Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What we've been through (part II)

Baby's third hospitalization must've started toward the end of August. He was four months old. By the time we were released, baby had spent more than half his life in the PICU.
We went to our ENT doctor when babe's breathing was troubled again. We packed our bags this time, expecting to be admitted again. We were planning to go to our friends' wedding over Labor day weekend and expected this hospitalization to be quick and easy like the last one.

My memories of the first days are vague. We knew that if the sclerotherapy wasn't successful, the doctors would press for a tracheostomy. We still didn't want to do that, but it was starting to look like the other options weren't working. We were admitted, the sclerotherapy scheduled. We tried to extubate immediately afterwards, but baby didn't tolerate it. He had to be reintubated. We slept at home on the nights baby was sedated and intubated. I was pumping breastmilk for him to be fed through a tube. When we did extubate a few days later, baby had a facial droop. The left eye was still droopy from the first procedure, but now the left half of his mouth drooped, too. Actually, "droop" is too mild. It was totally paralyzed. I was anxious about his ability to swallow, but the doctors said we could try to breastfeed.

In the days after intubation, it was really difficult to get the baby to nurse and make sure to pump enough to maintain supply. The drugs made baby irritable. He wouldn't latch. When he did, I wasn't sure I could hear him swallowing. I wasn't pumping enough because I wanted to have milk for him when he did nurse, and I thought that at any moment he would feel better and I would have my happy, hungry baby back.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What we've been through (part I)

 I've mentioned many times here that my baby was sick. His first birthday is fast approaching, and so is the March for Babies, and our doctor says that there's an 80 percent chance he will never need more intervention. We are cautiously optimistic. Our babe is a normal, happy, healthy 11 month old.  Last night I dreamed that I became a pediatric nurse. I cried in my dream, because my heart still hurts so much, and being around sick children all the time would be so hard. But it felt right, because now I have greater compassion and respect for parents and the urge to help other families through such trying times.

Around 26 weeks in my pregnancy, my midwife sent me for an ultrasound because my baby was measuring small. The ultrasound showed a healthy-sized baby with a cyst in his neck. The doctor thought it was a benign branchial cleft cyst that would resolve on its own. I had a follow-up ultrasound four weeks later, which showed no change, and my midwife and I agreed to continue with our plan to birth at home.

I had a very long labor, and babe was born at the hospital. He was perfect and vigorous. We enjoyed a blissful 6 weeks at home. We learned to breastfeed and my postpartum recovery was pretty easy.

At our one month well-baby visit, our pediatrician was worried because baby's breathing was noisy (lots of snoring and snorting sounds), and the cyst in his neck was now visible, an egg shaped lump below his left ear. He suggested we go for an ultrasound. We didn't want to. We didn't want there to be anything the matter with our child.
"How about next week?" we said
"How about tomorrow," said our pediatrician.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What's happening in the garden?

It's March, I know. A little early for tomatoes, even in California. But it's spring now! And the weather is so fair. Today I did some work in the garden.

Considering the good news for Monsanto this week, I'm thinking that the more food we can eat from our back yard, the better. I'd like to get four more wine barrels so that I can plant beans and peppers.

Here we have the first tomato vines. Cherokee purple, Tye Dye, and San Marzano. These three are planted with some aspirin tabs, a crushed egg shell, a handful of tomato fertilizer, and some root fungi stuff.

Next is Brandywine Yellow, San Francisco Fog, and Early Girl. I planted the San Francisco Fog on top of a fish head left over from dinner. It must be a carniverous plant because it's already growing like crazy.

The pepper on the left is a Cute Stuff Red, and on the right is a Fresno Chile. The flowers are ranunculus and anemone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baby's favorite recipes

Avocado, coconut oil, frozen peas, banana, hard boiled egg, sweet potato, and whole-milk  plain yogurt. This is all you really need to make homemade baby food. These foods are in heavy rotation in my babe's diet. You don't need any fancy choppers, dicers or containers, just a fork and a minute to mash things in a bowl.

Here are a few of my babe's favorite recipes. He is 11 months and has 8 teeth and is doing well with a chunkier consistency. I try to make sure he eats something green (like peas, broccoli, or spinach) and something orange (like sweet potato, squash, or carrots) every day. I also add some healthy fats if he's eating only smashed fruits or veggies. We like coconut oil, olive oil, and occasionally organic butter.

Avi's Avicado
1/4 avocado
1 hard boiled egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons whole-milk plain yogurt or large curd cottage cheese
Mush in a bowl. This is also good spread on toast and cut into small pieces for baby to feed himself.

Monkey Mash
 1/2 sweet potato
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Mush together in a bowl.

1/4 cup frozen peas, cooked until soft
1 egg yolk or 1 tablespoon cottage cheese
a drizzle of olive oil
Mush lightly with a fork. I leave the peas large enough that babe can feed himself.

Happy spring

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Moroccan Kale and Squash over Couscous

I often have kale and winter squash on hand this time of year. I make a really yummy pasta dish with roasted squash, kale, bacon, and parmesan. We were hungry for that tonight, but we are eating pretty much vegan right now, and I didn't think my usual dish would come together very well without a cured pork product and parmesan reggiano.

But I thought Moroccan spices* and the tartness from dried fruit would tie the flavors together nicely. And they did. This recipe is vegan and very nutritious. And our baby liked it.

 *I use a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanut, which is available at my grocery store from Spicely Organic Spices. If you can't find it, you can make your own; there are plenty of recipes for it online.

Moroccan kale and roasted squash over couscous

1 butternut squash
1 onion, sliced into half-moons
2 cloves garlic
a large pinch saffron, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon ras al hanut
1 cinnamon stick
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
1 15oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 handful dried cranberries
1 cup couscous
a handful shelled pistaschios

Peel the butternut squash, chop into bite size pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven at 425F for about half and hour, until soft and the flavor deepened.

Meanwhile, start the onion softening in olive oil in a saute pan. When it is quite soft and a little brown, add the garlic and ras al hanut. When fragrant, add the kale and give it a quick saute. Add the tomaotes, chick peas, cinnamon stick, saffron and the soaking liquid, and dried cranberries. Stir in the roasted squash. Bring to a simmer, cover and turn the heat to low.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup couscous and a bit of salt. Stir, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

To serve, dish couscous and top with the kale mixture. Top with pistaschios, a drizzle of olive oil and extra cranberries, if desired.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

10 things i love about you (10 months old)

1. You are so out-going. You had such a hard start, your first months in life, but you still believe the world is a benevolent place that loves you. Maybe it's because you had so many caregivers in the early months.
2. Your easy smile. You see humor in everything.
3. You wake up happy, most days. Maybe I can learn how to do this from you.
4. I love your sweet voice, and the way that you say, "Da, da." Gently, with a slight "t" sound. You say it to Daddy and to me. It seems to mean, "One that I Love."
5. Your favorite foods are sweet potatoes and prunes. You are my little sweet potato.
6. You don't sleep in the carrier any more, and I miss the baby closeness of you sleeping in my arms all those long hours. But you do sleep all night long, in your crib, in a little ball like a turtle, on your knees with your butt up in the air. I know because I check on you and gaze at you late at night when I get home from work.
7. I love walking into your room in the morning, and you are standing up in your crib smiling and laughing at me.
8. You and your daddy have such a special thing. I love watching you play. You love your daddy so much and he is so tender and protective with you. You are a very lucky boy. He is a very lucky daddy.
9. You are such a busy boy. You are so industrious and very serious about the baby work you have to do. You examine things closely, with your little brow furrowed. You taste it. You drop it. You practice standing, and bending over to pick things up. You are amazed at what your little body can do.
10. Sometimes, when you are tired, you are still and I get to hold you again. Last night you woke up and needed a bottle and a snuggle. You relaxed in my arms and held so still, nursed your bottle and stared at me. You are the best thing.
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.