Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ode to Neocate: an Everett update

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Mmmmm....green beans!

Those of you who were not fortunate enough to witness my frenzy during the first few weeks of Everett’s life may not be aware of the feeding fiascoes we’ve endured with our little guy.  After 10 weeks of bloody diapers, extreme colic, and poor growth, we discovered that Everett has a severe milk protein allergy.  Despite my efforts to cut out everything imaginable from my diet, he could not tolerate my breast milk nor any formulas stocked on store shelves.  It was at this point that Everett became christened as a “Neocate baby.”  Neocate is a hypoallergenic formula that is amino-acids based, meaning that the large food proteins are completely broken down such that there is nothing for Everett’s little GI system to do except for absorb nutrients.  After about 5 days on this new formula, we could see a drastic difference.  Everett was not nearly as fussy, started having only 1-2 blood-free stools a day (rather than 14), and began to gain weight!

The large majority of babies diagnosed with this allergy as newborns outgrow it by 5-6 months of age, with all but a select few outgrowing it by a year of age.  So given that Everett turned 6 months old this month, our pediatrician recommended that we cross our fingers and challenge the allergy.  For 2 weeks, we weaned him off Neocate and went back to Nutramigen, a formula that is also hypoallergenic but only partially broken down.  The benefits for us were that you can buy Nutramigen off the store shelves for a fraction of the cost of Neocate.  Things seemed to go okay at first, but then Ev began spitting up and vomiting frequently…and then refusing to eat.  At his 6  month appointment, his weight gain has slowed, telling us that he was not absorbing nutrients as well on the new formula.  So…back to Neocate we went!

The other great news is that Everett is loving solid food.  We started with green beans on his sixth month birthday and have now included prunes, sweet potatoes, and peas in his diet as well. Given that Neocate has a reputation for tasting extremely bitter, he has welcomed nearly every green veggie we’ve introduced with a smile.  Let’s hope that continues!

Everett is still a bird of an eater…and we think he may just  hang out in the 5th percentile for weight.  My dad was tall and super thin, so it’s possible that he has the McBride genes!  We may try to challenge the allergy again after he turns a year, but for now we are extremely thankful that Neocate exists.  Despite the fact that a month supply of the formula costs us twice as much as I paid for rent in college, we happily place our mail order for a box every 2 weeks knowing that it is helping our little guy grow and grow.

Everett’s fun tricks that do not involve eating include: laughing a lot, chewing on everything in sight, inch worming all over the house, sitting up for short bursts at a time, blowing raspberries, protesting when he doesn’t get his way, stealing straws from anyone’s drink within reach, trying to bite my arm during diaper changes and thinking it’s hilarious, practicing yoga poses like downward facing dog, making scary Gremlin noises, and generally being the most adorable baby in the world.  He also cut his first teeth–two bottom ones: little square pearls!

Neocate Baby

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A circle, a square, an Everett…

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a mom, it is this: there are no patterns.  Well, I shouldn’t say that I’ve “learned” this axiom, because I keep conveniently forgetting it each time I think we are settling into a routine only to become disappointed and frustrated when the unexpected creeps in.  I suppose I should just expect the unexpected.  Easier said than done.

I admit that I have always exhibited some Type A tendencies.  In fact, it is driving me crazy that I cannot approach motherhood with

Last week, we loved running errands with mom. This week, we think our car seat is a Medieval torture device.

the same perfectionist mantras that have guided me along my academic and career paths.  What does “success” even look like when it comes to raising a 6 month old?  I am accepting that it is impossible to be a perfect mom and am dealing with the omnipresent self-doubt that comes with first-time parenting…and I suspect that I am not alone in my maternal neurosis.  I think many moms crave routine and predictability.  Not just for the ease of following a daily schedule (though this would help with timing luxuries like bathing and scarfing down a meal)–but more for the affirmation that comes from a pattern.  When I do x, then y happens….and then when this equation produces the same answer a second, third, or fourth time, I think “A-ha–I must be doing something right.  I know how to do this.  I have the solution.”  And I cling to this formula, until one day without warning or notice–it fails.  The variables change, the numbers don’t add up, and the resulting sum has shifted from positive to negative as I worry that this change is a result of my failed applications.  I’ve never really liked math.

Furthermore, being able to assert truths about your child makes you feel like you really know him or her.  I envy those veteran moms who can say things like, “Johnny loves the swing.” or “Olivia naps from 9-11 every morning.”  They say it with such conviction like they really have a handle on their child.  I can say those things too, but I must begin adding qualifiers: “Everett loves to read books…today.” or “Peek-a-boo makes him laugh…this week.”  Wait-do I really know my baby?  I’m the mama–if I don’t have him figured out yet–who does?!

So this is where we are this week–wrapping up summer and breaking patterns.  After several solid weeks of relatively calm bedtime routines, Zen-like car seat travels, and healthy eating-its time to move on to new adventures just so that I don’t get too confident and comfortable in this role.  It must be Mother Nature’s way of ensuring moms don’t become too cocky or complacent with their assignments.  But all grumbles and exasperated sighs aside,  I’m beginning to see that there are some important lessons for me in this frantic quest for patterns:

1.  Embrace the present.  I need to accept and ENJOY where Everett and I are on our journey each day, each moment…and stop anticipating the next move, stage, or shape in the sequence.

2.  Failure to solve the equation does not equal failure as a parent.  I just have to be okay with the fact that I can’t solve this challenge today…or perhaps ever.  And that’s what makes this parenthood thing so rich and rewarding: the quest will never really be fully met.

3.  Throw away the parenting books.  Rather than allowing my “What to Expect” books to continuously mock me, I’m going to let them gather dust on my shelf for a while.  Maybe it’s time for someone to write the “Don’t expect” edition.

And here is the common denominator, the simplest form: all I really have to do as a parent each day is make sure that I give Everett as much love as I can.  And that’s an easy solution that requires no formula, no complex calculation.  It’s poetry (free verse of course) and that is my field.