Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What A Difference Some Milk Makes

I want to blog about this time in Susannah's life mostly for memory's sake, but also to share some cute pictures :)

Susannah and her Uncle Luke

From the very beginning of Susannah's life, people have told us over and over, "she'll eat when she's hungry". But we have eventually figured out with each "stage" that for Susannah, that's not exactly true.

When she was just a few days old, she would cry and scream from hunger, but be too impatient to nurse. People told us "she'll eat when she's hungry"... but she WAS hungry, and wouldn't eat. With lots of patience, some help from a friend, and lots of practice on both mine and Susannah's part, she learned to nurse.

Fast forward to several months ago, and she started occasionally basically refusing to eat anything that wasn't pureed to smithereens. She had been eating chunkier foods, but wouldn't. Again, people told us "she'll eat when she's hungry". That time we figured out that she was teething... and pureed all of her foods which she would then eat heartily. Eventually once her teeth stopped bothering her (and you would never know she was teething), she started eating her usual non-pureed foods again.

To rewind a bit, from the time she was weaned on, about 95% of her liquid intake was whole cows milk. I grew up drinking milk all the time - I actually preferred milk over water - and I just think that milk is the best drink for growing kids. (I know some of you may have different ideas, thoughts or perspectives. I'm not on a "drink milk" campaign in this post.) I didn't think twice about our kids NOT drinking milk most of the time - at least for every meal - while growing up.

Back this summer Susannah started occasionally going through phases where she just would. not. eat. She would take two or three bites of each food and then say she was all done. Sometimes we could get more in her, but sometimes she would just fuss and refuse to eat. It just didn't seem right to me, but trusted people told us "she'll eat when she's hungry". She was drinking milk, so I wasn't extremely worried that she was going to dry up and blow away, but my mama-gut just felt that it wasn't right for her to only eat a couple tablespoons for a meal... or two, or three in a row. It was never consistent enough for me to think I should take her to the Dr., or that something was REALLY wrong... I was just puzzled.

Then she started what we thought was a "sensitive gagger" stage. Sometimes she would just throw up on the most random foods. And throw up EVERYTHING. And then not want to eat anymore (who would?). We started being very careful how much and what she/we put in her mouth. Cleaning up throw-up is not fun. Cleaning a high-chair with it's cracks and crannies full of throw-up is even less fun. I learned really quickly how to get the high-chair clean with little effort:

Run it through the "high-chair car wash"

Susannah's phases of not wanting to eat very much were becoming more frequent, as was her throwing up. Some days she would eat fine, but others - and for a couple days in a row - she would eat like a bird. She was still drinking milk, and drinking plenty of it (she would go through about 1 1/2 gal. a week). And she was still having plenty of wet diapers and a normal amount of dirty ones.

A couple weeks ago we went on a weekend vacation, and she threw up TWICE during that time. She would act hungry, but then only eat a little bit. Cheerios were about the only thing she would eat. A few days after we got home, she was not wanting to eat. It was day 3, I think, of her barely eating at each meal and I was really pushing her to eat more food (she was down to eating 1, maybe 2 Tbsp. of food at a meal) because I just knew that she needed the food. No one can convince me that she was eating enough. Getting enough milk, yes. Getting enough FOOD, no. She still wasn't looking sick or like she wasn't healthy, she just wouldn't eat. Anyway, back to the meal... I pushed her to eat one more bite, and as soon as it went in her mouth ALL of her supper and then some came back up.

Because my stomach wanted to flip-flop, too (pregnancy!), because I was frustrated with myself for having pushed her one-bite-too-far, and because I was frustrated that she wasn't eating (though not frustrated AT Susannah), I called for Daniel to come take over right away. I went outside and sat on the steps for some fresh air and eventually cried for a bit.

My mama-gut just knew something wasn't right. I just could not for the life of me figure out what. Was she going through a picky stage? But on good days she would eat just about anything. Does she have a sensitive gagger? But why so sensitive? WHAT was making it so she didn't want to eat?? WHAT was making her throw up?? I was frustrated and did not know what to do. Should I take her to the Dr? Do I call a friend and see if she has any suggestions? Do I just assume that "she'll eat when she's hungry" and not worry about her only eating maybe 1/4 cup of food a day?? (And she wasn't snacking, either... she would ask for a cracker but then not eat it, which was also strange to me.)

I finally realized I had not done the one thing I should've already done: I had not prayed about the situation. In desperation (why do I seem to always wait for the situation to get desperate?!) I silently cried out to God asking Him WHAT is the matter? WHAT am I doing wrong? WHY isn't she eating? WHY is she throwing up? I don't know what to do!! HELP!!! Show me!!!

Within 5 minutes, Daniel came out to gently ask if I was ok. I told him I didn't know... I was frustrated and didn't know what the problem was or what to do. Out of no-where he said "I wonder if it's the milk."

It was as if God answered my prayer right then and there. Is it the milk? But she drinks milk... and likes to drink milk. But she drinks a LOT of milk. And Daniel's family (and Daniel himself) have some sensitivities to milk (and yogurt and ice cream). I had never thought of milk before.

That evening Susannah did not have any more milk to drink. Of course she had emptied her stomach contents (which obviously included the milk she'd had after her nap and for supper), so she was starting with a "clean" stomach. We gave her water for the rest of the day.

The next morning when she woke up, the first thing she did was sign "eat". I cannot tell you what my heart and emotions did to see her asking to eat. I gave her some juice - instead of milk - while I fixed her breakfast and she chugged down the entire sippy cup full. And then ate more food at that breakfast than she had eaten in all 3 meals the day before. I continued to give her water instead of milk over the course of the morning, and by lunch-time she was persistently asking to "eat" again. I fixed lunch for her, a finger-food lunch, but it was the same amount as I usually fixed. But usually she would only eat 2 or 3 pieces of each food, and maybe 1 cracker before declaring "all done". This is what she ate for her first no-milk lunch:

When I saw her putting the food into her mouth... and she kept eating... and it stayed down... and she kept eating... I wanted to cry from happiness and in praise to the Lord.

Since then we have not given her milk to drink. That has been about 2 weeks ago, now, and she continues to amaze me with how MUCH and how WELL she will eat!! Her sensitive gagger issues seem to have gone away, too. It used to be that if her mouth was very full at all, she would gag and throw up. Now she stuffs her mouth TOO full sometimes (before we notice and intervene) and she'll just chew it up and swallow it down! It makes sense to me that if her stomach was feeling "off" she would gag & throw up much, much easier. She has not thrown up once since we took her off milk, either. There have been a few times that she's started to swallow something too soon, and has to "work it back up"... and I nervously wait for her to throw up but she doesn't.

My only regret is that I didn't weigh her when we first took her off milk. Again, there was no noticeable weight-loss (She's always been in the 50th - 90th percentile range for her size/age.), she was not thin or sick looking, and there hasn't been any noticeable weight-gain, but I'm sure she's put on a few pounds in that short time just because she is eating so much more than she ever did before!

I am starting to research other options for milk for Susannah. Goats milk and almond milk will probably be my first experiments. If milk, period, is an issue I am content with letting her get her calcium from non-dairy sources, but milk is my no. 1 choice. Milk products (yogurt and ice cream, two things that bother Daniel if he has too much) will only be trial and error, or taking it easy on those foods until she is able to communicate if they bother her stomach or not. Currently yogurt is one and only thing she refuses to eat. She will ask for a taste but then won't touch the first taste. I think that probably is a mind thing ;)

Again, her issue with milk is totally a home-diagnosis. It's not a "proven" fact, but her 180° turn-around is evidence enough for me. I will probably mention it to her Dr. at the next visit, just so he is "in the know", but I don't plan to have any testing done.

Now I just praise the Lord for answering my prayer so quickly, for giving Daniel the thought that "maybe it's milk", and that Susannah is EATING again!!

Susannah and her dolly early one morning.
She used to hate wearing a hat, but after we gave her a dolly
(who has a hat), she likes to wear her own hat :)

My two lessons from this are:
~Pray! Before the situation gets "desperate".
~Trust my mama-gut feelings.

*I want to add that Daniel and I did talk through his own sensitivities to milk to hopefully get a grasp of how milk might be affecting Susannah. Daniel said that he grew up eating cereal & milk every morning for breakfast... but it wasn't until he went away to college and then came back home (and started eating cereal and milk for breakfast again) that he realized his stomach hurt every time he had milk. And he said "I didn't want to eat, either, when my stomach hurt." Now Daniel can have a bowl of cereal or ice cream occasionally, but if he has them two days in a row it starts to bother his stomach. Milk or milk products in things don't seem to bother him, unless it's something like white sauce, a breakfast casserole with lots of milk in it, or something similar that is mostly milk. He gets cheese every day on both his breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and it doesn't bother him, so cheese is becoming more a part of Susannah's diet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Goals For 9/26 - 9/30

Last week, inspired by Alicia, I wrote out a short list of goals that I wanted to accomplish or at least aim for over the course of the week. I even wrote them out on a pretty, new, magnetic note-pad that I'd gotten inexpensively and hung it on the frige so I could see my goals right under my nose.

Not only were they visual reminders of what I wanted to get done (above and beyond the normal housework), but it was motivation to DO them so I could cross them off and know that task was behind me. I liked it! I got some extra things accomplished that otherwise I may have just shoved off "till another day" or might have only done one or two of them.

This week I have some new goals, but I am also continuing some from last week, too, for longer projects.

*BE in bed by 10:30 - 10:45 each night. I discovered last week that "go to bed" was really "start getting ready for bed" (which if you read Davene's post about going to bed, you know that it can take a while to actually GET there!). So this week my goal is to BE IN THE BED by that time.

*De-clutter the dining room table and china hutch. 2 flat surfaces. Need I say more?

*Write 1 hand-written note.
I don't know if I will do this every week, but I do have another thank-you note I need to write :)

*Spend 1 hour on bookwork.
Updating the budget weekly is one of my goals for this year, and as I still need to balance the checkbook... I need to spend some time getting on top of everything.

*Spend 1 hour working on Susannah's baby book.
Another project that I want to have finished by the end of this year, so I need to just work on it regularly.

*Order my birthday present from Daniel :)
Back before my birthday, he asked what I wanted. I gave him a list of ideas, but he hasn't had a chance to go shopping yet. One of the things on my list is on a pretty significant sale right now, and it's also something I was going to get anyway... so when I was talking to him about getting it, he said "well, I was going to get it for you for your birthday, do you mind ordering your own birthday present?"

This week's list is not as long or time consuming as last weeks, because I do have some extra things that I have to do that will take some time. But I think this list is manageable and hopefully achievable!

A quick review of last week's goals and my progress:

*Go to bed between 10:30 and 10:45 each night.
- This did not happen each night. It DID happen a couple nights, and most nights I was in bed by 11 or 11:30. It was still progress, just not all the way where I want to be right now. Surprisingly, though, I did not feel any more rested ... some nights I just didn't sleep well, and others I don't know. So, more rest is certainly something I should strive for.

*Make an appointment to get the cat fixed. - This DID happen! Yay! The cat goes next week for her fix.

*Organize freezers. - This was my BIG, BIG project for the week, and I managed to get it done! I discovered that we only have 4 beef roasts left :( But we have several packages of steaks, enough strawberry jam to feed an army, and I have decided that I will be taking cherry or blueberry baked goods to any Bible Studies or food occasions. We have a LOT of cherries and blueberries in the freezer! I am so happy that we have them, but I often forget that they are there.

*Write 1 handwritten note. - Done!

*Spend 1 hour on bookwork. - Over the course of 3 days and collectively about 1 1/2 hours I managed to get the budget on the computer up to date. Yay!

*Spend 1 hour working on Susannah's baby book. - For some reason I dreaded sitting down Saturday afternoon to do this, but once I got into it, I enjoyed it. And didn't want to stop when 1 hour was up :) I still need to go back and upload and order the prints I picked out for the pages I worked on (they were loading too slow on Saturday), but that will hopefully be quick and easy.

*Put away canned pears. - This took me a couple days, but I managed to do it. Most of them squeezed into the last empty space in the pantry, and 7 quarts ended up on top of the frige. But THEY ARE OFF MY COUNTER!! Woot!!

*Blog. - Done :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Making Some Goals

I can be a list maker. I enjoy being able to draw a line through a task and see the progress I am making with what I need to do. This summer and fall lists fell by the wayside as I was busy with the garden, freezing produce and canning fruit.

Now that I think that is all behind me (finally, shew!) I need to start using lists again. They help me keep on track and overall, my days go better and I get more done when I use a list. (Staying focused and not getting distracted makes a big difference, too, huh? :P) I have my daily to-do lists pretty much memorized: laundry, kitchen, etc. I know what day of the week I do what laundry and basically what cleaning. I make those lists mostly for the enjoyment of crossing things off, and to help me stay focused and keep things prioritized if the day gets out of sorts.

Alicia recently posted about making lists of goals. I have a list of goals for this year, and I look over it from time to time and think "yikes, I need to get busy on ____!"... and then forget about it until I look at that list again (which hangs on the side of the frige). Anyway, Alicia's post made me think that I would probably benefit from making some weekly goals and writing them out... and actually try to accomplish them. I don't know that I would do this EVERY week, but since there are some things I really do need to do, and have just been putting off, it can't do any harm.

This evening marks the end of a vacation period for us. So, tomorrow starts a "new" week (on a Tuesday - that'll throw me off for several days!), one that I have some goals for. As soon as we were home and settled in a bit, I grabbed a sheet of paper and made a list. I wanted to make a long list of everything I need/want to do, but I made myself keep it reasonable. I hope. I should at least get SOMEthing done!

For fun and for accountability, here are my goals for this week:

*Go to bed between 10:30 and 10:45 each night. With the idea that I'll rest better, get more sleep and feel all energetic and bubbly and want to jump out of bed in the mornings :)
*Make an appointment to get the cat fixed. Yeah, major procrastination here. If it doesn't happen soon we'll end up with a winter litter of kittens!
*Organize freezers. Oh boy, are they ever out of sorts and full! To the point that I dread digging through the chest freezer for food that I know is in there but don't want to get out. This is my BIG goal for this week.
*Write 1 hand-written note. Because hand-written is nice, and I have some grandparents and great-aunts/uncles that would enjoy a note.
*Spend 1 hour on bookwork. Looooong overdue. Like, barely touched for... months.
*Spend 1 hour working on Susannah's baby book. I started it this spring, I fully plan to finish it (at least as much as possible since I think it goes on for a couple years) by the end of this year.
*Put away canned pears. Which really means, figure out where in the world I'm going to put them and put them there. They have been taking up a large section of counter-space ever since I canned them, and I just need to figure out where they are going to be stored.
*Blog. :) Something that I think about way more than I really do. So, once I hit "publish" I'll be able to cross this off my list! I do hope to get another post up this week, but if I don't I will still have blogged!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Sleeping in the frog position one night :)

Wanting to post more about our sweet Susannah, I thought a Tiny Talk Tuesday post would be fun. Susannah is now 18 months old (wow, how time flies!!) and is changing every day.

One thing she has learned recently (all on her own) has been to imitate a rooster's cockadoodle-doo. Her version is quite cute, of course, since she says it "gogn-gogn-gogn!" ("o" having the same sound as the "o" in "ostrich") Sometimes if we ask her "what does the rooster say?" she'll respond with her rooster sound, but usually she makes that sound when we are listening to a specific song on one of her Cedarmont Kids CDs that has a rooster sound in it.

One of her secret fun things to do is to dig through the bathroom drawers. That is not allowed, but she does get in them from time to time before I realize she is being too quiet. I had to move the Q-tips out of the drawer after finding her "cleaning her ears" with them one day. She has never seen Daniel or I use Q-tips to clean our ears, so she is only picking up on that from the occasional time that I use one to clean her ears during baths!

She is obviously very observant. Last week she was "helping" me load the dishwasher and saw that something had dripped onto the dishwasher door. She started making "eww, yuck!" exclaiming-type noises and reaching for the sink. I figured out that she wanted the dish-rag, and after handing it to her (and I pushed the bottom basket in) she wiped up the drips! That was a new thing for her, too, to ask for the dish-rag and want to wipe drips!

Singing. Oh, does she love to listen to singing!! And she can be picky about what she listens to as well! She loves the Cedarmont Kids CDs (Bible songs) the most. Often when we are riding in the car she will start asking for something, and motioning to the front of the car. It took us a while to figure out that she was asking for her music! Sometimes she sings along, which is fun to listen to. If we sneak in a different CD, after a while she will ask for HER music back!

She loved the rocking chairs at our cabin.

Along the lines of music and singing, this past weekend we had a mini-vacation with some of Daniel's family. The first night we sat around singing with Daniel and his dad playing guitars. Susannah walked into the middle of it all and holding onto a chair, started dancing and singing - and singing fairly loudly, too! For her dancing, she mostly bounced up and down and shook her head, but would throw in an occasional rear-end wiggle. It was sweet to hear and fun to watch!! And no, she did not learn to dance from me :)