Saturday, February 25, 2012

Professional Bloggers

I don't know how they do it.

I read a decent amount of blogs and forums when I get a chance or have a specific need for information, recipes, what have you. A lot of them are written by people who seem to be busy moms. And who seem to have just as much cooking and such to do.

They have thoughtful posts, recipes that might actually work (and have more specific instructions than "a glug of this and that"), and pretty pictures.

I feel a little inadequate.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


So, about breastfeeding. It's so easy and natural.


The natural part, maybe. Definitely is the best thing for baby if at all possible. Easy? Not so much.

I tried to research before lil K was born, I really did. Promise. I read most of the articles on La Leche League's website.

I didn't feel like I ever found any solid, real life information that was helpful in preparing me for the real thing. All my friends warned me that it was hard. The problem is, I didn't really understand what was hard about it! And not for lack of trying!

Looking back, the hardest things for me were fighting the myths that I read or was told by other people. Also the sleep deprivation. Oh, and did I mention the sleep deprivation?

1. If it hurts, you're doing it wrong.

Ugh. This one is SO ubiquitous!!!!!! I just want to bang my head repeatedly with a metal cookie sheet every time I hear this one. If only I hadn't believed this, I might have done something before I had a RAGING yeast infection!!!!!! The exclamation points are completely necessary.

It's not going to be comfortable, especially at first. BUT, it should get more and more comfortable as time goes on. Not more and more liable to make you curse. Seriously, I swore like a sailor for at least the first 12 weeks post-partum. At one point, I had to grab the armrest of the couch and yell every time she latched just so I could try to deal with the pain. I would rather be in labor again. It was like someone stabbing my boob repeatedly with a hot knife. Showers were torture. Heck, air was torture.

The sad part is, I'm not exaggerating.

Pain is NOT normal. Also, doctors may or may not be hip to the yeast infection buzz. I went round and round with my doctor trying to get appropriate treatment. I literally spent HOURS on the phone. I could sing you the terrible hold muzak. Combine that frustration + the pain + trying to go back to work + hubby being gone for the week + cranky baby = MELTDOWN.

Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, it probably is. If you've ever had yeast problems in the past, suspect it as a culprit for nursing problems. It is way more common than I would ever have imagined. (Actually, I had no idea this could happen, until I googled breastfeeding pain looking for some sort of help! And I've done a lot of research about yeast over the years! Fail.)

2. The boob is always the answer.

Um, no. She's clearly not hungry every time she cries. In fact, feeding sometimes made it worse. (Now I know we were battling silent reflux. Hindsight...)

Lil K was a super long nurser. She would take upwards of an hour to eat. I really wish I knew better at the time how to tell when they stop swallowing and start non-nutritive sucking. I think this would have saved me hours of frustration. (Have you ever tried to pee while breastfeeding? Quite a feat.)

I think if I had been confident enough to stop a nursing session when she was done eating or soon after, I could have gotten more good sleep for both of us. I tried doing the side-lying position in bed a few times like a good attachment parenting mom, but her reflux couldn't handle it. So I sat up every time she nursed, trying desperately not to fall over asleep. This did not work well for us, since we would spend an hour eating, then an hour or so trying to get her back to sleep, then it would soon be time to eat again. Oh the memories... errr... mammaries??

3. A little formula won't hurt anything. No one can breastfeed exclusively!

I seriously was told that "No one I know has ever been able to produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed."

I had people (who shall remain anonymous) concerned for lil K's health when no such concern was needed. I had visitors on a day when she slept through the night for the first time (and it never happened again, for months). She ended up being hungry and cranky most of the day, both of our bodies just weren't used to that! So, while I appreciated the concern, it didn't help matters. In fact, it helped contribute to my complex of "Is she getting enough to eat?!" which then inhibited my letdown, which then did lead to some problems. Thankfully, once I got rid of some stress and made sure that I ate tons of food and drank a gallon of water every 5 minutes, that resolved itself.

Our doctor was not worried. Lil K was growing and developing right on track.

As for the formula thing, I was pretty bound and determined not to give her any. She clearly had tummy troubles, especially when I ate dairy. Why on earth would I willingly give her milk-derived formula??? And soy? You've got to be kidding me. Soy rips me up even worse than cow's milk. Not to mention the high levels of phytoestrogens. I haven't had soy in years.

If there was absolutely no alternative, then yes, many kids have tolerated it just fine. But given our history, and her possible propensity toward Celiac, I'm not taking chances with formula unless there is clearly no other option.

Thanks, but no thanks.

4. If you're worried about milk supply, do a "yield" with a pump and see how much you get.

This one really messed me up. I was somewhat pressured into doing this to prove that I was producing enough milk. Don't ask.

Though how we would have known how much "enough" is, I have no idea. I really didn't know how true it is that a baby is WAY more efficient than a breast pump. That's just how it is. Plus, the performance anxiety totally inhibited my let down. So I would sit there, pumping away, trying to relax, imagining rivers of breastmilk flooding from my body to little avail.

Of course, later, when there was no pressure, I got more. It still wasn't very efficient, though. The one time I pumped at work was laughable :)

Which leads me to another point that I've somewhat mentioned- Stress totally affects breastfeeding. I can't even tell you how much better it got when I finally started getting some sleep and wasn't constantly feeling hyped up just to stay awake. It sounds like pointless advice, because I have no idea how I would have implemented this, but try to get rid of as much stress as possible and get some sleep!!

5. The nipple shield has nothing to do with how much milk she gets.

Umm... it says so right on the package that it can inhibit milk supply and letdown. Unfortunately, I got one in the hospital and never saw the packaging.

I was told this numerous times when the lactation consultant said that it had nothing to do with her taking FOREVER to nurse, possible supply issues, yada yada. Good thing I didn't listen, worked on getting her to latch without it, and things have steadily gotten faster and better ever since.

And now, the most important one of all (and I almost forgot it, not intentionally saving the best for last...)

6. What you eat doesn't affect your baby that much.

Just stay away from the obvious no-nos, and everything will be great, right? Oh. So. Wrong.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I wish I would have started out on the right track with this one.
See previous post about tomatoes.

I was obviously already gluten free, and as soon as I realized she had gut issues, I started looking into using probiotics. The trials of L. reuteri in colicky infants had both the placebo and treatment groups on a dairy free diet. So, I figured if I expected it to work, I'd go dairy free as well. I've only tested it once with a bit of cheese, but I have no idea if it mattered. I'm guessing the tomato sauce that went with it caused enough of the subsequent discomfort that I'll never know! Not worth risking it at this point. Poor thing has been through enough!

Seemed like garlic, onion, and broccoli bothered her, as well as other really green stuff (though that one is more of a guess). So I got rid of anything that tasted like anything.

The change I resisted the most would be the classic reflux foods. Tomatoes, citrus, and chocolate/caffeine. This one really hurt, especially when I was having so many low blood sugars from not eating enough. I'd just take a few swigs of OJ to feel better until I could get some real food in me.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I won't rehash all the tomato post here, but let's just say it has been painfully obvious since then that these were major culprits in K's discomfort. Poor baby.

So if you ever hear that line about how it shouldn't make that much of a difference, especially if you have had any experience yourself with food intolerances and the difference diet makes, just try making changes. It is SO worth a shot. I wish I would have trusted my instincts here waaaaaaaay earlier.

So that's my story. I'm sticking to it, for now. Until we start solids in a few weeks, and that's a whole new ballgame!

(Much of this post is for my own future reference, should I ever be brave enough to pop out another one. If it helps anyone else, great!! If it offends anyone, sorry, you should have stopped reading a long time ago :P)


To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate?

Boy, that is the question!

Seems like there are two extremely zealous sides to the debate. Problem is, I have seen both sides of the coin.

On the hand of the Pro-vaccinators: my Western medicine education, a friend whose baby had pertussis, a family member whose 4-month old baby died of bacterial meningitis (The most heart-wrenching and horrific tragedy imaginable. Of note, they were intending to immunize.)

On the hand of the Anti-vaccinators: my experience with Western medicine not being able to adequately recognize and treat my own problems (and believe me, it's not for lack of trying different doctors and such), my success with the GAPS diet and further research on Leaky Gut Syndrome (and its association with autism), and the fact that I have a genetically-linked auto-immune disease that could be passed to my daughter and activated by an immune system insult

So you may be able to see my dilemma. And, of course, as soon as you bring up the subject, your most meek friend is pounding her fist and stomping her soapbox. Or writing flaming insults in the comment section of whatever webpage you've happened upon, searching desperately for some relevant and unbiased information.


I decided at first to try a more relaxed approach, only doing two vaccines at a time and doing only the ones for the most risky diseases. I thought I felt comfortable with this, and soon realized that I was just trying to convince myself that I was comfortable with it. In fact, I was panicked. Like not sleeping at all, paranoid. Like I had any sleep to lose at that point...

So after her second set of two, when she just wasn't herself for WEEKS afterward, and we seemed to regress on any progress we had made in the gut department, I decided that we just weren't going to do any vaccines at her 4 month visit.

Yes, I'm THAT MOM.

(Ask me a few years ago if this would have happened, and I would have laughed. Of course not! Vaccinate everyone for everything!)

I don't go along with all the conspiracy theorists on either side. No, I don't think drug companies are evil brainwashers. I also don't think that vaccination is without known risk, nor is it appropriate for every child. No, vaccines have not been shown in any study to cause autism.

But how many FACTS do we really know about the environmental factors associated with autism development? We DO know that it is associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome and that it is a genetically-linked disorder, likely activated by a set of unknown environmental factors.

Sound familiar?? (Like Celiac? or the other, related issues I've had in the past?)

That said, I am not comfortable vaccinating my specific child. It it not being selfish. In fact, I think that is a horrifically selfish argument, to say that choosing not to vaccinate is selfish.

If I and my child were completely healthy, with no known health issues, I would probably continue to vaccinate.

I know what I know. I've experienced what I've experienced. And I am not comfortable screwing with my child's immune system more than I already have. It is too susceptible to damage, given our history.

(Have I ever mentioned that my Celiac was triggered around the time that I had to get a bunch of vaccinations to continue in pharmacy school? I didn't even realize this until I started researching vaccinations for lil K. Correlation is not causation, but boy, does it make you wonder...)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Honey, vanilla, cinnamon roasted almonds

Yes, just as good as it sounds!!

Why didn't I think of this before? I eat almonds, I eat honey, how about honey roasted almonds??

Duh. Guess I was just too busy surviving the first couple months of motherhood with a cranky baby :)

I'm still perfecting the implementation of the yummy idea. After all, almost every recipe I looked at instructed one to sprinkle the almonds with sugar after glazing.


So I tried a couple things. Here is the mess in my kitchen as I tried. Along with Sophie la girafe, little K's best friend. First, I tried covering 1 cup of almonds with a glaze of:

1 T. melted coconut oil
1 T. honey
several sprinkles cinnamon
1 glug vanilla
few shakes sea salt

I put in a 350 degree oven for probably 10 minutes. It got almost beyond the point of caramelization. To the point of burning. And very little glaze actually stuck to the nuts...

Trying again...

This time, I roasted first for 10 minutes on 350, then glazed in a pan. It worked a little better. Same basic recipe, just 1 T. of water added to the mix.

I brought glaze to a boil over medium heat, then added almonds and stirred for about 5 minutes. At this point, it seems like all the recipes say "until the mixture is completely absorbed". Umm... that didn't really happen... So I just dumped them out after probably 7-8 minutes onto some parchment to cool.

Of course, I had to eat some before they cooled. My house smelled like that kiosk of yummy nuttiness in the mall where you walk past and your mouth waters...

Good, but sticky.

I'll let you know when I figure out how to do this. In the meantime, I'm going to go eat more sticky almonds!!


Update: I just didn't cook them long enough. I eventually put the sticky ones back in the pan, watched veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery carefully, and took them out just before being burned! You can tell because the glaze becomes less stringy, and the sound is more buzzy than bubbly. Very scientific, I know... I can't stop eating them. Well, I could, but why??

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crack Pot

No, it's not what it sounds like...

I use my Crock Pot every waking hour. Ok, maybe not that constantly, but it sure seems like it.

Imagine my dismay, therefore, when I see a miniscule white vein running down the side of the black ceramic crock. I tried to convince myself it was just leftover chicken slime that wouldn't scrub off.

Of course, the next time I used it (which was actually immediately after washing...), it cracked down the middle. I'm guessing it would have been in two pieces if I had let it go any longer. Insert sad face here.

Luckily, I am a pack rat. I still had my ancient (albeit smaller) Crock Pot with the broken switch thingy (the correct word escapes me). So, I figured out how to turn it on by grasping on tightly with a potholder over my hand, and voila! Back in business!

I'm still planning to buy another larger slow cooker, just haven't been anywhere to look for one. Guess I could order online. Was thinking about spending beaucoup bucks on a nice one, but it looks like those are just as burdened with troubles as the cheap-o ones. So, until I find a new one, the little one will have to suffice.

So what do I do with said Crock Pot that keeps it forever plugging away on my counter?

Let's see, mostly chicken stock. Lately, though, I've tried two new things that have gone over pretty well.

Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa


Slow Cooker Applesauce

Both from fellow bloggers, but who actually blog regularly and take pictures and other such helpful things!

The quinoa recipe was a nice change from the two other foods I've been eating as of late. It was more soupy than I envisioned, but was still yummy! I used the dark meat from a cut up chicken while using the chicken breasts for tasteless stir-fry. I would recommend it!

The applesauce seemed like a great idea, and it was! It was easy, as it doesn't require laboring over the apples for a long time (no peeling, slicing thinly, etc.). It smelled GREAT, though at 4:30 this morning, I was a little worried it might burn. I put a little water in just to ease my mind and went back to sleep. (For 20 minutes until little K woke up for pre-breakfast...)

It turned out a tad soupy, but that's what I get for needlessly putting water in there. It tasted REALLY good, especially for using out-of-season grocery store apples. Can't wait to try it this fall with some flavorful apples!!

So now comes the real question from this cheapskate: is it cheaper than pre-made applesauce?? Though the flavor is vastly superior, I'm wondering... Meijer carries some that lists only "organic apples" as ingredients, and I've tolerated it just fine! It is about $2.50 a jar for about 3 cups. I used up most of a bag of organic apples that was, I believe, $4. I think I got a little more than 3 cups.

Sadly, I think the yummy homemade stuff is more expensive! Still a great idea for fall, though.

Will keep in mind. Ok, enough boringness.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

So, about those tomatoes...

When will I ever learn??

You know, I cut things out of my diet for a reason. I don't just look at a particular food one day and think "Hey, maybe as a unique sort of torture, I'm going to deprive myself of that!"

So you would think that I would be extremely cautious about adding things back into my diet that I knew had caused problems. Not so.

I plan to do a post on breastfeeding myths sometime. I know I could have benefited from some just practical, real-world advice. I only did a little reading before little K's birth, and it all seemed too oversimplified. Um, yeah. Right on...

I digress. I promise this is related... On to the tomato story. So, poor lil K suffered from painful gas and what I'm going to call "silent reflux" for awhile. Like months on end, awhile. And I was too:
to really figure out the cause. As you know, I already have pretty limited choices for food. I wasn't about to limit it even more.

I started giving her probiotics after a couple weeks. That helped. Duh. Another post on that.

I stopped dairy when she was about 2 weeks old, too. Mostly because the studies of "colicky" babies and probiotics had both groups on a dairy-free diet.

I finally realized after a couple months that the reflux was a problem and causing lots of crankiness and trouble sleeping, so I cut out citrus, chocolate, and tomatoes. Happiness resulted. (Well, for the most part.)

Last week, I thought I'd give some cooked tomatoes another try. Didn't seem like so much of a problem at first, so I continued to eat the leftover spaghetti sauce. (More on my current eating habits later). Lil K started to get cranky with teething pain. Ok, not that weird.

Then the inconsolable crying started. The not being able to lay her down without bloodcurdling screams. The flashbacks to the first couple months of her life. The banging of my head against a wall.

Tomatoes?? Yep. I ate the last of them Wednesday afternoon, right before this whole thing dawned on me.

You would think, given the horrendous issues I've had with nightshades, that I would be wary of them in the first place.

Mommy fail.

By now, Saturday afternoon, she's still having some issues with sleeping through naptime and getting overtired/cranky, but that is not unusual. Other than that, she's happy, sleeping normally at night, and laying down to sleep or play with no problems.

Hallelujah. Beware the tomatoes.

(P.S. I consumed some chocolate around the same time, which was also a bad idea. But that just seemed to make her extremely hyper and have trouble sleeping. Will have to try an independent test again later...)

(P.P.S. I wanted to include a picture with this post. I really wanted to take a can of tomato juice and bang it up, put some ketchup around it to make it look like a tomato can had been murdered... but I don't have that kind of time. Nice thought, though :) )