Sunday, May 29, 2011

You guessed it...there's another one on the way!!

You know, I never thought that Caleb would ever have the word "big" describe him in any way, but in December (hopefully no sooner) he's going to be a BIG brother!

Here are the answers to some questions that you may have:

When am I due? December 21st. Hopefully I won't deliver any time before Thanksgiving (although it would be cool to have a baby on 11/11/11, and that would only be 6 weeks early).

Was this planned? Yes, of course. Do you think it's possible for my body to do this on its own? My doctor started me out on the same dose of Clomid that I got pregnant on with Caleb; 200mg. It only took two cycles, which was super nice compared to the five cycles of Clomid that it took for Caleb.

Am I having quadruplets? No, thank goodness, but I feel like it at times. I had an ultrasound a few weeks ago to confirm that there was indeed only one baby in there. And there is! One little baby with a good, strong heartbeat! But there's also a little pocket of fluid that will either reabsorb or bleed its way out. But nothing concerning.

How am I feeling? Miserable. But I'm the happiest miserable person in the world! I've had a few days now where I can get by not taking zofran, which is nice, because if you've ever taken that med you know that it has one rather miserable side effect. I spent most of the last four weeks needing zofran three times a day. Ugh. Still, I often wake up in the middle of the night needing zofran/tylenol/a snack, which are all on my nightstand. I've only thrown up once, but most days I have 1-3 episodes where I wonder if I will be able to make it to the bathroom or a garbage can in time to hurl. But, it always seems to pass.

When I was pregnant with Caleb, I had five major pregnancy side-effects: Extreme hunger, frequent visits to the rest room (especially in the night), terrible migraines, crazy bad heartburn, and major moodiness. This time? I'll put it in nice little bullet points for you. :)
  • nausea/vomiting
  • a love/hate relationship with the bathroom. Any more info would be too much info. ;)
  • killer headaches
  • waaaay tired
  • I can hardly breathe out of my nose!! This is because of an increased blood volume; it's squeezing my nasal passages shut
  • abdominal discomfort (feels like pulled muscles, especially when I roll over in bed)
  • weird, vivid dreams (when I can actually sleep, that is)
  • and I'm starting to get heartburn. Lovely.
So far I'm not moody, which I am extremely grateful for! I think my dear husband is grateful for that, too.

So, the moral of the story is: this pregnancy is so different from the last one that I would be surprised if it wasn't a girl.

What are my plans for staying pregnant? Good question. We don't know yet. I found a new doctor's office that I LOVE. The thing with this office is that you see a different doctor every time you go in, which is good and bad. Every doctor there, though, is equipped and experienced enough to handle a pregnancy like mine. The first guy we saw said that I will definitely get the weekly progesterone shots (starting at 17 or 18 weeks) to keep me from going into preterm labor. He said that there's no reason not to. I like that. He also said that unless he is 100 percent sure that a cerclage (stitching the cervix shut) is the only way to keep a woman pregnant, he doesn't like to do it. But, he said that the next doctor we see might feel differently, and that that would be a good thing. It would let us see both sides and make our decision based off of what we feel and think. But time is running out! The cerclage has to be done before 14 weeks (that's just 3 weeks away). And my next appointment is only 2.5 weeks away! So, we're going to try to have our decision made before the next appointment, and then if the doctor gives us any very convincing information to sway us, we may change our minds. So we'll just have to see. We have lots of praying to do.

Do my clothes still fit? Why, thank you for asking! NO! With Caleb, I couldn't button my pants by 12 weeks, even though I hadn't gained a single pound! So far, I haven't gained any weight and I've been wearing my maternity pants for almost a week now. And I'm not even 11 weeks! They say you show earlier with your second pregnancy, and I showed early last time, so I'm really in for it! But I don't mind. You can call me "huge" all you want. I love having a "huge" pregnant belly. Just don't ever call me fat. It's not fat. It's a baby.
5/29/11; 10 weeks 4 days pregnant

Am I crazy? Yes, probably. We thought two years was the perfect gap between our kids, but now with Caleb's diagnosis I wonder what will happen if I have to go on bed rest (which isn't necessarily unlikely, especially if I don't have a cerclage). Sorry to have to lay this on everybody, but I might need a lot of help. I didn't plan on being a burden, but sometimes things change. There are just so many things that are out of my control.


But whatever happens, we're more excited than scared! I'm gonna have another baby! Hooray for little blessings from God!

And if you have any other questions, just ask. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

I've been working on a lot of things lately!

I've been busy making things. Maybe that's why blogging has been a little...absent...lately. Here are a few of my latest creations!

Square Foot Gardens!! Here we have peas, strawberries, and onions (the tomato and pepper plant died from the cold. I've been meaning to replace them):

Here we have zucchini and pumpkins:

I have a sewing machine! And better yet--I know how to use it! To start with, I made a pillowcase (not shown) and I made Caleb these two simple, imperfect, yet darling little stuffed toys that he actually really enjoys playing with!:

After doing those, I felt confident enough to make Caleb this adorable pair of pants! They fit him perfectly, and they cost less than $2 to make! I plan on making more out of some remnant suit fabric that I got from Joann's, and also some light khaki pants (also from remnants)!:

And, my crowning glory and most impressive creation yet...The Kid:

Stay tuned and tomorrow I'll tell you about another fun little project that I'm working on!

Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis...say that one time fast!

Caleb has a diagnosis! The biopsy from the scope came back positive for Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis (EGE). That's a mouthful. But it's a belly empty for Caleb!

The GI doctor actually told me that Caleb's diagnosis was "Allergic Enteritis," but after a tiny bit of research, I found that that's not actually a real diagnosis. The real name for it is Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis.

A few of the basics

EGE is a reaction to food in the digestive system. Caleb's happens to be in the small bowel. It's most commonly found in the esophagus.  The body produces eosinophils, a specific type of white blood cells, as a reaction to certain foods.  It's an autoimmune response.

It is extremely painful. The GI doc said to imagine if Caleb had eczema on his skin and every time we fed him we poured acid on it. Ouch. It's a miracle that Caleb hasn't been crying and crabby for every second of every day of his life!

Abdominal pain is the main symptom of EG, but other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and malnutrition (sometimes EG can make it hard for your body to absorb nutrients). Sound like someone you know? ;)

The reaction is similar to allergies. It appears that the most common EGE food reactions are gluten and dairy. Even though the enzymes in the biopsy showed that Caleb is able to digest gluten and dairy--i.e., he doesn't have Celiac Disease or lactose intolerance--he still could have reactions to those foods. It is possible that Caleb has different or more reactions. It's also possible that Caleb reacts to literally all foods. Yep.

The only way to diagnose EGE is by doing a biopsy of the effected area. The biopsy will show an eosinophil count above 20; Caleb's count was over 40.

It is very rare. No one would have ever guessed that Caleb had it if we hadn't tested for absolutely every possible problem with the biopsies. But now that we know that he has it, it makes perfect sense! When he was about 6 months old, he would get excited when he saw the bottle, and he would act very hungry. After taking a few sucks, he would refuse to drink any more. I knew that he had to be in pain, and that he'd rather feel hunger pains than digestive pains. And yet he never cried!

The first line of treatment for Caleb is to use prednisone (a steroid that weakens his immune system, since allergies are an overreaction of the immune system). He will be on that for 1-2 months, depending on how well it works. While he is on it, we will be keeping him home from Church and trying to keep from exposing him to germs anywhere else, too. I'm glad it's not sick season any more, but still. This child has a weak enough immune system as it is.

If he regresses after discontinuing the prednisone, we will have to consult with an allergist to figure out what allergies are causing the pain. The problem with allergy testing in a child under the age of 3 is that the results will show a lot of false positives and false negatives. So we'll probably have to do the "elimination diet," and start by giving him a hypoallergenic toddler formula, and slowly re-introduce one food at a time and see how he reacts. The problem with this is a) in a child who already doesn't eat enough, it is very hard to take away the foods that he is willing to eat; b) we'll have to be VERY particular about what he does and doesn't eat--no more snack time in nursery at Church, no more sharing our food with him, etc; and c) the only way to tell that he's in pain is when he doesn't eat! Most babies/toddlers will get cranky if something upsets their tummy, but not my little angel! So it'll be hard to tell what foods he is having a bad reaction to.

Having EGE has nothing whatsoever to do with being premature. It's hereditary, which is a little scary. I don't know if I could handle more than one kid with this problem! It's not a fun one to deal with!

------------------------------

Since starting the prednisone four days ago, Caleb:
  • Is ridiculously happy--always laughing, bouncing around, and smiling.
  • Is EATING FOOD WILLINGLY!! I was worried that his aversion to food had become a learned behavior after all this time, meaning that even if the pain goes away, his brain has a hard time not believing that food is a bad thing, because it's so ingrained in him. (That's where his bi-monthly feeding therapy comes into play.) But, apparently he still wants to eat, which is amazing!
  • Is finally, for the first time in his life, hydrated enough to cry more than one tear at a time!
  • Already has a runny nose. :/

We are SO happy that we FINALLY know what's going on inside our little guy! It's a huge relief. But it's also hugely scary. This diagnosis will almost certainly haunt him for his entire life, dictating what he eats and how he feels. The poor child has already experienced enough pain! It's hard for a mother to watch, especially when there's not a lot that I can do. However, we are very fortunate to have many caring and knowledgeable doctors and therapists on our side. And a lot of faith and hope on our sides, too. We've been through a lot with our little Cal. It's almost like we were prepared for this. We know it'll be ok. Until then, we have a lot of blessings to count!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

18 Months!

Yes, my child is now a year and a half old. Weird. This is what he's been up to lately:
  • Weighs 17 lbs 6 oz and is almost 30 inches long
  • Wears some 3-6 month clothes, some 6-9 month clothes, and some 12 month t-shirts
  • Can put shapes through the hole that they fit in and can stack rings on one of those pyramid stacking toys
  • Says "yeah!" whenever he accomplishes anything
  • Knows that rags are for wiping his face and blowing his nose and that brushes are for brushing his hair
  • Blows on his food to cool it down
  • Knows and uses 30-40 words
  • Walks all over the place and can finally (as of a few weeks ago) get to a standing position without pulling on furniture
  • Can climb on the couch
  • Is completely obsessed with shoes
  • May be entering a tantrum phase (boy does he get sad when he doesn't get his way), but is still easily distracted and calmed
Caleb also went to the Nursery class in our Church for the very first time! This was a big deal. I wasn't worried at all about him, because he doesn't have a lot of stranger anxiety and he likes to play and keep himself busy. We dropped him off and he was happy as could be, so we left. After an hour, I went to check on him, and he was crying harder than I had ever seen him cry. Ever. Apparently an older man named Roland was there at the beginning of class with his two granddaughters, and Caleb started clinging to him. Caleb has never sat in a chair before (he's just plainly too small), so Roland held him on his lap for snack time and they became buds. When Roland left to go to his own Sunday School class, Caleb freaked out. He had only been crying for a few minutes when I got there, but it was very sad. :( So, I stayed with him for the second hour and he did great, except for when I tried to sit him in a chair on his own to color. He didn't like that. So I just held him and he was happy as could be. Until it was time to play with toys and he forgot all about me. One of the nursery leaders is going to be gone this Sunday, so they asked if I could stay and help out, so Caleb gets me for one more week. Hopefully by then he'll be comfortable enough to stay on his own.

Oh, how big my baby is getting!

Also, Caleb was given another general yet in-depth assessment by his therapist. He isn't technically delayed in any area, which is great. Most of his motor skills are at his adjusted age level (15 months) but that was because he wasn't able to use the shape sorter when he was evaluated. Now he's doing even better! Also, his receptive and expressive language/communication skills are at the level of a 2-year-old! YAY! The therapist said that once he knows about 50 words he will start using simple sentences. He already says "all done." I think another language burst in on the horizon!

It's nice to have one thing that I certainly don't have to worry about. Caleb's brain is working just fine. What a relief.

Lately...

Here is what's been going on:

We had Mother's Day. I'm the most blessed mother ever. Nate spoiled me, and Caleb even did all that he could at his young age--he behaved well in Church and he ate well all day. I love Mother's Day.

Caleb had his 18-month check-up. He's almost 30 inches tall and weighs 17 lbs 6 oz. That's a half-ounce loss over the last month. Remember the three weeks before that, when he gained over a pound? I thought he had turned a corner. But I was wrong. He just had a lot of IV fluids from his hospital stay. Now I expect him to slowly lose that.

Caleb had his GI scope. His insides are beautiful, and we have pictures to prove it (if you can appreciate pictures of the upper digestive system, anyway). Nothing is visibly wrong, and we'll have the biopsy results on Monday to know if there are any unseen problems. I was happy that his esophagus looked good. It's been over a month since we have given him prevacid, so it's truly safe to say that he has finally outgrown his reflux! Now, the best case scenario is that there is something minor wrong with the biopsy results that is easy to fix and that will cure all of our problems once it's fixed. Worst case scenario--something serious is wrong (very unlikely). Second worst case scenario--nothing is wrong at all (rather likely). I'm so tired of hearing "keep doing what you're doing." IT'S NOT WORKING!!! I don't think any of the doctors understand how much effort it takes to feed my son. I'm so drained, physically and emotionally. I can't keep doing this. He's hardly eaten any solids since Monday. I'm so drained, I thought, "Maybe if I back off the pressure a bit, he'll feel a little more relaxed and start eating a little better on his own." It was worth a try. But I was wrong. So wrong. He'll starve to death without me pressuring him to eat. Well, maybe he'll lose enough weight that the pediatrician will finally take me seriously when I tell him that this isn't working. Maybe they'll do something about it. I can always hope, I guess.

And to make it worse, Caleb seems to be permanently traumatized by his latest hospital experiences. He clearly remembers his hospital stay during March. He immediately started clinging to me when we got to the hospital for the scope. When the nurse put his ID bracelet on his ankle, he screamed and screamed. He screamed when they had to pin him down and put a mask over his mouth and nose to put him to sleep. He woke up screaming and he didn't stop until we left the hospital. The minute we stepped out of the doors he stopped crying. He wasn't scared or hurt. He was just plain mad. I hope he never has to step foot in a hospital again. It's rough watching your helpless son get tortured again and again for his own good.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Easter 2011!

Easter was wonderful this year. It's so fun when children get big enough to be able to appreciate holidays.

Of course we taught Caleb about the meaning of Easter; how Christ suffered for our sins and pains in Gethsemane and on the cross, and how he rose again to give us the gift of Eternal Life. How God loves us enough to let His beloved son suffer in anguish for us. How Christ loves us enough to suffer that much and how we never have to feel alone in our trials because he has felt every pain that every person who has ever lived or who will ever live has felt, and he's there for us if we seek him.

I think it'll take a while for Caleb to fully understand that one...

But he sure caught on quick when it came to the egg hunt!




Yes, this was his Easter basket, and no, it was nowhere close to full. We decided to be cheap and practical this year. It now holds toys.

Ah, the lovely Easter outfit.
Ah, the lovely face smash.

We get this look a lot these days. I think it's his thinking face. He happens to think a lot. I guess that's a good thing...?

Ah, the angelic eyes.

Thanks!

We had a successful march and I couldn't post another blog post without thanking everyone who contributed! (I swear, the time has been going by so slowly lately, but somehow it's been a while since I blogged. Sorry.)
Here is our team:

It was cold and snowy:

But it was fun!:

It felt great to be able to honor Caleb by marching, and it felt even better to be able to contribute to saving the lives of other babies just like him. I look forward to doing it again next year!