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Month: January 2009

baby food

I am a terrible cook. Or rather, I’m terrible at the process of cooking. I don’t like to follow recipes, but I have no innate cooking talent to speak of, or past experience to draw from. I get bored prepping food and I get completely stressed once it’s time to start actually cooking. Hot stoves make me very nervous.

But for some reason, I really enjoy making baby food! First, it usually only involves one ingredient. Second, because you have to cook the crap out of that ingredient, there’s no pressure. You just put the heat on and leave it for a long time. And there’s no mystery about when it’s done. If it’s mushy and unrecognizable as whatever it started out as, it’s finished! And then comes the really fun part – the immersion blender. It’s like a power tool for the kitchen and I love it. You can use it in the same pot you cooked the food in so you don’t have to make an extra bowl dirty. Joy, joy.

Unlike regular cooking, you cook once and the meal lasts for many weeks. Plus, there’s something so organizationally satisfying about the colorful little cubes of food sitting in the freezer that we can mix and match for Z’s meals. He seems to like everything we give him. (Some textures, like chick peas and split peas, are a bit tricky, but he powers through with only a little gagging.)

The best part, of course, is that I feel like I’m doing something good for Zekey. I have no problem with jarred food, but when I cook it myself, I know exactly where the food has come from and exactly what’s in it. The homemade stuff has more texture then the jarred stuff and it holds together better which means slightly less mess at mealtimes.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when he wants his food to actually look and taste like food, but for now, I’m feeling like the Martha Stewart of steamed carrots.

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visit to the derm

We saw the dermatologist today. Z has been diagnosed with moderate to severe eczema which is the cause of all his rashiness. The good news is that we now have very a specific and easy-to-follow treatment plan that won’t cure him, but will certainly help him feel better. It involves a short daily bath, two creams, and a lot of vaseline. Very manageable. And if all goes well, he’ll outgrow it before to long. In the meantime, Z will be a very slippery little boy – as if he weren’t squirmy enough already.

The other good news is that the derm doesn’t think Z’s skin troubles are related to any allergies. He does NOT recommended limiting Z’s diet (besides dairy, of course). And he doesn’t think I should eliminate dairy from my diet either. So – who do I listen to – the ped or the derm?

The derm already warned us that Z’s eczema will likely flare up after the Benadryl and steroids of these past few post-allergic-reaction days wears off. So, my plan is to stay off dairy until his next derm appointment on March 2. If we have the eczema under control at that point (meaning we know how to handle the inevitable flare ups) then I’ll try dairy again and see how it affects him. If I see an obvious connection to the state of his skin at that point, then I’m off dairy as long as I’m still breastfeeding. But if not, then it’s cheese and ice cream all day for me. Yay! (In the meantime, send me your best dairy-free recipes.)

I’m torn about Z’s diet. Of course I don’t want to risk another reaction like the one he had on Friday. But the derm basically said that the only truly accurate way to test for a food allergy is to try the food. Dave and his mom were both allergic to milk so we’ve pretty much gotten the most obvious one out of the way. (Our ped knew this and still recommended we try yogurt at 8 months. I didn’t think to question her. Now I know to question everything.) Dave’s brother was allergic to soy as a baby, so maybe we’ll avoid that one as well.

But Z’s already been exposed to wheat a number of times with all the bagels he munched back east so I have to believe we’re safe there. I know we’re supposed to avoid egg whites, but I honestly think egg yolks would be okay. Peanuts are a no-no for all babies under 1, so that can wait. And fish, shellfish, berries and citrus… I don’t know. I’m going to think about it for a few more days and do a bit more of my own research (maybe try to talk to an allergist), but I’m thinking/hoping we’re going to be able to give Z a few more food options than it seemed a few days ago. Never when I’m home alone with him. And never when the doctor’s office is closed. But sooner rather than later I think. I’m optimistic.

PS: This afternoon, Zeke became a carnivore. He ate homemade chicken and rice for the first time. Oddly, it made me a little sad, but he really seemed to like it. And since he can’t have dairy or soy, meat is a really good protein alternative. (Sorry Arwen and my other veggie friends.)



Z is allergic to dairy. I know this because yesterday morning, when I gave him his first taste of yogurt, he turned bright red, his face swelled up like a balloon, and I had to rush him to the pediatrician where he was dosed with epinephrine and we had to hang out for a couple hours to make sure he was breathing okay. It was scary.

All things considered, I think I handled it pretty well. I remembered to give him Benadryl right away. And the doctor’s office was open and Jeff was able to give us a ride. (Dave had the car at school.) I didn’t completely freak out at any point and Zeke stayed relatively calm considering everything that was happening to him. But today, I’m feeling nervous. And rather mourning the loss of Z’s ability to enjoy so many good foods until much, much later. Since he’s allergic to dairy, he more likely to have allergies to other foods as well, so we have to avoid the following until he’s well over a year (if not longer):

all things dairy (except goat’s milk… hmmm)
peanuts and tree nuts
fish and shellfish
berries and citrus

He can still eat all kinds of other fruits and vegetables, meats, beans (probably), and rice/potato starches. But it certainly limits his diet. And it means that we have to be really careful about what goes into his mouth. This takes a lot of energy. And I don’t have a whole lot of energy left in reserve.

The biggest bummer of this whole thing is that things were going really well with eating. It didn’t start out well. We started him on solids at six months, and for weeks he screamed and writhed in his high chair, gagged on and threw up his food, and generally had a complete fit every time we tried to feed him. But around seven months (while we were back east), something clicked and he started to really love eating. It was such an enormous relief and meals became really fun. He loved everything we gave him – sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, zucchini, bananas, pears, cereal, apple sauce, chick peas, hummus(!)… everything but avocado (strange). And I was pretty excited to keep introducing new foods and seeing his reaction.

Now I’m tentative, and a little afraid. I’m sure my fear will wear off with a bit of distance from yesterday’s mild trauma. And again, this could have been a LOT worse. But it would be nice… really, really nice… if we could just catch a little bit of a break.

PS: This food allergy is almost definitely related to his skin issues and the pediatrician has done a bit of a reversal and said that I should cut dairy from my diet. (She was pretty convincing earlier that it wouldn’t make a difference. Ah well.) Let’s hope this unfortunate incident is what needed to happen to finally make Zekey a completely healthy, rash-free little boy. (Dare I say less fussy? A better sleeper? Ha.)


back around the lake

I went for a run/walk around the lake today. Not because I desperately needed to get out of the house. And not because I couldn’t think of another way to get Z to take a nap. But because it was a beautiful day and I wanted to. So I strapped Z into his sweet jogging stroller (courtesy of Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jeff) and I headed out.

It has been a LONG time since I tried to run. I could barely squeeze into my sports bra and every muscle in my body felt squishy and weak (except for my left bicep – rock solid from toting around 17 pounds of baby all day). I stopped and rested a lot. But I felt positively, enthusiastically in control. Zeke had already taken one (albeit short) nap in the morning. I knew that he wasn’t likely to start screaming bloody murder while we ran/walked and that if he started to fuss I could relatively easily distract him. I knew that when we got back, he would eat some lunch and take another (albeit short) nap. I knew that I could shower and clean up a little while he took that nap. And I knew that for the rest of the day we would find some way of entertaining ourselves.

Granted, I always feel a little more confident on the weekends when Dave is around to help out, but overall, this run/walk around the lake felt like a jumping off point to a future that is a little calmer, a little easier, and just a little more like the life I had before this crazy kid came along.


bodily pride

Many updates on little Z are forthcoming, but right now, he’s sleeping and I’m up late watching Grey’s Anatomy on DVR. Dave has given me a nice break this weekend (like every weekend) – taking over the diaper changes and playing and putting down for naps so I have some time to myself. So today I ate a leisurely breakfast, and read some and worked some and vacuumed some. And at 4 pm, I went to San Francisco to see a play and have dinner with some girlfriends. Pure luxury.

Back in July and August, I pumped everyday to make sure I had a good supply of milk so I could go out for nights like this and have the freedom and flexibility to leave Z with Dave or someone else. I built up a large stock – close to 30 4-ounce bags. Only I so rarely go out, and I didn’t want that milk to go to waste, so I stopped pumping. I stopped seeing daily proof that my body is producing this sustenance for my boy.

Five months later, that frozen supply is finally dwindling. So tonight, when I got home from my date, I decided to pump for the first time in a long time. I rarely get engorged anymore, even if I miss a feeding. So I didn’t need to pump. I mostly just wanted to see how much I would get. Production is usually lowest at night, and since I don’t know how much he gets during the day, and I’m still constantly nagged with the lingering insecurity “is he getting enough?” I was curious.

I pumped 8 ounces of rich, white milk. Amazing! Z and I have had so many struggles these first 8 months. So few things have fallen neatly into place for us, but this thing, this one amazing thing, has been good. Really good. And while I can’t say I enjoy pumping (I much prefer the closeness and intimacy of breastfeeding) it felt so good to have this visual reminder of what my body can do for my son. I know so many moms who struggle with breastfeeding, so many moms who make themselves crazy trying to keep up their supply. And I am so thankful that this one thing has gone well for us – that we have found this balance of supply and demand. I know that one day I’ll reach a point when I want to wean, when I’ll want my body for myself alone. But for now, I’m so proud of what I can do for Zeke, and I have no desire to stop.


8 months

He sits. He stands. He giggles. He SCREAMS. (I could do without the screaming.) He loves Cheerios and sweet potatoes. He grabs and inspects and checks in with me and inspects some more. He holds onto me with a tight little grip. I think he learning to give kisses, but so far it’s very much like getting slimed – mouth wide open, tongue out.

Our 8-month-old boy is amazing, still challenging, and changing so fast. It seems like he’s grown out of his clothes overnight, and while he’s still small compared to other kids his age, he’s definitely getting so much bigger. (We haven’t weighed him in a while, but he must be hovering around 18 pounds since he’s just about outgrown his size 2 diapers.) I attribute this growth spurt to his finally figuring out how to eat solids. Without going into too much detail, this was a huge challenge for us. (Shocking, I know.)

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