Stories of life in the suburbs with Husband and our daughter Squishy and son Button!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby Guide: Starting Solids

True or False: You should start feeding your baby on solids at 4 months old.

The fact that you don't have an answer right away proves my point...

How many times do I have to say it?! All babies are different. You have to remind yourself that you are the expert on your baby. You'll know when your little one is ready to move up in the food world. Actually, after doing a lot of research on my own, I found this topic to be very controversial. Here is some information that I found really helpful.  However, before you read any further, here is my disclaimer. *DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained medical professional, dietitian, pediatrician, etc. Always do what is best for your family.

Moving right along...

Squishy's four month appointment with our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. Baby, went very well. Squishy's development was right on track, she was gaining plenty of weight with the soy formula, and she was deemed "perfect" by Dr. Baby with the exception of her skin issues. Her eczema is a lifelong fight, so we take it one day at a time. We were also told that she could start solids. Could does not mean should in every case.

As a new parent, I'm always waiting for what's next with my baby. When will she roll over? When will she crawl? What's her first word going to be? I wouldn't say it's necessarily "hard" to live in the now with a new baby. But when the whole world is in front of them, we can sometimes get lost in our own day dreams of opportunity. We always want what's next. At four months old, what's next is the possibility of starting solids.

Husband and I went home from that appointment knowing that we were not starting solids at four months old. First, we wanted to wait until after our pediatric allergist appointment, in case he had anything to say about Squishy's food allergies. Second, I found some information about baby development that gave me an "A-ha" kind of moment when it came to the question of when to start solids. I decided to follow this set of guidelines.

Don't start solids until:
  • Baby weighs 15 pounds or doubles birth weight.
  • Baby can sit with some assistance. 
  • Baby can hold head steady.
  • Making chewing motions, not just sucking.
  • Watching or showing interest in adults eating food.
  • The extrusion reflex or "spit out" reflex is gone. 
They all make sense to me, but the last one convinced me. I found that the reflex to spit out solid food is linked to intestinal maturity. Isn't the human body amazing that a baby's brain will tell the tongue to "Spit that out!" because it's intestines can't digest it properly yet? I thought that was incredible.

We went to see our pediatric allergist, Dr. Tiny Allergies, when Squishy was 4 1/2 months old. He was highly accredited and his office was a 5 minute drive away from our apartment. It's like a double bonus (or a double rainbow). He gave us great news in regards to Squishy's allergies to milk and eggs. Pending another blood test when she's two years old, she has a 75-95% chance of outgrowing her milk and egg allergies. So on top of no eggs, milk, or nuts, we were to avoid wheat until she was re-tested.

Once a week I would make a tiny amount of baby rice cereal and test Squishy's extrusion reflex. It was around 5 1/2 months that her tongue started moving food to the back of her throat and she started swallowing the cereal. I was really excited! I introduced each new food item carefully, and watched for allergic reactions. Research suggests that a baby should have one food for at least three days at a time. I mixed the flavors with a bit of rice cereal. She enjoyed everything except peas. Also, Squishy was an automatic pro at eating. She was never messy. I attribute this skill to waiting until she was ready to eat solids rather than forcing the spoon on her.

After her 6 month appointment with Dr. Baby, we moved to level two foods, avoiding oatmeal mixes (they contain wheat). Squishy is still on a predominantly soy formula diet, and will be for the rest of her first year. She still gets a solid meal twice a day. She will eat a four ounce jar of fruit straight or a vegetable mixed with a little rice cereal. She loves eating! She opens her mouth for every bite, chews and inspects each new flavor, and never spits it out. If she doesn't like something she'll keep her mouth open and make a gross face until the whole bite falls out.

Tell me your "starting solids" story! What's your baby's favorite food to eat?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recipes: French Silk Pie

This is a must for any chocolate lover! First, I think a chocolate dish is only as good as the chocolate you put in it. I use Ghirardelli, I recommend you do the same or something similar. Second, I would highly recommend a standing mixer (Kitchen Aide), or something like that. This requires 15-20 minutes of heavy whipping. So if you don't have a stand mixer, hopefully your obsession with chocolate will carry you through. Third, this recipe has raw eggs so preggies, young children, and the like should avoid eating raw eggs.  Here we go...

French Silk Pie:

Pie Filling:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli) *If you only have semi-sweet here's what you do: Measure out the cup of sugar and subtract one T. for each ounce of semi-sweet you're using. Example: 4 oz. semi-sweet = 1 cup minus 4 T. sugar. The flavor of the two chocolates is different, but the texture of the pie will be very similar.
4 eggs (fresh)

1 tsp. gelatin
2 T. cold water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

I use an 8 inch store bought Oreo crust. Any crust you want will work for this pie, up to 9 inches. The crust should be made and cooled before hand.

To make the filling:
  1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly. *If you don't have a double boiler, but a mixing bowl over a pot with a little simmering water. 
  2. With the paddle attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add sugar and mix until blended. 
  4. Add melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until blended. 
  5. With the whisk attachment, add eggs one at a time. Beat for at least 5 minutes each. *This makes the filling set perfectly, dissolves all the sugar for a smooth and creamy texture. 
  6. Pour filling into prepared pie crust, chill for at least two hours or until set. 
WAIT! Don't eat the filling out of the crust! I know it's delicious and you probably already scraped a bit off the top, but the pie isn't complete yet.

To make whipped topping and finish:
  1. Add gelatin to cold water in small pan. Set this over boiling water until it is clear. Do not stir. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile whip the cream until it is medium thick. 
  3. Pour all the gelatin mixture into the center of cream while mixer is going.
  4. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. 
  5. Continue to beat until cream stands in stiff peaks.
  6. Spread evenly over set pie filling. 
  7. Garnish with semi-sweet chocolate shavings.
  8. Chill until whipped cream is set, about 2 hours.
A set up of what I used, not pictured: vanilla.

Action shot of whipping the eggs in.

8 inch Oreo crust, with about 1/2 cup of filling left over.

Fully set filling and whipped cream. 

Top: 9 inch with flaky crust.
Bottom: 8 inch with Oreo crust.
My dad really wanted this recipe so we made two pies a little differently. The top pie is a flaky Pillsbury crust, and he used semi-sweet chocolate. He also subtracted more sugar. The verdict after 7 people tried both was the unsweetened chocolate filling with the flaky crust. You can do whatever you want. This is great for dinners, parties, get-togethers, and it's easy to mix and match to fit your preferences. 

Possible modifications:
Subtract a few T. of sugar for less sweet.
3 oz of chocolate will be less dense when set (more of a mousse).  
Crust to fit your liking. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walking with Squishy

All winter long, Minnesotans sit inside on those super cold and windy days. We watch storms, shovel, and wear sweaters, and knit scarves. We get colds, flus, and dry skin and static hair. We wait...until geese come back. Then we look outside and say:

Spring, is that you? 

Indeed. Spring is here. I'm thrilled. We had some mishaps the last couple weeks, but now I think it's really going to stay. Last year I was a preggie, and very sick during this time. Then I was planning a wedding. I had very little time to enjoy this season last year. By the time summer rolled around, I was getting pretty big and uncomfortable. Squishy was born just as the leaves were turning. Then the long harsh winter. She stayed inside for the first 6 months of her life. She loves looking outside at the weather, the town homes across the street, the cars driving past, and the people on the sidewalks. Well, a few days ago, I broke out the stroller and we joined them! 

Squishy was fascinated with what we call "the outside". We walked around the neighborhood and ended up at the park a few blocks away. She had her first swing ride. She kept pursing her lips and saying "hmm hmm hmm" at everything. I think that directly translates to "Mommy! We're outside, did you know? This is awesome, I love it. Let's be outside forever!" 

Once we got home she was so happy and energetic! I really think the fresh air put a quarter in her. 

Minnesotans do not take this season for granted, that is for sure. We will definitely be walking every day. To track our walks, and for some personal motivation, I put a new Widget on Expert Mommy! From DailyMile, I can document each walk, our mood, and where we went. You can find this on the right sidebar! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flower Genocide

Expert Mommy Press: Mid April, 2011

Minnesota had the distinct and pleasant taste of Spring a few weeks ago, but it all came crashing down when swift and sudden blankets of snow coated the only recently cleared grassy knolls of suburban Minneapolis. 

"It's horrible, because we wait for the nice weather with giddy anticipation all winter long," said one woman. Devastated, many of these Scandinavians turned on the local forecasters, demanding answers on news stations' Facebook pages, some weather reporters were even accosted while on their way to local Starbucks.

A plot was also uncovered by local authorities that outlined the kidnapping and interrogation of a groundhog as to why these extra inches of snow were happening so late in the season. It is said that groundhogs, much like psychics, are heavily relied upon in this region to predict exactly how long winter will last.

"We believed him when he saw his was only supposed to be six more weeks! When will this END?!" we caught one conspirator shout with tears running down his face as he was taken away. The groundhog in question was not injured, but he did release the following statement: "It is widely known that Minnesota winters tend to drag on. Groundhogs believe our stereotypical role of predicting the remaining length of time from February 2nd to the end of winter is unrealistic. We just take the job for the money and publicity. We encourage Minnesotans to just wait it out, maybe by focusing their time on a craft or hot dish recipe."

Bill Murray could not be reached for comment at this time.

To some, the random snow falls seem like a bitch slap in the face. We caught up with a hot woman who seemed confused by it all.  "I thought the seasons always went in order, but I guess it just skipped summer and fall and went right back into winter!" the blonde said. She rambled on about other things for a while before asking the interviewer what her own name was.

It was then that we discovered the untold story of the flowers. Flowers are generally thought of as a first sign of spring. Bulbs planted the previous year begin to grow once the soil thaws, giving bloom to tulips and daffodils that brighten a still modestly grey and brown landscape.

After the life cycle of the perennials, gardeners all over began planting annual flowers. It was only shortly thereafter that disaster hit. Out of nowhere the thick blanket of heavy wet snow wiped out the youthful and energetic blossoms. "Poor little things never saw it coming," said one resident, "They should change that saying to 'April showers bring death'". Personal accounts describe the passing of these poor plants as "horrific". Rescue workers were called in hopes of saving the tiny flowers that lay screaming in the cold dirt slowly dying an agonizing death, but there was a cat in a tree that needed mittens. "You need to keep your priorities straight. We cannot have kittens without mittens in this weather," said the fire chief.  Flattened, broken, and slowly shriveling, a large group of pansies was left to die.


"We all know that the flowers brighten our day once winter abates," said a passerby, "but I totally get that thing about the kittens."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finally, Some Answers

After the skin-tastrophe, Squishy's skin was under control. I mean to say it was managable, but not normal by any means. She had moderate to severe eczema on 80% of her body. Her back, face, and knees were the worst places. The only skin that wasn't overrun by red spots and bumps was her baby butt. This was because urine contains a property that kills the bacteria that causes eczema.

Sometimes I was so desparete for her relief that I wrapped a wet diaper around her knees for 20 minutes. And that is what I call "under control".

During this time, Squishy's diet was frozen breast milk. She refused nursing and because of my losing battle with mastitis, we were running low. I had to start weaning her over to formula. I mixed a few ounces here and there into a bottle to get her used to the taste. She didn't like it. She usually got really bad colic after one of the mixed bottles. It wasn't until the third try that something else happened.

Squishy projectile vomited across the couch. All over her, all over me. She started screaming and her body was covered in red hives. I made sure she wasn't struggling to breathe (otherwise I would have called 911), and called Husband at work. My dad came over and I called my mom. Squishy was starting to calm down, I soaked with her in the tub for a little while and changed her clothes. It was obviously an allergic reaction.

After more research, it could have been anything from a protein sensitivity to a full blown allergy to milk. I called the nurse line at the hospital. Their advice was to bring her to the ER in the middle of the night. I didn't want to do that. I knew she was okay, having puked it all out of her system. I stayed up most of the night watching her breathe, though.

The next day, we were back at the doctor's office. Squishy's skin had blown so far out of control I was doing wet/dry wraps again. Our pediatrician decided that it was time to test Squishy for food allergies. Dr. Baby also said we should try a soy formula and see if she reacted to that. It sucks that finding a formula is a trial and error process until we found something that worked.

We went right to the lab down the hall where I had to pin my baby to the exam table so the technician could draw her blood. Squishy had the very best lab technician in the world. Squishy's inner arm was about an inch wide. This woman found a vein and stuck it on the first try. She got the blood draw done in less than one minute. I applaud her and tell all my expert mommy friends about her. She truly found her calling.

I've heard stories of doctors dragging their feet on testing babies as young as Squishy for allergies but I absolutely don't think that happened with us. Although you may be thinking "Why couldn't you see it before?!?!?!" you have to understand that it could all be explained in simpler terms. Colic is in the family, so it we thought it was just colic at night. Squishy also had very sensitive skin. Husband has environmental allergies and asthma, so she was very likely to develop eczema. She had amazing success with the wet/dry wraps. As I said in that post, if they hadn't have worked, Dr. Baby was ready to do an allergy test. It was only three weeks between the baby mummy and the allergy test.

A few days later, we called Dr. Baby again because Squishy was really constipated on the soy formula. We needed laxative advice. Dr. Baby had our answers...

Me: "Squishy hasn't pooped in four days. I'm sure it's because of the formula, what can we give her?"
Dr. Baby: "I was just going to call you. I got Squishy's allergy test back and she's an allergic girl! She's a level 5 (on a 0-5 scale) on egg whites and yolks, a 4.8 on milk, a 5 on peanuts, and an equivocal on soy and wheat meaning she may develop the allergy...."

I was devastated. My sister has a full blown milk allergy that started when she was in her 20s, and described it as the worst pain on earth. Squishy was given heavy doses of milk and eggs every day from breast milk. This was causing all her skin problems. I ate scrambled eggs almost every day, and would keep Squishy in just a diaper in the morning to air out her skin and lotion her. I would rub lotion all over her with my hands that had just prepared and eaten eggs, causing her skin to erupt constantly. I felt horrible knowing that she had gone through all that pain and discomfort, but we finally had our answers. Squishy would not have to suffer much longer.

She was prescribed an EpiPen Jr. and we got a powder laxative (Miralax) to keep her regular. We also got referred to a very good pediatric allergist.

Husband and I changed our routine. We took turns eating to avoid cross-contamination, washed our hands constantly, did a deep clean of our eating area, the kitchen, and Squishy's toys. Within 2 weeks, Squishy was like a different baby. She rarely cried after bottles (which was a change from red-faced hysterical colic for hours), and her skin cleared up immensely.

This is before her allergy diagnosis:

You can see her face, hands, and legs are covered
in red, dry bumps. 
This is after her allergy diagnosis:
Her skin is bright and clear.
Her cheeks, arms, legs, back, and hands are smooth. 
 Now we manage her skin with frequent baths with long soak times in clean water. We use only Aveeno baby products for bath and body, specifically Eczema Therapy lotion. To help her cradle cap (which causes a lot of itching and scratching), I start each bath with an olive oil head massage to loosen the scabs. After the bath she gets a full body lotion massage, anti-itch medication, and time to air out on a clean, dry towel.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Recipes: Slow Cooker Carnitas

This one took me three times to perfect. I like to do most of the prep the night before, it helps the flavors really get to the meat. You can do the prep work the morning if you prefer. Either way, it cooks all day while you're doing your expert mommy thing and you come home to a few simple steps, and you have an authentic, perfectly spiced, awesome, flavorful meal. Enjoy my version of....

Slow Cooker Carnitas
3-4 pound pork blade roast
1 cup diced red onion
1/8 cup minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup minced jalapeno
1 1/2 T. chopped fresh oregano
3 T. olive oil
3 tsp. ground corriander
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
3 bay leaves
1 cup low sodium chicken or beef broth
1 cup water
one lime

  1. Combine all dry spices (save bay leaves) in a medium bowl. Set aside. 
  2. Cut pork roast into several large pieces. Coat each piece with dry mix, place in slow cooker. 
  3. Drizzle olive oil on meat. 
  4. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, and oregano to slow cooker. *At this point I cover it, put it in the fridge, and add liquid and cook first thing in the morning. You can do all the prep in the morning before you cook it if you want. 
  5. Add broth and water to slow cooker. 
  6. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. 
  7. Line a jelly roll pan with tin foil. Turn on oven broiler.
  8. When meat is done cooking, shred with two forks and stir all contents together. 
  9. Drain extra fluid from the shredded meat in a colander.
  10. Spread meat on foil and broil for 10-13 minutes until top is crisp.
  11. Squeeze one lime worth of juice on meat. 
  12. Serve with warm tortillas and all your favorite toppings. EDIT: Top with cheese, sour cream, pico, avocado, fresh cilantro is also a must. 

Jalapeno, garlic, fresh oregano, onion.
Cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne
Coated meat pieces with onion, oregano, garlic, and jalapeno.
At this point I cover, refrigerate, and go to bed.
In the morning, I add liquid and start cooking.
After 10 hours.
Shredded and mixed.
Drained and on foiled pan.
Broiled for 12 minutes.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Minnesota Nice, Mostly

    I talk about Minnesota a lot in this blog. Minnesota is a big part of my life, seeing that I was born here. I was a trick-or-treater in "The Great Halloween Blizzard of 1991". I have that "Minnesota Nice" in me. I know how to say Mahtomedi, Wayzata, and Shakopee (I even know how to get there). Blogger is obviously not from Minnesota, beacuase it just told me via the squiggly red lines that I can't spell any of those cities' names.

    I have always loved Minnesota. Husband is also a pure-bred Minnesotan. Ever since Squishy was born, we both planned to stay in Minnesota for as long as possible. Our families are here, jobs are here, and Target is right down the street. Gotta love that, right? You betcha!

    We do have several pot holes, though. Oh, and road construction. And long winters. But everywhere has it's fair share of "You know you're from             when" lists. Here's what happens when you put a seasoned Minnesotan in a room full of...non-Minnesotans:

    I went to an out-of-state school for a little over a year after high school. I was once asked by a guy if we had wild polar bears in Minnesota. I attempted to brush off this little stab at my heritage, being the only non-hick in the room. Then I looked at his face and realized he was seriously asking me. See, he worked for UPS at the time. He told me that he sent several packages to and from a place in Minnesota called White Bear Lake. I centered myself. I wanted to see how far I could take this before I either got called out, or just melted into hysterical laughter... and with the average I.Q. in this group dropping by the second, my guess was it would be the latter. 

    Me: "Only for about a month, because of their migratory patterns, hibernation, mating. You know, things like that. But sometimes you will see them in heavily wooded areas. They like to stay away from roads."

    They lapped it up. I sounded like I knew exactly what I was talking about. I also used big words like "migratory" and "wooded". I took it one step further and said that if you had a big yard with lots of trees you could put out a few salt licks and they would come right up to your house. I looked around at my captive audience, all staring at me with bewilderment, amazement, and other synonyms for "shocked" on their faces. This story only worked because these COLLEGE STUDENTS were not from "the North", and quite possibly had never taken a geography lesson, or read a 2nd grade book about polar bears. Also that I am very convincing in my story telling when I want to be. I almost got to the part where my family took a dog sled to the local merchant tribe for fur-lined moose hide gloves to protect us from the elements. Why a local merchant? Because Target was out.

    Yes, I did set the record straight. Eventually. 

    I should write a thank you note to the Mayor of White Bear Lake for that stunningly entertaining evening.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Baby Guide: Extreme Eczema

    Squishy was born at the end of a Minnesota summer, and we fell full force into Minnesota winter, which is comparably...colder and dryer. Oh, and we get snow sometimes. These shifts in weather can send a person's skin on a roller coaster ride. Especially if your skin is brand new.

    Squishy's skin had never been soft. She always had eczema. Her whole body was constantly covered in red bumps, dry patches, and had a scaly texture. We thought it was the weather. It got gradually worse. 

    The thing that bugged me was that no baby skin product made her skin better. It only got worse. We had tried Cetaphil, Aquaphor, Johnson's, and California Baby.  The worst spot was her left cheek, all the way back to her earlobe. It was so gradual I didn't notice how bad it had gotten. We went to the doctor when her arms and legs felt like dragon skin, and her cheek looked like this:

    Our pediatrician, who we love, said it's the worst case of baby eczema she's ever seen on a three month old. She called in another doctor and they discussed possible treatment options, prescriptions, and diagnoses. They couldn't put their finger on exactly what was going on with Squishy's face. They decided to give us everything but a hospital trip. They said this was how a hospital would treat her skin. If it didn't work after two days, she would do an allergy test. We went to Target and bought them out of the dressings we needed, and filled her prescriptions. Here's what we did:
    • Anti-bacterial ointment on face (Mupirocin-prescription)
    • Steroid cream on elbows and back of knees (problem areas, never on face).
    • Lotion (Aveeno Eczema Therapy Baby) on body. 
    • Wet gauze on cheeks, forehead, knees, upper and lower arms. All wet gauze covered in dry gauze then wrapped in dressing bandages to keep it in place. Leave on for one hour. Repeat. FOR TWO DAYS!

    It took about an hour to change the dressings. It for sure took two people. She didn't mind being all wrapped up. We could tell she felt better right away. After two days of this....

    You can see all the red bumps on her leg, elbow, hand, back, and neck that weren't covered.
    She looked like this: 

    The purpose of the wet dry wraps was to force moisture into the skin. They worked like a charm. From then on her skin was maintainable. Our favorite brand for skin care is Aveeno Baby.

    UPDATE (April 12, 2014) 

    This is the most viewed post of my entire blog! I still get comments requesting the exact method that we used for Squishy's eczema flare up. I do still get a notification every time someone leaves a comment so I have been emailing those who leave an email address. 

    Squishy is 3 1/2 and Button is almost 2. Both of them have eczema, dry skin, and food/environmental allergies. We control the allergies with diet and proper doses of benedryl when needed. We use a new lotion that works on both kids really well. It's Cerave in the tub. I get it in the tub because the formula is slightly different if you get the pump bottle so I recommend the tub. It's available at most drug stores or online. 

    UPDATE (April 2016) 

    I still get emails requesting the step by step instructions for the wet/dry wraps. I try my best to respond as soon as I see those emails. Squishy and Button still have eczema, food allergies, and environmental allergies. Eczema flares with weather and additional illness for them. Plus Button does self-soothe with scratching, he also scratches in his sleep sometimes.

    We use Benedryl, Zyrtek, Advil, and prescribed medications to control their allergies now. For their skin, we use Cerave in the tub.

    UPDATE (Jan 2017)

    I have replied or emailed every comment through the end of January 2017. I found a really good blog covering a lot of eczema routine and supply lists.

    Have your little one allergy tested if eczema persists. It can be done on young babies. Both of my littles were allergy tested with a blood test at 12 weeks old. They have both been scratch tested before age 5.

    Here's a link to the blog I found. This is a link directly to the wet dry wraps post. I also suggest searching YouTube for wet dry wraps. I hope it helps you!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Mastitis Freaking Hurts!

    I've taken a college level medical terms course, so I can tell you that mastitis means unbearable pain. No, it actually translates literally to "swollen breast". You got that right.

    Mastitis is one of those things that got mentioned to me offhandedly during pregnancy, or right after Squishy was born. Who can remember, I was a preggie.

    I was on the phone with a friend talking about babies while walking around the apartment on a normal night. When I sat down after the call, I was suddenly hit with what I thought was the flu. When I say sudden, I mean it. It was like a light switch. I had a 102.5 degree fever and pains everywhere. I didn't know what was going on until I set up to pump before bed. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. My right breast was hot to the touch and had turned bright red. The bottom half was rock hard and pumping was excruciatingly painful. I screamed it hurt so much. Husband rushed over to me in shock and I just broke down crying. I knew right away that I was dealing with a case of mastitis. I was debilitated. I couldn't move in any way that would shift my chest. I couldn't nurse or pump from my right side. That caused even more pain.

    The next day, Husband's parents came over to sit with Squishy while he took me to the doctor. I moaned at every bump in the road, huddled in my seat wishing I were anywhere but there. My fever had abated to a forgiving (ha!) 101.7 at the doctor's office. By this point my right breast was noticeably larger than the left, and I cringed as he tried to examine me as gently as possible.

     I was prescribed an anti-biotic to be taken four times a day for 10 days. I had to take these pills on an empty stomach, which was difficult when I had to eat constantly to keep my energy and milk supply up. The pills started working later that day. Within four days of my diagnosis, the pain was under control and I felt better. This story has a sad ending, however.

    My right side began producing milk at 50% the rate that my left side did. Squishy began rejecting that side because she couldn't get milk fast enough, and started getting really frustrated at breast feeding all together. Thankfully, due to the fact that I was a milk producing machine, we had saved up enough milk to last over two months. This would bring us to just over four months old. I really wanted to go longer than that with the breast feeding, but my body didn't agree.

    We would have to start weaning Squishy off breast milk and on to formula.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Recipes: Chicken Fried Rice

    Husband really likes the fried rice at Benihana. This is surprising since he doesn't really like a bunch of ingredients together. I made sure to make all the veggies really small so he couldn't pick them out.

    Chicken Fried Rice

    3 cups prepared jasmine rice. It needs to be cold when you add it to the rest of the mix. 
    1/2 cup minced red onion
    1 1/2 cups minced vegetables: I used red pepper, corn, garlic, scallions, jalapeno, and pea pods. 
    3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped raw
    2 scrambled eggs
    3 tsp. sesame oil
    4 T. butter
    2 T. chili paste
    salt and pepper to taste
    soy sauce to taste (several large pours)
    1. Cook rice according to directions on box. Rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Chill until needed. *It has to be cold when you add it to the wok.
    2. In a wok, cook chicken pieces with 1tsp. sesame oil, chili paste, salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
    3. Scramble the two eggs in the same pan, set aside.
    4. Cook onions for a few minutes in 2 T. butter, then add other veggies and the remaining butter and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender.  
    5. Add rice, eggs, and chicken to the wok, add some soy sauce for color and flavor. 
    6. Mix until warm and everything is coated...serve and enjoy!
    *The butter, chili paste, and sesame oil are approximate measurements so the recipe can be cut in half.
    *Only use one pan for cooking everything to get the most flavor.
    *Have all the chopping prepped and ready when you start cooking the chicken. You'll want everything to stay warm as you're cooking everything else. 
    *Yields 7 cups finished product (pictured below). Easily adjustable.

    Prepared and chilled rice.
    Minced onions. 
    Chopped chicken. 3 breasts is about 2 cups.
    Minced mixed veggies: Garlic, red pepper, pea pods, jalapeno, corn.
    Finished product.
    To reheat: add a little water and microwave OR reheat in a skillet with some water.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Expert Mommy Cooking

    I love cooking. I love baking. I can boil water, brew coffee, chop, dice, simmer, steam, and everything in between. I have a diverse palate. I'm not trying to sound gourmet or anything; I have a point.

    I will try almost any food. Husband will not.

    He eats, for sure. He likes pizza, candy, dessert, bread. But do you know a picky eater? He's pickier. I've known him for ten years, I've dated him, I've lived with him, I married him. This whole time and I'm still learning how to cook for him. 

    He has come a long way. When I started cooking for him, there were complicated rules along with the endless list of foods he had either never tried or didn't like. Examples:
    • No beef
    • No deli meat
    • No fish
    • No cheese other than American
    • Nothing pickled
    • No condiments 
    • No seasonings that can be seen (oregano, rosemary) 
    • No sauces
    • No foods touching (juice from cooked meat leaking into potatoes)
    • No mixed meals (like ingredients mixed on the same plate)
    • No real butter (Butter flavored spread only)
    That was a small portion of the list of requirements. Over the last four years of our relationship, I've introduced new flavors and seasonings one at a time. I've also re-introduced foods that he thought he didn't like, such as steak. I made a sirloin on the George Foreman grill and he loved it. I'm also very honest about what things taste like. I wanted him to trust that I wasn't going to trick him into eating something I knew he wouldn't like. He's not a little kid. Sometimes when there is a new item in front of him that someone is telling him to try, he'll look to me. I'll tell him if he won't like it (it meets a taboo flavor requirement, like pickles), if he'll like it, or if I'm not sure, he should taste a little bit and see.

    So now that I'm a full time house manager, I really want to branch out on the food spectrum. I want to try new things. I also don't want to waste food or money on someone who I know isn't going to eat it. Balancing Husband's flavor requirements with my adventurous taste for cuisine is going to be a challenge. Let's see how we stack up.

    This is going to be fun...

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    IUD Destruction

    This is a hard post I've been working on it for a while. It's personal. At the same time, I feel like it should be known, on the off chance that you read it and can relate.

    Eight weeks after Squishy was born, I went back to the midwives for birth control options. I opted for an IUD (Intro Uterine Device). At my one month post-partum check up, I had been given the choice between the copper IUD with no hormones, ParaGard, and the Mirena IUD, which has hormones. As I was told, the hormones in the Mirena are supposed to give a post partum woman light, pain free periods. Eventually they may go away altogether. The period, not the woman. The ParaGard may cause heavy, cramp filled periods that don't lighten over time. I was used to painful, heavy periods. So I opted to make my life easier with the Mirena. I was given the customary literature on both types of IUD, but my midwife covered the basics with me during the appointments. I did my research and was comfortable with my choice.

    In the first four weeks, my skin cleared up (I've had moderate acne on my face since I was 12). Other than that, nothing else changed.

    Over the next month, I changed as a person. I became a depressed, apathetic, angry, hateful, spiteful, irritable, mad person. I hated Husband for no reason. I didn't want to talk. This is the hard one: I met the needs of Squishy when she needed something, but I didn't care. I had lost me. I didn't love, smile, laugh, anything that I used to do. I didn't want to be touched in any way. I didn't kiss, hug, cuddle, or do anything else with my husband for two months. I have a tendency sometimes to be passive aggressive. This was not the same. I just didn't care.

    I didn't realize I was a changed person since the change was slow and subtle. I was a danger to myself and my family. Husband tried bringing it up gently several times. I remember yelling at him, and not listening. It was a few times after that when I saw him start to cry that I thought maybe he was right. He had done his own research and was positive it was the hormones in my Mirena that were to blame. He had me read some testimonials online, and I was convinced. After finding the literature that my midwife had given me on the Mirena, I read that fewer than 5% of users report the following symptoms: nausea, nervousness, high blood pressure, swelling of hands and feet, depression, weight gain, joint pain, random rashes, irritability, apathy, loss of libido....I had everything on the list. I went to the Mirena website, and it took over an hour of reading and searching to find this list of side effects. It was under the FAQ on the bottom, in pale print.

    My Mirena IUD had destroyed me. I needed it out. Now. The next week, I got it taken out and had the no hormone copper ParaGard put in. I told my midwife all about my symptoms, and that the Mirena was horrible. I didn't care about having painful periods, I was used to them anyway. I would have given anything to have my life back.

    It took 3 or 4 weeks for my hormones to balance out and I was getting back to normal. I urge you to talk to your doctor if you are concerned that this is happening to you too. I know that it's not my fault, know that it's not your fault either. It can get better. I'm okay now. My family is happy again. But writing this and remembering the person I became makes me cry.

    It's been over two months with the ParaGard IUD. I've had two periods and they are nothing compared to what they were before pregnancy. Thank you for reading this post. Please pass it along to anyone who might benefit from reading it.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Who is Expert Mommy?

    "Don't do that to that baby."
    "Hold her like this."
    "You're doing that all wrong."
    "Just let him cry."
    "Nothing's wrong, it's just a cough."

    Do any of these sound familiar to you? When you're a new, young parent, like Husband and I, sometimes you get a little too much advice from the older generations. I do like advice, but only when I ask for it. When it gets to the point that I want to tear my own hair out, I just think of this quote and take a deep breath...

    "You are the expert on your children, and I'm the expert on mine."

    That's right. When I was a baby, my mom was there for every second of my life. She knew everything about me. She wouldn't let anything hurt me. It's a special feeling that you only have when you have a baby. It's called that motherly instinct. I call it being an expert mommy. I try my best to brush off the unwanted advice as my mom (or whomever is giving it) as another expert mommy relating to my youth and situation as a young new parent.

    I encourage you to remember this phrase. Use it if you need to.

    I know when Squishy sucks her fingers after a bottle she's tired. I know she doesn't like back snaps or butt ruffles on PJs. She hates sleep sacks. She likes to hold her own bottle. If you put her in the swing she'll poop. If you lotion her face first, you won't make it past her shoulders. I am an expert mommy.

    Here are two stories to illustrate my point...

    The first time I left Squishy with my mom, I was a bit nervous. Not at my mom's babysitting skills, but just because I hadn't left her with anyone outside our apartment. I started talking about everything I could think of from formula measurements, holding positions, and gestures. My mom looked at me with a look on her face.

    My mom: "It's like I've never had a baby before."
    Me: "Well, you've never had my baby. I would appreciate it if you would listen to what I'm telling you so I feel better about leaving her with you."

    I said it with a nervous/mean tone. Squishy did fine with her, she didn't cry once. But that doesn't mean that my mom did a better job than I could have. I'm the expert on my baby.

    My friend's baby has a heart condition, and has had several surgeries. One time, she was nervous about her daughter. The baby hadn't slept and wasn't her happy self, though she wasn't showing any obvious/normal signs of sickness. She decided to take her to the ER and called to tell her parents.

    Her dad said: "You don't need to take her in every time she coughs."
    The nurse at the ER said it was most likely just an ear infection.

    She was admitted for heart failure, underwent a massive surgery a week later, then was placed on the heart transplant list. It all started with my friend having a feeling. An expert mommy feeling.

    Welcome to the club, expert mommies. It's a great group to be a part of.