Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

Coffee is Not My Best Friend

I don’t drink coffee.  untitled design (42)

I used to. I used to love it. I use to crave it! But over the years, I learned caffeine and I don’t mix so that bittersweet friendship needed to go…

In middle school, I was tall. In fact, I was almost my exact height now. Five feet six inches at the age of twelve, I was as tall as a few of the boys and towered over most of the other ones including my brother just a year younger than me.

The problem to my “middle school” Jen was that I liked the short boys, but was way too insecure with myself to see that…that was totally okay.. that my height was part of what made me beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to stand tall around anyone…So of course the next best solution at that age was…

“to stunt my growth” so I turned to coffee or so I thought… Untitled design (43).png

(I obviously do not encourage this behavior at all, but can’t help to laugh at myself looking back now. I also wanted bigger breasts and tried some outlandish theories for that too like eating while hanging off my bed ….

I was… untitled design (44)

am upside-down, hot mess and lucky I never choked on anything… but I digress…)

This was where my love of ice coffee and Coffee Coolattas started. I drank them every day throughout high school and college. Then, I shifted to black coffee in my 20s until I discovered a non-fat creamer that I indulged in for way too long. When first pregnant with my son, I tried to give it up but the afternoon migraines were too intense so I would save my cup of Joe for after lunch.

Because of the breastfeeding elimination diet I did for TJ due to his allergies, I could not use my “fat-dairy’ creamer. (apparently no matter how artificial it was, it still contained dairy). 

Then, came my miscarriage a year later which led me to do a three day whole food cleanse where coffee was not allowed…

It was then that I just stopped for what I thought would be a week or two. Soon though, I found myself pregnant with Madison and felt more comfortable sticking to being coffee-free.

Nine months later right on my due date (I have very punctual kids…can’t say that about myself these days… but I digress again ), my daughter arrived. 

During those first hours following her birth, a migraine started and the nurse and doctor both recommended that I drink coffee.   So, I did and sure enough the headache went away but what I didn’t know yet… I was already hooked again.

During those first two months, I found myself waiting for that one cup of coffee as if my day and life depended on it. When I drank it, I could take on anything…. for that hour at least and then

crash!

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Literally, I would crash. It was such a drastic shift in mood and energy level that I decided to challenge myself.   Did I really need this coffee? 

I am always up for a challenge so I took it on. This led to a terrible week of night sweats, exhausted days, and irritability.   It was truly a detox from one cup of coffee…(okay more than 1.5 cups or 2 at this point since my mug kept growing in size. One cup is one cup no matter the size, right?)

Anyways, that is when I finally faced the facts:

If my body had to detox from something like that, it was not meant to be.   

Therefore, I have been coffee free for 2.5 years now and don’t miss it.  I do still love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning though and I still have not given up the wine …. not so sure I will… I mean it’s much more pleasant to embrace the Friday mess of this house…

without feeling the need to clean or do laundry as I sip on a glass of Shiraz…

But once again I digress.

Stay tuned: Read up on some other sources of energy we use coming SOON to a blog near you. 😁)

 

 

Favorite Finds Friday – Sippy Cup/Soy

The following post was my very first “Favorite Finds Friday” about a product that we still love. Check it out and smile on with us this Friday…

“From now on, I plan to post a “Favorite Find” on some Fridays.  Like this week, it may not always directly relate to food allergies and eczema.   However, it will always be something that has helped us a lot with TJ’s restricted diet.

To start, after TJ passed his soy food challenge, I started to wean from breastfeeding after a lot of debating about it.   However, for us, at that time, it was the right decision.   This new soy tolerance gave us two new options: soy milk or a soy-based toddler formula.   Because TJ’s iron levels were slightly low and we were looking for ways to bring them up without using a supplement, we, with the guidance of our pediatrician and a nutritionist, decided that the toddler soy formula would be the best option for TJ.   Therefore, around 13.5 months, TJ started to solely drink Similac Go & Grow Toddler Soy Formula as his “milk” source.

I worried that the transition from nursing/breast milk would be difficult; however, the most difficult challenge proved to be getting TJ to stop drinking from a bottle.  He would drink water from a sippy cup since he was like 8 months old.  However, he would not drink milk/formula from one.  I think I bought close to 20 different sippy cups and nothing worked until a friend from my breastfeeding support group suggested the NUK Blue Turtle Silicone Spout Active Cup below. Check it out:

http://www.nuk-usa.com/cups_and_accessories/turtle-ladybug-active-cup/

Not only does TJ loves this product, it has also helped him use several other different kinds of sippy cups.  Therefore, we continue to smile on…”

 

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Tbt: The Havoc of a Nursing Strike

Since it has been a tough week for me, I went back into my archives for some of my first entries.  As I was browsing through these, I found my entry about a nursing strike that my son had when he was 11 months.  While this topic may not be directly linked to food allergies, it was an extremely stressful phase that complicated matters a bit.   At 11 months, TJ was barely eating many foods due to his diet limitations and sensitivities to new textures.   Therefore, breastfeeding was still his main source of nutrition.  It had been about 4 months of my strict elimination diet of his allergies (wheat, oat, barley, rye, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, peas, coconut). I can’t lie… it was a difficult at times; however, I wanted to continue until another source of milk became an option.  I had felt confident that I would be able to continue the diet and breastfeeding until he had his first nursing strike….

I could not wait until March (2015) was over and done with. I know we aren’t suppose to wish away our days; however, March was filled with too many stomach bugs and colds for my liking. Anyways, with April’s arrival, we also welcomed another challenge.

Let me recap and share with you what I learned.

March 28

  • I was diagnosed with an ear infection and put on Amoxicillin for 7 days against my will. (I hate being on prescriptions and medication in general.  I even try to avoid Advil and Tylenol… just a personal preference.)
  • My son started to only nurse for 1-3 minutes, and if he got to 3 minutes, that was a lot! Before this, he would nurse between 3-5 times a day for about 8-12 minutes each time. However, he would barely even wait for a let down. He would still drink from bottles though.
  • He also started to drool a lot and bite everything from his toys to his crib to his bottles to my boob several times. Ouch! One of the first times he did this with his SIX TEETH, I instinctively yelled and startled him. He also had a cough and was getting over a cold. Because of all of these factors, my son was also super fussy and clingy.

MARCH 28-APRIL 4

  • Nursing strike continued. I would attempt to nurse and he would only stay latched on for about 1.5 minutes at a time. Based on the fact that my breasts were still full afterwards, I knew it could not be that he was just super efficient and quick with it now. So, I would offer and attempt to nurse. When he would refuse or only latch for a minimum amount of time, I would then go and pump to keep up my production. I was worried about my production dropping and us not making it until next month when we know more about his food allergies and if he had outgrown any. Therefore, I emailed his pediatrician and my breastfeeding friends for guidance. I was feeling so emotional about all of it, wondering what was causing it since it could be sooo many different factors.

Was this all because of his cold?

Was this teething? Getting molars a little early? (I did notice swollen gums on the top.)

Was it the cough/cold plus teething?

Was it that he preferred the bottle over nursing now? (I was worried about this one because I already pump two to four times a day. Now, I was pumping about 6 times a day. It was very difficult to keep up with. I give all you Mamas who exclusively pump A LOT of credit!!!)

Was he becoming more efficient or did he need less milk and feedings?

Was it my medication?

And the question I was worried the most about was…

Was he weaning himself from breastfeeding before we had a new plan of what he would drink at a year?


APRIL 4: Time for a New Plan

  •  How could this be so stressful for me?  I was an emotional wreck inside all week while trying to hold it together on the outside. I kept praying for strength. I would stay so strong all day until the evening when I would finally have a meltdown about everything.
  • I needed to figure out something, a solution to all of this. Therefore, on the 8th straight day of this, I finally stopped panicking and looked for answers instead. During his nap, I searched online and read a lot of websites and blogs. Some of the ones that I found most helpful are the following:

http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbnovdec92p173.html

http://kellymom.com/ages/weaning/considering-weaning/how_weaning_happens/#childled

http://forums.llli.org/showthread.php?104647-11-month-old-nursing-strike-help/page2


With these links, I came up with a new theory and plan:

  • First of all, I learned that most babies don’t wean themselves from breastfeeding until closer to 18 months, definitely not at 11 months. Reading that was a major relief to me because I felt like I had recently taken for granted how amazing nursing and breastfeeding was. Hopeful that this was not weaning, I felt confident that we could get back on track so I devised this theory and plan.
  • The Theory: I think that originally this nursing strike all started because his gums were bothering him badly because of teething. Then, he bit me and my reaction startled him. Therefore, I had to make nursing a comfortable, relaxing, stress-free environment again. I, myself, had become extremely anxious when feeding for the past 8 days, worrying about everything and anticipating that I would get bit again. Therefore, I had to be the one to change this back.
  • The Plan: When he woke up from his nap, I went right in when he was still drowsy. Singing a song that always comforts him and rocking him in the glider, he nursed for 11 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other! What an amazing feeling!

APRIL 5 AND THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE MONTH

  • As I continue to rock and sing to my son when nursing, his nursing strike appears to be over! It definitely made me appreciate this whole breastfeeding and motherhood journey even more than I already did. It reminded me of how fast these past 11 months flew by and how fast the next months and years will go. This nursing strike really opened up my eyes. Since you never know when the last time with anything in life will be, it is extremely important to live in the moment instead of allowing the everyday stresses and routines to overshadow what really matters. I think I needed to be reminded of this.

Like One Republic says in their song “I Lived,”…I want to be able to say this one day…

“I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

While a nursing strike may seem like nothing to most people, it was truly a broken bone to me. However, I owned it, lived in the moment instead of my to-do lists. Heck, we even made it until 13.5 months of breastfeeding, 6 of those months on a strict elimination diet.  At that point, he passed a soy oral food challenge and started to transition to soy.

Looking back at this memory, we smile on… learning to embrace the moments… for they make some of the most amazing memories….


Tbt – The Early Signs of Food Allergies

Months ago I first posted some of this as my first “Throw Back Thursday.” However, it was before I had many followers and I wanted to add more to this topic

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To start, in our case, predicting food allergies during the first few weeks or even months was really impossible.  First of all, because I myself never had a food allergy, I never considered the thought that I may have a high-risk baby.   I now know that a baby is considered high-risk for food allergies if at least one parent or sibling has allergies.   TJ has no siblings yet; however, a dad who is allergic to fillet fish and walnuts. While I did know about these allergies before TJ’s anaphylactic reaction to yogurt, I did not know that my husband was also allergic to eggs as a baby and child, and suffered with horrible eczema until the age of 8.   In fact, his eczema was so bad as a baby that he had to be held 24/7 to prevent him from scratching and getting staph infections.  Maybe that is why he also did not sleep through the night until he was 3.  Not to mention, he was allergic to regular diapers and needed to use cloth ones. So yes, my son and any other children I may have one day are all considered high-risk.


 

Check out this article: Prevention of Allergies & Asthma in Children


Secondly, I do believe that TJ was born with these allergies and that is was nothing that I did or did not eat while pregnant or breastfeeding that caused it.   While TJ was born with eczema, I was told by doctors that it was common in babies and that he would probably outgrow by the age of 1.  I have read studies that show that symptoms, incidents, and the severity of eczema are all often reduced in babies who are exclusively breastfed during the first months of life.    I breastfed TJ exclusively for 13.5 months; however, his eczema and skin reactions were not an issue until October 2014 when he was five months old.  Coincidentally, that was also the month when I introduced solids.   Knowing what I know now, I would have and would wait until six months of age to introduce solids for any of my children.  His body just wasn’t ready. It was and is just too pure for the foods we eat these days.


With that being said, I do believe that he had some signs of food allergies early on, but the tricky part was that they are symptoms common among most babies.

  1. SPIT UP: While TJ never projectile vomited (minus the one time he had the stomach bug), he did spit up A LOT!  In fact, we both needed to have wardrobe changes throughout many days.  However, because he always gained weight nicely, this spit up was never an issue to doctors. So we did not worry.  Heck, there were so many other aspects with a young baby to worry about.
  2. ECZEMA: Looking back, TJ’s eczema did tend to flare up after nursing.  It was never a horrible flare up that seemed to cause him discomfort.  However, certain areas would become slightly red and irritated.  It wasn’t until he was five months that this eczema started to cause him discomfort, sometimes even resulting in hives and red rashes.
  3. LOOSE STOOL:  At a breastfeeding group meeting, I remember a mom discussing her daughter’s stool and everyone having a conversation about poop.  I had never spoken about poop so much in my life as I did during those first few months.   Anyways, I did not even think twice about it when TJ continued to have loose poop.   Many of the other babies started to have different kinds of stool when they started solids.  Instead, introducing food to TJ’s diet did not bring any change for him.  Instead, he always had loose stool that also called for many wardrobe changes.  However, there was no blood in it so once again no one thought that food allergies were to blame.

Looking back, I do believe that these three symptoms were signs of food allergies.  Although they were not to the extreme level or to any level that caused anyone including doctors to worry, they were present in a modified version due to breastfeeding. Or at least, this is my theory about them. (Remember I am no doctor and these are just my personal views and experiences.   Refer to my disclaimer on my “About Us” page.)


Additional Resources Regarding Early Signs of Food Allergies

1) Possible Signs of a Food Allergy

Source: http://kellymom.com/


2)Food Allergy Reactions

Source: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx


3) Babies With Food Allergies

Source: http://www.parents.com/


4) Food Allergies – Food Allergies While Breastfeeding

Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/


5) Infant Allergies & Food Sensitivities

Source: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx


From now on, I would (and would recommend others wearing similar shoes) request for allergy testing to be done before introducing high-risk foods or any solids to a high-risk baby’s diet. While I brought TJ to an allergist before introducing any food because of his eczema, there would be more of a conversation and plan the next time around. Regardless of what should have or could have happened, we smile on together in trying to educate others about this wild world of food allergies…

tj cartoon

 

 

Favorite Finds Friday: Similac’s Go & Grow Toddler Soy Formula

I truly believe that breastfeeding my son for 13.5 months was the best option for him.  When he was 7.5 months, we learned of his multiple food allergies after an anaphylactic reaction to a taste of yogurt.  Because TJ had always been gaining nicely and doing wonderfully before this reaction, I felt that I needed to at least try and continue to nurse him until his diet was opened up to more options. Therefore, I continued on a strict elimination diet of everything was allergic to (wheat, oat, barley, rye, coconut, sesame, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy) for the next six months.  After he passed an oral food challenge to soy in the spring, I decided that it was best for both of us to wean him.   We had two options at that point for a milk source: soy milk or soy toddler formula.

After his blood work came back, we learned his iron levels were slightly low.   Because his diet was so limited and he was not eating many solids, we decided to go the toddler formula route.  Based on an allergist’s and nutritionist’s recommendation we started to use Similac’s Go &Grow Toddler Soy Formula.  

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From the start, TJ has always loved this!  Two months after starting, his iron levels were tested again and were in the normal range again.  I believe that this product helped with this.   Therefore, although I am a supporter of breastfeeding when possible, I am an even bigger supporter on doing what is best for you and your family.   No two situations are ever the same; therefore, breast milk and this formula have both been beneficial to my son’s health.

On this Friday, we are thankful for making TJ’s sippy cups something he truly looks forward to so we smile on…

tj cartoon

Tbt – Holding On for “Deer” Life

Today, we throw it back to last December and early January right after TJ’s anaphylactic reaction.   Here is one of my first blog posts. It gives a perfect account of what was going on during that time…


DECEMBER 26, 2014-JANUARY 8, 2015

Quite frankly, I was in a major funk these days.   I was putting all my energy into still being my happy self in front of my son; however, I was an absolute mess when he was not around.   A lot happened during these two weeks…

  1. We took my son to have allergy testing through blood work.   We saw an excellent guy who was able to get a lot of blood.   When these results came back, it was confirmed that now my son was allergic to OAT and BARLEY in addition to the skin tested allergens of WHEAT, PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, DAIRY, and EGGS. Therefore, I cut out the few items that I was eating that contained oat and barley.

  2. I also realized that my favorite non-dairy creamer for my coffee was not dairy free so I cut it out. I cried…

  3. I then realized that I should not be eating tootsie roll lollipops everyday like I had been doing when I pumped. (It was my treat twice a day…I never liked chocolate much before being pregnant.) However, it contains milk so I cut these out too and yes, I cried again…It sounds silly what I was crying about.   I think I just kept feeling like more and more food that I enjoyed were being taken away. And even worse, I felt like I had been hurting my son for so many months and had no clue.  (While no one can confirm this, I truly hope and pray that I helped him during those 7.5 months of breastfeeding before my elimination diet started.

  4. I met with Nutritionist #1.   She basically told me that I may have celiacs disease which I definitely do not. However, I kindly took all of her materials and thanked her for her advice. She did tell me that I could eat goat cheese so I stopped and bought some on the way home.  However, my son’s allergist soon told me that was NOT the case. As I threw out the goat cheese, I cried again…

  5. I met with an orthopedic for a severe pain in my left thumb/wrist.   I had read about what I thought I had, “Mommy Thumb.” Sure enough, the doctor confirmed this and told me that I needed a cortisone shot in the area. A few days after the shot, the pain went away for three weeks.   But, then came back even worse.

  6. I found a lump on my right breast.   I freaked out. I went to my gynecologists’ office twice about it and called four times.   Yes, I do sound crazy and I am sure that they thought I was too. At the first visit, I was told it was a torn muscle. Then, a day later as the pain got worse, the doctor told me that it was a clogged milk duct and called in a medication for me if it got infected.   However, I never went to get it.  Lots of massaging, pumping, and nursing did the job.

    During these two weeks,  I was definitely depressed.  I truly thought that everything was falling apart, that I had messed up everything, and that there was nothing that I could do to fix it.  I had an intense sense of impending doom.   Since I have experienced a couple times in my life where I suffered from depression and anxiety, I knew that this was what it was.   However, I needed to stop it.  I had to for my son.   I had to take care of myself for him.   I just couldn’t figure out how to do this. One day I caught myself obsessing over how much I was eating, measuring and remeasuring my food.   While I had never stopped counting calories and measuring food, I had not limited myself in close to 20 years.   I recognized some of these behaviors that I was doing as the start of an eating problem again. Yet, I could not stop.   My life seemed to be out of my control and this was one thing that I could control.  I was losing a couple more pounds with this elimination diet.  I probably needed to add more daily calories because of the way that my body was metabolizing this rather healthy elimination diet.  In fact, I was having dizzy spells too.

    Because of a lingering cold, I went to my actual doctor and had blood work done to make sure that I was not deficient in any areas.   I was falling apart quicker than I could catch myself. Yet, I felt like I was doing something right. Even if I was failing at everything else,   I made my son smile on…


Looking back to that early entry, it is evident how overwhelming anxiety and stress can be.   I do believe that following my son’s initial allergic reaction, I suffered some post traumatic stress. I remember feeling like I was not fit to be a mother and feeling beyond guilty as to why I ever thought I was.  However, I continued to pray for strength because I could not do this alone.

It was through those prayers that I was reminded one morning of why I initially even decided that I was ready to be a mom…

Before my son, I loved my life of spending time with my husband, my job and tutoring until late, traveling to gorgeous beaches when we wanted, Saturday afternoon wine tastings, dinners out, hanging out with friends, and other events that revolved around wine. I felt that I wasn’t ready to be a mom… yet knew I wanted kids.   Therefore, after 3.5 years of being married, I prayed that God would send me a sign that it was time.   I was so scared to take that leap on my own especially since I had seen and heard how relationships became got a lot more difficult after kids. I was afraid of this…I was afraid of change.

After several months of no signs and not feeling any differently, while driving to my last tutoring session of the evening, I started to think about what it would be like to have a child.   In that exact moment, I saw a beautiful deer crossing the road right in front me.  Stopping to let her go, I then noticed that two tiny fawns trotted right along her side.

FAWN

While I had seen plenty of deer in my life, this was by far one of the most remarkable moments because of its perfect timing. It was then that I knew I was more than ready to take this leap into motherhood. It was in that exact moment I knew I had forever changed.

God’s work in my life always astonishes me.  During that morning of praying for strength, he reminded me of that very deer and her fawns. It was then that I knew everything was going to be more than okay and that maybe it was not about holding on for dear life.   Instead, maybe I needed to let go and trust that God’s grace would be there opening my eyes to see wings I never knew existed. 

WINGS

To conclude but only for now, as I was packing up my belongings at school this past Tuesday, I noticed that my window was open.   As I walked over to close it, I noticed a giant leaf sitting on the sill.   Just when I was going to push this outside, I noticed that I was mistaken.   It was a large praying mantis.  In all of my life, I have only seen one of these beautifully unique creatures and that was during my childhood. While I do not yet know the meaning of this, I once again believe it symbolizes that something amazing is up ahead for us.

prayign mantis

With all of this, my smiles have been turned to genuine as I continue to join my son in smiling on…

tj cartoon TBT


Do believe in signs? If so, was there ever a time when one of these signs transformed you?


“If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasn’t mine…”

– “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave

Source: http://www.klove.com/music/artists/big-daddy-weave/songs/my-story-lyrics.aspx