Break the ache: how I healed my ear infection without antibiotics

I’m a big one for natural therapies. Anyone who knows me well knows I have next to no faith in the medical profession, even though I have met a few doctors who are great. My mum rarely took me to see doctors and it just wasn’t the done thing in our family. We always relied on natural remedies, proper nutrition, and good knowledge of our own bodies. I was an extremely healthy child. I never had any refined sugar until I was about five or six, and I was vegetarian until about age seven or eight (not that I’m saying that’s the cornerstone of good diet, but I was). We never had chips or lollies or any processed snack foods in the house. I was never vaccinated either. Of course, kids still get sick.

I was one of these kids that gets ear infections. Not many, but I did have a few during childhood. I have a distinct memory of lying on our couch in our house in Mawson (which means I must have been about seven), in lots of pain with my ear while my parents argued over whether I should be taken to the doctor for antibiotics. My mum, bless her, did everything she could to prevent me from having any poisons or drugs or processed anything, and because of her knowledge about health and nutrition, she knew that the side effects of antibiotics can be terrible. To be honest, I can’t remember what home remedies she used for my ear at all, although I do remember taking big doses of horseradish and garlic in capsule form, crushed up and mixed in a spoonful of honey. But that was possibly for a cold. And I remember the fever being brought down to my feet by having them wrapped in tea towels soaked in vinegar. That worked! But eventually I think my mum relented and agreed to take me to the doctor where I was prescribed antibiotics. I remember them distinctly, they were strawberry flavoured. My ear infection did eventually go away and I think I had probably two or three more bouts. Since then, I’ve always been quite sensitive to cold air being blown at my head and have ended up feeling a bit worse for wear after not wearing a hat in the cold or sleeping with a fan blowing at me all night. My ears are sensitive. And what’s more, they store a lot of wax, I’ve been told, because my ear canals are unusually curly. But I’ve not had ear infections since childhood; until I had a child of my own.

I think the dude was probably about six months or so when the first bout appeared. But it wasn’t as I remembered it being as a child. The pain wasn’t as sharp and excruciating and it didn’t feel like my ear drum was about to burst. It was more just an uncomfortable build up of fluid causing dull aching throbbing pain. One ear became completely blocked within a day or two, which I found almost as bad as the pain. If I lay on the other ear, it was like being deaf!

I definitely didn’t want to have antibiotics as I knew just how quickly I’d end up with thrush (always the side effect for me) and I especially didn’t want to take that risk with a baby. By sheer coincidence, I went to a mother’s group meeting organised by the midwifery practice through which I had the dude, and got chatting to my midwife. When I mentioned the ear ache, she immediately said: ‘onions!’  Her sure fire cure that she’d used with her kids was to take a raw onion, cut a little piece off and crush it to get a few drops of juice and put that in the ear. Hold that ear uppermost for a while to get the juice to settle in and then wait for it to work its magic. So I decided to try it. And it worked! Within a few days, the ache had gone and the fluid cleared… only to be replaced by the exact same thing in the other ear, urgh! This time I went straight for the onion, and soon enough, that had cleared up too.

But it wasn’t more than a month or two before the infection returned. I still wasn’t willing to give in to antibiotics, mainly because I could feel that this infection wasn’t out of control and was something that I could do something about myself. I know that sounds weird but I wasn’t in excruciating pain all the time, I just knew I was on the right track. It was quite bizarre though, because I started having black stuff come out of my ear! It reminded me of when my dad used to clean his pipe, and he’d scrape years of sticky, black tar out of the bowl and stem. It was the consistency of watery grease and sometimes pitch black, but more often a sort of dark greyish green. So I thought, okay, this is odd, I will go to the doctor and see what she has to say. I always end up giving doctors another chance and they inevitably let me down. Which was the case here. The doctor looked in my ear and said, “yes, there’s black stuff in there.” Gee, really? No shit, Sherlock! I explained all my symptoms and she listened for about two minutes before interrupting to tell me to go across the road to the pharmacy and buy “ear clear”. She didn’t seem to care whether there was an infection or not, and she dismissed my claim that the black stuff had been coming out BEFORE I put in the onion juice, saying that it ‘must’ be the onion that’s causing the black. I was desperate to clear my ear, though, so I actually did buy what she said. Which was a complete waste of money as it did nothing but smell like I was putting petrol in my ear.

So back to the onion. I did it for three or four nights in a row, sleeping on the side that wasn’t blocked so the onion juice could really sink into the ear overnight. I plugged it with some cotton wool so the juice couldn’t dribble out but only once it had been in for half an hour, just in case the cotton wool soaked up any juice. And eventually, the blockage went and any ache with it. It was gone! But it left me with the distinct impression that this was not the last of it. I felt that at some level it was a constitutional thing, a reaction of my body to a time of stress. And the change in my hormones and body generally as a result of pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding affected it.

Fast forward over a year and I started to get sick. I thought it was just the flu, but I had a suspicion it was something more specific to me as both Mr C and the Dude had no symptoms whatsoever. It wasn’t long, maybe 48 hours, before the dreaded earache struck again. It was the same dull, fluid-engorged throbbing pain as before. And as I did before, I embraced the onion juice. There were one or two days where I felt a little uneasy about it, as I was in a fair bit of pain and didn’t sleep well for a couple of nights because the pain was just too much. But it wasn’t eardrum pain, it was just the result of the fluid building up in there. One night I actually took a pain killer, which is rare for me. But as before, the onion did its job, and the infection subsided over about ten days. Because it took longer, I also soaked some raw crushed garlic in olive oil and warmed the oil through and put a couple of drops in my ear. I also put a whole unpeeled onion into the oven until it was softened, cut it in half, and held it against my ear as soon as I could stand it. That didn’t seem to help the infection but the pain was hugely diminished instantly.

I can’t say I won’t ever take antibiotics again in my life, they have their place, but I think onions are absolutely amazing and this remedy is worth a good go!

 

A lesson in inner peace

When it comes to organisation, honesty and living a peaceful life, I don’t have a very good track record. In fact I don’t  have a very good family history either. My family on both sides were immigrants and this upheaval, coupled with a lot of emotional complexity and layers of issues never being addressed has made for a very tumultuous and messy life. Not that I’m blaming my genealogy or family for my inability to sort out my life, far from it, but I feel that has made it hard for me to know balance and learn how to be in a harmonious way.

Trying to find an image that just showed something beautiful, I found this one I took of a roof in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2008. I'd just discovered the sepia setting on my camera. Not much to do with the post but it's beautiful, don't you think?
Trying to find an image that just showed something beautiful, I found this one I took of a roof in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2008. I’d just discovered the sepia setting on my camera. Not much to do with the post but it’s beautiful, don’t you think?

I tend to be pretty neurotic, and I have a very lazy side. So if there’s a problem in my life – a big bill arrives that I can’t afford, I need to handle a delicate relationship situation, or I need to motivate myself to address something practical – I wimp out. I procrastinate. I don’t just stuff about for a while and then eventually do it. No, I leave it until it’s really hard to deal with, and then I end up being screwed over. So I leave the bill until I’ve been sent a final notice and a whole lot of interest has been piled on and my credit is ruined; I don’t confront the delicate situation and end up pissing everyone off even more because they think I don’t care because I never said anything; I leave the cleaning til the last minute so it’s impossible to do it in the time I have and end up feeling overwhelmed by it all and everyone sees just how much of a lazy grot I am. And in turn, I feel slack, tired, and like life is a hard slog.

You could say it all comes down to motivation and discipline, which is true, but there’s another layer beneath that: why don’t I have the ability to motivate and discipline myself? It’s hard to work that one out, but I think it’s my basic disposition coupled with influences growing up. I often lament the fact that I have no passions, nothing gets me going. But writing is a passion, right? Yeah, but when I’m in a slump, even the prospect of writing or reading isn’t enough to pull me out of it. Nothing fuels my passion. These days I know that’s actually a form of depression, that feeling of hopelessness and lack of any meaning in life. But I think I’m moving past that, especially since having my son and being forced into routines, being given no option for slacking off. And in turn, because I’m forced into action, I feel better and I want to do more.

On the weekend I was at my friend J’s house. I hadn’t seen it in over a year and was absolutely blown away at how much work they’ve done to it and how beautiful it is. J has put so much energy into making that space beautiful and exactly what she wants in every respect. Obviously there is always more to do in any house, but clearly this house has had every detail attended to, and because of this it is the most relaxing space I’ve been in. It is light, bright, comfortable, convenient, aesthetically pleasing and a genuine pleasure to be in. I guess it helps that J and I have similar taste, although I think I found it so lovely to be there simply because she’d taken care of every detail. I just wanted to freeze time and stay there in that perfectly comfortable space with good friends and amazing food forever.

I was so inspired, and being there made me realise for the first time just how much I’m longing for my own space. In 2005, when I bought my  house in Canberra, I finally did have a space with which do whatever I wanted but the depression didn’t let me do everything. I couldn’t see my way clear to making it amazing and a lot of time was wasted eating icecream and watching crap tv. I did things to improve the house, but they were mainly superficial and a little slap dash. Maybe it was a lack of maturity as well but there was a lot left undone in that house, and I’ll soon be paying for it and my general neglect of it since I rented it out nearly six years ago now. It’s another element of my life that has suffered as a result of my neurotic laziness and bouts of depression. Interestingly enough, when looking for a post to link as an example of my low moments, I read through this one and realised I’ve come so far since then and my life is no longer like that. Working at home a few hours most days helps, but somehow, something has really shifted.

This year, for the first time in my life, I feel as if things are really changing. There are a few factors affecting this, but getting out of debt is one of them, as is my new-found ability to motivate myself to actually do things instead of just think or talk about them. I’ve wanted to do this for many years but I think this time there are extrinsic motivators where there were previously none. My son, my family, my husband, my maturity, my increasingly positive outlook, these are all things that are moving me towards a new phase of life. And what better age than 35, which is what I’ll be this year in October. I love it when things sync with the seven year cycle!

Nearly 10 months (actually nearly 11 months)

Very nearly!  He’s going to be 10 months tomorrow, holy shizzle!  Currently he is sitting in my lap watching me type, about to pounce, so this post will take a while but… yep, there he goes, he wants that mouse!

***

Well, that first bit was drafted nearly a month ago – yeesh, has it been that long? So this post is the “nearly 11 months” lumped in with the previous one. He’s going to be 11 months on Monday!

So, what’s happened since 9 months? So much! He is really mobile now and very vocal. The crawling is still an odd sort of crab-like variation of the cross-crawl, so his left leg is dragged under his body a bit and his right goes out at the side to plant his foot flat.  He’s very fast though, and occasionally he’ll crawl a bit on all fours, with both feet flat, or alternatively he’ll crawl normally once or twice. I’ve been taking him to see a chiropractor to see if we can sort out his crawling, and it has helped a lot, but I very much doubt he’ll ever do a normal cross-crawl permanently before he walks.  He stands very well now, and will let go and stand unassisted for a few seconds at a time, smiling to himself in triumph.  His motor skills are good, and he can grab really tiny things between finger and thumb as well as larger things with both hands.  Recently he acquired a rugby ball and has been throwing it around and chasing after it, it’s very cute.  I remember about a month ago he discovered that his little soccer type ball makes a ‘boing’ noise when you throw it, and he was absolutely delighted!  He’s had that ball since he was about four months, but he only just discovered the noise is associated with throwing the ball.  It’s nice to see these little discoveries.  He gets into every drawer and cupboard at his level to the extent that we’ve had to finally do some baby-proofing. I think I’ve probably bought every type of baby-proofing lock/latch/device on the market and we still haven’t gotten around to installing them all.  So he opens the drawers and pulls out the wooden spoons and turkey baster and clingfilm and all sorts of random stuff.  He’s also started putting things in places, so I’ve found his rugby ball has been deposited back into his toybox and random toys or his sippy cup have ended up in the bottom drawer in the kitchen.  He unpacks the plastics cupboard on a daily basis.  It’s all about emptying things at the moment, so if there are smaller containers or lids or other items in a larger container, his mission is accomplished as soon as it has been tipped out on the floor.  I take him outside with me when I hang up washing and he sits at my feet and tips the pegs out of the plastic bucket. Endless entertainment!

I took the Dude to an anthroposophical doctor, mainly for his eczema, and we formulated a plan of attack.  I got him an anthroposophical medicine (like homepathic only more refined) which he has three times daily, plus some calcium compound morning and night, to help his teeth.  In addition, if it’s an imbalance in the gut, I’ve given him a course of probiotics daily in his porridge.  I’ve got the most amazing cream, made by Graham’s, with colloidal oatmeal as the active ingredient, as well as some other creams like goats milk and rescue remedy.  I haven’t really been eating much dairy, not drunk milk in a long time, and I think that’s helped both me and him.  So his skin has improved amazingly, it’s such a relief!  It’s still itchy unfortunately, but it’s under control now, which is great.  And of course taking to the chiropractor regularly has had an impact I’m sure.

Another big milestone was reached a few weeks ago.  He had his first fever!  It was due to teething, his eighth tooth coming through, and it only got to 38.2, but still, I was impressed.  I could see his body just going through the motions, so efficiently processing, the fever just doing its job.  For a whole day he didn’t really want to play and just fed and whinged and slept and cried and whinged and was generally annoying, but because he was so hot I could easily forgive him.  I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I just gave him homepathics and fed him when he wanted and spent a lot of time lying down with him.  At first I was resentful that Mr Chewbacca went out (it was a Saturday night, St Patrick’s Day, good friend’s birthday and other good friend doing World’s Greatest Shave), but later I was very glad as he was too drunk to be woken when Dude woke and cried three times during the night.  In fact at one point Dude was crying loudly right next to Mr Chewbacca’s face and he didn’t even stir.  It was annoying at one point when Mr Chewbacca decided to snore loudly, just as Dude was drifting back off to sleep, so I had one hand on Dude and was hitting Mr Chewbacca in the face, holding his nose and twisting his head from side to side with the other.  Now I know what you’re thinking, who co-sleeps with a drunkard, right?  Yeah, probably technically against the guidelines, but I seriously didn’t think he was affected, he seemed fine when he came home, and the Dude sleeps next to me anyway.  He has been so dead tired recently, not getting enough sleep, due partly to his own crazy body clock but also to the fact that Dude is waking up earlier. Anyway, the fever was gone less than 24 hours later and when we woke the next morning, everything seemed back to normal and the tooth had come through.

And yes, the inevitable has happened, no more sleeping in for us, Dude is getting up early like normal kids!  He is waking around 7 these days, and I’m trying to get him in bed by 7 at night as I know he’ll sleep 12 hours given the opportunity, but it’s been a real chore to get him to sleep recently.  The feeding to sleep is getting really tiresome, mainly because the majority of the time he doesn’t really want it, but it’s the only way he can go to sleep.  He squirms around, makes grunting noises and is always too full.  So then he turns over and comes off the boob, and then sits up and chats and crawls into his cot and all over me, going everywhere head first as he is so dead tired his head just wants to make him lie down.  He fights sleep til the bitter end! Some nights this week it’s taken me well over an hour to get him down.  But the good news is, once he’s down, he (touch wood!!) hasn’t been waking, or has been going a good couple of hours before waking.  And when he does wake and go in to get him back down again, he goes down again very fast, definitely ready to be asleep.  So things are shifting, vaguely closer to normal/happy.

He suddenly wants to eat a lot more, which is great. I’m doing a fair bit of spoon-feeding, mainly because the baby-led solids are so difficult to do without totally trashing the floor.  I still give him chunks of food, rice cakes, fruit and veg, other snacks and things, but I’ve been cooking up just simple pasta and two vegies and freezing it in portions.  He’s also been having some millet porridge for breakfast which he’s been eating all of for just the last week or so, since his big fever transition. I’m getting a bit more lax with what I let him eat, so he has had the teensiest taste of my yoghurt, which he loved, and I usually give him a couple of crusts of my morning toast, if he’s awake when I’m eating it, which he also loves.  I figure if there’s a trace of butter or vegemite on it, it’s not really bad, and it’s good that he gets used to more variety in taste.  I made some humous the other week and put a little too much garlic in it, but I let him try some and he really liked it, I was so surprised!  I still haven’t given him any meat or cheese or egg or other types of full on protein, mainly because I don’t think his body really needs to deal with foods that complex yet, but I would like to give him some actual protein, so I’ve bought some chick peas and lentils and will work out what to do with them at some point.

The other big thing that’s happened with the Dude recently is that the holes in his teeth (have I mentioned them before?) have gotten bigger and then just a week ago he chipped one!  The enamel/structure of those teeth is obviously compromised and I’m suspecting that’s the cause of the decay more than anything, as the chip just goes straight into the spot of decay.  The fact that the spots are slap bang in the centre of each front tooth says to me there’s something weak about their structure as well.  I wondered whether all my prenatal nutrition had done something bad to them, and I shuddered thinking all that icecream and chocolate and dodgy food I ate when pregnant might have had an effect.  Not to say I didn’t eat healthily most of the time – if anything I ate healthier when pregnant than any other time in my life, mainly because anything with acid or dairy or sugar gave me shocking reflux and I had these bizarre cravings for steamed vegies and salads, especially in the first trimester.  So yeah, it’s hard to believe something as simple as nutrition could be the only contributing factor to his teeth being compromised. When he chipped it, we realised it was time to find a dentist.  Mr Chewbacca was saying just take him the first place you can find, although preferably a children’s dentist.  I, in typical fashion, secretly sought out a holistic dentist and booked him in.  As luck would have it, they had an appointment on the Monday, which was the soonest we could get him into a regular dentist anyway.

So on Monday, despite having no money at all, I took the Dude along to this holistic dentist in Neutral Bay.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d read up online so I was hoping for the best. I knew they’d say my feeding him to sleep was a bad thing as the milk would be staying on the teeth all night and breastmilk does have lots of sugar in it.  We saw the loveliest female dentist who he took a shine to (he rarely doesn’t take a shine to people though) and she did agree with me about the feeding to sleep.  She said there’s not a lot to be done as it’s impossible to get him to keep his mouth open and keep still for enough time for her to drill away the decay and seal off what’s left of his teeth.  She gave me a referral to a paediatric dentist but warned me that although they are great, they are mainstream, and will probably recommend a general anaesthetic to do the drilling and stuff.  She said she personally wouldn’t subject her children to that at this age, and I said I doubt I would allow it either.  She said the decay is quite soft and probably going to get worse.  There were a raft of questions about other influences, vaccinations, nutrition, the pregnancy, the birth, illnesses, medications, but of course I haven’t done any bad stuff in respect to all that.  Needless to say she was impressed!  I will take him back there in about six months, as she said he should be able to sit still enough by then for her to do something, if needed.

Just as we were finishing up, another male dentist walked past and she called him in to ask his opinion.  Turns out this guy is something of an expert in holistic dentistry and been around for quite a long time.  I connected with him immediately.  He was serious but kind, and he immediately began to do some cranial stuff to Dude who is used to all that by now.  He asked me a few questions about the pregnancy, specifically how my relationship was during that time.  I said fine, if anything, better than at any other time.  So he asked me if I’d had any other stresses during early pregnancy.  And then it dawned on me. I had the most stressful job of my life in the first trimester, and experienced probably one of the most traumatic, emotional situations of my life at work.  It still upsets me now when I think about it.  He asked if I’d been treated for that, and I looked at him like he had two heads. Treated? What kind of treatment would you recommend?  Homepathics, kinesiology, he said.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered this before.  The first trimester and early second is when much of the tooth formation takes place apparently, so those stresses could have really affected things.  The good news is that his adult teeth will be great as they are being formed now, so whatever we’re doing now will be instrumental in forming his adult teeth.

Anyway, I’ve decided to seriously look into the treatment. The dentist recommended someone and as soon as we can afford it, I’ll make an appointment.  As I was waiting to pay, the male dentist made a point of coming up to me. He said out of the blue how strong Dude’s energy is, and mine too, and that I should get back into meditation as when I calm down, he will.  Wise words.  Just got to find the time!

Compulsion

So after about 90 minutes struggling with the Dude, trying to get him down for his morning sleep, he finally lay down next to me, cried with exhaustion, and passed out, feeding of course.  I’m desperately worried about his teeth, which already have holes in them, and I think it’s because he feeds to sleep.  I know we have to start brushing his teeth but it’s so hard to coordinate it, and if he keeps feeding to sleep, I fail to understand how brushing is going to make them better.  I wish I could get him to sleep without feeding but it’s just impossible.  I tried to give him water in a bottle today but he just played with it a bit, got water all over the bed and then got upset because he was so ridiculously tired.

I finally emerged from the room and went out to the kitchen to get some breakfast… at 12:20pm.  Turkish bread, fried eggs, butter, tomato sauce.  Yummy weekend breakfast.  Not the healthiest in the world but the bread is probably the worst thing. That should have been enough.  Yet as I was taking the last bites of the egg, I found myself beginning to think of what else I could eat.  Why?  Not because I’m still hungry. Perhaps because the little Dude is asleep and I don’t get a lot of time to myself to enjoy eating.  But why do I have to enjoy eating?  I wasn’t over analysing things.  I decided, initially, to sit with the idea for a few minutes, just while the food I’d just eaten made its way properly into my stomach. A few minutes was literally about 30 seconds…

Before I really knew what was happening, I jumped up and cut myself a slice of Woolies pecan danish, procured by husband yesterday.  Wolfed that down, yum.  Then I had already thought about the next thing: a bag of those yummy Red Rock Deli chips, cheese and onion flavour.  I didn’t eat the whole thing, mainly because they’re not really mine to eat.  They’re meant to be for Mr Chewbacca while he watched the ten nations or the championship dufusburgers or whatever the rugby is called at the moment.  So I ate about half of that, limiting myself only to the most crunchy, dense, curled-up chips.  I was full.  Too full.  Damn it!

Having gone to the doctor the other day for the Dude’s skin, I was thinking a bit about my eating issues and how they affect him.  I realised I feel incredibly guilty for having been unable to stop myself eating ‘bad’ food and knowing it’s going straight through to him through the breastmilk.  I confessed all this to the doctor, but it surprised me that she didn’t offer a way of stopping that.  She just said to notice what I’m doing when I do it.  So this is me noticing.

Yeah, okay this isn’t anywhere near as bad as recent binges.  I won’t even talk about those, it’s pointless.  What I really want to know is, why do I do it?  Why do I do it when I know it’s not good for me, not good for the Dude.  I’m totally overloading my liver and gallbladder, and I’m not getting adequate nutrition because I’m filling up on junk and not eating much of the basic good foods like simple fruit and vegies.  I’ve said before that I feel like the Dude has come to teach me how not to do that bingeing any more, because it’s affecting his skin and now his teeth which he’s only just got.  But as I said to the doctor, I feel like I’m failing at learning that lesson because I just can’t curtail it, I can’t stop eating shit.  Even for a baby, my baby!

But let’s get real here: I should be stopping eating shit for myself, not for anyone or anything else.  There’s a difference between motivation and misplaced focus.  I know deep down that doing it just for the Dude is silly because as soon as he stops breastfeeding I’ll just go back to where I was.  I know I need to find the root cause and tackle that.  But I have no idea how to do that.  Lord knows I’ve tried many times to find out why I eat like I do and I can’t put it down to anything in particular.  Yeah so it’s probably to do with boredom and comfort and self-loathing and pain referral.  But none of that is the root cause.  I feel like I’ve been stuck at some point in my life for years and I don’t know where or why.

Adjustments

So I’ve discovered a lovely chiropractor and both the Dude and I have just had assessments and adjustments.  Yes, I know, chiropractor, that’s so 1985, right?  That’s what I thought, but this chiro is different.  I’ve always gone to osteopaths, who I think are fantastic, but this particular chiro, Allison at Newtown Community Chiropractic, is something special.  The treatment and approach are very wholistic, which I like.  It’s nowhere near as expensive as I expected and I really feel like there’s going to be some progress here.

For the Dude, he is doing this odd crab-style crawl where he puts his right foot flat, and it appears he’s very much right dominant, so we’re going to see if this treatment helps him balance out a bit.  It may also help with his skin as that is very much constitutional.  I secretly think, though, that while it might help, it won’t cure it, and I need to change my diet before any change will occur.  I actually think he has come to teach me how to do this, or at least provide me with the opportunity to do it.  I don’t know if I can or will.

Which leads me to the reason I went to the chiro.  My body is so far out of balance, far more than ever in my life.  My weight and eating issues stemming from bad habits learned through life in response to traumatic events are my main concerns.  I never thought something like chiro, which I’ve always seen as very focused on the physical, could affect the emotions or mental state, but having spoken to the chiro I can now see how it can.  That’s not to say I think it’s going to sort out my issues, but I think it will help give me the opportunity to heal them for myself.  I found myself telling the chiro, during my assessment, about all my food issues and she really helped me look at how various traumas can trigger the formation of negative patterns of behaviour.

As she began the treatment and very lightly and quickly slid her hands down my back and all the way down to my ankles, I felt a very odd hot-cold sensation in my calves.  I didn’t say anything, but I remembered it.  She spoke a little about what we might achieve as she did the treatment, getting me to breathe in and out at certain points and making the table do its clunky up and down stuff.  When she mentioned establishing a heart-head connection I felt emotion rise in me, as though I was going to cry!  It was bizarre, totally unexpected.  But I noticed it and remembered.  The only part I found a little disconcerting was when she cracked my neck.  I didn’t expect it, and although I’ve had it done before and it wasn’t painful, it felt a little more invasive than I’d like.  My neck felt great, free and clear and flexible, afterwards but I’m not convinced that kind of manipulation is ‘right’.

Anyway, we’ll see what comes of all this.  If anything I hope the Dude gets his stuff sorted so he can grow without blockages and his nerves are firing on all cylinders.  For me, I’m not sure, perhaps this will lead me further on the path to healing.  It feels like I’ve got a massive mountain to climb, a sheer cliff face in fact.  So many things are out of balance in my life at the moment, both on a practical level and an emotional level and I find it hard to work out where to begin.  I’ve got grand plans though…

Nearly 8 months

It’s funny. Eight months doesn’t seem like a very long time, but for the little Dude it’s a lifetime.  And because my life has changed so much since he arrived, it’s a lifetime for me too.  He is now sitting up by himself, having just randomly done it one day a few weeks ago.  We’re now in a stage I didn’t expect where we wait for him to sit himself up, then place pillows strategically around him in case he falls backwards or to one side, which he’s done many times.  Without pillows he’d just fall and hit his head on the ground, and even with the carpet under him it’s still a shock and probably hurts.  He’s tall too so he has further to fall.  I shudder to think how hard it’s going to be monitoring him when he’s learning to walk!  It’s nice now he can sit because it gives him more to do and he can play alone for longer without getting frustrated, although he still puts himself on his tummy and then starts screaming like he’s a beached whale and can’t move, it’s really weird.  That’s usually an indicator that he’s tired.

Speaking of tiredness, sleeping has been reasonably challenging recently.  He sleeps well at night, generally right the way through, but that’s only because he’s right next to me and can have boobie whenever he wants.  Some nights I’m sure he sleeps right through without even a dream feed, but other nights he gets restless at 4am and will toss and turn and feed on and off for an hour or more, which can be a bit annoying, but not the end of the world.  I’ve not had to get up with him in the night, so I think that’s quite good.  He still has a really hard time actually getting to sleep, especially for naps, of which he has two during the day.  Or at least I try to ensure he has two, and preferably for two hours each, although that rarely happens.  Not that he doesn’t need it, he so desperately needs more sleep, but he just can’t wind down and stay asleep.  Recently he’s been dozing off still attached for an hour or so, and then when I think I might be able to detach him and creep away he wakes and starts smiling and playing even though his eyelids are drooping and it’s clear he needs more sleep and will probably scream because he’s tired in about half an hour… So my life these days consists mainly of trying to get the Dude to a) sleep and b) stay asleep, which he rarely does without me for more than about 45 minutes.  There have been occasions where he’s slept alone for an hour or even two, but those are extremely rare, so rare they’re just flukes I think.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this child is freaking intense!  But I guess I shouldn’t have expected much else, given how his dad is, and the family history of insomnia on both sides… the poor little dude doesn’t stand a chance really!  Sometimes he’s thrashing about so much I wonder how it’s possible for him to ever fall asleep, but it happens, and when he finally relaxes deeply after a couple of hours he will sleep pretty soundly, or at least I think that’s the case, I don’t remember being awake to find out!

Of course he’s massive, as usual.  He’s actually off the growth chart all together in terms of his height/length, which at 7 months sat at 75cm (haven’t measured recently so not sure, he’s probably grown since).  He was just shy of 10kg at 7 months, and that’s the 97th percentile or thereabouts.  We’re predicting he’ll be at least 6’5″, as his dad is 6’3″ but I’m convinced his mum’s lack of prenatal care and his terrible infant nutrition contributed to him being slightly smaller, as his dad is 6’5″.  I also think his strange eyesight (being very short-sighted only in one eye, discovered when he was four) and his odd digestion are related to that too.  But that’s just what I think.  Anyway, the Dude is huge and thriving, of course, despite my ignoring the stupid doctor and not plying him with iron fortified rice cereal made with formula!  Speaking of the doctor, I’ve decided I’m never going back to her, as every time she just disappoints me, doesn’t help me, doesn’t listen to me, and says really annoying things.  I’m going to try a new anthroposophical doctor I’ve discovered nearby and heard good things about, so we’ll see what happens there.  I’m curious about what she’ll say about his skin.

Speaking of the Dude’s skin, it isn’t fantastic.  I know it’s definitely constitutional and something his body has to work through, but I feel that there is more I could do for him.  Sometimes it’s really quite bad and cracks a little around his right wrist and both ankles.  He seems to have more on the right side than the left, which just helps confirm its constitutional nature.  His skin on his bum is perfect, which was a real mystery for a while there, until I was bathing him and my mum was here and she suddenly suggested that having the nappy on was actually helping the skin retain its moisture, and so it’s a simple case of the skin being unable to retain moisture.  That makes so much sense, given how much worse his skin got when we were in (dry) Melbourne, as Sydney is so humid most of the time.  Husband said it makes sense to him as he actually has extra dry skin and has done for as long as he can remember and that’s why he slathers himself in cocoa butter every morning.  So now we have a bit more insight into what’s actually occurring with the skin, and when it was really bad I did relent and apply a little cortisone cream which of course cleared it up very quickly, but I’m really not keen to put it on all the time because I know all its doing is suppressing the immune response, which is just a quick temporary fix and not a long term solution, plus it’s not something I want to do.  The immune system is working, that’s good, I don’t want to block it.  So we’ll see what the anthroposophical doc says and go from there.  At some level I feel I could do more with my diet, but I just haven’t got the commitment; sad but true.  So his skin has red, dry patches around his wrists and ankles, and a few bits behind his knees, up his lower arms and under his chin, although it changes slowly.

Anyway, as far as other developments go, he’s really moving around a lot, although not technically crawling yet.  He can get up on his hands and knees briefly and rock a bit, but generally he sort of pulls himself along with his arms, and pushes off with his feet.  He’s still really shaky and it’s very scary watching him try and sit and pull himself up.  Because he’s pretty tall he can see over the coffee table, and earlier today I turned around for a minute only to turn back and find him about to pull a ceramic bowl of Christmas chocolates onto his head!  It’s pretty awful when he falls backwards or sideways and he’s already had a few bumps on the head but we just do our best to keep cushions around him or be down on the floor with him and always watching.  He’s extremely strong – I’m currently watching him pull a dining chair towards him across the floor with one hand… and yes, that’s a metal framed chair, quite heavy!

He’s recently begun saying ‘mum mum mum mum’ and ‘dthe dthe dthe’, and he also says what sounds like ‘yeah’, in addition to his ‘ngeng’ and ‘geh’.  He laughs and responds to peekaboo and tickling, makes his mini Chewbacca noise, screeches loudly for no reason in particular, and cries out of frustration ALL the time.  His eating is pretty good, I think.  We’ve been doing combination baby-led solids, so I often give him big chunks of fruit to eat straight off his tray table in the high chair, which he is very capable of doing.  Today he polished off about three quarters of a whole nectarine (his favourite).  I’m holding back on all the nightshades – tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, eggplant – as well as citrus and other allergenic fruits like strawberries.  I’m sure he’d be fine with all of that, but it’s more about getting his body used to eating before we make it work extra hard to process this kind of food.  He eats rusks which have a tiny bit of milk and wheat in them and so far is fine with it, but that’s as much as I’ve given him of those two things.  He has also eaten a few crusts as well.  Other than that, I spoon feed him a bit, usually with an organic veggie, fruit, millet mix I get from the supermarket.  I’m a bit slack with making him food, and he loves the stuff in the packet and it’s completely natural and all organic and free of additives etc so I figure it’s all good.  We’ve discovered that, like daddy, he hasn’t got a sweet tooth, so he likes his nectarines much more than something like mango, which would be my preference.  He’s amazing with the nectarine actually.  I cut him off slices like little boats, and he eats the flesh and spits out the skin.  At first I was worried and was going to peel it but there’s really no need, he’s very capable of eating just the flesh.

So far he still doesn’t suck on a dummy, although I give it to him when we go to sleep.  He does like it to chew on and play with, but when it’s time to sleep he will get upset if I put the dummy in his mouth.  He doesn’t accept substitutes!  At some level it’s as though he knows it’s just not the same.  He’s like that with everything actually.  I’m sure he understands what I’m saying most of the time.  He looks at me so intently, listens to everything I say, and responds accordingly.  He has known his name for months now, and will always respond, even if it’s to just give a cheeky look and go back to whatever havoc he was wreaking.  Although usually he’ll pay attention and actually turn back, as though he knows exactly what I’ve said and is doing just what I’ve asked.  It’s pretty amazing.

Anyway, at the moment, five days off eight months, he is just about to crawl, beginning to say words, and just turning into an amazing little boy.  I wish he’d sleep by himself as I’d love to be able to stretch out in bed again and go to sleep and wake up whenever I want, but I know it will pass and eventually he will sleep in his own bed.  For the moment, he is how he is, and he is just perfect.

Three-month ups and downs

So he was three months yesterday, a big milestone!  I don’t think I had any real expectations of what he’d be like at three months, in fact I don’t have expectations at all really.  But I guess at the moment he is having a hard time of it.  Sometimes I think I just don’t have the patience and focus to give him what he really needs, like if I wasn’t so interested in my own indulgences – tv, blogs, reading, eating, showering – I’d be more in harmony with him and he’d be happier.  I have these images in my head of other mums who are so in love with their babies and want to spend every waking moment with them.  Don’t get me wrong, I love him very much and certainly miss him if he has a big sleep or if I have to leave him for a moment.  But right now he is quite unsettled and it can be trying.

Yesterday was slightly worse than today I guess, but today’s still been a bit difficult.  He is so demanding!  He wants constant stimulation, and just having toys dangling above him is not enough, he wants me, all the time!  And even then, he gets tired so quickly and then gets very cranky.  He’s started doing an angry/frustrated type of cry, like the equivalent of an adult saying, ‘gaah, for fuck’s sake, I’m pissed off now’!  It’s quite funny actually, but you have to take it seriously otherwise he just gets out of control and almost impossible to console.  I feel so horrible when he gets really upset, and it happens pretty much every day, usually when I finally realise I need to have a shower but he won’t go to sleep and won’t play by himself.  So I do what I did today, I lie him in his cot, hang some toys next to him, give him one of his ‘starfish’ Steiner-type toys to hold and prepare myself for his screams as I get into the shower, which get progressively more intense the longer I’m away from him.  It’s awful actually because when I get out and dressed and pick him up, he gives these little sobs as he calms down, and it’s obvious he’s really upset and has worked himself up so much.  I just wish there was a way to avoid that, but there isn’t because it’s so hard to get him to sleep by himself.  Even in the car he complains very loudly and works himself up into a frenzy very easily, it’s not good.  Luckily I am not easily distracted and can still drive while he screams, but it’s still not a nice experience for either of us and it’s such a relief when I can get him into the car and staying asleep, although that’s not often.  He has fallen asleep in the car before but only on the odd occasion, it doesn’t really rock him to sleep.  I guess we won’t be those parents who put their baby in the car to get him to sleep in desperation!

He is progressing in terms of his development well, I think, although I found out that a friend’s baby who was born the day before him is already pulling herself up onto her elbows during tummy time and even rolling over!  At three months!  Is this extreme?  Mind you, she’s also already getting teeth, so I think she’s an early one all round.  And girls progress faster than boys, that’s pretty much a given.  The Dude is getting great at gripping and holding things and almost always grabs and holds the little toy I give him every time I change him.  When he’s on his front and on his back he can swivel himself right round 90 degrees, and he does lift his head a fair bit quite easily.  He’s also becoming very vocal and has started making more high-pitched squeals and excited shouty type noises.  He and I have these little back and forth mimicking conversations and he loves it, just being able to communicate with me like that, to know that I can copy him and that his noise is really his own.  He’s also noticed his hands recently and I’ve caught him examining them intently.  We’ve both noticed his left hand is a bit more dominant than his right, but my mum says that’s just because we are right-handed, which makes sense.  His little outie belly button is finally becoming an innie, and his feet are catching up to his hands in size.  His thighs are so chubby I bought crawler nappies (6-11kg) for him, as the other nappies just weren’t staying on him properly because you can’t get them properly round his chunky thighs!  I have no idea what he weighs, as his last check was at 6 weeks and I think he weighed 5.5kg then, but I’m sure he’s at least 6.5 now, he is heavy.

So on the bright side, we finally put up his cot on the weekend, and it’s pretty cool, almost completely level with the bed.  There is a little gap between the bed and his cot, so I must get some masonite from Bunnings and put it between, then stuff the gap with towels or something so he doesn’t fall in it.  There’s not much chance of that happening now, as he’s not rolling over yet, but it won’t be much longer I’m sure.  It was really good to finally put him in his cot and be able to turn on my left side and have the bed back again, even if it was only for an hour or so.  It’s so much easier if he sleeps right next to me because he can pretty much latch himself on in the middle of the night when he wants a feed, and I don’t have to gingerly try to put him in his bed, we just both fall asleep as we are.  I must admit I was never a fan of the idea of co-sleeping, and the two main reasons for that were firstly I thought I’d squish him in the middle of the night or he’d suffocate, and secondly I like my space in the bed and I like my sleep and I didn’t think I’d have either with him there.  Turns out there’s no chance I’d squish him as I know he’s there, even when I’m asleep.  Plus my sleep is longer and better because he’s there; if he were in his own bed even next to ours I’d have to get up and wake up to feed him in the middle of the night.  But why wouldn’t I just train him to sleep through the night, you ask?  I think it’s really unnatural; think about it, how often do babies need to feed during the day?  Every hour, two hours, three hours?  Maybe every four hours, let’s say.  So why to they suddenly not need it during the night?  But he slept six hours during the night quite a few nights, he obviously doesn’t need it, right?  Wrong.  Just because he sometimes sleeps through for six hours doesn’t mean he doesn’t ever need feeds during the night.  I can see for myself that even slight variations to the way things unfold during the day, different levels of activity, different amounts of milk, different lengths of sleep at different times during the day, all add up to a different experience every night.  Yes, he has a routine, as much as you can impose one on a baby – why would I force something on him and make him miserable and myself stressed?  It’s much easier to be aware and notice the natural routine and support that.  I think it’s unfair of me to impose my routine on him – not that I have one I guess, but why would I try to force something when the natural way will unfold and he won’t ever have to be unhappy?  And seriously, I wouldn’t ever try control crying techniques, but even if I did I very much doubt they’d work on this kid without doing him a serious injury!  Sometimes when I’m in the shower and I can hear him crying and I just want to stay under the hot water a few moments longer, I do drag it out, I admit it, just to see if he’ll quiet himself and eventually go to sleep.  It never happens.  Yes, his cries sometimes get a bit quieter, and for a moment he stops, but within seconds he’s back on it again, crying his little heart out, and sometimes sounding like he’s being murdered, it’s awful!

I guess the one thing I could do to really help him is to go to bed early, like 9pm… but it’s really hard for me, I’m never tired that early, and I feel like I haven’t had enough wind-down time with my husband.  I’ve considered trying to put him down earlier, but it virtually never works, especially at night – he’s not a night person!  I’ve decided not to give up with getting him to sleep on his own.  I think a lot of people who end up always having to have their sleeping baby strapped onto them or sleeping next to them have just given up trying to get bubs to sleep in his own bed, so they say, oh he won’t sleep by himself, but what they mean is, he didn’t do it when he was two months old and we gave up trying.  I think babies just get to certain points and suddenly they’re cool with things.  It was that way for us, with sleeping.  I religiously sat up in bed to feed numerous times every single night until the Dude was 8 weeks old; until one morning I woke and realised he’d been asleep next to me from midnight til 6am – what?!  He got to a point and he was ready to stay lying down through the night, so he did that and now we never get up in the middle of the night (touch wood, don’t want to jinx anything!!)  I think the same thing will happen with sleeping by himself, and getting to sleep without being rocked or fed, he’ll do it when he’s ready.  I thought that time had come the other week when he fell asleep on the couch while I dangled a toy over his head, and that was a big breakthrough, even if it only lasted ten minutes and he hasn’t done it since.  This kid has a lot of energy running through his system, that’s all, and it’s hard to fall sleep when you’ve got ants in your pants.

That reminds me of the other thing I wanted to mention: I was thinking today about inherited stuff, and I really have this strong sense that one can inherit constitutional things and build ups of toxic energy from one’s ancestors.  I think it’s kind of like everyone collects stuff through their lives, and they don’t let it go during their lives, they let these toxins build up in them and pass them on at some energetic level to their children and grandchildren.  The Dude’s eczema rashy thing is a good example of that.  It’s like his body is fighting this crazy toxic heat, trying to throw it off, but being burdened by it, and it’s making him all hot and itchy inside.  I know this sounds weird and crazy, but I just get the impression this is what’s happening for him.  That’s why I am not taking him to a regular doctor as they’d just prescribe cortisone cream and tell me, oh lots of babies have eczema, same as when/if he gets asthma they’ll prescribe ventalin and tell me, oh lots of children have asthma.  Yeah, great, doesn’t mean we should just accept that it’s a part of childhood, right?  At some level I believe that these things are very constitutional and therefore I shouldn’t be interfering and should just let his body deal with it, but at another level I think they are inherited and I feel like we could do something cleansing that could release him from the burden of them.  Unlike childhood illnesses which run their course, provide immunity for future exposure and you never see them again, things like eczema and asthma are unnecessary.  So we’re off to the osteopath next week, just to see if some adjustment will help him.  The midwife still believes he went from breech to head down during labour, and if that’s the case it’s highly likely there will be something out of alignment.  I wonder if it will make a difference?  I’m determined not to tell the osteo too much and let him just do what he does and see the results.  Plus I need to convince my sceptical husband that it’s worthwhile, as he doesn’t think they do anything.  I’ll be sure to report back once we’ve been…  I’m trying to add more oil to my diet in the hope it will help his skin clear up, but if it’s still like this in a couple of weeks I’m going to take him to a homeopath or an anthroposophical doctor, if I can find a decent one.  I also rang the baby health centre people and they said the next checkup between 6 weeks and 6 months is at 4 months, so even though I’m wary I will take him down to the one at Bondi Beach and get him weighed and measured etc.  At some stage I’ve got to take him to a doctor and get the conscientious objection form signed, not looking forward to that experience!

Currently he is asleep in the ergo on my front.  Thank the good lord for baby carriers like the Ergo and Hugabub, they are amazing things and I am a better mother because of them!