3 Months, 3 Years and 3 More Weeks to Go! (our battle with Pertussis)

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I am so grateful to be blogging right now…a few months ago, I couldn’t even see myself even breaking free for a few minutes for some “me” time. The last three months were filled with a whirlwind of challenges, joys and testing of my faith including giving birth to our new baby boy, celebrating K’s third birthday and helping our littlest battle Pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough).

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Photo by Nadine Bosurgi

A little over three months ago our family of three welcomed our newest little one, Baby I, into the world. By God’s grace, I was able to go into natural labor and have a quick delivery (almost as quick as K’s) at one of the finest hospitals here in Santa Monica. From the very start, our healthy, beautiful baby boy nursed well, took long naps and was an “angel baby” as they call it. The day he was born, big sister K welcomed her baby brother with hugs, kisses and lots of love. Nine months of anticipation and excitement for a baby brother was well worth it! After a full day of visitors and then an almost sleepless night, we decided it was best to go back home. To our surprise, Baby I adjusted really well, K embraced him and I was getting 6-8 total hours of sleep each night (more than I was getting when pregnant!).

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Photo by Nadine Bosurgi

The first month and a half was like a baby-moon with baby and all! Everything was going so smoothly (I’d even say perfectly) until one night in August, I woke up to hearing Baby I having a series of dry coughs and then gasping for air. It definitely wasn’t sounding good so that morning, I did some research on the internet and came across Pertussis. Of course Google highlighted the extreme cases of infants with pertussis like longterm hospitalization and stories of deaths that occur because of this horrible disease. Well it was enough to get me to call our pediatrician and bring him in for testing.

After sharing about his coughing episode that last night and having his lungs and breathing observed, the pediatrician tried to convince me that we didn’t need to have him tested and that he just had a common cold. I was not convinced and needed to be 100% sure so I pressed on to get him tested. Reluctantly, she ordered for him to get a culture done.

During that long week of waiting for the results (hoping the pediatrician was right!), I did further research on Pertussis and came to learn that the onset of this “100-day cough” came with little to no symptoms (especially in infants) for the first few weeks. Those affected may have cold-like symptoms which then subside and then develop a cough that progresses into coughing episodes that produce a “whoop” at the end when gasping for air. Infants and toddlers may turn blue during these episodes and many have to be hospitalized to ensure they are getting enough oxygen and to have their lungs and organs monitored. Infants may not ever have this cough but symptoms may silently appear in the form of sleep apnea (stopped breathing) especially during nighttime sleep. This really scared me!

One week later, I received the dreaded phone call that Baby I was tested positive for Pertussis. My heart dropped as I tried to digest the news…how could this be?! After getting over that question (which took about 5 seconds)…the bigger question was, what was I supposed to do??? Desperately asking for help and advice on how to care for Baby I, the pediatrician said that our family needed to get on antibiotics immediately to make sure it wouldn’t spread to others and that all I could do was observe him and let it run its course. She assured me that everything would be fine (that sounded familiar) but in the case he began struggling to breathe, to call their office or go into the ER. And then she reminded me for the third time that we all needed to get on antibiotics. WHAT?!?! That was the advice coming from a professional within the pediatric medical field? Uh…going to the ER if he struggled to breathe sounded like common sense to me. So I pressed on with more questions regarding specific things to look for and do and I was left with a very annoyed pediatrician (who once again reminded me that we needed to get on meds ASAP so that we don’t spread it, which obviously was the most important thing to her).

Devastated and after doing a few more hours of research while trying to carefully observe every single breath Baby I took, I decided to call our pediatric office again, hoping to speak to someone who could really help me and at least act like they cared. I was transferred to one of the other doctors and she left me with a few words of compassion and specifics on various scenarios that might come up: If Baby I has a shortness or is catching his breath, it is fine as long as he does not turn blue. If Baby I were to turn blue, call the office and/or 9-1-1. If he stops breathing for 10 seconds or more (making sure to count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand, etc.), call 9-1-1. I got off the phone feeling a little better for a minute and then started thinking…Wait, I am supposed to just sit and watch my one and a half month old infant for the next 100 days who is in the highest percentile of having to be hospitalized and has a chance of not making it and HOPE he continues to breathe and HOPE he doesn’t cough and then spit up globs of mucus and HOPE he doesn’t choke on it and stop breathing?!?! 

So back on the internet I went…for about two full weeks (which felt like a few months) all the while carefully observing Baby I, praying with all of my strength that God would bring me peace about what to do and also realizing K’s third birthday was only a few days away!!!

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K had been planning her birthday for months…Disneyland on her big day and a party the next. Mama, can we have a special cupcake party where the kids can decorate them with frosting and toppings? We can have a toppings bar! And then when it’s time to sing and eat, I can say, “Ready, set, go!” She had it planned out perfectly and she reminded me about it every morning and night. The invitations were already out, the cupcakes were set to go (thanks to my incredible friend, Mama Darlene) and there was no way K wasn’t going to have her party go on. Pertussis couldn’t get in the way!

So later that week in the midst of my almost sleepless nights (I slept very lightly and nursed frequently, making sure Baby I was breathing and ready to pick him up if he had a coughing spell) we celebrated K’s big day at Disneyland and the next morning at her favorite park with friends, cupcakes and the works. Thankfully K had the time of her life and couldn’t stop exclaiming, “Yipee! I’m three!” After all of the fun, it was back to caring for Baby I and figuring out what to do…

Several moms on a few blogs wrote about their heart wrenching experiences either losing their babies or watching them in the hospital with tubes and machines hooked up to their helpless newborns and ended their stories with wishing they were to have known about the Vitamin C treatment.

I then started to researching this and all sites and experiences led me to Dr. Suzanne Humphries and her article about the Vitamin C treatment. After reading the entire article several times and multiple testimonials about Dr. Humphries, I decided to send her an e-mail, asking her if I could schedule a consultation for Baby I. Within a few hours, I had heard back from her, filled out some paperwork and scheduled a Skype consultation for the following day.

Speaking with Dr. Suzanne was an answer to prayer. Dr. Suzanne walked me through the process of Pertussis and shared specific things that I could to do help build up Baby I’s immune system (it was especially down because of the antibiotics) and help my family and me get through what felt like an eternity. Based on Baby I’s weight and the severity of his cough, she recommended a specific dosage Vitamin C in sodium ascorbate (given with a syringe and a few ml of breastmilk) and lyposomal (swabbed inside his cheek) form. She suggested I continue giving the family probiotics through the powdered form I was already feeding the little ones (I gave it to Baby I by having him suck on some on my finger), having everyone drink plenty of kefir, eating lots of yogurt and enjoying traditionally prepared sauerkraut and other fermented veggies through the day. All of us were also taking high doses of Vitamin C as our immune systems were rundown and there was a possibility we might have contracted Pertussis as well. Most importantly, Dr. Suzanne reminded me that since I am a woman of faith, to continue to trust God that He is in full control.

After shutting down my computer, I felt God’s peace overwhelm me and I just knew all would be fine. My faith was put to the test and I wanted to put things in my hands, having control of our baby’s health. At that moment, I realized that He was carrying all of us this entire time, even when I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders.

Within a day of administering the Vitamin C, I noticed all the difference in Baby I. He wasn’t really coughing anymore and when he did, it would be a cough here or there but nothing more than that. He continued to nurse well, grow A LOT (he was 16 pounds at 3 1/2 months) and sleep really long stretches at night (7 1/2 hours as his longest stretch). Smiling, laughing, cooing, sucking on his thumb, rolling over onto his back and now army crawling around the house, I’d say Baby I is not only battling this disease but thriving through it and we only officially have three more weeks to go!!!

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I’m just hoping and praying our story would encourage others with little ones who are fighting Pertussis.

Chocolate Pudding (Paleo, refined-sugar-/dairy-/nut-/soy-/grain-/gluten-free)

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It’s extremely HOT out here in Santa Monica! We’ve been trying to beat the heat with icy cold treats like Coconut Sprinkled Chocolate Covered Bananas, Homemade Shamrock Shakes, and Coconut Pear Avocado Popsicles. One of K’s favorites that we enjoy making together is our Paleo, refined-sugar-/dairy-/nut-/grain-/gluten-free Chocolate Pudding! I remember someone telling me that you could make your own pudding so that it fits your needs (no refined sugar, additives, preservatives, etc.) so I thought I’d give it a shot. After doing some research on Paleo puddings and several tries with a few ingredients and my Vitamix, I think I figured out a perfect recipe (at least for us)! I LOVE how this recipe only needs a few ingredients and could be prepared within minutes. I like to make a large batch, divide it up in glass containers and place them in the fridge/freezer to serve later in the week. K especially likes it when I place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes before serving on a hot, hot day like today!

I have MANY versions of this pudding using a variety of spices and fruits but two of my favorites are coconut milk based and strawberry based…

Here’s what I did (coconut milk version):

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Gathered the ingredients and pureed them in my Vitamix for about 15 seconds…

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Had K slice and then chop some strawberries to use as a topping…

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Served about a half cup to K and she LOVED it, licking the bowl clean!

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I stored the rest in glass containers and placed them in the freezer for later.

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I also saved the pit, placed it in a water-filled mason jar with toothpicks and watched it grow in the windowsill (this is the one we just planted ours in a pot after 5 months and it’s now thriving outside in the sun)!

I hope you have a fun time experimenting with different versions of this chocolate pudding…please include your version in the comments below. We’d love to try a new one!

Chocolate Pudding (coconut milk-based)
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 3 minutes and makes 2 servings (or 3 for a toddler)

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
blender with spatula
serving bowl & spoon
knife & cutting board (optional for fruit toppings)
glass (freezer) containers (optional for storage)

Ingredients:
1 peeled organic banana (the greener the healthier)
1 pitted organic ripe avocado
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 C coconut milk
fruit or coconut flakes for a topping

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients (except toppings) into the blender and puree.
2. Use spatula to remove putting and place into bowl/storage containers.
3. Slice/chop fruit and then sprinkle over pudding.
4. Enjoy immediately or place into the freezer for about 15 minutes for a frozen treat!

Chocolate Pudding (strawberry-based)
Paleo, refined-sugar-, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, gluten-free

This recipe takes about 3 minutes and makes 2 servings (or 3 for a toddler)

What You Need:
Ingredients (listed below)
blender with spatula
serving bowl & spoon
knife & cutting board (optional for fruit toppings)
glass (freezer) containers (optional for storage)

Ingredients:
1 peeled organic banana (the greener the healthier)
1 pitted organic ripe avocado
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C organic strawberries (I use frozen ones)
fruit or coconut flakes for a topping

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients (except toppings) into the blender and puree.
2. Use spatula to remove putting and place into bowl/storage containers.
3. Slice/chop fruit and then sprinkle over pudding.
4. Enjoy immediately or place into the freezer for about 15 minutes for a frozen treat!

Baby K Screams for Ice Cream (plus a $25 gift card giveaway to 3 readers from Beachy Cream)

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Baby K just LOVES ice cream! She literally screams, squeals and signs for “more” when I mention the word. She’s enjoyed eating organic, homemade ice cream (well, not exactly ice cream, but whipped up frozen puree) since she was about 5 months old. Since K started solids, she’s always preferred her food cold…and I mean slushy, freezing cold (maybe because she had some pre-teething going on, preferred her food cold or just could not wait for me to heat up her meal). Fortunately because of her ice cold food preference, K made it real easy for me when it came to preparing her meals. Instead of having to warm her pre-frozen ice cube purees in a water bath or on the stove, all I had to do was stick a few cubes in the fridge a couple hours before and then mash it into a ready-to-serve “ice cream” treat.

It wasn’t until she was around 9 months old when I started making her actual fruit-based ice cream and sorbets. Whether I blended frozen bananas, avocados, strawberries or mangoes with frozen cubes of my homemade organic coconut milk or organic full-fat cow’s milk yogurt, she couldn’t get enough of it (and my husband and I couldn’t either). It was a little after her 1 year old birthday when we decided we would have a sugar- and grain-free kitchen (meaning only a bit of honey, coconut crystals or maple syrup as sweeteners and we said our goodbyes to rice, oatmeal and any sort of grains), and that’s when my homemade ice cream recipes and my Vitamix came in handy for our entire family!

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But in the occasion that we go out for a cold, refreshing ice cream treat (like this Valentine’s Day), we visit Santa Monica’s best ice cream parlor, Beachy Cream! This ice cream and sweet shop prides itself using 100% organic locally sourced and sustainable ingredients (the only ice cream company that can make that claim in LA). Now that’s real high-quality ice cream…ice cream I would give baby K one day! As a partner of Community Perks, I had the chance to connect with Ann Ryan, Founder and President of Beach Cream, listen to her story and get the latest scoop on their creations.

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Beth Stockwell and Ann Ryan (co-owners for Beachy Cream)

Inspired by her passion for food especially from spending summers in Cape Cod as a little girl, her grandmother’s love for baking and fond childhood memories of ice cream, Ann decided to leave her successful career in the film and financial industry to turn her favorite pastime of making and experimenting with new ice cream flavors into a viable career…starting her own ice cream shop! In 2009, Ann purchased an ice cream cart, used her grandmother’s molasses spice cookie recipe, and started making ice cream sandwiches with local, sustainable ingredients. Soon she had access to a kitchen at a local café, gained her first commercial customer, and started Beachy Cream 100% organic ice cream.

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Beachy Cream has created what I (and anyone who’s tasted one) call
the perfect ice cream sandwich!!!

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The ice cream and the pin-up girls that represent the brand are inspired by Cape Cod summers, family recipes, and coastal surfers. You can find the pin-up style models wearing vintage swimsuits and serving ice cream sandwiches to guests at events from local Santa Monica festivals to celebrity events including Elton John’s Oscar Party. They’ve also been featured on the Food Network’s “Unique Sweets.”

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Beachy Cream always brings smiles and joy to families in our city, including ours! I am always intrigued by their creative flavors like Ginger Wipeout, B*tchin Hot Chocolate (my all time favorite) and Key Lime Cowabunga (my husband’s fav). In addition to their ice cream based treats like sundaes, floats, shakes and malts, they serve delicious 100% grass-fed beef hotdogs and chili which can be served in a gluten-free or a pretzel bun. Check out their menu here!

And here’s the latest scoop…after talking to Ann, it looks like they are even contemplating the idea of creating a baby/toddler friendly ice cream with the use of organic fruit as its sweetener. Ice cream made especially for babies and tots to enjoy at an actual ice cream shop?? What a revolutionary idea!!! I can already imagine K screaming for Beachy Cream ice cream 🙂

If you haven’t had a taste of their organic ice cream yet, it’s time you head on over to Beachy Cream, located at 1209 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90403. And as an encouragement to my readers, we are doing a shared giveaway for a $25 gift card to Beachy Cream that 3 lucky ice cream lovers will win!

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Enter this giveaway!!!

I’ll end with a quote (which I love) that Ann and Beth shared with me,

“We at Beachy Cream believe everyone deserves a sweet treat every once in a while. While enjoying Beachy Cream, people can feel good about what they’re putting in their bodies as we are 100% organic and don’t ever put any chemicals or stabilizers in our ice cream. We love making people happy, one sweet treat at a time!”

Which Beachy Cream ice cream flavors would you like to try?

**Santa Monica Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Bunny Teaches Baby

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Foodie babies are tasty. (pg. 9)

Foodie Babies Wear Bibs” by Michelle Sinclair Colman, Illustrations by Nathalie Dion

Peekaboo, or “Peek” as baby K calls him, is our furry, long-eared pet bunny (well, family member actually) who hops around our home and forages the kitchen floor for K’s crumbs under her chair. Before K was born, Peek was our “baby.” My husband got Peek for me as a surprise on my 20th birthday and since then he’s been our in-home bunny who’s received gifts on his birthday, Christmas and of course Easter, learned and performed a handful of tricks (including fetch, rolling over and circling me!), brought smiles to the children at the schools I’ve worked at, welcomed baby K on her first day home and even helped Mama Bunny Buttons birth a litter of 8 adorable bunnies (pictured below).

During my pregnancy, I always wondered how Peek would bond with K…and vice versa. Would it be love at first sight? Love-hate? Hate-hate?! I’ve heard that animals who’ve always been the only “baby” in the family could become very jealous of anyone that became the new center of attention. When I was born, my parents told me they had to give our pet dog away since he would growl and nip at my fingers when I was around. Thankfully parents don’t do that to children because I know that happens most often with babies/toddlers who no longer are the “baby” of the family (we’ll talk about that another time).

Thankfully, Peek and K’s relationship blossomed over the last few years. From before birth, he noticed the change in my belly and sensed a new life. When I would sit on the couch reading a copy of What to Expect, he would hop on over, nudge my belly and then give K kisses. When K came home and we introduced them to one another, Peek couldn’t get enough of K. He’d lick her from head to toe, literally! There were times we’d have to redirect him because we thought she had enough. K would just lie there and smile. When K started to crawl and then walk, Peek would chase her around the house and eventually K began chasing him. They’ve always had a sweet, loving relationship and I’d have to give credit to the fact that we have Peek in our home. K has learned so much through caring for and living with her “big brother.” Here are a few things she’s learned…

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Peek kissing K from head to toes        K with Mama Sabrina’s pet dog & bunny

Self-Regulation “Gentle hands…use gentle hands.” K heard those words over and over for a few weeks as I gently opened up her grasp and demonstrated how to pet him. When K began grasping for Peek, she had no idea how strong her fingers and painful her pinches were. Thankfully Peek is a very gentle, good-natured bunny (a Dutch Dwarf mix if you were wondering) and would just hop away. For a few weeks, my husband and I spent a lot of time reminding and monitoring K and then one day, K began petting Peek and Peek began to trust her. We would praise K and tell her how much Peek loved when she pet him gently. K would smile and then kiss Peek on his back. I’ve also recently realized that her self-regulation with Peek has transferred over to her interactions with friends and others, using “gentle hands” when playing.

Responsibility Peek loves to chew everything…everything that isn’t his own, that is. K learned that right away…and we let her learn the hard way (I know, we sound harsh, right? Well read on and I think you’ll conclude it was worth it). Once K could successfully put her toys away, we always asked her to do so before moving on to the next activity. So that meant if K was finished reading books on the couch and wanted to paint a picture, we would remind her, “We need to put our books away before we paint or we might trip and Peek might chew them.” One day, she decided she didn’t want to put her stickers away and left them on the rug. Minutes later, half of her stickers were chewed up and eaten (thankfully Peek was OK). K cried, picked up her stickers and put them in her basket. Since then, K has ALWAYS listened to us when we remind her that Peek will chew them up! She’s learned the importance of cleaning up and being responsible for her things.

Nurture & Compassion K always wants to help feed Peek his breakfast, snacks and dinner. She loves to scoop out a handful of pellets and pour them out for him to nibble at. When teething on a cold long celery stalk or carrot, she loves to share it with him. I often find her purposefully dropping a few pieces of her food for him to eat during mealtime (and as you know by now, K takes her food seriously…making sure she gets every bit of it into her mouth). I really appreciate her care and nurture for Peek! Where I’ve seen K show compassion is when we were at the park one day and it was time for us to leave. K does not like leaving parks and she will let me know, especially when there’s no logical reason to her (it’s raining, for example). After saying goodbye to the slides, swings, etc. and transitioning to walking to the car, K began to protest..with a LOUD voice. At this point I couldn’t give her a snack to redirect her because it was almost dinnertime so I tried to use any good reason I could come up with to help her understand why we were going home. Peekaboo is hungry and we need to feed him his food was all I could come up with and to my amazement I heard “hmm,” meaning “Ok, I hear you. I’m in.” And the protesting stopped. When we got home, she walked over to Peek’s cage, reached for his food and I helped her scoop out his dinner. Now that’s nurture and compassion  🙂

Are you raising a family with pets? If so, how has your pet influenced your little one(s)?