Ye Olde Kidneys

On Friday I spent six hours looking at the lovely scene you see above.

Yes, that is a jail toilet.

I was not in jail though, which is too bad because it would have probably been a better story, likely involving Grand Theft: Cheese, or police arresting me for impaired driving when really I just drive like a grandma.


The toilet was actually in the security room of the hospital, which is where I landed due to my chronic kidney issues. The ER was pretty busy so they took my bed and bumped me to the vacant security room where I got to sit in a recliner under the watchful eye of a security camera while I got my IV.

TANGENT: I had a lot of time to contemplate that toilet, especially since my phone died two hours in, and I just have to say that it is a marvel of engineering. Does anyone who knows anything about jail toilets know if the sink water gets reused as toilet flushing water? Because if it does, I just think I might place my order now. Look how compact it is! How shiny and easy to clean! No sharp edges on which to impale yourself or hidden places to stash contraband! My mom has been looking for space-saving ways to remodel her bathroom and I think I may just have found the answer! Fabulous.

Anyway, I was in the hospital because routine bloodwork I had done on the 31st showed that I had really low electrolyte levels, which are a result of my kidney condition. Low levels aren’t usually anything new, except that since having Olive I have been temporarily, and quite miraculously cured – CURED!- of this bothersome issue. Beginning the morning of my c-section, and spanning up until December 31st apparently, I have been able to maintain almost normal electrolyte levels without taking my usual 10-12 pills a day. But sadly, as this blood test showed, I think that party is slowly coming to an end.

Friday morning was a bit of a gong show for several reasons, and as I was driving to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription before work my hands started cramping and my face started going numb, so I turned around and went to the hospital instead.

It was a bit of a rough day. I had been really enjoying feeling like I didn’t have a chronic illness, you know just living the life with no massive pill containers or nephrologist visits. Guys, I was living the dream! And as I sat there cramping it all sort of came crashing down, and I just sort of let it.

I just tried to relax and breathe while I got my IV.

I am always reminded, when I spend these 6 hour stints in the ER, that nurses really are just the most incredible people on earth. If you are a nurse, you have my everlasting undying respect for the incredible work that you do, including but not limited to how you keep me stocked with warm blankets from that magical warm-blanket dispenser (how do I get my hands on one of those?)

Besides earning me an unanticipated late start going back to work, this new development also raises some issues around breastfeeding. Olive is still nursing, and if I can manage to keep my levels at a decent place with one medication then nothing needs to change. If I can’t, however, I will need to take a second medication to help my body retain the first medication (have I lost you yet?) and this second medication isn’t compatible with breastfeeding, which means that I will have to choose either breastfeeding, or feeling like a real live energetic emotionally stable human being and I mean, clearly there’s no contest there.

I know that the best thing for a healthy baby is a healthy mom. I never had any clear idea in my head about when I would stop breastfeeding, and having made it to fifteen months (if that’s as far as we get) is fantastic, but the thought of weaning does break my heart a little bit. It doesn’t help that Olive is milk obsessed. I’m not sure that she knows I exist independent of my boobs. Plus, if I’m not nursing, um, how do I put her to sleep? Nursing is my secret weapon and if I lose that then I have nothing to lord over Adam, and then he has the edge because he’s had to adapt to comforting, soothing, and putting Olive to sleep all this time without the magic boobs so really he’s actually a little but ahead dammit!

On the upside I am feeling much better thank you, and Olive had a great day with her grandparents and we napped when I got home, and I was reminded again how lucky I am to live in a country where I can spend a day in the ER receiving the care that I need, and walk out not a cent poorer for it.

I’m also on the fence about New Year’s resolutions. Do I make them? I mean, do I ever keep them? Is it hopeful, or just wishful thinking? I know that some people choose a phrase or a word for the new year, rather than a resolution. What have you done? Any tips?

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  • Reply Sam Pereira January 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better. It must be very frustrating when your body doesn’t behave. You’ve done a great job with the breastfeeding… I think I’ll only make it to 12months. I didn’t think I’d make it to 6 months, but I have and I’m surprised how much I like it. (except at the moment when she’s feeding every two hours. Kill me now.) I think I will be a little sad when I wean. It’s natural I guess.

    I chose a word this year. I don’t really do anything resolution wise normally but I do have some goals this year. I chose Action. Who knows what difference it’ll make.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 5, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      Action is a very powerful word! I like it. I think choosing a word might be the way to go. This will take some thought!

      P.S. Don’t you love growth spurts? 😉

      Sent from my iPhone


  • Reply Karla January 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Before you give up on the breastfeeding… I would check with a La Leche League Leader and/or a Lactation Consultant. From the research I did about breastfeeding before I had my son (now 15.5 months and still breastfeeding), most medication can be taken while breastfeeding.

    Believe it or not, a lot of doctors don’t know diddley squat about breastfeeding and how medication is metabolized and how that affects the milk. Most doctors will tell you not to breastfeed to cover their butts. So before you wean Olive, I would recommend speaking with the parties mentioned above and also do a little research into that specific medication itself. This is a good website to start at:

    And about above… I just thought I would mention it in case you didn’t know. A lot of mothers stop breastfeeding because of medication that they don’t know is actually safe and I would hate it if that happened to you an Olive.

    I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery! 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 5, 2014 at 9:09 PM

      That is an excellent suggestion! I’ll check it out on the medsmilk site.

      Thanks, Karla!


  • Reply katesurfs January 5, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    There are only a very few medications that are completely incompatible with breastfeeding! Don’t just believe everything any old doctor tells you! Hope your kidneys feel better… have you ever tried a kidney cleanse?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 5, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      Oh tell me about the kidney cleanse- and about prana! I saw you commented that the polar bear swim would increase it 🙂

      I’m always up for a good ole fashioned cleanse, but I’m not sure how helpful it would be because Gitelmans is basically a part of my kidney that is not working correctly. There are things I can do to make it better/worse but that part will always malfunction, unfortunately.

      Sent from my iPhone


  • Reply Haleigh January 5, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    I know you’ve written on it a bit before but I am so interested in your healthcare. I’ve researched & read a few things but like hearing it from a ‘real’ person’s experience. Would you expand sometime?!

    Hope you’re feeling your very best soon:)

  • Reply Emily January 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    I also (like Sam and Kate both suggested) recommend you look into the medication and Breastfeeding compatibility issue. I really like Thomas Hale’s “Medications and Mothers Milk” which you can buy a copy of online from amazon. If you dont ewant to own a copy, most pharmacists will have one and maybe your public library? Heck, if you get really desperate, let me know what med you need to look up and I’ll send the info along to you from my copy 🙂 good luck and best wishes on this new phase of your journey!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 5, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      Can you look up “Spironolactone” for me? It’s a Potassium sparing diuretic, and it’s the one I would be taking if taking Potassium alone isn’t enough.

      You guys are amazing! Thank you!

      • Reply Karla January 6, 2014 at 3:01 AM

        I just did a quick search on Google on Spironolactone and found these 3 sites right away:

        The last link goes to say at the end, “The American Academy of Pediatrics considers spironolactone to be compatible with breast feeding (7).”

        Reference Listed: Committee on Drugs, American Academy of Pediatrics. The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics 1994;93:13750.

        Very promising start! In one of the articles it goes to say that it may not be safe for newborns, but Olive is far from that and depending on your dosage vs. how often she feeds, you may be able to arrange your dose at a time that allows your body to metabolize most of the medication before her peak feeding time(s).

        But even if you can’t, it says that the dosage that comes through in mother’s milk is: “Canrenone, the principal and active metabolite, was found with milk:plasma ratios of 0.72 (2 hours) and 0.51 (14.5 hours) (6). These amounts would provide an estimated maximum of 0.2% of the mother’s daily dose to the infant (6).”

        Reference Listed: Phelps DL, Karim A. Spironolactone: relationship between concentrations of dethioacetylated metabolite in human serum and milk. J Pharm Sci 1977;66:1203.

        So, just from this quick search here, even if she demands a feed at the most inopportune time, she’s only receiving a minute fraction of what you’re receiving, according to the information that is listed above.

        Again, I recommend more research, but it is certainly a promising start! 😀

        • Reply sweetmadeleine January 8, 2014 at 10:29 PM

          Sorry, Karla the multiple links popped this comment into the Spam folder and I didn’t see it until now.

          Thanks for researching that for me! I was finding it tough to wade through the jargon 🙂

  • Reply Australian mum January 5, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    I’m really sorry to hear you kidney disease is back. I hope it is easily manageable for you. No matter what happens you’ve done a sensational job nursing to 15 months!!! Well done!!!!

    I do hope you can continue but a healthy Mum is the most important thing for Olive (I too have a chronic kidney disease – but not as bad as yours – and have a 4 month old).

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 5, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Why, thank you! And boo to your kidneys – malfunctioning things – but hoorary for your adorable 4 month old! Four months was one of my favourite ages – chubby and happy and just edible, on the whole.

  • Reply Heather January 6, 2014 at 7:45 AM

    Hope you are feeling better!! We really are lucky with our healthcare here in Canada!!!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 8, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Much! And yes, I totally agree. My hospital gown shoulld have maple leafs on it 😉

  • Reply Stephanie January 6, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    I found your blog not too long ago and I love it! I’ve adopted your wipe solution “recipe” and am contemplating the jump to no shampoo. 😉
    I hope your health improves and that you are currently enjoying feeling better and wish you luck while figuring out your medication.
    I’ve never thought of a word vs. a resolution but I have boarded that train and picked a word: Trust. I’m a new mom and have a beautiful 10 week old son, Atticus. I’m dealing with quite a bit of anxiety and stress postpartum and think ‘trust’ can go really far for me. I need to trust my instincts, trust that everything is and will be ok, trust the unknown, the confusion, the questions and trust that the answers will come. I just need to trust in myself and know that I’ve got the love and the brain and I will find motherhood all that I dream it to be.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Ohh I love your word, and how apt with a newborn. Definitely trust your instincts, but also trust *yourself* when you feel overwhelmed, and ask for help. there are some amazing postpartum support lines that are helpful to call and just hear someone say “Nope, you’re not crazy. You’re just a sleep deprived new mom. Here are some ways to cope”. Some days are crazy, some days it’s the most natural thing in the world, but as many people have probably repeated to you over and over, it does get better. xoxo and congratulations to you and sweet Atticus. I’m a big Harper Lee fan myself 😉

  • Reply Sunny January 6, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    I love your blog. I’m so sorry about your kidneys. My son is almost 4 months and I’m finally loving breastfeeding 🙂 Feel better!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Thank you! And don’t worry about the kidneys, most days it’s just a blip on te radar 🙂 Enjoy your baby, and I’m so glad breastfeeding is becoming enjoyable!

  • Reply Amber January 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Just found your blog, love your post about infant sleep! Regarding medication compatibility with breastfeeding- I would suggest the website “Lactmed” or Toxnet, a site maintained by the US National Library of Medicine. It is a searchable database of medications and their risks in breastfeeding. Here is a link to the search function:
    It appears that spironalactone is acceptable with breastfeeding per this website. Good luck!

  • Reply Emily January 9, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Ack! So sorry for not getting back to you sooner– I’ve had a very sick baby who only wanted to be nursed and held for the last four days, but the fever finally broke and we’re all feeling much better now. I’ll send you what I found on spironolactone tomorrow, but just so you know, it’s generally considered safe and compatible with breastfeeding. Pregnancy, not so much– I’m not trying to start any rumors here 🙂 but I thought I would mention it because it looks like you’d want to be off that particular drug if you ever did want to add to your family sometime in the future. Do you have an email address I can send to? I might see if I can just scan the pages (if i can get my dumb machine to work that is) and send them to you instead of copying them out here.
    btw, loved your post on Fear– I can totally relate 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 12, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      No worries, Emily! It’s my own laziness in crowd sourcing medical advice from the Internets 😉

      A few other commenters left links to drug interaction studies that indicated much the same thing, so I have a better idea of the risks, but I can be reached at info (at) SweetMadeleine (dot) ca

      I’m so sorry you had a sick baby- that’s so scary. Glad to hear everyone is feeling better now!

  • Reply Deborah Calderon January 9, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    My husband knows this room well. He works in security there. Good thing we have such a nice little hospital, even when it is full.

  • Reply Prairie January 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Nursing as a secret weapon for sleep is a big topic in our house right now. At 18 months I’m ready to wean and hope that it leads to stretches of sleep longer than 3 hours and maybe less bed sharing. It just terrifies me to attempt it. Right now we’re hoping to make a plan for the time that we’re all healthy enough to give it a try. So anything more you want to write about it would be super appreciated.

    • Reply Emily January 20, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Hi Prairie,
      Just jumping in here with some ideas you may want to try:
      – put your 18 month old beside your partner for sleep. More distance=less opportunities for nursing. And dad can practice his baby soothing skills then too.
      – nurse more during the day, and tank babe up with a good nurse right before bed. Lots of toddlers are so busy during the day they forget to nurse, so they try to catch up at night– not awesome for tired moms though.
      – older nurselings can get the concept of “no milk until the sun is up” which worked really well for my eldest when she was closer to two. It only took a couple of nights of reminders that “no., it’s still dark out, no nursing until the sun is up” before she got it and stopped asking during the night. We did however continue to nurse to sleep before bed and that worked for us because I just wanted more hours of uninterrupted sleep, not to completely wean.
      -transition babe out of your bed by putting their mattress on the floor in your room (or their own room). Nurse them to sleep on it if you want to (or do what you usually do before sleep) and then move to your own bed until babe wakes again. Then you can either bring babe to bed with you if that’s easier or you can nurse or snuggle back to sleep again on their mattress (and maybe dad can take a turn or two).
      – I have found that my nurselings were always quite happy to be comforted to sleep by dad if they knew he was the only option. Ie- if I was out late and he was in charge of getting the kids to bed before I got home. Once I was home again though, only me and my milk would do… Sometimes it’s hard being the favourite 😉
      – you can check out “the no-cry sleep solution” by Elizabeth Pantley for some gentle ways to encourage your child to sleep
      – you could check out a local La Leche League meeting and see what other nursing moms have come up with; this is a more common issue than you might think and there will be lots of different ways of tackling it. The key will be to get as many ideas as you can, pick and choose what will work for your family, and go with that.
      – know that weaning isn’t a guarantee that you will get more sleep– especially not in your immediate future, since since finding alternate ways to soothe your baby can be very time consuming at first. But don’t despair– you will get there eventually 🙂
      – and sometimes, kids go through stages in their development where they just don’t sleep very well. Our non-nursing middle child went through a stage when he was about three and a half where he was waking us up more often at night than our nursing two month old was!
      -whatever you decide to do, I suggest not trying to change too much all at once ( ie, weaning from the family bed, and from nursing altogether, all at the same time). Best of luck to you!

      Sorry to sweetmadeleine if I’ve stolen your thunder here by replying to this post!

  • Reply Let me explain | Sweet Madeleine March 12, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    […] but January was really tough. The worst, actually. The day Adam left was the day that I ended up in the hospital. I remember him leaving for the airport and I was supposed to be going  in to work but I […]

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