Monday, July 29, 2013

Allergy Testing

Charlie and I took Eleanor to get her allergy testing done last week. I entertained Eleanor and Charlie played Angry Birds and continually asked for different snacks, most of which contain peanuts, in the allergist's office. Oh Charlie.

Most the appointment was talking about her different reactions since birth to various things and the hives - where they were, how long they lasted and things like that. He also thought her almost constant congestion since birth could be related and even her respiratory infection/pneumonia the week before.

The doctor suggest we do a skin test to determine if she was allergic to any of the 5 most common environmental and food allergies. I can't remember all of the environmental, but dogs, cats and dust mites were included. Brad is allergic to those so they caught my attention.

The food tests were milk, soy, peanuts, eggs and wheat (?)  I think. Neither Brad nor I have food allergies. Charlie has never been allergic to anything.

The back prick wasn't painful and they demonstrated on my hand. They said Eleanor might cry but she didn't. I was holding her and she was very calm. Then came the hard part. I had to continue holding her for 15 minutes while not touching her back. I think my right arm muscles are still twitching.

After the 15 minutes were up the doctor came back in and said by looking at her back that all the tests were negative. I felt relieved and frustrated at the same time. Awesome that she has no allergies, but what the heck is causing the hives?

He said it is still possible she's allergic to milk, since that's what she's reacted to in the past. At 1 year we go back and she will drink a little bit of milk at a time and see if anything happens. If not, perhaps she's outgrown it. Until then we can try soy since there was no allergic reaction to that.

We were given an epi pen junior to keep, just in case, since she has had allergic reactions in the past. I am doubtful we would ever need it, just given how mild her reactions have been so far. I hope we never have to use it. It does not look like a fun thing to have to administer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I don't know why I find babies starting to eat real food so exciting. Because I like to eat? I think it's interesting what tastes and preferences emerge.... all so they can demand nothing but pizza and chicken nuggets once they are three. You get this brief window where they can't voice an opinion!

I'm sure that won't happen this time, though. Eleanor will appreciate sushi, foie gras and blue cheese by the time she's three. Due in large part to the selection of purees I'm feeding her at six months. Naturally.

Anyways, I thought for kicks I would make baby food this go round. So far it's been kind of fun, though just a single sweet potato or butternut squash or papaya makes a TON of baby food. Clear out the freezer, mama bought a papaya!

**Note: we have since found out that Eleanor is allergic to papaya. Oh the irony. Anyone nearby want a ton of frozen papaya blend baby food?

I've been using the Wholesome Baby Food web site to determine the order of what to offer and how to cook some things. Most of it is intuitive - steam it and blend it - but, for instance, the apricots were a bit of a head scratcher. You know, with the skins and all.

I've also been using the brown rice and multi grain cereals from Mimi's Baby Grains, which is a local company here in Virginia. Mimi kind of looks like Sally field. And the cereal actually tastes good. Though I did feel like a chump when I read on the baby food web site that all you do to make rice cereal is grind up rice in your food processor.

In addition to the cereal, Eleanor has tried bananas, apples, mango, apricots, green beans, peas, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, pears and avocado. And papaya. She was also allergic to the butternut squash.

Confession: I have not always been waiting the full four days between new foods. I think I wait maybe two. The hives have happened immediately. Like within 3 bites. Nonetheless, please don't call CPS on me.

Once I make a puree, I put them in these little baby food trays that freeze things in one ounce portions. Then I pop them out and put them in bags. In the morning I will make her cereal on the stove and pour it, hot, over the frozen cubes. Makes enough for the day.

I don't bother with apples, I just buy organic jarred apple sauce. I'm not sure I will mess with apricots again either. It was a lot of work for not much food - especially when jars of organic apricots are so accessible. The rest is pretty easy.

I've also seen recipes for meat baby food and I'm not sure I can do that either. It just sounds so unappealing! You grind the meat into a paste and then add stock and veggie purees. Meat paste - bleck. Maybe I will just wait until she can eat tiny pieces of meat to serve any to her.

I bought some Ella's organic pouches when we went up to D.C. and I forgot how smooth baby food is. The stuff I've been making definitely has more texture. I think that might be a good thing for a Spooner baby since Charlie had a hard time moving from very smooth purees to table food.

I think I need to make a quicker transition to table food than I did with Charlie, as well. Things started to get kind of opinionated around here at the one year mark. I keep giving her puffs but so far she is unimpressed. I can't really blame her - the dogs won't even eat them when they fall on the floor and those dogs will eat anything.

So far I would say it's kinda fun but definitely more work to go homemade. When I get sick of messing with it I just buy some at the store and give myself a break. I'm holding off on yogurt until we get her allergy testing completed.

I've been hunting for a book that would give me some good ideas on blends and toddler food and kid-friendly recipes food, but am sending back the first two I ordered - the Petit Appetite and No Whine with Dinner. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear! Pictures are helpful so Charlie can pick out - and therefore commit to - dinner. I guess if there is no perfect book out there, at least there's Pinterest. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eleanor's 6 Month Doctor Appointment

Alternate title: Eleanor's 6 month appointment and Charlie helped. Not really.

Other alternate title: Eleanor's 6 month appointment where Charlie ran around like a crazy person and still weaseled a lollipop out of the nurse. 

Moral of the visit: he's lucky he's cute. 

I feel fortunate our appointment was scheduled for today of all days because we would have had to go in anyways. Eleanor had broken out in hives the past two days and I wasn't really sure why. They went away quickly, minus a tiny rash near her mouth on her bum.

Eleanor broke out in hives a couple of months ago when I tried to supplement with a different formula. The doctor concluded it was most likely a milk protein allergy (especially given the reflux she got from my breast milk until I gave up dairy) and said we could try again at the six month mark and see if she had grown out of it. The hypoallergenic formula is $$$ and can be hard to find.

A couple of weeks ago I tried a different formula and she seemed to do fine. No hives. Since she wasn't keen on nursing anymore and I was only giving her what I was able to pump, I decided to wean. After all, we'd be able to use any formula now!

Fast forward to this week and I tried out a new baby food I made for her (papaya and banana). And I picked up some Similac Organic and fed that to her. An hour later her entire back was covered in hives. I figured it was the papaya so I didn't feed her anymore.

Then today she had butternut squash, applesauce and mixed grain cereal and broke out in hives 3 bites in. She's been having squash since last week so I was very confused. I also wasn't sure if it was the formula.

The pediatrician thought it was probably a combo - that sometimes a milk protein sensitivity can ramp up sensitivity to certain foods. She wasn't surprised about the papaya and said if even the tiniest bit of skin made it into the food, it can cause a reaction. Fabulous. That one papaya I bought made about a thousand little frozen cubes of baby food and it all needs to be tossed.

We now have a referral to a pediatric allergist. I wouldn't bother with it since the allergic reactions are not severe and go away quickly. However, a positive test result on a milk protein allergy will help me get the pricey formula covered by our insurance. That seems worth the investment in time. It will also give me some peace of mind on feeding her new things.

She told me - and I thought this was interesting - if the allergic reaction ever includes vomiting (not just spitting up, but projectile) to give her benadryl immediately and call them. Otherwise I can just give benadryl if the hives take a while to clear up or seem to be bothering her.

I was also reminded that I need to take Eleanor in for a follow up hearing test. Since I have a hearing loss the hospital audiologist recommended after both children were born going in for a follow up around 6 months. I don't think I ever bothered with Charlie. I have to admit, given how easily startled Eleanor is by Charlie yelling or the dogs barking, it's not feeling like a really high priority to me. I'm thinking I'll be good to get that done by October.

Stats -

Weight: 17 lbs, 6 oz (75th)
Height: 27 3/8 inches (90th)
Head: 17 1/2 inches (90th) - (NOGGIN)

She got the same four shots and oral vaccine as the last two appointments. However the nurse looked all of about 15 years old and Eleanor bled in both legs and screamed and cried. It was sad. The nurse kept telling her not to tense up her legs and finally I explained that she is six months old and has no idea how to do that. Ugh.

There was so much info on my appointment sheet that the timing for our next appointment wasn't included! I'm not sure if it's at 9 months or a year or what.  I guess I'll figure that out later.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six Months of Eleanor

Well. Better late than never, no? It's the photo-taking that seems to be so easy to procrastinate on. And the fact my hard drive is full, so I have to shuffle things around every time I want to download photos.

Ok, six months, let's try and remember what's been going on with baby girl for the past few weeks. Her sleeping got really questionable there for a while, but I think it was because we were out of town. She seems to strongly prefer her own bed and being able to stretch out farther than a pack n play will allow. Took her about a week after we got home to get back into her groove.

Then once she got settled for a few nights, teething seemed to set in. Eleanor seems more sensitive to teething pain than Charlie was. All I remember with him were a few bad weekends that ended in a few teeth popping through by Sunday morning. With Eleanor it seems to be a very dragged out process. Weeks and weeks of this agony and no teeth to show for it. She is up once or twice a night now crying. Fun!

On a more positive note, she started solids, which has been fun. Somewhere around 5 1/2 months, she started acting interested in what the rest of us were eating. We were in Dallas visiting my parents and she really seemed to want some of Charlie's pancakes.

I gave her some cereal and a few other things and so far she's liked everything! Or I guess technically she's not rejecting anything because she hasn't had it 12 times or whatever. But there seems to be real enthusiasm for the avocado and the mango/banana!

Also this month: Eleanor started to really respond to Charlie. He is by far her favorite person. She watches him all the time and looks absolutely thrilled when he is paying attention to her. She reaches for him when he's nearby and if she can get her hands on him, will clutch him with all she's got. She especially loves to grab his hair.

Charlie is so sweet natured about it. He laughs when she grabs at him and tells her she's goofy. He'll get her a toy and dutifully comes to tell me if she's crying in her crib. I'm still amazed he doesn't get annoyed with her or sick of sharing attention. They have a very, very sweet, loving relationship.

Eleanor is still rolling over from back to front quite easily... and then getting furious and screaming when she gets tired of being on her tummy. We've had a couple of instances in the past week, right at 6 months, where she has managed to get back on her back. I told her it would really work for me if she could just figure that out at 3am instead of calling for me like she was doing a few weeks ago. For the most part she has figured it out.

No progress sitting up just yet. Sometimes I think she will crawl before she sits up, just to try and keep up with Charlie. I hope he's ready, she is going to be his shadow once she's mobile.

The dogs also need to brace themselves for her becoming mobile. She loves to grab some fur! Ringo looks kind of taken aback when she grabs for him and Zoe just gives her a good natured lick up the middle of the face. Ugh, yuck, I can't even think about the germ fest that is.

We have her six month doctor's appointment this week and I am betting she put on more than two pounds. It's been one long growth spurt since her four month appointment. Mostly the eating part and not so much the sleeping part.

She's in size 3 diapers and wearing 6 to 12 month clothes. One nap a day is about all I can coax out of her. It's usually a long nap, about 3 hours, so at least there's that. We are usually on the go during other parts of the day anyways, trying to keep Charlie busy.

I think that's it! I'm now off to get some sleep before someone's lack of teeth wake me up.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Charlie & Eleanor Photos

For my birthday, my mom and my sister Megan arranged to have the photographer that shot Megan's wedding (Meena Jeanes Photography) shoot photos of Charlie and Eleanor. I could not have asked for more beautiful pictures or a more amazing gift.

Charlie and Eleanor have such a sweet, loving relationship right now and it is really captured in the photos. I love so many of them that I am planning to wallpaper our house with them. Not really, but you know what I mean.

Anyways, wanted to share the slide show of the photos. Love!