Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Falling on the wrong side...

 Today's post is about two things: trusting your gut, and using your story to spread awareness. 

Those of you who are brought here because of infertility understand what it's like to fall on the wrong side of statistics.  
Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that not only did infertility put me on the wrong side of statistics, I then, somehow, beat the odds and conceived naturally.
However,  I quickly found myself back on the wrong side. 
From day one I knew. 
For those of you who don't-Hannah was diagnosed with a very rare form of Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia-so rare, in fact that there is no published data on a delivery of a baby with this type.  
Thankfully, being on the wrong side wasn't detrimental.  Challenging, yes, a deal breaker-absolutely not.  
Scary-hell yes.  

I have been reading blogs for a long time, but long before blogs, I read Caringbridge sites.  
And the other day I got connected to a new Caringbridge site that just breaks.my.heart. 
Sometimes falling on the wrong side of statistics is detrimental, and in this case, it is.  

I want to introduce you to "Super Teddy" and his family.


"Super Teddy" as he is so affectionately called, suffers from Menkes Disease, or "Kinky Hair Syndrome." 
Menkes is a genetic disease, mainly affecting males, that leads to copper deficiencies.  Ultimately, leading to death.  
In some cases, there is more hope, but unfortunately, "Super Teddy" will not be one of them.

Telling you why leads to my first purpose-to spread awareness.
I knew as soon as my infertility journey began that I would do whatever I could to spread awareness-for a few reasons.
So this issue is not considered taboo.
To educate others on signs, symptoms, and treatments so they can help themselves.
To create sensitivity. 

And spreading awareness is exactly what "Super Teddy's" mommy is doing. 
This is the message that Mary includes whenever you visit his Caringbridge site

Teddy's story is more than just menkes- it's about trusting your gut as a mother, struggling to find strength to live another day, and how friends, family, and even strangers can lift you up in the worst of times. Please share this with everyone you know because Teddy was put on this earth for a reason- and he's not going to leave without making a difference. #FUMenkes

This family is living a nightmare, that is only getting worse.  How she powers on is amazing to me, and she has written several pieces recently on what she imagines moving forward to look like.
Had the professionals been better educated about this rare disease, he would have been able to receive the copper injections at a young enough age to help prevent the irreversible damage.  
But they didn't know.
Which brings me to my next purpose-to trust your gut instinct.  
Mary knew something was wrong, for months she begged doctors, insisted she wasn't crazy.  
She had a gut instinct that couldn't get her to a diagnosis fast enough-but imagine if she had continued to heed the doctors' advice?
Here is a recent journal entry:

 I knew something was wrong, I just did. And I want to share with you how I knew because I think that's an incredibly important part of Teddy's story and a necessary element to bringing as much awareness to this horrible disease as possible. But I really hope that you will read this and remember how rare this disease is- how it really only effects boys- not girls- and even if you do have a boy, the very overwhelming odds are that he is healthy. While many of Teddy's symptoms were very benign at first- and in isolation not all that concerning- it was when we began to look at the bigger picture that things got scary- and they got scary fast.
I guess I should start at the beginning... Teddy was born via c-section shortly after midnight on the 23rd of April. He came out screaming - and wrinkly. Very wrinkly and very dry. The dryness and low weight is part of the disease- but obviously none of this seemed out of the ordinary at the time. What did seem odd was his hair. It was kinky. It kind of looked like someone had taken a blowtorch to the top of his head- very Home Alone. And it's probably worth mentioning that my mother is a labor and delivery nurse with 35+ years of experience and did state how she had never seen hair like that on a baby.  In addition to the kinky hair, he also had an indention on his chest called a pectus (very common for menkes babies- but also present in many healthy kids). But those were really the only things that stood out for the first two months of life. So he had an indent and some weird hair- I just figured it would fall out- or worse case, he would have bad hair. Boys with bad hair can always cut it short.

Up until eight weeks Teddy was a champ- eating, sleeping, gaining weight, and growing like a baby should. Then came his two month check-up. He was almost twelve pounds and "healthy."  It wasn't until the day after his shots that I noticed a difference. He stopped eating. Naps became infrequent. It was literally as if someone flipped a switch. I figured it was the shots and that things would go back to normal in a few more days. They didn't. 

The feeding troubles were just the start of months and months of anguish and frustration.  And when we did get him to eat- he would projectile vomit everything up. I would call the doctors and demand an appointment. They would then explain the difference between spit-up and projectile vomit every time. It was insulting. When the contents of my child's bottle is on my couch across the room- it's not spit up. I'm not dumb. So the doctors would make different suggestions every time I saw them- and I saw them a lot. And every time we would try whatever they suggested- and then some. "Only feed him on one side," "feed him more often with smaller feeds," "try formula,"  "try a sippy cup,"  "put rice in the bottle," "keep him upright for an hour after every feed." And more...

We did everything. Nothing worked- nothing. So then I took things into my own hands. I spoke with the wife of one of Alex's co-workers and friend. His wife gave me several suggestions for specialist- including a feeding specialist and a GI doctor.  I called both and made appointments. I also called an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). I saw the ENT first. Everything was normal in his area. His diagnosis- the problem belonged to GI. Then I saw the GI specialist. He wanted to rule out an immune problem since all signs didn't point to GI. Insert immunologist. His diagnosis- it belonged to GI. Then we saw a feeding specialist. Her diagnosis, a GI problem. All roads led back to GI. 

So Teddy had reflex. That was confirmed (common with the disease). But bigger problems also started to present. Teddy hated tummy time- screamed blood murder. He also started missing milestones. He never pushed up on his arms- or even held his head up while on his stomach.  We later found out he couldn't because of the severe hypotonia, or low muscle tone (also part of the disease). He also wasn't gaining weight- but considering his love of eating- that wasn't a shocker. But then, what he did have, he started to lose. He started losing head control. He couldn't roll on his side. He couldn't keep his thumb in this mouth. Being behind was scary enough- but regressing- that kept me up at night.

We were told he would grow out of it- and catch up eventually. I just knew he wouldn't. My sisters baby is only 6 weeks older and she was sitting up, crawling- Teddy was flat on his back with nowhere to go. So on the morning of 13 November I tried to feed Teddy for two straight hours. I got in almost an ounce. I told Alex I was going to the doctors. When I got there- more great news- he was now losing weight. It was one thing not to be gaining- but losing was so much scarier. I sat in that doctors office and burst into tears. I couldn't take it anymore. I told the doctor- "Please- something is very wrong." So she admitted me to Children's Inova for an "ear infection" ...and you know the rest.

So to sum it up- he had kinky hair, an indent on his chest, reflex, eating problems, low muscle tone, "failure to thrive," and blew off milestones like they didn't ever exist. If you pick just one - its manageable. If you combine them all- for us- it was Menkes. The disease that will steal my precious baby. The disease that changed everything. The disease that needs some serious attention. So please don't look at this as a web.md posting. If your baby misses a milestone- he doesn't have menkes. He he projectile vomits- he isn't lacking the copper transport gene. All I'm saying is that you need to look at the big picture- and if everything looks like Teddy's picture- you need to consider it. At least bring it up so that your doctor can test his copper levels early. And if it is menkes-  start copper injections early enough to make a difference. Early enough for hope. 

I love you to the moon and back Teddy Fish. I won't stop until everyone knows your story. Until we can make a difference. Until we can give every menkes mother some hope.

ps- follow Teddy's story on twitter: Superteddy423

They are planning a run/walk in May in Massachusetts, and I do hope that it's on a Sunday so I can attend!  
Because, we're all in this together.  

Take a look at "Super Teddy's" site so you, too, can start spreading awareness and join in on the fight!  
Because as Mary says, "...even through this disease effects one in a million, that one doesn't deserve it. And that one deserves a fighting chance."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Munchies...

The original goal of Monday Munchies was to showcase new recipes I have tackled the previous week.  
However, to be honest-our weekly menu doesn't stray from it's path. 
If I could be even more honest-I'd eat every meal at Dunkin Donuts.  
But, I still want to continue this part of my blog, so if I don't have a personally created recipe to showcase, then I'll utilize the awesomeness that is Pinterest to show you what would be on the menu.

For those of us in the North East, it is mighty chilly here!
So there's no better time of year than now to use the crock pot!
Also, it's a great tool when it comes to helping provide home cooked meals for those of us who are away for most of the day with little free time to cook for our families.  

I'm a huge soup lover, it's my weight loss key!
How great does this Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup look?

Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup 

One of my favorite meals as an adult, is stuffed cabbage-even the cabbage.
I'm sure I would love this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage.


Who doesn't love a good pasta dish?
This Crock Pot Lasagna would definitely hit the spot!


Along those lines, another comfort food, Mac N Cheese 
Again, can't go wrong!

And last but not least, 85 healthy crock pot recipes!  
This is golden!

85 Healthy Chicken Crock-Pot Recipes- this list is full of easy slow cooker recipes without the calories. 

What's your favorite crock pot recipe?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Munchies...

I'm a snacker, or nosher as we like to say in Yiddish.  
Back when I was in college and for the first time ever, tried to stick to a calorie restricted diet, all I did was eat prepackaged goodness.  
I've obviously since learned that just won't cut it.  
But I'm still drawn to them.
They're tasty and convenient, but usually not too healthy.  

Finding snacks that are easy to take on the go, that are suitable for little kids is a challenge.
 I recently went through our snack drawer and separated the treats from the snacks.  Which now means there's much less to grab. 
I still swear by THESE applesauces, and have recently gotten the kids into saltines and rice cakes.  
But I've always loved trail mix.
When I was younger and went to Hebrew School, my favorite Sunday snack was the trail mix.  
It's customizable to your children's liking, and can be as healthy (or not) as you prefer.  
Think mini marshmallows or mini chocolate chips-how about both!


What do you prefer in your trail mix?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Munchies...

It seems I may have tempted 2014...
My winter trip to the mid-west was extended by five extra days due to snowpocalypse. 
I ended up rescheduling my first attempt to leave Chicago due to bad weather in NY. 
My second attempt was straight up cancelled. 
Third time was a charm-Monday morning I flew out bright and early-as in, leaving the house at 4 am.
However, the lady sitting across from me was utilizing her puke bag the entire flight and considering how I felt Tuesday morning, it was not motion sickness.  
I did not throw up my entire pregnancy in the bathroom at work, however that streak has ended, and no, I'm not pregnant.  
All in all, it was a great trip, but I will not be flying alone with three kids any time soon!  

Today I want to tell you about a family recipe that I've tweaked a little bit.  
I'm a huge fan because it adds a little bit of fancy for minimal work.  
I'm also a huge fan because simplifying the recipe does not compromise taste-in fact it might even taste better!  

Chocolate Mint Brownies 
Brownie layer:
Brownie mix-prepare and bake according to directions.  I prefer my brownies fudgy, so that's what I did.  

*Mint layer:
2 cups powdered sugar 
1/2 cup margarine 
1 T water 
1/2-3/4 t mint extract 
3 drops food coloring

Cream powdered sugar and margarine.  Add in water, mint and food coloring.  You can definitely do some taste testing along the way and add more mint as desired.  The coloring is a little off before adding the green, but it tastes delicious nonetheless.  

*Chocolate layer 
1 cup chocolate chips
6 T margarine 

Melt the chocolate chips and margarine.

Prepare the brownies according to package direction and make sure they are either room temperature or cold before spreading the mint cream on top.  

Pour the melted chocolate on top of the cream, refrigerate.  

*I prepare my brownies in a 9x13 pan.  I double the mint cream and the chocolate topping when preparing in a 9x13.  

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