Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sawyer at Six Months and Going Paleo

I still can't believe I have a baby. It was just last year during the holidays we were told the baby forecast might not be so sunny then - TIME WARP - here I am with a six month old.

I still catch myself looking at him wondering aloud 'where did you come from?'

Here's what Sawyer is into these days:

*His hands. He prefers his thumbs but any finger or better yet the entire fist will do.
*Your hands. He started this at almost four months and the trend continues. If he's not in the mood for his own fingers he'll be perfectly happy gnawing on yours. But because he's generous, he'll offer you his fingers to put in your mouth too. A perfect afternoon for him would be trading hands and 'gnawing' on each other's phelanges.
*Dance parties. Put some music on, give him a helping set of hands to hook onto and watch him move. And move. And move.
*Baths. He's always loved them but now there's a new twist. An obsession with his man bits. Pretty much goes straight for them as soon as he hits the water. Dad oscillates between being proud and alarmed by this. I mean he really likes his manhood (Sawyer that is.)
*Crawling practice. Sawyer always loved to 'stand' even way before that was supposed to be happening (I suspect because of his reflux and not wanting to be laid down.) But now he'll go from 'standing' while you hold him to a belly flop anywhere and everywhere to get his 'swim' on. Crawling is coming. God help us.
*June Carter, our Chihuahua/Terrier mix. He adores her. In fact she's his number one. The first time he giggled was at June (she was just sitting there doing nothing but apparently it was HILARIOUS.) His first emotional outburst was at June. An angry cry/scream I'd never heard before (again she was just sitting there but apparently the telepathic dialogue back and forth between them was pretty intense.)
*Patterns on wallpaper, tee shirts, posters, whatever. Future art director like his dad? We'll see.
*His play gym. Fisher Price I will hand it to you. The random 'jungle theme' makes no sense to me but apparently you know what babies like.
*Anything dangerous within arm's reach. Knives preferably (shiny!) but a beer, vase of flowers or anything breakable will do.

To say I am lucky to have a healthy, happy baby (as cliche as it is) is an understatement. I am in complete awe of him. When he's really tired and laying in my arms and his little underbite is in full force he looks like he did when he was just born. I don't know how many more flashback glimpses I'll get like this so every time it happens I just hold him as long as my arms will allow and soak up as much of the moment as possible.

But even though I am beyond thankful and in love it has not been easy. And the main reason I'm writing the rest of this is to hopefully help other new moms or moms experiencing baby feeding issues for the first time.

The first two months of Sawyer's life, he cried a LOT. I really didn't know any better having had no baby experience but my mom, Kris' mom and anyone with baby knowledge knew something wasn't right. We knew he had reflux (he's taken medicine for this since almost the beginning) and I diligently avoided any citrus/tomato/etc. that would aggravate his condition but it still plagued the poor guy relentlessly. He spit up so much at one point I was going through five outfits a day and him even more!

By month three, I was starting to lose my first baby high and the crying was starting to get to me. It is an indescribable feeling when your baby cries out in pain. For hours. And there's not a damn thing you can do about it. The only thing that got us through was walking with him.

I kid you not - you literally could not sit down with him. Walking was the only thing that calmed him, using the 'colic' hold where you carry them like a flying baby airplane, stomach-down on your forearm. If you were lucky enough for him to stop crying, the minute you'd sit down he'd start again and you'd have to start the whole process over again.

The emotional and physical toll were bad enough but just before Christmas things got real when he started having blood in his poop.

Now for a little backtracking. Early on my doctor had told me he was likely sensitive to dairy. Which meant he was sensitive when I had dairy because I was nursing him. A little more backtracking. My goal with nursing was to be psyched if it worked out for me at all. I had full intentions of trying but if it didn't work out I had promised myself not to freak out and go straight to formula.

After he was born and nursing panned out pretty damn well for us there was only the hiccup of being told he had the symptoms of being dairy sensitive. Even Kris noticed almost from the get go he sounded very 'wheezy' when he breathed at night and always had a crazy amount of boogers. The excess spit up was another sign although there was no doubt he had reflux so I chose to believe it was just that.

And here's where I'll fess up. I really tried to ignore this whole dairy thing. Telling a newborn mother who is starving all the damn time from nursing that she can't have cheese or milk (pretty much my favorite things) was literally something I couldn't register. Give up dairy? Pizza? Pasta? No thanks, hippies!

So I did a modified version of 'giving it up.' I switched to almond milk. I avoided anything made with cream or creamy sauces. I gave up soft cheese but held onto Parmesan for dear life. Oh and I still ate butter with my toast at brunch on Sundays. Mother of the year over here!

But then the blood started showing up in his diapers. Not a lot but enough to scare the living shit out of new parents. We called the after hours doctor line the first time it happened and guess what the on-call doc said? 'I'd bet money your baby is sensitive to dairy. And just so you know, lots of babies that are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy.'

Damn it. No getting around dairy this time. I felt awful. I MADE this happen to him by choosing to eat what I wanted. And now soy? Not as big a deal, I thought. I don't drink soy milk and I'm not much of a fan of tofu. I do love me some edamame but I could live without it for a while if need be.

Oh the joyful bliss of being an idiot. You see just like it took me months to comprehend that BUTTER WAS DAIRY, it took me a few days to process this also included soy sauce. I know how dumb this sounds. Judge away (I would!) Anyway, there went stir fries which had recently become my go to dinner as a new mom as they're so fast and easy.

I had no idea that giving up an entire cuisine was just the beginning. What I didn't know was soy is in literally almost everything you put in your mouth. Seriously look at the next thing you pick up to eat and check the label. 99% chance it has soy in it. Chewing gum (soy lecithin), tea bags (even the fancy kind - soy lecithin!), Pam spray, crackers, bread, bagels, snacks, chips, salad dressing, condiments, any kind of prepared food (again even the fancy organic kind including every single Kind bar on the market) and the kicker of all kickers - all that 'healthy' vegetarian stuff you're forced to like after you've already been made to give up dairy.

Eating out was already a challenge to say the least. Now it was basically out of the question.

The past few months I've been eating a diet I wouldn't have believed was possible before this happened to me. No cheese on sandwiches. No hamburger buns at burger joints (there's dairy or soy in most.) No sushi. No pizza. No pasta with cheese (the only kind worth eating.)

Now Sawyer is almost seven months old and I do believe he's finally getting less sensitive. I unknowingly had soy a few times over the past couple of weeks and thank you Jesus he didn't react. I'm still hesitant to go all out on either soy or dairy again anytime soon but my doctor said I can do some trial and error experiments soon.

But you know what's funny? I've still eaten some damn good food. Thanks to the Paleo movement which I LITERALLY was just making fun of a few months ago (hello Karma, nice to see you) and all the amazing bloggers out there I not only survived but have even embraced some of the thinking behind the diet. I mean it is kind of scary that soy is in absolutely everything when there's no doubt it's probably one of the biggest GMO crops out there if not the biggest.

But the best part has been seeing the real Sawyer emerge. The poor little guy literally didn't feel good for his first few months of life and looking back it was painfully obvious. He was just uncomfortable. And now he 'parties' all the time. The kid almost NEVER cries! It's amazing!

So that's where we are.

I no longer roll my eyes when I see someone at the grocery store buying five kinds of milk from coconut to almond to good old dairy. Nobody chooses to have these food allergies and even my poor baby's reaction was nothing compared to what many people go through.

I chose a few blogs to share below for anyone dealing with food allergy issues or that knows someone else who is or anyone wanting to dip their toes into a possibly healthier way of eating.

Any any new moms out there dealing with a super fussy baby that you think is just colicky - you might want to try cutting out the dairy and/or soy in a more serious manner than I did. It very well could save you a couple months of heartache and medical scares.

Paleo Resources / Dairy Free / Soy Free / Gluten Free Resources:

Against All Grain Danielle Walker's blog and books are incredible. Everything I've made has been fantastic!

The Slim Palate

Nom Nom Paleo

Detoxinista Her 'cheeseless' cheesy pasta sauce is the best I've tried and will make you run away from that 'fake' vegan cheese they sell for $8 a bag. Can't promise you it literally tastes like cheese but it is creamy and satisfying and indulgent and even my husband loves it.

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