Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ready For A New Year!

I absolutely have no words for how this past month and a half have gone. Here is a synopsis just for laughs:

11/12 - I get an asymptomatic cavity filled and am in severe pain that night
11/17 - Back at dentist to evaluate my intense pain after a dental filling, refers me for root canal evaluation
11/18 - I get a thyroid ultrasound & my thyroid Dr. suspects I have Sjogren's and will be testing with next set of labs. Emma has sore throat and Georgia has a 101.3 fever.
11/20 - I get a root canal (in pain since 11/12)
11/23 - Emma's throat hurts and she starts having chills

11/24 - Back at endodontist for eval because my tooth still hurts, started steroids. Took girls with me to pediatrician for Emma: turns out Emma & Reese are Strep throat + and Reese has sinus infection.

11/25 - Emma has an infected cuticle (paronychia) that had to be cultured and drained. Result was Staph infection.

Scarlett threw up in my hands the moment we walked in the door & then 2 more times that night.
11/26 - Scarlett recovers by sleeping it off in time for Thanksgiving

12/2 - Got a CT scan of my tooth. Took Georgia to pedi for inconsolable screaming for over a week. Got 2 needle sticks and urine catheter.
12/3 - Scarlett has fever. Pediatrician requests to see Georgia for follow up & Scarlett for fever. Scarlett was fine at the appt and threw up the moment we walked in the door.
12/5 - Scarlett & Georgia are sick with viruses. Scarlett continues to vomit from postnasal drip.

12/10 - Back at pediatrician. Scarlett has an ear infection.
Found out Georgia has blood in stool & I had to go dairy free immediately.

12/13 - Cody wakes up sicker than a dog the morning of Scarlett's birthday party. He tested + for Influenza A that afternoon. I quarantine Cody for several days. (so proud we kept the flu to just him!) Somewhere in here I start coughing with the respiratory virus.
12/18 - Cody goes to urgent care and gets an IV, he caught a GI bug with the flu. Georgia had her 6mo appt & got 2 needle sticks for blood work & 2 shots + oral vaccine. (see blog post here)

Followed by an upper GI at the children's hospital (see blog post here)

12/21 - Georgia started "barking" & had stridor = croup
12/22 - Scarlett throws up after we get home from cookie decorating. We cancelled family vacation.
12/23 - Back at endodontist for CT results (yes, from 12/2) and told I should see an ENT for sinus cavity inflammation
12/24 - Emma had to be nebulized for wheezing/coughing & Georgia battles croup

12/25 - Georgia had to be nebulized for wheezing
12/29 - I go to ENT to rule out chronic sinusitis as possible cause for tooth pain. It's not the cause!
12/31 - Got a 2nd opinion on my tooth from another endodontist. Believes I have nerve left and need a repeat root canal on it (still in pain since 11/12). ENT calls me to inform me if I get the tooth pulled I am at risk for an oroantral fistula since my tooth roots are so long and invading my sinus cavity. Praying my tooth isn't cracked and needs extraction!

This was the first time in my life that I was not ready for Christmas. I was drowning and needed another whole month just to catch up before I would have felt ready.

If you didn't get a Christmas card this year, I am sorry. I tried my best to get one to everyone but I know I missed some good friends. If you didn't get a Christmas gift from us and should have, I am so deeply sorry! I have cried so much this past 1.5 months wishing this would all just end.

I can without a doubt say we are ready for a new year!

To the family who offered to help even though I refused it- thank you! To the friend who brought me flowers - thank you! To the friend who got me into an ENT without questions - thank you! To those who prayed for our family - thank you!

I don't even know if its all over yet. Georgia is still having intestinal issues but I can't judge her pain since she had croup and is cutting 4 new teeth. The days are long, the nights are long. Praying tomorrow we can just hit the reset button and have a clean slate for 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stitch Fix {Getting Started}

Eeek! I am so excited & thankful I got gift cards to Stitch Fix for Christmas!!
Stitch Fix

As you can imagine, having 4 kids in the last 5 years has left no time to focus on me. I am not complaining because I honestly don't like shopping for myself. I am not good at it. I have no fashion sense and have a difficult time seeing an item and imagining how to pair it, layer it, etc for a complete look.

What better solution for a busy mom with no time and bad fashion than an online personal stylist who mails you clothes to try on at home?!

I have several friends who use Stitch Fix and I asked them if they thought it was worth it. They all said yes!

What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique product to deliver a shopping experience that is truly personalized for you. Simply fill out the Stitch Fix Style Profile and personal stylists will handpick a selection of five clothing items and accessories unique to your taste, budget and lifestyle. You can buy what you like and return the rest!

How does it work?

  1. 1. Fill out your Style Profile

    Begin by filling out the Style Profile. This helps understand your size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. Completing your profile should only take about 10 minutes.
  2. 2. Pick the date you’d like to receive your shipment

    A selection of five clothing items and accessories handpicked by personal stylists will be sent on the date you choose. At the time your stylist selects your items, you will be charged a $20 styling fee. That $20 will be applied as a credit toward anything you keep from your shipment.
  3. 3. Try everything on in the comfort of your home

    Try on everything your personal stylists have picked for you because you just never know what will look great on! Create new outfits by pairing what’s in your shipment with the items that are already in your closet.
  4. 4. Buy what you like and return the rest

    a. Take three days to decide what you’ll purchase and what you’d like to send back. You’re only charged for these items when you tell us what you’re keeping and returning.
    b. Check out by logging in to your account to pay for those items you want to keep. The $20 styling fee will be applied as credit towards any items you purchase. If you buy all five items, you get 25% off the entire purchase!
    c. Simply return the items you don't want in our prepaid mailing bag and drop it at any USPS mailbox. Stitch Fix clients enjoy free shipping both ways as a benefit of using our service!
  5. 5. Tell them what you think!

    Don't forget to give specific feedback on each of the items you receive. Personal stylists are able to send you better selections when they know what did and didn’t work for you, and why. 
    If you choose to receive regularly scheduled shipments, they will automatically schedule the delivery date for your next shipment. You can always choose an alternative date that better suits your needs or opt out of regularly scheduled shipments entirely.
    Stitch Fix does not require a membership fee or a monthly subscription.

How much does it cost?

Our average price point is $55 per item, but they carry a wide variety of price points. When you fill out the Style Profile, you tell them how much you are comfortable paying. They do our best to pick items that reflect those preferences. If you choose to buy all 5 pieces, you get a 25% discount off of your entire purchase!

Last night I sat down and filled out my personal profile. The more specific you are about what you do and don't like the better your fix will be! I also started a Pinterest board of clothing items I like and linked that to my file for a more accurate personal style. My first box is scheduled to arrive in January and I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 25}

Sprinkles decided to decorate a gingerbread tree and plant it front of our sad gingerbread house!
To see Sprinkles past mischief click here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Letters to Santa 2014

The girls wrote there letters to Santa this past weekend. I told them we could put them in the mail but Reese said if they put them by the fireplace, then Sprinkles would take them to Santa! 

 The next morning the letters were gone so Reese was right!

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 24}

Sprinkles wanted to make sure her own stocking was hung by the chimney with care!
To see Sprinkles past mischief click here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 23}

It took the girls a little bit longer to find her this morning but they loved her watching them eat donuts for breakfast!
Emma said "That's not a good idea! Sprinkles is going to break her leg!"

To see Sprinkles past mischief click here.

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 22}

Yesterday the girls were excited to see how close we are to Christmas!
Thank you Sprinkles for reminding me how far behind I am this year! Ready or not...Christmas is coming!!

To see Sprinkles past mischief click here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Georgia - Upper GI

The same afternoon of Georgia's 6 month appointment the pediatrician called me. She had called the pediatric radiologist at the children's hospital and spoke with him regarding what testing we should focus on for Georgia. He said we needed to start with an Upper GI to rule out malformations.

I was told Georgia had to be fasting for 4 hours for this procedure. When I told our nurse who was helping me schedule the exam that she last fed at 11am she got Georgia in for a 2:30 registration & 3pm appt. I left the girls with Cody and headed to the hospital.

I got Georgia registered fairly quickly but we did have to wait a bit for radiology to come get us. At this point Georgia was hungry and I wasn't allowed to feed her. When they came to get us I was relieved knowing she would get to eat once this was over.

They had me take her shirt off and put a baby hospital gown on and he began to explain the steps of the upper GI.
The radiologist came in and spoke with me briefly before starting. They offered Georgia the contrast to drink in a bottle. She was already screaming on the xray table and totally refused the bottle. So I got to syringe feed her the contrast while she was screaming and thrashing around. They took a series of xrays and then it was over. It really wasn't that invasive but Georgia wasn't having it!

The radiologist told me she refluxed twice mildly and that her anatomy was normal with NO malformations. This does not answer the intestinal bleeding and painful screaming.

I wasn't about to drive home in traffic with a screaming, hungry baby so I sat in a chair in the hall near some vending machines and fed her.

That evening our pediatrician called me after receiving the radiology report. She wants Georgia to restart her reflux medicine (once a day vs. twice like before) since she does have proven reflux. She reiterated this didn't address the cause of the bleeding but she felt reassured knowing she wasn't dealing with twisting and needing immediate surgery.

The plan for now is to wait for the lab work to come back before deciding the next step. Praying for quick results and an answer so we can begin healing!

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 21}

This is what we saw when we opened the fridge today!

To see Sprinkles past mischief click here

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Georgia's 6 Month Appointment

I took Georgia to her 6 month "well check" this morning. The good news is she is hitting all her milestones and is growing well!

Weight: 16.5 pounds (52%)
Length: 26 inches (49%)
Head: 18.2 inches (>99%)

Her head measurement is off the curve like she was at 4 months but she is hugging the line so far. We are watching to see if her future measurements make the curve of if she jumps off the chart and needs a cranial ultrasound.

On the flip side:

I told the pediatrician she has gotten worse over the past week. I had brought additional diapers for blood sampling and she is still + for blood. She does not think she has been bleeding this whole time because she said she would have expected her to be anemic in the past blood work. She does think this intestinal issue is a new acute concern.

I showed her an area right on her tailbone where she has developed an interesting rash. Her comment was "its not an ordinary diaper rash" and that you would expect to see it all her bottom, which it isn't. The rash blanches with touch. So I am watching that - we really aren't sure yet.

I told her I wasn't convinced this issue is a milk allergy. She completely agreed and said she's not so sure either but I do have continue eating dairy free while she is having intestinal bleeding because her stomach can't handle it. I asked her how could this be Colitis if her CRP was negative in the past lab work. She also agreed that it would have been elevated.

Then we started talking other possible causes...

For whatever reason, Giardia was not tested for with the last stool culture. So we are re-sending samples and re-checking for all parasites. She said they like more than one sample anyway in case they didn't get one (a parasite) in the 1st round. She is also adding in a C. diff order even though she has never been on antibiotics. She also mentioned some really rare options that she said she would add to the order.

I brought up the option of her intestinal wall folding over. She said we would be seeing gross blood in her diapers, which we have not. I have not seen blood in her diaper at all - but it is there microscopically. We both palpated on her abdomen and couldn't illicit any kind of grimace response.

When I told her she arches her back and screams in pain intermittently she said this sounded just like what she went through with her son who had volvulus (intestinal twisting). She said her sons was from scar tissue though. She said he needed exploratory surgery to find and treat it. I could tell she was trying not to scare me.

I asked if they could do an allergy test on her this young for milk/soy, etc. and she said it is approved for 6 months and up and is through blood work. She said we can develop and allergy at anytime (which implied if everything was negative now it wouldn't mean on day she would be allergic to peanuts, for example). I requested the allergy testing and she agreed. This way we would know 1) this is definitely the cause or 2) something else is wrong

Once again it took 2 needle sticks to get blood from Georgia. She was SCREAMING as hard as she could. I told them "this" is the cry at home I am dealing with. Georgia was sweating from putting up a fight with me holding her down and the nurses poking her. At this moment - I cried. My heart breaks for her and is so heavy knowing she is hurting.

The nurse gave me a moment to recompose and feed Georgia so she would calm down before her 6  month shots. She offered holding off a week on the shots but I honestly don't know that things will be any better then. We decided to give all her 6 mo vaccines (except for Hep B) + the 1st round of flu vaccine. She said we could give Hep B when we come back for the 2nd round of flu vaccine in a month.

When our pedi came back in and I told her "that is the cry". She said, lets get her in for the scans then. She said she would call the Radiologist to discuss with them what all should be done. We could do a simple abdominal ultrasound and/or we could get invasive and do a CT with sedation. She said she would be calling me back regarding a radiology work up at Methodist Children's Hospital. I told her if there happened to be a cancellation today - I could take her in. I doubt however, we will get that lucky.
For now, shes at home with 4 band aids and resting peacefully.

 Please pray for Georgia!

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 20}

Sprinkles must have heard Reese asking when we would be making our annual gingerbread house!
Thank you Sprinkles!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sprinkles the Elf {Day 19}

Um, excuse me Sprinkles but that present says NO PEEKING!

To see Sprinkles past mischief click here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Georgia Rae - 6 Months old!

December 12th - Georgia is 6 months old!

I can't believe this little girl is 1/2 way to her 1st birthday already!

Eyes: Still baby blue & loving her eyelashes!

Clothes: size 9 or 12 months
Diapers: size 3
Nursing: still breastfeeding every 2-3 hours (more on this below)
Weight: approx. 15.5 lbs per home scale
Teething: Has 2 bottom teeth & she is working on 2 upper teeth!

Solids: We are ready to start her 1st baby food! I will be making her homemade puree carrots this week. She swallows rice cereal great and I can tell she is ready for more. She smacks her mouth when she watches us eat. 
Milestones: She is rolling over both ways now. I did find her in her cradle on her stomach once so we will have to start dropping the swaddle since it isn't safe anymore. She can sit for just a few seconds before falling over. Hopefully she will be sitting soon so she can be more interactive with her sisters. 

Sleep: What's that? Georgia has been waking up screaming an average of 5 times a night now (more on this below)
Playtime: She is tolerating tummy time a lot longer now and is more entertained with baby toys and her sisters now. 

Personality: This girl means business! With those big blue eyes she knows how to get what she wants. She does have stranger anxiety if someone else is holding her. I feel like 6 months is the turning point when they start to have more fun with their environment. It is fun to see her enjoying toys and bath time. She is ticklish around her collar bone and neck. I love hearing her little giggle!
Concerns: Where to even start...? 

I took Georgia to the pediatrician for inconsolable screaming, crying while nursing, crying when laid down and for an overall "something is wrong with my baby". After a lengthy work up (which included: a failed urine cath b/c her bladder was dry, 2 needle sticks for blood work, an assessment by 2 pediatricians at the same time, several repeat pedi appointments, and stool samples) we have an answer - kinda. 

We found out last Wednesday that Georgia has blood in her stool (+ guaiac test), which means she has colitis - bleeding from large intestine. The most common cause of colitis in infants is an allergy. I was informed I had to stop eating all dairy products immediately because this is most likely a milk allergy. This includes any milk products (butter, dressings, sour cream, yogurt, etc), lactose, whey, casein, & even soy.

We are still waiting on some lab tests to come back for other possible causes. So far Rotovirus & Shigella are negative. Fecal leukocytes and salmonella are still pending labs. Georgia has her 6 month well check this Thursday and they requested I bring another diaper for blood sampling and I requested a culture for Giardia. 

We will discuss further how extreme my elimination diet has to be. Meaning - do I need to cut soy out now or wait to see if cutting dairy is enough to solve the issue. If dairy and soy don't work, I may be told no wheat. 

Since Wednesday I have eliminated all dairy, whey, casein, & lactose. I am trying my best to cut out the soy but soybean oil and soy lecithin seem to be in everything. She is still screaming & arching her back at this point. It can take 2-3 weeks for our bodies to clear the protein and see a change. 

In less than a week, I have lost 5 pounds from this elimination diet. I finally got to go shopping today at Whole Foods and find some items that are dairy & soy free so I can focus on eliminating soy. I have a feeling soy is an issue too if this is really the cause of the colitis. 

So here we are. At a partial diagnosis (colitis for whatever reason) and trying to figure out why. I don't want to jump straight to hypoallergenic formula for several reasons. If this is just triggered by a virus or parasite that can be treated, I want to continue breastfeeding. Also, Georgia refused bottles as a baby and hasn't had one in over 4 months. I'd hate to buy a very expensive formula for her not to accept it. 

If this truly is caused by a milk allergy, then it would explain a lot of why she has been our "hard" baby. She has always battled fussiness, excessive gas, inconsolable screaming. The 1st 3 months we labeled it as "reflux & colic". For whatever reason she seemed better around 4 months and has since regressed right back if not even worse. 

We have stopped the reflux medicine completely to take that factor out of the picture. She is old enough to not need it. So far we have had no issues with that. We are contining her Gerber Soothe drops, which have probiotic but we were instructed to also start Lactobacillus gg (Culturelle). So I am diluting a packet of that and syringe feeding it to her daily. 

We are praying something works and quickly! It kills me to think she has been battling pain and discomfort this entire time. All I can do is be the best advocate for her and keep taking her in until we have an answer. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make her not hurt anymore, even if that means cutting out all my favorite foods!