Sunday, October 31, 2010

Early Morning

Lying in the darkness, I hear the soft stirrings and tiny squeaks from the crib signaling the start of my day. I glance at the clock. 5:55 am. She has slept through the night! Gently lifting her tiny body from the crib, I put her against my chest and whisper "good morning" as I breathe in that wonderful baby scent. We quietly make our way down the stairs and I change her diaper and make a bottle of "nutritionally complete amino acid-based medical food". Sounds delicious, doesn't it? Settling in on the couch, I chit-chat with her as she stares up at me with those big, round eyes that are getting more chocolate brown each day. It is still so dark outside, but the lamp gives us just enough light to gaze at one another. With a full tummy and a few sweet smiles, she drifts off to sleep some more in my arms.

I close my eyes too, savoring the moment, when I hear small footsteps above. Jack's face is suddenly right next to mine. I give him a big hug and now my chit-chat is with him. We read a story. Looking outside, the blackness has turned into the deepest dark blue and the outlines of trees and houses are visible. If there is a better way to start one's day, I can't think of what it would be.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

what would you do?

I am curious. What would you do in this situation?

The gastroenterologist wants to put Therese on an even more specialized formula due to the severity of her reaction to my breastmilk. He said that if I cut out the 5 major allergens (milk, soy, wheat, nuts, and eggs), we might, at some point, be able to try breastfeeding again.

Would you? Would you try to do this with no guarantee that it will ever even be a possibility?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guilt of a Mother

I'm not even sure how to begin this post that I need to write for the sake of my sanity. When I found out I was pregnant with Therese, I prayed first that I would not miscarry another child. Then I asked God to spare her from epilepsy. Then one more time I went to God to ask that she not have allergies. It is so hard to watch your children suffer. I did not want to watch another child's body be taken over by seizures. I watched as Jack suffered weight loss, bloody diapers, and skin that oozed from infection, feeling powerless and guilty. Guilty for somehow giving them the genes that made them suffer. Guilty because my milk, the supposedly perfect food for my baby, was making my baby sick. The doctors wanted me to put him on formula, but I fought them. I radically changed my diet in the hope that I could keep that wonderful bond between mother and child. For a while, it seemed to work. But as the weeks went by, the symptoms returned and Jack got sicker and began to lose weight. He was not thriving. Finally, after 6 long months of trying to nurse my boy, we started giving him Neocate, a very specialized formula. Within days, the change was remarkable. He no longer looked sickly, he started plumping up and his skin started to heal. Then I felt guilt over being so stubborn and fighting so long. (Though I need to remind myself that Jack fought too. He refused to take the formula for months, only wanting to nurse.)

About three weeks ago, I started to see the tell-tale signs of milk protein allergy in Therese. The red blotchy skin, the blood in her diapers. I have been dairy and soy free for 2 weeks now with no improvement. In fact, her symptoms have only worsened. I took her back to the doctor this week and she said she wanted me to immediately put her on the formula. She referred us to a gastro doctor, who we will see next week. I think the tears in my eyes let her know that I was upset about this, so she said to start pumping my milk and saving it in the off chance that we are dealing with something other than allergies.

Therese did not fight taking the bottle. She just did it. And so did I. And the guilt is back. I gave up so quickly. Is it because I saw Jack suffer too long, or is it because I am so tired? I want so much to just enjoy this time with my new baby, but I am plagued by guilt and anxiety over every little thing. I pray and ask God to take away these feelings.

So, I need some words of wisdom and of comfort. I want to hear that everything is going to be OK.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Old Familiar Path

I had been hoping that it was just my imagination. **WARNING** Poop description ahead! Therese's diapers have been steadily changing from the normal breastfed yellowish color to green over the last week. Tonight, I found two small spots of blood mingled with the green. Also, her beautiful complexion is gone. She now has red, blotchy cheeks. I am pretty sure she has a milk allergy like her big brother Jack.

Three years ago, I noticed this same set of symptoms develop in Jack. It was the beginning of a long road. I know it will not be an easy road, but God never promised the path would be easy, now did He? Believe me, I know that there are much, much worse things to be facing. In the grand scheme of things, this is small. But it is happening to my sweet baby.

Pray for me, will you? I will be eliminating all dairy from my diet once again for the sake of my child. Oh, how I will miss the cream in my coffee!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Baptism

Mary Therese was welcomed into the Christian Community on October 3, 2010. I am just now sitting down to write about it. We were so blessed to have so many members of our family join us for her Baptism. My sister and her 2 daughters came for the weekend. Tony's mom, his brother Jim and his daughter, and his sister Leah and her husband all drove down early Sunday morning to join us. But best of all, Sophie flew in from college!

The gown she wore is fast becoming a family heirloom! My mother had each of us baptized in this delicate white gown. All my children have also worn the gown, as well as most of my sisters' children. I love traditions!

Therese also wore something new--beautiful crocheted booties--a gift from her Aunt Suzy. Suzy also gave her the cutest bloomers to wear underneath, though you can't see those in the picture!

My parents are Therese's godparents, though they could not be with us. Sophie and my brother-in-law stood in for them.

Our priest had such beautiful words for us during the baptism. The point he repeatedly made was that raising a child to be a faithful Catholic is not a task to be taken lightly. This is serious stuff. And I believe him whole-heartedly.

Look at that face! I think she knows what a great day this is and her little heart is so happy.

My oldest meeting the youngest! It was such a tender moment.

Thank you, God, for this most precious gift!