Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Those days are gone. I am the mommy now, and I don't get sick days.
I was sick the week before last. I had a horrible sinus infection, and I didn't want to move. This did not compute with my kids. My husband made every attempt to allow me some rest, but alas it was for naught.
Of course, the very next week the whole lot of them got sick too. The baby, the toddler, and the husband. I made them continue working and playing just as hard as ever though--yeah, right. No, no, no, I comforted, I rocked, I cuddled, I made special meals for upset tummies, and applied cool rags to warm heads. I allowed pajamas to be worn all day, and movies watched for hours on end. I took care of my babes.
That's what I do. I'm the mommy.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Even before I had O, I was kind of a germ-a-phob. I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse, and yes, after shaking your hand I most likely used that marvelous gel to put my mind at ease. See, I used to get upper respiratory infections regularly--almost every month. It felt like as soon as I recovered from one, the next would start up. It's not that I'm afraid of getting dirty--I love to camp, play in the garden, and other such fun. People though, well, you never know.
CF kids have mucus--lots of mucus. Thick, sticky, nasty mucus. Viruses and bacteria love mucus. We all have mucus in our lungs, but CF kids can have a hard time keeping it from sticking in their lungs and harboring germs.
Your lungs don't do a marvelous job at recovering from respiratory disease. It's important that CF kids maintain healthly lung function as long as possible. I had pneumonia pretty bad when I was 20, and since then any cough, chest cold, or other such ailment really is painful. My doc said my lungs are pretty scarred from the pneumonia.
Having that experience makes me pretty aware and cautious when it comes to O's lungs. If we're out walking and have to pass a smoker, I cover O's face. During cold and flu season (typically from October to March) we avoid other kids (especially those we don't know, or those that go to daycare). O uses a vest that vibrates his chest and helps loosen mucus from his airways. We know of other CF kids who use inhalers and ventilators, or other medications to keep their lungs functioning at their best. Thankfully, we haven't reached that point, and Lord willing, we won't.
This is the scariest and hardest part of CF for me. Even before we knew O had CF, I would jump if he started coughing. Now, coughing is vital to his health, and at the same time can be an indicator of something bad.
When O was not quite 2 years old I took him to the park. He had blast running around, swinging, going down the slide, and just playing. Then he started coughing. Hard. I swooped him up into my lap, and he continued coughing really hard. He rested his whole body into my chest, coughing so hard I thought his lungs were falling apart. The other moms at the park looked worried. I'm pretty sure I did too, but something took over my body. I let him sip water in between coughs to keep his throat moist, and I spoke soothingly over him, all the while praying earnestly for my God to clear O's lungs. I also was pleading with my eyes to the nearby building where my husband was working, in hopes that he would come running to aid me and keep my fears at bay. I wanted to cry. It felt like he was coughing for several minutes, but it was probably only seconds. Other moms were offering cough drops or other stop-the-cough solutions, and I tried to smile and gently explain thanks, but no thanks. Some looked at me as if I was a horrible mother, but I know they just didn't understand. He finally stopped, took a big drink of water, and scrambled out of my lap to continue playing as if nothing had happened. I, on the other hand, was shaken. I pretended that it was "all in the day of the life of a mom with a kid that has CF," but inside I was FREAKED. When my husband came home, I broke down crying and shaking. "I don't know if I can do this."
Coughing spasms rarely happen in our house, but when they do it's usually because a lack of activity or respiratory therapy. So, we are vigilant with O's vest therapy, and also incorporate good nutrition (failing to thrive, or not maintaining calories and a good diet can lead to poor lung health and development).
However, there is still the issue of other people. Other people's germs. Another CF mom was a great support to me. I was starting to feel isolated, avoiding events with friends and get-togethers with family, all in the name of protecting O. I also worried what friends and family thought of me. My friend was awesome--"Which matters more: what your friends and family think of you, or your child's life?" That's a no-brainer. My kid totally trumps whatever activity, event, or otherwise you've got going on. Sorry if that makes you feel bad, but I think you'd do the same in my situation.
Finding balance is a trick too. We don't want to be home all the time--that's not fun for anyone (especially O, who LOVES time with friends and family). My husband and I evaluate every event, weighing all the risks (CF related or otherwise) versus benefits, and then prayerfully make a decision. We've made mistakes, and O got sick. Usually when we look back at those decisions we see that it was more of our lack of confidence in saying no to a friend or family member that led us to making a poor decision. We recently renewed our dedication to making decisions based on our family's priorities and needs, not other's opinions.
I hope you're not offended when we turn down your request to attend an event. It may not be because we think you have germs. It could just be it's not the best thing for our family. If I use my hand sanitizer after shaking your hand, well, that's just because I'm a germ-a-phob.
I will be the first to admit that I don't know enough about nutrition to say much about this topic, however here are my thoughts.
God made me. God made my baby. God made my breastmilk for my baby. In conclusion: The breastmilk that I produce for my baby is sufficient for her needs.
Okay, seriously, I do know a bit more than that. First, it's important for every lactating momma to know that the breastmilk you produce is not only unique to you--it's unique to your baby. That means the composition of the milk you make for you first baby, is not necessarily the same as the composition of the milk you produce for your second, third, and so on. Each baby receives what they need.
Secondly, it is imperative that you have a healthy diet and lifestyle so that you are producing the best milk possible for your baby. Make sure you're still taking pre-natal vitamins, getting good amounts of sunshine, and if necessary, a vitamin D supplement. A good diet, rich in vitamin D is good as well. Here are some great sources:
Salmon (I've got a great recipe, if you're fish-finicky)
Milk (goat's milk too)
Eggs (There are more than 100 ways to cook an egg, surely you like one of them.)
Even though research claims that breastmilk is deficient in vitamin D that does not mean that your breastmilk does not have vitamin D. Possibly just low levels. The best way to get vitamin D is via the sun. I find it ironic that we've been told to avoid sun exposure because it causes cancer, and now the research is telling us that vitamin D deficiency is linked to certain types of cancer. All things in balance, right? Be sure your baby gets 10 minutes of sunshine a day (at least)--no sunscreen, no hat, heck--no clothes. I let my little ones out in the summer bare skin just before the heat of the day (between 10 a.m-1 p.m. for our area). I watch them CAREFULLY, and keep them cool playing in water and dirt.
My son, who has CF, requires much higher levels of all the fatty vitamins (A, D, E, and K). He takes vitamins specially formulated for CF kids. He also spends LOTS of time outside without a shirt and very little sunscreen. We've been doing that since he was a tiny baby, and he hasn't suffered any sunburn. He also eats LOTS of fish--specifically salmon. Our family LOVES salmon, especially O. We got him hooked at a young age on smoked salmon, and now he gobbles up any fish I put in front of him. Also, I highly recommend the fish market at Whole Foods. It's fresh, and they are VERY knowledgeable about their product. They'll answer all your questions and then some. O also likes taking fish oil--eeck! I take mine in pill form, but he ENJOYS the liquid! Yuck, yuck, and double yuck!
At O's yearly CF exam (he goes quarterly, but once a year is the "big one" where they do all the blood work) his vitamin levels are checked. We've always done his exam in April, and his vitamin D levels have been low. I completely attribute that to the fact that we had spent the majority of the winter and early spring indoors. This year we bumped his appointment to May, and with just one month's difference his levels were normal. Now that he's older I think it will be easier to get him outside during the snowy months, but if necessary, he'll get an extra supplement.
I'm definitely NOT against giving kids vitamins, but I also try to let what God has created work on it's own. At the same time I use what He has given me to it's best (eating well, taking care of myself, eating the abundance of things he created to keep us well, enjoying the glorious sunshine, etc.) That can also mean in some cases that a supplement is necessary for good health.
Info on vitamin D and breastmilk:
Monday, September 22, 2008
I love MckMama's Not Me! idea of therapy, so here goes:
I most certainly did not start the day at 4:30 this morning by getting my wailing 10 month old out of her crib, and into bed with me. Of course, my 3 year old certainly didn't wake up just seconds after I finally got the baby back to sleep. Oh, no, no. My babies sleep like perfect angels.
I did not allow my son to use a marker to give his legs zebra stripes. No, not me. I did not allow my daughter to shred the newspaper into bits underneath the kitchen table. Nuh-uh, no way, I always closely supervise my kids.
I absolutely did not spend way too much time on facebook connecting with old friends, or updating my blogs. No, not when the house is a mess.
I never ever thought today "Who are these kids, and why do they keep calling me Mom?" No, not me.
I surely did not cringe when my husband said he had rehearsals tonight, meaning he would be gone for a total of 18 hours today. No, not this strong supportive wife. No, not me.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
After much begging, pleading, nagging, arm-twisting, and bribing--I somehow convinced these two amazing ladies to join forces with me to enhance Nurtured Mother's services for women in Northern Colorado. Hooray!!!
I was blessed to experience their expertise first-hand, as they were both serving as my doulas at the birth of my daughter. Kristin brings the wisdom of both mainstream medicine and alternative medicine, and is the mother of 3 beautiful children. Billie's compassionate strength is only matched by her gentle touch, and she is the mother of an adorable baby boy. (Okay, for those of you who have already put two-and-two together: Billie is also my sister-in-law, and that adorable boy is my nephew! I'm allowed to gush over that cutie anytime I want!)
They'll be writing-in from time to time here on the blog, so check back often to hear from these awesome ladies.
I'll be updating the website (www.nurtured-mother.com) with more information on Billie and Kristin, and the services they offer soon too.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
O requires more calories than the average 3-year old boy (some days it feels like he consumes more than the average full grown hippo). So, I'm always on the look out for great recipes that are high-calorie, but also nutritious for his overall well being (and the rest of the family's).
I found a great site: www.cfnutrition4life.com with some interesting recipes. Since Matt was headed for the great outdoors last weekend, I decided that it was time to try my hand at granola bars.
Link to the recipe:http://www.cfnutrition4life.com/cfnu/readarticle.php?article_id=121
My end product (one day I'll remember to take pictures during the process):
Notes: I added a 1/2 c more oats and some dried cranberries to my first batch. I didn't have chocolate chips, so I chopped up some dark chocolate bars. I reduced the amount of honey in the second batch to 1/2 cup.
Foodie Finds: Yummy! O loves these bars. Full of great vitamins, minerals, good fats, and CHOCOLATE--what could be better? Matt said it made a great tasting back-packing snack. However, it is almost too sweet for my taste, and very sticky. Matt wanted something he could just eat with his hands on the trail, and this wouldn't even stay in "bar" form.