Surgery, BAAAs, Moos, and Meatloaf Soup

It’s been that kind of month when your everyday routine becomes so out of wack that you’re pretty sure you’ve entered a parallel universe.  First E was sick, then I was sick, then E was sick again, then E was teething.  Two days ago, B had shoulder surgery and things have been anything but calm.  Taking care of a 35-year-old man in an immobilizer and doped up on pain killers is just as much work as taking care of a 16-month-old.  He joked last night that we should set up a baby monitor next to the recliner so he can cry for me in the middle of the night. I almost kicked him.

At least E is her happy self again.  She’s working on learning her animal noises.

Sheep:  Ba.
Cow:  Mmmmmmm.
Doggy:  Ruh ruh ruh.
Horse:  Neeeeee.
Monkey:  Ooo ooo ooo.
Bear:  Guh.
Kitty:  Mau.

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That last one might take her the longest to learn.

Now that everyone is eating properly and I have a few days off of work, I tried to make a meatloaf last night.  It was a new experience yesterday because the meatloaf I’ve made in the past contains eggs.  I followed this recipe from Betty Crocker but I subbed rice milk and ground flax eggs.  Since E was diagnosed with her allergies almost a year ago, I still haven’t been brave enough to try an egg substitute.  I’ve swapped applesauce for egg in a banana bread recipe but that’s as ballsy as I’ve gotten.

Um…I need some practice with flax eggs. When I mixed the ground flax seed and the water, I didn’t think it had nearly the egg-like consistency it was supposed to.  But this is my first rodeo, so who was I to question it?

Well yeah, the “meatloaf” turned out to be more of a soup.  The taste was okay but the texture left something to be desired.  Will NOT be doing that again.  I’m open to tips and tricks from any “experts” out there reading this.  😉

We’re heading into the weekend and we’re normally a pretty busy family on the weekends.  With B recovering from surgery, we’ll probably be stuck at home a bit more than usual.  I’ve got lots of activities planned with E, so you’ll be seeing some updates on how they went.  Can’t wait to try some new things!

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Adventure

Last week, my mom and I braved a road trip with a 15-month-old to see all of my family in another state.  One that would involve over 20 hours of driving in just five days.

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For weeks leading up to the trip, I fretted over the whole ordeal.  E gets bored in the car driving to the grocery store, so how on earth was I going to keep her occupied for 1500 miles?

I’ll leave you in suspense here a moment.  What I will tell you is that the driving was not the most difficult part of the journey.

The hardest part was the food.  Before we left, I mentioned to my mom I wanted to come up with a game plan for feeding E while we were there.  Feeding a toddler who can’t eat dairy, eggs, and peanuts is no easy feat, and it’s definitely not something you can accomplish without planning.  At home, we eat what E can eat.  I wasn’t going to expect my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to do the same; but at the same time, I didn’t want E to watch everyone eating the same thing while staring at something else on her own plate for five days straight.  There had to be a middle ground, a compromise of sorts, and that’s what I’d wanted to plan.  My mom reassured me they would all understand, and we didn’t need to plan.  It would all work out.

From the moment we arrived, everyone wanted to eat at restaurants where E could literally eat nothing.  Our first night there we went to a pizza buffet where even the one E-friendly thing there (peas at the salad bar) was contaminated with hard-boiled egg particles.  I had some snacks in the diaper bag but nothing that would constitute a meal since we had just pulled into town an hour earlier.  E immediately pulled my plate of pizza in front of her and she was devastated when I took it away.  One hour into the trip and my heart was already ripping to pieces.

I ended up making a trip to the grocery store to buy some “real” food for E.  It took away some of the stress at the times my family chose to eat at places whose menus didn’t jive with E’s allergies.  However, it was difficult not to be in my own kitchen where at any given moment I know I can throw together an entire meal for E in a pinch with all of the things I have on hand.

One night we traveled to another town to stay with a cousin from the other side of my family.  She’d invited about 20 or 30 people from our family over for a barbecue, and to my relief she asked me for a list of things E would be able to eat.  Although there was plenty of food there that was safe, there was also a lot of unsafe food.  When we arrived, I asked all of my family to not give anything to E without asking me first, and everyone seemed agreeable to my request.  Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that also meant they had to watch their kids and grandkids, who put Cheetos right into E’s mouth.  I quickly took the chip away and the girl who’d given it to her (four or five, maybe?) got extremely upset.  “But she likes it!  Why you won’t let her have it?”  I explained to her that it would make E very, very sick, but she didn’t understand and continued to try giving them to E.  From behind me, my aunt cried out, “Well, she’s just a kid, she doesn’t understand allergies!”  I bit my tongue but I desperately wanted to remind her that a child of that age knows what “sick” means and it would be nice if she would jump in and help her own granddaughter to understand she couldn’t feed that kind of food to my kid.

This is why I need help.  This is why I need other adults, especially my own family, to listen and to understand the seriousness of food allergies and how DAMN HARD it is to be the mother of someone who has them.

Our last night before heading home, my grandpa really wanted to take us out to a new fancy steakhouse that had just opened.  It was expensive, one of those “special occasion” type restaurants, and since my grandma passed away two years ago, special occasions are rare for him these days.  By then I was plain exhausted from all of the fighting and compromising I’d done just to feed E during our trip.  But it was important to my grandpa and it was one more night.  I could do it.  I spoke with the waiters, who spoke with the cooks, and they were able to grill E a chicken breast with absolutely no butter or marinade.  Paired with a side of apple slices, E had a delicious meal that was served to her in a cute little cardboard car, and I was ridiculously relieved.

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In all fairness, other than the food the trip was phenomenal.  E was in the most spectacular mood and she charmed the socks off of everyone.  She got to meet cows and horses and tiny little puppies.  For being on the road so much and away from everything familiar to her, she did great and I’m such a lucky mom for that.

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So, back to the driving portion of the trip.  E handled 23 hours on the road better than the two grown-ass women in the car did.  The secret?  Playing “The Secret Life of Pets” movie over and over and OVER AND OVER.  As long as that movie was playing, E was a happy camper.  Oh, and a continuous pile of Teddy Grahams may have contributed to our success.

All in all, I feel confident that E will be a good traveler.  I know now that next time, not planning for E’s food is not an option.  I don’t fault my family for how things went.  They don’t deal with it every day.  They don’t experience it firsthand.  They don’t understand, like many people don’t until you’re in my shoes.  It just means that we cannot successfully travel anywhere without truly planning out how we’ll feed little E.  It will never work to assume that anyone will understand our situation and adapt to it.

Experimenting with Meals, and Practice Walking

Last week was the first full week we ate dairy-free as a family at dinner time.  Before that, I was just giving E a mish-mash of things we had on hand that she could eat:  different meats, zucchini noodles, almond yogurt, fruit, bread.  Now that we know we’re in it for the long haul with her allergies, I’ve been in full planning mode and really trying to settle in to this as a lifestyle rather than something more temporary.  Here are some of the things we tried this past week:

  • Non-spicy Turkey Chili:  E strongly disliked it at first, but eventually I figured out it’s because she didn’t want to be spoon-fed.  The spoon is her sworn enemy.  It was a mess, but I eventually spooned the chili on to her high chair tray and let her have at it with her hands.  Turns out she LOVES chili…as long as she can feed it to herself.
  • Spaghetti:  Made with jarred sauce (ingredients checked, because Ragu contains milk) and ground beef.  E went bonkers over it.  She shoved it into her mouth by the fistful and ate about twice as much as I expected her to.  When all was said and done, her face, hands, clothes, and high chair tray were all covered in spaghetti sauce.  At this point I strongly considered feeding her naked in the bathtub until she learns how to feed herself with utensils.
  • Gumbo:  Made (by grandma) with chicken, sausage, onions, tomatoes, and okra.  It’s served over rice but I just picked out the chicken and veggies and fed them to E.  It was E’s first time eating okra and I expected her to hate it but she’s actually a big fan!

We’ve also been trying out a little bit of goat’s milk for E.  About 20% of babies with a true milk allergy are able to tolerate goat’s milk, but 80% have a reaction similar to the one they get with cow’s milk.  I’ve only given E a couple of tablespoons of goat’s milk at a time but so far she hasn’t had a reaction to it.  Fingers crossed this will be an option for her as we wean her off of her formula within the next few months.

While we’ve been experimenting with E’s food, we’ve also been doing a lot of practice walking.  E finally lets us hold her hands and walk her around the house, although she still prefers pushing the chairs around the kitchen on her own.  She can stand independently for 10-15 seconds at a time, but so far the most we’ve gotten out of her on her own is one single step.

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B taking E for a little stroll.

One thing that’s really helped with her ability to stand and work toward becoming more mobile is her baby gymnastics classes.  We go once a week for a 45-minute class, and I think it’s E’s favorite part of the whole weekend.

Ten Months

E is ten months old.  I’ve now had a baby for the same length of time it took me to conceive a baby.  I’m WAY overdue for this update, so the highlights:

  • E’s first Thanksgiving was great!  She had a few bites of turkey and wasn’t too impressed, but she was really fond of the potatoes.
  • We’re still battling chronic constipation.  E’s pediatrician suspected some delayed GI maturity due to A) genetics, and B) her hypoallergenic formula.  He increased her solid and water intake and put her on daily Miralax along with a daily prescription laxative, and we’re still struggling.  We have a follow-up soon and I think it’s time to request some tests.
  • E can say four words:  “mama,” “daddy,” “kitty,” and “that.”
  • E points at everything these days.  She points when she wants to study something more closely, or when she wants us to give her something, like her water cup.  It is kind of nice because it’s easier for her to communicate with us now.
  • She also picks her nose……and eats it.
  • E can pull herself into a standing position when holding on to some things, but she’s still not cruising along the furniture and still doesn’t care for walking while we hold on to her hands.  She can do it, but she gets impatient and plops down so she can crawl because it’s much faster.  I think she’s going to be a bit of a late walker.
  • E is obsessed with books.  Almost nothing keeps her attention for more than a few minutes, but she can sit down with a book for 15+ minutes at a time and flip back and forth between the pages.  At day care when she’s extremely fussy, they put her in a high chair and give her a stack of books, and her mood instantly improves.  Her bookworm mama couldn’t be any prouder.

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  • E has learned how light switches work and she loves when we pick her up so she can turn the lights off and on.
  • We are finally getting some sleep!  For the past month and a half, E has been sleeping through the night half the time and only briefly waking 1-2 times the other half.
  • We introduced E to Christmas music and she squealed and danced.  December is going to be so much fun.

Our biggest challenge at ten months old: discipline.  E understands the word “no” and she is not a fan.  When we tell her no, she smiles at us mischievously and carries on doing what we told her not to do.  Sometimes we can’t help but laugh and we know it’s just encouraging the behavior but how do you not laugh at a baby who insists on shoveling cat food into her mouth?

Sitting, screeching, and scooting

No one really prepares you for how much your baby can change in the span of a few days.

We’ve been working on sitting up and E has the tripod sit mastered.  Even as recently as Saturday, as soon as she lifted even one arm she’d topple over face first into the carpet.  Then Sunday rolled around and suddenly she was sitting up, by herself, without using her arms.  She doesn’t last more than a minute but it’s a night and day difference from two days ago.  Insanity, I tell you!

Also on the list of “things E didn’t do last week” is screeching.  She’s learned to screech and she does it for everything.  Hungry?  SCREECH.  Amused?  SCREECH.  Tired?  SCREECH.  Excited? SCREECH. Bored? SCREECH. Seriously, there is so much screeching going on in this house.  Where ma ear plugs at?

E’s still trying to figure out this whole “being mobile” business.  She scoots around the room on her belly but only backwards, and at first it really pissed her off but now she’s just happy to not stay in one place.  She tried all weekend long to get up on her knees, so I’m curious to see how long it is before she’s rocking on her hands and knees.

Development talk aside, E had her second-ever play date over the weekend with a baby who’s six weeks younger than E is.  This baby is E’s polar opposite–standoffish, skeptical of new people and new situations, and overall just not a very relaxed baby–and at the first word I uttered to her (“hi”), she lost her marbles and started screaming.  But E was really excited about her and reached out an arm to try and touch her, and from that point on this other baby was perfectly content as long as she was watching E.  I have a little charmer on my hands!  The play date made me really appreciate what an easygoing baby I have.  We got lucky with this girl, I’m telling you.

Also worth reporting on (because what’s a baby blog without regular poop talk?): constipation.  We’ve been dealing with some over here for the first time, and I’ve never in my life looked so forward to a good, full, poopy diaper.  At least it makes for good text conversations with my mom:

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In other news… (a non-sleep related post)

I’ve posted a lot about our all-consuming sleep problems lately, so today I’m taking a break.  E turned five months old this last week, and her whole world changes a little bit each and every day.  Here’s what she’s been up to lately:

  • She transitioned into size 2 diapers.
  • She’s started wearing her six-month clothing.
  • (Girl, you’re growing up WAY. TOO. FAST.)
  • She’s eaten carrots (her favorite food so far) and has had a taste of a green apple.  She liked the apple but it made her face pucker up.
  • She’s figured out she can turn herself around in her sleep, so she ends up sideways and upside down all night long.  (Yeah yeah, I said no sleep talk…so sue me.)
  • She’s learning how to make her toys “work”–so when she pushes this button, it makes a sound, or when she pulls on this plastic ring, it plays a song.
  • She’s starting to push up on her forearms while she’s on her belly.  B thinks she’ll be crawling by the time she’s six months old.  (See bullet #3.)
  • She still hates her ergo and soft-shell carriers.  I managed to walk her around the corner to the mailbox recently, and almost celebrated when we got back tear-free…but then she began to scream.
  • She’s obsessed with our dog, a boxer-border collie mix named Samantha.  Whenever Samantha comes around, E dances excitedly and reaches out to touch the dog.
  • She LOVES books and story time, and she’s learned how to turn the pages.  When there’s too much text on the page, she gets impatient with my reading and turns to the next page to see the pictures.
  • She has learned how to cause mommy and daddy pain, and thinks it’s hilarious when she does.  It comes in the form of tugging on hair (even B’s, which is short) and grabbing a handful of our skin, particularly on our necks.

Most of these things have started just in the past week.  Baby girl changes so much every day, it’s amazing and fascinating and emotional all at the same time!

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E’s new buddy, Samantha.

Four months. Or, HOLY CRAP.

Tomorrow my baby turns four months old.  They say it goes by so fast, but I say that’s a bloody understatement.  I already feel like I can’t remember E as a newborn.  I watch videos I recorded at a week old, two weeks old, a month old, and it’s hard to believe I’m watching the same baby.  In the blink of an eye, she’s morphed from a sleepy, quiet, eyes-closed-75-percent-of-the-time baby into a giggly, wiggly chatterbox who can’t seem to take in enough of the world no matter how hard she tries.

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In the past month, E:

  • Rolled over from belly to back for the first time, and now does it regularly.
  • Learned how to grab and hold on to things, including her toys, mom’s jewelry, mom’s hair, and daddy’s chest hair (B isn’t too fond of that one).
  • Has decided there’s nothing better in the world to suck on than her own hands (they are always in her mouth).
  • Got her first cold, and it was AWFUL.  (Awful for me.  Little miss resilient was much less bothered by it than mom was.)
  • Started napping in her crib.
  • Has taken to laughing at all kinds of things; she particularly loves when mom and dad make goofy noises, when daddy does a Mr. T impression, or when mom chants the word “boo” over and over.
  • Has started becoming interested in tastes other than breastmilk.  When I give her infant’s Tylenol or gripe water, she reaches out, grabs my hand, and pulls the syringe into her own mouth and waits impatiently for me to squeeze in the liquid.
  • Has become a distracted eater because she’d rather watch everything that’s going on around her.
  • Has become incredibly fond of the dopey dog that’s always poking her nose in E’s face.
  • Is getting very steady when sitting in the Bumbo seat; she’ll even play with her toys now while she’s sitting in it.
  • Started to have “conversations” with people.  She’ll coo, stop, wait for you to respond, coo again, stop, wait for you to respond…and repeat, repeat, repeat.  These conversations can go on for 10-15 minutes at a time.
  • Has been trying desperately to reach her own feet.  She can’t quite get to them yet, but she watches them like a hawk.  They’re one of her favorite forms of entertainment.
  • Can now see all the way across the room.  When I show up at day care, she sees me from the other side of the room and flashes a huge smile and starts kicking excitedly.

I get really giddy when I think about how many more things E will be able to do in just another few short weeks.  Everyone warns you that babies and kids grow up too fast, but no one gives you a heads up just how much they change in even a week’s time!