The joys and sorrows of a stay-at-home mom, wife, home economist and woman.

I can hardly believe that Aurora’s first year has already almost passed! A blink of an eye, and she’s one. And what a one she is!

As I did with Jonathan, I wanted to share her birth story with you in honor of her birth-day. (I’m actually getting this done a little early. Amazing!)

Jonathan was 16 months old when we found out we would be welcoming another little one to our family. He was still nursing, quite happily, and continued to do so through much of my pregnancy.

From the very beginning of this pregnancy we had concerns. And because of my crazy septated uterus and how close our kids would be in age (23 months), a VBAC was not even an option for us. So we knew early on that I would be having a repeat C-section, which I was obviously not thrilled with, since I had really just started to feel like my body was getting back in shape. But as long as the end result was a healthy baby we were thrilled!

All of the early ultrasounds showed a healthy baby growing inside of her mama. And we were ecstatic when we learned we would be having a baby girl.

The first trimester went fairly well, only a little bit of mild nausea and some fatigue. Thanks to Jonathan’s food allergies, I started this pregnancy off 50 pounds lighter!

At 16 weeks I had some bleeding and mild cramping, so we went to see my midwife, Cathy. An ultrasound showed that I had placenta previa, which thankfully resolved itself several weeks later, so no more bleeding and no worries about the baby. Then, about the middle of my second trimester I started having regular contractions. In fact, most evenings I would have regular contractions for several hours. After quite a few trips to the hospital to get things checked out (plus one bonus trip when I apparently passed a kidney stone), Cathy placed me on pelvic and bed rest for my whole third trimester. I also had to take Visterol (an analog of Benadryl) when I was having a lot of contractions, which made me really tired and loopy. We also went to see a high-risk OB, who didn’t think there was much risk of me actually delivering early, but agreed that bed rest was the best option.

This was obviously very difficult for the whole family, but God took amazing care of us. We did a Mega Cook and stocked the freezer full of enough meals to get us through several months, and had many friends, family, and neighbors pray for us and step in to help with Jonathan and chores around the house. Some friends even decorated our Christmas tree and wrapped gifts for us! Because nursing can cause contractions, I had to wean Jonathan at 20 months when I was placed on bed rest, which I think was harder on me than him.

While it was a blessing that so many people took Jonathan for play dates, I really missed having my little guy around all day. And it was really, really hard for me to stay down. (Really hard!) I’m a doer- always in motion, always working hard, and for me to just sit or lay around all day was really difficult for me. I did use the time to finally learn to crochet, which I had wanted to do since I was a teenager. I made some cute things for the baby, and a bunch of scarves for family Christmas gifts. (Thank you, YouTube!) I knew how important it was for this baby girl to be born healthy and at term, so I did my best to do what was best for my baby.

Just a few weeks to go!

Aurora hung out in the uterus in a U-shape. Her head was up under my left ribs, her bottom was right against my cervix, and her feet up under my right ribs. And because of my uterus, she was stuck there for most of my pregnancy. So even if a VBAC would have been an option, she was such a weird breech presentation it wouldn’t have been possible anyway.

Throughout my pregnancy, I stuck to our Paleo diet, in the hopes that by continuing to avoid the foods that Jonathan and I were allergic to that baby girl wouldn’t have the same problems. (We all know how that turned out!) Instead of the usual glucose tolerance test, my midwife allowed me track my blood sugar for a week. But because of the bed rest I gained more weight than I had hoped.

Because I was having a repeat C-section, they scheduled it for February 3rd, when I would be 39 weeks. That last week I was allowed to get up and around a bit more, which was awesome! I only had a week to prepare our nest for our baby girl to come home. Early in the pregnancy, we decided that we definitely wanted to have our friend, Eva, as a doula for the birth again. We had dinner with Eva and her husband, Patrick, the night before, and then Eva, Benjamin and I all headed to the hospital at 4:30 am that Friday morning. (The hospital was a little surprised that we had a doula for a scheduled c-section, but I think that you especially need a doula when you have a c-section, because you aren’t able to do very much after the birth, including positioning the baby to nurse by yourself.)

Ready to go in to the OR. We said a prayer together before they took us in.
They did all of the prep work, and then wheeled me into the OR to get the spinal before Benjamin came in for the birth. Dr. Sweet and Cathy (they delivered Jonathan) were both there waiting. It was a lot easier and less scary the second time around, but still no fun getting the spinal. It’s very surreal to not feel anything but vague tugging sensations from your chest down. After I was all prepped, they brought Benjamin in, and in just a few moments Aurora Joy Leppard was safely delivered. They held her up for me to see her, before taking her across the room to be checked out. She was born a little after 7:00 am at Altamonte Hospital. She weight 6 lb, 13 oz and was 20 inches long. (Here is the post on her Birth-day and her First Day)

One of my first sights of Aurora. To me she was breathtakingly beautiful!

I remember being so overcome with love for that precious, tiny little girl. I was crying tears of joy, gazing at her, longing to hold her as my eyes were riveted to her across the room. She was so strong and healthy. Within 30 minutes, we were both in the recovery room, and I finally got to hold and meet this amazing blessing, this beautiful girl that I had been waiting so long to meet. I put her to the breast, and she latched on perfectly. She nursed very well and very frequently those first few days (although there was a concern that she lost too much weight at first, so we stayed in the hospital an extra day.)

Aurora’s first time nursing at the breast.

Recovering from a C-section is much easier the second time around, which is a good thing, because now I had two precious bundles of joy to hold and snuggle! And thankfully, I didn’t have any of the problems that I had first time, when my blood pressure kept dropping and I had to have a blood transfusion. And although Aurora tested Coombs positive, and they were worried that she could have jaundice as a result, we were all cleared to go home on her fourth day.

Aurora and Daddy having some quality cuddling time.

Jonathan wasn’t too excited the first time he met her. He saw just her head while she was nursing, reached down and touched her head and said “ball” then proceeded to play with the hospital bed. But from the time she came home, he has been a wonderful and loving big brother to his “Rora.”

Snuggling with both of my beautiful babies.

We were so grateful to have a healthy baby girl, who despite the months of contractions was born at full term. And I was so happy to really be able to snuggle with both of my kids, and even to tandem nurse them for a while.

Aurora is now constantly on the move. It’s hard to get a picture of her staying still! She is starting to walk, sign, and talk a little. She is an amazing little girl!

Our Family.

I thought it would be a good idea to give a recap of the whole journey we have been through thus far with Aurora’s Precocious Puberty symptoms. So here it is!

The last 2 1/2 months have been quite the roller coaster ride as we have been faced with the very real possibility that Aurora might have a condition called Precocious Puberty. Basically, it is the early (very, in her case) onset of puberty, including development of breasts and pubic hair, rapid growth, and other common signs of puberty. It is very rare to find this condition in an infant, particularly one Aurora’s age.

We noticed that she started growing breasts at around 5 months, and then around 6 months we found her first pubic hair. We figured it was probably nothing, but when we brought it up at Aurora’s 6 month check up in August, her pediatrician was very concerned. She was so concerned that she called a pediatric endocrinologist (Dr. Derosiers) and he fit us in the same day. Well, if we weren’t already worried, that certainly did it!

At our first visit, her health history was taken, and she was examined. After that exam, the doctor ordered an ultrasound of the pelvis and renals/adrenals, a bone age X-ray, and some blood work. Based on the results of that initial round of tests, the doctor counseled that we wait a little while to see if we continued to see progression of her symptoms before any further testing was done. Her initial results showed an accelerated bone age (roughly twice what it should be for her real age), completely normal hormone levels, and some enlargement of the uterus and thickening of follicles in the ovaries. I think the doctor was downplaying the test results a little in hopes that she would grow out of it, because in most cases infants do grow out of it fairly quickly.
We went ahead and scheduled a follow-up visit for 2 months later, with the understanding that if we saw progression of her symptoms we would call to get a sooner appointment and do a Stimulation test that would show if the pituitary gland was driving her symptoms. The way the test works, is they put in an IV and do an initial blood draw, and then inject something to stimulate the pituitary and take 3 or 4 follow-up blood draws to see the effect. The test takes about 2 hours, and would not be fun at all for a baby, which is why he suggested we wait to see if it was medically necessary. Well, we did see further progression: her breasts continued to increase in size, and we saw a lot more pubic hair. So we called to scheduled the Stim test for October 4, with a follow-up appointment with the doctor on October 15.

When the time came for the test, the nurses were unable to get an IV in our very strong and very wiggly little girl. After attempting in both arms, the nurses told the doctor they didn’t want to torture her any more. He agreed, did another physical exam and reviewed her previous test results, and felt that we should skip the Stim test and go straight to a brain MRI. This was the first time he actually said that he thought Aurora might have true Precocious Puberty.

Just before they were ready to start the Stim test.

The nurse checking Aurora’s vitals.

We were both pretty relieved that they weren’t going to try getting the IV in again.

We were obviously pretty shaken up at that point, and Aurora was pretty unhappy with the whole situation, too! Up to that point we had avoided doing any research on Precocious Puberty, because Benjamin and I both feel pretty strongly about not borrowing worry before we have to. But at this point, as we saw how concerned the doctor was, we were pretty scared and worried. There isn’t very much information about Precocious Puberty, and very little about the condition in infants (because it is incredibly rare.) We did find an organization called the MAGIC Foundation that offers support for people dealing with all kinds of growth disorders, and through that a Facebook support group for parents of children with PP. We learned that if she is diagnosed with PP that it is quite likely that Aurora would have to receive blood work and shots called Lupron to stop the growth every 3 months until it is time for her to reach true puberty (or receive a surgical implant annually). We learned that the doctor was ordering the MRI to look for lesions or tumors in the brain, bringing up the possibility of our baby girl needing to have brain surgery. We learned that if her condition is untreated that she would likely stop growing too soon and not reach her full stature (less than 4’11” in most cases) and have to deal with the psychological and social effects of going through puberty before she has the emotional vocabulary to deal with it.

We called and scheduled Aurora’s MRI at Arnold Palmer for the soonest available appointment, which wasn’t until 2:00 pm on October 30th. Because she would have to be sedated, she was going to have to fast from solid food and breast milk the entire day. Not the best situation for a 9 month old, but we went ahead and scheduled it and began praying for a cancellation of an early morning appointment for her. We were very happy to get the call that there was an 8:00 am appointment available on October 9. And because Aurora won’t take a bottle, I was allowed to nurse her until 2:00 am, so I woke up several times the night before to nurse Aurora so she wouldn’t miss out on too many calories.

Once we arrived at the hospital and registered, we met the nurse who would be with Aurora the whole time and spoke to the anesthesiologist. And then it was time. We prayed over our sweet girl, and gave her to the nurse in the MRI room, before leaving her and waiting for the test to be done and our little girl to wake up in the recovery room. It was pretty hard to leave her and wait. The nurse called us after they put her to sleep and got the IV in, and called the doctor’s office to see what blood work they wanted done since the IV was already in. It was about 1 1/2 hours until we were finally called back to go see her. She was pretty groggy and her head was really floppy, but she was wiggling around almost like normal. I sat down to nurse her, and even though she had a little trouble staying latched after the anesthesia, we both had the comfort of nursing. They did a final set of vitals and sent us home, saying that she would likely be pretty groggy and floppy the rest of the day. Not our girl! By the time we got home she was back to her very active and very mobile self.

In recovery after her MRI. She was pretty out of it.

They had trouble getting her last set of vitals because Aurora wouldn’t stay still!

Home from the hospital and completely back to normal!

We had a follow-up appointment on October 15 to receive the results of the MRI and discuss her condition. Early that morning they called saying that Dr. D had to cancel due to a family emergency. We went ahead and took an appointment with another doctor in the practice, Dr. Villar, so that at the very least we could learn her test results. Her MRI was clean- no tumors or lesions, and her blood work showed completely normal hormone levels. Because of this, she feels that she does not have Precocious Puberty, but the accelerated bone age and presence of pubic hair are still a cause for concern. (She wasn’t as concerned about the breast development.) She thought we might be looking at an issue with her adrenal system, so yet another round of blood work was ordered. Because we were right next to Arnold Palmer, we went ahead over and had them do the blood work right then.

At her last appointment with Dr. Villar.
And that is where we are. Tomorrow will be 1 week since her blood draw, so I will call in the morning to hopefully learn the results. We have another appointment scheduled with Dr. D on November 6th. So it seems at this point that true Precocious Puberty has been ruled out, and now we need to see if we can discover what underlying condition is mimicking the symptoms of PP without actually affecting her hormone levels. And once again, we are consciously not doing any googling until we have some more information. Just a whole lot of praying! And hoping that we can get off this crazy roller coaster ride soon and finally have some answers.

On a more fun note, Aurora is crawling (every where!), standing, cruising, babbling, teething, putting everything in her mouth, and really getting into her food! Except for everyone always remarking how tall she is, you would never know that she is anything but a very happy, healthy and completely normal 8 1/2 month old girl. Have you ever seen such an amazing smile?

When I asked Jonathan what he wanted for breakfast, he asked for pizza. Usually he says he wants “nummies” so I was happy to oblige this very specific breakfast request.

We whipped up some Almond Flour Pizza Crusts (from my favorite cookbook The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook).
We decided to top them with almond butter, apples, raw local honey, and a sprinkling of cinnamon! The whole family really enjoyed this delicious, quick, and simple breakfast.

Breakfast Pizza
Makes 2 adult and 1 child sized portion

1 recipe Almond Flour Pizza Crusts (from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)
Note: To substitute for egg, I use 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp oil, and 2 tsp baking powder.)
Almond Butter
1 apple, thinly sliced
Raw local honey (drizzle to taste)

1. Make Almond Flour Pizza Crusts according to recipe in cookbook. I prebaked mine for 10 minutes, and substituted for eggs. Makes a nice, cracker-like crust.
2. Allow to cool.
3. Spread generously with almond butter.
4. Top with almond slices.
5. Drizzle with honey and and sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
6. Enjoy this yummy breakfast with an adorable toddler! (Optional, but so fun!)

In lieu of my normal single {this moment} post, I wanted to share an adventure the whole family shared last weekend.

Inspired by Soule Mama

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

This past Saturday, the whole family drove to Tavares to ride the Orange Blossom Cannonball, a steam train built in 1907. Jonathan was so thrilled! He has talked about every day since, and I hope it is a day he will never forget. They do a special ride for Christmas, and I think we may try to go back for that one.

The Tavares train station.

Jonathan played on the really cool playground while we were waiting for the train to arrive.

Here comes the steam train, pulling into the station!

We found some seats in the coach, and very eagerly (but solemnly) waited to depart.

The whole family!

Mommy and Aurora.

Here we go!

Jonathan enjoyed meeting the conductor.

On the caboose.

Jonathan was fascinated by the big wheels.

Some cool pictures of the train.

I am finally starting to add new foods back into my diet as we continue to move forward with the Allergy Elimination Diet for Aurora. One thing I am trying to add back in is almonds, so naturally it was time to tinker in the kitchen a bit! I wanted something a little sweet, but not too sweet, that the whole family could enjoy. (Which means it has to be grain, dairy, egg, and sugar-free.)
I started with the recipe for Cinnamon Apple Muffins in Elana Amsterdam’sThe Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook And tinkered, a lot, to come up with this very delicious and simple Apple Cinnamon Muffin.

Updated May 30, 2103

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional- you can add other spices, like ginger, cloves, allspice, etc.)
1/4 cup light olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup raw local honey
1 ripe mashed banana
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4-inch cubes (my substitute other fruits)

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line 10-12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine oil, honey, banana, water and vanilla. Mix until well- combined.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, and mix thoroughly.
4. Gently fold in apples.
5. Spoon into muffin tins.
6. Bake 23-26 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Yield: 12 muffins

Tip: Try substituting a different fruit for the apples. Pears are really yummy, and change the character of the recipe completely. Try mango or berries, or go wild and try chocolate chips!
Jonathan prefers his plain- after picking out all of the apples a few time I now make a double batch, half plain, half with fruit.