Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tipping the scales

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Wow! One month ago, we cut out gluten from Madeleine’s diet. We cut it out because she had chronic diarrhea, was passing undigested food mere hours of ingesting it, was extremely irritable, and had gotten to the point where she was refusing almost all food. At 13.5 months she was the exact same weight she was at 9 months. We didn’t introduce gluten to her diet until she was 9 months old. I explained some of our progress since cutting gluten out a few weeks ago, and here’s another update.

For a week and a half, Maddy was sleeping until 6am consistently! She’s back to her early wake ups, averaging 4:15am this week, but we see the light! My sister just posted about sleep in kids with SPD here, and much of her experience is similar to ours. But, we learned something this month: when Maddy’s dietary and SPD issues are sorted out, the girl can sleep!!

For the last week or so, Maddy has been eating voraciously. She’s still limited in exactly what she’ll eat, and there’s absolutely no mixing of textures…. but she’s finally eating again! The ladies at her daycare said to me this week, “Maddy is one of the messiest eaters we’ve had. She won’t let anyone help her at all. She’s hard to clean up afterwards – she needs a pressure wash!” That is such a big change from hearing that she didn’t eat any lunch several days in a row. I should also point out that the idea of not letting anyone feed her is very consistent with SPD. The more control she has over what goes in her mouth, the less distressing it is for her to have various tastes, temperatures, and textures in her mouth. We’re now back to trying to address her SPD-related food issues and it feels so good to be back to this stage.

We’ve also had two medical appointments this month. The first was an abdominal ultrasound for Maddy, just to rule out any structural issues that could be causing pain or digestion troubles. It was an experience in itself, as Maddy’s appointment was at 10am and she wasn’t allowed to eat until after (though, we cheated and gave her something small at 6am). I felt so badly saying no to her as she asked for food all morning. As you can imagine, Maddy was less than co-operative during the ultrasound (can’t really blame her!), and unfortunately, the ultrasound tech was not the most empathetic of professionals we’ve had to deal with. The appointment ended abruptly with an, “I can’t do this anymore.” It was worth it though, and I’m so pleased to report that everything came back normal.

Our second appointment was with our amazing pediatrician (who comes to our town one day a week and has an outpatient clinic at the local hospital). His advice: you can’t argue with success. If cutting gluten out works, keep it out. He wants to wait and see what the GI specialist advises, but suggested the only variable we try changing again in the next 6 months is dairy. He was taken aback by the strong history of food issues in my family (aw, aren’t we lucky to be Bayntons?), and because of that felt that not attempting to re-introduce gluten until the GI specialist weighs in was the best approach (thank goodness, because that’s exactly what we wanted to hear). He then commented that perhaps Maddy’s multiple protein intolerances were all related to a potential Celiac diagnosis – something we already suspected. Can I just say how much I love this man? He’s so open to our experiences, hearing what we say, and trusting in it. Many of his patients are babies with food intolerances, so he knows his stuff. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a professional who trusts and hears you.

The pediatrician also suspects that Maddy had lost weight between 9 and 12 months, as chronic diarrhea will do that to you, but that we just didn’t notice because she had no appointments between those times. Wonder of all wonders… Maddy has gained 2 pounds since we cut out gluten. Two pounds in one month after no weight gain (and potential loss) for 4.5 months?! That just confirmed both for the pediatrician and us that we’re on the right track.

Finally, I met with a dietician that works out of the same office as I do. She has been so helpful, printing out recipes as she comes across them and leaving them on my desk. I have a potato instead of pasta lasagna, a red lentil spaghetti sauce, and some gluten-free breads to try. She also gave us some quick soy protein meals that we can try to bump up Maddy’s protein intake since she almost always refuses meat. I’m so happy that Maddy isn’t reacting to soy – it just makes meal planning a touch more flexible for us.

For the time being we’re back to only dealing with SPD related issues with Madeleine, and it feels great. We’ll leave the food issues alone until we see the GI specialist. What does that mean? It means that Maddy is happier. That means that mommy and daddy are happier, and, from what Mum Farrar has said to me, it also means that grandma and grandpa are happier. It’s a chain of happiness!

Life still isn’t what it might be with a typically developing child, but it’s the life we’ve become accustomed to. Life with an SPD toddler can be chaotic and unpredictable, but we’re still learning and we’re trying to trust that overall things will just continue to improve. I’m learning how to handle (or, rather, ignore) comments by others who suggest that our experiences are “normal toddler” stuff, and we’re trusting ourselves more. Who cares if everyone else thinks we’re whiners? They don’t live with Maddy, and until they do, they have no concept of how atypical some of her behaviour may or may not be. We’re doing the best we can to support Maddy’s development, and if that means we annoy others by saying she’s more difficult than a typically developing child, then so be it.

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Voluptuous Velvet

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My new obsession is velveteen, a cheaper, machine washable imitation velvet. My friend Tara is probably cringing at this (fun fact: one of Tara’s sensory quirks is the feel of velvet on her skin). I’ve been dreaming all things velveteen: scarves, purses, skirts, and hopefully in the fall I’ll be able to blog about some finished products.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buttersweet/. Creative commons share-alike license.

The one hitch? I can’t find beautiful prints of velveteen anywhere local. Where are they hiding? I’ve found some beautiful prints online (where shipping is just killing me), but nothing compares in store. I’ve found some pretty velour prints (a stretchier version of velveteen), and I might attempt to use them, but I’d really prefer some velveteen.

Any hints out there for where I can find some beautiful velveteen prints??

 

It “seamed” so easy: How not to do a french seam

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What is a french seam? It’s a seam made up of two seams. It hides the raw edges in a fold, making a very neat finished product. It’s great for making burrito pillowcases… unless you don’t do it properly.

How not to do a french seam? Well, like this of course:

See all of those raw edges? They’re supposed to be hidden. Whoops.

Now, I bet you’re wondering how you should do a french seam. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Pin your two pieces to be joined with their wrong sides together. Sew together using a straight stitch.
  2. Trim the seam allowances.
  3. Open the fabric layers and press the seam allowances to one side. Bring the right sides of the fabric together and fold the fabric along the seam.
  4. Press and sew.

I still have no idea what exactly I did wrong in my first french seam. I can’t seam (okay, I know, enough already) to wrap my brain around it. That means I can’t give you a really good not-to tip. But, I can wish you good luck on what everyone says is an easy technique. Don’t worry, it probably is easy. I’m just really good at making silly mistakes. Some might say too good.

A complex tapestry

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We had a mixed bag of Maddy over the weekend. One day was basically an entire meltdown. We think it was a bit of some teething blues combined with sensory overload from her new week at daycare (for an interesting read on how great days at daycare or school can turn into a wreck of an evening or weekend, check out this article posted by the SPD foundation: The let-down-meltdown). The poor thing’s engine was running so fast, she couldn’t calm herself enough to sleep, or even feel comfortable in her own skin. Eric and I both worked hard at reducing her stress, but it literally took until 5pm before she started to perk up. Fortunately, I was all emotionally charged to deal with a hard day after a long, overdue chat, with my good friend, Jules, the Thursday before.

The next day was with an incredible, amazing, so much fun Maddy. We met some good friends at a nearby Chuck E. Cheese’s for some lunch and play. Maddy loved it – she enjoyed the small rides, and dancing with the mouse (which, 7-year-old Georgia correctly pinned as creepy, haha). Maddy did so well, until the very end when she was clear with us she was ready to nap (which, of course, is typical baby stuff, so that doesn’t even really count ;)).

The third day of our long weekend was spent having lunch with two more good friends, and Maddy had another stellar day. She giggled and giggled watching Loki play with their dog, Charlie. At first she was a bit wary of Charlie, a chocolate lab who is much bigger than Loki, but it didn’t take her long to approach her with no fear. She giggled as Charlie licked her face, and Maddy even laughed when Charlie knocked her on her bum a few times.

We also managed to squeeze in two family visits over the weekend. Our favourite moment was during dinner at Eric’s parent’s house. Maddy picked up the lid to her soy yogurt and started licking it. In the process, she gave herself a yogurt facial. She then turned to me, covered in yogurt, and said, “Nom, nom, nom.” Everyone broke out in laughter. Maddy grinned, wiped the lid on her face, turned to look at the table, and laughed an almost evil sounding laugh. She continued to do this for a few minutes, clearly enjoying the attention she was getting. I know I’ve said it before, but, man, when Maddy is feeling good, she has such a little personality. She just shines, and is so much fun. I am so looking forward to getting to know this side of her much better.

Conversation during parts of our visits made me think that I should share some of the bits and pieces of what I’ve learned this past year from the numerous professionals we’ve been in contact with. Each professional has added a slightly different expertise, and has really helped our family, and maybe it could help one of you, too.

Before I get into this, I should warn you, I’m someone who values both traditional medicine and alternative medicine. I have had success with using the strengths of each to address multiple issues in my life. Additionally, as an Epidemiologist it is obvious that I believe in the importance of research (as opposed to anecdotal evidence). But, I also know that not everything has been studied in research (and frankly, not all things can be studied in that way), and so I don’t close my ears to anecdotal reports, either. Will you find what I’m about to tell you outlined in peer-reviewed journal? Likely not. Regardless, it is pretty interesting.

Let’s go way back to pregnancy. My pregnancy with Maddy, although not the most enjoyable 9 months of my life, was pretty uneventful. I had the typical aches and pains (morning sickness, headaches, back pain, fatigue, etc.), but nothing out of the ordinary. I later learned that there was something interesting about those 9 months. My morning sickness lasted from week 5 until week 25. I had 20 weeks of awful, all day, morning sickness. Twenty weeks where I lost weight and ate little more than bland pasta, crackers, and bread. Twenty weeks of Eric pulling the car over on our daily commute so I could vomit out of the car door. Twenty weeks where I could do little more than lie on a couch, abandoning almost all after work and weekend activities (and where I literally spent hours lying on the concrete floor of my office at school). I know I’m not alone in this experience, in fact, I tracked my sister, Lindsay’s, path almost down to the day. At the time, we just thought we were unlucky. But, is that all that was going on?

From two different professionals:

  • Often women who report more extreme (lasting longer than typical or just plain worse) morning sickness to this professional later discover they have food intolerances. The professional believes that the stress of pregnancy on the body causes an increased reaction to these foods, which is expressed by morning sickness.
  • GI problems like Celiac Disease can be triggered by the stress pregnancy puts on the body (this is also true of other autoimmune diseases that are believed to be caused by both genes and environment). For more information, this article is a good starting point.

Now, of course morning sickness is (unfortunately) a normal part of pregnancy. What I’m talking about here is a more atypical expression of morning sickness.

When I first heard this, I thought, huh, interesting. But, it didn’t stop there. In a consultation with another professional, she asked about my morning sickness. I thought it was heading in the same direction as above… but, it wasn’t. She went on to tell me that in her experience:

  • Mothers who report experiencing more severe morning sickness are more likely to have babies that suffer from colic, particularly caused by reflux and food intolerances. Um, Maddy – check, my Nephew Logan and Niece Chloé – check, check. It is also important to note that some researchers are suggesting that untreated food intolerances can actually cause reflux in an infant, as well. This website briefly discusses the food intolerance/reflux link.

She went on to describe to me why some believe there is a link between morning sickness and colic. In all honesty, I don’t remember the details. It was something about levels of acid in the body. What I do remember, is her take home message:”If you get pregnant again and have bad morning sickness, come see me for some homeopathic treatments to reduce your nausea and reduce the likelihood of another colicky baby.” It might not be research, but after the year we just had, it sure can’t hurt to try.

It is also known that:

  • Mothers who have food allergies or digestive issues (or asthma/eczema) are more likely to have babies with the same issues. Ashley, Maddy… Ding, ding, ding! Lindsay, Logan, Chloé… Ding, ding, ding! This website discusses this link.

Additionally:

  • Babies born via c-section are more likely to have digestive issues (now, this one I knew pre c-section, it was one of the reasons I desperately wanted a vaginal birth given my family history of digestive problems). This is because of the bacteria the baby swallows while passing through the birth canal (that they don’t swallow during a c-section). An article from The Telegraph talks about this bacterial protection.

Now, this gets even more intertwined, as there is a high correlation between reflux/food intolerances and SPD in babies and children (again, Maddy, Logan & Chloé). This correlation is discussed in the book, The Out-of-Sync Child. Some things various professionals have told us:

  • It is believed by some that trauma in early life (e.g. pain caused by reflux, food intolerances, an injury) can often trigger SPD as a way to deal with the constant painful sensory input. You will find on this site that “has allergies” is included on the list of what causes SPD.
  • The healthier the gut, the better the symptoms of SPD (the same is true for other neurological issues). An interesting video on the link between Autism and gut health narrated by David Suzuki can be found here: Autism Enigma.

Now, it is important to remember that food intolerances will cause a gut imbalance (too much bad-gut microbes, not enough good-gut microbes). In other words, it causes an unhealthy gut.

Morning sickness and undiagnosed food intolerances in the mother can increase the likelihood of food intolerances in babies. Food intolerances in babies can simultaneously trigger reflux, unhealthy gut, and/or neurological disorders. The symptoms of neurological disorders can be worsened by an unhealthy gut. It’s all a complex tapestry.

If anything, I should be thanking my wee little Maddykins for cueing me into my own digestive issues. Perhaps without all of her struggles, I would still be completely unaware that I have Celiac disease. I only hope that all of this knowledge I have collected will help if and when we choose to chance fate with another babe, and prevent that little one from going through what Maddy has had to.

Good friend, good book

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Last week I had an all-day visit with an old friend of mine, Ashley. We’ve known each other since we were young. I can’t quite remember how old we were when we met, but I very clearly recall attending a tea party birthday party at her house years ago.

After many years of friendship, her family conveniently moved into the house next door. As you can imagine, we were thrilled. It was particularly exciting because it was the year that she would be heading to the Catholic high school and I would be heading to the public high school.

Through high school, we spent a lot of time together (I mean, it was so easy being neighbours and all). We videotaped our trampoline routines, swam in her pool, painted our nails, put on fashion shows, and did what teenage girls do best: gabbed. We even worked as camp counsellors together during the summertime. Ashley squared made a lot of great memories together.

This recent visit was our first in a long time. It was so welcomed. It was particularly nice as our last visit was with our husbands (sorry, boys!). Sometimes girls just need some girl time. We picked up exactly where we left off: gabbing.

The first thing Ash did when she came into our house was hand me a gift bag. Inside were two super thoughtful gifts. A little vibrating pull-toy for Maddy that also has a rattle, crinkle, and a variety of textures (aka SPD-friendly). Maddy played with it for half the day, giggling when we’d put it to her cheek and make it vibrate. As soon as the vibrating stopped, Maddy would turn her head and rest her other cheek on it and wait for us to make it shake.

The second part of the gift was for me – an awesome book (should I really expect any less from a teacher and former Chapter’s employee?).

Sewing Clothes Kids Love is written by Nancy J.S. Langdon & Sabine Pollehn, and includes 10 full-sized patterns for adorable kids clothes – everything from shirts, to leggings, skirts, shrugs, jackets, dresses, and tank tops. All of the clothes are colourful and fun, and each has a skill rating. Mere minutes after dropping Ash off at the bus stop, I was perusing through the book and letting my creative juices flow while Eric fed Maddy dinner.

My favourite part of our visit was watching Ashley interact with Maddy. Early in the day Maddy seemed skeptical. She huddled close to me after she awoke from her first nap, but it didn’t take her long to warm up to Ashley. Eventually, she was approaching Ash with outreached arms, and climbing into her lap. It was so amazing to watch them interact with one another. Ashley came fully prepared having read about SPD online, and was tweaking games to be SPD-friendly. When Maddy was playing with empty bottles, Ash got up and filled one half-way with water to give it more resistance. Incredible!

Ash had Maddy smiling and giggling like nobody’s business. I’m pretty sure by the end of the day Maddy was fully convinced that Ashley was her new friend. Maddy sat patiently while Ashley tied kleenex around her arms and legs (of course, after Ash put one “bracelet” on, Maddy kept signing for more). In the car, Ash keyed up Maddy’s favourite Sesame Street video (thanks Aunt Lyndsay!) and introduced her to a new one. Ash awkwardly held her arm over the back of her seat so Maddy could see and hear the songs. Maddy is so obsessed with her favourite Sesame Street song that she fusses, points, and signs more when she hears in the music that the song is soon ending. Ashley quickly solved that by putting the song on loop.

All in all, one fabulous day. An incredible friend, an incredible book (thanks again!). I’ll leave you now with another of Maddy’s favourite tunes.

Simple newborn hat

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A good friend of mine is expecting her first little bean next March. I was so beyond excited when I heard the news. Not only am I excited about her growing family, I am so excited that I felt excited for her. For awhile now every time I heard someone was pregnant, all I could think was about how downhill their quality of life could go if they ended up with a little one like Maddy (despite her sweetness, you all know what I’m talking about). I know I’m not the first mama to have such a tough time with her babe, so sadly, I know I won’t be the last. But, I’m finally beginning to get back the hopefulness and optimism I thought I had lost.

I’ll happily attribute the reclaiming of my positivity to the wonderful news of a new baby in my circle of friends. I know my friend is going to be an incredible mama and I cannot wait to meet her little squid!

I was so excited, that I picked up my knitting needles (a rarity for me in the hot summer months). I have a backlog of things I want to knit in the fall, but I squeezed this little guy in for obvious reasons.

You can find the pattern here. You’ll see that the final product is a bit different from the pattern. I’ve never tried to knit an I-cord, and despite watching a couple of Youtube videos, I made a bit of a mess of it. I decided to just close her up and ship her off. I figure it’ll still keep baby’s head warm, and that’s mostly what counts.

There you have it – the surprise summer knit!