Monday, March 30, 2009

It's a beautiful day

and I'm grateful to God for it. This morning for breakfast David made me the insides of breakfast burritos (since I can't have tortillas right now): potatoes, sausage, and eggs with salsa. We also skipped the sour cream and cheese, of course.

Then I went to Massage Envy for my first ever professional massage. It was David's surprise birthday gift for me. What made it even more special is that David used the points he'd earned by getting an employee award from the hospital (he got a lot of WOW cards in January - both patients and coworkers recognized his good work) to request a Massage Envy gift card. He turned his reward into a gift for me! Isn't that nice?! The massage experience was just what I expected: calming. My masseuse worked on the knots in my upper back and released some of the tension I had in my neck and shoulders from nursing and carrying Teresa. Sweet.

For lunch David made us chili with rice. It was a filling meal - I guess I'm not going to waste away after all!

Tonight we are going to Sushi 101. I missed sushi my whole pregnancy (well, I did get California rolls from Costco once - yum! - but they weren't the eel rolls I've come to love!). So when David asked me where I wanted to go out to eat for my birthday, it was the first thing that came to mind. And it will be doable on my elimination diet! Fish, rice, seaweed, ginger...the only things I can't enjoy are the salted edamame and the soy sauce. Oh well.

And though I'd really like a big, fat piece of chocolate cake for dessert, strawberries and Cool Whip will still be a treat. :) (UPDATE: Cool Whip contains milk in the form of casein. Boo! So I just had strawberries in sugar.)

So far Teresa's been sleeping a lot and fussing only a little when she's awake. Very good!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Elimination Diet

I request your prayers for our little family. Teresa's symptoms of food allergy have continued, even though I have been dairy-free for 2 weeks and off soymilk and chocolate for 1 week. This weekend she exhibited 6 of the 11 signs of dairy sensitivity listed here: extreme fussiness, congestion, a pin dot rash (or widespread acne) on her face, frequent spitting up, gassiness, and green, mucousy, bloody stools. It's the last one that's most alarming: two diapers with some blood in them. Obviously, I'm still eating something that's bothering her poor little digestive system.

Food allergies are so difficult to determine! She might be intolerant of any of the multitude of ingredients I've consumed. I've started keeping a food log. With David's assistance and encouragement, I will take the plunge and stop eating anything containing gluten (wheat, oats, and barley) or soy. We've made a bare bones menu plan for the next 7-10 days, and then we'll decide how to proceed.

Giving up dairy was tough. At least I can eat my cereal with soymilk and dark chocolate for dessert, I thought. Then those were forbidden as well. I managed. But now all soy and wheat? I've shed many a tear at the thought of it: What a joyless life! What CAN I eat? Will I waste away? I'm already too thin! Will Teresa still get enough nutrients? Is this really worth it, or should I just stop breastfeeding? That would be a humiliating defeat. You get the idea.

So I ask your prayers: that Teresa would be healthy and grow and know comfort and happiness. That I would embrace this sacrifice/challenge with peace and hope. And that David would continue to be the patient and loving husband and father that he has proven himself to be thus far. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And she uses her feet, too!

Perhaps we have a future soccer player in our little family? Completely on her own initiative, Teresa kicks the rings hanging beside her changing table:

I hope she'll forgive me for posting a video that shows just a little bit of her cute bare bottom. This is the most modest record of her awesome abilities I could get (putting a diaper on her would restrict her range of motion). :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Improvised mobile

After we discovered that Teresa enjoys playing with things hanging from the bar beside her changing table, David and I talked about providing her with similar stimulation in other places. We don't have a mobile or an activity mat (the kind with bars arching over it and toys dangling down), but we do have a small collection of toys on rings that my grandmother got secondhand. So we brainstormed ways to rig up a truly mobile mobile - one we could use when Teresa is in her co-sleeper, on the couch, or, really, anywhere we put her.

I had kept some broken hangers (you never know what might become useful!) and tried putting them together and hanging the toys from them...didn't really work. David drew diagrams of poles with movable joints to vary the height of the dangler, but I thought his contraption would be too labor-intensive to construct and would require spending money (why wouldn't we just by a mobile if we were willing to spend money?).

Last night David had an aha moment and practically ran to the coat closet. He pulled out a 3' PVC pipe he's had for several years, slid the rings onto it, and used couch cushions to position it over Teresa, who was resting in her Boppy. Perfect!

Here are some videos of Teresa playing with our improvised toy. Once again, please forgive our silly background conversation!

Of course her arms can move over her midline! I now realize that she probably can't see things directly in front of her very well (her eye coordination is still developing and she probably has some blind spots).

Along the same lines as my comment above: perhaps she really is seeing the toys in her peripheral vision even though her pupils seem to focus on the rings.

Teresa entertained herself in this way for 15 or 20 minutes last night, while David and I worked in the kitchen. David cautioned me not to let Teresa play with the toys too long/often while I'm home alone with her today, lest she become bored with them. I am very interested in others' experience with rationing toy use with babies. Do they really lose interest? Does removing and reintroducing a toy help maintain its entertainment value?

Videos du jour

First, we have Teresa hanging out in her sweet rosebud sleeper on a rosebud-covered Boppy. Awww, our little rosebud... (please ignore our background conversation)

Second, David reads The Monster at the End of this Book to a highly amused Teresa (ha ha):

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teresa fusses...and plays with duckie

Here are two more recent videos for your viewing pleasure. In the first one I try to catch Teresa doing her absolutely adorable mew-like crying. Alas, she stopped that and gave me sweetness followed by loud crying:

In the second video Teresa uses her hand to move the duckie I hung beside her changing table. I'm not sure how much is coordination and how much is accident, but she seems to enjoy it:

Dairy Sensitivity Update

It turns out Teresa definitely cannot tolerate the cow's milk protein that shows up in my breastmilk when I've eaten anything dairy. After last week's checkup, her dirty diapers revealed that something was persistently irritating her bowels - she had all the classic symptoms of a dairy intolerance, including blood in her stools. Yikes. So I started cutting the dairy out of my diet. I last drank milk on Friday and I last ate something with the sneaky ingredient whey on Sunday. Poor Teresa's temperament and bowel movements have been improving steadily. I took her to see the nurse practitioner today and had a recent sample tested - no trace of blood.

Teresa still has episodes of painful gas and other gastrointestinal difficulty, so we've gotten the Mylicon and will see if it helps. But, overall, she does seem to be crying less.

I became a bit concerned a few days ago that my milk supply was declining; Teresa was nursing infrequently and didn't seem to get much when she did nurse (although it's difficult to tell exactly how much a baby is getting). Since her birth, many people have encouraged me to wake her and try to make her eat if she slept longer than 3 hours during the day. I preferred to let Teresa let me know when she was hungry. Now I was worried that I made the wrong choice and we wouldn't be able to continue breastfeeding exclusively. I combated my fear by praying that God would increase my milk supply somehow.

God is good! Starting yesterday morning, Teresa has been an eating machine. Although I'm quite exhausted from a much-interrupted night of sleep, Teresa is obviously growing. With clothes on, she weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz. at the doctor's office this afternoon. That's a 12-14 oz. improvement in just one week!

We still haven't kicked the thrush, though. I need to be more diligent about applying the nystatin to Teresa's tongue and to me. Every so often she will stick out her tongue repeatedly, as though the yeast infection is really bothering her. I pray that it, too, will be a thing of the past very soon!

Here she is hollering to be picked up:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two Teresa Videos

My mom requested that I post some videos. I am happy to oblige (although I am still figuring out the best way to take and upload videos from our cameras).

First, one of Teresa chilling in her cute flower jumpsuit a week ago:

Second, one of David burping Teresa yesterday (she really enjoys being patted!):

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fade Away

During the season of Lent, specifically in March, there are a number of saints who have feast days, but there are two more well known saints the Church celebrates this month. March 17th is the more popular one as most know it as St. Patrick’s Day. In talking with my father today, he mentioned that Shreveport, LA already had their St. Patrick’s Day parade yesterday, March 14th.

St. Joseph doesn’t always have the public fanfare that St. Patrick might have, but I believe St. Joseph wouldn’t have it any other way. For the Church, St. Joseph holds a special place as the husband of Mary and the foster father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Though Joseph is my middle name and I’ve had a small devotion to him for years, this last month, this humble saint has taken a more prominent role in my life. This past Monday, March 9th, the novena to St. Joseph began and, using the Treasury of Novenas, we have found a wonderful meditation on St. Joseph’s life. One paragraph in particular is poignant for me:

Joseph served Jesus with great unselfishness, without any regard to self-interest, but not without sacrifices. He did not toil for himself, but he seemed to be an instrument intended for the benefit of others, to be put aside as soon as it had done its work, for he disappeared from the scene once the childhood of Jesus had passed. (p. 229)

Joseph exemplified John the Baptist’s words, “He must increase; but I must decrease” (John 3:30), without ever having to say anything, for the Scriptures depict Joseph as silent in words but prophetic in his actions.

Even before our wedding, Frances shone with such a beautiful radiance and I knew that her place, her role as a wife and mother was to be the jewel of our family. She’ll be quick to reflect the light of Christ and not take any glory for herself, but whenever we’re at Church, with friends, or just out and about, Frances attracts the attention. In turn she does a great job of pointing to the Lord in her actions, words, and even appearance.

During the pregnancy, she as the figurative “church,” held within herself the blessing of life God had given us. She drew even more attention, and she even told me, “I feel bad because I everyone is focusing on me.” Even when I wasn’t with Frances, everyone always asked me, “How is Frances?”

Now that Teresa has been born, so many are rejoicing with us in the new life God has given us. She and Frances continue to be the sparkling jewels of our family. Now I’m asked, “How are Teresa and Frances?” And I respond with joy.

I rejoice because this is the way it’s supposed to be. The role of the husband and father is to decrease as St. Joseph but still remain the head of “domestic church.” Each day of Teresa’s life has taught me that there’s so much I don’t know. I am appreciating the challenges that will come with being a father, and I admire St. Joseph all the more for the humility and sacrifices he endured to provide for the Holy Family. I have a long way to go in my journey to be holy, but I’m glad I have St. Joseph interceding for me and all fathers, husbands, and men.

So I end as my friend Adam over at A New Paracletes ends his posts: St. Joseph, patron of families, champion of purity, and model of humility, pray for us!

Photo Credit: Editor B

Thursday, March 12, 2009

1 Month Well Baby Visit

Teresa will be 4 weeks old on Saturday! We took her back to the nurse practitioner yesterday for a checkup (and a much anticipated weighing).

Teresa's stats (at almost 1 month old):

Weight: 8 lbs even (37th percentile)
Height: 21.5 in (94th percentile)
Head circumference: 14 in (37th percentile)

Long and lean. She is gaining weight, but not very quickly, and she's certainly not a chubby baby yet. The NP said she is not concerned at this point, so I am trying not to be, either. Teresa eats fairly vigorously when she nurses, but she often goes long stretches (4 hours) without eating (we like it when this happens at night!).

Teresa has become a fussy baby in the last week, crying to be held upright when she's awake and sometimes crying inconsolably even when she's held. We're pretty sure this has to do with gas pains and other intestinal discomfort. The NP, like others, recommended we try Mylecon drops. She also urged me to consider diet modifications, such as minimizing dairy and avoiding gas-producing and spicy foods. I must admit I am daunted by this challenge. Perhaps this will be my Lenten penance?

The NP also said she thinks Teresa has thrush, a yeast infection appearing as a white coating on her tongue. She prescribed Nystatin, which we have to paint on Teresa's tongue 4 times a day for 10 days. I am still considering what to use on myself to prevent the infection (which can go back and forth between mom and baby). If anyone has experience with this, I am open to suggestions.

Otherwise, all is well with our little one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If I loved coming home before...

Frances is doing an amazing job with Teresa at home. Today, I came home early from a computer class for my nursing job, and I found this peaceful child resting on our couch.

What a different world from three weeks ago! Interestingly, many people ask me if everything has changed. I will say that it's different, but it's not a complete "change." Refering to an image in St. Teresa's Interior Castle, our small family felt like a little cup filled with liquid love. God just made our cup a bit bigger and added a bit more love.

There's a bit more work to be done. There's a bit more patience to be had. It's all good...and amazing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Birth Story

At long last I have finished writing the story of Teresa's birth! I will admit I was a bit daunted by the task of remembering (and reliving) the somewhat traumatic experience. But it was good to take account of how we were successful (in the sense that Teresa was delivered vaginally without my having taken any medications) and what we learned.

I've uploaded the birth story to Google Docs. All told, the detailed version is 6 pages single spaced in Word. For those less interested in reading about every aspect of our experience, the abbreviated version is 2.5 pages.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments on this post or email me. I am very open to discussing our experience in the hope that it might help someone faced with similar issues/options in the future.

Here I am managing a smile between contractions. I am covered with a blanket because it was SO COLD in that room and the nurse surreptitiously lowered the thermostat every time David tried to raise the temperature for me!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sisters & Cousins

My sister Beth drove down from Virginia with 2 1/2-month-old Ari to spend the weekend with us and represent my family at Teresa's Baptism on Sunday. We enjoyed seeing each others' girls and "talking mommy." Beth inspired me with her patient self-sacrifice, especially when it came to nursing. Ari was rather fussy during her stay with us, asking to be fed often. Beth lovingly obliged and never complained. I have a lot to learn from her!

Beth with Teresa:

The cousins together:

Drunken Sailor

David sometimes refers to Teresa's post-feeding look of stupor as "drunken sailor." Here she is displaying it in the changing room of the JCPenney's photo studio, where my sister Beth and I nursed our babies after their pictures were taken together: