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.

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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.

 

 

 

Eggs? Rollovers, block nursing, brain melting, monster farts, hair loss

We’ve been trying everything we can think of to alleviate the evening screaming sessions. Eliminating garlic and caffeine did not work. We tried block nursing based on an article over at kellymom.com, which is a fabulous breastfeeding resource, but with mixed results. The screaming continued unabated, but I have been less engorged lately. I’m experimenting with my diet now, to see if it’s maybe something I’m eating. Most common allergens are things I don’t normally eat anyway, but I do eat a ton of eggs, so today’s my second day without them. Last night we had a mere one-hour cranky time, and without the all-out goatlike screaming. We’ll see what a few more days without eggs are like.

Yesterday morning, the boy rolled over, all by himself. Probably a fluke: he’s only five weeks old. He did have a slight downhill slope in his favor, where my husband was sitting on the bed. He was lying on his belly, bobbing around, and lurched over with his head and shoulders. A couple of minutes of kicking made his legs follow. He smiled and smiled, looking awfully proud of himself. Then he did it again this morning– and it looked much more deliberate. Whoa!

On the pottying front, things are burbling right along. We still catch a few and miss more, but the total absence of diaper rash is payment enough. The process is, however, melting my brain. A day or two ago, when he made his little cranky noises and I actually noticed and put him on the potty and he promptly let loose with a gigantic poop. And I actually (I kid you not) uttered the word “pooperstar”.  Enough said.

Breastfeeding… those pastel drawings with the mama in 1900s dress looking angelic and absorbed in her sweetly suckling infant: they lie. We like to nurse lying down because the babe is so darn heavy already. When he lies on his right side he drips a constant stream of milk out of his right nostril. It doesn’t seem to bother him, but it’s hard to keep from making puddles on the sheets, and by the end of the week, there’s a definite sour-milk funk in the bed.  Lately, he’s been getting attacks of the monster farts. He’s not scared of his own farts anymore, but they still make him uncomfortable, so when he’s farting, he wants to nurse. And while he’s nursing, he writhes around and kicks at me and flails his arms and farts loudly and frequently.

I am undergoing a massive hair-shedding. It was expected, and I haven’t developed any bald spots, or reached that cancer-patient coming-out-in-handfuls stage. The funnier thing is the baby’s hair loss. He has been going bald from front to back, and now he’s got a severely receding hairline.  I expect this means his light brown fuzz will be replaced, eventually, by a cornsilk mop like I had as a child– after the black hair I was born with fell out.

 

First foods, potty update, sharking, screaming, atrophy

My son’s carnet has food recommendations on it. Delightfully, it says in very clear terms that for the first six months, he should have nothing but breastmilk. When it comes to introducing solids from 6-24 months, it recommends a lot of the things you’d expect, like avocado and bananas and rice, and also quinua, higado (liver), and cuy (guinea pig).

The pottying continues. I can’t really tell if we are saving any diapers, but we are certainly staying well clear of diaper rash, which is a huge relief.  We’ve had a couple of incidents where he griped at me while nursing and I did everything *but* put hom on the potty– burped him, pulled him away for a minute in case it was a gushing let-down that was the problem, walked him around…  and then after all that he let loose a massive poop in his diaper and felt much better. And if I’d been paying better attention, we probably could have kept the diaper clean. On the other hand, we’ve had pretty good luck catching him at the usual times, like when he first wakes up. Pretty good for only five weeks old. I’m not sure if the lack of rash is more attributable to going potty more and getting him out of poopy diapers very quickly, or if it’s because we rarely use wipes– I rinse him off in the bathroom sink instead. Either way, rash free = good

I had been coming down with a cold I was sure would become bronchitis, but I put off taking the antibiotics until I could confirm an infection with the arrival of yellow or green phlegm. It never happened. I still have a wee bit of congestion, but I think I can safely say I killed this cold without any drugs. Yay!

Breastfeeding had been going really well, except for being engorged way too often. That seems to have slowed down, but I’m still dealing with a seriously overactive let-down. I can’t always feel the let-down happening, but I can tell it does, because the boy chokes and sputters and pulls away and gets cranky. And often when he pulls away, my nipple is actually shooting out milk, so that it sprays onto his face and neck. Not sure there’s anything I can do about that except wait till it slows down before I offer him the breast again. The worst problem here is that sometimes he doesn’t want to let go, so instead he bites down on the nipple to stop the gushing, kind of like the way he was latching our first few days– little shark bite! Ouch!

The hardest thing this last week has been recurring episodes of evening screaming. The only thing that consoles him– and it doesn’t always work– is lying face down on my husband’s arms while my husband paces the floors. I am so out of shape and the boy is so heavy that I can’t keep this up for more than a few minutes, so the lion’s share of the chore goes to my husband.  It’s maddening, because we don’t know what is causing him to scream. He seems in pain, but we’ve tried all the exercises for baby gas relief, and they have no effect whatsoever. The timing is curious. It doesn’t happen every evening, but it only happens in the evening. So far the pattern is consistent: he screams and kicks and writhes and acts like he wants to nurse but when he’s put to the breast he can’t calm down, gives up after a few sucks, and reverts to screaming. A little before midnight, he finally manages to nurse (always on my right side!), and then goes to sleep. The screaming is nerve-wracking and exhausting. I wish we knew what was wrong.

Sling, Sir Urpsalot

Yesterday we trekked down to Mundo Bebe and got a sling carrier for the little guy.  It’s a pretty simple piece of fabric, but it makes toting him around so much easier through the magic of weight redistribution. Hopefully he won’t outgrow it too quickly.

Little guy has been urping a lot lately. I was inclined to ignore this, as I’m not a novice at baby care– I took care of my colicky nephew from infancy through five years, and he had the worst reflux I’ve ever seen: urp everywhere, all the time. Little guy is not nearly as bad as that. But there are a few other things that make me think we have a small oversupply problem. Engorgement is a recurring thing for me– every time he goes more than two hours between feedings, I get painfully full. I feel like I could feed two of him (if I were stateside, I’d look into donating the excess).  At let-down, he coughs, sputters, and lets go of the nipple, dribbling milk all down my stomach. He is really, really gassy. He needs burping every few minutes while feeding, and he has frequent attacks of the monster farts– this is the one time he cries and we can’t figure out what’s wrong until the gas actually makes an exit. It’s quite frustrating. It seems to be painful for him.

All these things together point to oversupply.  Filling up on the sugar-rich foremilk before he can get to the fattier hindmilk can and does cause voluminous and painful gas. The overgenerous let-down is kind of like trying to drink from a fire-hose, and makes him cough and sputter and swallow too much air. And getting too much too easily in too short a time will certainly lead to messy urping episodes. I’m researching strategies for dealing with this.

Meanwhile, I’m having better luck catching him when he’s about to poop.  The monster farts are a tip-off:  if I dive for the potty at the first sign of farting, I can catch most or all of it before he goes in his diaper.