Nursing made me lactose intolerant

When I was nursing Lyra I developed allergies to dust, cats, and pollen. It wasn’t fun, but soon after she stopped nursing the allergies went away.

Something similar has happened with Pandra. I’m not sure exactly when, but I started to notice that dairy products were bothering my digestive system. I also suspected that the dairy proteins were affecting Pandra’s digestion — she would get bad gas and be uncomfortable any time I ate a lot of dairy. I am the cheese girl, so I naturally ignored it and pretended that nothing was happening. I spent quite some time in denial before I decided to entertain the thought that maybe — just maybe — eating dairy was a problem for me and for my nursing baby. I finally decided to try reducing the amount of dairy I ate.

That’s when I discovered just how much dairy I included in my life. I cut it out of my diet for a week and realized that I felt physically better overall. No more uncomfortable to painful gassy episodes, no more bloating, and I just felt better than I had.

I wasn’t very good at cutting myself off from dairy. I constantly forgot — putting milk in my tea, ordering a latte with regular milk, and even buying myself ham and cheese croissants. It was beyond hard to stop eating cheese, especially. I felt like I had to relearn how to grocery shop, how to cook, and how to snack and eat dinner. Cheese was truly an integral part of my diet. So many things I was used to eating were no longer an option.

So I had to make an effort to cook things that didn’t require dairy. And, strangely, my cooking skills improved. I started making other foods for meals that I hadn’t tried before. I relied more heavily on my favourite Asian ingredients. I included a lot more vegetables. Something had to fill the void that dairy had left behind, and somehow that turned into me being better at cooking. I got myself a new knife that can actually cut food, and it was heavenly.

And then my body shape started changing. I was nursing and recovering from having a baby, which was making a difference, but that was nothing next to eliminating dairy from my diet. I’ve reached the point now where none of my pre-pregnancy pants fit me properly anymore becauseĀ they’re all too big. This is not a problem I ever expected to have; losing weight has never been a priority for me. But lose weight I have, and my body shape keeps on changing over time.

I miss cheese, chocolate, and butter, though. Oh, how I miss them sometimes. I sometimes stand in the dairy aisle at the grocery store and gaze longingly at the extra old cheddar and the artisan cheese selection. I make macaroni and cheese for Lyra at lunch sometimes, and it almost hurts me not to taste it. I miss making homemade mac & cheese, and topping my pasta with cheese, and eating cheese snacks. I miss milk chocolate bars, and milk in my tea, and cream cheese on a bagel, and butter croissants. But after the first two months, it got easier. These days I’m used to not eating dairy products, and while I have twinges of missing them, they aren’t part of my daily life anymore. Every so often I cheat a little, and both Pandra and I pay a bit for it, but it really isn’t as often as I though.

Adam complained over Christmas that people kept bringing us desserts and chocolates that I refused to eat due to the dairy content, so he was gaining weight. To be honest, I was surprised that my willpower won out over my intense desire to eat everything I was given, but even a few pieces of chocolate throw me off right now, so I do my best to avoid everything.

I am sad to not be able to eat my all-time favourite foods, but not as sad as I expected. It’s just this thing I do now, and life goes on. I feel healthier — for all I know I’ve been sensitive to lactose for a while, and nursing just intensified the problem. I can have dairy products in the house and not even think twice about it now — the temptation is minor at best. And I usually remember when I’m out at coffee shops and restaurants that there is cheese or butter in way more things than is obvious.

When Pandra is done nursing, will I still be lactose intolerant? I have no idea. I hope the answer is no, but if it’s yes then at least I know I can handle it far better than I ever imagined I could.

Now I guess I need to consider going out to buy some new pants that fit me. Or maybe I should wait and see how the learn-to-run clinic I’ve been doing goes?

Happy new year and welcome to 2013!

Lyra dressed the family up as Butterfly Dragons for Halloween this year.
Lyra dressed the family up as Butterfly Dragons for Halloween this year.

The new year arrived for me with a terrible bout of the flu. I got sick on January first and spent the next week alternating fevers, chills, and whole-body aches. I even got Adam to stay home from work for a day to take care of the girls so I could just be sick. I should have made him take two days off, but I felt guilty so I sent him to work. Fortunately for me I have local friends who were willing to help keep Lyra entertained.

When I was finally on the mend, both Adam and Lyra caught it and were sick for days. Pandra caught a milder version of it; she only had a fever for one day instead of three, fortunately. In retrospect, she may have just been teething and had a mild cold. The rest of us suffered from all the usual flu symptoms — aches and pains, fever, nonstop chills, and a headache that didn’t go away for about a week.

Yes, the first two weeks of 2013 have been challenging. But we’re on the mend now — just working on evicting the bronchitis that followed the flu. We’re all nearly better, finally.

Although I’ve missed the standard beginning-of-the-year timing, this still seems like a great time for a family update. Welcome to the Silvers Year In Review!

Sporting the 'Vancouver Mom' uniform - babywearing rain poncho, baby, coffee.
Sporting the ‘Vancouver Mom’ uniform – babywearing rain poncho, baby, coffee.


I’m half-way through my maternity leave and trying not to think about going back to work yet. The idea is scary, and the complicated future I’m looking at is just plain terrifying. My 1.5 hour commute is going to be awful with two kids in daycare, and then in September Lyra will be starting full-day Kindergarten, which means she’ll need after school care. I haven’t started looking for daycare options yet, but I realized this week that I must do so soon if I want to get this figured out. That means I have to think about work to some extent, because I need to know what the big picture is going to look like before I can sort out the little details. Thinking about it is overwhelming on the heels of the flu and bronchitis, so I haven’t dealt with it yet.

Otherwise, I’ve started to feel a bit too ‘stay-at-home-mom’-ish, so I’m trying to find all sorts of random web projects to fill the void. I’m volunteering some web work for a local mountain bike organization, I’m working on some rewrites for a friend’s website, and I’m setting up another friend’s new website to support her creative work. None of this is really fulfilling, but at least it’s something to pass the time and keep me a little bit sharp.

What I want is a creative project, but I can’t seem to come up with one that interests or excites me. I had one idea, but it required external input that wasn’t really forthcoming, so I’m abandoning it for now. Perhaps it will be revisited someday. In the meantime, I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with a creative, interesting writing project.

I’ve also decided to take up running, because I haven’t been able to get out on my bike so much lately. I’m doing it properly with a learn-to-run clinic, and hoping I don’t hate it too much because exercise is good for me. I’ve been out once so far, and ouch. I need to get on my bike more once the season gets better. I’m weak and don’t want to ride in the wet and cold weather.

Instead of exercise and creative work, I’ve been playing with children when they’re awake and playing Civilization 5, Red Dead Redemption, and Mass Effect 3 when they’re not. Perhaps not the most fulfilling use of my time, but it’s sure a lot of fun. Oh, and Lyra makes me play Bastion sometimes so she can watch me play.

Adam shares his joy at finding a remote controlled astronaut.
Adam shares his joy at finding a remote controlled astronaut.


Adam is enjoying his no-longer-new job. He’s been there for more than a year now, and it’s keeping him interested and challenged, so he’s overall pretty happy with the state of affairs. He’s also playing various games — Super Mario Galaxy and Zelda: Twilight Princess with Lyra, and MechWarrior Online.

He’s been avidly following all the space/science news, of course, with the Mars Rover and Canadian Chris Hadfield up in the Space Station, among other things. Lyra gave him a microscope she found at Value Village for Christmas. It’s fantastic; brand new in the box from 1971 or so. He hasn’t had a chance to really use it yet, but he’s looking forward to looking at very small things with Lyra’s help… once she figures out how to properly look through it.

The more Lyra grows, the more I think he enjoys spending time with her and sharing his enthusiasm about things with her. She knows the names of all the planets and can identify them because he’s shared his astronomy love with her. They bond over things like Transformers and video games they can play together. It’s lovely to watch him share these things with her, and watch her respond so enthusiastically. The two of them have a blast together. He’s a great daddy.

I’ve been making him put Pandra to bed more often lately, too, in the hopes that she falls for it someday. It hasn’t been entirely successful yet, but I’m stubborn. Unfortunately when it comes to Pandra, daddy means playtime, not sleeptime. We’ll just have to keep working on that.

Lyra and Swoop the Quetzalcoatlus have many adventures
Lyra and Swoop the Quetzalcoatlus have many adventures


Ah, Lyra. Four has been a fantastic year for her. She’s clever and learning how to be effectively manipulative, as clever children do. Her current obsessions include dinosaurs (there are so many of them that didn’t exist when I was a kid, and she knows them all by name), Deadmau5, collecting realistic animal toys — the toy-like ones just aren’t suitable in her eyes — and playing video games. She has her own Chrome profile and can click on appropriate bookmarks to take her to her favourite games, or to Youtube to find good live videos of Deadmau5 shows.

It’s so much fun watching her learn language. She asks what words mean all the time, and sometimes we struggle to explain them. When she asked us why New Year’s Eve was important, we couldn’t answer her. It felt like a learning experience for us… Arbitrary dates are very hard to explain, and when we tried it became even more meaningless.

One of the funniest things she does lately is tell jokes. They’re usually terrible at best, or make no sense whatsoever, but that’s what makes it so awesome. Her first joke she learned from a cartoon dog on the PBS Kids website:

“Why do cows have bells? Because their horns don’t work!”

Everyone laughs when she tells this one, so it’s become a staple in her story-telling. We’ve heard it so many times now that we’ve begged her to learn new jokes. And that’s when she makes up her own jokes that don’t make any sense:

“When cats laugh water comes out of their noses!”

Still pretty funny, but in a different way.

I’ve made her get into the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show because of my own love of My Little Pony. Fortunately for both of us the show is AWESOME, and provides some fantastic female role models and realistic situations in a magical pony setting. She enjoys it and has a bunch of the toys. Sometimes we play ponies together and I’m reminded of the times I spent fabricating a My Little Pony world with depth, drama, and endless storytelling opportunities. I still have those ponies in storage. I’m anxious to share them with her and her sister.

She’s grown so much taller in the last six months that people comment on it regularly. She’s now 43″ – close to four feet tall — and still the same weight that she’s been for almost two years, but stretching out and growing up.

Four is a great age. It’s once again the best age she’s ever been. She’s becoming such an interesting little girl.

Kitchen sink bathtime!
Kitchen sink bathtime!


At six months old, Pandra is still developing her own personality. It seems like she’s going to be more active than Lyra, but I can’t be sure. She has an infectious grin that hints at mischief and always reaches her eyes. She’s comfortable being passed around to whomever wants to take her. Her favourite person in the world is still Mommy, but her big sister Lyra is definitely right up there and always makes her laugh. And she loves playing with her Dad, of course.

She’s on the verge of crawling now, and can hold herself sitting upright for a long time. She only topples over now if she’s reaching for something and forgets to keep herself up. As for crawling, she can get around by dragging her body across the ground, but she’s also up on her hands and knees rocking back and forth all the time — it’s only a matter of time before she gets it figured out.

As of this past week, Pandra has four teeth — two on the top and two on the bottom. Her newfound top teeth help her make the most irritating grinding sound in the world. I try not to let it bug me, but it makes me crazy when she clacks them together and grinds them against each other. Even thinking about it makes me shudder. But I can’t really blame her – a week and a half ago, there were no top teeth there. It’s all new!

She’s also just starting to copy things. Just today I noticed she was trying to wave back when someone waved at her. She understands when I make the sign for milk (and say milk) — I know because she gets crazy excited and tries to attack my shirt with her face until I make milk available to her once I’ve said it. She might even be signing it herself soon.

Pandra still looks like her sister did at the same age, but she’s got her own features too. She’s so much bigger than Lyra was — she even fits appropriately-sized baby clothing! Her cheeks, while still huge and ridiculously cute, aren’t quite as crazy as Lyra’s were at the same age. There is no question that these kids are related, though. Some photos make it impossible to tell which is which.

It feels like this time in Pandra’s life is going by so much quicker than it did with Lyra. Maybe it’s because I’m busier, keeping two kids happy and healthy instead of just one. Time is going faster. If I think about it too much I feel melancholic. But I love having this year off to spend with her and her sister.


And so that’s the family as of the beginning of 2013. This year is going to be a lovely one. We have plans to travel back east for a family visitation. We’re hoping to get some camping in with the girls, and do some little weekend road trips to random destinations. We’re getting a puppy in the springtime. There will be adventures!

I don’t know exactly what’s in store for us this year, but we’re a happy little family unit and whatever we do together will be fun. Even if it’s just staying home and playing video games with each other.