Juliette’s First Birthday!

Happy First Birthday Juliette! I’m not even sure where to start. You are a beautiful soul that has completed our family. From your scrunched up face when you smile, to your need to have and do whatever big sister is doing, you are one independent strong little diva!

You’re starting to pull up on your own. I felt like you were days away from standing and walking until you got really, really sick and was put in the hospital. My heart is so full of emotion an exhaustion that I cannot possibly sit here and tell you all about you and your milestones and the amazing way you’ve changed our family. I will though. But not in this post. My mind is mentally and physically exhausted. But for now, I just want to share just how beautiful you are to the world. I promise when I will reflect on how much I love you my dear baby. Because I love you so so so much. And it’s been so much fun getting to know you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUTTERBALL!

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Juliette: 9 Months Old

I was always so good about updating Josie’s photo each month and talking about milestones she’s reached. But second child syndrome is a real thing ya’ll. I do take photos of her on my phone and it’s a quick snap and then back to my daily grind. Life is busy being a SAHM of two little girls all the while tackling it alone sometimes.

Each month (since the last time I posted), she’s grown so much. She’s moved into her own room, fully decorated (shabby chic like her sister). She sleeps 12 hours every night without waking to eat or be changed since she was 3 months old. She is just like Josie and loves her sleep. It really was like my routine finally fell into place and she understood night vs. day so well. But she does wake up at 6am on the dot every single day. Needless to say my “morning time” is gone for now but I know I’ll have that back again one day. We went through the same with Josie.

We call her Butterball. Because she’s such a cute little chunk! She eats a lot of food! A ton of baby food. In fact, she’ll probably eat just about anything you give her. Which is a huge relief considering Josie’s food allergies and how picky she is. I started feeding Juliette at 3 months old. She was so interested in what I was eating that I gave her a taste and her mouth hasn’t shut since. Some say that’s too early. Some say wait until after a year and give them only breast milk. You never want to start a debate with me over this because most likely you’ll lose. Josie has been such a challenge to feed since birth and discovering all her food allergies made me realize I don’t want to put Juliette through the same path. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to develop those allergies. This isn’t BS people, do your research. I did. It’s evidence based ya’ll. And just look at her…she’s thriving and a happy, healthy baby who sleeps all.night.long!!!

Anyway, having two kids is hard. And having the time to gather my emotions and thoughts just isn’t allowed. Because by the time I reach that moment, my head hits the pillow and the last thing I want to do is pull out my computer and write. This blog started because of Josie and my pregnancy with her. Yet it developed into a therapeutic way for me to release thoughts, emotions and share stories of our little growing family. I never thought I’d get this deep into it. Or even share the stories I’ve shared. But I know that those out there reading need to hear some of the things that are said.

There’s something about having your own children that makes you realize how hard your life was growing up. It brings all these thoughts, emotions and painful experiences to light that you really wish didn’t. As I strive to be the best mom to Juliette (and Josie), I realize Josie had ALL of me then (which is why we had so many posts and pictures) and Juliette is now getting all of me but what’s left of me now goes back to Josie. Rather then capturing the moments and writing about them, I’m too busy raising these girls and figuring myself out. Being a mom is hard. It is the hardest, most rewarding job on this Earth. Nothing can make you stronger. 

She sucks on her bottom lip. She has since she learned how to soothe herself to sleep. And she reaches for her blanket and calms herself. It’s so precious. I want to remember all these things and more. Life is too short. And time flies. And before I know it, the end of the day is here and I’m utterly exhausted. I wish I could write the words in my mind most days without taking the “time” to do it. Because I want Juliette to know that I treasured her life and milestones just as much as I did Josie’s even though I didn’t have the time to record and write them all down.

I love this little butterball. My Double Divas. My sassy girls. They are my mini best friends for life. Thank you God for making me their mother.

Food Allergies Suck!

I guess I should say allergies SUCK! And so does asthma!

So I know I haven’t said much about what has happened to our sweet Josie on this blog (in the past). I have promised an update or story but never really did it. It was too hard for me to travel back down that road and re-live the events that occurred. It was emotional and terrifying. But most recently (a few days ago), we had her retested and this was my update:

At 9 months old she had an allergic reaction to diary and eggs. And days away from her 2nd birthday, she had an anaphylactic reaction to dates and cashews (tree nuts). I almost lost her that day (I’ll always and forever be grateful for the love and friendship of Shantel Brock-you are an Angel). While her lifeless body lay in the hospital bed and her lips blue and her lungs trying to pull in all the air they could, I lost myself that day. Since that moment, I’ve never been the same. I’m scared at every given moment. No one TRULY understands. It’s painful. Not only does she suffer, but I do too. I always try to get out with other moms to get Josie to play with others but most people don’t know that I suffer in silence. I worry. My anxiety has turned into panic attacks. I make myself sick. I worry about too many kids with too many food items and not being able to watch her every move. It’s literally drove me insane. To the point where now I am seeking help to be the best mother to her. Because that’s all I want. I want to be normal, too. I try to stay strong for her. It’s hard. And no one can tell me anything that will make me feel better. Only a parent of a child with allergies can explain or relate to the never-ending fear that lives inside. The nightmares. The “what ifs” that seems totally ridiculous (to most people). Well, my little girl got blood tested after her near death experience and PICU at children’s hospital (over a year ago). And the results were shocking. Almost unbelievable. And here we are, more than a year later with high hopes that maybe, just maybe something has gotten better. Maybe something she was able to out grow. I finally found her a fantastic allergist. Who sat with me today for 4 hours ya’ll! 4 HOURS!!!! Why? Well, here’s the story: I made the appointment because my sweet girl starts school in August (Pre-K). And also because I’m tired of harboring her from play dates. I make up excuses but never want to blame it on her allergies. Really, it’s my worry (is what I keep telling myself). I just want her to get out more! The allergist and I sat there and talked about blood vs. skin testing. Skin testing is much more able to tell you the truth rather then false positives. Her blood work could have very well had some false positives. The doctor and I were positive and sure that that was the case. She asked me if I wanted the “tree nuts mix” or each separate nut tested on her skin. I asked for each separate. We tested, dairy, egg, tree nuts (all), peanut and chicken via skin test. Prior to this we were both so excited that she may be able to try COOKED dairy and egg (it changes the protein), and she may eventually out grow this. Skin test usually take about 20 minutes to react. Josie’s took 20 SECONDS! Yup…you read that right! 20 seconds! My poor girl came back positive then ever to all the allergens that she once tested positive to. Only this time it was actually worse. The doctor lost hope at that point. Her face said a thousand words. Her voice changed. She seemed truly concerned. I asked if we had to go to the ER? Was it THAT bad? She said it was pretty bad but we would keep an eye on her, give her benadryl and all that we spoke of earlier was out the window. No cooked dairy or egg. No trials. No reintroducing foods. She even mentioned that the likihood of her outgrowing this is not likely and won’t be tested again until she’s 5 years old. My heart sank. I can’t help but feel immense guilt. What did I do to her? Why? What happened? I made her, why can’t I fix her? I tried to keep my composure so Josie wouldn’t read my emotions and get even more scared. The doctor knew it was happening…I lost it. If I could do ONE thing in this world it would be to take THIS away from her and give it to myself. I’d do anything to make this go away. So the entire point of this post? Well, because some people don’t take Josie’s allergies seriously. THIS FOOD IS POSION FOR HER! It’s immediate and it’s DEADLY! IT IS POSION! IT CAN AND WILL KILL HER! And I hate when people say “oh just a little tiny bit won’t hurt.” Or they let their kid sip on my kids cup (well, your kid just ate a cookie that contains eggs/dairy, whatever else). People don’t realize the seriousness of contamination. Did you know that when I almost lost her more then a year ago, she ate a teeny, tiny bite of a Lara Bar (dates and cashews)? Tenny tiny! That’s all it took. Seconds went by and BAM…ambulance, ER, PICU and almost intubation. FAMILY, FRIENDS: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take this serious. I can’t bear the thought of anything happening to my baby as long as I’m living on this Earth. I NEED you to understand the seriousness! I NEED you to respect my wishes. Understand why I clean like I have OCD! Because there ARE allergens in our home. THIS is why I have a hard time getting out. THIS is why I have a hard time meeting other moms and getting my child to play with others. She’s a great kid! She’s super sweet and smart and LOVES to play with other kids. I just don’t want to be the mom that looks like I’m crazy, or hovering or nuts. The PTSD from almost losing her was and has been hard on me. The nightmares still happen. It could be why my panic attacks are at night, randomly. I wake up crying some nights re-living that event. The images just don’t go away. So although I’d LOVE to meet up and have my kid play with a ton of other kids. I just can’t because of me. I’m grateful to the friends and family who understand. Who truly know that one teeny tiny bite can kill her. Who respect my “craziness” and know I’m not insane. I love my daughter. And without her, there’s no me. Everything I do and don’t do is for her (them). Below are the pictures from today. They are heartbreaking. They are scary. They are what they are. My girl is happy and healthy. What she eats, is all she knows. She doesn’t eat junk. She’s doesn’t live off fast food, she just eats to live…she doesn’t live to eat. We live in a society where eating is all part of socializing. So with me having celiac disease and Josie’s food allergies, we don’t get out much. And it’s sorta depressing at times. It’s a lot of work to leave the house to go somewhere. I always worry about what she will eat…what I will eat…it really IS exhausting. So this is the truth ya’ll. THIS is why I am who I am. Josie NEEDS a mom like me who is hypervigiliant. I am her mother and her advocate. Please understand…my daughters life is priceless to me.

***The top left is PEANUT. The bottom left is CASHEW (what she had a reaction to in the Lara Bar a year ago). To the right is Chicken, Egg and Milk (top to bottom).

After thinking about this for the past several days/nights, I’ve determined that I’m not stopping here. We are going to see another allergist next Thursday. I want more done. More testing. Most opinions. I can’t stop and won’t stop at “well, we will re-test her again when she is 5-years-old.” At first that was okay. But the more I think about it…no! I am not done! What can we do?! There has to be more! I want blood work done. I want it all. I want her asthma reassessed. People seem scared to touch her. Tell me what to do-I’ll do it!