Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ABX and BF - Day 15

Halfway through! If you haven't been following, you can catch up to speed on our Lyme, Doxy, and Breastfeeding story HERE: Acute Lyme, Treatment, and Breastfeeding  and HERE: ABX and BF Day 1 .

So things are going somewhat better now. DB managed to get a horrible cold this week, which added some complications to the mix A) sick babies really benefit from being able to nurse often, like more often than usual, which was already often, so the "no nursing" windows were very hard, and B) the nursing windows were hard because his nose was so stuffy he couldn't really get a good suction/compression cycle going. A sip or two, then snot, choke, cry, nose wipe, flail about, get latched again, repeat. A couple nights he couldn't really sleep because of congestion, but those nights excluded, sleep has gotten much better than the first couple nights of our new schedule. We've been skipping him going into his little side bed and he's just been in our bed from the beginning, it helps him sleep through that first waking, or just fidgeting a little, snuggling up differently, and falling asleep without crying to nurse, or even rooting, really. Now he tends to wake at 6 AM to nurse and fall back asleep again until he wakes up, usually with The Hero.

   Daytime went OK, the teething DB's been doing was the only real problem there, he's just super fussy. The cold plus teething made for sad and clingy baby. Lots of snuggles, plenty of naps, and we're making it just fine. It's been good for us to both learn soothing methods other than nursing, but I really can't wait for the next 15 days to pass and be able to nurse any old time I please! I've taken to pumping when I remember, in the middle of the non-nursing window, and dumping it out, because it isn't safe to drink, but the emptying of the breasts will help me keep my supply up. We can do this, we're over the hill!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food Standards - All in your perception

  Ok, so when I started this blog, I didn't really intend for it to focus so much on breastfeeding, and I certainly didn't intend to get political, (and promise to try and avoid it, still) but this blog IS about parenting, and raising a family, and there's something both food (yes, grown up food!) and politics related to talk about here, so this post is born.

  Part of what the breastfeeding community, activists, supporters and families alike, are seeking, is the "re-normalizaion" of breastfeeding. Part of that is to stop this whole talk of "breast is best", putting the boobies on a pedestal, like a high and lofty goal. Breast is normal. Normal. The boob juice is nature's intended food for babies. Breastfeeding doesn't give a higher IQ, or help to avoid health problems, or help stave off food allergies later in life. Yes, folks, it's true. Breastmilk does not contain magic. The key here is changing public perception. Formula is sub-par, it has been linked to health problems. These are the facts. Now I fully believe there are instances were formula is a good thing, and I won't get into my personal feelings on how formula needs should be handled here, but let me say I am not attacking formula! It has valid uses. I am, personally, attacking the unethical companies behind formula, but not in this post. This post has a different purpose. So to sum up this paragraph, Let's stop thinking "Breast is best, but formula is widely used and OK too..." and start thinking "Breast is normal, and formula is sub-par and risky..." Same thoughts, different perspectives.

   Now, I promised to chat about grown up food, so here's where I tie this whole thing together. Let's just mad-lib that statement up a bit. At tonight's performance, the role of breastmilk will be played by organic, local, natural food, and the role of formula will be played by standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food. Ready? Ok. Let's stop thinking "organic, local, natural food is best, but standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food is widely used and OK too..." and start thinking "organic, local, natural food is normal, and standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food is sub-par and risky..." Same thoughts, different perspectives.

Whoa! Mind = blown. This is exactly the thought I had while in the shower, shampooing my hair last week. I've been debating even sharing this thought, it's risky, tying the two things together like this, but in reality, they're the same thing: food companies, twisting around consumer perceptions through very careful, possibly probably unethical marketing. This week a few things happened that made me decide to share these thoughts and what this family is doing about it. One: I drastically changed my shopping method. Two: I woke up and seriously questioned government regulation of food safety.

Ok, let's tackle the first one. For a while now, I've divided up my gweekly grocery budget between two stores, a local organic market, and my neighborhood supermarket. I'd usually buy organic foods first, and commercially standard fare second. This week was the first of many many to come, where I spent my whole budget at the organic market and not at the supermarket. It was super scary, for me and my wallet (especially my mental wallet), but I survived! And my meals this week have tasted so good! I don't have all the kinks worked out yet, but I'll share the journey with you!

Ok, once I realized that I needed to treat the food for The Hero and I the same as I treat food for DB, I knew I had to make this change. As the main shopper and cook in the family, I was the one who had to make the plunge. I explained my thoughts to The Hero, who completely agreed with me (yay!), and we made a plan. I set out in all my hippie-dippy glory the next day, to buy our week's supplies at the organic market, with the goal to buy local when possible. Let me add here that the market I use is NOT Whole Foods. While just walking into that pretty store is like food porn, I'm not totally sold on some of their decisions on a moral level, and they charge insane prices. Ok, enough digression. Back to the plan.

  So I figured step one would just be to head to the market and buy what I needed. Usually, I'd check the supermarket circular and make my choices for the week based around sales, building a menu and a list from there. Not having that this week, I just built a rough menu in my head, planning to get inspiration from the ingredients I found and editing as I went. I had to buy some things that are a bit expensive (Cardamom, bulk oil) that would have driven up my typical bill a bit, and some things I'd never purchased before (baby food items), that were a new expense. I'm guessing at the super market I would have spent about $20 more than usual to get these things. Once I left the market with my week's supply of groceries, I had spent about 18% more than my "typical" bill. This included some really awesome stuff, fair trade plantains, heirloom eggplant, organic grape jam, a dozen local free-range eggs, grass-fed sour cream, organic strawberries and blueberries (The Hero eats some every morning), and much more. What this did not include, the fly in the ointment, per say, is meat.

  Not that the market doesn't carry meat, it does. It has a small meat department with bison, beef, chicken, all  local, natural, and somewhat expensive. Rightfully so, it costs to raise natural meat (chicken breasts at their natural size, which you may not even be familiar with anymore!), so it costs to buy it. My choice this week was to forgo buying meat, and go off of our frozen stash. (I won't be wasting the old food we have, I just won't be re-stocking!) In the future, I'm thinking of having a separate meat budget and buying meats once a month, portioning it out to three or four omnivorous meals a week, three or four vegetarian meals a week.

How to make this work without breaking the bank: the Pyre family will be adjusting portion sizes to the recommended sizes of meat in proportion to veg, fruit, and starch/grain. Perhaps this method will allow us to have responsibly raised meat in our diet still, while being kind to our budget, not to mention, super kind to our health!We will make small sacrifices to come up with that extra 18%, I'd rather have the healthy foods than new shoes. (There, honey, see? It's in writing! There are witnesses!) We're still a single income family, with one of us returning to school this semester, and in need of a few things around the house. We'll just have to see if it works.

It's good that the paragraph about my money ties into the post about big money. So why aren't we all eating the healthy stuff? What about all those tests and rules that are supposed to keep us safe when we're eating? Yeah, well, those rules are made by the people who own the companies. You know, since they don't really know you, they make the rules to protect their money, not you. And it's only getting worse. Wouldn't you like to know if one of the top guns at one of the most corrupt agricultural biotechnology firms, a man who previously tried to keep milk from being labeled with or without rBGH, was appointed to the position of "Food Safety Czar"? Well, this happened! Two. Years. Ago. I found out about it today. And I do far more research into food safety than the average American. Food that's supposed to be safe isn't safe, and it takes an impossible amount of diligence on the part of the consumer to sort out what is and isn't.

  We've been working our way off of the worse foods for a while, the fast food circuit, the over-processed foods. This is pretty much like when I quit smoking. I quit one cigarette at a time, until I was smoking just a couple each week. Those were the very very hardest to get rid of. I'm not really surprised at the "withdrawal" type feelings coming from each of our healthier steps. If the food is laden with chemicals, of course we're going to miss and crave like crazy each time we get rid of something, but, just like the cigarettes, over time, I won't miss them. Over time, they may even start to disgust me (the cigarettes certainly do). Ditching the supermarket is me quitting my last cigarettes. It was the hardest step. This should get easier over time, and I'll make it work. I'm excited! I feel a little scared, but liberated. This certainly isn't over. If too many people do what we're doing, someone's going to loose all their money, and they won't go down without a fight.

I know not everyone has the right opportunities to do this exact thing. This is what will work for our family. There are alternatives! If all you do is start reading labels and choosing hormone free, or buying some produce at a farm stand or farmers' market, or planting a single tomato plant in a pot on your porch, there are small steps you can take. You can eat like your body was made to. It's not easy, but one step at a time, it gets easier.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ABX and BF - Day 1

Well, we got off to a rockier start than anticipated, but it all worked out on the first dose. I had planned on taking the pill at DB's bedtime, and his goodnight nursing would mark the last for the 6 hour window. I then learned that I had to wait a couple hours after a meal to take the meds and we had just eaten a late dinner right before DB went to sleep. I shifted the plan to taking the pill at my bedtime, around midnight. So at midnight, I popped the pill, and managed a decent dream nursing out of my sweet boy. He decided he was done in about 10 minutes, and we all went upstairs to tumble into bed. We slept comfortably until his first (and only) waking in the night, at 3:15 AM. He was rather confused and put out that A. his boobs weren't accessible (I put on a complicated bra and tight tee shirt to prevent sleep nursings, which both of us are accustomed to and I didn't want to accidentally nurse him in the "bad" window") and B. Mommy wasn't doing anything to make them more accessible. We cuddled, but that wasn't cutting it, we rocked and bounced. He stopped crying, he stopped whimpering, but he was clearly waiting for the part of the show where the boobies would appear and we would all get back to sleep. Through my whole song and rocking number he would stare at me with wide eyes, root for a second, and then stare again, interspersed with threats of tears, where I'd just try to calm him vocally and change his position. Eventually, around 4 AM he fell asleep for good, and even rewarded me for my early-morning mommy strength with a sleep smile and giggle. Yay! I needed it, because it was very hard to withhold his nursing from him.

Back to bed we all go, and he snuggles up next to me just fine, though he's a little restless once we lay down, he eventually quiets and we return to dream land. He woke again around 7 to enjoy his first nursing since bedtime and enjoy he did. When he sat up and started playing with my nose, I asked him "do you want leles?" and signed "milk" to him, the excitement was unmistakable and he got right down to business with some hard kicks to my hip bone and some rather adorable little piggy "yummy" sounds. As I type right now, we have an hour and a half left to nurse before dose 2, and we're taking advantage of it. I feel like daytime will be easier, I can distract and entertain him, as well as offer snacks and drinks that I couldn't in the night. We'll see!!


  Dose two: took it at 11:30 AM, trying to move the time up to make up for our late start last night. DB was in the middle of a long nap when that time rolled around, so the last time he nursed was around 10:45 AM. When he woke up, he climbed up into my lap and laid his head on my chest, but didn't ask and I didn't offer, as I usually would. We hung out around the house until my fussy could take no more of this new and different leles free world he woke up to. We went out and ran errands, got our geocache for the day, dropped off dry cleaning, went shopping for some summer-weight long sleeve shirts since I'm about to be more sensitive to sun exposure. The errand running (and baby wearing, the two are always hand in hand...) certainly helped to distract the little guy, and some diluted juice to keep the thirsties at bay while keeping some calcium going in. We got home around 4:30 and I offered a snack of steamed sweet potatoes. While it was entertaining, not much got down. Some snuggles, more juice, and playtime were enough to hold him off to his 5:30 milk break! Another happy baby smile! I love it. I also love the much more comfortable feeling I've got going on. He chowed down and was "all done" but I'm thinking he'll be a frequent at Mom's Breastaurant until bedtime. All in all, the first two doses weren't too bad. 1 day down, 29 to go!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Acute Lyme, Treatment, and Breastfeeding - The Beginning

(Nothing in this post is intended as medical advise. If you have or think you may have Lyme Disease, you should seek professional medical help)

  I started getting sick about a month ago. It started with that feeling, the one I can really only describe as the "I'm probably going to be sick tomorrow" feeling. I felt just not quite right, a little achy, a little fevered. I woke up fine, but felt the same way in the evening. Three days of that, then the headache. It wouldn't go away, no matter what! I took Tylenol, it dulled the ache, but couldn't take it away. The headache started to feel like it was running down my neck and in between my shoulder blades. My fever went up a bit, it would run between 100 and 101.5. With Tylenol, it would break, but as soon as that dose wore off, it would spike again. The first headache lasted 8 days. Muscle and joint pain accompanied, with severe fatigue and that flu-ish achey skin feeling. In the middle of this, I had finally seen a Dr. and gone to GigantorLabs for a blood draw. I expressed a concern for Lyme disease (thanks to my medical degree from Google University and the fact that I've had maybe 20 tick bites this summer. We are outdoors often and while we take precautions and remove ticks quickly and safely, the smallest ticks are often the carriers, and believe me when I say, they are very very small.We live in an area with a high rate of Lyme contraction, so it'd been on my mind. )

   I waited 5 days for results, and the tests all came up negative. I had a vitamin D deficiency and that's about it. I was feeling better at my results appointment, so my GP told me to get some vitamin D, rest up, and call if symptoms returned. 4 days later, they did. The headache came first, and within 24 hours, all the rest followed suit. I got back to the Dr. as soon as possible and paid a bit extra to have them draw blood right there in the office that day. The Dr. recommended checking liver, kidney, and a couple other things, as well as the Lyme test again. Another week of waiting, and being sick. I finally got a call that the results were back and at the result consultation my Dr. wasted no time in telling me we finally had an answer and it was Acute Lyme Disease (Acute is the opposite of Chronic, it just means that I contracted the disease fairly recently). Then the Dr. told me "Good news is, it's very treatable with a strong round of Doxycycline. Bad news is, with this medicine, you'll have to wean."

   I felt like someone had punched me in the gut! Dragon Baby is only 8 months old. I am nowhere near ready to wean. Nursing is a very important part of our day, and night, and everywhere in between. I usually just mumble things at doctors I don't agree with, so I shocked myself when I said, quite calmly "That's not an option. What are our alternatives?" I asked about other medicines, there's one, less effective antibiotic, but I'm allergic to it. I really must get better, and so I need the best medicine I can get. The Dr. is telling me that if I'm going to continue nursing while taking the medicine, it's going to be a very careful balance of a schedule, watching out not to nurse during the peak of medicine after the dose, then "pump and dump" (a big myth, but I'll cover that in a different post), then nurse before the next dose. I tried to clear my head enough to discuss what I knew about NOT needing to pump and dump, but the Dr. wasn't hearing it. I left the Dr.'s office with my head spinning.

  I was determined to make the schedule work. The Dr. told me the peak of this medicine would occur between 2 and 4 hours after the dose, so at 4 hours "pump and dump", then nurse until the next dose. I wanted to get in touch with an IBCLC to see what Dr. Hale (the leading MD in the world of lactation and pharmacology) had to say about Doxycycline, and to see if I was correct in thinking that pumping and dumping was the old way of thinking about undesirable things in your milk, and that, unless I was concerned about my supply diminishing, there was no reason to pump and dump. The medicine, just like alcohol, would disperse in my milk the same rate as my blood. Breasts are not containers, they are glands, and milk doesn't just sit there waiting to be drunk, it is constantly changing. The IBCLC provided Dr. Hale's information about Doxy and confirmed my thoughts about pump and dump.

    Dr. Hale doesn't recommend long-term nursing with Doxy, long-term being 60-90 day treatments like the ones needed for treatment of Anthrax, but for my 30 day cycle, our schedule of careful nursing around the peaks of medication should work, with minimal risk.

Our plan is this: Mompyre takes probiotics every day to hopefully ward off thrush, that's not something we want to do again. Dragon Baby takes in high-calcium foods in his solid food diet, as calcium will help to protect from the trace antibiotics he will get. Our day will be divided in to quarters of 6 hours each.
  • First Dose: Bedtime
    • Nurse at the same time I take the pill, as it won't enter the bloodstream right away.
    • Absolutely no nursing for 4 hours, to avoid the peak of the medicine
    • Try very hard to not nurse the next 2 hours, to provide a bit of "cushion" time.
  • Free Nursing time!
    • Nurse and pump as much as I care to in this 6 hour window, anything pumped can be offered in the next 6 hours while we can't nurse. 
Then, repeat! and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

I'm a little concerned about how it's going to go, for us, emotionally, etc. DB nurses quite frequently throughout the day and night, for thirst, hunger, and comfort. I'm going to try to meet his needs in other ways, but it will be a big learning curve for us. I'm going to try and post some of our experiences, simply because in all my research online, I haven't read of anyone doing what I'm doing. I have read of lots of people weaning.

I do welcome questions and comments, though I thought of disabling them for this series of posts. I have run into some really abrasive posters out there in the dark corners of the interwebs on the subject of Lyme and weaning, Lyme and breastfeeding, etc. But I think it is more important to make myself available to others who might need help than to protect myself from the possibility of hurtful words. I'm not here to advise others on what to do, just to share my story. We are confident, as a family, in the choice we've made, and I did not take it lightly. I hope hearing my story helps someone out there. I know it will help me to share it!