Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Story of Cash's Eating Issues

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I wanted to give an update/back story for all of our friends that have been following the saga that is Cash's relationship with food. I've had a few people ask me about specifics because they're experiencing similar situations with their kids, so I thought having the full story in one place would probably help me to keep it straight. I also wanted to have it available for myself to look back on and remember how far we've come.

I offered Cash actual food for the first time around 5 months. As with Ellie, I mashed up a banana and put a little bite in his mouth. He immediately gagged and tongued it out. No big deal, some babies just need a little time to adjust to the texture. I tried avocado a few days later and had the same response. I realized pretty quickly that this wasn't going to be easy, but whatevs, he was just a little baby and we would just keep offering it.

Over the next few months I offered several different mashed foods and textures and tastes and it did NOT go well. He was just gag and cry and beg to be out of his high chair every time there was any food involved. I remember offering him EVERYTHING. I actually have a picture of him holding a noodle from Ellie's plate and after accidently licking it, crying hysterically. Personally, I've never had this response to pasta, so I wasn't sure what to do.

At his 9 month check up we discussed his eating habits and the possibility of starting to supplement a feeding with formula to try to help him get some extra calories and L-B's.

And then we moved and he lost his every loving mind.

I'm not sure how it all unraveled so quickly but before I knew it he was completely refusing the bottle, I was all but dried up on breastmilk, and he was losing weight.  We had started supplementing right before the move and he was kinda "ehhhh... okay...." about the bottle at first, but then just started skipping feedings to hold out until it was time to nurse again. When he did nurse, he would only eat about 5 minutes and then become too distracted to finish. It eventually got to the point that for several days he would nurse in the morning and completely refuse all food all day until it was time to nurse again right before bed. Counting wet diapers on watch for dehydration became our normal.

During this time, I was overwhelmed with the support that our friends and family were showing. I mean really... it was a big deal, but not THAT big of a deal. I have close friends that were dealing with much heavier issues with their babies and facing hospital stays for months on end and that mama bear was texting ME to check in on Cash man. I was starting to struggle with mom guilt a little bit- like should I have tried harder to increase my milk supply? Could I have done something else? What went wrong here? And in the middle of that, another friend texted me and basically said mom guilt had no place in this situation because this was for His glory and my sanctification. That became the phrase I would say to myself over and over.

I hadn't really pushed the solids at this time because we were really just trying to focus on him DRINKING but this was about the time that we realized it wasn't just an "I don't like food" thing... it was a "I'm gonna vomit if you put food in my mouth" thing. One day at school they were having bananas for snack in his class and his sweet teacher mashed up a banana and gave him a bite. Never will they ever do that again. He gagged and completely emptied his stomach. And that is why teachers don't get paid enough.

Mason and I had been planning to attend a wedding in St. Louis in March and everything in me didn't want to go. It was supposed to be a big fun weekend away but I was stressed that my baby just wouldn't eat the entire weekend. Our awesome ped told us to GO GO GO and reassured me that he WOULD eat. So we dropped him off at my in-laws with an assortment of bottles and squeezies and syringes and I explained all the different ways we'd been trying to get any kind of nourishment into his body. I remember my hands were shaking when I gave my mother in law the piece of paper where'd I'd written out all the warning signs of dehydration and phone numbers to call if things didn't go well.

A few hours later she texted me a picture of an empty bottle and said "he just drank 6 oz!" WHAT???! She waved her magic wand for the full 24 hours that we were gone (AKA pried his lips open and forced the bottle in because he wasn't going down on her watch) and after 24 hours she had gotten close to 20 oz down him. This was SO HUGE and I was able to exhale for a little bit.

Wow this story is longer than I thought it would be. Thanks for sticking with me this far. I'm going to try to wrap it up.

Pretty much after the wedding he was hit or miss but mostly hit on the bottle but still not able to tolerate food. Anything with texture would cause him to vomit. He would regularly vomit 3-4 times a day. He would lick a toy ball and vomit. He would put a leaf in his mouth and vomit. He would pull a string off the rug and put it in his mouth and... drum roll..... vomit. We went to a speech therapist who told us to just keep offering different foods because his gag and swallow seemed normal. He kept vomiting constantly and we eventually got referred to a GI doctor. She did a scope of his esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to look for abnormalities and found nothing wrong. It was a relief but also frustrating. There was no reason on paper why he should be vomiting all the time but he was. There was nothing we could do except continue to offer food and change his clothes multiple times a day.

He FINALLY started tolerating a FEW foods. We could usually count on him to nibble on a cracker throughout the day (as in 1 single cracker... all day), or possibly eat a FEW cheerios. We were making a little bit of progress and he wasn't vomiting near as often. He had actually gone several weeks without vomiting (a HUGE praise!) when he caught the stomach bug. Yall. I have never met a person who has vomited more in less than a year than our lil boo. The stomach bug hit him hard. A few days after he has recovered, he was back to himself but it seemed like the bug had re-triggered his vomiting episodes because all of a sudden he was back to not being able to tolerate food. Aaaaaaand back to refusing the bottle. We had an especially rough weekend the following weekend and it ended with him completely refusing to eat or drink anything all day on Sunday and me syringing apple juice into his mouth in hopes that it would be enough for him to make a wet diaper.

I would like to side note here and say that John 6 became huge for me during all of this. I listen to the Daily Audio Bible podcast every day during nap time. (I highly recommend it if you are like me and don't always have time between diaper changes and meals to actually SIT and read the Bible.) I listened to the reader discuss John 6 and especially the sections where he identifies himself as the bread of life and encourages his followers to not be concerned about earthly things like food, but to focus on the Kingdom of God.

Personally, I've never struggled with knowing where my next meal would come from, and I've honestly never even given food much thought. Until I had a baby that wouldn't eat. All of a sudden our days had started to revolve around food and ounces and calories in and wet diapers out. What Jesus said about himself- that HE was the sustenance, the "bread", made a lot of sense.

So we went back to therapy. Where he drank a full 8 oz bottle and never skipped a beat. Then ate a strawberry like he'd been doing it from day 1. The speech therapist (understandably) couldn't really do anything for him because he wasn't presenting any problems. In fact, she said he had a fantastic swallow. This is when my frustration peaked. OF COURSE he was going to act like a superstar eater at therapy and then vomit as soon as we got home. I just knew this was about to be the story of the rest of my life.

That night we went out to Mexican for dinner and I haphazardly put a soft taco in front of him. I knew he wouldn't eat it. And if he did, I knew he'd vomit it back up immediately. I was kind of being spiteful by offering it to him.


And kept it down. And was in a good ole mood afterward.

Something happened that day and I have no idea what. He just decided to eat. He's had good days and bad days since then but I can count on him to regularly eat all fruit, toast, yogurt, and anything cracker-like. He still isn't crazy about most other things but oh my word I am celebrating the progress we've made.

We went for his 1 year check up yesterday and that baby is 20.8 pounds which puts him in the 35%. I have never been so excited about weight gain and a less than average percentile. I am so so so so proud of him.

People keep asking me what helped him and I have no answer outside of the prayers of our friends and family. There is no explanation except that the Lord opened his mouth to eat.

We are so thankful and don't take any meal that he eats for granted. Sometimes we just sit at the dinner table and watch him poke down banana bites and side smile at each other.

For His glory and our sanctification.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Moving is like Easter

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Not Safe

We moved out of our beloved 900 square foot apartment on February 25th. It had served us well for 4 years and it's where we brought our babies home.

BabIES, though. Not baby. When baby brother moved in, things got tight. Our tiny roommate would press his face up against the rungs of his crib and smack his lips at me all night long. The 24 hour buffet had to end. So we moved.

We had an awkward 10 days between leases so we bunked up with my in-laws. They were gracious and helpful hosts but my kids lost. their. ever. loving. minds.

Sissy cranked up the crazy and did exactly the opposite of everything I said for 10 days straight. At different times I caught her (among other things) running her own bath water unsupervised, strolling around in the STREET unsupervised, and filling multiple containers to overflowing with the water spout on the delux fridge. Unsupervised. Really though, where WAS her mother?

Her mother was begging lil Gandhi the hunger strike baby to PLEAAAAASE EAT. That's right. The baby stopped taking bottles. And if you follow my life at all you know he cant tolerate a solid without vomiting. So I was syringing formula into his mouth 1/3 of an ounce at a time. Good times.

So what happened?!? Why was Ellie trying to flood the establishment? Why was brother bear taking a stand against nourishment? I think they were stuck in the in-between. They felt that unsettled feeling that you get in your gut when you aren't sure how something is about to play out.

You know. When a doctor skips a beat before telling you what's up. When you feel yourself drifting into a "heated" discussion. When you slam on the brakes. When you ease out of the "safe zone."

We went back to our "safe zone" a few days after we had officially moved to finish grabbing the last few things and to vacuum up the massive hairballs off of the floor because we don't want our ex-management to think we're gross. The weird thing was- it wasn't safe anymore. It didn't have our stuff and it wasn't comforting to my kids. It was a big empty place that used to be ours. We had something way way better to look forward to, but geez- who knew that leaving the shoebox would be such a deal?

I've always thought about Easter with this framework- although I didn't have words for it until I realized what was happening during the FAMILY FREAKOUT. I've always thought about those poor disciples who had invested so much in this now dead Savior. What a long three days in the in between.  They were out of the safe zone from His death on Friday until His resurrection on Sunday. They tried to go back to their previous lives. Specifically I feel for Peter because there are so many details about him. He tried to go back to fishing, but I bet it didn't feel right anymore. It was probably like that big empty, hair ball infested apartment. I bet his stomach just dropped when he got back to the boat.

Something better

EK now calls our new townhouse her "big house." As in- she walks around telling people she lives in "the big house." Like... jail. But not actually. We've got new appliances, nice floors, AND A THIRD BEDROOM FOR THE SECOND CHILD. Our quality of life has gone from like a 3 to a 10. We sleep through the night regularly for the first time in almost a year. I now make attempts at cleaning spit up stains off of the floor because I'm domestic like that. And because I've slept enough to be able to spell my name. 

Even better- a dead man isn't dead anymore. I mean really- can you imagine? Someone who is really dead... isn't dead anymore. He is risen! The pit in our stomachs should melt - we have a new, very reliable safe zone to put our faith in.

Our security isn't contingent on the physical laws of earthly life and death because death is conquered. What better news could there be?

We are resurrection people! We aren't uneasy about being stuck in an unknown. We know. Even when we don't know specifics about this life, we KNOW about a Savior that says there is life after death. We are confident in Him alone. 

We look forward to something way way better.

"But my friends, we are Easter people! We stand on resurrection ground. Easter is not only our greatest party.. Easter is the only reason we are here at all! St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "If Christ is not raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." Without Easter, Jesus of Nazareth would be a curious historical footnote. Without Easter, the world would still be divided into waiting Jews and puzzled pagans. 

So why, when we get to Easter Day, do we not celebrate wildly, lavishly, glouriously, at great length, and with studied disregard for normal propriety?

We should meet regularly for Easter parties. We should drink champagne at breakfast... We should sing and dance and blow trumpets and put out banners in the streets... 

We should be doing things that which would make our serious neighbors say 'What is the meaning of this outrageous party?"' 

- NT Wright 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Happy Black History Month (from your white friend)

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Happy February my friends!

Welcome to the month of "heartbeats" (as my Ellie girl calls all hearts) and feels. Also, awkwardly enough for me, it's black history month.

It shouldn't surprise you that I'm a lot like the Swiss. I like to remain neutral whenever it's possible. I don't like conflict and I don't like uncomfortable confrontations. I don't like to talk about issues facing black people because... well. I'm white... and that's a little tense.

I recently happened upon this sermon by Anthony Moore over at the Village Church. (Whaaa?? A sermon from The Village archives by someone other than Matt Chandler?) I listened to it one afternoon during nap time while I meticulously folded the ever reproducing pile of baby clothes that is always on my couch. I was convicted.

He talks a lot about unity in the Church among races. And that apathy doesn't count as unity. He asks what we would be willing to sacrifice for unity with our brothers and sisters across races for the sake of the Kingdom. Would we be willing to live in a different neighborhood? Would we be willing to go to a different church?

Would we be willing to admit that the gospel is about more than our preferences in regard to hanging out with who we're most comfortable with, worshipping the way that makes US feel good, listening to preachers that WE most identify with? What are we willing to do for unity?

I mean really. I'm a stay at home mom. SAHM, if you will. I'm supposed to be wiping noses and butts and doing my thang. Am I really supposed to wrestle with this stuff?


Mason tends to be more sympathetic about feelings than me. I'm not a big feeler. He regularly has to remind me that even if I think an emotion is silly or a little dramatized, that it is very real to the person that is feeling it and that most of the time, people cannot just change the way they feel, even if they want to.

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an African American teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. It's a really sore thing to bring up. We are all painfully aware of the chaos that happened afterward. There were a lot of feelings from a lot of people. There was a lot of anger and there were a lot of people who felt like the anger was a little over the top.

Personally, I was sad about the death of Michael Brown because he was a person with a soul. I didn't get into the politics of it and I didn't let myself feel the weight of how heavy that must have been to a lot of people. I didn't study the case, I don't have a verdict. But I do know that if the ache was heavy enough for millions of other people to feel it... there's something there that we need to talk about.
Rightly or not, people usually can't change the way they feel. The flame was fanned into a really big thing. 

Now it's Black History Month. Which means basically nothing for me in my day to day routine. Except for the things that Anthony said. I agree with him, that Christians should never be polarized into two camps, pitted against each other. (This applies to a lot of things but I'm not even going to open any more cans of worms today.)

White friends. We don't know. We've never been black. We think we know. We can perceive what we think we know. We can talk about it. But we REALLY don't know.

Black friends. We value you. We want unity. We say dumb things. We're sorry. Please be gracious with us in our attempts.

I'm intrigued with my friend Katrina, who has been posting movie titles that she recommends for helping the land of facebook educate itself about black history. I like concrete easy helps like that.

I know I've been pressing on sore spots, sorry not sorry. If I have to think about it, you do too.

Happy Black History Month, my friends. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Please Be Bored

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My Ellie girl is obsessed with "watching Kates."

Translation: Scrolling through the 1000's of pictures of herself and brother bear on my phone. She especially loves the videos. I don't think she's self absorbed (I mean... she's 2, so yeah, she is... but not any more than any other INSANE toddler muddling through the hardships of the word "no.")

I think she likes the memories. She likes to remember the things that made us laugh or to see how small she used to be. She points out places that we've visited and foods that we've eaten. She wants to hold a moment from the past in the present for a little bit longer and soak it up. I FEEL IT TOO ELLIE GIRL.

I really think this phenomenon is one of the reasons that social media has become the obsession of our culture. We want to share the pictures that make us feel proud and excited with everyone we know. We want it to last a little longer. If we post something, it isn't buried in an endless camera roll anymore... it's public to the world wide web to adore alongside us.

I like all of this. I think it's good. (Such quality sentences there. I apologize to my high school English teachers for the lack of thought expansion.)

Another big thought: I don't think it's bad. (Hold on to your hat.)

Social media has lots of dangerous land-mines, but I don't think its inherently bad. As with most things, within good boundaries, it can foster good things. Through the use of social media, I've been pushed into fervent prayer, been updated on important information, LEARNED HOW TO COOK STUFF ON THOSE RECIPE SPAMS, and left countless emoji hearts as a picture of my love for all the squishy babies of the earth. If you post dog pictures, I'm sorry... It's not my jam.


I hate that we've taught ourselves not to be bored.

This is where device time starts to sneak out of its healthy boundaries. (For us, the boundary is called "take your brain out" time. This begins 1 milisecond after the last baby has laid their precious head down to sleep and mommy and daddy collapse on the floor in exhaustion. This usually lasts about 30 minutes until we have regained the stamina to hold a conversation.) I've realized lately that the trouble comes when our phones come out just because we're bored.

When I'm rocking a baby and I'm trying to be very quiet. I'm a little bored.

When I'm sitting with EK watching Daniel Tiger and... guess what... the plot twist where Daniel realizes that the emotion he is feeling is actually called "jealousy" ISN'T ACTUALLY THAT EXCITING... I'm bored.

When conversation has a lull.

When we wait for food, appointments, or friends.

I think one of the most meaningful things we can give to each other is our full, undivided, undistracted attention. Our kids crave it from us. We crave it from each other. It designates something as extremely valuable. Being bored isn't bad. It peels our eyes off of a screen and places them on the person that we are sitting next to.

So instead of scrolling through other people's baby squish while rocking, I'm admiring my own. If I'm not afraid to be bored, I might stare for whole minutes at their little sleepy faces. I might be prompted to pray for them. Or I might be like Mason and take time to "literally not have any thoughts!" (Men. I can't imagine.)

When I watch a movie with Mason, he gets irritated if I scroll while we watch. Even though, legitimately, I scrolled through the last terrible movie as nightmare prevention. (Save your dollar, don't rent "No Escape" if you ever want to sleep again.) I think Ellie feels the same value when I sit and watch her favorite show with her. It doesn't matter that it's not entertaining for me. It's not always about me. She feels loved when I choose to enjoy something that she loves with her.

If I'm bored in a conversation and reach for my phone, it takes away the tension that would have forced me to think about another topic or share something meaningful. It takes away the time that is needed to formulate and use really thoughtful words.

OBVI I'm a work in progress on this mess.

Let's be mature (read: "ma- tour" like an old lady) enough to create boundaries and be present with our people. Let's be bored again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When It's Heavy

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For me, college was Disney Land. I THRIVE in sunshine and extracurricular activities and friendship. I loved class and missed no opportunity to nerd out in the front row. I seriously loved it all.

Except Personal Finance... don't even get me started. Even then, I counted sitting through the lectures on the betas and metas and interests as a small price to pay for the JOY that I had in this place. (Don't read: college was a small price to pay... it was actually a very large price. Totes worth it... but um.. HEFTY.) 

And then we all graduated and there were no more flag football games and it became work to keep up with even my closest friends. We all started working and getting married, and there was joy in this season too but I saw quickly that it was funneling us into lives that would know challenges greater than keeping the suite's goldfish alive over Christmas break. 

In my current season, my newsfeed is exploding with pleas for prayer from my friends for their sick babies, infertility, housing and financial stress. Personally, I am continuing to work through our failed adoption. All of a sudden, it's HEAVY. Collectively, it seems like we are just very very tired. (Or maybe that part is just me... since I tend to birth babies that never ever EVER sleep.) 

I run from heavy. Nobody WANTS heavy in any context of the word. 

I don't WANT heavy. But sometimes I NEED heavy. Sometimes it is gracious of the Lord to give me things that are heavy. A lot of the time, no one tells you that at church. 

Heavy causes us to slow our rolls a little bit. We sit and think and pray. We desperately read our Bibles as our daily bread. We are humbled. We find ourselves praying constantly and with urgency. We realize that our urgent prayers slowly change from "Lord take this away" to "Lord what are you doing?" We're finally ready to take counsel from others. Our faith becomes real and we hold onto it with clinched fists. We realize that God must REALLY care for us to pull at our hearts in such a strong way; to make us unsatisfied with endless mindless screen time. What a blessing. How deeply he must love us! 

Heavy gives us a unique and huge opportunity. 

After having a fairly large  monumental freak out session and working through my crazy, I have arrived on the other side of the heavy mountain. My marriage has grown even stronger. We press on together. We strive. We strive so hard to represent Christ well. We carefully consider our words and our actions and we are THANKFUL for the ways that God has grown us. 

The fruit is undeniable in so many of my friends experiencing the heavy right now. The testimony they give to the goodness of Christ no matter the immediate outcome of current situations forces fellow believers into diligent prayer and sitting and thinking about their own lives and examples. 

These things have happened and are happening when it's heavy. 

Press on, brothers and sisters. Be comforted. You are not alone. The Lord is doing a great work in your life. He is pulling you in. You are blessed. HE is our daily bread. 

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. - Matthew 5:3  (AKA, the very first line of the most famous sermon ever... so there's that.)