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Sunday, June 2, 2013

How Wheat Ruined My Baby Boy's First Year

Almost 4 years ago, I had a baby boy who cried inconsolably day and night. He was fussy, gassy and his baby skin was covered in eczema.

"He's just colicky."

I know it sounds cheesy or perhaps airy-fairy, but deep down I knew something just wasn't right. I'd lived through a colicky baby, and this was different. It was like he was in constant pain.

So I sought out the help of our family doc, who said,

"He has reflux. Here is a prescription for Zantac."

We tried that, but it didn't really do much. After a few months on it, he was sent to a pediatrician who put him on Prevacid, a different anti-acid. But that made him worse.

We lived in a haze. Sleep deprived, cranky, in survival mode. Dreading every night because it was always the same.

By this point he was about 9 months old. He was still an unhappy little baby, covered with eczema. And when he got little colds, they went straight to his chest. He had awful coughing and wheezing fits. The doctor said he was probably asthmatic.

I had taken him to a massage therapist, a chiropractor, an osteopath and a Naturopath.

I thought I was out of options, but thankfully, I decided to try our Naturopath again.

I don't know why I waited that long. It really is strange because I had been seeing an ND regularly before getting pregnant, and in fact got pregnant because of her treatments!

I finally booked an appointment with her. Looking back it was the best decision I could have made for his health.

I basically cried when I saw her. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure because I could not help him, I could barely console him when he was in full blown crying mode, which happened often.

I knew what she would suggest would involve a deeper sort of healing, turns out I really had no idea how deep that would go.

"I believe he has a food intolerance/sensitivity, because you're breastfeeding we need to get you on an elimination diet to see what it is. Or we could do testing."

The testing was a bit pricey for us at that time, so I decided to do the diet. I thought it would be easy.

Haha!

We ate pretty healthy already, so I was really skeptical and hesitant. The list didn't seem to long, but the foods to be eliminated were pretty much in everything we ate: dairy, eggs, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, sugar (for good measure), wheat....WAIT...what? WHEAT!?

Oh man.

In addition she put him on probiotics (to help heal and restore his gut flora after being born by cesarean and the antibiotics he received via me) and Omega 3 fish oil (to help reduce the inflammation in his body).

We started with foods I didn't really eat much of anyways. Soy was easy because I didn't eat it anyways. I just made sure I didn't have anything with hidden soy, but that wasn't too bad, I just had to read labels carefully. First full-on elimination was dairy, but that didn't do much for his symptoms. Then after a few weeks of no dairy, we tried wheat. This was harder to do. Bread, lasagna, spaghetti, quiche...the list went on. Some of our favorite foods had wheat in them somewhere. Whether the main dish or hidden, wheat seemed to be everywhere. But I stuck to it somehow, it helped to have the support of the hubby.

I tried it for the recommended week and...

He got better!!! It was like night and day. 

His eczema disappeared. He started SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!
He wasn't crying all night long.

It was bliss. Well, not really. Cooking wheat-free was a real challenge. Back then, the wheat-free and gluten-free options available were pretty much nil (options are much better today).

But I trucked along. I had many relapses. And suffered the consequences! By this point our whole family reacted to wheat if we ate it, not as bad as our son, but we felt awful and began calling it "wheat belly", code for diarrhea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain. Very unpleasant things. Which made us wonder if we'd always been wheat-intolerant and just didn't know it.

And every time I had a slip, I would see my baby boy suffer. It was like clockwork. Within hours of consuming wheat, he would get a hard, hard belly, he would cry and scream and have gas like crazy. The next day he would have a horribly runny poop. And about 2 days after the wheat ingestion he would get fresh new patches of eczema.

After a while, I couldn't deny it anymore. I couldn't live wishing he would outgrow his sensitivity. Perhaps he would, but at that time, we needed to be totally wheat free for him, for us.

We were strict wheat free eaters for a loooong time. And we saw amazing changes in our son.

Now four years later our family is still wheat-free, for the most part. His gut has healed, so he can tolerate tiny amounts of wheat, once in a while. But the thing is we all feel so much better eating wheat-free that we choose to keep eating this way.

{A good summary article here: Fifty Shades of Gluten (Intolerance)}

I have learned so much about wheat intolerance over the last four years, and much of it points to the fact that it is actually very common, people just don't know it. Not to mention, the many other foods that are commonly associated with food intolerances (soy and corn, for example).

I know my family's story, my son's story, is a little anecdote in the billions of people out there. But whenever I hear of a Mama who is at her wit's end and the baby's symptoms sound familiar, I share my story. Hopefully it may help someone, somewhere.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Watch Out Fake Brain

As part of my doula work, I am passionate about advocacy. I encourage parents-to-be to advocate for themselves and their babies...to ask for informed decision process and to stand up for their rights.

Well, I should know by now that life has a way of slapping you in the face with the truth.

The truth is that in my real life, I am "too nice". I have a hard time saying no, to ask for what I want, and, if I don't get what I want, to stand up for myself and say so.

For example, if I get a haircut and it is not what I wanted, I may or may not say something. If I do say something it's usually only part of the whole truth and in the end I still don't get what I wanted.

Another example, a few months ago I hired a woman to help me clean the house. We agreed on pay for 4 hours of work. She finished the work an hour earlier, and instead of asking what else she could do, she left and still charged me the amount as if for 4 hours. Not such a big deal I told myself, but she did it again the next time she came. Then she burned my hardwood floor with the steam mop. Repairing that is going to cost us quite a bit. So I didn't ask her to come back. But still, I didn't tell her the real reason why, I didn't stand up for myself the first time she took advantage.

The past week and a half, I've been noticing this trend in myself and being really observant and mindful about it. No judgement, just observing it. Accepting it.

But now I have gone past the observation phase and I am in the action phase.

Don't get me wrong though, it's not like I am a complete pushover, it's just that I am sometimes hesitant of standing up for myself, when I should be. I rationalize it and think, oh it's no big deal. But then those moments add up and I look and have a whole string of moments that left me without my voice, my power. It's not that I am wanting to turn myself into a bitch, I just want to remember and know I have a voice. And that there is a way to make my voice heard without being rude or hurtful.

With the most recent action taken being that my nanny tried to change her schedule without much notice. I kindly told her, "Sorry, but no. Come when we agreed you would come, I've already made plans."

And guess what, no one exploded or cried, she didn't quit or yell at me.

She said, "OK, no problem." And we had a great day.

Not only do I need to stand up for myself with others, but with ME too.

Side-but-related story: Mermaid Girl came up with the idea of a "fake brain" a couple of years ago when I tried to explain to her what I did as a Life Coach, helping people overcome their own internal self-saboteur. She looked at me and said quite matter-of-fact-ly, "Oh, it's their fake brain." Wise words kiddo.

So I am also standing up to my fake brain. I have been going to yoga classes regularly because I love it. I feel great during and after. It makes me a better person to take care of myself.

Watch out Fake Brain, here comes authentic, vibrant and strong Kat!

Me and Bebecita
Look how big she's getting!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Double standard?

source not known, came across it on my facebook feed

This picture showed up on my facebook newsfeed this evening. And I couldn't keep my mouth shut...so here goes....

It is blatantly discriminatory and degrading...not only to "women without curves", but to all women.

Why does this double standard exist?

It certainly wouldn't be OK if the message was written about the opposite situation.

So why is it OK to say things like this?

Well, the truth is that it's not OK. As a woman who would be considered "without curves" {might I add I am healthy and do not have an eating disorder or do extreme dieting, etc. I am just thin. Healthy and thin}, I take offense to being classified as boring simply because of my physical appearance.

Plus, this image and its message is offensive to ALL women because it is sexualizing us, equating us to a "sex ride". Not only that, but it is also categorizing women into very degrading, sexist, and offensive roles. Just look at how the two women are dressed.

I know many would just ignore it. Scroll by it without comment or notice.

But what's even worse, is that this picture has a whole 'lotta likes on facebook. Really? And so many of these likes are from women. Sad, really. It's sad that our great-grandmothers and our grandmothers and our mothers have worked so hard towards the rights of women, to move beyond attributing characteristics simply based on looks...and in one crappily-put-together picture such as this, it's all forgotten...it all seems to go out the window.

Don't get me wrong, it's OK to feel good about our bodies. If we are curvy, then great, and yes, we should feel exciting and sexy and beautiful. The same goes if we are not curvy. What's not OK is to use one group of women against another in an attempt to feel better about our own self image or about how we are perceived by others.

Women of all sizes and shapes and of all walks of life need to say this is not OK. And men too. Men who believe in equality and who respect women are just as important as the women who seek and deserve this respect and equality.

I know it's going to take much more than posts like this to change societal attitude.

But I believe that change can happen.

And it all begins at home. If we raise our children with respect, equality, compassion and teaching the value and importance of these...when they grow up they will bring these into society.

And create a different {hopefully, better} world.





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Special

I've been a bit busy the past few weeks. I had a client due in mid December, then 2 due in early January. So I've been gone in the evenings a bit for prenatal visits...and then of course gone for their labours. I love it.

My kids, not so much. They know it's important work for me, but they miss me.

Particularly because it's not typical working hours. When I'm at a birth, I can be gone for a whole day or more.

I miss them too, but I also know it's a short bit of time, compared to the majority of hours I do spend with them.

I try to explain that, especially to Mermaid Girl as she is the one that misses me most...or at least is most expressive about it.

She now asks me every single night if I have to go. Some days I say I do have to go, to meetings or even just to hang out with friends for an evening out.

But most nights I do get to tuck her in, cuddle with her for a while (ahem, fall asleep in her bed for an hour!), and be here when she awakes in the morning.

I think she's understanding now that she gets more mathematical concepts that the time I am away is way less than the time I am home.

Tonight she asked me again if I had to go.

On a whim I decided to play a little game with her to help reassure her and soothe her separation concern.

I said somewhat seriously, "Yes, I have a meeting."

"But Daddy said you didn't have to! Where are you going, to a meeting away or on the computer?"

{Haha, I do also have skype meetings once in a while.}

"It's a meeting with someone very important and very, VERY special. I just can't miss it!"

She started to look a bit confused....and sad.

"Who are you meeting with?"

I smiled and pointed at her.

For a minute she didn't get it and then it made sense and she laughed.

The expression on her face was priceless.

"I am very special?" She asked with a little grin.

"Oh my gosh YES! You are super special. And there is no way I am missing our bedtime lullaby and cuddle meeting."

And I didn't.

And now I am wide awake because I had an hour and 20 minute nap next to my super special little girl.

Funny Faces!
I know it has nothing to do with the post, but I thought I's share for a laugh :-)

P.S. Just so there is no gaping holes in the story, the other two munchkins are not neglected! They are super special too. Sharky Boy shares a room with Mermaid Girl {yay bunkbeds!) and I snuggle with him and kiss him goodnight first and then his Daddy cuddles with him till he falls asleep, on most nights. I cuddle with Mermaid Girl most nights. Some nights we switch it up and other nights they fall asleep on their own after hugs and kisses goodnight. Bebecita falls asleep after stories and oodles of hugs and kisses, way before her sis and bro are asleep, and is usually zonked out within 5 minutes of laying her down. Ah yes, that is bedtime in our home :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Euthanasia


"Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."
- Roger Caras

June 2009
K (in back), B (in front), Me, Mermaid Girl and Sharky Boy (in utero)

On December 15 or dog Kali became paralyzed from the chest down. She was fine when we all first woke up, and then very suddenly when we took her out to go pee, she couldn't walk. It was obvious she was in a whole lot of pain. She wouldn't eat, drink or go to the bathroom. We took her to the vet, who prescribed some steroids and painkillers. She determined that it was very likely that Kali had ruptured a disk (or more) in her back. And according to several other factors, the prognosis didn't look good. But we had to give the steroids a try, to see if they could help reduce the inflammation and return some of her mobility back, and reduce the pain. The next few days were hard. It was heartbreaking to see her laying there, in pain and unable to do the things she enjoyed. Kali was an avid food searcher. And now, she would barely even touch food hand-fed to her.

The pain meds helped a bit and she began eating and drinking a bit more, but she still wasn't herself. She couldn't go pee or poo on her own, and even when we carried her outside and helped her squat, she was in so much pain she couldn't relax enough to go. So, she ended up peeing and pooping on the towel or her doggy bed she was laying on in the house.

It's hard seeing your dog deteriorate. And it's hard having to clean up after them. And worse, it was hard to see the pain and shame in Kali's eyes. She was such a proud, happy dog....and she was now so unhappy and felt guilty for not being able to control her pee and poo.

After almost a week, with no improvement, we had another vet consult. Surgery was not an option because of her age and the extent of the damage, further investigation was deemed to not really be helpful. Because of her age a lot of the options were also not an feasible or recommended.

So, together with the vet, we made the very hard decision to euthanize. She wasn't going to get better. But because she still had her consciousness, it was so hard to look her in the eye and tell her goodbye. I don't think I've ever had to do anything so hard. Deep down, I knew she would not let go on her own. She was loyal to the end, and wouldn't let her guard down, even to end the pain and die quietly and peacefully...no way, not on her watch. So we had to help her and relieve her pain.

We thought that because the kids, in particular Mermaid Girl, had just witnessed the death of our other dog Bobbi just 2 months ago, that seeing her other dog die as well would be too much.

So, it was just hubby and I holding her while it all happened. And it happened so quickly. A little needle for a tranquilizer, which made her sleepy and she drifted off, and then the pentobarbitol, which stopped her heart within 2 minutes. Then she was gone.

When we got home, without Kali, Mermaid Girl freaked out. We had been preparing her for this since the day she got paralyzed, but it was still a shock to her. And I learned a mighty important lesson from her...among her sobs and cries of sorrow she asked, "Why didn't I get to be there too?" I explained to her that I wanted to protect her from seeing Kali dying because she had not long ago seen Bobbi dying. And she replied, "But I don't need you to protect me! I wanted to be there!"

This broke my heart even more. Of course she wanted to be there. I knew that, but I just couldn't bring myself to putting her through that again. In the end, whatever we choose, we do so knowing that we may make a mistake. Perhaps if I had brought her with us, she would have been traumatized and I would have had to live with that decision.

I suppose it all played out how it was supposed to. Mermaid Girl is doing better, but there are times she gets so sad and I ask her if she misses Kali and she just nods. I am considering grief counseling, I just recognize that perhaps this is beyond my ability to help her deal with it, as I am grieving too. But I don't know...perhaps she just needs time to go through the process.

The house certainly feels a little more empty. All of the important milestones in our lives as a family have our dogs entwined into them. We went from having two dogs, to not having dogs at all, within the span of 2 months. Kali was 12 1/2 years when she died and Bobbi was almost 7 years. And we went from having a dog in the family for over 20 years, to now, having none. And I don't think we'll get another one anytime soon, if at all.

We still look over to were they used to lay and think, "Oh it's time to take them out." I also find myself thinking I need to fill their water bowl or feed them. We still have their leashes and their kennel and their cushion bed. We had hung up a stocking for Kali, which we left up for Christmas. It was too soon to remove all aspects of her memory.

I suppose it's part of what you sign up for when you decide to get a pet. But no matter how much you prepare mentally for it, when the end comes, it's still heartbreaking. It's even more heartbreaking because there were times they did drive me crazy! Like barking when the babies were sleeping and all their hair EVERYWHERE. But now, those things seem trivial. When you lose the whole being, you realize the little things they did or were that bothered you are nothing compared to what their complete absence feels like.

I don't think even time will be able to completely erase the routines we had with them. But little by little, we are putting things away. Not thrown away, just tucked away somewhere safe, just like our memories of our sweet, loyal, loving dogs.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Sadness

There are no words...for what happened last Friday. All those sweet, innocent lives...suddenly gone.

Having a child the age those sweet angels were, has really hit close to home. 

My heart is heavy and broken for all those Mamas and families now missing their sweet babies, their daughters and sons.

I wish there was something I could do...to help, to comfort...but the reality is what could any of us do? We can't turn back time and stop this from happening, which is the only thing that would help.

But I hope that all this is not in vain. There is a lot of talk and demand for a call to action...as there well should be. But what?

What is the heavy, deep question.

My personal views don't matter much. But it seems to me that in the last few decades it has become very apparent that our society and culture is sending out a cry for help.

Violence is never OK. Especially when it takes the lives of the innocent.

It should not be acceptable for us to live in a society where this is even a possibility. I mean it's freaking 2012. Maybe we have forgotten we are not alone. Maybe we have forgotten how to come together. How all of us banded together, demanding change, is a powerful driving force. If a major change to prevent future acts of violence does not come from this horrible, tragic event...then we are a sad and sicker society than I thought. Which I actually believe we are not. I believe we can improve things for the better. My hope is that the loss and pain and heart wrenching sorrow each of these families is enduring is not in vain.