Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Saga of Paul's Stomach

I've been waiting a long time to write this post...

Many of you have been so kind to ask how Paul is doing. Until recently it's been a different response most every day. I kept thinking I would be able to sum up his tummy troubles sooner, but I wanted to wait until we had some answers and some resolution. I think we're finally there. So, here is a pretty detailed account of what we've been through with him--for my own memory, as well as anyone else who's interested or who may benefit from our trial and error.


If you recall, Paul had a bit of a traumatic entry into the world. From the start he was puffy, bruised, and red as a tomato. Shortly thereafter, he developed a newborn rash just in time to complicate his newborn photo shoot. Cradle cap and baby acne followed close behind. Then eczema crept its way into the mix, to confuse our treatment plans of his head and face.


At less than one month old, Paul started spitting up profusely and regularly. Moments after we took this picture of our sleeping angel at his baby dedication, he spit up covering his outfit, my 2 shirts, as well as Jon's shirt and pants. We were grateful it was after the ceremony and not before or during our time on stage, I'm sure the family on stage in front of us was too! We were also glad this wasn't his first mess of this nature, so we had backup clothes for Paul and me, Jon just had to find an air dryer in the bathroom.
As the spitting up became more than what we remembered was normal with Isaiah, we started to ask questions and check in with his doctor. I remember posting on Facebook, so relieved that the pediatrician had diagnosed him with classic reflux, thus I would not be joining the ranks of breastfeeding super-mamas on restricted or elimination diets. I also remember that many of you commented with your condolences and advice on my thread. I thought I was in the clear with simple reflux that would respond to medication, but you experienced mamas knew what I was about to find out, that there was nothing simple about it...

Per the doctor's recommendation, we started our precious little man on Zantac. After no improvement, two weeks later we doubled the dose. Next, I went off dairy and soy. No small feat, as I was previously going through a gallon of milk a week, probably a half gallon of ice cream, and a couple pounds of cheese. I had joked with Jon that other people have backyard chickens, we needed a backyard cow! Plus, soy is also a hidden ingredient in most of my go-to foods. So, drastic meal and snack overhauls took place around here.


As he continued to worsen, we also added Nexium. I started on a probiotic and we increased the dose of Nexium. Then we were confused about whether his arching, screaming, and severe diarrhea, were part of his disorder, or due to the Nexium? Were we making the poor kid worse?


So, we went for more opinions. Our pediatrician recommended a GI specialist and a Speech Pathologist/Feeding Therapist. It wasn't easy to get an appointment with either of them, and by this point, we wanted any help we could get, so we scheduled both. The GI specialist was, unfortunately, no help. But our dear feeding therapist was a dream to work with and so sweet to Paul.


Thinking his discomfort was due to gas from a bad latch, s
he had us start some tongue exercises, tried kinesthetic therapy tape, diagnosed him with a posterior tongue-tie, and hooked us up with an infant probiotic for him. So, next we went to a dentist who agreed he had a tongue-tie and revised it.

At about 4 months, he started to become very interested at mealtime. So, with the blessing of our feeding therapist we started to offer him some food, because this guy is strong and if we didn't start giving it to him, he was just gonna grab it out of our hands whenever it was close enough!



Although he loved strawberry in his baby safe feeder and gnawing on carrots, we noticed some red blotches around his mouth and neck for a few minutes after he ate. When we offered him avocado for the first time, at the feeding therapist's office, together we watched him break out wherever it had touched him.


Our therapist talked to the nutritionist she works with and mentioned the foods he'd reacted to. The nutritionist thought maybe it could have been a birch pollen allergy, with
trigger foods being: avocado, strawberries, carrots, almonds, apples, apricots, banana, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazelnut, kiwi, nectarine, parsley, parsnip, peaches, pear, pepper, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, and wheat. Try saying that list 5 times fast!

So, I stopped eating ALL of those things (not that I was eating a lot of chicory, coriander, or fennel that I knew of) and we stopped feeding any of them to Paul. That was hard with him because fruits and avocado are such easy first foods. It was hard for me because Potatoes, Soy, and Wheat! I never did a strict elimination diet down to like 4 or 8 ingredients, because he never had any blood in his stool. I did a few hypo-allergenic formula trials while I was getting my system cleared out, but I'm too stubborn to give up nursing and switch to formula.


But he kept reacting, even when we avoided that whole list. So, I took dairy out of my diet again too. And we took out a second mortgage on our house to buy more Tummy Calm, the one thing we found to bring him some relief! After 11 reactions to various foods, we were bewildered. We finally made an appointment with our allergist.


We love our allergist! He helped us through Isaiah's tree nut allergies and now walks with us through Paul's myriad of concerns. He skipped skin testing because Paul's skin is so sensitive that it was likely to light up like a Christmas tree with false positives, and went straight to blood testing.

A week later, the results showed Paul is allergic to MILK, EGGS, PEANUTS, DOGS, and HAPPINESS. Just kidding, about that last one, but really God? Those are most of Your best inventions.

Here we are about 6 weeks later, avoiding all his allergens, and he's doing well. We used to have to walk him around in the middle of most nights to calm his painful tummy down and comfort him back to sleep, now I just nurse him when he wakes up and he settles right away. He hasn't had a bad reaction since his testing, and he isn't hurting for size, as he's EXACTLY the same height (29.5 in) and weight (22.0 lb) as Isaiah was at his 9-month check-up, 85%!


Our
next step is to start eating more baked goods to try to build up Paul's tolerance to milk and eggs. It will be a sacrifice, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to heal Paul's gut even if it means such hardship as forcing myself to indulge in delicious muffins, cookies, and cakes again. I anticipate the pounds I've seen fall off through this process of elimination diets, will creep right back on as I reach for a few more baked treats this holiday season.


Thank you all who have prayed for and supported us through this ordeal, especially those of you who have made special meals with us in mind, I know it's not easy. I have gained such better understanding of the dietary restrictions many of you live with every day, as I've tried almost all of them. Between our two boys, I don't think there is a common allergen I have not had to read labels for in this past year. I love how God teaches us empathy by letting us walk in other people's shoes.


Next Thanksgiving, if I can eat all the pumpkin goodies with pounds of cream cheese icing I will be thankful as never before. For now, Paul and I will count our blessings, because when a few are removed, the abundance of all the others is even more clear. Savor your treats this holiday season whether they be delicious foods, snuggles with cuddly babies, or conversation with visiting family. God is so kind to us. 

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, October 6, 2017

Every Day Should Be His Birthday

I love celebrating other people. Last spring, between April and June I had my hand in throwing 6 birthday parties, all involving at least some component of surprise. I was in my element!
Throwing Angie's Quinceanera was the pinnacle of them all!
September was my hubby's birthday month and you know what I noticed? I'm especially fond of him around his birthday. Yep, you heard me right. It's not being celebrated that makes me feel good, it's celebrating others. Am I the only one?

I can think of two reasons for this:

1) It's all about expectations. 


  • In September, it's super easy for me to make breakfast while wrangling the kiddos and let Jon sleep in a couple hours. It's his special month after all! 
Whereas in, say April, my mind would be spinning with unpleasant thoughts about equality of sleep and household chores.

  • Expecting him home a little later from work that week is fine, as I know friends are treating him to lunch, extending his hours downtown.
Any other weeknight, I'm counting down the minutes till he arrives to hold the fussy baby, do homework with the teenager, or get the toddler out from under my feet so I can get dinner on the table for pete's sake!

  • That Sunday afternoon, I almost enjoyed sending him up for a 2-3 hour nap, while I entertained the young'uns, fetched some groceries, and prepared some of his favorite foods.
But for instance on Mother's Day, I was silently seething about everyone getting a nap, but me. And most any other Sunday, if people expect me to cook, they're in for a disappointing--and hungry--evening. (You may remember that Mother's Day expectations have gotten me in trouble before.)

  • Cleaning the house is even enjoyable when it's for the purpose of spoiling your special someone.
Cleaning the house is not awesome other times, that goes without saying.

  • Thinking about all my man's favorite foods, treats, hobbies, and friends (such as planning to go camping with his best friend and going out to a restaurant full of wild game) is natural and easy around his special day. 
But come March and my birthday, some dark little voice seeps into my head asking me why people haven't picked up the nuanced hints I've dropped, or been thinking solely of me for days on end.

It would be beautiful, and Biblical, if I could always put others' desires, sleep, schedules, and needs ahead of my own. These expectations and self, are hard to let go of, but I appreciate the glimpses of selflessness that holidays bring. Now, to celebrate others every day instead of just when the calendar reminds me to.

Because,

2) We were created to love and serve others.
Glad I have genuinely generous people like Mom to celebrate sometimes,
and point me toward Christ-like selflessness all the time.

"If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." -Philippians 2:3-4 (MSG)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The War on Sleep

I tried to put him down for his afternoon nap, he refused,
because he needed to help me make dinner. Then this.
Our whole family was wide awake at 4:30am last night. Well, the boys were WIDE awake, Jon and I were walking around like Zombies. Angie was at a "sleep"over, so she was probably wide awake too.

For our kids, sleep is the mortal enemy and they are valiant warriors out to defeat it. Until between 6-6:30am, when it's about time to get moving for the day, then they give up and let sleep win. If sleep were an actual foe, I'd be so proud of their bravery and perseverance. Couldn't they be prayer warriors instead, or fight something actually bad like injustice as if it was their job?
This is how they felt about me trying to get them up and ready for church at
7:43am after keeping us up all night.
Do any of you other parents feel like the majority of your existence, or at least your parenting, is dedicated to getting your children to sleep?

There are the obvious things like a regular bedtime routine, story time, bath, white noise, and a drink of milk, (or whatever works; a touch of Bourbon, Benadryl...no judgement here) to cajole your littles toward slumber.

But what I'm talking about is like from the moment we wake up, the majority of our thoughts and efforts are about getting the rascals back to sleep. Don't get me wrong, my kids are super fun and all, it's not that I don't want them to be awake some, but it's constantly on my mind. Even while I'm still snoozing in the morning, my dreams are plagued with interruptions from my conscious brain, "If you don't wake the boys up now, you'll regret it tonight..."

We all know that if we don't drag them out of bed (no matter how peaceful they are, or how dead tired we are) at a reasonable hour in the morning, they'll never go back to sleep at night. 5 minutes of sleeping-in, leads to 30-60 minutes of extra crazy at night. That is some fuzzy math I do not care for, but there's no point arguing with children that they need to go to sleep because it's past their "bedtime."

Once my brain convinces my unwilling body of the necessity of waking the angels out of their morning coma, the rest of the day is about wearing them out sufficiently to get them back to sleep again in like 12-14 hours.

Every moment at the park/zoo/trampoline/sprayground/playdate/library/treadmill I bank on as burned calories to drain their energy come nightfall. Every meal, we negotiate as much food into them as they'll permit, hoping hunger won't be a reason to stay up or wake up in the middle of the night. We're sure to make one last bathroom run or use the best 12-hour diaper to avoid any unnecessary accidents or late-night potty emergencies.

And just to keep any of it from making sense, we actually have to prevent our children from falling asleep at the wrong time. Isaiah will fight naps and bedtime tooth and nail, UNLESS he's in the car for more than 10 minutes at any (more often than not inappropriate) time, then he'll fall asleep like someone shot him with a tranquilizer gun. And of course, that 5-10 minute car nap will destroy any hopes of the usual 1-2 hours of peace we eagerly await in the afternoon. He's not even 3 years old yet, but I think he's already starting to manipulate me by acting drowsy in his car seat, so that I'll give him my phone to watch videos, as that's the only surefire way to keep him awake while I drive. And he knows I'll do just about anything to salvage a good nap.

Even their tantrums have the silver lining that maybe they'll wear themselves out for bedtime. I would never wish a fever, or any sickness, on my beloved darlings, but if we're looking on the bright side, when they're under the weather they don't have the normal fight in them when it comes to staying up till midnight.

We have the added bonuses of having an extra comfy bed that our munchkins prefer to any other surface (like for example their beds) except of course my EXTRA comfy arms.
If they only knew how precious they look while sleeping,
I'm sure they'd want to do it more.
Someday, my parenting efforts will focus more on discipline, coaching, training, and friendship, but I feel this first stage of parenting revolves around sleep, or lack thereof.

I don't have time to come up with a profound conclusion to these thoughts, I have to go wake up the toddler from his nap, or he'll never get back to sleep tonight! So, I'll leave you with this:

“Bedtime makes you realize how completely incapable you are of being in charge of another human being. My children act like they’ve never been to sleep before. ‘Bed? What’s that? No, I’m not doing that.’ They never want to go to bed. This is another thing that I will never have in common with my children. Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, ‘When can I come back here?’ It’s the carrot that keeps me motivated. Sometimes going to bed feels like the highlight of my day. Ironically, to my children, bedtime is a punishment that violates their basic rights as human beings. Once the lights are out, you can expect at least an hour of inmates clanging their tin cups on the cell bars.” - Jim Gaffigan

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Happy Half Birthday, Precious One!

Dearest Baby Paul,

When we named you after your beloved great grandfather, we truly hoped you'd have the chance to know how wonderful he was in person. But before the legends about Dr. Paul grow with time, let me say now that they're probably not too hyperbolized, he really was an AMAZING human being. I think you're on track to grow up to be wonderful as well!
Paulie's definitely on track to grow up to be tall like his great grandfather. At 6 months he measured 28.5 inches, 98% (half an inch taller than his brother at this age), and 20lbs 7 oz, 93% (5 ounces more than Isaiah, not that we'd compare them!) So, when people wonder if Paul or Isaiah was/is chubbier, I now know that they're about the same, Paul's a little longer and a little heavier, so probably equally as chunky.

With his presumed relflux and yet-to-be-fully-determined digestive issues, Paul got a late start on lying down, tummy time, and such, so he's not rolling a ton, but he can mostly get back and forth, if that pesky arm would just get out of the way. He's getting really good at sitting up, just don't let go of him for too long, or he'll surely lose his balance. And his proudest accomplishment to date, is that he's gone number 1 and 2 on the potty. We love Elimination Communication around here!
When he feels good, there's no one sweeter!
Paulie tried many new foods this month. He agreed with most of them, but some didn't agree with him. I've been on a rollercoaster of diets trying to find what works best for him nursing-wise, but that's for another post.
His first taste of pickle was a hit.
A good night's sleep is still a far off dream for us, but we're moving in that direction, by transitioning Isaiah into his big boy bed, and Paul into the crib (at least for the beginning of the night.) Let's be real, they both end up in our room by morning. Although Isaiah likes to call his brother "Pollywog," (we all do) and say that he's "Too Yittle" for everything, he's really starting to enjoy interacting with him.
It's so fun watching them start to play together in and out of the tub!
Sharing at Granddad Paul's funeral while holding his namesake, Baby Paul.
Squishy, soft, smiley babies are my sweet spot! Although if growing up means his tummy will feel better, or God will be able to better use him to impact the world, then I'll let him grow up, but just a little bit for now.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My First Response

You guys, I don't get out much. Like literally, unless it's to the zoo with the boys or soccer with Angie, you're not likely to see me in public, except maybe if you run into me on my near-daily grocery trip. About the only place you might catch me in makeup and clothes that match is at church.

So, when I put on heels and a dress to go out with the girls to a surprise party for one of my best friends since high school, Jon graciously kept the kiddos and told me to have a good time. He didn't even bug me during dinner when Paul started fussing at home. But when I checked in on my way between dinner and karaoke he let me know that poor Paulie had been inconsolable for like an hour. He didn't ask me to come home, he knew he'd done all the things I could probably do myself. I ran down a list of ideas over the phone, ending with maybe taking him outside, which eventually worked to calm him down, but in the meantime, I turned to prayer. I had about a 20 minute drive and I BEGGED the Lord to settle Paul's tummy or whatever was making him so fussy. I felt awful for not being there to help, but I also felt like I couldn't abandon the party I'd helped plan. 

Shortly after I arrived at the amphitheater, I got the text that Paul was better and had finally taken his bottle and fallen asleep.

I was SO relieved, and once again able to enjoy my rare night out with adults. 

I was also pretty ashamed of myself.

There had been plenty of times Paul had been super upset. Why wasn't it until I was completely incapable of doing anything to help him that I really sought help from God? All I could do was pray, so I did, but shouldn't I be doing that all the time, not just as a last resort.

That was in June, and I thought I'd learned my lesson, until last night. 

From 3:30-5:30am Paul was up and in a lot of pain. As he cried, arched, writhed, and tried to get comfortable, I did all the things. Walked him, bounced him, nursed him, massaged his belly, massaged his feet, stretched his legs in all the directions, changed his diaper (twice!), gave him Colic Calm, laid him down in all the positions, carried him in all the ways. And by about 5am, I was sobbing with him. And finally I was reaching out to God for help, utterly desperate. 

I'm sure God just smiles lovingly at me as I call on Him from the end of my rope, "Oh, there must be another emergency, I haven't heard from Lauren that passionately or frequently all week."

Guys, somebody hit me over the head, or at least tap me on the shoulder next time. It's not like we have a shortage of emergencies around here. Yesterday, Isaiah and I were attacked by yellow jackets. As I rescued him from the swarm, I remember repeating frantically "Oh gosh! Oh gosh! Oh gosh!" Nice of me not to swear in front of my toddler or use God's name in vain I guess, but why wasn't I pleading, "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God...please help us," as I iced him down and watched for an anaphylactic reaction?

Isaiah's right eye is still slightly swollen today from one of his dozen or so stings yesterday.
So, as usual I'm writing this down to share the lesson I've learned in hopes it will stay learned a little longer. Other bloggers seem to write from their expertise. Looks like I'll just keep sharing my humbling moments.

Lord, I want to seek you first. Before reaching for the worldly answer, help me to turn to you. I know in You I'll find the peace I need to respond appropriately and the strength to tackle whatever is thrown at me.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dr. Paul Scott, aka Daddad

Yesterday, we laid one of my greatest heroes to rest. The world will never be the same without him, but it is surely a lot brighter because of him.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of him with some of his greatest joys; his great grandkids. And below, are the words I shared at his funeral service, while holding his namesake, Baby Paul.








Since Daddad's passing on Tuesday morning, the outpouring of love has been amazing. As I read through the thoughts of those who were fortunate enough to know him, I felt incredibly humbled and undeserving to be his granddaughter.

I'm told that when I was little I didn't recognize Daddad without his camera hanging around his neck and his pocket protector full of pens jabbing me in the face when he hugged me. It's true his passion for photography was rivaled only by his passion for foreign languages, hostas, tomatoes, puns, palindromes, a good math problem, a bad limerick, well okay... he was passionate about a lot of things. But what I really wouldn't recognize him without is his huge smile.

With three kids, I barley have time right now to brush my teeth, let alone have a hobby, or a dozen, like he did. But somehow between his enormous garden, his proficiency in many languages, and running a medical clinic, he was never once too busy to help, or play, or laugh, or comfort one of us.

Our 2 year-old son, Isaiah, was so smitten with him after Bubby and Daddad visited us this spring, that he started turning down every song we'd try to sing him at bedtime. Finally, I asked, "Well, what song do you want?" "The BubbyDaddad song!!" he exclaimed. As no such song yet existed, my mom, Lisa, wrote one. (I'm sure she'll sing it for you tonight if you ask nicely.)

I have regrettably not inherited his creativity like she did, nor his impeccable memory, or his green thumb. I wish I had his self-control with sweets and his uncanny pain tolerance. I'm afraid I didn't receive his goofy sense of humor or laid back attitude either. However, he did pass me his hunger for adventure as I watched him white water raft, bike, hike, and ski well into his 70s and 80s. And a good bargain is my Kryptonite just like it was his.

But none of those are the reasons we named our son after him.

Baby Paul, you have some very very big shoes to fill. You would do well to find yourself a fabulous Bubby to keep you organized and out of trouble as you follow in his footsteps to have a beautiful marriage, adoring family, and exceptional career.

Paulie, We are so sad you'll never jump waves with your Daddad in the ocean, climb 14ers with him in Colorado, or read anymore books with him in multiple languages. But mostly we're heartbroken you'll never truly know his kindness. If you inherit anything from him may it be his unparalleled generosity. If we pass on any of his goodness may it be his genuine love for everyone, especially family, and his joy in life.

This week, as I've held Baby Paul a little tighter, I've prayed over him that as he grows up, people might say that he reminds them of another Paul they used to know. Because what greater compliment could any of us ask for?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quinceañera

I recently read an article about adoption with this quote,

"Transracial adoption can be beautiful, but as with any form of adoption, there is loss.
There is not only the loss of birth family, there is the loss of growing up in your culture.
As parents, it’s our job to minimize the effects of this loss of culture as much as possible."


And I thought, "This. This is why we're throwing Angie a crazy awesome Quinceañera!"

The Quince Party is the traditional 15th birthday party of Latin American countries. The origins aren't clear, but like a Sweet Sixteen party in the U.S. the purpose is to celebrate the coming of age from a girl into a young woman.

We decided to honor Angie's Latino roots and try to pull off a Quince as a backyard dance party. And if I must say so myself, it was pretty Epic! Calling a party you hosted yourself Epic, is surely tooting your own horn more than I'd usually be comfortable doing, but since Angie's too cool to probably ever use that word about something her parents did for her, I guess I'll have to say it. Here are some pictures to prove it:
Her reaction to the reveal of the party surprises.

And her expression for most of the afternoon/evening.
We didn't maintain many of the traditional Quinceañera customs, mostly because we don't really know what they are, and partly because we weren't up for spending multiple thousands of dollars as is common with these parties. But here's a Latino tradition we did keep; Angie took the first bite out of the top of the cake, and a friend sweetly smashed her face in it. She literally asked for this!
"Que la muerda! Que la muerda!
Although we didn't have the customary 14 Damas and Chambelans (the court of honor), most Quinceañeras probably don't have Dabbing, so I'd say Angie really came out ahead. We also improvised with musical chairs, a photo scavenger hunt, a piñata, the limbo, corn hole, life-size Jenga, empanadas, and a phenomenal DJ taking requests and keeping the dance floor hopping! After she blew out the candles on her cake we prayed that she would continue to become the woman God has created her to be.

Angie may have been the Belle of the Ball, but Paul was similarly adored by party guests.
Isaiah possibly had more fun with Angie's friends than she did. Once when someone helped him get a drink and cool off for a moment, he whined, "More Party, More Party!"
After 2 months of party planning, I'm not sure what we'll do with ourselves now. I guess we could get started prepping for Isaiah's 3rd birthday because he'll surely want it to be a Quinceañera too if it means he can be holding sugary treats in every picture and flirt with pretty teenage girls while dancing the Macarena!

I pray the love of all who were able to come and celebrate Angie's life, and those who sent their love from afar, lingers with her for a long long time. May the Lord's love keep shining on Angie through each of us that He's placed in her life, and may such joy radiate from her always as it did on her 15th birthday.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again, Rejoice!" -Philippians 4:4