Mystery Rash: Solved!

This morning, I had my usual egg breakfast. I mashed a thumb into my scrambled eggs, and rubbed it in a little spot on Piglet’s shoulder. Sure enough, about half an hour later, the rash appeared in just that spot. It went away again in another half hour. So now we know! It was the eggs!

So now I wash my hands after handling eggs, before I touch the baby.

What I don’t know is if my egg consumption affects him in any other way. Is it responsible for some of his crankiness? He seems to be getting better despite my return to egg-eating. Is the reaction something he’ll outgrow? Does it mean we have to be extra-careful about eggs when we introduce solid foods down the road?

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Poop, Rashes

When I thought about having kids, this was one thing I did not expect: my whole life now revolves around poop. My poop. Piglet’s poop. Probably other poop, too. I dunno.

Pregnancy destroyed my digestive tract. I don’t know how or why, or when/if it will ever return to normal function. In the ten weeks since Piglet was born, I’ve had a couple of spells where things worked more or less how they were supposed to, but it doesn’t last long. Then I go back to counting the days since my last bowel movement and debating what to do about it. I’ve had to resort to glycerin suppositories (oh sweet relief!) twice now, because the Milk of Magnesia gives Piglet the runs and makes him totally miserable.  I eat three spoons of flaxseed meal every morning, and heaps of green vegetables at lunch and dinner, all to no avail. Is this the lingering effects of pregnancy hormones? Is it some permanent damage from my intestines shifting into the spot my uterus once occupied (before it slumped down to bulge into the front of my vagina)? Rectocele? Is my abdomen just too loose these days to maintain the proper internal pressures? Is it laxative dependence?  I don’t know, but I really, really, really want it fixed. The sooner, the better.

Did I mention that Milk of Magnesia affects Piglet?  Yeah. It’s listed as safe for breastfeeding, but…  not pleasant, I guess. The screaming was awful, and I think not all of it was from the MoM, but for a while there, while I was taking the stuff, his poops went a little greenish, and the texture changed from bee pollen granules to liquid. As he went back to bee pollen, the screaming also subsided a lot.

EC is going well. I had a migraine the other day, and strangely this meant we caught almost every poop, because I had no tolerance at all for any crying, so I was alert to every squeak, and just put him on the potty whenever he squirmed or made noise. We had a couple of false starts, but mostly he had to go.

Please note that this did not cure the cranky episodes. We still have to walk him around and sing to him a whole lot in the evenings to keep our neighbors from complaining to the landlady. But there seems to be some reason for it now. After a while he nurses and goes to sleep. And that’s the end of it. And then we can say “he was tired” and shrug and go to bed.

On another note, Piglet got the rash again this morning. He had it a week or so ago– this sudden patchy red rash on his back, with little bumps in the red patches. It went away about half an hour after we noticed it, and we were totally at a loss on what it might be. I have an inkling now: I think it might be eggs. Both times he got the rash, he was hanging around shirtless, and I picked him up after cooking and eating eggs for breakfast. I may patch-test this theory when I’m feeling a little more brave, and deliberately rub a little egg on him to see if it happens again. Then we’d know for sure.

Cry, cry, cry

The colic-y stuff actually seems to be getting worse.  He’s not so inconsolable now– we can get him to stay quiet as long as we are holding him, walking around, and singing to him. But the duration and frequency are increasing. The start of “cranky time” is creeping earlier and earlier, but it always seems to end between 10 and 11pm.

Cry-it-out is not an option. I mean, I’m morally opposed to it, but I get as tired and wrung out as anyone, and I have had to just put him down and let him scream for a little while a couple of times, to avoid violence. I believe the cry-it-out strategy is born of the unnatural situation that is the modern nuclear family– i.e. not enough women in the household to take care of an infant. This is a curious historical/cultural anomaly.  I think it’s inevitable that women must sometimes leave their babies to cry, because we don’t all have the mental fortitude to hold an inconsolable, screaming, refusing-to-nurse child for three straight hours without hurting it. But I also think it is very, very wrong for “experts” to address this strategy as something good for the child. It’s an inevitable evil.  But there’s no way this is the norm– the best thing– for the human animal. No other animal would do this: the babe would be eaten!

That’s not why we can’t let him cry it out. Obviously, the wolves aren’t going to get him, here. But the couple of times I’ve had to do that, we’ve ended up with the landlady/neighbors at our door. And if you thought having an infant screaming in your ear was bad, try communicating what’s wrong with him to your landlady in an unfamiliar language WHILE he is screaming in your ear. Or trying to understand your neighbors’ suggestions for home remedies, and communicate back that you understand, and that you’ll try it. Or having the screaming occasionally punctuated by an anonymous neighbor lady yelling across the lobby to let me know what a bad mother I am (yeah, my Spanish sucks, but some things come through crystal clear). So it’s good that he’s actually consolable these days. But it’s grueling. It’s getting to be five hours at a time of walking him up and down the lobby, singing anything that comes to mind (lullabies, Patsy Cline, the communion hymn from church…)– because for five hours if he’s not being actively comforted, he’s screaming. At the end of the day I crawl into bed and pass out, praying that the next day will be better… and lately the next day has always been just a little bit worse.

Just to complicate things, my husband has developed severe lower back pain and can’t carry the baby, so only I can do the walking part. He has been filling in by doing the stuff Piglet has been preventing me doing: like cooking dinner and washing the dishes.

The Cusquena ladies’ remedy for colic (it didn’t work for me, but hey, anything’s worth a try!) is to chew a little peppermint leaf, spit it into a little water, and feed the baby a couple of small spoonfuls of the water (not the leaf).

At least he’s sleeping well at night. He wakes up to eat at 3:30 and 6:30 like clockwork. And I’m so tired these days that even our wailing abuela neighbor can’t keep me up.

In the mornings, when Piglet is in a good mood, I’m beginning to see little signs of communication. He seems to actually understand me when I say “are you hungry?”– he goes into his little tongue-out, head-bobbing nursey-face routine. And when he gets all squirmy and grunty and I ask if he wants to go potty, he calms down a little, and his facial expression changes. That didn’t work out well this morning, I admit: he squirmed and grunted, I put him on the potty, and he totally freaked out and yelled. He was hungry, and the potty was not where he wanted to be. But I hadn’t misread him: as soon as I took him off the potty he peed all over me and the changing pad and the bed…

He’s also started imitating us, just a little. Sometimes if you stick your tongue out at him, he sticks his tongue out. And most of the time, if he’s in a good mood, we can make clicky noises at him, and he’ll make clicky noises back to us.

We took him to the botica this morning, and weighed me holding him, and me without him. Not the most accurate way to measure the baby, but after translating out of the metric, the boy weighs roughly sixteen and a half pounds. Most of it in his thighs. The curious thing, though, is that I now weigh less than I did before the pregnancy. I started at 120 (naked), and now weigh about 117: and that’s while wearing shoes, a floor-length denim skirt, and the five meters of jersey cotton that I am using to carry Piglet around in. So it’s entirely possible I’m under 115 now. I’m not sure what to make of that, when my boobs are bigger than ever, my belly is still on the paunchy side, and breastfeeding makes me hungry all the time, so I’ve been eating like a horse. I think a lot of it is muscle atrophy.

In better news, my blood sugars seem to have stabilized. I’m guessing the crazy low glucose numbers are what make so many people give up on a low-carb diet. Those first few days can be really brutal. But I’m very, very glad I stuck it out, because now that my numbers are consistently in the 70s and 80s both before and after meals, I feel so much better. If I were still randomly plummeting into the 40s and 50s, I don’t think I could handle Piglet’s cranky spells at all. It’s a little disappointing to find that my blood sugars don’t appear to be the cause (and therefore the cure) of his ills, but…  stable blood sugars are good for both of us anyway.

Thumbsucking, ECing at night, and it’s not the eggs

I woke a few nights ago to Piglet’s squirming next to me. I looked over to see his little fist balled up next to his mouth. Surely he wasn’t…  but he was! That little thumb was definitely in his mouth. Visions of his future gigantic orthodontic bills flashed before me. I gently pulled it out. He waved his fist by his mouth, but his thumb was tucked in– whew! But then, very deliberately, he opened his hand, splayed out all his fingers, and waved his hand by his mouth twice, until he got the thumb. I cursed quietly, pulled the thumb away, and nursed him back to sleep. Please don’t be a thumbsucker, Piglet!

ECing at night is really hard. But sometimes it’s the best solution. This morning, at 3:30, Piglet woke up to eat. It quickly turned into a crazy wrestling match, with him repeatedly letting go and then frantically searching for the nipple again, all while punching me and kicking violently. What the heck, Piglet? Are you hungry or aren’t you? I don’t think very clearly at 3:30. Finally I got so frustrated I had to sit up and be out of the reach of his flailing feet and fists. I started down the list. I burped him. His diaper was uncharacteristically dry and clean. I got out the potty and set him on it. He immediately calmed down and started making his little floppy-disk-drive noises. So that was it! Poor kid needed to poop, and didn’t want to go in his pants. If I can make this an automatic response instead of a last-ditch effort to figure out why Piglet is trying to beat me up in the middle of the night, I think we’ll have a lot fewer dirty diapers!

For two days, we have been free of colic episodes! This is after going back to eating eggs, so I think we can safely say it wasn’t the eggs causing the problem. But what IS the cause? Here are the likeliest possibilities:

1) For the past two days my blood sugars have been under control. Nothing over 113, nothing under 59, and my new “normal” seems to be in the mid-sixties. Which seems really low to me, but I feel fine at that level so I’m just going to roll with it.I am eating a ton, with eggs, coconut shreds, avocado, and charqui to tide me over between actual meals.

2) Bananas. To control sugars, I had to give up all the fruits, and bananas were a daily pleasure, eaten in thirds. I’ve been without them for three days now.

3) Fructose. It’s not just bananas– I’ve been without all fruits and grains, excepting avocados. So if he’s fructose sensitive, that would cure it.

4) Dairy. I’ve been without that for something like two weeks now, but some sources suggest the proteins can persist in your system for over a week, so if it only just now cleared out, that could be it…

5) It’s a fluke, or he’s just growing out of it. We may never know.

8 weeks: Chanchito, neck cheese, transitive verbs

One of the Russian ladies at church declared the boy a “chanchito” (piglet). It suits him. He is so chubby we’ve had to move to the next-size-up diapers, even though he is probably not nine kilos yet. The right-size diapers are too tight around his humongous thighs, and were leaving raw marks.

The colic had seemed to be going away, but it’s been back with a vengeance the last couple of days, so… I can’t say with any confidence that what we’ve been doing is helping. He’s still in obvious pain for an hour or more every evening. I’m afraid to go back to eating butter and eggs, just in case that was a contributing factor, but maybe in a few days…   Right now I’m trying to keep a very, very tight rein on my blood sugar levels, and I’m hoping that will help. They’ve been ugly lately.

Chanchito is so fat he has creases inside of his neck creases. And he stores cheese in there. I can give him a bath and completely miss the stuff– I’m constantly going back later with damp washcloths trying to clean out what I missed. It’s this gray gunge made of skin cells and sweat and urp, and it is stinky and gross.

Our potty experiment has created new verbs. I never thought I would be using “pee” and “potty” as transitive verbs, but it seems to best suit the action. It’s not so much that the baby is peeing in the potty– it’s that I am peeing him in the potty. So now it makes perfect sense to say “why don’t you try pottying him?” We are riding high today because we’ve caught three poops in the potty– and it is a heckuva lot easier to rinse them out of the potty than it is to clean them off his butt when he goes in his diaper.

 

 

 

Bad Mama, nursing in a sling, and something’s working, but what?

I’m a bad mama. I nicked the little guy’s fingers while cutting his nails. Twice. He forgets in seconds. I spend the next two days feeling horrible about it.

We’ve had a bit of a reprieve with the colicky symptoms. They’ve been happening earlier in the day, lasting no more than an hour, and they’ve been milder– we have not been escalating to inconsolable screaming these last few days. Just general crankiness where he cries unless he’s being carried around. That’s been the last three days…  so something worked, but since we changed several things at once, I’m not sure what. It could be:

1) Block nursing is finally working. I can tell it has reduced supply somewhat– that or the little guy has grown a larger stomach– because by afternoon we have cleared both breasts, and he can actually finish one side and start the other in the same feeding. Previously it took two or three feedings just to clear one side, every time.

2)Elimination diet: I have removed all eggs and dairy from my diet, for the time being.

3) I ditched the anise tea: it’s a local specialty and I really like it, but it turns out it passes through the breastmilk, is mildly toxic, and because it’s part of the fennel family, it can increase milk supply. This could be why block nursing didn’t seem to be working before.

4) No more Milk of Magnesia: I’ve replaced my daily dose with 1000mg of vitamin C in the morning, which has roughly the same effect.

5) None of the Above: Could just be coincidence.

Also, I’ve seen a lot of claims of people nursing babies in their slings– wraps, pouches, ergos, you name it… what kind of mutants are these women? I have tried and tried with both my wrap and pouch slings, and it is totally impossible. I would have to have foot-long snakelike boobs to make that work. All attempts result in A) baby can’t reach or B) baby is mashed into my boob and can’t breathe.  What gives?

Colic and YouTube

Mr. Grumpypants has been, well, cranky lately. He’ll have a couple of minor cranky spells in the morning and afternoon, and then in the evening it is Grand Horrible Screamingfit Crankytime. For one to three hours. Nothing calms him for more than a few minutes. We’ve been playing a lot of YouTube music videos to keep ourselves calm, and sometimes they even work for the baby. For a time. So far, here’s what works best:

1) Way-too-loud waterfall video, ten minutes long: freaking fantastic. It is loud enough to get through to him while he’s still crying, and this morning it got him calmed down enough to nurse, and he fell asleep in under five minutes.

2) Waves on beach sounds. Less hard on my own ears, and seemed to help him sleep.

3) Brahms: Mr. Grumpypants does not like Tchaikovsky, but he seems to like Brahms. If he hasn’t reached Ultimate Screaming yet, it’ll catch his fancy for a few minutes.

4) Andres Segovia: I like Segovia. But for reasons I cannot fathom, my six-week-old son is totally mesmerized by him. Is it the chunky glasses? The bald head and wispy fringe of hair like his own? I don’t know, but I’ll take it.

And because we are desperate and we’ll try anything, we’re also giving colic massage a go. Here’s a good instructional video:

Currently, what seems to work best at the worst times is the colic hold:

Mr. Grumpypants is too big and too heavy to do this one-armed like the guy in this video, but we (usually my husband) do the two-armed version and walk him around and around and around the apartment. This can work for a good while, if he’s not too freaked out, but it’s not foolproof. Eventually one’s back gives out, or he freaks out and starts yelling again anyway. But once in a while, he just goes to sleep, or stays calm enough long enough that I can nurse him and we can all go to bed.

For extra insurance, I’m also eliminating eggs and dairy from my diet for a while, to see if that helps, and I’m looking for an alternative to my daily dose of leche de magnesia, in case that’s somehow crossing through my milk and upsetting his stomach. The stuff certainly makes me fart like crazy, and I have run across a couple of mentions of mothers’ stool softener/laxative use affecting the breastfed baby, so…   perhaps a big chunk of vitamin C in the morning instead?

Block nursing continues. I honestly can’t say it’s making any difference, but at least I can tell when the breast is actually empty now. They were never getting emptied before. We’re settling into a pattern, where it’s about four hours to empty one side at the start of the day, because he nurses only short sessions before falling asleep again, at night, and when we get up in the morning, my boobs are on the verge of exploding. Sometimes I have to express the side he’s not nursing. We’re still having problems with massive let-down response. He pulls  away choking and coughing, and I scramble for a rag to soak up the river of milk running down my side.