Helpless

The nurse from the GI clinic called a little while ago with results from yesterday’s blood draw (which I had neglected to write about here).  She said that his AST and ALT levels are still elevated (145 and 40, respectively).  The AST does seem to be going up, but the ALT seems to be going down, according to the numbers she gave me yesterday when she said we had to go for another draw:  AST/ALT 101/81 on 8/24, and 116/64 on 9/6.  Not that this means anything to me, other than that we all still know nothing.  They are referring us to a liver specialist in Cincinnati (!!).  We have to do another bout with formula, 72 hours this time, and then redraw blood again.

I’m stumped.  Clearly, if he really has an issue that needs addressing, yes, by all means, let’s address it.  I don’t want to miss something that would lead to…what, liver failure?  Jesus.  But he’s still gaining weight and growing, generally happy, and does not seem ill to me.  The only thing that is not textbook normal is some green poop and maybe some excess gas (and these AST & ALT levels, I suppose).  I didn’t even think to ask while I had the nurse on the phone if I should bother continuing with the dairy and soy elimination or if these tests instead indicate something physiological that my diet won’t affect.  I called back and left a message, but I’m guessing I won’t hear until tomorrow or maybe even Friday.  They even said that the referrals aren’t quick, so it may be weeks before we see the specialist.  Does that speak to the assumed urgency?  If it’s not urgent, then what the fuck is the point of all this?  Mike asked an interesting question – how would all of this be handled if we were uninsured?  I hate to think they’re just bilking Anthem, but hell if I really know what’s going on.  It’s almost a moot point.  I can’t NOT continue on with their recommendations, right?  I want to say that I don’t know how many more times I can hold my squirming, screaming child as they draw blood, but if I decline….what, they call Children Services on me?  I think I will have to just feel like an asshole no matter what I do.

This is wearing on me.  I can’t concentrate here at work.  I just want to go pick him up and hold him.  I’m so afraid they will tell me I have to stop breastfeeding, but I can’t understand how that would help.  What the fucking fuck?!?!!

I think I’m going to take the following two citations when we go to see the specialist – I don’t know if they are completely applicable, but I can’t help but feel like they’re trying to compare his bloodwork to a standard set by formula-fed babies.  I want to call bullshit, but I don’t know if I ‘d sleep any easier if I did.

Does breast feeding influence liver biochemistry?
Differences in serum biochemistry between breast-fed and formula-fed infants.

Any medical-background geeks out there who feel comfortable either reassuring me or encouraging me to push for more urgent investigation?  I am still so torn between not-gonna-worry-about-it and OMGCAN’TSTOPWORRYING.

Substitutes

I keep thinking about composing a post reviewing the dairy-free, soy-free things I “treated” myself to in an effort to lessen my hate for this woeful lack of cheese and half-and-half in my diet, but it’s just too depressing for right now.  I will try to buck up and maybe spell all that out for you this weekend.  I know, I’m sure it’s all you’ll be able to think about until then.

Instead, please enjoy these photos of my adorable child (photo credit to my mom).  He’s so much better than cheese, anyway (especially “cheese” made from – get this – arrowroot and tapioca.  Sob!).

Cute…

Cuter…

Cutest!

Three Months

Dear Baby Ike,

Today you are three months old, and I miss you like crazy!  I know you will be having a great time with Grandma every weekday while I go to work, but I must admit that I am quite jealous of all that daytime playtime.  I hate to think of missing out on all those smiles and giggles.  Definitely don’t deprive Grandma of any, but please save some for me every day, okay?  

Last night was your first time with a not-technically-family “babysitter.”  Your “Aunt” Jen came over to play with you and take care of you for a couple of hours while Mama and Daddy went out for some sushi to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  She also brought her fancy camera and played a little dress-up, so there will be lots of cute photos to come.  You did a great job of giving her a little taste of motherhood – in the space of two short hours you spit up on her, and let loose that giant poop you’d been holding onto all day. Heehee.  I also had forgotten to take the travel disk out of the bottle we had in the fridge for you, so she had to figure that out on the fly while you cried a bit.  She definitely didn’t miss out on any of the important tasks and challenges of your care and feeding – way to not make it too easy for her!  She did an excellent job, though, and we’re so lucky to have her so close by and so willing and excited to hang out with you whenever she can.  She always tells me how in love with you she is – she has been spoiling you since you were just a tiny fetus!  You guys will have all sorts of weird inside jokes as you grow up, I just know it (there is already something about being too evolved to eat bananas that cracks me up, and if you end up liking pickles it will be all her fault!).  I really look forward to seeing you build fun and funny relationships with all the people in our lives that love you so.  We have several very interesting characters in our little circle; I’m sure it’s true what they say about it taking a village to raise a child, and we certainly are lucky to have such wonderful and hilarious people in your village.

The past month has flown by; I can’t believe we are already halfway to the half-year mark!  The last three months have been the best of my life, even if they have been some of the hardest as well.  You make everything that seems difficult so very worth it, without even having to try.  I’m so happy to be your mama. Daddy and I love you to pieces; thank you for being exactly who you are (not that you could try to do otherwise yet) – I hope we can always help you do just that, and give you the tools to be as happy being you as being your parents has made us.

Love,
Mama

Seven Years

Tonight we will celebrate having been married for seven years. SEVEN YEARS. That’s crazy. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, or at least only a few years ago, that we were frantically pulling together last minute details for the ceremony and reception. If you count the three years we were together before the wedding (and why wouldn’t we?), we’re talking about a decade of life together. Most of the time I don’t feel like I’m old enough yet to think about my life in decade-long chunks, but there it is. Nearly a third of my life, and more than a quarter of his, spent together. 


I don’t think I will be getting all mushy and sentimental in this post. It wouldn’t be a true reflection of how we are with each other most of the time. We have our syrupy-sweet moments on occasion, of course, but I doubt anyone would be too interested in those. I mean, gross, right? Nobody wants to hear that love and marriage are all flowers and chocolates and poetry all the time – because if you have an ounce of intelligence and live in the world with the rest of us, you’d know it to be bullshit anyway. I shall not bullshit you. Instead, I think I finally feel ready to make an honest accounting of what we’ve weathered for the past several years, and how it’s affected us. I need to give both Mike and myself credit for at least making it through intact, if not always with a lot of grace.

I would like to be able to say that living through the ugliness of four miscarriages and then finally achieving a successful pregnancy only brought us closer together, and only made us love each other more, and that we only treated each other with gentle understanding through it all…but I can already hear you laughing. Again, that’s not how it was for us. I shall not bullshit you. I can honestly say, however, without bullshit, that we have somehow managed to have enough patience with one another’s coping methods (or lack thereof, at various stages) to still be standing, together, on a firm enough foundation that I think we’ll make it after all. I can’t be too embarrassed to say that there were times, plenty of them and not all in the distant past, when we both surely doubted that we’d ever get here. Having Ike has done wonders for us, but I certainly never thought that finally getting our take-home baby would “fix” anything in our marriage. It’s not his job to the solution to any of his parents’ problems. (We got 99 problems but an Ike ain’t one! Hit me!) We’ve had volatile times, even in recent times: a lot of anger and misunderstanding, piles of resentment, and we have had some of the same arguments over and over again like two dementia patients with no recollection of the first thirty versions of the same fight.

I hate the phrase no regrets. In fact, one of my favorite quotes of all time is, “I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” (Katharine Hepburn) I have enough sense to regret the dumb things I’ve done and said. At the top of that list would be waiting until after the last miscarriage to seek professional help. I had been floundering unhappily between anxiety and depression and bothatthesametimewheeeeeeisn’tthatfun for years. Years. My fear of the unknown future (will we ever be parents, and if so, how in the fuck will we accomplish that feat?) blotted out my ability to enjoy nearly anything as it was happening in the present. Yet I was unable to even admit that I wanted to be a mother, because that meant facing the fact that I may not ever become one. I was grieving the losses of multiple potential children yet unable to think of them as potential children. Heartbroken, yet afraid to apply the word to myself. Deep in denial. I wasted a lot of time like that. And all the while, Mike was grieving, too. On his own, basically. I can now see that I was absolutely unable to be any decent kind of support system for him because I was too busy with my own anxieties. This was incredibly unfair to him, and I regret it.

I can only tell my side of the story, in fairness. I’m sure that if he wrote his side, it wouldn’t paint me in a very pretty light. Now that we’ve crossed that line of becoming parents can I see that if I had helped myself sooner, I’d have been better able to help him at the same time, and we could have helped each other. Instead, I sank deeper and deeper into my worries, and he, well, he ran away. I spent more time than I like to remember (not that I could forget if I tried) alone, dampening the ever present what-if internal monologue with crappy TV and pints of ice cream. He wasn’t able to deal with me in that state, so he spent a lot of time elsewhere. I couldn’t reach out, and he couldn’t reach in, because the wall of fear I’d assembled was pretty much impenetrable, even when he tried. Eventually he stopped trying, I think. I don’t blame him for that. You can only be shot down so many times before you stop trying to stand back up. At some point during my pregnancy, though, I had to start believing that we were on our way to a baby. At least, I had to believe it enough to try to convince him of the same. But without going through the physical transformation, I think it was a lot harder for him to believe it. When I was ready to nest, he wasn’t. I think he still was afraid to believe we were finally going to get what we wanted. Now when I reread my posts from that time in my pregnancy, I realize that I sound frantic. I never thought he would actually abandon me, and he wouldn’t, but I felt abandoned. Before, it was just me, so most of the time I didn’t mind being left alone with my sadness and worries. But now there was a baby on the way and I was furious that he’d go hang out with his friends when we had so much left to do. Wait. I can’t leave that all in the past tense without it being a bit bullshitty – I am still pissed about that, to be honest. I wanted the last few weeks of my pregnancy to be about joyful anticipation and pampering, and I felt cheated out of it by the one person I’d hoped would want to do everything in his power to make it that way. On some level I knew that he was having a hard time as well, and his way of escaping was just to escape, but with all the pregnancy anxiety and hormones I wasn’t able to articulate any empathy. In the past couple of weeks he has really started to comprehend why I’ve been so angry, and feeling like he understands is more than half the battle. I know that we still have a lot of work to do to make up for lost time, but after all the heartache and sadness we’ve been through, it’s such a relief to finally feel like we’re on solid ground again. We have so much to look forward to, after so long spent not knowing if we had anything but more heartache in store for us.

The passing of time is almost always bittersweet, I think. We’ve had our share of bitter for a good long while, so I hope we can keep on enjoying this sweetness we waited so long to taste.

September 17, 2005
June 18, 2012

Gah

Having a chemistry background, I’ve always been interested in reading food labels – the ingredient lists in particular.  If I really want to eat something, whatever I find on the list is not likely to sway me (at least in the past), but I do like to at least be aware of the crap contained in the crap I consume.  I do the same thing with cosmetic products (body washes, shampoos, etc.  I wear actual makeup rather rarely) and household products, when they bother to list the ingredients on the packaging.  So I’m not sure how I neglected to read the label on the pack of gum I opened yesterday.  I had already gone through about three pieces before I thought OH SHIT, and I dammit if I shouldn’t have figured.  SOY LECITHIN.  THAT EVIL MOTHERFUCKER IS FUCKING EVERYWHERE.  

My dear friend took me out to lunch today to ease my have-to-be-here-all-day angst (so, SO angsty), and I purposefully chose a restaurant I felt would be up-front about ingredients (good, simple, fresh food; they go local/organic/free-range/hippiecakes wherever possible).  I ordered an omelet with avocado, tomato, and bacon (yes, more effing bacon).  No cheese.  Definitely not buttered toast.  I let the server know that I needed to avoid dairy and soy, and she was a little too quick for my comfort to say, “you’re good,” but at least I asked.  As I’m halfway through my plate, I think….crap, so, did they cook this in a dry skillet? Possibly, but…doubtful.  And even if it wasn’t cooked in butter, was it cooked in margarine made with soybean oil?  I didn’t have the heart to ask.  I can’t say that it tasted like either to me, but that probably means absolutely nothing.
I suck at this.  I hope all the bloodwork and urine and stool samples either confirm that I need to buckle down and get extremely diligent about this elimination diet, or let me off the hook, and I have to admit my frustration, though I do feel guilty for feeling that way.  I can keep it up knowing that it’s for good reason, but the whole maybe-ness of not actually knowing is getting really annoying.  I just feel like a negligent slob for not being as strict as I should be to make it all worthwhile, and at the same time I feel gullible because I still think it’s going to end up being either nothing, or nothing I can do anything about via diet.  I would just like to know SOON, please.  Mailed off the stool sample card today, so hopefully next week we’ll have answers…or at least a new set of more specific questions, if nothing else.
We’re having dinner at my parents’ house tonight.  My mom has been so understanding and as accommodating as possible when I eat there, but it just feels so uselessly persnickety to be like, um, no, sorry…if you want me to eat it then please, purposefully don’t make it as delicious as it really should be. Quite unlike me.  I usually am all BUTTER!  HEAVY CREAM!  CHEESE!!  OMNOMNOMMMMMM! and have zero guilt about it.  If you enjoy it, and still balance it with healthier fresh things, I consider it generally the way to be, assuming no other specific health concerns are in the picture.  So I guess this new way of eating feels restrictive even though there are plenty of perfectly appetizing things I can still eat.  
I knew that being a mother would change me, but this was probably the last way I expected to have to change.  You’d think I would know better than to have had any expectations at all, after everything we went through to even be at this point.  But, alas and alack.  

Sad

Tomorrow will be my last half day at work. Somehow it’s more upsetting than starting back after being off for nine and a half weeks was. I don’t want to, I wish I didn’t have to. It’s only one full day this week, Friday, and then we’ll have the weekend together, but I can’t wrap my mind around how I’ll get through five full days next week. I know it’s sort of selfish; it’s not as though I’m really worried about how Ike will do with my mom, because they have a great time together. I am still grateful to have the privilege of this heartache, but it aches all the same.

Forgetting and Remembering

I forgot the adapters for the breastmilk bags at home when I packed up my pump parts this morning.  Going to be a fun exercise in coordination pumping here at work in a couple of hours.

I forgot the stool sample cards by the changing table when I grabbed an extra fuzzy blanket out of Ike’s nursery to take to my mom’s this morning.  Good thing she has no qualms about saving a dirty diaper for me, should he produce one while he’s with her.

I forgot to grab the apples out of the refrigerator to bring to work this morning.  I’m hungry, and not well prepared to undertake the recommended elimination of soy from my diet, in addition to dairy.  After five plus weeks, I’m just about used to not having all the delicious, creamy, milk-derived foodstuffs anymore, but removing soy from the already small mix feels like an even bigger mountain to climb.  I don’t resent doing it, but….fuck, I’m  just HUNGRY.  I had potato chips for dinner last night.  Far from showering myself in dark leafy greens.  It’s been more about bacon (pop your popcorn in the grease – do it, it will make you feel good!) and those damn kettle cooked potato chips than anything remotely actually healthy.  I need to make a trip to the local organic grocery store (no Whole Paycheck in our vicinity) and find some rice and/or almond milk and some dried beans and chickpeas and some tahini and christ on a soy and dairy free cracker some good, fresh stuff I can and might actually want to eat.  I’m dumbfounded to somehow, despite the crap I’ve been eating, already be within five or so pounds of my prepregnancy weight.  Bacon and potato chips can’t be given credit for that.  I think I have to credit stress and rarely having time to eat.  Not the healthy way I envisioned getting to this point.

***

I remember that this is all still far superior and easier to undertake and afford than choosing to give him some crazily expensive soy and dairy free formula.

I remember that the helpless feeling of holding him as he screamed while they took blood from his arm will stay with me far longer than it did with him.  He’s already forgotten, I hope, and I hope it won’t need to be repeated.  At least the actual venipuncture (the teeny tiny tourniquet alone will break your heart) means they didn’t have to squeeze a heel or finger stick wound until they collected enough to fill the half dozen (at least?  I couldn’t bear to count) vials.

I remember that, as difficult as this all may seem right now, it’s still likely nothing other than prolonged breastmilk jaundice-related weirdness exacerbated by a dairy or soy (or other?) sensitivity or Rh factor incompatibility. We are only pursuing the additional testing to rule out things that could be serious.  Just being in a children’s hospital makes it obvious that we are damned lucky.  Things could be so much worse, and they are, for so many kids and their families.

I remember that I’m extraordinarily lucky to even have this baby to worry over.