The chances of having one baby who has major breastmilk allergy is slim. Having two, even more rare. Three? Unheard of. Except for me. And my babies.
There are those medical professionals who don't believe what we eat has any affect at all on babies. I know better. Because I lived it, and I'm living it again.
This is the longest I've exclusively breastfed. I practically gave my right nipple to make it happen (fortunately it healed). I eat only to keep myself alive and my breastmilk producing. Otherwise, there's no enjoyment in chewing the same bland foods day in and day out.
I'm not complaining. Far from it. There's not much I wouldn't do in order to safely breastfeed my son.
And yet, I fear it's not enough. Again. I thought I'd finally gotten lucky because even though my first two kids did not respond to an elimination diet, Xander was.
But this week has been rough. He had a day with green poop and I saw some blood. Then this morning, after sleeping through the night for just the second time, he woke up, nursed, and when he spit up, it was bright yellow. I'm talking flourescent.
We went on an outing this morning and he was in a good mood, actually allowed us to put him in the stroller. He only fussed when it was time for him to eat. Then we went on an errand, and he fell asleep in the car. We stopped at ToysRus, and I went in with Sawyer and Sage.
Next thing I know, there's David coming through the store carrying Xander under the armpits, the diaper bag slung over his shoulder. The little man had a massive blowout, up his back, and was being marched straight to the restroom.
Xander took a great nap in the afternoon, then woke up and ate. He ate again about an hour and a half later, and soon after he pooped. And in it there was a big blob of mucous and more blood.
I did not change my diet. But he might be becoming sensitive to more than he was before. I'm not sure.
There are so many women who take nursing for granted. They don't fret over every bit of food they put in their mouths, afraid it might cause their baby stomach cramps. They never get nervous before taking off a poopy diaper, wondering what it will reveal. They wean because they want to, or because their baby wants to, not because the milk they are producing, that's supposed to be the perfect food, is actually hurting their baby.
I envy them.
Intellectually, I know if I have to switch Xander to the prescription-only formula, he will be fine. He will get through his first year happy and healthy, just like my first two kids.
Emotionally, well, I'm having a tough time. He's my last baby. I love the time he and I spend nursing. It's my little escape, my quiet time to spend just with him.
I will miss it. And so will he. He knows where to go for comfort, and I am happy to be that for him.
Apparently - and tragically - I appear to have a touch of Pageant Mom in me. You know, one of those women who thinks it's totally awesome for their preschool-aged daughter to have a fake tan, hair extensions and wear 17 pounds of makeup, all in the name of competition. 'Cause looks are everything, internets!
I had no idea that it could also be kind of fun. In a VERY limited dose. I knew I had to put a little blush and lipstick on Sage before her dance recital today. The stage lights are bright and the kids can get really washed out. So imagine my surprise when I found myself brushing a little light purple eyeshadow and applying a little mascara on my baby girl's perfect eyes.
Don't judge me, people! It was just a teeny bit, I swear! And, and, and, she NEEDED just a touch! Seriously! All the other moms were doing it! When we were getting the girls ready to go on, everyone was putting lip gloss on their daughters. I bought this pink lipstick last night for Sage and it was, as another mom delicately put it, "a bit loud." Oh well. She's Mormon. She probably thinks we're all going to be wearing our flashy war paint in Hell.
Really, I was just trying to hide the remnants of the macaroni and cheese around Sage's mouth.
So earlier in the day, we had the dress rehearsal at a local high school where the recital would take place. It was supposed to start at 10, but they were running late. What made it even more fun was it was 95 degrees outside and possibly 152 inside because they didn't have access to the air conditioning.
Meanwhile, I'm freaking out because Xander was home with David and Sawyer, and I thought I'd be home by 11 to feed him. I called to check in and heard my poor baby crying. Gah! We got home just after noon, and Xander was still alive, so it wasn't entirely awful.
Then it was lunch and a quick touch-up with the curling iron. I'd just told her we were going to go upstairs for makeup.
We then headed back to the school. The air conditioning was still not on. And then I realized one of Sage's tap shoes had fallen out of her bag, so I had to race across the parking lot to the car to get it. I was then attractively dripping with sweat by the time I made it back. But at least she had her shoe. Unlike during the dress rehearsal, when I realized her tights were at home in the drier and made David drive over to the school to drop them off.
Sage's group was doing the second and fourth dance of the program. I have to say I was really proud of how well she did. I was wondering if she'd be a little bit deer-in-headlights on stage, but she did the dances and looked like she was actually having fun.
We got to see them at intermission, where Sage suddenly started posing. And even agreed to take a picture with me.
We had to watch the entire recital because they took a group bow at the end of the show. Then Sawyer and I went backstage to present Sage with flowers. She was VERY excited about this.
But you know, it didn't take long for her to get all mean. Sawyer said "Sage, I loved your dancing." And Sage's response? Nothing. Totally ignored him. Then when David tried to take a picture of them together, she kept shoving Sawyer away. It was awful.
Then she refused to take off her costume, even though she knows she can't fit in her carseat with it on. I finally got her to change her clothes. But it just sucked that we had to have any issues on her special day.
Poor Xander. Not only does he have his first runny nose, he also has his first tooth. With another one on the way.
But as bad as I feel for him, I believe I feel worse for myself. That's right, blogosphere, I am pity-partying my 40 year-old ass while my tiny four month-old is suffering. There. I said it.
The thing is, when Baby is miserable, so is Mommy. Because for the past three nights, this child is up about every hour and a half, all night long. Last night, he was even up twice within an hour. And of course, he wants to nurse the entire time. It gets to where I don't even remember putting him back in the co-sleeper next to our bed. I just wake up and realize he's not on me anymore - until I reach over, once again, and put him back on.
Now, if I had nice, well-behaved older kids, perhaps this would be bearable. Instead, I have raised two vicious, show-no-mercy creatures who, upon sensing with their evil-child radar that Mommy is weak, weak, weak, go in for the kill. By that, I mean they slap each other, call each other names, run upstairs and yell the minute Xander has finally gone down for a nap. And jeebus the whining and the sassiness! ARGH! They don't listen to me at all, probably because they know I'm too tired to knock their heads together.
And maybe a nocturnal baby combined with his siblings' mutiny wouldn't be so awful. But wait. There's more.
The other night, David was taking the two kids for a run in the jog stroller while I put Xander to bed. Suddenly David comes into the room and announces that he has just snapped our stroller in half by crushing it with the garage door.
Yes. Let me tell you about this stroller. My friend handed it down to me, which is important, because otherwise I could not afford it. It's a Quinny, and retails for over $600. The only other strollers we have are 1) a snap and go that does not work with our current carseat 2) an awful Combi we got for Sawyer that sucks 3) a Bob single and 4) a Bob duallie revolution (Xander is too young to be in the Bobs).
The Quinny has a frame where you can change out the thing your child rides in. It fits a bassinet, the carseat and the regular stroller seat.
We decided to try out the stroller seat attachment since Xander DESPISES riding in the carseat. It's so bad that I never take him out for a walk since he screams the entire time, and I'm (shockingly) not cold-hearted enough to stick on my headphones and drown him out for three miles.
He LOVED the stroller seat. He got to sit almost straight up and could look around. He barely made a peep on our walk to and from the park. I was stoked because now I could finally exercise! Woohoo!
And that very night, it all came to a crashing halt with the closing of the garage door.
This all explains why, before taking Sage for dance this morning, I frantically searched for my nursing cover, and when I just could not find it, I burst into tears. We left without it (and without a stroller to put Xander in) and two minutes later, David called. He'd found it stuffed into our couch.
I turned around and drove home. There was David, standing on the corner holding the nursing cover like it was a ticking bomb. He gently handed it to me through my window, possibly relieved to see I wasn't having a nervous breakdown.
He smiles, he laughs, he rolls over, he reaches out to grab things.
He cries, he refuses to nap, he wakes up every two hours during the night.
Happy four months, Mr. Man!
I'd like to say Xander has suddenly turned into an easy baby, but then you'd yell "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!" Consider this typical scene (now, one might argue he was chafed because he had to wear a pink bib):
But there are also times that he is so freakin' cute I forget what a jerk he was just a moment before. I get that he's been teething, that his fists are always covered in drool from constantly being jammed into his mouth. I can see a tooth and wish it would pop through and give him some relief. Guess he's entitled to be a bit pissy.
He actually is sleeping better, usually wakes up sometime between 3 and 4 a.m., then goes back to sleep for an hour, nurses again, then sleeps for maybe two more hours. Not bad. I guess. I'd heard tell about bad sleepers, I'd just never had one. Until now.
He's a strong little monkey. He can already scootch and actually dug his feet in and propelled himself forward today. Guess he knows he's got some siblings to catch up to. I'm a little scared I might have my first climber.
I'm stoked to say we are still nursing. We had one episode last week with a bloody poop, because I selfishly added one slice of bread (wheat) a day and some turkey bacon which lists soy lecithin as the last ingredient under the "contains 2 percent or less" portion. Something bugged him, and since I cut both those out, he seems pretty good.
I find out Tuesday at his checkup how much he's grown. I admit to being a little proud that I've kept with this diet despite at times being incredibly hungry, incredibly bored of turkey turkey and more turkey, and annoyed that I'm not getting a side benefit of losing any weight. Where's the justice?
But when I nurse him, I finally get it. I understand why so many women do it longer than I think I would (or could, because it's a big hell to the no for extended nursing - this diet would KILL me!).
This is the longest I've ever exclusively breastfed. So even though this is my third, I'm still figuring it all out, and it's funny how as he gets older, it gets more interactive; Like how he'll stiff-arm me when he's feeding on my right side, but on the left, his hand will either knead my skin or clutch my shirt.
Sometimes he will gaze up at me with his big, brown M&M eyes. I will look at him and smile - and then his whole face lights up. He unlatches, smiles a huge dimply smile, then turns his head and latches right back on. He'll do that a few times in a row, playing a little game.
It melts me, how I can give such a small person such huge joy.
These are moments that I hope I will always remember, especially when he's 17 and has three earrings and stays holed up in his room listening to heavy metal.
All it takes is for David to play the music on his iPod and our living room - or garage, depending on where we are - turns into American Bandstand (remember that one, kids? Dick Clark? Maybe I should've said So You Think You Can Dance?).
I'll scoop up Sawyer or Sage, if Xander isn't already being carried, of course, and we'll start spinning and booty shaking and raising the roof. Xander is a big fan of the snake.
Meanwhile, David's usually doing the robot (either that, or he's having a seizure, tough to tell) and the kids scream and try to make up moves of their own.
The soundtrack? Almost always Michael Jackson. Old school, before he turned all weird.
I got to see Michael Jackson in concert during his Victory tour back in 1984. My family was visiting my grandfather in Philadelphia and MJ happened to be in town. My sister, brother and I were lucky enough to get tickets, and even though the seats were far from the action, we still shrieked every time he moon walked, or tilted his hat, grabbed his crotch or pretty much did anything.
So yeah, I watched his memorial service the other day. From my house. I wasn't at Neverland Ranch, sobbing into my old concert tee shirt. Still, I admit to being a little sad that he's gone
I mean, he was a total freak, but in a tragic sort of way. I always thought that the stuff with little boys was because Michael simply saw himself as a little boy. He really didn't get why it was inappropriate, to say nothing of possibly illegal, to have slumber parties with children. To him, it was innocent.
After all the abuse at the hands of his father, AND being so famous so young, what kind of childhood did he really have? Maybe among children is where he felt safest. Now, if he molested any of these boys, then of course there's no excuse. None.
The speakers at his memorial, from Queen Latifah to Brooke Shields to Magic Johnson all portrayed Michael as not just a musical icon who broke barriers for African Americans (he was the first to have videos on MTV), or someone who is in the Guiness Book of World Records for the massive amount of money he's donated to charity, but as, simply, a nice, nice guy.
I've been reading facebook posts and of course the comments from that senator about how the world is now glorifying a pedophile - and we should instead be honoring all our servicemen and women who are off fighting.
It occured to me that we did honor them by voting Bush the hell out of office and electing Barack Obama. That says a TON for how much Americans care about our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. We want them home and out of this senseless, ridiculous war.
I'm sure if Elvis Presley had died during the age of internet and 24-hour news stations, the coverage would've been the same. That's just how things are now, right or wrong. It's a circus. I just choose to remember what his music means to me and roll my eyes at the rest.
We can never understand what it was like to be Michael Jackson, as his brother Marlon pointed out in his closing statement. But we can understand how we feel when we hear his music, as we swing around our children and listen to them shriek in delight.
Once you have three kids, you suddenly go from a man-to-man defense to a zone. It's impossible to be three places helping three kids at one time. You have to divide and conquer.
Frankly, it's exhausting. Especially when one's a little tyrant. What with all that wanting to be fed, held, comforted and carried all the time.
You get worn down. You worry that if you give in a little, the whole house of cards is coming down. And you're going to be at the bottom. Flat on your ass.
That's why this little thing became such a big moment for me. It happened the other day when Sage played her favorite game, "swimming." This is when she puts on her purple swim cap, hot pink goggles and her Ariel bathing suit with the gauzy scales on the bottom, lies on the floor and pretends to swim. (Why don't I have a picture of this? See above note about the tyrant. I will take one the next time she plays, I promise!)
This day, she was done with her swimming but kept on the bathing suit. She then wanted to go up the street to play with the neighborhood kids.
I almost - almost - told her she had to change out into shorts and a tee shirt.
Because it's like sometimes I feel I'm on parenting autopilot. Where you just automatically say "no." No you can't have just one more cookie. No I won't squirt whipped cream into your mouth. No you can't go to bed without brushing your teeth or stay up even one more second longer. NO NO NO NO!
Have I gotten to the point where I'm not really even considering the question? I mean, would it really be so terrible to give in occasionally? A little more fun might go a long way.
So when Sage, looking absolutely adorable, looked at me, waiting to hear my decree, the switch must've flipped. Maybe, just maybe, I'm finally loosening up a bit. Because all I said was she had to put on her sandals. And then she could go play.
It's summer. It's okay if my 3 1/2 year old wants to wear a bathing suit when there's no pool in sight.
It made her happy. And you know what? It made me happy, too. Happy that I could let my kid be a kid.
And you know what? The world did not come to an end.