Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An Allergy Update

I just wanted to give an update after my very long vent session about how hard all of this allergy stuff  with little William has been on me.  There have been lots of positives this week, which I am choosing to focus on. We haven't had to pull over and wrap bloody legs! Score! We are still doing the tube socks, but it has been a little less excessively (he's been keeping them off during the day for playtime and mealtimes, and has done good).
Night time is still a toss up. Will he sleep, should I go back in there? Does he have the socks off? Usually when I go in there after he has been crying, he is sitting up in his crib scratching his legs. I'll say something like, "did you take you socks off," and he's nod and say, "mmhhmm," and point to where he's stashed them between the side of the crib and the wall.
Last night was a long night of this, going back in, coaxing him with water sips and rocking. He was up too late! Before him, and even now, I believe 7pm is a good bedtime. Kids do a lot of important development while they're snoozing! So when it takes until 9 or 10, I am aching for both of us! I know he needs the sleep desperately, and I need a break!
Tonight went much better than last night. I have been slathering him up after his last diaper change of the night with coconut oil and lavender essential oil.  I also got him some new jammies (new to him... $1 sale on toddler clothes at the thrift store- jackpot)! It is important to have the right kind of jammies to prevent itching. They need to cover everything, but also not be too warm for summer. So, tonight he has on some cotton full-body suit jammies, but without the footies, so I did put socks on him. His feet are really the only part on him right now that are still intensely irritated. Everywhere else has really cleared up! I was so proud of how well his back has cleared up, I had to show daddy at bedtime and we kissed his perfect skin!
On the whole, things are looking up. I still worry. A lot. But I am desperately trying to be positive. One day at a time, that is what I can conquer.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The White House Hates Allergies!

In just a few weeks, William, my youngest, will turn two. Aside from it seeming impossible, and all of my feelings of denial that my baby could be two, he doesn't feel like he's about to reach this milestone.  I guess it's because we have been through so much with him; you wouldn't think that allergies would affect sleep patterns and car trips, but they do. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined the things I now have to worry about. The things that cause me the most stress are not even on a "normal" mom's radar.
I can't let my "baby" cry it out. He is almost two, and I can't let him get to sleep on his own for fear that he will get his tube socks off of his legs and arms, which we use as a precaution barrier to keep him from scratching himself. Once the socks are off, there is no helping him. He will scratch until his legs are bleeding and his fingers are covered with his own blood. He can't help it. And there is nothing more I can do than what I am already doing. this is the hardest part.  It breaks my heart that this is a daily struggle: trying to keep my almost two-year-old from making himself bleed. So I do treat him like a baby at bedtime. I rock him until he is almost completely out, then the tickling starts. I lay him in his crib and rub and gently tickle his belly until I see his eyelids close and he is breathing deeply. This takes a LONG time. Sometimes he wakes up 4 or 5 times and I have to start all over again... from the very beginning. He taps his belly letting me know that he wants me to rub it some more, then he peers at me through slanted eyes to make sure I'm not sneaking out on him. When I do try letting him fuss and cry to see if he will self soothe, it usually backfires on me, meaning he's gotten the socks off, thrown them between the crib and the wall, and he is scratching. Part of it feels like he has really learned how to manipulate me, which is probably a bit true, but then I have to settle and embrace in that other side. I get to hold my boy a little longer, and watch him fall asleep, and breathe deeply.
The scratching issue is also a major stress in the car. We always start off going somewhere with the socks on him. It is just a necesity. After months of doing this, William has getting them off down to an art. If he really wants to, he can get them off in a few seconds. We've tried distracting him with other things, toys, snacks (which work the best), but inevitably the socks come off at some point, and he can't help but scratch those itchy legs! I can't believe that I now carry a supply of bandage wrap in the car just in case I have to pull over and wrap his bloody legs. Every time I have to do this, I just cry. And it happens at least once a week! Most of our destinations are twenty minutes away, so this is also part of the problem. He can handle five to ten mintues, but after that, forget it. His two big brothers try to help keep him happy and distracted too, they also warn me if he's gotten his socks off. The scratching is pretty disturbing to them too. It makes me not want to go anywhere. I know that if we stay home that at least that takes out one of the possibilities of him re-opening wounds that babdly need to heal. Every day, I slather his legs with Vitamin E oil. This process, though not pleasant, has shown me the amazing ability of healing. His skin transforms so quickly from weeping and bloody, to scabby, to smooth all in a weeks time.  Now I am ready for emotional healing.

I am wound so tightly, that I snap so easily, and it's really no ones fault. My mind is just trying so hard to survive and keep up. I want to get out of survival mode, but I feel like that is still a long ways off. We are still just managing things, and are barely staying afloat. My other boys are very understanding of the allergies, and have been helpful (although, once in a while, Owen has slipped Will something on the "no, no" list. He asked me yesterday if William could have bagels. I told him no because they usually have egg in them. Then I asked if he had given Will some. "Well, he looked really jealous, mom, but it was just a little piece," he told me).

It has only been three weeks since we found out exactly what foods William is allergic to (eggs, dairy, and peanuts), so that alone has been a major transition. We still haven't even tested for environmental allergies. I feel unprepared for this life changing world. I mean will he never have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch? My underlying optimism is hoping he will outgrow some of this, but for now, I have to deal with it day by day.

He is eating a lot of fruit.. maybe too much.  He loves cereal, and his main protein is chicken. I can get him to eat beans if I process them, but it is still hit and miss. I stress about it all. Is he getting enough nutrition, did I give him the wrong thing, will he ever stop scratching? Yesterday I gave him edamame, thinking they would be a good snack, then of course my paranoid brain had to re-read the label. It turned out, the facility where they were processed contained milk, eggs, and peanuts! I couldn't believe all three were listed! He had already eaten a handful and was scratching his arms up!

I know it is going to take time and patience during this adjustment period, but it is so much harder than i ever imagined.  I remember before I had kids, some friends of ours had a daughter that was allergic to cheese and some other things, and as a teenager, I thought that was so weird. I thought her parents were being "a little extreme." Now I can't even believe I had those feelings! People probably look at me and think the same thing, but you can't help it when it is your kid, your baby who depends on your good choices. You have to be crazy and over protective, and a little too tightly wound. I'm doing the best I can, but I may also be on the verge of an emotional breakdown, frankly because this really isn't my only problem. I am responsible for raising three little boys, and this allergy thing has just thrown a real curve ball in there for me.  It helps to know there are lots of other moms struggling in the same ways that I am. It also helps to hear I am doing an okay job once in a while (the hubby is good at this).  If you are reading this, thank you for bearing with me. I really needed to just let some feelings out.

My silly sweet boy, William is about to turn two, but he'll always be my baby. Of course I baby him too much, and like I said, the allergy thing has made that worse. But then again, he's my last, so he deserves a little baby-ing. And I kind of needed that part to last a little longer this time around anyways.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photo and Food Journal Day 1

July 22
William didn't sleep well.
He had an extremely bad scratching episode during naptime, which left his legs bleeding.
This is how they looked at the end of the day.

What he ate today:
Kashi bar
banana bite or two
Oatmeal (a few bites)
graham crackers
squeeze snack (beet, pear, mango)
Soup (rice, chicken, brocolli, carrots)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When A Baby Becomes A Toddler

          When does a baby become a toddler?  This is a most sneaky transition. One minute you are holding a snuggly bundle in your arms, and the next that bundle is traipsing through the house exploring every nook and cranny.  Childhood in it's purest definition is a series of seamless transitions made up of learning, growing, and changing. You can't quite declare the exact moment the transformation happens. It feels like a blink, a single breath escaping from your lips, and then it's over.  Your baby isn't quite a baby anymore.  Those sleepless nights you thought would never end, have vanished and there is an unexpected sadness mixed with joy. You've survived, and your baby is growing up.

          I feel like just yesterday we were bringing William home.  Though he was our biggest baby of the three, weighing in at 9lbs. and 13oz., he still felt itty bitty, the way all newborns do. It was one of the happiest days of my life, looking back at that precious little package in his brand new car seat, sleeping soundly.  His big brothers were still spending the day with Grandma and Papa, so it was just us.  When we got home, I gave him a "tour." It was his first time seeing the place, so I thought he should know his way around. I felt overwhelmed with pride showing him his very own room. "This is for you," I told him. "I'll tell you stories in that rocking chair, and sing to you. And sometimes we'll just sit there so I can look at you and tell you  that I love you. We'll snuggle and share many special moments together. Those are all your books up there on that shelf. Most of them are from Grandma, she's kind of a book fanatic." After I finished showing him his room, we looked at his big brother's room, and the rest of the house, then we snuggled down for a good feeding.
           I will never forget those first expressions of pure contentment. I love that "drunk-baby" look newborns get when they are nursing.  That first night was perfect, not that it didn't have it's challenges, but we had finally brought home the last member of our family, and all was good. That first week he spent mostly in just a diaper.  He had jaundice and it was late August, so we tried to let the sunlight seep into his sweet baby skin. Even at night, he slept next to me in just his diaper; I rubbed his smooth little back until he fell asleep.
          I think of those days often, now.  Especially when William begs to get up on that same bed so we can wrestle. He moves as fast as his monkey legs can carry him as soon as sees our bedroom door open and bolts for the side of the bed where he bangs his little arms until I give him a boost up.  Then it's all crawling, climbing and giggles. He loves to be tickled, and this has become our little game. Him, bolting for the bed, me, pretending I can't catch him until I tackle him gently on the bed and tickle him until he is breathing hard with laughter!
          It's true, this baby has morphed into a toddler somehow. He's shown all the signs, almost humorous fits of kicking and arm flinging when he doesn't get his way, destruction of all things in his path, and the requirement of constant snacks. The only sign this toddler has failed to show is to actually toddle. He'll be 18 months on the 22nd and has only taken a few steps here and there. I guess that means he's about 95% toddler. I'll hang hang on to that baby-ness as long as I can!
          Slowly it's been slipping away, but I cherish every cuddle and kiss. Last Sunday, William fell asleep on Martin, which is quite a rarity now.  I whispered to him that it may be the last time he does that.  William was snoring loud enough for probably a few rows around us to hear. And every time his little lip went in and out, a little spit bubble formed! Sigh... so precious. He may be growing up, but he'll always be my baby!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not Just A Tree

To most people, a tree is just a tree.
They don't see it's beauty,
It's strength.
They don't see it's pattern of life,
growth, and elegance. 
The day that eyes see more than just a tree,
is the day those eyes begin to see the world.
They see truth and beauty all around.
They see hope for the future.
They see in others a new potential. 
They see that we are all connected,
 imperfect, and beautiful...
just like the tree.
So, a tree is not just a tree.
The tree is you, and the tree is me.
The tree is all of us, together,

giving strength to each other.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"The Princess Bride" Movie Night With Elijah

I always feel like I am going to forget little sweet moments that happen in my everyday life.  I wish I had more time to write things down.  I guess that is what prompted this post.

Last week, I purchased the movie, "The Princess Bride" while on my regular Target shopping trip.  It was only $5, and it's a classic that we desperately needed to add to our movie library.   I grew up with it being an all time favorite family movie (not realizing how corny and fun it really was until much later).  Then, a few years ago, I read a book on parenting boys.  In one of the chapters, it had a list of movies they were recommending to watch with your boys... among the list was "The Princess Bride."

On a regular basis, I am pretty strict when it comes to what I let my children watch.  I knew eventually I wanted all of the kids to watch this movie I had grown to love, but when was the right time?  How old is old enough for sword fighting, death, and true love? We decided this would be a good movie for Elijah who just turned seven, but Owen, our four year old, would not be allowed to watch it just yet.
I was still a little questionable, thinking about the content of the movie... Elijah has really only seen cartoon/kid movies - all rated G.  However,  the parenting book I had read said watching good movies together and talking about the themes and ideas presented with your child, allows them to begin to connect his inside world with his outside world.  I had never really thought about it that way before. I was always very aware of the content and watched for reactions and we'd talk about themes in the movie, but this idea of helping him to take steps to understanding the world... well that seems pretty big.

Other good movies recommended were:
The Adventures of Robin Hood
The Wizard of Oz (which he has seen)
Old Yeller
The Miracle on 34th Street
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Lion King
The Iron Giant

These were recommended specifically for boys, but of course are great for any child.
They all have a certain theme of good vs. evil, fighting for what is right, and lots of adventure, which kids are fascinated with.

Knowing all of this ahead of time, I was anxious to see Elijah's reactions to "The Princess Bride," but first we needed the unique opportunity to watch it alone with him. This opportunity came unexpectantly last Tuesday night.
We were at the dinner table and Owen refused to eat his food. (this is somewhat typical, but he is required to take at least 4 "thankful" bites, which he was having a very hard time with).  Martin realized he was being more difficult than usual, but neither of us caught it was due to being overtired... until about five minutes later.  We looked over and Owen had actually fallen asleep with his arms folded and his head tucked in them right on the table!
Martin carried him to bed, we cleaned up, and there was an opportunity to watch a movie with just Elijah awake!
The special scenario made the movie more exciting and enjoyable for Elijah, I think. It's not often he gets to stay up late and also have both of his parents to hang out with.
He watched the entire movie with such intensity, it kind of caught me off guard. He paid attention to every detail. (I do have to admit, there was one section where I pushed the mute button.  Since I can pretty much quote the entire thing, I remembered the one swear word just in time... he didn't really need to hear that part right?)
My favorite thing about the whole night was at the end of the movie when they are all four riding away on white horses, Elijah smiled and said, "I'm glad she gets to ride horses again, because that's her favorite thing to do."
He said that was his favorite part about the whole movie- the girl getting to enjoy her favorite past time.  Oh, my sweet boy! i just love him! I thought he might say the sword fighting or something else, but no, he was glad for the girl getting to enjoy riding horses!
I'm looking forward to many more memorable movie nights with these wonderful boys of mine. And soon they will all be old enough to enjoy the classics!

P.S I just heard that "The Princess Bride" is being made into a Broadway Show! wow... Inconceivable!