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Anastasia's first year (2005)

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Allergies & Getting Big (2009)

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November 2009


November 4, 2009

Today we snuck Anastasia into the pediatrician's office at an early hour and she got her seasonal flu vaccine. Then this afternoon the doctor's office called to let us know they have H1N1 shots for both kids; they have to get them on separate days, for some reason, but at least they won't be in a clinic setting, with lots of germy people. Zane is scheduled for Friday, and Anastasia, Monday.

I have butterflies. This has been a difficult decision for us. Intellectually, I feel it's probably safer for Anastasia (with her chronic lung disease) to get the vaccination than to not. But emotionally, it makes me nervous.

If you think of it, please pray for our little family.

Anastasia mopping the floor for the first time. Literally, she's been begging me to let her do this for at least six months. I finally bought a Swiffer for the purpose, since it's lightweight and you can easily adjust the handle length. She was thrilled! (And somehow the costume - part of her Raggedy Ann costume - fits in!)


November 6, 2009

Zane got his H1N1 shot today. It was a madhouse, even though it was by appointment only, in a pediatrician's office. I wasn't looking forward to more of the chaos on Monday, when Anastasia was scheduled for her shot...then the pediatrician called to cancel her appointment. Apparently, someone made a huge mistake and they don't have any H1N1 vaccine in the correct dose for Anastasia. So...we're waiting again.

In other news, Zane can now open doors inside the house...


Anastasia's been loving the fall weather. Today, she climbed a tree for the first time! (It was a small (about five or six foot) maple, but still!)

November 7, 2009

This morning, Anastasia vomited. She seemed listless for a while, then perked up. Since lunch, she says her tummy hurts and she's nearly vomited a few times, but hasn't actually done it. She seems pretty tired. I've tried to see if she might feel achy. She says no, but it's hard to know if she really knows what I'm talking about. I have a call in to the pediatric office; I told them I was being overly careful because she is so high risk for H1N1. Hopefully, I'll hear back from them soon and they'll just tell me to watch her carefully.

Yesterday, Anastasia said she wanted to marry Zane when she grew up. Ah, innocence! She can't quite understand why that's a bad idea :)

Anastasia climbing her first tree. She got up and down entirely by herself - several times.

November 7 (part II)

So by the time the doctor's office called back, Anastasia seemed back to her normal self. She's currently bouncing all around the house :)  However, they did say that with her history, they would want to see her right away if she had any symptoms of H1N1. It's good to know they take it so seriously, and that if she does come down with that nasty bug, we can expect cooperative, early treatment.

November 11, 2009

Yesterday, I called the pediatrician's office to see if they had any H1N1 vaccinations. They said they didn't. But early this morning, the receptionist called saying they had a dose appropriate for Anastasia. So, on Friday morning, off she goes. I admit I'm nervous. It seems strange that, when Zane is only 4 lbs. lighter than Anastasia, her dose is significantly different.

Yesterday, Anastasia and I made a study of worms. We dug them from the garden, brought them inside and looked at them in a clear jar. Later, Anastasia let them crawl all over her; here she's giggling because it tickled when the worm moved across her hand.

In other news, Zane cracks us up :D He doesn't talk much, and when he does speak, it's usually because it just seems to burst out. For example, a while back Anastasia took a toy from him and he said, "Anastasia!" And two days ago, he twice told me, "Hungry, mama!"

He eats nearly anything (unless it's hard, like a nut) now, but he still refuses to feed himself. In fact, when I put food on his high chair tray, before I even have a chance to walk away he starts yelling, crumbling the food in his hands, and throwing it onto the floor.

The "experts" say if you have one strong-willed child, you're unlikely to have another. Sigh. They never met my family, I guess!

In an effort to get away from processed foods, I'm now making our daily 100% wheat bread. But I cheat. I use the bread maker. Here are both kids, so excited about that kitchen gadget. Neither had ever seen me use it.

P.S. I probably won't blog again until mid-week, next week. My dad is coming for a visit :)


November 17, 2009

Today I was supposed to blog about Prematurity Awareness Month. For reasons I'll explain in just a moment, instead I'm going to direct you to the "Fight for Preemies" in the right hand column of this blog, and to one of my previous posts about Prematurity Awareness Month.

We had a nice visit with my dad, although we mostly stayed inside the house  because it was too cold to do much outside, and I wanted to keep the kids away from public places. (Zane's H1N1 shot doesn't "kick in" for another week or so; Anastasia's about a week later.) But one event overshadowed everything else: Zane had another serious allergic reaction.

Since his last bout with hives (in April), Zane has seemed well, except for teething-related issues and a little bit of eczema. But on Saturday, Zane became fussy, and we noticed one of his eyes was red. Because he was rubbing his eyes and hadn't yet had his nap, I thought he was just tired and had scratched one of his eyes while rubbing it. So I put him to bed.

I think God was whispering in my ear, though, because I felt something wasn't quite right. I turned on Zane's baby monitor, which I never do, unless I happen to go outside when he's napping. After a few minutes, I heard him cough strangely. I ran into his room and found him covered with hives. His ears were also swollen. I gave him Benadryl right away. (Thankfully, I'd just posted a Benadryl dosage chart in our bathroom; the bottle doesn't specify dosages for babies.) His cough went away quickly (and since a cough is the first thing that happens before your throat swells shut during an allergic reaction, this was relieving). Within an hour, he wasn't so itchy, although his hives didn't completely disappear until the next morning.

I checked on him several times that night. I was afraid his hives would return and his breathing would be affected, but as it turned out, he kept getting better and didn't need any more Benadryl.

My first thought was that I'd given him eggs for the first time that day. Then I realized that not only had I given him a tiny amount of eggs, but he's had an H1N1 and seasonal flu shot - so egg has been directly injected into his body before. Therefore, it seemed unlikely the egg was what caused his reaction. Then I began reading labels. In the morning, I'd given him an arrowroot biscuit. (A new food for him and the very first thing he's ever held and fed to himself.) It has wheat as one of the main ingredients. Later, I'd given him some graham crackers. Also full of wheat. Just before his reaction - and when he began acting grumpy and tired - I'd given him some YoBaby yogurt. To my surprise, this too has wheat as a primary ingredient. I've suspected he's had some sort of allergy to wheat since he began eating solids. Usually, it just seemed his eczema would flare up after eating quite a bit of wheat. But in April, when he had hives previously, he'd YoBaby yogurt and a "granola" baby food that actually had no nuts, but lots of wheat.

(You might wonder why I'd give him YoBaby yogurt again after this. Truth is, he's eaten it many times and never had a reaction. I believe he handles a certain amount of wheat fine...or at least, it doesn't give him hives. It's when he has "too much" that hives appear.)

On Monday, I called my pediatrician's office. I wanted to know if it was smarter to completely cut wheat from Zane's diet, or to allow him to have a small amount. I also wondered if there was such a thing as an EpiPen for a 13 month old child. (EpiPens provide quick medication for people having a serious allergic reaction; they are literally life-saving.)

Naturally, I had to speak to a nurse first. She seemed shocked I didn't bring Zane to the doctor on Saturday, and she said we were fortunate the Benadryl worked. This was in contrast to the nurse I spoke to in April, who seemed to think all would be well if I kept Benadryl on hand.

When I spoke to our pediatrician, she thought it prudent to get right to work to see what Zane's allergic to. At his one year check up, we'd talked about doing some blood work, but at that time, our doctor felt it could wait until the whole H1N1 thing had calmed down. But now that he's had a second, very serious reaction, she doesn't want to delay any longer.

So she's sending us to an allergist on the 19th. She hopes the allergist can pin-point what Zane is allergic to - if he's allergic to something. She also wants to do a blood test to check for an auto-immune disease called Celiac Disease, which can cause allergy-like reactions if wheat is consumed.

In the meantime, I'm on pins and needles. I have to keep giving Zane some wheat or the blood test for Celiac Disease won't work. So every time he takes a nap, I turn up the baby monitor all the way, and check on him now and then. Since his allergy symptoms make him appear tired at first (making me put him to bed), he could be alone when his hives break out. And since both times he's had hives he's had the beginnings of breathing problems (wheezing the first time, a choking cough the second time), it's possible he could suffocate (from a swollen throat) and I'd never know it.

I am thankful I live in a day and age where medicine has been able to save the lives of both my children. Even in the early 1990s, Anastasia probably wouldn't have survived. And before antihistamines, Zane would have died.

Humbling isn't quite the right word for how this makes me feel, but it's the only word I can think of that comes close.

November 19, 2009

Today felt like "torture the baby" day. First, I got the kids up an hour earlier than usual so we would be on time for Zane's allergy appointment. (I chose the first appointment of the day, to avoid germs.) I gave the doctor a list of everything Zane ate just before his two rounds of hives, including printed out ingredients lists for the processed food. She instantly ruled out wheat because he's eaten it plenty of times without having hives. She said if he's allergic enough to it to go into anaphylaxis (hives and breathing problems), then even a small amount would cause a serious reaction.

Zane about an hour after his allergy attack on Saturday. It wasn't until the following day his hives and ear swelling and redness disappeared.

Instead, she suspected the berries or peaches in his yogurt. Unfortunately, you can't store the allergen of these foods, so I had to send my hubby to the store (while Zane and I sat in the doctor's office) to buy frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. The nurse extracted juice from these to use for Zane's allergy test. They also tested for several spices, egg, rye, milk, soybean, arrowroot, cat dander, dust mites, and - because I wondered if it might be making his eczema worse - wheat.

For those not familiar with food allergy testing, they mark up the patient's back with a pen, noting where they plan to inject a certain allergen. Then they inject a small amount of the allergen using a tiny needle. With each needle prick, Zane cried. It really did feel like we were torturing him. Within minutes, however, we had some answers.

Turns out Zane is allergic to cat dander - but that couldn't be the cause of his hives, since he's exposed to it daily. (He also has no runny nose or itchy eyes, so I'm thinking it's a mild allergy.) He had a tiny reaction to dust mites and raspberries. The doctor said people with eczema sometimes test positive for an allergy when they don't have one; she suspected that in this case, but suggested I try feeding Zane a little raspberry (all by itself) and see if he has any problems. There was also a really tiny ("clinically insignificant") reaction to wheat.

But it was clear almost instantly Zane is allergy to egg (white and yolk). And, indeed, last Saturday I'd given him his first taste of scrambled egg. "But he's had a seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccination; wouldn't he have had hives after them?" I asked. The doctor said she's never seen someone who's allergic to eggs have an allergic reaction to a vaccine; the amount in the vaccine is tiny, and varies according to the batch of vaccine given.

"But he didn't have eggs in April, when he had his first hives," I said.

She argued it's been too long ago to accurately know what happened at that time. She said I could have touched some egg, then touched Zane, causing him to have a reaction. Or he could have just had an unaccounted for immune system malfunction. (Which the pediatrician already told us does sometimes happen.) Or he could have had a reaction to a food he's no longer allergic to. Since we tested him for everything he ate in April, at least I can feel sure we didn't miss a current allergy to something he ate back then.

So...the doctor said he can have his second round of H1N1 vaccination, but next year he should come to her for his flu vaccination. They will test his skin with some of the vaccine before injecting it into him. (By then, she said, he may no longer have an allergy to eggs, anyway.)


Left: Zane trying to feed himself apples. Right: Learning to operate and open the dishwasher (!).

She gave me a list of alternative names for eggs that are often found on products (Why don't they simply label the food as containing egg??) and said some kids can eat cooked egg (like you'd find in a cake) without a problem, but if he's not had anything like that before, she'd want to test him in her office, so I didn't have to deal with his anaphylaxis on my own. But when I got home, I checked a few of his baby foods that have pasta. They have egg whites in them, so I'm thinking he should be fine with baked goods.

She also prescribed an Epipen for him, in case of emergency.

The entire appointment took two and a half hours, and poor Anastasia and her daddy waited in the truck for us. (We didn't want to expose the Miss to H1N1 germs.) I hear she was perfectly behaved, though.

Next we drove to our local hospital to get a blood draw to test Zane for Celiac Disease. Poor Miss A. She didn't want him to get his blood drawn. "But it might kill him!" she said. After I assured her that it wouldn't kill him (!), she seemed content.

Since I learned yesterday his great-grandfather has it, I'm glad we're getting the screening out of the way. (Celiac Disease can be hereditary.) It took two of us holding Zane down, one to draw his blood, and another to make faces trying to make him stop crying to get the job done. I imagine we'll hear back on that test next week.


By the way, a long time reader asked how Anastasia's H1N1 vaccination (the first one) went. Sorry I didn't mention it - but it went just as smooth as could be. She had no reaction to it (we always give the kids thimerosal-free vaccinations) and the doctor's office was nearly empty - which is the way we like it :)

Anastasia wearing her "good girl sticker" after her first H1N1 vaccination.

November 24, 2009

First, some pics of Anastasia. She helped me make this Pilgrim maiden hat, and then spent the entire morning playing Pilgrim. She dumped toys out of a box and made it her boat, then used her American flag as a sail. We also made a "What I'm Thankful For" turkey; it turned out to be difficult to write on (it was made from a bumpy paper plate) so it's not a good example of her writing skills, but she's still dang cute. (She's thankful for "mom," "dad," Zane, God, our cat, bunnies, deer, our house, the sun, food, and - taking up two spaces - Jesus.)


Other news:

  • Zane said "I love you" not for the first time, but for the first time to me, last night :)

  • It doesn't seem to occur to Zane to ask others for food. He can be with daddy, for example, for a good hour past his normal eating time, but not fuss. But as soon as he sees me, he crying "Mamamamamama!"

  • An example of Zane's eating powers: The other day he ate a 6 oz. jar of apple oatmeal, half a banana, three mommy-sized handfuls of Cheerios, and all but a few bites of a 6 oz. jar of green beans. Good golly!

  • A momentous day. I finally found something Zane won't eat: Cream of Wheat!

  • Anastasia is behaving better. We played it quite hard-line for a day or two, stating the rule and then offering no leniency whatsoever. Apparently, that's what she needed!

  • Miss A., out of the blue yesterday: "When I grow up, can I be an astronaut and a clown???"


November 30, 2009

I had a tiring Thanksgiving weekend, but a good Thanksgiving day.  Anastasia was a perfect angel the whole time, which was a GREAT change from last year, where she had temper tantrums galore. A family friend came and brought their baby who is about three months younger than Zane. Anastasia instantly fell in love with him (I'm surprised she didn't ask to bring him home) and Zane played with him a little. He tried to love on him a little, too, by patting his head, but...well, Zane doesn't know his own strength :)  And - big news! - Zane began feeding himself. My mom-in-law sent me out of the room, thinking maybe he'd feed himself if I weren't around. She put a graham cracker on his high chair tray and when he picked it up and handed it to her, she said, "Oh no. You're a big boy now; you can feed it to yourself." And he did! For a couple of days after, he'd only put food in his mouth if I put it in his fingers first, but now he's picking up food off his high chair tray, no problem. Thank goodness!


Left: Zane sitting at his new high chair (the small kind that attaches to a chair), feeding himself. Right: Zane climbed into this toy dump truck on his own and sat there for several minutes, pleased with himself.

With an older gift card, we bought Anastasia her own camera. She loves it! She takes photos all day long, from the minute she wakes up until the minute she goes to bed.