Weekly Photo Challenge – Fresh

For this week’s photo challenge, share with us a photo that expresses something fresh.

This is a photo taken of my husband’s hands encompassing my brand new baby son’s feet. He was brand new here…

In Daddy's Hands

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The Journey for My Son’s GI System

It’s a very early February morning. The temperature outside is too low to mention and the sun is shining on about 12″ of snow that surrounds my home. I’m sitting at the kitchen table listening to the sound of a heartbeat generated by the Graco swing next to me as my two month old son, Joshua, struggles to find peaceful sleep and work on today’s bowel movement. That’s right…bowel movement. I must also point out the word “movement” is singular and not plural. With frustration dripping from my typing fingertips – let me tell you the journey we have been on so far…

IMG_3659 12-6-14Born November 28, 2014 after 14 hours of labor, 3 hours of pushing and one very welcomed c-section – Joshua Henry Lupu entered this world at 8lbs and 19.4″ long. He was perfect! Every part of his little body was beautiful and wonderful. The first few nights he barely made a sound – we couldn’t believe how peaceful he was. And then it started…his inability to sleep without waking from attempts to pass gas, his arched back and screams as he tried to eat, and his total unhappiness every other part of the day from GI pain we didn’t know he was having.

The first pediatrician said his GI struggles were normal. He stated that newborns passing gas can look like an ordeal but is really not as bad as it seems. I mentioned that the milk protein allergy runs in both mine and my husband’s families. He stated there was no visible blood in Joshua’s stool – so the allergy wasn’t present. So, I took him home and reluctantly accepted that his excessive crying was normal. Before you mentally chastise my complacent acceptance of this doctor’s diagnosis – I only let Joshua continue on in this manner about 24 hours before I found a new pediatrician 🙂

At this point, we had tried Similac Organic formula, switched to Similac Sensitive and landed on Nutramigen which seemed to make a significant difference.  All of a sudden Joshua was able to poop – in fact he was pooping 3-4 times a day! Additionally, the new pediatrician diagnosed him with acid reflux and prescribed Zantac.

Three weeks later, I was surprised to be holding a baby who still arched his back in pain while eating, never seemed to smile and couldn’t sleep peacefully in my arms. I called the pediatrician…Prevacid was added to his prescription line-up (note this is not a medication you can have called in same day – it has to be specially compounded by the pharmacist). Apparently, it’s common for infants to need both medications to treat reflux and GERD, but they like to start with one first. Just in case the list got longer than you could keep up with, Joshua was now taking:

  • Nutramigen formula
  • Zantac every 8 hours
  • Prevacid once a day
  • Oh yeah – he had thrush so we can throw Nystatin in there too!

Still no improvement…in fact, late one night while changing his diaper, I noticed a small trace of blood in his stool. I called the pediatrician…he was referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI (note the hospital couldn’t get him in for two weeks – I had the pediatrician call and he got a next day appointment). While there, Joshua happened to have a bowel movement so a stool culture was able to be taken which showed hidden blood. This was an indication of infant ulcerative colitis due to a milk (also sometimes soy and egg) protein allergy (reminder! – I had previously mentioned this to the first pediatrician). Joshua was switched from Nutramigen to a hypoallergenic formula called EleCare which uses amino acids as its protein source instead of the milk-derived whey protein found in other formulas.

IMG_4915*Almost immediately we noticed a difference!

He began to smile!!!!!!!!

He began to laugh!!!!!

His moments awake were no longer filled with tears – and he actually began to let me put him down (he would only stay calm in my arms prior to EleCare). I finally felt we had reached a resolution and my baby boy would begin to spend his days pain-free.

We were told to give EleCare a good two weeks before his bowel movements would regulate and his temperament would calm down (note the milk protein can stay in the GI system for up to a month before the body is totally rid of it). Unfortunately, he reached his three week mark yesterday and has begun a downward turn…

…his bowel movements never regulated – in fact he went from 3-4 poops a day to one every other day. He has to push very hard for a small amount to come out (liquid in texture) and still struggles with painful gas.

I called the pediatrician…I am waiting for what happens next.

As of today, Joshua is thriving – he continues to gain weight and to grow in length. He smiles more and coo’s often. But he doesn’t have a day without some pain. His medication list is as follows:

Prescribed medications:

  • EleCare for Infants formula (you don’t have to get a prescription for this, you can have your pharmacist order it for you or buy direct from the manufacturer)
  • Zantac twice a day
  • Prevacid once a day
  • Nystain (he still has that stubborn thrush)

Natural/Homeopathic Medications:

2/19/2015 Update on

We took Joshua back to C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital for a follow up visit. We learned that his intestines have healed and are no longer bleeding. We were so glad to hear this we almost jumped at the doctor’s office. We also learned he is dealing with infant dyschezia, which basically means he strains and cries before he has a bowel movement or passes gas. Basically, he needs to learn how to coordinate bearing down to push out gas or stool while relaxing his pelvic muscles to allow them to exit his body. This seems to be a normal developmental issue with infants and we are looking forward to him growing out of it:-)

Learning to Cook…at 31!

I’ll be turning 32 next week – and as I look back over the last year, I’m amazed at the things I have learned through this year’s changes. Each day has brought its wins and losses that have helped to mold my “evergreen” self, but nothing could have prepared me for the following lessons I’ve learned through these major changes:

We bought a condo! – Having lived in apartments since college, the adjustment from renter to owner was large. From the moment we closed on this home, we watched the dollars in our bank account get smaller and smaller as we took on the necessary renovations to make this place our “home.” It felt like, for the first time, I was putting on my big-girl pants and taking a step into the real world of responsibility. There was no longer a handyman to call about holes in the wall or broken ceiling fans – these had to be fixed by our own two hands (with the aid of  my father-in-law and a lot of YouTube videos). I learned that it’s okay to pull carpet off the floor and not to be afraid of a large bucket of paint (despite the fact that I still can’t paint a straight line).

Grow, Grow, GrowingWe got pregnant! – Well, I think this one speaks for itself. Except for the fact that Josh and I weren’t planning on kids. At most, I was working towards convincing him we needed a dog! But along came our little guy – growing so fast inside me. This life change has created a domino effect of subsequent changes both physical and emotional. And while the lessons I am learning every day during this pregnancy continue to grow in number, the most important one is that life is ever-changing. Concrete is not an adjective that can realistically describe any person’s life. This may seem like an easy concept that everyone is fairly aware of – but it still shakes you when the solid foundation you thought you were building is torn up to create a new (and often better) one. Needless to say, we are ecstatic about our son’s arrival this December!

I quit my job! – Work was, well…my life. My days and nights revolved around it. If I wasn’t busy in the office, I was traveling for business. Both my husband and I shared our work-a-holic lifestyles. I found my identity in meeting the daily challenges I faced at work. I defined success in my professional accomplishments. I honestly thought nothing would take the devotion I had towards my vocation until I became pregnant. Immediately, I became territorial of the time others would have with my son and knew I wanted to be the one to raise him. While I feel fairly new towards caring for a newborn, I know that no one can love or care for him like I can. This major life change has taught me that we can’t tie our identities to the things of this world. I learned that  jobs will come and go, but Christ is forever and He is who my identity must be tied to. I am most grateful for this lesson because it wouldn’t have been fair to shift my identity from work to my son – he needs to be his own person and both of us will find who we are in Christ!

I learned to cook…at 31! – Don’t judge me for this. When you work as much as I did – domestic responsibilities tend to go out the window. Cooking never appealed to me – why would I work all day to come home and work more? My husband and I found many restaurants we liked and were happy with that lifestyle. But, going from two incomes to one changes how you spend your money. Additionally, with the recent change of me not working, I now have time to prepare meals that are both cheaper and healthier than eating out. I can’t say I’ve mastered this art yet – but I am working on it (again with help from family and YouTube videos). I’ve learned that you can’t have enough cooking spoons and to only make what you will eat (as opposed to cooking enough to feed an army).

I had to say “good-bye”! – I am fortunate enough to say that I’ve never lost a person close to me. However, amongst the changes of buying a new home, becoming pregnant and quitting my job – I had to say good-bye to my kitty, my buddy of 9 years who never left my side. This loss was both unexpected and massive. Losing Miracle left such a hole in my heart. Watching life seep out of an animal you have loved and cherished changes you forever. I learned that making large decisions, like when to put your animal down, are hard and mucky.

I’m not sure what this next year will bring – but I know that I will take it head on knowing it’s important to roll with the punches, trust in God and just take a deep breath from time-to-time.

Drawing Near to God

It’s raining in life right now and I long to be as close to God as possible, under His umbrella – sheltered from the storms raging around me. Everything feels incredibly uncomfortable and uncertain. The term “day-by-day” keeps surfacing making me wince because I know how horribly I manage things on a day-by-day basis. I like for life to be concrete and set in stone…for any changes that come my way to be pleasant and not life altering. And so, here I sit, undergoing the largest and most life-altering events I can imagine:

Almost 7 months pregnant with my first child - my husband and I have gone from the mindset of "we aren't having children" to "we can't wait for this little boy to arrive!"

Almost 7 months pregnant with my first child – my husband and I have gone from the mindset of “we aren’t having children” to “we can’t wait for this little boy to arrive!”

Accompanying my unexpected pregnancy, we've decided it would best for our baby if I stayed home from work to raise him. So, after five years of dedicated service to the corporate business world, I am not working.

Accompanying my unexpected pregnancy, we’ve decided it would best for our baby if I stayed home from work to raise him. So, after five years of dedicated service to the corporate business world, I am not working.

My cats have always been my passion - their kind of steady devotion has always made sense to me and now I am facing the possibility of saying good-bye to one of them as she is very sick.

My cats have always been my passion – their kind of steady devotion has always made sense to me and now I am facing the possibility of saying good-bye to one of them as she is very sick.

These storms seem to strip me of an inner peace my soul is yearning for – making it imperative I draw as near to God as I can, so he can draw near to me. The only way I know how to begin this process is to go to His word:

  • James 1: 2-5  “…when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
  • Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • Philippians 4:19  “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-10  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; ppersecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
  • James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
  • Philippians 4:12-13  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

 

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Do I Belong Here?

One day, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher handed out a test explaining there were no wrong answers – so we should pick what we felt was best for the question. Something about the look of that test made me feel it was important. I scrutinized over each question – trying to accomplish whatever the goal of this activity was to the best of my ability.

I remember feeling anxious as my classmates, one-by-one, walked past me to hand in their finished exams.  I wondered why it was taking me longer than everyone else.

Was I doing it wrong?

Or maybe, I was the only one doing it right?! Finally, I finished! – Days went by, and as the rest of the class moved past this experience, I fixated on it. There was never a time I received that test back with my results.

Did I pass or fail?

Eventually, I prodded enough that I found myself in a small room one morning, before school started, meeting with my teacher and the Principal. They explained this test determined our IQ – those whose results were above a certain number were going to be participating in a special program at the public library once a week. This program would provide challenging tasks so students could further develop areas in which they excelled at.

I was not one of these students in need of further development. At least that’s what the test said.

So, naturally, I asked to join this group. I rode that bus each week to the public library – and I sat with these students…my classmates…my friends…and stumbled along as we were asked to build bridges out of toothpicks and solve complicated math equations.

Most of that experience is a blur to me now – except the unmistakable feeling that I didn’t belong. That insecurity has sat on my shoulders, whispering in my ears throughout my life. I’ve endured unbearably hard math classes, college lectures and business meetings hunkered down, hoping I wouldn’t be found out for being in the wrong place.

Then I heard this TED talk on the TED News Radio Hour. Amy Cuddy’s story spoke to me. It resonated somewhere so incredibly deep within my spirit – it caused the mountain of negative rubble to shake loose and allow rays of hope to break through. So, I’m sharing this with you – hoping it does the same.