Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 3: The new normal

I feel as though in week three our life has begun to take on some semblance of routine after two weeks of excitement, turmoil, medical appointments, and tons of visitors.  We even had a whole day (blessed, wonderful Thursday) where we had no appointments and no visitors.  With all this unstructured time, the three of us are starting to learn now to lead our lives as a family, and Papa Bear and I are learning how to handle Lemon's basic nutritional needs.

Before every feeding, Lemon needs to receive a dose of supplemental enzymes that enable him to digest his food.  The enzymes come as capsules that contain a bunch of little tiny beads.  Each bead has a special coating that only dissolves when it encounters a neutral pH.  This means that the coating on the bead stays intact in the acidic environment of the stomach, and only dissolves and releases the bead's contents when it reaches the neutral environment of the small intestine.  That is where the enzymes normally act to help break down proteins and fats in food.  So, before each feeding, I have to open up one of the capsules, sprinkle the beads into some baby applesauce (it's important to use an acidic food like applesauce so that the beads don't dissolve prematurely), and spoon those into Lemon before the feeding starts.  As those of you who have breastfed an infant will appreciate, it's pretty important to make sure that there are no enzyme beads left in his mouth before the breastfeeding portion of events gets started.  Luckily, Lemon seems to quite like applesauce and has no trouble taking the enzymes.  We refer to them as his appetizer.






A more challenging aspect of Lemon's nutrition is vitamin supplementation.  Because CF patients have trouble digesting fat, they also have trouble absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  So, we need to give Lemon a daily dose of these four vitamins to ensure that he's getting enough.  They come in a foul-tasting, viscous, bright orange liquid (bright orange because of the vitamin A, like a carrot), and I have to get 1mL of this stuff into Lemon every day.  He really doesn't like it.  Because the vitamins stain everything they touch, I usually try to give them to him when he's wearing nothing except a diaper, and then feed him immediately afterwards so that he can wash the taste out of his mouth.  This strategy usually results in both me and Lemon looking like the losing side of a paintball tournament.  At least orange is my favorite color, and besides, it's a good excuse for a bath. 



It is very gratifying to see the results of the nutrition therapy.  Lemon is gaining weight like a champ now, which you can clearly see in his face--he finally has cute round baby cheeks and a double chin.  I feel like his face has continued to take shape, in addition to rounding out--he looks more like Papa Bear every day.  Thankfully, he has the same cleft chin as me so there is some evidence in his face that he and I are related.

As we settle into a more normal routine, I've been able to start thinking about exercise again.  My first goal is to restore some strength to my abdominal muscles, which were just the tiniest bit stretched out by carrying Lemon for 9 months.  I'm doing some pretty gentle exercises at first, but they seem to be having the desired effect. 

I've also very gradually started to ease back into running.  One of the marvelous baby gifts we received is a Chariot (http://www.chariotcarriers.com/en/us), which is a sport stroller that can work as a bike trailer, a jogging stroller, or a cross-country ski trailer.  We have it set up in jogging mode now, and this week Lemon and I took it for a little test drive.  Our friends gave us a "baby bivy" insert, so he can ride in it lying down like he's in a little bassinet.  He and I were both favorably impressed during our first outing (I ran a whole mile at not much slower than my pre-pregnancy pace, and he fell asleep a half-mile into the outing).


 

I'm trying to be very conservative about my return to running so that I don't end up injuring myself.  The goal is to run a marathon in Duluth, MN on June 21, 2014 (http://grandmasmarathon.com/site/).  There are half-marathon and 5K races at the same time as the marathon, so if you happen to be in lovely northern Minnesota at that time of year and are interested in running any of those distances, please let me know and you can be part of our team.  There will be T-shirts.  The marathon seems like it's a long ways off, but I'm basically starting my training over from zero.  It's a little frustrating to be so limited in terms of distance now, especially since I was 2/3 of the way through training for a marathon when I found out that I was pregnant (and could comfortably run 18 mi at a time), but I'll get it back eventually.     

As part of our "new normal" life, Papa Bear and I are working hard to instill our love of literature in Lemon.  Since he's too young to really appreciate being read to as of yet, we're mainly just trying to set a good example.  I've read two great books with him so far (Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand).  Papa Bear is trying to get him hooked on sci-fi at an early age, beginning with The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny.  The main advantage of this book seems to be an extremely favorable pages-per-dollar ratio...Nonetheless, Lemon appeared to get a kick out of it.  It must be fun to sit on the lap of someone reading a book that weighs almost as much as you weigh yourself!



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