Monday, December 6, 2010

Catching Up: Trip to Colorado!

It is the time of year when I think about all my blessings and start missing my family even more than usual and all the special times we share during this wonderful Christmas season. As I will not get to see them yet again this Christmas, I thought I would post about the last time I got to see most of them, and have a sort of Christmas in July... that was the last time I got to see them, and it was such a wonderful gift! It feels like it happened ages and ages ago, and it kind of did, but I still want to post about it because it was so wonderful and I have lots of fun pictures!

I was feeling so stuck in Kansas, and wanted to go somewhere over the rainbow, so to speak. Well, when Jonathan's family came out from Colorado for the birth of our little nephew, they gave me the idea that I could go home with them to visit my family!!! Why had I not thought of that! So we worked it out that Elenore and I would go home with Grandma and Granddad (sadly, Daddy had to work and had to stay...) and then Jonathan would use his days off to come pick us up three weeks later! I was not sure if I could handle being apart from him that long, being a single parent, but we both knew this trip would be really good for all of us, even though Jonathan was getting the shorter end of the stick by far, poor guy! But he enjoys time alone, and our brother-in-law we were staying with was out of the country for a few months, and his wife and son would go down to visit her parents for a few weeks, so he could have his own little holiday too. Plus, he would get to wait for our, drum roll please, new car to arrive and drive it out to pick us up! Yes, even mostly jobless and destitute as we were feeling, we were immensely blessed to suddenly have this amazing deal land in our lap for the car that we had been planning on getting "someday when we had money" for our reliable family car. We were able to sell our old car and buy this new one for half the Blue Book cost and in amazing condition! We are very loved and SO BLESSED!

Anyway, back to Colorado, our trip out there went better than I expected, considering how Elenore hates her car seat. She did really well and only screamed for 20-30 minutes before her naps, and even dealt with getting a little sick on the way too. We stayed at my little sister(-in-law)'s house, bless her beautiful, generous heart, so that we could have our own room, bathroom, and a place to go for quiet when needed. My parent's house is little and always full of people, and really had no room for us this time, so that was a great blessing! Oh, and most of our visit we would also have the full use of her car! No stress in having people take us back and forth, switching car seats in and out, etc. It was bliss!

Instead of belaboring over all the details of the trip, I will just say I was able to see my parents, two of my sisters, my brother, and also my little brother-in-law and his wife, and of course my sister-in-law that I stayed with, and continue to spend time with my parents-in-law who we would greatly miss after having them in Kansas with us for so long. I also got to see many old friends, and visit lots of old haunts and new places I had never been. I felt so refreshed and renewed, and blessed beyond degree. And I was also happy to have it end so that I could go back home with Jonathan. It was the longest we had ever been apart. I will just tell the rest of the story with some pictures. Enjoy!

Meeting the boys: Papa and Uncle Martell

Meeting Omi, and chasing after the kitty!

Enter the AUNTIES! Two of the four...

Auntie Lara

Auntie Lenore (Elenore's namesake)

Three generations in yellow
There is always music of some form or another at my parent's house: Here is Martell playing Lara's guitar
Mommy, he won't let me play!

Martell also had bongos, so she started banging on the laundry basket too, and Papa came to teach...

"Ooo! This is nifty!"
More and more fun with Papa!

Kisses from Papa
Learning to Walk!

My little water baby! She was always in a puddle, or some source of water.

No matter how crabby she was, a little time in the sink, and all was well again!

We got to go on lots of fun trips to play in "big water" too. This was our trip to the Ridgeway Reservoir:
My li'l sun baby

Me and my girl!

Lenore, Lara, and Martell, all picturesque...

My beautiful sisters!
This was our trip over the weekend of the 4th of July to go up to Paonia and Hotchkiss to visit our friends there, go to Cherry Days, and a new thing for us was to visit the lake in Crawford! It was a blast, though I wish we had known we were going there so we could have brought swim clothes!
My beautiful girls!

those are our friends in the background... see what we missed out on!

She LOVED the lake!

hungry and tired...
This was just a day when we took her to the park to cheer her up and have something fun to do. She is always a "go-er" and wants to be constantly doing new and fun things.
Laughing at Omi and Uncle Martell playing Frisbee

going down the big slide!
walking with Omi and Mommy
We also got to spend some time with Grandma and Granddad whom Elenore adores! This was a huge fish tank in the house they were staying at, and Granddad is showing her the fish!

more time with water and Granddad... does it get any better?
walking with Granddad: one of her favorite pastimes!

Snuggle time with Grandma
eating frozen french bread with Grandma
apparently the bread was good stuff!
Saying goodbye to everyone: Uncle Josh and his dog Nimrod, Granddad and Grandma! We love and miss you!
We had a great time and felt well loved and miss everyone terribly... and I know Elenore was missed too... how could you not miss that face!
I hope that it will not be too much longer before we get to visit again. We have such an amazing family, I love them with all my heart! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

International Babywearing Week

I have never done this before, but I think this is important enough that I will blog about it, even though I have other personal/family topics I need to catch upon (sorry, family). I love babywearing so much, and all the benefits that come from it, and I am happy to add my support in spreading the word about it!
Elenore in her homemade sling, one week old

International Babywearing Week is an opportunity to help focus the world's attention on “babywearing.” Babywearing simply means carrying a baby or young child on one’s body using a cloth baby carrier. Not only does babywearing allow parents to have both hands free while carrying their children, but research is also shedding light on how this practice has numerous benefits for children.
This year's theme is 'Safe Babywearing: Enjoy the Benefits.' There are many benefits to both caregiver and child when babywearing is done safely. For a full list of safe babywearing tips, click here.
*Text courtesy of Babywearing International

I believe that as parents we have the responsibility to provide the richest and most beneficial environment possible, especially in those first months and years when our baby is fresh from the womb. Babywearing I feel is the best mimic of that time, and so important for the "fourth trimester" when our babe is still so dependent upon us for everything. Here are some of the great benefits of babywearing:

 Carrying baby:
  • creates confident parents -there's no better feeling than when your baby is calm and content because you have met all her needs
  • allows you to safely move about with your baby regardless of terrain- you can stroll down uneven sidewalks, narrow lanes, walk up stairs, or climb mountain
  • is convenient- there is no awkwardness like when carrying a heavy plastic car seat with one arm!
  • enables better communication between you and your baby - (without your baby having to cry!) as you become attuned to her facial expressions and other gestures
  • provides security-access to food, warmth, and love
  • is good for your soul -it encourages you to get out and get some exercise and some fresh air into your lungs
  • makes discreet nursing possible-without having to find a place to sit
  • helps you to interact with your other children and hold your baby close at the same time- very practical if you have other little ones
  • allows you to decide who may touch or interact with your baby
  • aids digestion- the constant motion and the upright position eases acid reflux and colic
  • allows you to go places, together!- you can go anywhere and feel secure.
 Carried babies: 
  • learn more- not over stimulated, but calm and alert, which is the optimum state for nervous system development
  • are allowed their necessary period of exterogestation which is often overlooked (click to read The Best Place After the Womb: Exterior Gestation and the Need to Be Held)
  • become independent faster- when your baby feels loved and cared for then they are confident and trust that you will be there to meet their needs (American Anthropologist research)
  • regulate their own physical responses -better motor skills, coordination, and sense of balance from observing you and listening to you (read research on PubMed)
  • are calmer - when you are close to your baby and can quickly respond to all of her needs there is no reason to be cranky!
  • cry less -less stress hormones from crying means your baby is happier and more peaceful (read The American Academy of Pediatrics' research)
  • get a better view of the world- babies pushed in strollers or in car seats only get to see the adult world at knee-level
  • sleep better -babies fall asleep quicker and sleep for longer periods of time (Harvard University research)
 *Text courtesy of

I have done some research, and there are many ways to carry and products out there to help facilitate that, but those that I feel are the healthiest, safest and most user/baby-friendly are the Sleepy Wrap for little ones, and then the soft structured carriers for when they get older, the ERGObaby and the Boba. I have been able to use all of these carriers and compare them to others, and though I am not blessed to own any of them as of yet, I do feel that I still can say they are the best! 

And so, in order to help me and anyone else interested have the chance to own one of these for free, I am posting some giveaway links here. I never thought that I would be the person to get into this type of thing, in fact I had never heard of it until I lived with my sister-in-law who has a review blog of her own, and where I got to try these and many other products. But I have been very blessed in my life from winning many giveaways that filled our specific needs just at the necessary moment, so I feel happy and willing to share this with others.

Here are some blogs that are hosting giveaways for the Sleepy wrap:
Here are some sites that are hosting giveaways for the ERGObaby carrier:
Giveaways for the Boba:

Friday, September 17, 2010

She has Galactosemia

I had just been handed my new baby daughter... Elation!
Telling about Elenore would not be complete without telling about her Galactosemia. We found out about it when she was nine days old after the results of her infant screening test came back to our family doctor. He called us up and said not to worry, but that she had come up positive with one of the tests and that I should bring her in as soon as possible. Once I got there with my sweet mother-in-law, I sat in my new-mother aura, happily answering his questions about how she was doing: besides getting a little jaundiced, spitting up a lot, and taking a little bit to get used to the breastfeeding, she was fabulous, we were all so happy and doing wonderfully! She was perfect!
7 days old, sleeping in her clean laundry

absolute perfection and loveliness!
Then he told us he was in contact with the metabolic specialist at UVA who ordered a bunch of tests to confirm, but that she tested positive for having Classic Galactosemia. Our doctor didn't know much about it and was reading to us what he had just researched, that is is a rare genetic metabolic disorder where her body is missing the enzymes to digest galactose, a sugar most commonly found in lactose, making it toxic to her, so we need to take her off breast milk right away. I felt like someone had socked me in the stomach and yanked my precious little newborn literally from my breast. I had been prepared before she was born for her to have some sort of problem; that was something I had prayed about when we were waiting for children. I was willing to have a baby with any kind of problems, I just wanted to have a baby to love and nurture... but I had naively never thought of having a baby that I could not love and nurture the way I thought was best had so yearned to do. Then we learned that if we had not caught it in the next few days she most likely would have died, or suffered severe brain damage, blood sepsis, liver failure, amongst many other problems, and that we were not out of the woods yet. I had managed to take it all in without a tear or any emotion, I just felt blank and unreal. Then my mom-in-law asked if I was okay, and I just broke down crying in her arms.

We called Jonathan at work, and went right away to the hospital to have a bunch of tests run on her, watching them fill adult-sized blood vials from her tiny foot, collect urine, and in general poke and prod her in ways new to all of us, having had such peaceful and gentle exams through my pregnancy and homebirth. Nothing felt real anymore and I felt like I was watching a movie of my life, not living it. So many emotions were floating in and around me, yet I still did not feel I really owned any of them. I felt so strange. I felt almost matter-of-fact about it all, which I think was the Holy Ghost trying to get through to me that everything would be alright.
That night I went to a baby shower, keeping this secret inside. I just was not ready to talk to people about it, and I wasn't sure I wanted people knowing anyway, not until we knew for sure one way or the other. I think back now and I wish I had told people to have their love and support and prayers. We told all of our family of course (I finally had a good cry over it on the phone with my mom) so we had plenty of family and distant friends praying, but I just did not want people I would see every day asking me about it, it was still too painful and strange and unknown.

We went for two weeks like that, doing more tests, talking to more doctors, doing more research, and still feeling like we did not knowing anything. We had not even confirmed that she actually had this disorder, because there had been some discrepancies in the original tests, so we had to do more and wait for the results to even know that for sure. And everyday people were telling me how beautiful and perfectly healthy Elenore looked, and I just had to smile that secret pain away. But every day she was still alive, and seeming to be doing much better. She was more alert and happy, and not puking up a whole feeding at once with that awful projectile vomit through her mouth and nose. We put her on a soy formula right away, and put her out in the sun a few times a day for 10-15 minute intervals, and that cleared up her jaundice right away. She loved being out in the sun, and would squirm her little needle-pricked self around until she was facing the sun.
My Little Sunbather

So full of life! Nothing could get this girl down!
 I was starting to do better too. I now felt peace that she would be alright. I knew that if she did indeed have this disorder, which it was seeming more and more likely that she did, we were blessed that she so far was not suffering any of the negative side effects and seemed very healthy and strong. I was just mourning the loss of breastfeeding her. I cried every day over it, at least once. I couldn't help hating all that comes with transitioning to bottles. Besides all the hassle of finding the right bottle that works for everyone, the insane cost of formula, I especially hated those nighttime feedings when she would wake screaming hungry and instead of being able to roll over and immediately nurse her, I had to stumble around in the dark trying to get a clean bottle, get the water the right temp, measure out formula, mix it up, and finally feed my poor screaming baby. By that time I was usually crying too. Then I had to go pump... no more sweet little warm bundle snuggled up to me - nope, now I was just a cow hooked up to a machine pumping milk to keep my supply up  in hopes that perhaps soon she could eat it again, but knowing deep down that was impossible, and it would all be wasted. I tried to find people or breastmilk banks that needed milk, but found nothing. When we finally learned for certain that she did indeed have Classic Galactosemia, my milk dried up within a day. I think my body just knew. But I still cried about it. Then throwing out our freezer full of milk... I just felt sadness, mixed with guilt for wanting something that would kill my daughter, and guilt for loving those early days when I was unknowingly poisoning my baby girl...But peace had finally come! We knew for sure, and Elenore was healthy in spite of everything. The specialist said he would never have picked her out as having any problems from a routine well-baby visit. She was ours, and nothing could take her from us.

*   *   *
Now we face the struggle of learning about this fairly newly discovered disorder with so little research and information available. It was easy when it was just the bottle, but now that we are on to solid foods I keep learning more and more things that she cannot have, and different experts disagree, and it is all overwhelming. We also have had to take her in for many a blood draw to test her Galactose-1 phosphate levels among other things. They should be between 80-125 mcg/g hgb. Her levels keep going up even though we have restricted her diet as best we can. Her last test result was198 mcg/g, which is getting dangerously near the 260 mcg/g which was what she tested as a newborn and was clearly having negative side effects. The danger of this disorder is when there are consistently high levels, and it causes problems physically as well as developmentally. It is just so hard  and frustrating to not be able to do anything or know how to fix it or what is causing it. Her body must just be producing more than usual.

We have to constantly decide to focus on the positive. Elenore is so far still super healthy and alert and up to speed in her development. I also decided instead of focusing on her "no list" of foods that keeps growing exponentially, I will focus on her "yes list". So here is a basic list of what Elenore CAN eat (anything with less than 5mg/100g), anything else we just steer clear of:

Meat and Fish (no organ meats)
Nuts (no Hazelnuts)

Most, except wheat

Grapes, green

Bamboo shoots
Bean sprouts, green
Chard, Swiss
Corn, sweet
Mushrooms, common
Mustard greens
Peppers, hot (not bell)
Potato, white

Most, except honey and Equal

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Way [She] Do The Things [She] Do (Alright!)

The next post on my series of things about Elenore would have to be about all the fun little things that are not necessarily milestones or appearances, but that make her that special little person that she is. Of course, these things are constantly changing and fluctuating, and I have forgotten many of them, but here are some of the sweet and amusing things "she do" that will tell you a little more about her personality (and let me tell you, does she have one!):
Elenore is one of those babies who always has something in her mouth, or is searching for objects to put there. That is just her favorite way to explore and learn about things. When we got a bigger stash of binkies, three different sizes, she would be happy for a long time sitting in front of the box of them, switching them in and out of her mouth, trying the different sizes and colors. Besides her beloved binkie, she likes to just wander around with something in her mouth. When she was just crawling, her favorite thing was a paper towel. She would stuff a corner in her mouth and crawl around shaking it and pulling at it like a little puppy. Now she looks for things make noise or whistle (see noise section of post). She loves whistling, and can make random objects whistle, like her thermometer case, or the plastic toy screw. Her recent find is a little plastic slinkie that she fits the whole thing into her mouth (yes, she was blessed - or cursed - with her mother's large mouth) and walks around stretching it in and out. She also loves to push things, like toys with wheels, laundry baskets, shopping carts, her high chair, her cousin while he is in her high chair... it is pretty cute.
Elenore loves playing with her hands and doing things with them. When she was just learning how to manipulate objects, she would pick things up in her little fists and rotate her wrists up and down like revving a motorcycle. She also does it a lot without anything in her hands when she is excited about something (which is most of the time), and we call it her "Soulja Boy" dance (some silly nonsense on YouTube that became popular... don't worry about it if you don't know about it). She loves actual dancing too, bouncing up and down on her knees and waving her arms. Her favorite spot to dance is holding onto the stand-up fan in our room, shaking it back and forth, usually naked - hence the dubbing "stripper pole" of the fan... She also likes clapping, clasping her hands over and over (super cute!), waving, patting people when she hugs them (so sweet!), and just plain shaking things she really likes, which can cause problems as that includes little people...
She LOVES little people, and gets so excited, and grabs them and shakes them while growling or giving her signature "Eh! Eh!" which means, "I LIKE you!" but it is very loud, and shakes her whole body, consequently frightening many a child much bigger than her...  I used to apologize and warn parents that she was a bit aggressive, but then a family friend commented when she was doing this to her 7-ish year old daughter that she was very precocious, and I think that is nicer and more fitting. She is definitely my precocious little daughter! She just wants to desperately to be like the bigger people and do everything they do, and though she is more advanced in many ways physically, she is not quite there yet in other ways, and gets very frustrated sometimes. Now that she is walking, she is much happier, and even more unnerving to the bigger kids that she wants to desperately to play with. Being able to walk has also ramped up her delight in doing things she knows she is not supposed to, running faster to do whatever it is, laughing gleefully, when I start coming after her... She also likes to assert her will by shaking her head "no" vehemently like when I am trying to feed her, or with a huge grin just for the dizzying fun of it. Another thing she does if she is not sure she is allowed to do something but really wants to is to suck in her little potbelly and raise her chest to her chin and her shoulders to her ears, and then drop it down and stick her belly out really far, over and over. It looks hilarious.

Her other constant source of entertainment (for her and us) is all the noises she learns to make. I cannot keep up with them, or even do some of them myself. The first noise she learned is some crazy tongue-twirling thing inside her cheek that I cannot do nor figure out how she does it. it is awesome though. She learned how to blow the raspberries with her tongue sticking out and spit going everywhere, and likes to blow them on people, on our faces and shoulders, arms, knees, anywhere she can get to. She thinks it is hilarious. She also recently started to do the kind where it is the lip-buzzing kind like in vocal warm-ups, without all the spit, which is nice. She now does that one all the time, mostly when she is happy. She does the spitty kind, with plenty of extra spit, when she is tired and mad. Kinda funny. Another noise she learned when she was little was the scream that is so high it barely makes noise. That was her noise of excitement until she decided it was more fun to make screams with actual noise... Another thing she does when she is excited or mad is suck air in and out super fast so that her bottom lip goes in and out. It cracks me up! I think this might have lead her to learn how to whistle. Yep, she can whistle! She just goes around when she is happy and interested in things with her eyes wide, lips puckered, drawing air in and out in a little whistle. She has quite a few notes in her range. This is my favorite thing she does, I think! I just adore it. Oh, and of course her smile she gives when she thinks she is funny or when she wants attention is to scrunch up her nose and grin really wide while baring her teeth... Delightful!

But after all this, you just gotta see her to believe how incredibly amazing she is! I am honored (and a little nervous) to be her mother.