July 29, 2011

And there it is...

Feeling a lot better today. I know I haven't posted much about Anna's condition. I did a post a while back with the full story but then deleted it on second thought (I re-posted it here). I guess I didn't want people's pity. Or people thinking "Ooh, I'm glad that's not me". And honestly, it was just too much for me to do until now. But, I feel like it's time. So without further adieu, I will introduce it with style thanks to Nike, Powerade, and Kenneth Cole :)

Oscar Pistorius, Runner.



Anna has the same condition Oscar has but in her left leg only- she was born with Fibular Hemimelia Type II. It is a rare disorder that occurs 1 in every 40,000 births. In her left leg she is completely missing her fibula bone, and her tibia bone is bent and shorter than her right leg (so she has a short leg that would get shorter as her other leg grows).  It also is accompanied by a mishapen ankle joint and only four toes.

And from a woman's perspective...



Well, there you have it- I hope you enjoyed these videos as much as I did!

I can't wait to see what God does through all of this.


Here is a close up of her leg. She's thinking, "Chill Mama. I'll be fine!"

July 28, 2011

Swinging

This morning we had one of our big doctors appointments with the surgeon. Not sure what I expected exactly, but mostly we just came away with a bunch of question marks, uncertainties, and feeble professional attempts to not get our hopes up. Coming home, Ben had to immediately take a final, which he was able to just skate by. He has another one tomorrow that he had to start cramming for right away. It's not that he isn't or doesn't want to be supportive, it's just that having an infant does a number on your academics. And he has to finish the semester. He's doing it for his family, really, so of course I wasn't upset at him for not being able to be there for me much today. There's little he could say anyway- it was probably better to just be alone.

I took a walk while Anna was sleeping. Just around the apartment. I desperately wanted to get away to clear my head, but there isn't much in the way of privacy where we are. And I couldn't stay in the apartment. I headed for the complex's playground... because, well..... they have a swingset. I always used to go swinging as a child when I felt the world was too much for me to bear.

I swung and swung. I usually swing with Anna in the carrier in the mornings, but I felt so much lighter without her hanging from my shoulders. I could swing higher. So I did. It was as if I weighed nothing. I closed my eyes, felt the wind in my face... looked up at the stormy clouds overhead.

I didn't feel  like listening to worship or praise music so I put on Taylor Swift's "Best Day" on my ipod. It's a nostalgic song that brings her back to the simplicity of her childhood.

I wanted to feel like a kid again. A kid without the weight of the world on my shoulders. A kid who doesn't have to think about how to help her baby, and how to protect her from what the future holds.  How to be strong for her when I feel like I could fall apart at any moment.

I guess I'm just tired. Tired of thinking. Tired of trying to be strong. Tired of being patient, of waiting. Tired of holding it all in. Tired of trying to see the best of things or be thankful for the blessings I do have. Tired of praying. Tired of feeling helpless. Alone. I want to pretend like nothing is happening in the world except me swinging in the breeze... higher and higher. If only I could float off this swing and be lifted up and away.... away from what? I don't really know. From decision making... from responsibilty.... from the burden of loving another so much that your heart aches and not being able to do anything for them. From the unknown.

It felt good to just.... swing. To just Be.


"Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief."
Psalm 31:9

July 25, 2011

Timeless

Anna wearing her Aunt Jessica's sun dress from 24 years ago :)

 

July 22, 2011

Four Months


I cannot believe Anna is four months old!

I also cannot believe we made it to this milestone. The last four months held a lot of challenges for us, but we have definitley reached a turning point in many areas!

Anna is eating really well thanks to our recent switch. I estimate that she is eating about triple what she did before. And you can tell- she's gained a ton of weight in a short period of time! She is also sleeping so much better- taking 4 naps a day in her crib (thanks to Sarah who shared this sleep/awake baby chart. It was really helpful and accurate for her). She also has learned to fall asleep on her own (most of the time). SO glad we listened to our instincts over the last 3 months, had some patience, and helped her learn to settle down instead of leaving her to 'figure it out' on her own as a newborn. She went 9 hours the other night without waking up!

She still has her high strung moments, but lately more often than not she is smiley and happy. CUTE as can be. She's discovered that she can gurgle and I'll catch her by herself gurgling away for entertainment. She loves sucking her fingers and most recently, her thumb. She turns up her little nose at pacifiers :)


She can roll over front to back and back to front, though we have yet to catch the latter in action. We know she does it because we will enter the room to find her mysteriously like this:



She also sits propped up pretty well, though she will topple over without support.

Her little eyes look like they are turning some sort of green/hazel, but time will tell. She is wearing 0-3 month clothes, though many are still too big. She loves taking a bath, loves to be sung to (even though her parents have terrible voices), and puts everything in her mouth.

I can't believe just 4 months ago this is what we brought home...

video

I love you so much Anna Bean. I cherish every minute I get to spend with you.


Letters

Dear Library, I'm so glad we became reunited. You make my cable free living oh so much better. I spend less time on the computer and more time in my comfy leather chair. I feel like there's this whole big world out there I have been neglecting.

Hair, I liked when you stayed on my head while I was pregnant. It was so nice. Now I have to deal with your long black strands everywhere. And well, it's not fun. Nor pretty. There are rare moments when I wish my hair were blond, but cleaning the bathroom is one of them.

Anna, why must you constantly elude your parents when you roll from your back to your tummy? We know you do it.

Pinterest, how I love thee.

Pandora, thank you for making my new "Disney" channel fabulous. I seem to like it more than Anna (and more than all my other channels). Now I don't have to buy a bunch of kiddo CDs. Thanks for that. Oh, and for being free.

Dear Constipation, please stop torturing my daughter (and me in the process). Thanks.

Cavalier, I wonder how you are doing in the junkyard these days? I bet it is pretty lonely. I miss having you around. I'm disappointed you couldn't hold out one more year until Ben graduated....but I guess it's okay since it's too hot to really leave the apartment anyway. However, someday I'm sure I will want to go somewhere. Anna gets pretty bored around here. So please send a replacement soon. Thanks.

Milk, please feel free to leave anytime. I don't really have a need for you anymore, and no offense but you are kind of painful. Oh and when you return, try to slow down and be a little more manageable for your customer. Then hopefully you can stick around.

Dear school, you have held my husband ransom long enough. In one week, he will have regained a portion of his freedom. Rotations, please be kind to him.

Kroger, thank you for having so many good vegetable sales lately. You are starting to make up for that expired turkey you sold me a month ago that made me sick.

Dear Neighbor, I'm sorry that you like to argue with your wife girlfriends. But please refrain from yelling while baby is sleeping. Thanks.

July 16, 2011

Yesterday

Yesterday the weather was perfect- overcast, warm, and breezy.

Yesterday I had a million and one things I needed to do. But I sat outside our apartment, watched the trees, and felt the wind in my face. Nothing could make me happier... except my beautiful little girl sitting in her seat next to me. She fell asleep (she likes the fresh air) and I marvelled at how beautiful and wonderous she is. And how good God is.

Yesterday, for a little while, all my burdens seemed to disappear. And everything was as it should be. Quiet. Still. Peaceful. Beautiful.

And God whispered to me, "This is how it always is Lisa, when you abide in me. Because this is who I Am."

Sure, life went on again rather quickly. Anna woke up ravenously hungry and needed to eat. I needed to start making dinner and clean the kitchen.

But yesterday's moments are what life is all about. I feel so glad that I chose to experience them with my little girl. Despite the financial sacrifices and the lifestyle that Ben and I can't afford to live, I will have so many of these moments saved up in my true bank- the only one that really matters. We may not own a house anytime in the near future, or a nice car, or go shopping or dining out for fun. We may frequently turn down invites because we know they aren't wise ways for us to spend the little we have. We may not dress the most stylish. But...

I. Feel. Rich.

July 14, 2011

Grieved?

Well, Anna is officially weaned. I did everything I could over the last two months (including that terrible diet for 3 weeks) to continue nursing, but the feeding problems were not fixable and it wasn't working for her. She wasn't gaining weight, was miserable eating and it was a constant battle to get her to eat, and she was still reacting to foods that I ate (God knows what they could have been since I was barely eating anything). I was not too happy or healthy either, living off of sugary carbs and a major lack of protein.

At first I wrote this whole post about how grieved I was about the whole thing- how couldn't God throw me a bone?  That I felt he "owed me" this one (silly as that sounds)- that with all the other struggles- the birth/surgery/separation at birth, her low birth weight, major food allergies, difficulty eating, and most of all her leg, that at least God could give us nursing for more than three-and-a-half months! That why couldn't he give us any of the things like everyone else- a normal delivery, healthy baby, breastfeeding for a year, etc? Then to top off my woe-is-me fest, I developed mastitis yesterday. Let me tell you how much fun THAT is.

I had a pity party because, well it's easy to do.


Then today, while I watched Anna chug down 3oz in one feeding without any protests, frustration or discomfort- something she NEVER did while breastfeeding, watched her happy little face as she got a constant flow of milk that was consistent- not changing from fast to slow depending on the day which she had a really hard time dealing with... saw her stop screaming her head off from allergic reactions, watched her actually going several (3) hours content without getting hungry (rarely before), and saw her sleeping better. Seeing her happy little face with her bottle, I got over my grief real quick. After all, it's about her, not me.


God taught me a lot through all of this. He taught me that things don't always happen as you expect them to (a natural delivery, breastfeeding, etc.). He taught me not to judge others- honestly, I used to view women who did not breastfeed as being perhaps a little lazy or selfish. I thought they either wanted their freedom or just weren't trying hard enough. I know that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. "Judge, and you will be judged". After three-and-a-half months of giving every ounce of sweat and tears into nursing, I realized that weaning did not mean any of those things for me. It was simply the only decision left. I'm still hoping our next baby will fare better. Actually, I'm believing God for it!

So I will have to get over my embarrassment of bottle feeding my daughter in front of others. No, I cannot be the perfect mom that I wanted to be. But I think God's really setting the stage for the future.... I can't control what happens with my children, I can't be a perfect mom, and I can't do things because they please man. I can't boast about how I prayed for all these things and God gave them to me (and yes, we did pray for all these things while pregnant! Does that mean God didn't hear me as much as someone else who had a natural delivery and easy nursing? Certainly not!) I can only do the best I can do, pray, and leave the rest up to Him.

So, I am officially not grieved! Oh, and I would like to give a shout-out to my wonderful mother and mother-in-law who were so loving and supportive through my whole back-and-forth with the whole thing- never once judging or pressuring me (and my mother-in-law successfully breastfed her 5 children for almost a year each!).


And guess what? As soon as Anna switched to a bottle only (not bottle and breastfeeding like we were doing for a while), she actually put herself naturally on some sort of routine (with a little guidance). Imagine that- without all the haywire breastfeeding problems, she developed more consistency. Her rhythm seems to put her on the following loose schedule. I just added the fun things I like to do with her into it. I'm definitely not do-or-die about this, but at least it helps with some consistency. I've been told it's somewhat like Gina Ford's proposed baby schedule in some book. Imagine that. I am definitely not hard core about this whatsoever....

My Routine (by Anna)
7:00-Eat and play by myself while mommy gets ready, go for a walk outside before it gets too hot
9:00-Nap (in crib)
9:30- Eat, Take a bath, play with something new around the house
11:00- Nap (crib)
11:30-Eat, chill outside with mommy on our blanket (I like to look at the trees), read stories
12:45- Nap (in my sling because, well it's fun and I sleep really well. Mommy likes it too)
2:30 Eat, Hang out with mommy while she cleans & does chores, maybe chill in my swing for a bit, listen to music
4:00 Nap
4:30- Eat, play with Daddy while Mommy makes dinner (I'm sick of mommy by now)
6:00-Eat and Daddy does our bedtime routine.
6:30 Bedtime



July 13, 2011

Yet another recipe

Here is another one of our staple recipes- I love meals that use all fresh ingredients and are not meat-heavy. This one is from a friend from our old church community at the Well.

It's easy and works well for visitors because it's surprisingly filling and the lentils can easily feed a lot of people (we half the recipe if it's just the two of us so we're not eating it for a week). You can get as many toppings as you want and serve it make-your-own-salad style.

(serves 8)
Lentil Salad
2 cups dried lentils
2 cups brown rice
1 chopped onion
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp marjarom
1/8 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
lettuce and tortilla chips (for serving the lentils on)

Fresh Dressing:
3 T honey
3 T vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 T sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dry mustard

Chopped Toppings (use as many you want - I recommend using all of them):
cucumber
tomato
onion
avocado
shredded cheese

Combine first 9 ingredients in a 9x13 pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for one and a half hours. Make your own salad by layering tortilla chips as the base, followed by some lettuce, and top with the warm lentils. Add the chopped toppings and dressing to finish. We serve the toppings and dressing in little containers so people can take as much as they want.

July 7, 2011

The "Diet"

In her first few months of life, Anna would regularly scream and cry in pain. It seemed to be at random times and was always very distressing for her- poor thing. She would also squirm around all night and have other symptoms like eczema, rash on her bottom, etc. We wrote it off to typical baby GI discomfort and some reflux.

It wasn't until recently when congestion and eczema on her face remained for over a month that we started to suspect food allergies/food intolerances. Considering that all of Ben's siblings have some form of food allergy- mainly severe nut allergies- and had lots of food intolerances as children, we should have figured it out earlier. My former boss had recommended going on the elimination diet beginning when she was born, but I thought it was totally unnecessary. I now wish I had listened to her. The first thing I did was cut out peanut butter after Anna had some scary breathing episode, which may or may not have been from the food, but it freaked me out enough to drop it quickly (why did I eat peanut butter to begin with? I should have been smarter). Then I cut out dairy and the congestion and eczema went away. Let me tell you how difficult a life without dairy is. It is my number one, all-time favorite food group- cereal with milk, ice cream, CHEESE!


Cutting out dairy still wasn't enough. We noticed Anna would continue to get very upset, though less often. Because food can take anywhere from 6 to 48 hours to get into your milk (or something like that), it's very difficult to know which foods are actually the culprit by the time in affects the infant. After a few weeks of frustration, I realized I had to go back to the basics if I wanted to make any real headway. So I started what I am calling "the diet". I'm only eating things that I know Anna is NOT allergic to- mainly the most non-allergic foods out there, as well as some others I know she's done well with. My diet consists only of the following foods right now:

Oatmeal
Avocado
Beans
Rice
Corn
Turkey
Lamb
Squash and zucchini
Pears
Mushrooms
Bananas
blackberry jam
bagels and multigrain bread
Pork
Potatoes
Green pepper


I'm adding in one food every 3 days to see how she reacts. This is painstakingly tedious... especially for someone who likes instant results. I tried adding a few foods in at one time on Monday (mango, apple, and cucumber) because I thought they were not likely to elicit a reaction. Sure enough, she reacted to something, and now I don't know which of the 3 it was. I feel like I wasted 3 precious days!

Did you know some of the most common allergies for infants/children are: citrus fruits, tomatoes, wheat, eggs, chocolate, peanuts and nuts, soy, fish, strawberries, and cow's milk? I have already realized Anna is sensitive to/intolerant of: milk/dairy, chocolate (boo), peanuts, nuts, possibly chicken, and raspberries. Yes, raspberries- who would have known? I bought some raspberry sorbet as a replacement to my poor ice cream ritual and Anna was up screaming the next night. She refused to nurse. I couldn't think of what on earth it was (raspberries just didn't come to my mind as a possibility). Then I remembered one day in Athens when Anna was the same way- screaming for hours- while we were visiting Fernando's. I had eaten a pint of raspberries the day before. This was somewhat easy to figure out because I rarely eat raspberries.

All that said, it is quite difficult to stay off of so many foods. Almost all processed foods have milk or soy (thankfully she is fine with wheat or I would really be in trouble). We don't each much processed foods anyway, but it's still difficult to find some staples. Food tastes bland. I often find that I can have one food but nothing to go with it (like a bagel with no butter or cream cheese, a potato with no butter or sour cream, a salad with no dressing). But on the bright side, I have been introduced to lamb which I really like, and I'm learning not to find comfort in food like I used to. It almost feels like a purifying experience- a healthy dose of self-discipline. I'm basically just eating to get my nutrition and fill up, and learning to find contentment in that. While at times it seems so frustrating (turning down meal invites or having to eat at home before I go while practically drooling over someone's plate), there are so many people in the world who live off of 2 to 5 foods their entire life. Still, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I miss my cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter a lot :)

I was getting annoyed trying to find meals to make that didn't involve some of the ingredients I can't eat. So, with Ben's blessing, I picked 6 meals that fit the bill and I'm making only those for now. Yes, we are eating the same 6 meals each week. It was really the only way to make it work for us right now. At least grocery shopping is easier. Here's the menu:

Monday- Lamb kebabs with green pepper and squash, white rice
Tuesday- Zucchini and potato hash with egg
Wednesday- Beans and rice, corn
Thursday- lamb chops, Lima beans, white rice
Friday- Lentil salad, avocado, banana
Saturday- turkey thighs, zucchini or squash, rice
Sunday- pork chops with avocado and black eyed peas, sweet potato

Breakfast consists of toast with avocado and banana, lunch is leftovers, and snacks are dry rice cereal, plain bagels, toast with blackberry jam, and bananas. It gets old after a while.

Hopefully she will grow out of the intolerances. It can happen anywhere from 6 months to 12+ months. All that said, breastfeeding has been a challenge for this and many other reasons. I'm not sure if Anna will continue to nurse well enough for us to stay with it, but I will keep it up as long as she wants (she's already had episodes of trying to 'wean early'- I won't go into the details of some of the additional reasons for you male readers out there :). Even though it's a major drag sometimes, it's worth it to see her happy and no longer in pain... and I know that she's still getting the best form of nutrition.

July 6, 2011

No title :)

Really enjoyed the latest blog entry from Resolved2worship. It completely hit home for me and some of the things I mentioned in the last post about Anna. I encourage you to read it! .... God plus anything equals nothing.

I've been sending a few messages back and forth with the author, A.Ann about some baby stuff and she really is the most genuine, caring, God-fearing woman. Her writing really ministers to Ben and me.