Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dealing with tantrums

I would like to say more about these techniques but I don't have much time to post today. As I've posted before, we have been learning and working on effective ways to deal with Ethan's tantrums.

I came across this blog post and article. I finally had a moment to read it this morning. I have to say that we have been using these same techniques with Ethan (started before I read the post) and they are productive! It is reassuring to know that we are using research based techniques and have seen success with them. Choices, distraction, brief statements, affection... all positive tools!

I will say that depending on the tantrum, sometimes Ethan does need a moment or two by himself before we approach him again. We aren't ignoring every tantrum but sometimes we tell him that we will give him a moment to calm down/to himself (not expecting him to calm down by himself) and we will be right back. When we come back, we begin the other techniques and try again. This was suggested in The Happiest Toddler on the Block, which I also highly recommend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First injury

Although it creates challenges, I'm proud that Ethan is feisty and determined.  I'm also happy that he does have some laid back tendencies (thanks to Matt).  We've been dealing with separation anxiety for months.  I'm currently reading Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Separation Anxiety Solution.  I learned about separation anxiety in my college courses and techniques on dealing with it through my work with families, but her book has already taught me even more.  We hope her suggested techniques will assist us through this time.  We would like to do whatever we can to make the transitions easier on Ethan and us.  It's heart aching to watch him melt down when he hears the car keys or senses that it's time for Matt or me to leave him. 

Ethan cries every day when Matt leaves for work and on the days when I drop him off at school.  The crying and tantrums are short lived and he is able to be redirected but his meltdowns have caused injuries.  He drops to the ground and throws his head to the floor.  Sometimes he'll bang his head into the ground, leaving a red mark that usually clears quickly.  One day Ethan was having a tougher time transitioning and started to tantrum while we were in the bathroom.  He was slamming the bathroom cabinet doors, letting me know that he was not happy about Daddy leaving.  I saw his hand was headed for the bathroom drawer and I went to reach for him but I was too late.  He pulled the drawer out and it landed on his foot.  I'll never forget the look of shock on his face and then his scream.  His foot turned purple and swelled immediately.  I scooped him up and attempted to put an ice pack on it but he kept pushing it off.  He couldn't walk on it.  I try not to joke about this but he looked like he was doing this move from the Karate Kid :)

I called his doctor, just in case.  I really didn't think it was broken.  They scheduled us an appointment for that afternoon.  By the time of his appointment he was beginning to use his injured foot so I was doubting a fracture/break even more.  His doctor sent us for xrays.  I didn't think about the fact that I was pregnant and wouldn't be permitted in the xray room with him.  I had to hand him off to two technicians and listen to him cry for me from the waiting room next door.  They thought they had gotten sufficient pictures of his foot and stated that there were no fractures.  His doctor suggested Motrin for the pain and to try to keep him off of it as much as possible (easier said than done... he's a toddler!).  I sent him to school the next day, sans shoes, and passed the instructions on to his teachers.

Over the next 4 weeks Ethan ran, kicked balls, and continued his other usual activities.  I noticed that he limped occasionally.  I continued inspecting the injured area of his foot and grew concerned that after 4 weeks his foot still had a bump and bruise.  I took him back to the pediatrician who sent us for more xrays.  This time I called Matt to meet us there.  Matt went back with Ethan to have the xrays taken and said that it was difficult to hold Ethan still for them.  I can't imagine how difficult it was for the technicians during the first set of xrays.  The new xrays revealed that Ethan's little foot is in fact fractured!  My poor boy has been walking around with a fractured foot for 4 weeks!  The doctor felt that it appeared to be healing on it's own so it did not need to be in a cast.  We are thankful for that and hope that it continues to heal on it's own.  We were instructed to limit his activity so he hasn't been running around as much.  We'll return to the doctor to have it rechecked in another week.

The corner of the drawer caused a little cut too :(

p.s. Today is Ethan's 18 month birthday. This boy has been bringing us joy every single day for 18 months!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My 2nd pregnancy

I should start apologizing to baby #2 already.  I'm 18 weeks along nearly half way through (this post has been in drafts for a while) and I haven't posted anything about this pregnancy.

The first thing that comes to mind is how different it has been from my pregnancy with Ethan.  I'll be honest and say that it's been more difficult.  Having a toddler to take care of, weaning and worrying about his nutrition, a house to sell, searching for a house to buy, work, family, friends, and all the miscellaneous in between are all balls that I've tried to juggle at once while worn out and sick from this pregnancy.  Several of those balls have been dropped a time or two or ten.  Thank God for my wonderful husband who is there to pick up those dropped balls and me.  He has taken on more than ever over the past few months.

Morning sickness ... that term is a joke.  This time around it was more like the worst hangover you've ever had, 24/7, and for added suffering throw in a stomach virus on top it every evening.  It started earlier this time and lasted much longer.  With my first I felt much better by 11-12 weeks.  This time I was still suffering from constant nausea at 16 weeks. 

Matt was working until 6 and 7pm during the first few weeks and I didn't think I was going to make it.  I do believe there were evenings that I called him in tears telling him that I didn't think I could do it.  And by it, I mean simple things like sit on the floor and play with Ethan or feed him dinner.  There were some nights that I was so exhausted, I fell asleep while cuddling with Ethan before 7pm.  Matt will joke about this but there seriously were nights when I went straight to sleep after putting Ethan to bed at 8:15pm.  I dealt with the sickness and exhaustion during my 1st trimester with Ethan too but both were more intense this time.  The "tricks" and "cures" that worked during my first pregnancy were not as miraculous this time around.  What worked one day seemed to make me feel worse the next.

Morning sickness gave way to headaches, which gave way to acid reflux - ALREADY!  I didn't experience acid reflux with Ethan until I was more than 30 weeks pregnant.  With this baby it started at 18.5 weeks. 

Some will guess that my symptoms point to the possibility of this baby being a girl.  Others will say that I experienced all of this because it gets more difficult with each pregnancy.  Either way, I'm surviving but I'm probably complaining a lot more. 

I'm anxious for my 20 wk ultra sound and to know if the baby has a cleft lip or not.  Now if they could only tell whether or not the baby will have allergies or intolerances by looking at the ultra sound!  If that were the case, I might be more prepared.  I think about these things every day.  I worry.  I wonder.  But I know whatever is meant to be will be.  It has already been decided and we will work through whatever challenges we are given.

I started showing earlier and gained weight more quickly with baby #2.  When I found out I was pregnant I was about 20lbs below my 2008 pre-pregnancy weight.  In 2008, I had put on weight during infertility treatments and this time I was down below what I weighed in college due to the allergen free diet.  The weight has been coming on quickly... I'm sure it is because I CAN EAT nearly everything again.  I don't think I gained any weight with my first pregnancy until I was closer to 20 weeks.  This time I put on 15lbs by 18 weeks.   

I started feeling the baby move much earlier.  I was shocked when I started feeling movement around 14 weeks!  I can feel the baby move by putting my hand on my stomach too, but the baby moves so quickly and doesn't kick in the same place twice so Matt hasn't felt any movement yet.

My food aversions are different this time.  With Ethan, I couldn't stand even the thought of chicken.  With this baby I love chicken and can not stand beef.  I also can't handle the smell of potatoes ... even french fries make me want to gag.  I haven't had any long term cravings.  With my first pregnancy I wanted to eat Mexican food all the time.  My cravings change nearly every day.  

There are some similarities...  At 19 weeks, 3 days, I think the shape of my belly is the same.  Who knows if that will change or if it means anything at all, but I look the same as I did when I was this far along with Ethan.  My skin is just as sensitive as it was when I was pregnant with Ethan.  I sunburn pretty easily and the burn stays red forever instead of tanning fairly quickly.  I have bouts of being overly emotional just like I did when I was pregnant with Ethan.  A simple thought or song can send me into tears.

Conceiving without treatments...  Some of my PCOS symptoms had returned in Dec 2009.  Then suddenly, for the first time, maybe ever, I had signs of ovulation in March or April 2010 (it was a long cycle so I can't remember exactly when).  I have seen a couple of doctors and midwives who have agreed that continuing to breastfeed Ethan could very well be the reason why I was able to ovulate on my own.  It could have been just the right amount of nursing (I had cut out night time nursing) that allowed my body to balance out some hormones.  We'll never know if that is the reason we were able to conceive this child without infertility treatments but it may have helped! 

I'm halfway through the pregnancy and it still feels surreal.  Matt and I talk often about how we can't believe how blessed we are, how we can't believe another baby is coming!  Although we were hoping and planning to have another, we didn't think that we would go through infertility treatments again... for several reasons, including the fact that I was still nursing, the financial aspect, the stress of it all, and the logistics... we had Ethan and couldn't just take off to the fertility clinic at 7am several days a week.  We had talked about the possibility of Ethan being an only child and although it wasn't what we had planned and hoped for, we talked about how if that were the case, we would have accepted that our family of 3 was what we were meant to be.  Ethan is an incredible blessing and we are thankful for him.  This new baby is a wonderful addition to our blessings and he/she isn't even here yet! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Our journey through weaning...

Our journey was much quicker than I anticipated but the story and details are not so this is a long post.  I never officially decided when I would stop nursing Ethan.  I would give different answers when people asked and their responses were entertaining.  Sometimes I thought I'd nurse him until he self-weaned.  I had fears of him weaning prior to turning one-year-old but that wasn't Ethan.  He was a strong nurser and it was very much a part of his daily routine.  He signed for milk as soon as he woke in the morning and routinely throughout the day.  Other times I thought I'd nurse him until he was two years old as the WHO recommends.  I also considered extended breastfeeding and continuing until he outgrew his intolerance and allergy to cow's milk.

When I found out I was pregnant again I started researching breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem nursing.  I met with a nutritionist to be sure I was getting everything I needed to nurture myself, Ethan, and the baby.  I spoke with my LC and set a tentative plan.  I would continue breastfeeding as long as it worked for us.  It worked well until he was about 15.5 months old.  My milk changed due to pregnancy and I don't think Ethan was getting as much as he had been used to.  His nursing habits changed and he was becoming frustrated daily.  Instead of 4-5 times a day, Ethan was asking to nurse more than 8 times a day and I couldn't keep up.   He became aggressive and started hitting when he wasn't getting as much milk as he wanted.  I may have been able to work through those challenges, but being sick while continuing my diet, free of Ethan's allergens, was just too much for me to handle.  None of the foods I was allowed to eat sounded appetizing and some of them sent me dry heaving.  I needed to be able to eat whatever sounded good at the moment and that wasn't possible if I was going to continue nursing Ethan.  I was beginning to feel weak and unhealthy.

Tantrums, what seemed like never-ending and painful nursing sessions, aggressive behavior from Ethan, constant nausea, exhaustion, and pregnancy hormones caused it all to come crashing down (not to mention the fact that there was added stress with trying to sell our house and find a new one).  After much thought and discussion, we decided to wean Ethan.

I spoke with his pediatrician, allergist, my LC, and the nutritionist about our options.  Matt and I decided that we would wean Ethan to hemp milk.  This decision was difficult because as with most things related to allergies, all of these doctors and specialists had different opinions.  The pediatrician suggested almond milk because he felt Ethan's peanut allergy does not mean he has a tree nut allergy.  The allergist disagreed with the pediatrician's suggestion.  The allergist suggested we stay away from tree nuts until Ethan is 3 years old.  The allergist also suggested prescription formula.  We had already started giving Ethan the hemp milk.  The LC suggested waiting until Ethan was fully weaned before introducing the prescription formula.  She feared the nasty tasting formula would deter Ethan from drinking anything but breastmilk.  Once again, I'm glad we followed her suggestion.  Once Ethan was no longer nursing and was drinking a few cups of hemp milk a day, we tried to introduce vanilla flavored Neocate.  He took one sip and refused the cup.  We tried it several times.  We tried the unflavored Neocate and he barely had a sip before tossing the cup aside and absolutely refusing to go near the cup of formula again.  I don't blame him because just the smell of the unflavored Neocate nearly made us vomit.  I tried flavoring the unflavored version, thinking that perhaps the vanilla pre-flavored version was too strong of a taste for him.  That attempt was also unsuccessful.  He was not going to drink that formula.  The allergist has given us samples of a prescription juice called EO28 splash.  Ethan will not drink ANY type of juice whether it is watered down or not.  We have tried a few kinds and he is not interested in any of them.  It's strange because he loves fruit and loves fruit strips but not fruit juice.

We are very thankful that Ethan enjoys the hemp milk.  We have been continuing hemp milk and the diet that the nutritionist approved.  At first we gave Ethan the Living Harvest Original Hemp Milk but then discovered that they make an unflavored version.  The original version has sugar in it so we'd prefer he have the unflavored version.  We have been putting half of each of those two into his sippy cups and slowly adding more of the unflavored to our ratio.

The details of how we weaned...
I planned to slowly cut out nursing sessions but that method was not working for Ethan.  His personality led us to more of a "cold turkey" approach.  We went from 5+ to 0 nursing sessions in 4 days. 

I knew the first morning nursing session would be the most difficult to eliminate.  Every morning he signed for milk as soon as he saw one of us and whined/tantrumed until he nursed (this started months before weaning).  We decided to have Matt go in to get Ethan out of his crib in the morning and bring him straight downstairs for some hemp milk and breakfast.  Ethan was upset the first couple of days and the only thing that calmed him down was eating a Clif's Kid's fruit strip.  I wasn't going to give in, nurse him, and confuse him so we gave in to a fruit strip.  I didn't go downstairs until after Ethan was calmly drinking his cup and eating his fruit strip.  After about a week, Ethan started eating a banana instead of a fruit strip first thing in the morning.

Ethan would ask to nurse if he saw my breasts.  Then a few weeks before weaning he started tantruming to nurse if he saw them.  During weaning and for weeks after I had to be strategic about when I took a shower and got dressed to make sure Ethan did not see me.  It was easier to avoid the tantrum then it was to distract him or redirect him. 

I'm amazed at how quickly Ethan stopped asking to nurse (I think it was within 2-4 weeks) and I wonder if he remembers nursing at all now.

I have to say that Ethan had a much easier time with weaning than I anticipated.  There were less tantrums during the days of weaning and after then there were during the weeks of nursing him while pregnant.  This fact alone makes me feel as though weaning when we did was the best decision for all of us. 

New habits after weaning...
Prior to weaning Ethan only used a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.  He didn't ask for it at other times.  He started using it more often after weaning.  If he saw one then he wanted it.  This lasted for about 2 months.  I have recently started only giving a pacifier to him when he is in his crib.  I ask him to throw the pacifier into his crib when I pick him up after he wakes.  He complies with a smile.  I think he thinks it is a game.  Thanks to Kim for this idea!

I'm not sure if it has to do with weaning or if it is an unrelated behavior but Ethan has become much more affectionate and cuddly.  He's a very active toddler but has been taking more time to curl up next to us. 

I was dreading the weaning process but Ethan made it easier than I ever thought it could be.

I think about how fortunate we were that breastfeeding worked out for us.  I am incredibly thankful for it.  I think about the difficult parts...
the pain from severe engorgement
the learning curve in the beginning
the leaking
pumping and pumping and pumping
nursing and pumping sessions in the car
his refusal to take a bottle after months of taking one 3 days a week
racing to his daycare to nurse him until he started taking a sippy cup
rotating little bottles and bags of breastmilk through the refrigerator and freezer
the devastation of losing so much hard earned milk to freezers thawing
scheduling my life and work around nursing and pumping
living without so many of my favorite foods
adjusting to the new diet and lifestyle
persevering through the isolation of such a limited diet, the questions, the criticisms, etc.

ALL of it was worth it and I would do it infinite times again if I needed to.  Nursing Ethan for 15.5 months, allergen free, is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.  Some parts of that were hard and some parts were so easy.

I look at this photo and first I think how cute, strong, and determined my baby is ... and then I think ... LOOK at those rolls!  My milk helped this baby grow.  My body did that!  I'm so proud and thankful.

Developmental Update 16-17 months

It's hard to believe my baby will be a year and a half old soon!  He still amazes us every day.

Between May 24-June24, 2010 Ethan accomplished the following developments:

-learned to say a lot of new words.  I have a running list and his vocabulary is up to over 35 words (already posted.  This post has been in draft for a while).
-learned to run in place after we asked him to.  A family member asked us why we taught him this and the only reason I could think of is that it's funny to watch.  It's so cute to see him follow direction and move those little legs!  Yes, he's our entertainment.
-learned to hike a ball (another really funny thing to see)
-says "hot" for both hot and cold.  He was also saying "up" for both up and down but learned to say "down" too.
-we survived our first night away from Ethan.  We have gone to weddings and concerts where we've left him with family during the late afternoon and returned home after midnight, but we were never away from him for more than 24 hours before.  Ethan's great aunt and uncle came to stay with him and all 3 of them had a great time at home while Matt and I enjoyed our time in State College.
-is obsessed with playing outside.  He stands by the door and begs us by saying "owside".
-is mimicking us all the time.  Matt was doing push ups one day and Ethan tried joining in!  Now he'll practice his push ups if we ask him to!  Again, pure amusement.
-learned to climb down stairs in a safe manner.  He was attempting to go face first and it was scary!  After some prompting of "feet first" and "on your belly" he can safely make it down the stairs with our hands in reach, just in case.
-started walking up the stairs instead of crawling!  He holds our hands, the wall, or banister rails.  Watching him do this really makes him seem like such a big boy!
-says "two" whenever we are counting things, such as his toes.  He has started to do it on his own now too!
-recently started to enjoy watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 
-has very sweet morning and bedtime routines.

Morning:  Ethan wakes us up between 6-6:30am. Matt brings Ethan, a banana, a sippy cup of water, and Kix into bed with us.  We DVR Wheel of Fortune from the night before and play it every morning while Ethan eats his banana and Kix.  After he's done eating he cuddles up to us for the rest of the show.  Every time a commercial comes on, he lets us know (usually our eyes are still resting) by saying "uh oh". 

Evening:  Play outside, dinner, play inside, bath.  After bath time we let him run around naked while we attempt to apply his lotion.  We put his diaper and pajamas on him.  Then we cuddle in our bed while we watch a few minutes of Deal or No Deal and he drinks his hemp milk.  We go to his room to read books and a few more cuddles before he points to his crib to let us know that he's ready for bed.  He's in his crib soothing himself to sleep around 8:15pm. 

We love that he is a cuddly kid and especially enjoy that time since he's no longer nursing.  I didn't think we would introduce television shows specifically for him until after he was 2 years old.  The two game shows (and Mickey at another random time, usually morning while I'm getting ready) have become part of our daily routine.  It works for us, we're ok with that, and I don't feel bad about it anymore.  He isn't being babysat by the television, it's for limited amounts of time, he has plenty of independent play and play time with mom and dad, along with other positives (outside, books, etc).  I saw a commercial for Jeopardy where a contestant said he learned the alphabet by watching Wheel of Fortune.  He said the act of the Wheel of Fortune contestant would calling the letter, Pat repeating it, and then Vanna showing the letter all helped him learn the alphabet.  Maybe Ethan will be a contestant on Jeopardy one day :)

Enjoying bubbles at Jill and Mark's Memorial Day party

His first time playing in a sprinkler and he LOVED it! I was surprised at how quickly he went to it and started playing.

His first time playing in a sprinkler and he LOVED it! I was surprised at how quickly he went to it and started playing.

Playing ball is still his favorite. He loves throwing and kicking.

First time in his pool.
All of his loves surrounding him... us, balls, bubbles, water, and music! We was playing the "air piano" to music our neighbors were playing :)

Running around at my surprise 30th bday party. 

Watching the World Cup with Daddy.

For the record, I despise the new changes to uploading pictures to post using blogger.  In each of my recent posts, I can't get captions under the photos, somehow a picture is posted then doesn't show up, and it's just an overall PAIN!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ethan's current vocabulary

At 17 months Ethan has more than 35 words.
He says the following without prompting:

That ("what's that" combo sounds like "at's that", and "that's a ball" combo sounds like "at-sa ball")
Mmm (whenever he's hungry, as a yes response if we ask him if he wants to eat, and when he smells something good)
Basketball which sometimes sounds like baskeeetball
Choo choo
"Owside" for Outside
See (we hear "I see" when he wants to see the photos/video on the camera/computer)
"Dat Doo" for thank you
Toot (yes, he tell us)
"Scuse" for excuse me...after he toots
Poop (he combines "I poop")
Pee Pee (As in pee pee on the potty.  Sometimes he says "peep" instead.)
"pee-ew" (His sandals make his feet stinky!)
Maaa (but only when he's mad or whining)
"Scoo" for school
Boppy/Bobby for Mommy

The next list are words he says when we ask him to say them:
Vuv for love
Ba-Ba for Mama
Arpame for airplane

He's starting to become a little less shy with talking around other people.  He saves most of his words for us when we're at home and he's most comfortable or in the car.  He does not say yes or no yet but smiles and giggles when the answer is yes and shakes his head no.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A new Bobby

It seems Ethan has forgotten how to say the "m" sound, except when he is upset.  He used to say "Mama" but recently if you ask him to say Mama, he says "Baba".  If you ask him to say Mommy, he says "Bobby" or "Boppy".  If you ask him to say Moo, he says "Boo".  It's all very cute.  Today he reached for me and whispered "Bobby".  It melted my heart.  When he's upset or tantruming he'll yell or whine "Maaa"  or what sounds like "Mom mom moommm" but only then do we hear the "m" sound.  I have no idea how long this phase will last but I don't mind being his "Bobby" one bit.  Actually, I love it.