monkeys and marbles

Archive for February 2007


Posted on: February 28, 2007

Zander has always been a picky eater. Although he did start solid food with quite the taste for pureed squash and carrots. That ended when he got his first nasty cold at 8 months old.

He decided he would rather have a bottle, which I figured was a comfort thing. He was a pretty sick little man.

Unfortunately the food strike did not end with his convalescence. He decided he no longer had need for fruit and vegetable goodness, and would rather receive processed nutrients from his formula.

He would not eat solids consistently until he was 13 months old. It was months of offering various pureed produce with only the occasional spoonful consumed. He is the only child I know who wouldn’t even look at his 1st birthday cake, let alone eat it. We gave him some icing to smear around, just so that he seemed more like an average 1 year old…atleast in pictures! But we know better.

A couple of months ago, we started to suspect he might have an iron deficiency. He got tired easily. Too easily. He had also lost all apetite for anything other than milk. He would have been happy with 20 ounces of milk a day and nothing else.

We received his test results from the doctor today. The news was so-so. He does have an iron deficiency, but no so bad as to make him anemic. It’s still bad enough that we need to keep a very close eye on it, making sure he gets enough iron daily, and getting re-tested in a couple of months.

While waiting for the results to come back, we have been fortifying Zander’s diet with enough iron to bring him to atleast 90% of the recommended daily amount. We’ve also been keeping a food journal. At times we’ve had to literally shove food in his mouth and make him swallow it, all the while trying to ignore his screams and gagging. It’s been tough.

It appears we have been successful. His apetite is back. His energy is back. He’s even gained back a couple of pounds in the last 6 weeks. But he will still doesn’t eat like your average soon-to-be two year old. Most of his diet still consists of pureed fruits and vegetables, since anything chunkier or with the least bit of texture makes him gag enough to bring up everything he’s recently eaten. This is something we try to avoid at all costs, since he needs every little bit of food (and iron) he manages to swallow.

He’s only recently started to try food from our own plates, but it only seems to be a one-time offer. We try to offer the same food a few days later, only to be rejected with a hugely melodramatic “No!” and a violent shaking of the head. Unless the food in question is something we would rather him not eat. McDonald’s french fries seem to hit the spot at all times.

But atleast he seems to be going in the right direction now. He’s actually eating the occasional food that requires him to use his molars in a chewing/grinding action.

I’m starting to see the light at the end of the mealtime tunnel. This is a good thing.


Zander has never said mommy or daddy. And it’s always bothered us. Other toddlers say it! Why doesn’t our toddler say it? It’s something we have longed to hear.

A few weeks ago I realized that whenever Zander was crying and asking for us, it sounded like he was saying “Carl”. And who is Carl, you ask? I wasn’t sure.

I kept listening for “Carl”, to try to find a pattern to when he said it. And it seemed that it was always when he wanted daddy. Who’s name is Carlos.

Yes, that’s right. My son is calling his father by his name! Shortly after, we realized that when he says “cat”, sometimes he means cat, sometimes he means me. Interesting.

I told my mother, who started to laugh. Apparently this runs in the family.

When I was around 14 months old, I started saying “nonny” (pronounced like Donny). My mother was so happy that I was finally starting to call her mommy. What she found odd, though, was that I would go to the window and yell “nonny! nonny!” whenever I could hear my father coming home on the tractor (I’m a farm girl, you see). And then it dawned on her. I was trying to say “honey”, which incidentally is what my mother calls my father. That’s when they started calling each other mommy and daddy in front of my brother and I.

So Carlos and I try to remember to call each other mommy and daddy in front of the boys. Which can seem awkward at times, and downright funny at others. Especially depending on the situation and whomever may be witness.

I find the whole thing funny, and rather cute. My husband does not. I’m not quite sure why he can’t find the humour in it. I think he may feel as if his son was calling for him without him knowing. But even if Zander was calling for Harold, Carlos would still go running to him. That’s just the type of father he is.

Zander has finally started to say dad. He calls Carlos dad and he calls me dad.

But that’s better than “Carl” and “cat”, I guess!

Zander & Daddy (Carl)

Carlos and I have always celebrated on February 13th instead of February 14th. It’s a tradition that started 8 years ago, and was henceforth dubbed “Valentine’s Day Eve”. Yes, we made up our own holiday. What’s wrong with that?

It all started on February 13th 1998. Carlos dropped by my apartment to give me a single rose. That was the first time he expressed his other-than-friendship interest. Before then we had just been friends in the same program at school. We started dating shortly after.

The following year, I gave him a single rose on February 13th. I know, I know! Yuck! But we were young, in love, and all mushy and stuff!

So that’s how it started.

This year was the first time we have celebrated on February 14th. Valentine’s Day Eve was not to be. Both boys were having a bad day…which meant the parents also had a bad day! Lots of screaming, lots of tears, Tempra for teething, Gaviscon for reflux, and no sleep. That’s how we Valentine’s Day Eve went down.!

So today…we’re having pizza for dinner, and maybe we will go to bed early to recover from last night. That’s how we will celebrate our first Valentine’s Day since 1999!!! Woohoo! One for the books!

Logan has just recently started to “talk”. I think we have the Prevacid to thank for that! His favourite things to say are “bababababa” and “dadadadadada”, and my personal fave “aguh aguh”. Sometimes his rants go on forever.

The other day we were all in the kitchen. Zander was eating breakfast and Logan, who was already done eating, was babbling away. All of a sudden he said what sounded like “bad Dante”. Carlos looked at me and asked “who’s Dante?”. I just shook my head and shrugged.

Ahhh…..the ramblings of an 8 month old!

We knew something wasn’t right with Logan when he was still in the NICU.

I was pumping and feeding him expressed breast milk by bottle, since he was so small and weak – he had problems nursing. My husband and I noticed that he seemed to be uncomfortable when he was eating. We thought it was gas…or maybe he was just a squirmy baby. It would not turn out to be that simple.

We started giving him Colic drops, Oval, gripe water, anything that might help any discomfort he was in. It didn’t help.

When he was drinking from his bottle, his tiny little body would arch backwards with such force that we could hardly hold onto him. Sometimes he would scream. It would go on for hours. Never have I been through anything so emotionally exhausting as watching your newborn in pain, and not knowing why or how to stop it. I cried…a lot.

He used to make these cute little grunts when he was sleeping in the crib or bassinet. We called him “our little goat”, since that’s what he sounded like. Later, when I learned that he made those sounds when he was in pain, I felt unbelievable guilt. It crushed me.

Carlos and I searched the internet for any wisdom that might help our littlest boy. When we came across the list of symptoms for GERD, my heart sank. This sounded like Logan. Too much like Logan.

GERD stands for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux disease. Our friends’ son had GERD, and we remembered how hard it was on their whole family. We started to pray for Colic.

I brought him to our family doctor as soon as she could see us. I told her Logan’s symptoms and my suspicions. She said that it could be GERD, or it could be a milk allergy/intolerance. She suggested that we cut milk products out of my diet, and switch him to soy formula for the couple of feeds a day when the breast milk supply had run out. In the meantime, she got us an appointment for Logan to go for a milk scan at CHEO – the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Luckily, we live in a city with a children’s hospital.

The soy formula helped a bit. But he was still in so much pain. We counted the days…no…hours…till Logan’s test. When it finally came, it was bittersweet. We were happy that we may finally find out what our son was dealing with. But we also knew that this test was not going to be fun for any of us.

Being at CHEO was stressful. It was hard to see all those children. Some not so sick, some much worse off than Logan. Logan was dressed in a pink gown (how humiliating!), and was fed a bottle of formula containing a radioactive dye. Then he was strapped to a table and a huge imaging machine was lowered down over him. And there he laid for an hour. A horrific hour of screaming, tears and torment. The only contact I could have with him was reaching in from the side. It was awful.

We got the results the next day. Our doctor called us as soon as she got them. It was GERD. Again, my heart sank. He was also diagnosed with something called Sandifer’s Syydrome, which is a neurological response to the GERD. This explained the arching of his back while eating. A prescription for Zantac was waiting for us at the pharmacy. We hoped that this would make everything better.

It took about 10 day for the Zantac to finally make a noticable difference. And what a difference it was! It was like night and day. But it didn’t take all of the pain away. Zantac is very weight sensitive, so once a week we would weigh him on a baby scale that we had purchased and calculate his new dose using a formula given to us by our doctor. And since he’s what is called a “comfort eater” (he eats to try to sooth the pain), he gained weight rapidly, requiring the Zantac to be upped every 10-14 days.

After being on the Zantac for a couple of months the “episodes”, as the hospital called them, came back with a vengeance. Back to the doctor we went. This time Prevacid was added to his daily routine. We were hoping to avoid this, since there have not been many studies on Prevacid in infants. Doctor’s don’t like giving it to children under a year or two of age. But Logan needed it.

The first Prevacid we got was in capsule form. So I had to open the capsule and count the little beads to get the correct dose. Fun. Not!

Just after Christmas he was put on a liquid form, much easier to get the correct dose, much easier for mommy!

It was like the sun came out. We still have to treat him differently than healthy babies (can’t lie down right after eating, etc.), and he is still on the soy formula (couldn’t keep up the pumping, haven’t tried him on milk formula yet, milk allergy/intolerance is common in GERD babies). But in the last couple of months our little boy’s real personality has come out. It’s amazing!

It will be a while until we find out the extent of Logan’s problem. Most children grow out of it by around 18 months, but some don’t. It depends on what is causing the GERD. Either the flap at the bottom of his esophagus that closes over the top of his stomach is under-developed and still developing, it is stuck open, or it isn’t there at all. This will be determined at some point with an ultrasound. If it is still developing, it’s just a waiting game. Otherwise there may be surgery in his future. Hopefully not.

Until then, we will enjoy our little boy and hope for the best. Atleast he is more comfortable now, and hopefully it will only get better!

I was just looking at my blog, and realized something.

I inadvertently started each post about my boys with the word “Wow”. How appropo!

Wow. This going to be tough. There’s a lot to tell.

Logan was due July 13th, 2006. However, he had other plans entirely. We thought Zander’s entry into the world was a great story….

It was the night of June 1st. I had just finally gotten Zander to sleep after an all-out battle. I was just leaving his room when I felt……let’s just say I felt “something”, so as not to offend anyone who may be reading this fascinating story. I mentioned it to my husband, and we both thought I should call TeleHealth, a free health hotline manned by nurses run by the province of Ontario. So I did, and after playing 20 questions with the nurse at the other end, she decided that it was possible that my water broke, and I should proceed to the nearest hospital.

My heart sank. I was only 34 weeks along as of that day. At the same time, I think I was actually in a bit of denial at that point. I informed my husband, we gathered a few things (including Zander), and were about to leave. As I was about 3 feet from the front door…wooosh….or should I say “gush”! If I wasn’t convinced by the nurse, I was after that!

We drove to the hospital, which is only 10 minutes away. I remember two things very clearly from that car ride. First, I remember looking at Zander and feeling so guilty having woken him up after only 30 minutes of sleep. He looked so tired and confused. Secondly, Carlos had the AC going in the car. My pants were soaked from the waterfall of amniotic fluid. I was FREEZING! I swear my pant legs were frozen solid by the time we got there. I think my pants could have stood up on their own.

When we got to the hospital, I got taken to triage. They hooked me up to the usual fetal heart monitor, etc. Heart rate was strong, and I wasn’t having any contractions, but of course they had to admit me. We were told of all the horrible things we had to prepare ourselves for. I’ve never been so scared in my life. The doctor was worried about infection, so he asked the nurse to start an IV with antibiotics. Carlos took Zander home where my sister-in-law was waiting to watch him, and then he returned to the hospital.

In the meantime, the nurses were busy trying to get an IV into my arm. Not an easy task. You see, I not only have the tiniest veins possible in a grown woman, but they also like to hide far away from the surface of my skin. So when I need to have blood taken, it is a major undertaking. Well, these nurse ended up blowing through the sides of two veins and pumping saline into my flesh, cause these huge fluid-filled bubbles that needed to be pressed on firmly to be drained….which hurt like a son-of-a-bitch! So when Carlos got back he took one look at my arms, which were already a deep shade of purple from the trauma, and had to quickly look away. Did I mention my husband can’t handle the site of anything having to do with needles???

So the doctor opted for oral antibiotics in my case….good choice. I didn’t have any unscathed arm-space left for another attempt anyway!

Shortly after Carlos arrived back at the hospital, I sent him home. I could see how tired and worried he was. And I knew I needed my rest anyway.

Then next morning was full of tests, ultrasounds, specialists, predictions, best case scenarios, worst case scenarios….it made my head spin. I still wasn’t having contractions, and I wasn’t dilated at all. So the doctor told us that it came down to one simple task…keep the baby from being born for as long as possible. Easy for him to say! What should I do, clench???

I was put on what “bed rest with bathroom priviledges”. I’d never thought of going to the bathroom as a priviledge, until then. I even had to wait for approval from the doctor to have a shower!

Day in and day out I was hooked up to machines for endless non-stress tests, had ultrasounds, bloodwork every morning at 7am, antibiotics twice a day, watched the occasional bit of TV, and worried. I worried about all the things that could go wrong. I worried about how I would handle being released from the hospital, but having to leave my baby behind. I worried about my 13-month old Zander being away from his mommy so long…did he even miss me (my mother had come to stay with Zander while Carlos was at work and I was in the hospital)? I worried about my husband, who seemed to have taken the weight of the world on his shoulders. I think he took it the hardest out of all of us.

I didn’t sleep much…too many thoughts going through my mind. In the early morning of the 6th day in the hospital, I woke up feeling hungry. I called my nurse and asked for some toast. I ate my toast while watching an episode of Angel. Who knew Angel was on at 3am? Then I felt a twinge. Not even a cramp…just a twinge. I didn’t really thing anything of it until it kept happening.

I called my nurse back, and she immediately hooked me up. Yup. I was having small contractions. But within an hour they stopped. So off to sleep I went. Later on that morning I was told by the doctor that if they started again we would have to think about transferring me to another hospital. The Queensway Carleton Hospital, where I was, does not deal with babies younger than 37 weeks gestation. So I would need be transferred to the Ottawa Civic or the Ottawa General Hospital.

Just after lunch that day, they started again. It was decided that I would go to the Civic and be induced to get labour going. Since my contractions were on and off, and they knew the kind of labour I had with Zander, they thought it was best at that point if the baby was born under controlled conditions. I was 34 weeks 6 days.

After an exciting ambulance ride on the highway during rush-hour traffice, I arrived at 6pm, and immediately was told I needed an IV for antibiotics, and for the oxitocin. Joy! Due to the previous IV fiasco, the anesthesiologist that specialized in epidurals was called in. Even she had a hard time with it. We both had a good laugh after it was done. My husband was cowering in the corner.

At 8 pm I was given oxitocin. Labour progressed slowly for a while, but then really got going. I was in enough pain to use the gas, but did not want an epidural. Not because of any holier-than-those-who-need-them complex, and not because I thought I was too tough to need it. I have just never like the idea of having a plastic tube inserted in my spine.

Well, my labour stalled at 3cm. My cervix was off to one side, so the baby’s head wasn’t engaged properly. This meant that there wasn’t the normal pressure from the baby’s head on the cervix to help me move along. The nurses and doctor thought that an epidural might make me relax enough the allow my cervix to start behaving. Finally I gave in.

I have never been afraid of the pain or discomfort of the administration of an epidural. I have been poked and prodded enough in my life to take care of that fear. The worst part for me was not being able to move during my contractions. That’s not easy!!!

Once it was done, I was told to lie down. All of a sudden the contractions got so intense. It was the first time I screamed. I had the attention of everyone in the room, I’ll tell ya! The nurse checked. “Oh, it’s time for you to push. The baby’s head is right here!”.

This seemed all too familiar. The pain was unreal. I pushed. Two contractions, four pushes. At 3:07am, my second son was born! This time, he was breathing, so Carlos was able to cut the cord. I have always found it fascinating that he can’t stand to be in the same room as me getting an IV, but had no problems cutting through an umbilical cord. The things you do for your kids!

I asked the nurse, why did the epidural not take any of the pain away. As soon as I had finished speaking, my hips went numb, and it proceeded to numbify all the way down to my feet. AFTER I had the baby! What the….????? How is that fair???? You would think that, if I had to go through with an epidural when I really didn’t want one, it could at least have given me a bit of pain management before I didn’t need it anymore!!!

Considering that fact that Logan was 5 weeks premature, he did remarkably well. His first APGAR score was 9! And he was 5 pounds 6 ounces. Small, but not the teensy tiny baby we were expecting at all.

He only spent a week in the NICU. He had some problems feeding, mostly because he was so weak he couldn’t stay awake to eat. There were a couple of times he had to have an NG tube down his nose to be fed, which broke my heart to see. But he did well, all things considered.

By the time we took him home he was back up to his birth weight. And so began our life with two little boys less than 13 months apart.

Stay tuned for Part Two – The Aftermath