Archive | May, 2013

Dealing with a Colicky Baby

10 May

So we’re pretty sure that Emma has colic, whatever that is. A colicky baby cries or fusses for 3 hours a day, for 3 days a week, for 3 weeks. It hasn’t been 3 weeks yet but Emma fusses every day, so I think we qualify. I’ve been reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and the author says that fussiness is more characteristic of colic and defines fussiness as “an unsettled, agitated, wakeful state that would lead to crying if ignored by parents” and that colicky babies have “long and frequents bouts of fussing” which would lead to crying if it weren’t for “intensive parental intervention.”

Story of my life.

This week has been a blur of feeding and getting Emma to go to sleep and stay asleep. Who needs to work out when you spend hours a day bouncing a fussy baby on an exercise ball? Seriously, my legs and back are TIRED.

After a little research, it appears that Emma is getting enough sleep, but most of it is in 1-2 hour chunks, with a few 2-4 hour chunks thrown in from about 6 pm to 1 am. The time of day she sleeps the worst is from about 1 am to 8 am. Last night, I just threw in the towel and stayed up watching Modern Family on my iPad instead of trying to sleep through her grunting. It was definitely our worst night by far. She was grunting within 15 minutes of when I put her in her swing.

I finally called our pediatrician’s office the other day and talked to the triage nurse. I told her about all of Emma’s symptoms:

  • Cries after feedings, sometimes during, like she’s frustrated
  • Swallows a lot of air from gulping milk
  • Gets hiccups often, spits up quite a bit, has a lot of gas
  • Wants to eat every 1-3 hours
  • Often wants pacifier after eating but has plenty of dirty and wet diapers
  • Grunts almost all night long, seems to be uncomfortable from gas
  • Yawns all the time, even when she has just woken up, but it still takes a lot of effort to make her go to sleep
  • Generally only sleeps for an hour at a time except for evening – then she’ll go 2-3 hours and every once in a while, 4-5
  • When she seems happy and alert, it lasts for maybe 10-15 minutes before she melts down
  • Goes from happy to screaming in a matter of seconds
  • Often cries for 10-20 minutes no matter what you do, calms down after that but only as long as you’re doing something very specific

The triage nurse was very helpful and gave me these tips to try:

  • Express milk before feeding Emma to minimize gulping and swallowed air.
  • Interrupt her feedings often to burp her. Burp her for several minutes before resuming.
  • Keep her upright for 30-45 minutes after eating.
  • If it’s been less than 2 hours since a good feeding (lasting 20-30 minutes), comfort her in a way other than nursing (since it takes about 2 hours for a full belly to be metabolized). If her last feeding was short, I can feed her when she seems hungry.
  • Eliminate dairy, chocolate and caffeine from my diet for a week.

Pumping milk before feeding Emma will take a little getting used to, especially since it’s pretty tough to predict right now when Emma will want to eat. And when I know she wants to eat, she wants to eat NOW. I can hold her off with the pacifier, but she can’t keep it in her mouth herself, so pumping is kind of a circus act while I juggle the breast pump bottles and her pacifier.

I do think pumping, combined with me reclining during breastfeeding, is making a difference – at the very least, Emma is drinking slower than before. She’s not usually a huge fan of being burped mid-feeding (or at all), unless she’s really uncomfortable. But she settles back down pretty quickly once I put her back to the breast.

Sometimes she likes being upright on my or Travis’ chest and she sleeps pretty well in the Baby Bjorn. But other times, she thinks being upright is horrible. That was the case this morning. Surprisingly, though, she was content laying on her back on the changing table. So I let her lay there for about 10 minutes while I talked to her.¬†(This has inspired yet another idea we’re going to try – putting her on her changing pad mattress in the cradle. She seems to be able to pass gas a lot better laying flat on her back than sitting reclined like she does in her swing.)

As far as the dietary changes go, I’m going to eliminate dairy, chocolate and caffeine like the nurse suggested (which is so sad because those are almost all of my favorite food groups!). I have been avoiding cheese, milk, yogurt and ice cream for the past week, but I was still eating chocolate and processed foods like granola bars that contain milk. So I’m finally going to cut those out too. ūüė¶ Then last night, I ate a Boca burger for dinner and on the off chance that the night went so poorly because I ate soy, I’m also going to cut out soy products. And since peanuts are a well-known allergen as well, I’m thinking that I might switch to eating almond butter instead of peanut butter. I’m also going to avoid eating tomatoes and any tomato-based sauces and condiments, since those have triggered acid reflux for me in the past, and while I’m at it, I might as well cut down on the gluten I eat (since a lot of products that are dairy and soy free are also gluten free).¬†Can you tell I’m desperate to find a solution to Emma’s crying?!?!

In a way, this change will be good for me and Travis because we’ll be forced to eat a lot more whole foods and less processed crap. The only drawback is that whole foods generally require more work than processed foods, and well, time in the kitchen is not something I have a lot of right now. But we’re going to try. ūüėČ So what will I be eating?

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Rice and rice pasta
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Udi’s gluten-free products
  • Larabars
  • So Delicious ice cream and yogurt
  • Amy’s Organic Foods
  • Earth Balance spreads and nut butters
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Almond milk (which is SO not the same as cow’s milk!! I miss it dearly)

The nurse said that if these changes haven’t made a difference in Emma’s fussy behavior by Monday, then they’ll have us come in to have Emma checked out and make sure there isn’t something else going on besides colic.

On a positive note, I haven’t felt as frustrated with Emma the past couple of days. My emotions have switched to just being frustrated with the situation, with an understanding that Emma isn’t being fussy on purpose – she’s just uncomfortable. Poor baby. I keep assuring her that Mommy wants to make her happy and is trying everything she can think of to do so.

But I did just about lose it on our walk this morning with the dogs. Emma had fallen asleep so I thought I’d take advantage of it and go on a longer walk. Well, just 20 minutes into it, she woke up. I turned right around, even though it was earlier than I had planned, because I just had an inkling that she wouldn’t be content very long if she was awake. Sure enough, about a minute later, she started pouting and then crying. She was content if the pacifier was in her mouth, but again, I have to hold it in there. So I ended up tying the dogs’ leash around my waist, taking Emma out of the carseat and holding her while I pushed the stroller all the way back to the house, and keeping the pacifier in her mouth. That juggling act made me feel like a real mom. And it made me vow to not take both the dogs and Emma on a walk again until she outgrows this stage, or Travis comes with.

Do you have any tasty, easy snack ideas that are dairy and soy free?

Emma: 4 Weeks

6 May

This has probably been the hardest week of my life. Emma has had 3 states of being: eating, sleeping and crying. So much crying. Instead of falling asleep after nursing like she had the first couple of weeks, she will now be content for about 10-30 seconds before starting to scream her head off. It takes several minutes just to calm her down, not to mention get her to sleep. There have been a few times when she is alert and seemingly happy, so we do tummy time or walk around talking but they, too, always end in crying.

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We have come up with several theories for why Emma is crying so much now, but before I get into those, can I just say that I find it impossible to tell what Emma wants solely from the sound of her crying? They say that infants have different cries for different needs… I just hear screaming and unhappiness. Maybe this changes as she gets older? Or maybe Emma only has one crying volume: LOUD?

Anyway, our first theory was that she’s uncomfortable from gas. I asked our pediatrician about it at our 2 week appointment and she recommended getting some Mylicon anti-gas drops. So we did and we’ve been giving them to her, but I honestly haven’t noticed much of a difference in her crying or comfort level. Also, according to Dr. Harvey Karp of The Happiest Baby on the Block, babies rarely cry from gas pains. So that doesn’t seem to be her problem (those she does have quite a bit of gas). Nonetheless, I have mostly eliminated dairy from my diet in hopes that maybe it will help her (also a suggestion from our doctor) – which is ridiculously hard for me, since I LOVE milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and chocolate.

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The second was that she’s not eating enough at each feeding. After self-diagnosing myself with an oversupply or fast milk letdown, I started feeding Emma from only one side per nursing session, per advice I read on the La Leche League website and in their book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. But around the same time I started doing that, Emma started crying bloody murder after feedings. I had been hesitant to offer more in those instances, out of the fear of overfeeding her. But after a little more research and motherly intuition, I’ve decided that overfeeding a breastfed infant would be pretty hard to do. So I’ve started offering both sides (unless she falls asleep or looks particularly content after one side, which happens rarely) and also offering to nurse whenever it seems like she could possibly be hungry, regardless of how long it’s been since she ate last. Sometimes she eats more, sometimes she doesn’t. When she eats more, she does seem more content. So this has helped some.

The third was that she’s overstimulated. The first several days that she was crying a lot, we tried everything we could think of to console her – rocking, swaying, swinging, vibrating, shushing, pacifier, swaddling, walking, upright on our chest, laying in our arms, bouncing. The more we tried, the worse it got. Finally we figured out that less is more and stick to some combination of the following: swaddling, holding her upright on our chest, making a “shhh” sound in her ear, bouncing on our exercise ball or Ikea chair, and letting her suck on a pacifier. I also found that she will fall asleep in the car, but not always.

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The fourth was that she’s overtired. There have been so many times when Emma has *almost* been asleep but just when we thought we were home free, those little eyes would pop open again and we were back to square one. It’s like she fights going to sleep with her entire being. But honestly, I don’t know how to prevent this from happening. Our ‘routine’ (if you can call it that) is this: 2-3 hours from her last feeding, Emma wakes up or starts grunting a lot, so we pick her up, change her diaper and nurse. If she’s awake and happy when she’s done nursing (a rarity), I either read her a book or sing songs (if she’s awake but chill) or we do tummy time (if she’s moving her arms and legs around). Both of those activities last maybe 15 minutes before Emma yawns… or starts crying, which begins the cycle of trying to calm her down and get her to sleep.

But the norm for the past week is that we finish nursing and Emma starts crying almost immediately. And not just a little – like all out bloody murder crying. Her face turns bright red. Her little fists are clenched. She is ANGRY. And I’m confounded. Once she’s asleep, Emma usually sleeps for a good 1-3 hours at a stretch, so I feel like she’s still getting a decent amount of sleep. But after almost every time that she’s awake, it’s an ordeal to get her back to sleep. Another thought I had is that she gets so riled up by her crying that it’s hard for her to unwind enough for sleep, but I still don’t know what we can do about that because she goes from zero to crying in less than 2 seconds. And she does that right after nursing. So how do you prevent that from happening?

My latest theory is that is that maybe she can’t handle the caffeine in the cup of coffee I drink everyday (does it sound like I’m grasping at straws yet?). So I am also giving up my beloved morning coffee – the thing that has given me hope when Emma wakes up an hour or two earlier than expected each morning – and switching to decaf. I would go insane if I couldn’t have coffee at all.

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Anyway, this week has been filled with me feeling like my life is over and I will never enjoy anything again. I haven’t handled it well, especially in my relationship with Travis. I’ve been drowning my sorrows in self-pity with a very “Woe is me” attitude, which benefits no one. Even though deep down, I want to embrace this reality from God and give thanks for His mercies that are new every morning – because I know that that is the path to joy – I can’t do it. I can’t stop focusing on all the things about life right now that are so not what I want. My face is still breaking out. My belly is still as soft as bread dough. Neither my pre-pregnancy nor maternity clothes fit right anymore and I don’t feel like we can afford me to buy a bunch of new ones, especially when they’re just to fill in the gap right now. I fight against taking many naps during the day because I don’t want to spend my entire existence nursing and sleeping, and I hate how it feels to get up after not getting enough sleep. But my stubbornness leaves me even more exhausted.

People keep telling me “It’ll get better.” And I’m sure somehow, somewhere, that’s true. But I can’t help but get angry when they say that because how does that help me today? Am I just supposed to resign myself to being miserable for the next however many weeks until Emma gets older? And how do I love my inconsolable daughter and well-meaning husband in the meantime, when I feel so trapped and discouraged?

Don’t get me wrong – I love Emma and Travis, and couldn’t imagine life without them. I know that Travis wishes he could do more to help me and he’s been great about staying up late to take care of Emma while I get some sleep during her least fussy period. And he doesn’t get angry or offended when I vent my frustrations to him and accuse him of not understanding how hard this is. With Emma, there are a few moments each day when she is awake and happy, and she makes the¬†cutest¬†noises in the whole world. I know she’s worth it, even though I’m tempted at times to question my decision to be a mother.

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Nothing prepares you for how hard it is to have a baby, or how much you still love them in spite of it. For how you finally lay down to take a nap while your partner is taking care of the baby, but you can’t sleep because you can hear her crying and you feel guilty that you’re not the one out there consoling her. For how every baby and child you see in the store, on TV, at church and on the street remind you of your little one, and make your heart ache with the deepest love, and you know that there is nothing in the whole world that could make you give them up or live without them. For how hearing your baby cry breaks your heart so swiftly that you end up crying with them. For how you desperately want your baby to know how much they’re loved and cherished, so even though in the present moment, you just wish you could put her down and walk away, you don’t. You stay – heart breaking, eyes stinging, world imploding – and you keep on keeping on.

There is so much more that I could say. I have a hard time praying these days because my emotions are such a twisted mess, so I usually just end up saying “Lord, You know. Help me.” I continue to remind myself of Ann Voskamp’s words that “life change happens when we accept life with thanks and ask for nothing to change,” hoping that if I keep reminding myself, maybe I’ll eventually believe it. And I bring to mind Bible verses like Psalm 62:5-8…

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Even when all else fails, God is still my hope.

Any words of advice or encouragement?

Two Dogs and a Biscuit

2 May

Our dogs Katy and Charlie have adjusted really well to Emma. They had already been around young kids quite a bit and always done well, so we weren’t that concerned with how it would go, but it’s still been interesting to see their reactions to the newest member of our family.

When we first got home from the hospital, we brought Emma down to their level and let each of them sniff her. That’s about the extent of the attention that Charlie pays Emma – sniffing her every once in a while, presumably to make sure it’s still the same baby. We also have to watch Charlie to make sure she doesn’t flop on Emma or accidentally hit her while begging for us to rub her belly. (She’s been known to do that to other dogs, so why not a Biscuit?)

But Katy has taken on a more protective role.

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Whenever Emma is crying, Katy gets really concerned. If the door to the nursery is closed, Katy paces around outside it, whining. Especially that first week. She’d stand up on her hind legs to check on Emma while she was on the changing table getting a diaper change or in the kitchen getting a bath – both events that¬†elicited¬†quite a bit of crying from Emma.

IMG_4412 (Large)Katy also follows me and Emma around during the day so we put a little bed for her on the floor in the nursery, and she hangs out in there when I’m nursing Emma.

The dogs have been going slightly stir crazy with receiving less attention and being cooped up due to the snow. Whenever friends from church bring us dinner, they both go nuts for attention. And taking both the dogs and Emma on a walk takes quite a bit of coordination – not to mention a run! The other day, my mother-in-law and I took the dogs and Emma on a walk in a park near our house. Emma started cracking about 5 minutes after we got there so she took Emma out of her carseat and carried her while I held on to the dogs and pushed the stroller. It was tricky but I think it’ll get easier – I’m pretty sure we’ll need to get a dog leash that goes around our waist, so that we have both hands free for the stroller. (Or maybe only take both the dogs and Biscuit when both Travis and I are going along.)

I’m looking forward to when Emma is old enough to play with the dogs herself!

What was your experience when you introduced your dog(s) to your baby?