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 THEN HE ATE THE WHOLE DANG THANG.

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.