Beat Down And Falling Around.

I have no idea what’s wrong with Em and I hate that I’m about to post this, because I never wanted to talk about such personal things (about him) online, but I need help.

For a while now, he’s faced a great deal of frustration trying to poop. It can literally take him all day sometimes to get anything out and that’s after a great deal of straining and pain. And when it finally does come out, it’s rather hard. We called the doctor who told us to feed him lots of fruits and vegetables, which is just absurd because that’s all he really eats. (Unfortunately, this was left on a message as she was busy and I haven’t called back yet so I couldn’t then tell her no, that’s not the problem.)

A few nights ago, we woke up to hear Emory SCREAMING from his bedroom. He was making horrible sounds, like a woman in labor. He was trying to poop. He tried so hard, he threw up and it came out of his nose as well. (I am crying as I write this because he’s in school and I want so badly to hug him right now.)

Anyway, I decided that enough was enough, I did some online research. Several people suggested that babies who go through this type of situation often have milk allergies (which they eventually outgrow) and that it’s not often talked about by doctors. So, we decided to give him some soy milk instead of milk milk and see how that goes. We also added flax as well as prune juice into the mix. Things got better. They weren’t perfect, but they were better.

But then last night happened. I stupidly (I think it was the culprit?) gave him a homemade bread and cream cheese sandwich with chopped up dates. He ate it up fast—loved it. He drank some water and then some soy milk and went off to bed.

We woke up at 11 listening to him scream. He continued to go into contractions every 10 minutes until 4 AM or later. It was heartbreaking and there was nothing I could do for him.

I am not sure what’s going on with Emory. I need to fix it. I feel so badly for him. I am tired. I am making mistakes, fighting with my husband, flicking off construction workers, fighting with our passive aggressive previous landlord, discussing things with other mothers—mere strangers to me at his daycare—that I should never discuss. I feel as though I am bordering on that insane, hysterical mother—the one everyone whispers about when she leaves the room.

I have no idea how to control this, how to fix it, how to make him better, us better, me better.

I can’t help me. But maybe someone else can.

The Truth About The MMR

Emory received his MMR immunization last Monday. We were told that any side effects associated with this vaccine would kick in after 7 to 10 days. We hit day seven and nothing happened and we thought, “Awesome! We’re in the clear!”

We were wrong.

Yesterday I noticed a few red spots on his face—just four—and lifted his shirt to check for more. Sure enough, there were a few more spots on his torso. At that point I took his temperature—a solid 100 degrees.

He was cranky all day, but it wasn’t any worse than whenever he cut his molars. We gave him some Tylenol and he was fine by morning. He’s back to his usual, insane, toddling self.

But we did notice something regarding the MMR and its apparent side-effects. They won’t tell you about this. So I am going to take the opportunity to do so. I hope you’re prepared. You may even want to sit down.

The MMR makes babies speak. It’s true! I watched it happen.

Prior to having been vaccinated, Em said a few words such as Mama, Dada, (a warped version of) Kitty Cat (that sounded like “Keecah”), Night Night (that sounded like this: “Nighnah”) and Hi. That’s pretty much it.

But since receiving the MMR words have been flying out. He’s like a little tape recorder! He now says Cracker, Blue, Blueberries, Mama (clear as day), Kitty Cat, Daddy, Hi, Elmo, Baby, Finished (not very well, however), Bubble and One, Two, Three.

I have deduced that the MMR vaccine makes babies speak. It may sound absurd, but then again, so does suggesting it causes autism.

Speaking of the MMR, there is a fantastic This American Life episode about a family who refused the MMR for their child. At age seven, he traveled overseas and brought the measles virus back home with him. The episode is about how he and his family brought an entire town to a screeching halt.

While all of that may sound really serious, it’s actually very funny. It’s well worth the listen.

(I know! Can you believe how much I’ve changed when it comes to immunizations? I am shocked by my transformation!)

Gattaca: We're Not Far Off

The New York Times reported over the weekend that there’s a 149 dollar test for children to determine if they have the sports gene.

My initial thought was, Awesome! We should see what it says about Emory! like we’d be getting a reading from a 15-dollar, storefront fortune teller. After I thought about it a bit more, the idea began to make me very uneasy. I’m asking way too many questions of the “what if? variety.

Can we be trusted with this information? Will it bring more good to the world than bad? Because I’m just not sure.

Haircut 100 and a MOHs Update.

I got a haircut last night. The woman didn’t even use scissors. Instead, she pulled out that razor thing and went all Edward on me. I generally tell hair stylists to do whatever they want with my hair. (I liken it to doing logo work. Things always work out better for everyone involved if the client trusts that I know what I’m doing instead of try and art direct.) I’ve only had one mishap following this technique.

It’s really short in back. But it’s easy to maintain. This is how it looks today after a torrential downpour.

I think I’m happy with it, although I’m a little shocked with the length. I was also shocked by the price tag. Who knew that taking a razor to someone’s head would cost 100 bucks? This is precisely why I only get haircuts once a year.

As long as we’re on the subject of my face, I would like to take this opportunity and give an update regarding the MOHs surgery I had last November. As I was clicking around on Flickr, it occurred to me that today is the one year anniversary of that surgery. (Nuts, eh? Years fly!) Anyway, I think that it’s a perfect time for an update.

This was taken on November 7th, 2007:

This was taken in January (the redness around my eyebrows is from a waxing, totally unrelated):

This was taken in March after some laser treatment:

I took this shot today:

I am quite pleased with how it’s healed, although it did take a year. Remember, wear sunscreen or you’re an idiot.

In other news, we’re heading to DC tomorrow morning. We’re leaving Em with my parents, which is giving me heartburn as well as heartache. It’s not that I don’t trust them, quite the contrary, it’s that I’m not sure I want to be away from him for two days. I already miss him. I’ve never known love like this before. How do people do this?


I feel awful. Perhaps it’s because of how tired I am. I have no idea. But I just feel terrible. I feel like I have failed miserably as a mother because I have no idea of how to calm my son down. That’s supposed to be my job, right? Calming him down, making him comfortable. And I can’t do it.

Last night was rough. He refused a nap and then at 7 he fell asleep after a fight only to wake up 45 minutes later. Toby was home by then and gave it a go. By 9 PM he was having a full-fledged meltdown. He was screaming like I’ve never heard before. He simply could not relax. We tried rocking him and singing to him. He walked back and forth between us looking for comfort, when he couldn’t find it, he’d go to the other one, screaming the entire time.

At 9:30. He finally fell asleep. He woke up a dozen times throughout the night. We did everything we could to make him comfortable and failed.

This morning he woke up at 6 AM. His eyes were puffy and his nose was running slightly. Of course, we immediately panicked thinking he may caught something from the bird we found. (There hasn’t been any contact, but still.) And then we thought maybe his molars were coming in. Perhaps he just caught a cold.

I want to be able to calm him down. I want to be able to make him happy. But I have been failing for 24 hours straight. This is the toughest job I have ever had. There’s no conversation that begins with a simple, “Hey, what’s wrong? What can I do to make it better?” and then working hard to make that happen.

I have failed at the only thing I am supposed to be doing right now, which is making my son’s life easier, understanding what he needs and making that happen.

What a difficult job!

Now, you may laugh at what I’m about to suggest and I’m no contender, but I think it’s high time the MacArthur Foundation grants a million dollars to a stay-at-home mother. Because, while I may be failing at it myself this week, we work our asses off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at “building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world”.

Among this year’s winners there was an urban farmer, a sculptor, an astrophysicist, and a violinist. You know what almost all of them had in common?

A mother.

Next year, I’m nominating a stay-at-home mother for the MacArthur grant.

Yeah, you heard me. ;]

Eat The Pain Away.

Em had his one-year checkup yesterday. We’re a month late. I know. But I wanted to give him time to celebrate having turned one. (If you believe that one, there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you.) I’m not going to lie. It was tough. It was tough because my kid is freakishly strong. I know parents say things like that all the time about their young, but ya gotta believe me. He’s strong.

We got there fifteen minutes early so they could apply some numbing cream to both wrists as well as on the inside of his right elbow. It was then covered in clear plastic which he immediately began trying to rip off. We set him free to play with the plethora of toys they have in the waiting room.

About a half hour later, the doctor called us in. Em was weighed, measured and examined. All was well. We asked our questions. We asked about our giving him milk right before bedtime and we were told to stop that immediately. Milk can rot their teeth in just 3 short months. I hate that we didn’t know that. We gave him a bottle of water yesterday for each nap and at bedtime and it seemed to work out just fine. (Thank goodness.)

Don’t make the same mistake we have.

We also discussed his immunization schedule and the MMR. It’s supposed to begin at one year but can be postponed until 15 months, which we have opted for.

At one point in time, we had discussed separating the vaccine and paying for each one individually and out of pocket if need be. But yesterday our doctor informed us that separating each one is no longer an option. Merck (the only manufacturer of Mumpsvax) has halted production and supplies are running out, which means parents are left with no other choice but to administer the MMR. We’re OK with this. I mentioned a few weeks ago, that we’ve become a lot more relaxed about immunizations. (Research! Research! Research!)

Pediatricians must have a very difficult job right now, convincing parents that the right thing to do is immunize their child. Because before we assured her that we were onboard with everything (more or less, we are still following a modified schedule) she came off as slightly defensive. I imagine they are met with parental roadblocks where vaccines are concerned.

We gave Em his final DTaP yesterday. He’s doing just fine today.

But the blood drawing fiasco? Oh holy hell was it ever brutal. We were given a lollipop, which he’s never had before, and were told to give him it to him whenever she inserted the needle. Well, that didn’t really work out. He did not like being pinned down. We expected that. But this was incredible. It took four of us to hold him down and draw the blood. I know. That sounds absurd. No baby is that strong. And he’s not. One adult could overpower him. The problem is that these little suckers are still fragile, strong or not. So you can’t really put all your force into it. They’re little bones could snap in two. Holding a baby down requires finding that very delicate middle ground, and we were having a great deal of trouble finding that yesterday.

It took her several tries to get the vein. She kept saying, “I can’t believe how strong he is. He’s the strongest baby I think I’ve ever worked with.”

In the meantime, he screamed from the pain. It was the first time I really saw actual hurt in his eyes. I have no idea how the families of truly sick children live through something like that. It must be horrible watching a child experience pain, simply horrible. (Parents with sick children, you are my heroes. I don’t know where you get your strength.)

I did manage to crack up when the doctor went in for a third time and TJ put the lollipop in his mouth said, “Use food to cope.” and “Eat the pain away”

It was a nervous laugh, but a laugh nonetheless and given the circumstances of the situation, we had to lighten it up somehow.

We should find out how much we’ve screwed up his perfect little body in a few days.

Vaccinations Revisited.

Amanda Peet gave an interview to Cookie Magazine recently. She discussed motherhood, toys and vaccinations. She’s imploring people to vaccinate and isn’t candy-coating her message at all. She tells Cookie Mag, “Frankly, I feel that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.”

Zing! Snap! Zing! (She later apologized for the harsh delivery but stands behind the idea.)

During a television interview on Good Morning America last week, she said, “I’m not a doctor, which brings me to another point. It seems like the media is often giving celebrities and actors more authority on this issue than they’re giving the experts and that’s a sad fact. And I know that’s a paradox – that’s part of why I wanted to become a spokesperson, so I could say, ‘Please don’t listen to me, don’t listen to the actors, go to the experts.”

I have my own thoughts about vaccinations. I did hours and hours worth of research when Em was brand new. I worried myself silly over them. In the beginning, I actually contemplated not vaccinating Em, an idea I find completely crazy now. I’m not sure if I was merely getting caught up in the wave of hysteria so prevalent these days or if I was just worried about the actual needle-sticking part. But I worried myself sick.

And then he had his first vaccine (we did stagger them) and everything went well. After that, I began to loosen up a bit.

We chose to spread them out not because we thought a vaccine might cause neurological damage, we spread them out because I felt that his body should have enough time to cope with each one. This meant more co-pays, more visits to the doctor, and (unfortunately for everyone) more needle pricks.

We’re waiting on a few and skipping some as well. For example, we opted to wait on Hepatitis B until he is a little bit older. And I decided against the flu vaccine. We’re also waiting a bit to start the MMR—not too long, but a little bit.

We did couple some of them. I made my decisions based on the statistics on the CDC Web site. Basically, the higher incidences of side-effects, the more likely I’d give him that vaccine on its own. The more “easy going” vaccine (for example, Polio) the more likely I’d couple it with another. (If for some reason you are interested in seeing how we spaced them, feel free to email me.)

It’s my opinion that yes, parents should be given a choice as to whether they vaccinate or not. No one should ever be forced to do something to their child because the government says so. However, I think information needs to be made readily available to every American no matter who they are (rich, poor, black, white, purple, old or young). I think insurance companies should cover the cost of classes for parents-to-be. I think this may help correct misconceptions behind vaccines and teach parents why vaccinating your child is important. I was offered (and took) a breastfeeding class and a parenting class. Why can’t hospitals or pediatricians offer a class or two about immunizations? Because I firmly believe that if a parent does the research, if they can ask questions, they will feel better about vaccinating their child.

I think vaccinating our children is the right thing to do and the benefits far outweigh the side-effects. Remember this post? How about this one? It took a hell of a lot of research for me to get to this point. I no longer think that the government is some kind of boogeyman trying to poison our children. And I realize that for some this change of mind may come as a surprise. Believe me, there is still nothing more horrible than taking a newborn to the doctor and watching said doctor insert a needle into his or her leg. All the research in the world won’t make the actual event any less awful. But after a year worth of research, I’m (more or less) onboard with Amanda Peet.

But don’t listen to me either. Do the research yourself. It’s the only way you’ll ever feel better about it.

We're Sick.

Em isn’t feeling well. He’s come down with a cold. And I woke up with a sore throat today. We’re dead tired. I am shocked Toby made it to work in any reasonable form this morning. Em was up every hour all night long complaining and unable to breath. He’s really congested. We suctioned his little nose at 4 AM but that didn’t help. I even brought him into the bathroom and steamed him like a baby potato. To no avail.

Anyway, life feels very much the same way it did with a newborn. And I’m sure all our hard work with sleep training is going to be set back. Perhaps this is nature’s way of asking, “Do you really want another baby, Michele?”

The answer is still yes, but I if we’re met with another sleepless night like last night, I may be saying something different.

Tuesdays With Murray will return next week when we feel better.

Weight Loss, etc.

I signed up for WeightWatchers on May 30th, 2008. As of tomorrow, I’ll be halfway through my trial period. This post is an update to what’s been happening, how much I’ve lost, frustrations I’ve met, and things that have helped me out over the last month and half.

Let me begin by saying that I’ve lost 8 pounds. I expected to have lost more than that by now, and I’ve been fluctuating between a 6 to 8 pound loss for three weeks. Am I experiencing a plateau? I’m not sure. But I’m going to continue and hope that the next couple of weeks bring me higher numbers.

One of the reasons I’m so irritated by the plateau is because I’m working out as well. (Although, I just started with a regular daily routine last week, so perhaps things will pick up?) But I feel like I should have lost more weight by now. Maybe not. Who knows.

All in all, this diet is much easier to follow and stick to than South Beach. I tried South Beach several years ago and while the diet works, I wasn’t able to stick with it and I felt like I was hungry most of the time. I was on it for about 4 months. I lost 19 pounds. The diet was trying, however. And I gained it all back.

The South Beach diet just wasn’t one I could stay on indefinitely. I feel that WW is.

One of the reasons I like WW diet is because of the bonus points you’re given on top of the daily allotment. There have been some weeks where I am doing just great and then BAM! we order pizza and I devour 3 slices in one sitting. There were two days last week where I blew right past my 21-point weekly allotment. One day I consumed a massive 45 points!

But that amount comes out of the weekly “bonus” points. And so you’re not beating yourself up quite as much as you might on other diets.

Another reason I like WW is that the product line is oustanding. Let me begin by saying that I’m not super keen on eating foods with a long list of ingredients, but I decided that this time I’d blissfully ignore my inclinations and just go with it. At this juncture, I have tried several of the packaged meals offered by Smart One’s. (Only the vegetarian ones, however. We prefer our meat come from local farms), I’ve tried several of the desserts, and a whole bunch of bread products. This has helped me get a grasp on point allotment. It also helps me feel full. (Sometime down the road, I plan to take off my training wheels and give up the packaged meals. I may continue to buy their bread products, however. You simply can’t beat a bagel for two points and a whole grain english muffin for one.)

If you don’t mind eating food with a long list of ingredients, I highly recommend trying out their pre-packaged meals.

I’ve learned that foods high in fiber and low in fat are golden. So, cheese glorious cheese? Not so glorious for the midsection. Incidentally, that’s been the most difficult thing for me to give up. I am a cheese lover. But when it comes to hunger and point allotment to fulfillment ratio, cheese ranks as one of the foods to avoid.

I’ve learned that you can have unlimited amounts of vegetables and almost as much fruit as you can stomach. (I love fruit, which could be another reason that South Beach proved difficult for me.)

Wine and beer? Avoid it. It won’t do anything to make you feel full plus, it messes with your metabolism (as does caffeine, actually. But I’m not about to give that up). Beer is higher than wine, naturally. But lite beer is better than regular. (I tend to prefer the dark stuff, so beer hasn’t been something I’ve touched lately.)

Salad dressing is the devil, for the most part. Seriously. In fact, I have joked and said that if every American went into their fridge right now and threw out every condiment, we’d be a lot thinner in only a month’s time. I think there’s truth to that statement.

If you’re a snacker, you have to figure out what type of snacks to eat. I have gotten through some salt cravings by making Newman’s Own popcorn (96% fat free). I usually add Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and I have myself a relatively healthy snack. (Well, if you ignore the sodium content in the Lawry’s. heh.)

My favorite snack, however, is a cucumber salad my mother made us when we were growing up. I’ll cut up one cucumber, add a spoonful of lite mayonnaise (or fat free), and some white balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on some pepper, and you have yourself a tasty treat. (This has gotten me from one meal to the next dozens of times over the last month. Plus, it’s awesome.)

In a nutshell the diet is working albeit slowly and some days I get really annoyed especially when my weight fluctuates. But putting on weight is much easier (and more fun but not as rewarding!) than losing it.

I am going to stand strong and readdress my situation when my 3-month trial ends. At that point in time, I’ll decide if i want to pay the month-by-month fee and continue, or if I need to figure something else out (like liposuction and a breast reduction). But I’m pretty satisfied with the way things are going, however, I’d be a LOT more satisfied if WW sent me free products and in turn I’ll write reviews and give them free advertising, because buying this stuff costs money we don’t have. I get email all the time asking me to agree to blog post sponsorship and I always say no because I worry about what I’ll have to agree to. But if WW came to me and asked me to do such a thing? I’d do it in a heartbeat.

That’s all for now. As always, feedback and/or suggestions welcome.

Weight Watchers

I am looking for information about Weight Watchers. I know I could probably get a very thorough description of how it works on the Web site, but I’m not looking for a sale’s pitch. So, have you ever done Weight Watchers? Did it work? What were the pros and cons? Is it worth the money?

I am considering an online trial. I want/need to lose 20 pounds of weight. I simply have to. I’m tired of saying I’ll do it and then failing miserably. Also, if anyone cares to join me, I’ll be your online dieting buddy!

Any or all help welcome. If you tend to shy away from comments, feel free to email me.