the first trimester is not my friend

You may notice that no photographs accompany this post. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, I know, but I’m going to paint you a word picture that will help you to understand why under no circumstances, a current photograph of me should be featured anywhere.

I’m pregnant, and my excuses for being delinquent in my posts all boil down to one main issue: so-called “morning” sickness has, once again, taken over my body. This happened when I was pregnant with Baby Guy, but I think it’s even worse this time. I have learned (for sure this time) that the first trimester is not my friend.

A couple of years ago when I first found out I was pregnant, I was pretty naive about the whole morning sickness thing. I knew there was a good chance I would have it, but I didn’t have a firm grasp on what it might entail. I honestly thought I’d wake up queasy, throw up a few times before lunch, and need to avoid strong odors for a couple of weeks. Well, on the first day of week 6 (ah, I remember it well) I discovered that 24 hours of nausea and extreme sensitivity to any odors was the real deal for me. Unfortunately I was teaching at the time, and by lunchtime I was so miserable that I placed a call to my midwife/OB team begging them for help. Yes, I lasted approximately 6 hours before resorting to professional assistance. My husband, being the good man that he is went out immediately and purchased all of the items they’d suggested might help me: Altoids, a B6 supplement and Unisom. He delivered the Altoids promptly to my classroom, where I downed them semi-continuously for as long as there were any left in the tin.

I went home that afternoon, took the Unisom and B6 (which you should not do unless your health provider advises you to do, by the way), and succumbed to blessed relief in the form of an almost comatose nap.

For the next two months I ate my food cold because the smell of anything was too much when it was hot. I took Unisom after work and during the night and went without it during the day because…you know…teaching stuff requires brain function. I avoided my computer screen as much as possible because it made me nauseous to read from it. I couldn’t watch my students walk across the room because it made me queasy to view that much movement. I banned hand sanitizer, chapstick, lotion, perfume, air freshener, cologne, and breath fresheners (Altoids excepted) first from my classroom, and then even from the hallways if students were planning to come to my classroom within the next period or two. I ate saltines and string cheese fairly steadily to keep my stomach from being too empty. I couldn’t drink water (it made me so nauseous), so I drank Ocean Spray white grapefruit juice exclusively for months.

I didn’t cook or clean because those chores just involve way too many smells. I couldn’t wear freshly laundered clothes until the detergent odor had faded, and I couldn’t be near my husband after he showered because his shampoo was too smelly. My own shampoo made me feel awful, too.

It was pretty bad.

Eventually it ended, the second trimester wasn’t bad; I became enormous, I redeveloped my love of mealtimes, and a few months later I had a happy, healthy little boy.

And then we thought, “Let’s have another!”

So the day after I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, baby numero uno came down with a stomach bug, followed by my husband, followed by two weeks of relatively good health, followed by Baby Guy coming down with the stomach bug AGAIN, but worse this time…while my mom and dad were here…and then I got it. My dad took it back home with him, and my mom extended her stay because she got taken out too. I didn’t get out of bed (and I use the term ‘bed’ loosely…it was really a sleeping pad on the floor of the family room) for 3 days. I was fairly certain I would never recover, and it turns out that I was kind of right because I’ve been nauseous ever since.

That was 2 months ago.

I’m off water still, so basically the only thing I drink is sparkling water with lime juice. White grapefruit juice just isn’t doing it for me this time, and nothing else sounds too good. The sparkling water with lime doesn’t feel awesome, but I can at least stave off dehydration with it, so it’s the beverage of choice this time around. I did about a month and a half of eating nachos almost exclusively. Right now I’m on a grilled cheese kick. It’s not that these foods make me feel especially good, it’s just that the idea of eating them makes me feel less like crying than any other foods. I can also handle soy empanadas, but those are a food truck commodity around here, and not available on a daily basis.

Let me just tell you that with my tendency to extensively read about issues that affect me, I have come across some truly terrible morning sickness remedies. There was one blog I read about a lady who swore by her trusty diet of liver to save her from this scourge of early pregnancy. I am not quite there. My vegetarianism has remained intact.

There are also reasonable remedies that are compatible with my vegetarian lifestyle, (like ginger tea) but I have rejected most of them this time because everything. sounds. awful.

Here’s what does (at least sort of) work for me this time around:

  • Pineapple Outshine bars help me feel better, to a modest extent.
  • Sleeping. Oh yes, sleep is sweet relief, and really the only thing that actually works.
  • Minty chewing gum (not spearmint, because I think that’s gross even on a good day) helps me get through a tough spot, but only works for a few minutes
  • Chimes ginger chews (they work while you’re chewing them…no more and no less)
  • My hero husband, who cooks everything that gets cooked around here, because he can handle the odors of heated food, unlike his trophy wife. He also takes Baby Guy off my hands as frequently as he is able so I can take a nap and forget my misery for awhile.

I am using Unisom once a day (again, with my doctor’s recommendation), before I go to bed in the evening, which helps me get a good night’s sleep, but it really doesn’t seem to control the nausea this time around other than to help me be drowsy enough to sleep through it. I was prescribed another medication for nausea which I’ve tried a couple of times, but it also seems to only help as far as it puts me to sleep. Once I wake up, even if it’s still in my system, the nausea doesn’t seem any better, so I haven’t been using the prescription.

A couple of weeks ago Baby Guy and I were home alone when I felt the strong urge to heave. I ran to the bathroom and didn’t feel I had the luxury of time to close the door behind me. Before I knew it, Baby Guy was there, standing over the toilet with me, peering in to see what was so interesting to me in there. I heaved, which he found to be incredibly delightful. He laughed and smiled at me as I came up for air, and when I went for it again, he joined me, making the best disgusting sounds he could muster and beaming proudly when we both looked up again. This lasted for 2-3 minutes until I could recover enough to get us both out of there. It was probably the most fun he’s had with me in ages.

Since then, he has stayed outside the bathroom when I’m in there (for the most part), but often claps, laughs, and says, “More! More!” when I am in the throes of agony. I don’t know if it helps, exactly, but it does give me something to laugh about later. I mean, there’s nothing quite like the feeling that your toddler thinks you’re awesome because you can make gross vomit sounds on a regular basis.

It’s only a matter of days before the second trimester will officially begin, and I’m praying that relief will come with it. If not, you can expect to hear from me sometime next January when I expect I will emerge from the fourth trimester quite scathed but hopefully triumphant (or at least alive).

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an update…a little late

*I wrote this post two months ago. Yes. two months ago. I have excuses, but I’ll tell you what they are in the next one. I will not wait two more months. I promise.

Here’s the update, circa January 24:

Other than the FPIES diagnosis and all of our holiday travels, a lot has changed lately. Baby Guy is making strides (literally and figuratively) at a rate that is alarming to his tired and not-so-young-anymore mama.


Helping his mama get some potatoes ready for the oven

Really, though, it’s thrilling to witness his rapid development. He’s walking and running all over the place these days: climbing into his little rocking chair by himself, pulling stuff off the counters and dining room table, helping himself to bowls from the cupboard and stirring his magnets in them, and spreading his books all over the floor in order to choose just the right one.

He’s taller and oh-so-skinny, his hair is growing like crazy (we’re going to have to give him haircut #2 pretty soon), and this very morning he told me when he was going potty in his diaper. I was not expecting him to be aware of that so soon, and my small flame of hope for an early potty training has been fanned.

Baby Guy, thanks to his Sabbath school lessons (which we read an average of about 3 times per day when he gets his way), has been completely convinced that he needs to be a helper like Samuel and Little Jesus were, so he spends a lot of time going around saying, “huppa, huppa, huppa!” and trying to sweep, carrying newly folded laundry from one place to another, and once even went to get me the dust pan (unbidden) when I was “feep”-ing the floor the other day. He has also been asking us to pray dozens of times each day, and has taken to loudly proclaiming “Ah-muh” at the end of each prayer. Add to that the repeated requests for the Zacchaeus and David songs at each diaper change, and you can see why I suspect we might have a second preacher man in the house.

Music is another of the little guy’s loves, whether it is his dad’s record player, the xylophone on his activity table (technically I think it’s a glockenspiel), his kazoo and cymbals, or his little toy piano. He still loves it when we sing to him, and is pretty enthralled with the music at church, too. Also, any pictures of musical instruments in his books get a lot of attention, with shouts of “muu! muu!”

One relatively new thing that Baby Guy’s been doing is pretending. It started before Christmas, when we caught him pretending to water the tree like he’d seen me doing the night before. He also holds the remote control for our nonexistent dvd player between his ear and shoulder and chatters away to us on the “fofe.” That usually means that he’s handed one of us his actual play phone so the two of us can converse.

We’re making minimal progress on identifying shapes, colors, and letters. He’s got stars down (they’re in the nativity story…he also learned sheep, donkey, and baby from all of our Christmas books), but the others are all questionable. He’s pretty fantastic with identifying animals and objects in his books, though, and he can make quite a few animal sounds. I may never forgive Sandra Boynton for writing Moo, Baa, La La La, because I’m pretty sure that my son is going to believe that pigs say “la, la, la” for the rest of his life. I cannot convince that kid to oink to save my life.

Being the teacher that I am, I made a list of the words he regularly attempted and how he pronounced them at the 15 month mark, and there were more than I would have guessed! His pronunciation of most of these words leaves something to be desired, but he uses them consistently and I can tell (with contextual hints) what he’s talking about.

Baby Guy’s been sleeping like a champ, though we think he’s on the verge of dropping his morning nap. He’s been growing and playing and having a great time giving us a run for our money.

After my last post I thought it would be good to note that it hasn’t all been diaper changes and allergies over here, we’ve been having some fun, too!

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a slice of fpies

If you’ve been following my little family’s story, you know that my little guy has struggled with food allergies from almost the very beginning. He reacted to foods I was eating well before he was ingesting anything other than breast milk. He had intestinal reactions, including bloody, mucous-filled diapers and developed eczema all over his torso.

I decided (and ran it by the pediatrician) to cut dairy products from my diet, which really didn’t change much. So, next I eliminated soy, and we saw a GI who recommended we keep eliminating the top 8 allergens, one at a time, until Baby Guy’s symptoms went away.

*I’ve interspersed links to a few older posts from the beginning parts of this journey, in case you are interested in the earlier part of our story and haven’t read it before.

Getting rid of dairy, soy, and wheat solved the eczema, but nothing else. Since his diapers were looking worse and worse, we did stool testing, which didn’t give us much help, other than to rule out infections and a couple of other possible issues.

Anyway, because of the symptoms worsening, the GI advised me to stop breastfeeding and put the little guy on a hydrolyzed formula (Nutramigen). Transitioning from breast milk to formula was harrowing for a few days, but we made it through and eventually had success with the bottle.

Once Baby Guy was drinking his formula and all of the breast milk was out of his system, he started sleeping a bit better, his intestinal bleeding stopped, and things looked up for the most part. However, he started having terrible yeast diaper rashes.

Then, starting solids at 6 months didn’t go very smoothly, as Baby Guy refused to eat almost everything for weeks, even months. Then, once he actually did start eating better, he started in with the mystery hives.

After about 2 months of hives, we figured out that green peas were the culprits, so we eliminated them from Baby Guy’s diet, and he’s been free of that affliction ever since.

At 12 months, Baby Guy had blood allergy testing done, and they all came back negative. I felt like a crazy person. Thankfully, our pediatrician listens to us, and she referred us to an allergist, and just after Thanksgiving, we were able to see him. He confirmed the decision we’d made to discontinue Baby Guy’s dairy, peanut butter, and egg ingestion (we’d added those on the advice of a nutritionist, and hadn’t seen dramatic issues, but little things had started to change for the worse), and gave us an answer.


It’s pronounced F-Pies, and stands for food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome. It’s a rare type of allergy (though becoming less rare all the time) that doesn’t usually show up in either skin or blood tests. In fact, there is no test that can confirm FPIES, so food challenges are the best way to determine whether a child has it. Most kids grow out of FPIES by the age of 4, but not all.

My son does not have an extreme case of FPIES, by any means. The symptoms he’s shown are very mild compared to a typical case, which is part of the reason why, though I’d read about FPIES a million times in my late night research frenzies, I never seriously thought he had it. A typical FPIES reaction occurs from 2-6 hours after ingestion of a trigger food. Profuse vomiting (to the point of shock, in many cases), a drop in body temperature, high white blood cell count, and often diarrhea are all part of what is called an acute reaction.

Baby Guy has never had an acute reaction (for which I am unendingly thankful). His are referred to as chronic reactions, which involve diarrhea, sleep disturbances, intestinal bleeding, and poor weight gain. A lot of chronic reactions also involve some vomiting, but we haven’t had that problem.

So, as you can imagine, an FPIES diagnosis was a lot to wrap our minds around, but I’m going to be honest and tell you that I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t insane and imagining everything. The allergist was so kind and reassuring about the steps we’d taken throughout Baby Guy’s babyhood to feed him successfully, and he was and has continued to be so very helpful and patient with me, taking time to answer all of my questions.

There’s a lot more to say on this subject, and I’ll be writing more about it soon. I am so far from being an expert, or even moderately knowledgeable about FPIES, but I’m learning more each day, and I hope sharing our story might help another mom or dad who’s up at all hours googling symptoms and getting nowhere.


Baby Guy stirring up some safe food cookies (and tasting them a little)

For us, FPIES isn’t something we have to focus on 100% of the time, because Baby Guy’s case isn’t extreme, and he’s never had a life-threatening reaction. For too many families, though, life-threatening reactions are a constant worry. Thanks for reading my very long post, and if you would, please include families who are living with FPIES in your thoughts and prayers.

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a bit of holiday catch-up

We are all still alive. It has been a long time since I’ve written, I know. My only excuse is holidays. We left for a week to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, came home for three weeks–just enough time to put up our own Christmas tree and a few Christmas lights before we went to see my husband’s family for two weeks of Christmas vacation. Now, of course, another holiday weekend is coming to an end, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to get back on track with my posts. That still hasn’t exactly happened, but at least I’m not two full months behind anymore.


So, here’s a recap: We headed to Mississippi for Thanksgiving, and it was the longest drive Baby Guy has ever endured. He actually did quite well, and about 14 hours, 5 million Cheerios, and 17 organic food pouches later, we arrived at our destination. We enjoyed the balmy weather, had some great quality family time, ate tons of delicious food courtesy of my mom and sister, and even managed a complete transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, meaning that we headed home in full Christmas mode and laden with full hearts and many gifts.

Once home, we unpacked, got back in the swing of things, took care of Baby Guy’s first ever ear infection, went out seeking a perfect and petite Christmas tree for our brief stay at home, took advantage of our first good snowfall of the year (to get our Christmas photo and let Baby Guy play in the snow for the first time) and attended a number of church Christmas events. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that we kept Amazon, UPS, and the USPS our fair share of busy with all of our online shopping, too.

Next, we packed up for our two weeks in Tennessee. We left a day after we’d planned (due to inclement weather), but had an uneventful drive (Baby Guy’s second longest ever) and arrived in good spirits. We spent time with family, ate plenty of great food, did some shopping, enjoyed the outdoor play that 80 degree weather (the week before Christmas!) affords, and when our time was up, once again headed home with a van full of new gifts and good memories.

We only drove halfway home before we stopped in Ohio to spend New Years Eve with family. They graciously took us in for the night on short notice, and we had a great time visiting!

On New Years Day we headed first to IKEA, and then to L. L. Bean, both of which are exciting luxuries for us, and after leaving both stores earlier than we wanted to (but still two hours late for the little guy’s nap), we grabbed some food to go and headed the rest of the way home.

Now, two weeks later, our Christmas tree is down, our floor is, more often than not, littered with new toys and books that Baby Guy is enjoying, and we are pretty thrilled that we were able to spend so much time with our families this year.

Baby Guy was a champion throughout the holidays. He consistently slept well, ate fairly well, and behaved quite nicely (with a few exciting toddler assertions of opinion here and there).

I hope that each of you had happy holidays, and I wish you a calm, stress-free remainder of January and a new year full of blessings!

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it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. 

It was a little more than a year ago that we brought Baby Guy home from the hospital, and it has been a big year. By the time we made it home with our little bundle I felt like we’d already run the gamut of the ups and downs of parenting. I won’t even mention the struggle of labor and delivery; that’s 40 hours of story that you probably don’t need to hear tonight. No, it wasn’t that. It was things like the excruciatingly joyful moment that he was born and we laid eyes on him and he was healthy and he was ours. It was the moment my husband sang to him and it was clear that Baby Guy already knew his voice. It was when they told us that our precious, perfect baby would need an IV for antibiotics because labor had been too long. It was when he was placed under the bili lights in that little box and we could only take him out for 10 minutes every couple of hours to feed him and change his diaper. It was listening to him and realizing that no matter how improbable it was, our son had the cutest sounding little squeaky toy hiccups in the history of the universe. Those highs and lows and all the exhaustion and hormones really made me think that we’d pretty much been through the emotional extent of parenting already.


Fast forward a year, and I still think that those first few days are a pretty demanding roller coaster of experiences. I also know now that the roller coaster never really stops. Here are the top three things I’ve learned after a year of being a full-time parent: Continue reading

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bye bye baby

My last few weeks with a bona fide baby are running out furiously, so I’m trying to focus more on enjoying my little one in this sweet, sweet stage of life.

My son took his first step yesterday. It was awesome, because, well, the first steps are awesome. But it was even more amazing because my husband and I were both there to witness it. Baby Guy hasn’t repeated the feat, but he’s standing around without holding on to things more often and for longer periods. He’s started gesturing and playing while he’s standing there, so we can tell he’s more comfortable. We’re on the cusp of complete mobility and Continue reading

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next stop: toddlerhood


Baby Guy is 11 months old and continues to surprise us every single day with new aspects of his personality, skills, and propensities for danger.

He’s cruising around the furniture, standing on his own for a few seconds at a time, and looking like he’ll try to walk any minute now. One of his favorite things to do is pop up next to us when we’re sitting on the couch. He thinks it’s hilarious and honestly; I do too. Continue reading

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