean that I wanna. :(

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shopping Follies

It is not easy to have two kids! What I wouldn't give to have a third, older child to help me manage everyone when shopping. I guess I have to get through this before I can get to that.

I took both children shopping by myself for the first time the other day. Lily had a first, too: it was her first time at Target where she got to walk around because she was "too poopy for the cart!" That really messed up my plan to have her sit in the cart and Walter ride in the ERGObaby carrier. He actually messed up that plan as well by being a little fussy and needing to be held in one arm facing out.

Things to remember about that:

1. Always bring at least one diaper for each kid. Toddlers need fewer changes, but the ones they need are much more important.

2. If you didn't bring any size three diapers, JUST BUY SOME. YOU'RE AT TARGET, FOR GOODNESS' SAKE. Get that poop changed now.

Obviously, I did neither of the above. Instead, I allowed Lily to walk. When Walter was happy, I could hold her hand and push the cart with one hand. When he wasn't, I had to hold him with one hand and push the cart with the other, constantly looking around to keep track of Lily and firmly saying "STOP" approximately every 45 seconds. Luckily, with her constant chatter and singing, it wasn't too difficult to know that she was nearby.

I learned something about myself. I'm not a quitter. (That's why I start so few things.) I knew I could just abandon the effort, forget most of the stuff on my list and get the heck out of there. But no, I had made the trip and gotten myself into this situation. I wasn't going to be satisfied leaving it half-finished. Besides, the store was not crowded, and though we were getting looks from other shoppers everywhere we went, I was too busy to even notice or care about what kind of looks they were.

I got everything on my list. Next was checkout. I had no choice but to plop Walter in the cart on a bed of jackets. He spaced out and fell asleep within minutes. D'oh Moment #1: I should have tried that much earlier.

At the checkout lane, Lily made her first personal request of the trip: she wanted a small carton of Goldfish snack crackers. I really was proud of her behavior, which was no worse than any well-behaved two-year-old, and so I acquiesced. I then used that snack as a bribe to get her into the cart for the journey back to the car. D'oh Moment #2: I should have tried THAT much earlier.

It could have been worse. It was actually hardest when we got home and everyone was poopy and overtired. For that reason I realized it would have been way better to go at 10am than 3pm. Walter is finally in that stage where he won't readily sleep through everything, and I really think he wanted to sleep through this. I'll be playing this over in my head for weeks before I'm ready to try it again, and by then everything will be different!

Just a suburban mom on the go.