Wednesday, March 12, 2014

becoming an expert in remy: feeding a screaming acid reflux infant.

one of my college professors once asked us a question during one of those lame get-to-know-you first day of class games. the question was, "what are you an expert in?" i stared down at the question and my mind went blank. the first thought that came to mind was, music. but no, i have a really good ear and pick up on instruments easily, but i'm no where near and expert. i wracked my brain, but couldn't think of a single thing, so i ended up putting down something about eating bowls of cereal, which actually i probably am an expert in. 

then a few years later, a different professor told us about an author named malcom gladwell, who talked about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. so pretty much all of us are experts in facebook, our favorite tv shows, and other useless shenanigans. 

the other day, travis said something about me knowing remington so well, always knowing what he needs or what he is saying, and i realized that now i do feel like an expert in something, that something being remington. i looked up how many hours are in a year, and low and behold, it's almost 10,000. (8,766 hours to be exact.) i've almost been remington's mom for a whole year, and even when i'm not with him, i'm usually thinking about him or talking about him. so i'm calling expert on this. 

here's where you might get bored and want to skip these types of posts, as it's going to be full mommy-blog mode. i thought i'd share how i got to expert level on different topics that are really, really important to babies, namely eating and sleeping. so if you're not into hearing the journey of getting remington to eat and sleep well, peace out and see you next time. and if you are into this stuff or know someone who has an impossible to feed, acid refluxey, soy formula needing newborn, direct them here and maybe some of remy's tricks will work for them. 

becoming an expert in feeding remy. 

there are two major factors in taking care of a newborn: sleep and eat. they are major because newborns basically don't do anything else. except for poop, and in remy's case, a lot of poop. like literally seven times a day poop. yeah, my hands and wrists got pretty chapped from all the hand washing. tip: buy a moisterizer made by melaluca or some other unscented, really moisturizing brand. also, hand sanitizer doesn't actually kill 99% of germs. they test it on solid surfaces, not porous surfaces like hands, so just wash with real soap and water. 

but i digress. 

so feeding a newborn. seems like it should be a breeze, right? baby is hungry, baby eats. sorry, but no. (at least not rem.)  i already covered how much remy and i didn't work as a breastfeeding team, so i'll skip that. 

so at first, we were feeding remy the blue lid similac advance formula, the one they recommended at the hospital. it's the basic formula that is used by some fancy way of breaking down cow's milk molocules, blah blah look it up because i can't remember all the science terms. the first three weeks, he seemed to be doing pretty well with it. eating well, not too much gas. 

then out of nowhere, he started screaming every time i tried to feed him, which was every three hours. you're sitting there on the couch, holding this teeny baby, trying to support the floppy head, your arm and shoulder are killing you because your muscles are still adjusting to the huge strain of this new baby. you're holding a bottle in the baby's mouth, except that he keeps spitting it out and crying. then he cries more because he is hungry. then you cry because of how frustrated and tired you are. i would get so frustrated that i'd have to lay remy down in his cradle and go out on the porch. or go upstairs and scream into a pillow. this situation did not help the postpartum depression that was building; i'm sure it was a huge factor in it. 

i started feeling afraid to have people over or go anywhere, because my baby would scream and scream when he needed to eat. i tried everything. rocking him, warming the milk, cooling it, different feeding positions, taking him outside. i stopped inviting friends over or accepting their invitations. there was a lot of crying. then everyone tries to give you advice. "try this formula" "he has colic." "he needs gas drops." 

after several weeks of suffering through this, i called the pediatrician. turned out remington had acid reflux and was possibly lactose intolerant. we were prescribed a whole host of medications to try to treat it. our insurance didn't cover the medication that actually works for severe reflux, prevacid, and we didn't have an extra $300 to pay out of pocket. so we spent another month trying the other drugs our insurance does cover. if you have ever had to fight an epic battle with an insurance company, you know what i mean when i say it was time consuming and ridiculous. tons of phone calls and being on hold. trying to find a pharmacy that does blah blah blah. our insurance company went as far as to suggest that the pharmacy commit fraud to get us the prevacid. finally after a long phone call that ended withe me yelling and crying, "we have never missed a premium, my child is in pain, YOU WILL COVER THE PREVACID." they started covering the prevacid. 

it was still $65 and they wouldn't cover the kind you put in a bottle. twice a day we had to dissolve half a pill in a syringe and coax it down remy's throat. he couldn't eat a half hour before or after having the pill, so it had to be timed perfectly between his feedings and naps. there was always the stress of him choking, as the pill didn't dissolve perfectly. then again, i was terrified of him dying every minute of every day. 

the prevacid seemed to help some, but he still screamed and had to be carried around sitting up, with his bum being patted for about a half hour before he would eat. my mom said i was the exact same way and suggested we put him on soy formula. it was more expensive and really stinky, but worth it. within several days of switching his formula, he started eating better. at around three months, i could finally feed him without wanting to tear my hair out, at least some of the time. i don't know if he associated being fed with pain from the reflux, but unless he was completely asleep, he wouldn't let you feed him in your arms. i put him on a nap schedule around this time, and would pick him up from his crib and feed him while he was still asleep during a nap. it made it really hard to leave the house, because unless he napped on schedule, he wouldn't eat and then there would be that infernal screaming. 

seriously, i was so unprepared for how much infants cry. 

also, having to feed him while he was asleep was scary, because he choked all the time. he would be asleep, so he wouldn't be focusing on swallowing. i'd be nudging him, but he'd still choke. then his eyes would bug open and he would cough and try to catch his breath, as my legs went numb and i prepared for him to die. there was so much spitting up. and seriously, i just knew he was going to die every day when i woke up and every night before bed. every time i fed, him, i'd be praying. please God, keep him from choking. 

when he was around four months, i was at my wit's end trying to figure out a consistent feeding technique and finally tried feeding him in his car seat. finally, something that clicked. i'd stick him in, prop the bottle with a blanket and he'd watch me do the dishes or cook breakfast. then about a month later, i'd have to buckle him in or else he'd roll completely over in his car seat. 

this was a huge turning point. this was also when my depression meds started kicking in, so things were good. i no longer had to fight with a screaming baby every three hours. instead, i could get things done around the house while he happily ate his bottle. 

we tried feeding him solids at four months. carrots, and he loved them. rice cereal gave him painful gas, so we skipped that. we didn't consistently do solids until he was six months, because he didn't seem ready for them before that. he was still spitting up all the time and his stomach upset easily. 

by six months i started feeding him solids once a day. and by solids i mean pureed fruits and veggies. still no rice cereal or oatmeal. i buy all organic baby food and sometimes puree my own. 

how to explain trying to teach your baby how to eat from a spoon... 
it's like, trying to hit a moving target. or maybe a moving raccoon. a raccoon who constantly puts his hands in his mouth and spits out every mushy, horrible smelling bit of goo you are trying to shovel in. it takes an hour to feed him a tablespoon of food. 

i coped with music. and when i got too frustrated, i'd just turn on whatever show i was watching at the time. yeah, i'll admit it. remy has heard Gossip Girl, New Girl, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother. lots of ted talks. lots of feminist documentaries. mama has to stay sane or else nobody stays sane. 

oh and being heavily medicated helps a lot too. 

by seven months he was off the prevacid and for the most part wasn't spitting up anymore. 

by eight months i was feeding remy two meals of solids a day. then nine months i was doing three a day, like normal mealtimes. i'm trying to have him weaned off of formula by the time he is one year. 

it's hard! 

yeah buying formula blows, but at least you know the kid is getting all his nutrients. when you go full solids, it's up to you to make sure he gets everything he needs. and let's be honest, there are days when all i feed myself is cereal and a cheese quesadilla. which isn't going to cut it for remy, (and shouldn't be what i'm eating either...) so you force yourself to start cooking more and buying more fresh fruits and veggies. also the green smoothie thing helps a lot. 

now, at almost eleven months, remy's eating schedule goes like this: 

wake up around 8am,(!)  eat a bowl of oatmeal and fruit, some cheese, maybe more pureed fruit. 
(he only has three and a half teeth, so still doing lots of purees.
a 6 oz bottle around 10am before his morning nap. 
wakes up around 12 or 1pm, eat green smoothie, (still working on the sippy cup, so usually spoon feed.) a cheese and egg quesadilla or whole wheat bread with peanut butter or last night's leftovers pureed in the blender, etc. and then some veggies. 
a 6 oz bottle around 3pm before his afternoon nap. 
then a snack when he wakes up, like cut up fruits and a string cheese. dinner with me, usually whatever i'm eating smashed or blended up. he really loves any pasta with red sauce.  it's been a good incentive for me to eat healthily and to buy organic. 
then a bottle or two before bed. usually like 8 oz before bedtime, which is usually between 8 and 9pm. i finally don't have to put him in his carseat to eat his bottle, but he still won't eat unless he is swaddled. funny kid. 

phew! it has been a long road. remy loves eating solids and is weaning pretty easily. let's be honest, he's never loved bottle feeding. 

also, i'm not super strict about sweets. like i don't give him candy ever, but if i'm eating a popsicle, i'll give him a few licks. when we go for frozen yogurt, i give him tiny bites the whole time i'm eating. he's tried homemade chocolate frosting. (like a teeny bit.) 

what's the point of life without a little sweet right? 

things i do not feed him include, juice, (empty cavity making calories) crackers like goldfish, because again, the empty calorie thing, and processed meats like sausage, ham, or bacon. terrible for you (fatty and salty, and carry a bigger risk of food borne illness.) or really any processed foods, like mac and cheese from a box, hot dogs, etc. also, no fast food. like no fast food ever. maybe in the future he can try french fries, because french fries! but we aren't going to do chicken nuggets or hamburgers. (it's possible, remember how i've never had one.)  when he does turn one, he won't be having cow's milk, we will be doing almond milk. 50% more calcium and if he is lactose intolerant, then we'll just skip that issue altogether. 

sorry, this isn't meaning to become a preachy food thing. just my thoughts. processed foods just aren't good for you! 

so that's basically it. 
when you spend an entire year being completely in charge of feeding a human being, you get really good at knowing what they want and when. remy has a specific cry, kind of a panting cry, when he wants a bottle. travis always complains that remy doesn't eat for him the way he eats for me. especially with the bottle feeding, remy would really only eat for me. (or my mom, who really got the hang of this special rocking you had to do to get him to settle down. he had to be swaddled and then rocked pretty quickly while you were standing. only standing, not sitting.) 

so now you know all the hacks for getting remy to eat. next up, the secrets of sleep training a kid who refused to sleep more than three hours at a time. 

hope any of this info is helpful to a fellow parent who has a tricky infant eater. 


Friday, March 7, 2014

remembering, choosing, loving, kissing, more kissing.

 the following is a picture story about finding love. 

that thing we all desperately want.
the thing we all search long and hard to find. 

at times, it seems impossible. 
i'm going to be alone forever, you think. 

or, you find it, and then it splits your heart into a billion pieces.

seriously, "heartbroken" doesn't begin to cover it. 

until just when you're convinced you'll never find "that person." 
you do. 

it's marvelous. 
easy and hard. 

every valentine's, i remember back to all the past valentine's and who i spent them with. or who i didn't spend them with. right after i got married, i remember feeling like all the sudden it wasn't okay for me to talk about or remember the guys i had previously dated, unless it was to trash them. which felt a lot like cutting out the past decade of my life, and cutting out people i had loved dearly.  then, once while practicing to sing in sacrament meeting, i talked with my pianist, a beautiful woman in her 60s, and she told me how she had to make a choice between two men she loved. that sometimes she wondered what life would have been like if she'd chosen the other man. how she ran into him at a funeral and still found him handsome. 

it made me think. 
see, this was the time when alex started writing sad songs about me and how i had chosen the wrong guy. of course i heard them on facebook, because all my friends were talking about them. 
and a few months previously, like right before i got married, a man i loved dearly, but who things hadn't worked out with, called me and begged me to call off my engagement to travis. he wanted another chance. 
of course i told him no, that i was committed and in love with someone else, someone who didn't lie to me or lose his temper. 
but i'd be lying if i said i never thought about it. what life would have been like. during that first terrible year of marriage, i did wonder sometimes. did i make the right choice?

i feel like we never talk about that. once you're married, you have to be one hundred percent committed. you have to forget every other person you ever loved, or else you are committing adultery in your mind. which is what i felt the lds church taught me, although you could probably argue that point. 

i had many many great experiences and sweet moments with several other people i loved. not to mention passion and some wonderful kisses. 

i have to pause here in case travis reads this. 
travis. i love you. i chose you and i am the luckiest in the land to have you. 

that's the thing about marriage that i didn't know when i got into it. 
like i had heard it before, but you just don't get it until you're in it, you know? 
it's not like fairy tales or romantic comedies where everything is all happily-ever-after. 
you have to choose and rechoose every day. during every disagreement or big fight. during hard times like not being able to make love to each other for almost a year due to illness. 
you have to choose when that old flame of yours emails you a few months after you're married, and you know it's not a good idea to respond to his email. you choose to love the one you chose. 

but, before i had chosen, man did i have a lot of love and a lot of heartache. like i've said before, i fall in love easily and have a tough time falling out of love. my dating life could fill an entire tv series. like a 10 season series. 

of course alex would have an entire season. 
then there would be the pre-med guy from my spanish class, chase carlton. what a name right? i had that stalkery obsession with him, mostly because i was really lonely in college without alex around and i needed someone to fill up that space. 
there was the guy who told me he'd leave his girlfriend for me, but that i needed to stop wearing bikinis, because they were immoral. 
there was a kiss i had in an elevator when the power went out and we were stuck there. first date, and the guy used waaaay too much tongue. *cough* tony valdez *cough*. 
there was the time right after i'd moved to hawaii and i was feeling adventurous. i met up with a stranger on the beach to makeout. he got angry when i wouldn't let him feel me up and that was that. 
there was the guy who reminded me of alex, and i'd pretend it was alex i was kissing every time we made out. 

one of my all time most sexy kisses ever was when, the guy who begged me to leave travis kissed me for the first time. we had been dating for a month maybe, and i was actually someone else's "girlfriend." but he was in utah and i was in hawaii with marc, who had a swimmer's body and the same sense of humor as me. i had invited him to my house for dinner. no one else was in the kitchen with us and i was standing over the stove, flipping a tortilla. i still remember what i was wearing, my red hot chili peppers t-shirt and black shorts. out of no where, marc grabbed me around the waist, pushed me up against the glass door, put his hand behind my neck and kissed me in a way that left me entirely breathless. just the one kiss, and then we were back to cooking dinner. oh, i'll never forget that kiss. 

there was the valentine's day i spent in hawaii. a guy i'd been friends with for years flew out to surprise me. i came home from school and there he was, sitting on my couch. i was afraid he'd be disgusted to see my weight gain. on valentine's day, he bought me dinner at my favorite thai place, and then at sunset we went for a bike ride to see a secret beach. there were stone steps down to the water. we walked down those steps and then we kissed. a sweet and gentle kiss. one of the most romantic kisses i'd experienced. we talked about what life would be like if we married. the books we'd have. our home. 

before i'd met travis, i had this secret fear. i was afraid that i'd never stay faithful to the person i ended up married to. i know that this sounds terrible and now that i am married to my love, i know i'll always choose to be faithful. but back then, i didn't know how to only love one person. i loved alex. i loved marc. i loved jordan. i loved davis. i knew that there were plenty more people i could love. how on earth was i supposed to stay with just one of them, when i loved all of them? 

the last time alex and i ever hugged, something else i'll never forget. 

it had been two years. he was just home from his mission. i was dating travis and he was angry at me. i drove to his house and picked him up so we could go on a drive and talk. we drove and talked for several hours and listened to music. at the end of the drive, we both knew it was over. i pulled into his driveway and got out of the car with him. he wrapped his arms around me and enveloped me into his smell, that scent i'd missed so desperately while he was away. i still remember how it felt to stand there in his arms. he looked me in the eyes and said, "if it doesn't work out with travis, call me." then i drove away and it was really over. 

my first kiss with travis. of course it was on our first date. we'd known each other a little in high school, but that was three years before. he picked me up in that black tacoma he used to drive. we drove up near the capitol building to stargaze. i brought a star chart, like i was really planning on finding constellations and maybe holding hands with him. but as he'll tell you, i only brought one pillow, so he laid his head next to mine, and then we were looking at each other and all the sudden we were kissing. i've never had that instant chemistry with anyone else. (and yeah, i kissed a lot of people.) he kept looking at me and saying, "i can't believe i'm kissing collette charles. you are so beautiful." 
flattery works on me. like really works. 

i guess the point of all this is that love is weird. and all that talk about soul mates isn't necessarily true. i mean, yeah, i'd say travis and i are soul mates. it's romantic, and it wasn't coincidence that we ran into each other in a place where neither of us had been in a year. (mcdonalds. aaaaaand the romantic story feeling just ended for you, right?) but we do all have history. we are all compatible with more than one person. it's okay to remember and smile.  i feel very blessed to have known so many exciting romantic moments. i experienced my share of heartache, too, which also really grows you up quick. 

you choose your love. then you choose to keep loving them. 
and surprise, it gets better and better. 
i'm not just talking about sex. 
really though, i love you travis and i'd choose you again if i did it all over. 


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