Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Egg Challenge

We had another egg challenge for Aiden....um, three weeks ago. We've been a bit busy since then, had company, dealt with allergies, sickness, etc. So, yeah, I've been absent. Here's the scoop now, though...

We did get through the challenge this time, I guess. Five hours away from home, three hours for the challenge, and a LOT of stress. But Aiden did ok with the eggs, for the most part. He didn't eat a lot, though. The dr said based on what little he ate and how he seemed to be doing, we could gradually start introducing him to some baked items *at home* and see how he does with that. We have to be sure he's ok with that before moving on to pancakes/waffles; and then pancakes/waffles come before just plain cooked eggs. So, we'll see.
We thought the shirt was fitting for the occasion.You can probably see where he was crying...
We were told to do it all gradually and take it easy - not introducing too much at a time or too often and just at home for now. It's been over a week now since the challenge, and we haven't made anything else with egg yet. He did have a bit of the "heated egg" dish they had us bring to the challenge (a baked good with egg in it). He didn't really eat much there, a couple bites maybe, but a couple days later at home, he ate a whole slice. Go figure! We were going to make some muffins with egg the week after the challenge, for a playdate we were having at home, but then Aiden came down with a virus. Playdate was canceled and so were the muffins - we wanted his system completely back to normal before introducing the eggs again.

Actually eating some egg...FINALLY!
It was very stressful trying to get Aiden to eat anything with egg. You know how hard it is to get a toddler to eat something he doesn't want to eat...then try doing that for three hours straight (and then add in some stranger trying to also convince him). Not fun. But he got a tiny bit of egg in him (sandwiched between some crackers) and ate a couple bites of a baked item they had us make. If he noticed there was egg, he spit it right out and then refused to eat anything. They even put some egg protein powder in a bit of yogurt that we brought (yogurt he normally loves!), and he wouldn't even consider trying that. Very frustrating...for us AND him. He only actually ate a little more than 1/4 of an egg during the visit, and he threw numerous fits. He did get red and had some hives on his chin where the baked item touched, and his upper lip was swollen, but eating the food didn't seem to do much, so there's a good chance he'll be ok with that. It seems like eggs touching him will give him a reaction still, but he should still outgrow that - and it doesn't bother him, which is nice.

Some of the hives on his chin (kind of hard to really see them in pictures) and a swollen upper lip from touching the baked egg product (pretty much like a sponge cake, just more egg-y)

So, I guess that was a successful visit. We were just all a bit exhausted from it and happy it's over. And while it sounds exciting to be able to start some eggs...it is, but we're going to take it one bite at a time.

Being cute with Daddy

This last week we received the official letter from the dr over the challenge at the hospital (for us, for our primary physician, and for the allergist). It kind of annoyed us b/c while there certainly was no serious reaction, the letter stated that there was NO cutaneous reaction, which is NOT true. I'm trying to figure out how much of an issue to make from that. (If you know me, it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I disagree.) The lady was out of our room for the last hour...in which the hives got redder and then were mostly gone before she returned. But we have a picture to prove it, as you can see in one of the pictures above. He did get hives on his chin and had a swollen lip from eating egg. That's annoying (the note from the lady over the challenge, that is). I realize our plan of action might not change if she was really aware of the reaction, but I don't like the main allergist believing Aiden had no reaction when he did have one, regardless of how small it was. He's had some muffins this past week with egg with no reaction. A recipe that made 23 muffins and had only one egg. But it's something.

(PS - For those reading this in facebook, remember I'm not on facebook during Lent, so if you want to comment, please follow the link to the actual blog post and comment there. Otherwise I won't get the comment and won't be able to respond until after Easter. Thanks!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meal Plan

The week is nearly over, but we did have a meal plan for the week. I have just barely had any time even near a computer this week, it seems. Or last week. Anyway, here it is...

Dinner: Italian Sausage Soup. Not as great as we were hoping. Camden picked this one out of a recipe book we have, and it does sound pretty good. Maybe with a different sausage it would be better? Really the main flavor comes from the sausage you use. I couldn't help but think of fennel when I was smelling or tasting the soup. And I'm not really a fan of fennel. Not that I'm saying it was in the stuff...but that's what came to mind. Now, it wasn't as bad when we actually sat down to eat as what I thought it would be when I was cooking, but it still wasn't *great* either. Still, I'm glad Camden picked out something...other than some of his typical picks...and something that was pretty healthy, too.

Dinner: Apple, bacon, cheddar sandwiches with red onion mayo, carrot raisin salad. Doesn't sound like much, but the sandwiches are pretty filling!

Lunch: Chicken salad, crackers, and I was attempting to get some kefir smoothie in Aiden b/c he was getting over a virus. He ate the chicken salad and drank some electrolyte drink that I added probiotic powder to, so at least he got something... He did have some of the smoothie at some point.
Dinner: Deconstructed Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, corn, mayo rolls. While the previous link is where you can find the recipe, I first found it on Once a Month Mom, who made it into a larger meal to be frozen (for four meals). I make two meals out of it and cook it in a 13x9 pan. We've made the stuffed chicken dish before, and while it's good...it's work. This is much easier. And instead of using chicken breasts, I used chicken that I already had in the freezer after making chicken broth from a whole chicken...I take it all off and freeze it in different amounts. I just used a couple cups' worth for this dish - and it was super easy and already in bite-sized chunks of chicken, so it was even easier to eat! The only problem...while Ryan and I really like it, the kids don't. WHY I have no idea! Aiden won't really try it, to be fair. This toddler phase is a lot of fun....

Lunch: Chicken salad, smoothie (same one from yesterday - apparently it was better today)
Dinner: Veggie beef soup (from the freezer - my favorite kind of meal!), peanut butter (sunbutter for Daddy) with honey sandwiches. I couldn't believe Ryan had never had a honey and PB sandwich...and I'm sure he's glad I'm saying that on here for all to read. ;)

Lunch: Believe it or not, there was a tiny bowl of chicken salad left. Basically, Aiden eats this entire recipe on his own. I get a few bites here and there. He finished it off today.
Dinner: Leftover broccoli, cheese, chicken, corn and bread. I just made a loaf of bread yesterday for dinner and had to make another today just to have enough for tonight's dinner! I normally don't have to make it that often...

Lunch: banana slices with peanut butter, some kind of green smoothie (we're out of pineapple, which I always use, so I'm going to have to do something different...), and we'll see what else.
Dinner: Pigs in a blanket, zucchini slices, and roasted potatoes. This is all Camden. (Well, his idea. I'll be doing most of the cooking, if not all. Not because he can't help but he'll probably be at soccer practice.)

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Cheese burgers (should be nice enough to grill!!!), baked fries, smoothies. We'll see if the fries get done. Mama will be volunteering at a consignment sale some friends run, and Daddy will be in charge of dinner. He's quite capable...but he's not made the fries before, and, of course, I don't do it exactly by the recipe. I'm sure he'll do just fine, though. :) I should be arriving home just in time for dinner!

PS - Locals should come out to the consignment sale! More info HERE! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Plan

Lunch: Strawberry soup, banana dog bites, raisins. Now...the banana things aren't anything too out of the ordinary. Camden's even tried to take a banana wrapped in a tortilla with peanut butter. But his complaint was that the banana kept slipping out! Sometimes it takes a smack..or someone posting on their website...to have the light bulb go off: slice it! Aiden, who won't eat anything that involves a tortilla (no quesadillas...seriously!) and is iffy about peanut butter..who also will beg for a banana and then eat a couple bites and play enough with the rest that it's trash...that kid loved these things! He ate every single bite, except for the one I had to try it. (I'm sitting here right now eating the mama-version...nutella instead of pb. Oh it's yummy. Though really...I would be happy eating a banana with nutella on a spoon. Or just the nutella.)
Dinner: Veggie stir fry w/ rice, apple slices. (And yeah, technically this isn't vegetarian, since it uses chicken broth..but you can switch that for a different broth to make it really veggie.) ;)

Lunch: Strawberry soup (I always make enough for Aiden to have two meals and for Camden to take it on the second day, too), and either more banana dog bites or pb on bread with raisins. I'm guessing Aiden will go for the banana bites.
Dinner: Mini-meatloaves (pulled from the freezer, already cooked), asparagus, and the yummiest roasted potatoes. Camden goes crazy for these potatoes. Seriously. It's a Pioneer Woman recipe - doesn't that automatically make it delicious??

Lunch: Quesadillas, avocado, green smoothies. Ok, Camden will have quesadillas. So will Mommy. Aiden...I'll try, but he'll probably turn his nose up at it.
Dinner: Taco Salad

Lunch: Wait and see. Aiden's egg-challenge and allergy testing is this morning, and there's no telling how long we'll be there - a couple hours minimum.
Dinner: Lentil Veggie Soup, "really big biscuits" (from Family Feasts for $75 a week - great biscuits!), fruit

Lunch: There should be some leftovers in the fridge by now...
Dinner: Italian Sausage Soup (a new recipe we're trying from the Family Feasts book mentioned above). This is one of Camden's picks for the week.


Over the weekend, I made the pumpkin apple muffins, and they have been a huge hit. Aiden loves muffins of any kind pretty much, but he's smitten by these. I have a feeling I'll be making them again before the week is over. I used honey instead of agave as the sweetener - it's cheaper, for one thing.We also had the chicken tortilla soup last week, and everyone really liked it, even the kids. I added black beans, and I already had cooked chicken chopped up and frozen from when I recently made chicken broth (which decreased cooking time). Next time I'll definitely be making a double batch so we at least get a couple meals out of it.

What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why VBAC? Part 1

What's the big deal anyway? Right?

I know not everyone really knows why this is so important to us, and I've been wanting to post more about that. It's not that I feel like we have to "explain ourselves," but this is something we've been learning more about lately and want to share some of that info. As we learn more, we see things differently, which is impacting our decisions. It's like the Maya Angelou quote...When you know better you do better. And after learning so much about this topic, no way can I simply opt for a scheduled cesarean; I just can't do it. It's not what is better for either me or a child.

It's frustrating to feel we have to do so much research on our own in order to be able to tell doctors what kind of care we want and need. It's exhausting to have to do so much advocating for ourselves. I don't know that it's had such an affect on my husband, but I know I've had many nights where I've had a very difficult time getting to sleep, and once asleep, I've had many crazy but very realistic dreams about meeting with doctors and fighting for or working toward a VBAC. I've had physical responses to the stress and anxiety before appointments to discuss what I want because I'm worried a doctor won't respect it. Should it really have to be this challenging and stressful?? (There should be an easy answer to that: NO. Unfortunately it's not so easy...)

I'm going to put up a series of posts and try to keep it simple and sweet. There are many components to our decision...the risks/benefits of c-sections (and repeat c-sections) for mother and for baby, risks/benefits of vaginal birth for mother and for baby, and complications when it comes to finding a doctor who is truly supportive. There's more to it, but we're going to try to explain some of the risks/benefits of each delivery method. For us, seeing those listed out makes it a really simple answer, but the thing is, many people aren't aware of the risks/benefits of them both. Doctors don't always really go through all the information clearly. Not one single doctor has talked with me about how many c-sections are too many or even any real risks with having scheduled and repeated cesareans. Nobody has discussed a VBAC as even a possibility or has shared with us benefits of having a child vaginally. So, we had to seek out the information for ourselves. Fortunately, it does seem that there are wonderful VBAC-friendly (truly VBAC-friendly) providers out there; unfortunately it seems as though they are harder to come by and you have to do some work to find them.

I will say, our information will by no means be all inclusive. We've done research, sure, but we haven't spent years researching this, and we only have what we've read/heard/learned recently and our own personal experience. We won't have all the stats stating how often each thing/risk/etc occurs (and we often see different stats because it all relies on reporting and definitions that aren't always very specific). And with some things, it's hard to know how often they occur, as well as how much can be attributed to the delivery method, even while research shows something might be more likely to occur with certain delivery methods. So, realize that we're just a couple looking up information via different resources and sharing them on here. We feel like we know a lot about what we're getting into at this point, but we are aware we are not experts, and we're not offering any sort of medical advice. Anyone who knows something we should change with the information we post (I know we have some doctor/nurse friends out there), please share that with us. :)

First up... Cesarean sections and risks to mother and baby.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

VBAC Update and New Plans

If you read my post from last week, you know we're wanting to go for a VBAC with our next baby (that is nonexistent at this point). We met with a dr within our network that had said they would "allow" us to do this, and we posted about the consultation. I'm not sure if my emotions showed through with that post; I really tried to keep them out. A main reason is because I wasn't having such great emotions in regards to the meeting. While the doctor said a lot of things we liked, there were a few things we did not...and my gut was not really feeling it. I walked out of there feeling uneasy and hesitant. After letting some of my feelings stew for a while and discussing things with Ryan, we both felt this OB office was not the one for us. We believe, and strongly, that if we stay with this office, our odds of having an emergency or scheduled c-section would be much too great.

For now, we have some good news and some bad news. 

The good news is, we have found a place we really like, one that we feel is our best chance at a successful VBAC. This practice is well-known in the community/state for being very VBAC-friendly, and they have plenty of experience in this area. It's also at another top hospital in the area (one of the two that we would consider - I'm sure it's an easy guess if you know where we are located). Not only that, but their philosophy toward pregnancy and delivery are way more in line with my own, which is awesome. I spoke extensively with a lady about my entire situation, including my hesitations about the other office, and she totally agreed with our concerns. Everything she had to say to me was exactly what I would want to hear (and at this point, I KNOW what I want to hear and am not easily misled), not only when it came to VBACs but also just regular care. She was so validating of what I felt (concerns, what I wanted, every little thing), which was a wonderful thing to experience.While speaking with her, I had this amazing sense of calm come over me, this sense of "this is where I am meant to be." I had to hold back tears during the call. Now, maybe all of that doesn't make sense to some people, and I'm not going to put my entire medical care in someone's hands SOLELY on my gut and intuition...but I also will not discount those feelings. They're there for a reason. Besides, I had my gut feelings AND factual information all in my favor here.

The bad news...this office is not in-network, so our insurance will not cover care there. We spoke with the insurance company and were told to write a letter explaining our reasons for requesting a benefit exception. Did we really expect them to make this allowance? Not really. We were hopeful but we were also realistic. We wrote an extensive letter that laid out the reasons we should be treated at this other out-of-network provider. We included all the ways this would save them money - because it would save them a LOT of money, really. We haven't received our actual response via email/postal mail...I'm hoping they will at least give their reasons in the response, but I'm not sure if they do that or not. I called earlier today and was given a quick (and not the most polite) response: DENIED. I was told they had emailed, but um...we've received nothing, and that was over six hours ago.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means we wait, though we're not 100% sure yet what all that means... We are waiting to see what their response is before we know if we can appeal and give them other specific information they request from us. Or we wait until we can change insurance providers. Open-enrollment, when we can elect to change insurance providers, is in the fall. We'll make the switch then to an insurance that we know will cover our care at this other practice. It will mean a higher monthly cost, but it will get us what we want and what we need. This isn't just us wanting something that is over the top. This is us wanting quality care that we need and deserve. It also means waiting a heck of a lot longer to get pregnant than we were planning. This is not really what we want, but as the chance at a VBAC and having a supportive doctor are crucial to us, if we need to wait, we wait. There are all kinds of emotions tied up in that; I won't lie. It's been a tough week and a half. There have been many hours staying up unable to sleep, many wild dreams about meeting with doctors, being pregnant, and all sorts of things. It's not been easy. But we're going to be realistic, logical, and we're going to do what it takes to get what we need. Even if that means waiting.

Now, I know some of you are wondering what is so important about having a VBAC anyway. I intend to address that. We aren't going into this because of some selfish desire for me to "experience" natural childbirth. Sure, I would love to go through that and deliver a baby on my own, the way my body was made to do. But no, that is not the reasoning. This is all for the health of a baby. We've done our research, we know the reasons for vaginally delivering a child, the risks and benefits of that versus any risks/benefits of having a cesarean section.We're going to put up some posts looking at all of that and explaining why this is so very important to us. But rest assured it's all about what is best and safest for baby (and what is safest for mother, too). Nothing selfish...unless you consider wanting the safest possible delivery selfish.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meal Plan

Here's the run-down for the week...

Dinner at Maggiano's for our neighbor's birthday. Was our first time there, and we took advantage of their buy one get one for home deal. Here's some more info on the deal if you're around one of these and have been wanting to try them out!

Lunch: Pasta, peas, and parmesan; banana slices with peanut butter and currants. Aiden is not the biggest pb fan, but he *loved* having it this way! I just put a dab on each banana slice and topped it with some currants (a few, since they're so little - those things are so cute, though!). He could not get enough!
Dinner: Leftovers from Maggiano's. And there was still some left!

Lunch: More Maggiano's leftovers. Bread. Aiden really loves just plain bread!! And some green smoothie.
Dinner: Mini-Meatloaves (I need to post the recipe sometime because these things are GOOD), butternut squash puree, and sauteed asparagus. I didn't get to make rolls or anything, so we had some naan bread that we had on-hand. I love that the meatloaves are so freezer friendly. It makes 8, and since we're only using it for one meal this time (and I'm banning Ryan from eating more, as much as he wants to), I'll freeze the rest for another week. And I gotta say...I'm not a fan of squash (any kind - I keep trying and really want to like it, I do!), but this puree is pretty tasty - as in *really* good! Camden knew he wouldn't like it and admitted it was better than he expected. Aiden, who scarfed down multiple bowls last time I made it, wouldn't even try it. UGH. If he had, he would have loved it. I know it. So frustrating when they do that. This is my favorite meal of the week (so far, at least) - it's just SO bright and colorful! The meatloaves are red from the glaze on top, the bright orange squash, and the green asparagus...just so pretty!

Lunch: Tuna, apple, raisin salad on mini-pitas (that we've had on the menu forever and still haven't had), avocado.
Dinner: Chicken tortilla soup (that we had on last week's menu and didn't make)

Lunch: Tuna, apple, raisin salad on mini-pitas
Dinner: Pizza casserole - adding in some extras this time (mushrooms, bell pepper, some pepperoni), apples.

Lunch: Strawberry soup, Pita or crackers with peanut butter and raisins
Dinner: Either pizza casserole leftovers, or we'll freeze the leftovers and eat taco soup (that is in the freezer). We'll see.

Lunch: Various leftovers.
Dinner: Cheeseburgers (I've been wanting to try to make some veggie burgers - I have a recipe I found in a magazine, but if anyone has a recipe you know is great, please share! - but Camden made sure to request just regular beef burgers this week. Ha!), baked "fries," and smoothies or fruit.

I'm also wanting to make these pumpkin apple muffins and have had them on the menu for a couple weeks now. Hopefully we'll get to them this week!

For snacks, Aiden has been begging for "snack-a bars," so I finally made some more. He LOVES these things. Camden not-so-much. And Ryan likes them, too. Plus, they're nut-free so Daddy can have them. They're super easy, too!