Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crew, Crew, Crew...

Crew has been a weird kid lately. We are in a transition period right now with a developing little personality and ever-changing feeding issues.

When he first became sick last week, eating was the first thing to go (as it always is). I had already been toying with the idea of backing off the pressure for increased calories in favor of increased happiness and texture. He had been resisting his meals with greater insistence with every meal. Every day felt like a step backward. Once we got the news that he had increased his weight to 17.5 pounds, I felt like I could breathe for a few weeks/months and change the focus.

So, I took my cues from him and completely removed all pressure to eat.

First, he totally starved himself. For several days. We were all miserable and I was ready to throw in the towel.

Then... he started eating snacks (with texture, no less!) that he saw the kids eating in the car. In Boise he ate loads and loads of stuffing. He tried to eat a whole apple out of Mardie's hand (not out of mine, of course, because I'm The Enemy where food is concerned). On the trip home he stuffed himself with Ritz Bits and mini fig newtons. This morning he made himself gag on his usual mush, but willingly fed himself Life cereal and cheesy crackers.

Feeding changes are always a blessing and a curse. I have prayed for months that he would return to successful self-feeding. That I wouldn't always feel that "this is the bite that is going to push him over the edge". I hate having to gauge his level of resistance between "he's just being ornery, but he'll eat it ok if I keep at him and turn the cartoon up loud enough" and "he really doesn't want to eat and he's going to make himself throw up just to get out of his highchair, setting our progress back for days/weeks." I have wished for the moment that he would reach for something in my hand because he wanted to eat it. I have always hated feeling like the rubber spoons are an extension of my arm. I hate having food pulled out of his mouth and thrown in my face. I hate knowing that he is hungry, but having him clamp is mouth shut because he has decided that eating is a fate worse than death and it's the one thing in his life that he can control. I hate feeling like I have to choose between what is best for him physically and what is best for him emotionally. Nothing like setting your child up for an eating disorder to make you feel like Mom Of The Year.

Crew has returned to self-feeding! Crew has decided that mealtime can be an enjoyable social event. He ate tiny bites of pizza last night, asking for "more" in sign language, repeatedly and enthusiastically.

I'm pleased. I consider this a step in the right direction. For now I have to let calories (and even well-balanced nutrition) take a back seat. Exploring textures and rebuilding his love for food has to be the priority right now. He's not eating enough to grow on, but hopefully his caloric intake will increase over time. For now, we'll take our small successes and be extremely grateful for what we have.

Fingers crossed that I don't screw it up by pushing him too fast or too far. It doesn't take much at all to derail his feeding success; it's a very delicate, very tense balancing act.

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