Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Eating Lunch Straight from the Pot

Saving time in the kitchen.
They're both asleep! It's 2:41 pm. I'm finally eating lunch. Gulping leftover meatballs and spaghetti straight from the pot. One less dish to clean. I've never done that before -- eating from pot. I hope it doesn't become a habit.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Angry Lady Behind Our House

Donovan calls her the "Angry Lady." And she is often angry, loudly spewing shockingly foul-mouthed diatribe for an old lady. She lives on Oxford Street, one block north of our street, so she's not really our neighbor, but the backyard of our row house is one lot over from hers. Close enough that we can hear her clearly from the upstairs back bedroom of our house. When the warm weather arrives and her sliding doors are open to her kitchen, and our windows are open too, we are subjected to her strange vitriol.

I'm morbidly fascinated by the sheer nastiness of what she says and the bitterness in her voice. To her son. To the elderly man we assume is her husband. She can swear with the worst of them. She can be gruffly nice to her dog -- I'll give her that.

Today she was ranting at someone when Donovan woke from his nap. Who? I have no idea. But we sat at the window and wondered about it. It's not exactly the wholesome content I want Donovan to hear in his own backyard, but we live in Fishtown, not Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breastfeeding Elimination Diet Day 1

Lunch on the first day of the elimination diet.
It was with some dread that I began the elimination diet today. I don't like deprivation, but I feel compelled to find out with more certainty if Estelle has a gastrointestinal intolerance to certain foods in my diet.

This particular elimination diet is from my pediatrician at Fairmount Pediatrics. It's severe, but mercifully short and not nearly as severe as some other breastfeeding elimination diets. That's why I decided I could give it a go. (I can't wait for Day 5 when I can have wheat again.)

Eat only meat, fruit, and vegetables for 2 days. If the baby is well with mom on this diet, then add back foods every 2 days in this order:
Rice, Wheat, Nuts, Soy, Egg, Dairy

I got through today and it wasn't that bad. Meat at every meal isn't my favorite, but veggies and fruit just don't hold me long, especially since I'm breastfeeding, which makes me very hungry!

~ ~ ~

Just to give you some background on this quest, I've been under the assumption that Estelle has a sensitivity to cow's milk protein that comes through in my breastmilk. In November 2011, when Estelle was 2 months old, little mucous-y clots of blood showed up in her diaper one day. I had been feeling like something wasn't quite right for her. Her poop was runny, mucous-y, and very green -- rarely the yellow, mustardy, seedy poop, typical of breastfed babies. Half the time after her feedings, instead of contentment, she was squirming and fussing. She also had been slow to gain weight in the first six weeks or so, and there was the omnipresent runny nose. One of the pediatricians at Nemours Philadelphia recognized the blood and mucuous-y green stools, and other symptoms as a sensitivity to dairy in my diet. Bad news for me, but it was a relief to have an explanation.

So, for the last 4 months, I have been living with the belief that she has a cow's milk protein intolerance and have avoided all dairy. No milk, yogurt, cheese, butter! It's hard. It's sucks.

Is she better? This is the nagging question for me because I don't feel like we have a clear answer. She's better. Her ongoing congestion has cleared up, but only recently, months after I quit dairy. We don't see red spots of blood in her diaper but her stools are still very green. Sometimes incredibly bright green like pesto. Other times, the color of her stool looks like there could be blood in the mix -- it's just not a stand-alone clot. She still fusses occasionally after nursing.

There is no medical test for milk intolerance in babies. The doctor at Allergy and Asthma Specialists here in Philadelphia told me that allergy tests measure histamine reactions and that food intolerance involves T-cells, not histamines.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baby's First Taste of Solid Food

Last night we gave Estelle her first taste of solid food. Sweet potatoes! She lipped a little bit off the spoon, mulled it over in her mouth, and was done.

At 6+ months of age, apparently she is overdue for starting solid foods. Our new pediatrician practically scoffed the other day when I told her we haven't yet given her anything but breastmilk: "Oh! Well it's time! Get her started on solid foods." The latest studies seem to suggest that starting babies earlier -- at 4 months -- is better for preventing allergies.

Oh no! Did I put Estelle at risk for allergies because I waited a few months to start solid foods?? Something else to worry about!

The thing is, these pediatric recommendations change all the time. When Donovan was an infant I read/heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended starting babies on solid foods between 4-6 months. My instinct was to start solid foods later, rather than earlier, so we gave Donovan his first food -- rice cereal mixed with breastmilk -- at six months.

Another change: The pediatrician dismissed rice cereal, the typical first food, as being nutritionally empty. "Just start giving her little bits of mashed up food from your plate, right from your finger. "

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Men of My Father's Generation

When I think about the division of labor between husbands and wives of my parent's generation, I feel incensed on behalf of the women of that era. It was the norm for those men to simply excuse themselves from the drudgeries of housekeeping: the cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry. As for the care and feeding of babies and children -- well, they did none of that either! No feeding, diaper changing, or getting up in the night to soothe a crying infant. Both my mother and mother-in-law have said that fathers never changed diapers. It's just the way it was.

Why did women like my mother and mother-in-law let fathers get away with it? Sure, these men went to work five days a week to earn a paycheck, but I've worked a full time job for my entire adult life until I had my son and I know which job is harder! Raising a child, or children, is much harder than leaving the house each day to work an 8-hour job. Caring for babies and preschoolers is so, so much more demanding of your entire being; it's a 24/7 job. Back in the day when my parents' generation were raising children, I suppose women got a break once their kids went to school, but they deserved it! Ironically, however, most of my mother's generation went to work outside the house once their kids were in school, while STILL being responsible for all the housekeeping. What a crappy division of labor.

I find these angry thoughts towards men of my father's generation tend to lather up in my mind while doing the dishes after dinner and then shift over to my own father. I start thinking about my family when I was a child, about my father coming home from work moody and angry, arriving like some dark thunder cloud. On those nights it was best not to approach him but instead, let him settle in behind the bar in the den and sip a cocktail until dinner. Dinner would be a tense situation, requiring us kids to refrain from speaking too much or, God forbid, laugh or "be silly," while my mother pandered to my father, trying to have pleasant conversation only to be routinely shut down, especially if dinner was something other than beef. If she had cooked steak, it probably wasn't rare enough. He completed controlled all of us with his anger and when he wasn't happy, everybody else in my house better damn well tiptoe around him because he had a hard day. Even though I was raised in the 70's and 80's, my father's parenting style was a throwback to the 50's: strict, traditional. Childrearing for him was about control. A threat of physical punishment loomed in the air and although there was a joking irony when he said "children should be seen and not heard," I always thought it was actually a belief from which he operated.

Ultimately it makes me sad that my father distanced himself from us kids, choosing to be a feared authority figure rather than get his hands dirty. I wish my mother had been stronger and had stood up to my father, demanding that he pitch in more with us kids. It would have been good for him, softening him up and requiring that he be less self-absorbed. Plus my sister, brother and I would've probably had a closer relationship with him, something we've all expressed regret about since his death almost 10 years ago.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Sudden Me Time!

A stay-at-home parent with very young children -- babies, toddlers, preschoolers -- has incredibly little time to herself. At this moment, both my 4-month old, Estelle and 2.5 year old, Donovan are asleep at 8:40 am. This is not usual for Donovan. As for Estelle, I just don't know because I haven't established any sort of schedule for her. So now I have this unexpected window of time -- of unknown duration -- and I don't know what to do!

All the little things I never find time to do are flooding my brain: wipe the top of the fridge, go through maternity clothes to sell or give away, stretch and do a few Sun Salutations, call the insurance company (and no doubt sit on hold), call the optometrist, vacuum downstairs, clean the sink and toilet in either or both bathrooms, do something creative!

Whatever I begin however, may be suddenly interrupted by either child awakening, so I can't get into anything too deeply because I will likely have to end the activity abruptly. I don't want to be three feet into the bathroom floor, getting a good cleanser scrub on, only to have to stop suddenly and leave it unfinished, totally frustrated that I can't finish the project I started.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Agent of Chaos

My favorite drawing by Donovan so far. Pure Abstract Expressionism.
It was 1:45 pm, fifteen minutes past Donovan's nap time and he was just climbing into the crib (he can't yet climb out though -- a little vestige of containment for which I am grateful). He started jumping up and down, refusing to lay down on his pillow. I then attempted a totally ineffective persuasion:

"Here, lay down on your pillow; I just washed it today and it's all nice and clean."

As if he cares about clean laundry! He's 2 years, 7 months old and he is the perfect mess machine. I couldn't do it better if I tried. As witness to his age and development, I marvel how he has absolutely no sense of order and it makes me wonder how as a species, humans ever became civilized. Imagine if the world were run by 2.5 year olds! It would be a utter chaos.    

Today I got tired of his new Thomas Trackmaster and Wooden Railway sets in the middle of the living room rug, so took them apart and stacked them all neatly in the big cardboard box I designated to store these trains. He watched me from the couch. When I was finished, he came over and picked up the box and turned it upside down. I sputtered and rushed to grab the box and stop the madness before all my neatening was for naught. Oh the hamster wheel of it all. Clean, mess, repeat.