Guest Post, Jaleen Vickerson: We are going Vegan (+ fish!)…

Jaleen Vickerson is a fellow Brand Ambassador for Wrapsody. I have offered her a guest post on my blog to discuss her parenting struggles to a baby with allergies and eczema.  I haven’t posted about it yet, but over the past 6 months I have been struggling with suspected allergies with Jack. It is nice to hear from another mom going through it as well. 

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My youngest son, Carlos, has been an alert and active baby since day one. But over time, his sunny disposition started changing for the worse. At 2 weeks old, I noticed his cheeks were becoming mottled and red. At week 6, I realized that, instead of clearing up, his skin irritation was only becoming more serious, and—worst of all—it was affecting his mood.

He was screaming more than cooing. He was frowning more than smiling. My friends would joke with me that he looked like the famous painting “The Scream.”  This was not the easy, contented little dude I had met in the delivery room!

We knew that dairy was part of the issue, but even after cutting all lactose out of my diet, his skin problems persisted. At 6 months of age, he was finally old enough to be tested for more than one allergen at a time.  

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I was surprised to learn that, not only did he react to milk, he is also allergic to:

  • peanuts,
  • Eggs,
  • Chicken,
  • Beef,
  • cats, and
  • dog fur.

The strangest discovery was that chicken and beef were irritants to his system; I had never heard of anyone having an allergy to either of these foods!

As we all know, parenting is not one-size-fits-all. For myself and my child, I believe strongly in the developmental benefits to be gained from breastfeeding. As a personal choice, I had already decided that I want to continue to breastfeed until my son detaches on his own.

With this in mind, Carlos’ dietary limitations have become mine.

The diet Carlos and I are now restricted to be largely a vegan one. Being Puerto Rican, veganism and vegetarianism are not practices I am used to in my life (until now, there have been no “Meatless Mondays” in my home, for example). The one big exception is that I still can eat fish and shellfish, as he is not allergic to them (little wins!).

During our visit, his allergist went on and on about how important is to moisturize his skin to help fight his eczema—but that, until I change my diet, we won’t see any significant progress with his skin. His allergies are so serious, I was told, that he will need to have an EpiPen on him at all times by the time he turns 1.

While trying to take in the flood of information from his doctor, reality sets in.

For the first time since his birth, I consider ending my breastfeeding journey. And yet, as the doctor is giving me all of these instructions, Carlos is latched on to me, just feeding and feeding and feeding. I take a step back, and realize that going the route of formula feeding is not right for us.

Though it was a lot to take in, my feeling is—this needs to change for my son’s sake, and it needs to change now. I don’t have time to be emotional about it. So I do what I do best: make a list!

  1. Call the husband & inform him
  2. Call my mom to get some much needed support
  3. Go shopping for veggies, fish, and other Carlos-friendly foods
  4. Make arrangements to give the family cat up for adoption
  5. Buy Lysol to disinfect and clean the ENTIRE house once the cat is gone…

A list is something I can work with. It’s factual, I can follow it step by step, and if I forget (because I will!) I can always check my iPhone, where I keep my amazing lists (phew!). Without an organized plan of attack, I know I will get overwhelmed and emotional.  I think to myself, I can focus on this list and it will help me deal.

So. The first step I take on is to review my entire food intake. Since we were already dairy-free at this point, I try to pick out the other irritants to Carlos that I have unknowingly been exposing him to. Looking through my food diary, I realize that nearly every time I sat down to a meal, I was taking in something that was basically poisoning my child. I feel responsible. I become hard on myself. This is not an easy thing to wrap my head around.

If I think about the next few years it seems like too much to handle. I feel like my normal lifestyle is about to be turned upside down, but I also know that being a good parent is about doing what is best for your kids, not what is convenient for you.  

On the way home from the doctor, I stop and get some fish and some salad ingredients, and we start with just that: simple.  One meal at a time.  One step at a time.  

Lobsters

Until…the next list!

-Jaleen Vickerson

Love In Motion: Confidence From Babywearing

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You probably have seen on Instagram and Facebook page that I am a Brand Ambassador for Wrapsody Baby. I wanted to share how this came about and how babywearing changed my life.

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This mom is tired, overwhelmed and exhausted. But thankful for her wrap!

When my son was born, I thought I knew what kind of mom I was going to be. Then reality set in. I was tired and very overwhelmed. Jack wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. I can remember vividly one night crying to my husband that I was a terrible mother because I couldn’t make my son happy. He reassured me that was not true, he’s just being a newborn. I found babywearing by chance (check it out my Babywearing Journey post) and everything changed.

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Compare this to the picture above. I look like a goddess and felt so strong. Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

It also made me feel pretty. I lost my baby weight pretty easily, but my body was still different. Some of my old clothes didn’t fit the same. And my whole wardrobe had to be easy to nurse it. Some days this meant sweat pants and tank top—not the most attractive outfit. But once I started wearing all these gorgeous carriers with bright patterns and colors, I felt pretty good again. It was like a walking advertisement that said “Look at me! I am a mom, there is spit up on my shirt, but I am still beautiful.”

Babywearing also helped me find new social circles. I did not have too many friends in California. And the ones I did have, were not parents so it became hard to relate to them. I joined Babyweaing International to get help with wrapping and ended up meeting other awesome moms as well. Then I started talking about babywearing with my family and friends. I got so many questions that I started talking about it on this blog and on my personal Facebook. This also spread onto my Instagram and people all over the world began to comment.

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The first time we ever tried a Wrapsody at a BWI meeting. This is a Breeze Iris, I loved how light it was!

Then one day when I was just surfing Instagram I saw something interesting. Wrapsody was accepting applications for Brand Ambassadors. I figured why not? I had played with a Breeze at BWI meeting and liked it. It would be fun to work with a wrap company and learn new things.

I had to order Haumea. It reminds me of laying on the beach in Hawaii.
I had to order Haumea. It reminds me of laying on the beach in Hawaii. Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

Then I realized I didn’t know too much about the company or the wraps. I ordered my own Breeze directly from Wrapsody and bought a Stretch-Hybrid off the Wrapsody Love Facebook group. Jack is a big boy so I was worried they might not be supportive enough. I was wrong! Both wraps are totally toddler-worthy. And they will be great for my next baby because both are soft and supportive enough for a newborn as well. They come in so many colorways, too. There is truly something for everyone (there is even a Doctor Who wrap!).

Chronos, for all my fellow Whovians!
Chronos, for all my fellow Whovians! Photo credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

Then I did some research on the company itself and fell madly in love. It was founded by Kristi, a mom who realized she needed a job where she could stay home with her kids and do something she loves (like me!). She loved babywearing, but could not afford carriers for $100+, so she started to make her own. Years later that morphed into a international company with multiple wraps collections. The wraps are inexpensive, quality, ethically made, and vegan! Wrapsody is still a small company today, it is just Kristi and her business partner Colleen. This is a match made in heaven for me. Their motto is “Babywearing is Love In Motion”, and that is exactly what babywearing is to me. I get to carry my son close while we explore, and I get to actively spread the love to other parents.

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I never imagined I would doing tutorials on how to babywear!

Then last week I had strange moment, the kind when your realize your dreams are coming true and can’t believe it. I came up with the idea of Wrapsody Weekly Wrap Challenge. A new carry each for 20 weeks, to help people work on their wrapping skills. I did one through BWI of the Bay Area and it helped me understand the fundamentals of wrapping. Last week Kristi posted my tutorial video for a Front Double Hammock on the Wrapsody Facebook page and I was speechless. I never imagined this is where my life would be 2 years ago. Back in July 2013, I was bawling my eyes out of fear when I found out I was pregnant. I had no idea where my life was going and how I was going to handle a baby. July 2014, I was still a confused new mom trying to figure out her place in life. And now, July 2015, I am confident mom who has plans and goals for the future. I am starting a local babywearing group in my hometown, applying to be a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with BWI of Portland, and even looking into becoming a Certified Babywearing Educator. Babywearing has opened so many doors for our family, and I am truly thankful. Thankful for the bond it created for my family. Thankful for the career options it’s providing. Thankful to Wrapsody for helping my dreams become a reality. And most of all, I am thankful for the confidence babywearing gave to me.

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Love and confidence in motion. How gorgeous is Chosen? Photo Credit: Mike Skelly (my dad!)

***This is not a sponsored blog post. These are my own, independent thoughts. Wrapsody or any other entity did not pay me to these make any statements.