Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mother of the Year: Sticker

I won't be surprised if this becomes a series. All the reasons I totally deserve the "Mother of the Year" award... NOT.

This past Thursday, Lily enjoyed some avocado. I mean, she really enjoyed it, eating up to a quarter of it, feeding herself with a spoon and all. Yay!

On Friday, Lily and I went to Kohl's to use a coupon. I got a few tops for myself and then went to the baby department to get some new sleepers. Our little porker is busting through her 12-month size sleepers already! I also thought it would be good to stock up on socks before the weather turns cold. I selected a package and handed it to my curious little baby in the stroller. No harm, right?

Five or ten minutes later, she starts coughing. It sounded like she just swallowed her drool wrong. But she gasped a few times, so I checked her mouth. Nothing. I picked her up so she could recover and she quickly returned to normal. The situation was slightly alarming for about 15 seconds, but I didn't think a whole lot of it after it passed.

Sunday night, she had a poop that made me determined that we need a diaper sprayer. Evidence of avocado is all I will say.

Monday, Erich left town for one night. Lily caught up on sleep from a weird weekend, which was great, but she was in worse and worse moods when she was awake. I started wracking my brains trying to figure out what I ate that was so offensive because it really seemed like she had the "dairy crazies." Sure, I had a little bit here and there, but I thought it was acceptable levels. She was way too crazy for acceptable levels of dairy.

Yesterday, I gave her some sweet potato, but she wasn't at all interested in eating. It was our first real miss in the solid foods department. I thought it was weird, but she wasn't sleeping well at all and so that could have been the culprit. Erich came home and validated me: the baby was crazy, and gassy.

This morning, another poop. Horror. I wiped with another diaper and took them to the toilet to swish, whereupon I discovered something unmistakably inorganic. I unfurled the little circle and could just make out some words:





Oh dear. Shame. Head is hanging. Mother of the Year. Those socks, five days ago, had a sticker on them. A removable, eatable sticker. That's what she gagged on. That's what gave her the "dairy crazies." And I was the one who handed it to her.

In conclusion, I'm going to buy a diaper sprayer today.

Oh, and there was a mouse in our kitchen. But that's another story!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson Learned, or Capsaicin is Evil

I really should have known. But I really did not expect the horror!

Rewind: we have a vegetable garden. Erich has really done a fantastic job with it. He grows several types of peppers, including jalapenos. Erich's dad, a chile aficionado, and his brother were visiting last night en route to moving bro into the dorm for his second year of college.

Erich was making homemade pizza for dinner. He also had a hankering for fresh salsa, so I volunteered to chop and assemble said salsa. I particularly enjoy dicing onions. I started with those, then moved on to the six fresh jalapenos the recipe called for. Erich offered me gloves, but I declined as I thought I would just get it done quickly, wash my hands, and that would be that. I halved them, seeded them and chopped them up. I used the same knife and cutting board and chopped up tomatoes and other ingredients and mixed it all together.

I started to feel a tingle under my ring. I felt a little burning here and there on my knuckles. I used soap and water to wash off the chile juices. Rinse and repeat.... "Wow, my hands are like, on fire," I said, extremely wittily and eloquently. The men of the house all agreed that was weird. Erich asked FIL what he does to get the capsaicin off his hands. Soap and water was the prescribed remedy. "Okay, I'll try that...for the fifth time!" I started to whimper.

And I could no longer use warm water. The burning started to get pretty intense, spreading to all ten fingers, especially concentrated on my knuckles and nail beds. This was pain. Then I couldn't carry anything moderately heavy because the pressure intensified the burning. It truly felt like I had started up a gas burner on the stove and lightly seared my fingers.

Well, I was really feeling bad for myself. I hadn't held Lily in well over an hour and I knew she was going to need to eat eventually, but I was afraid to touch anything. So I did what any Millenial would do in this situation: I asked Dr. Google for help. I was not alone among internet users who had carelessly burned their fingers slicing hot peppers without gloves. What to do, though?

I found a remedy: make a solution, one part bleach, five parts water. Occasionally dip fingers in the solution, which will neutralize the non-water-soluble capsaicin into a salt, which is water-soluble. It didn't seem to help at first, so I poured a bowl of milk to soak my hands. That felt good, I think mainly due to the cool temperature. After a while, I think the bleach solution did work because I could start to function without terrible pain as long as I wasn't gripping anything too tightly.

After testing my still-burning hands on Erich's skin (and determining that my burning was not contagious), I collected my baby, who was ready for bed. I was relieved that my hands weren't going to burn her skin. The worst part of this ordeal was being barred from even holding her until we knew I wouldn't hurt her. (And I won't even get into the issue of an unexpected poop, more solid than it used to be, the pain and yuck-factor in swishing it in the toilet and I'm definitely going to get one of those diaper sprayers... oh, looks like I got into it, sorry.)

The rest of the evening, I was distracted from my pain. As long as my fingers still smelled like the lobby of a hotel with a pool, I could function. They were STILL throbbing when I went to sleep as the bleach faded. I woke up and they seemed okay, except when any significant pressure was placed on them. After my warm shower today, it was as though they were freshly burned for at least half an hour. Even now, about 30 hours later, a slight tingle remains.

I will never, ever, ever even think about handling any combination of knife and hot pepper without gloves on ever again. EVER.


When Lily's hungry, she's a little bit like Mr. Peepers in "Attack Mode."

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Word About Dairy

I believe I've mentioned before that I'm avoiding dairy as a rule. The reasons are two-fold. 1. It bothers Lily via breastmilk. 2. It bothers me.

Sometimes this is hard for people to understand. What, Lily can't have milk? But her entire diet consists of... milk! How silly. Well, it's actually not that silly.

So here's a handy FAQ!

Q: Is Lily lactose intolerant?

A: No. It is extremely rare for a baby to be lactose intolerant, and it may even be impossible. My human milk is full of lactose and she's fine with it. So, again, the issue here is not with lactose.

Q: Is Lily allergic to dairy?

A: No. A true allergy to dairy protein is rare and would result in severe reactions to even a little bit of dairy in my diet. Her reactions are not nearly severe enough to make me suspect an allergy. Her problem seems to be a sensitivity, or intolerance.

Q: Then how do you know she has a problem?

A. The answer to this question derives from a bit of intuition and some simple non-scientific experiments. And, be forewarned, the following paragraphs will talk quite a bit about baby poop.

When Lily was super tiny, she pooped frequently like all newborns do. I started noticing more and more that her poop, instead of being nice and mustard-yellow and seedy, was increasingly green-colored, mucus-y, and watery. And as she got to the age when most babies start consolidating their poops, she continued to poop quite frequently (12x a day). The green mucus concerned me. The lactation consultant and the doctor told me to keep an eye on it but weren't too concerned since she was definitely healthy and gaining weight appropriately. It didn't get worse, but it also did not improve. She also had eczema, skin rashes--both of which she would scratch until she bled--and itchy nose and congestion. Her worst poop days were accompanied by extra fussiness and gas. I must note that Lily is a very easy baby. She has a very even temperament and rarely cries. So her "extra fussiness" probably served to put her in the category of an average baby. But I know my baby, and I knew that she was uncomfortable.

I knew also, from my reading, that it's common for little breastfed babies to be sensitive to certain foods in the mother's diet. Gas-causing vegetables, eggs, meat, and dairy are a few common ones. Usually they outgrow these things. I was very loath to cut anything out of my diet; I simply didn't want to deprive myself of whatever I felt like eating, and I love my ice cream and mac 'n' cheese. But I was also tired of being the "poop-nazi," carefully inspecting every diaper, waiting to see if she outgrew her apparent sensitivity with no action on my part. On a few separate occasions, I cut back on dairy and noticed some improvement. But then we'd have pizza for dinner or I'd have a little of this, a little of that and then we were back to mucus poops and fussiness. Finally, around 3.5months, I decided enough was enough: NO MORE DAIRY.

Even so, I eliminated only obvious dairy. I would still have baked goods, things fried in butter, etc. Again, Lily was not in poor health, I just knew she wasn't feeling well. Within a week of dairy elimination, the poop problems, gas and fussiness, and head-scratching were much improved. I seemed to have my answer. Lily seemed to be much happier for much more of the day, and I was very happy as well.

Q: Would it help if you switched to baby formula?

A. Seeing as formula is made from cow's Furthermore, many babies who are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy (my non-scientific experimentation bears this out). That would have me paying top-dollar for nasty hypoallergenic formula. It's far less inconvenient for me to simply alter my diet and for Lily and me to keep receiving all the other benefits of breastfeeding. And what a travesty it would be to have switched to formula and gone through even more problems and detective work without having the option to go back to breastfeeding. For, when it comes to breastmilk, if you don't use it, you lose it.

Q: So, will she outgrow this?

A: All signs point to yes. When I first eliminated dairy, even slight deviations from the rule seemed to make her symptoms come roaring back. Now, if I happen to have something with a little cheese or one spoonful of ice cream, she seems unaffected. However, if I were to treat myself to a full serving of dairy, I believe we would pay for it.

Some of her issues remain. She still scratches her forehead, but we do a better job of keeping her tiny nails trimmed, so she no longer breaks the skin. She still gets nasal congestion and rubs her nose a lot. She still gets mucus in her diaper from time to time, but she no longer gets diarrhea. It's possible that she's sensitive to other foods (crazy fussiness this morning has me suspecting beef), but she's healthy and happy, and I know when to stop obsessing. Some of those closest to me might have trouble believing that, but I promise it's true! :)

Q: Isn't this so annoying for you? You love dairy! I couldn't live without dairy!

A: At first, it was a bit inconvenient. But I had long suspected a dairy intolerance of my own. Sure enough, once it was all out of my system, I truly did not miss it. I used to crave cheese like crazy, and now I don't crave it at all. When I'm with family and everyone else is having ice cream for dessert, I'm not the least bit jealous. I'm far less prone to bloating and digestive discomfort. I feel happier in general. I do not miss dairy. I plan on continuing to avoid it as a rule, even when Lily is weaned and enjoying cow's milk and cheese.

Food intolerances are more common than most people think, and this whole process has made me more aware of those foods that seem to trigger bad reactions in me. When certain foods are simply not an option, it makes me work harder to eat healthfully. I feel like my entire day-to-day life has improved. In short, I do not feel as though I have been sentenced to a sad, dairy-free existence. I am happy!

In conclusion...

Lily is a sensitive baby. Certain foods irritate her. She has very sensitive skin. Most lotions, body wash and detergents give her rashes. And now I'm finding with solid foods, very rarely does she have no reaction. Banana gives her a rash. Toast made her gassy. Potato (or maybe the little bit of onion or butter it was cooked with) gives her a rash. I've been calling myself lazy because I don't give her much solid food, but these sensitivities are the reason why I'm a little skittish. So, at seven months of age, she continues to be 99% breastfed. She doesn't need cereal or purees for nutrition and they don't serve any function in teaching her how to eat, so I'm going to keep giving her what's best and let everything else happen organically. is a well-respected source for breastfeeding information. A got a lot of my facts from here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Seven Months

Lily's been sitting up for a while, but lately she's gotten to be quite the pro! With the Boppy positioned around her, she doesn't tumble to the ground so easily.

I have to share this video from today. She was really loving the camera!

And, by the way, Miss Lily turned seven months yesterday! That made me realize that this kid is closer to one year than birth. And the shades of toddlerhood are just starting to reveal themselves. With the smiles and interaction come. . .opinions. Not always a bad thing, but a small child does not know how to manage her opinions, so I will have to do a lot of that for her. No, this paper napkin is not appropriate to play with. Yes, I know you want that napkin, but you can have this toy. Oh, you still want that napkin even though you can't see it anymore. WHINING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED, YOUNG LADY. Ahem.

But on the more delightful side of Lily's opinions, she is showing herself to be quite the daddy's girl. Not only is my former mini-me looking more like Erich, she also looks for him, smiles at his presence, giggles with him and generally seems to prefer when he's around. This makes his short trips out of town a bit more challenging, but we shall manage.

What else? She's saying "ma-ma-ma" but I'm not quite sure if it means anything yet. Sometimes she babbles up a storm. On the solid food front, after being lazy and out of our routine for a few weeks, I've resumed high chair time. Today she attacked some sweet potato, and I think she may have swallowed up to half of what she played with! [Or, for the grammar nazis, "up to half of that with which she played."] Her very functional gag reflex (gag, cough, smile, dribble, smile) rejected the rest.

And that's all I've got for now.