Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weight for it...!

(bear with me, it's a long one)

1) The physical therapist came by to evaluate Caleb again. It turns out that his gross motor skills aren't technically delayed. They're delayed to his adjusted age (11 months, instead of 14 months), which isn't a concern and doesn't warrant therapy. Yay! (In case you didn't now, preemies aren't expected to be caught up to their actual age until they're two, so Caleb is doing EXTREMELY well.)

2) Caleb will now be getting therapy from the feeding specialist, Gaylene, twice a month. I'm SO EXCITED! She helped me teach Caleb how to nurse (and bottle-feed, for that matter) forever ago, so we already know and love her. And I feel like I'm at the end of my rope when it comes to his feeding problems. I don't know what else to do! Gaylene will be saving my life. Here are the things that I learned from her during this most recent visit:
  • Caleb is what is called a "distracted eater." I could have coined that term myself! It's nice to know that what we're experiencing, though, is something that others deal with as well. Basically, eating for him is so miserable that he can't eat if he thinks about eating. Yikes. The need for distractions started small and gradually grew (at first he needed me to sing to him, then to play with my hair and face, then to hold a soft blanket, then to hold a hard toy, then to hold many hard toys--and I don't know what will come next!). If we don't take care of this soon, I may go crazy. So far Gaylene hasn't told me what to do to help with his distractions while eating a bottle, but she said that if he doesn't eat well from the bottle to offer him solids. Yesterday, while she was here, he ate three ounces from the bottle and refused more, so I offered him applesauce. He ate a WHOLE JAR! Who knew that I'd been putting him down for his afternoon nap hungry?! Poor kid.
  • Caleb is also a distracted eater while eating solids. Usually a sock or the top of a baby food jar does the trick. It's not as bad as bottle feedings. But, since he can't eat if he's thinking about eating, what do we now need to use as a distraction? Eating-related stuff! From now on we'll put a big scoop of whatever it is that I'm spoon feeding him on his tray, give him a spoon, and let him play in it. Let me tell you, doing this doesn't make him eat any more, but it makes him fight against me WAY less! I actually fed him without getting a headache and/or an anxiety attack and/or wanting to cry!
  • Gaylene also said that we can't EVER try to sneak a spoonful of food in his mouth. Doing so will make him lose trust in us, and will make him insecure every time we put him in his high chair.
  • If he decides that getting his face and hands wiped off is no longer fun, we need to take him out of the high chair to wipe him off. Everything done in the high chair should be positive.
  • She also said that there is no way he will need a g-tube. With her help, we can fix him. That's wonderful news.
  • Remember how once upon a time he could eat a whole 8-ounce bottle without a problem? And how this huge problem eating started about three months ago? Well, when he was littler he didn't know that he had a choice about eating. He didn't have a sense of individuality or identity. Three months ago (and it becomes more apparent every day) was where he reached that milestone. He realized that some things he wants, and some things he doesn't want, and that he can do things to get what he wants and to avoid what he doesn't want. Yes, the "I wanted that toy and I will cry in hopes that you will give it back" tantrum stage. Yes, the "mommy is out of my sight and I've been abandoned and I'm all alone in the world" stage. Yes, the more difficult stage.
  • Gaylene and I can do everything in the world to help Caleb, but nothing will matter if we don't find answers with the GI specialist.
  • Getting Caleb to the point where he can enjoy eating, hold his own bottle, stop fighting against eating, and eat a little more will take close to a year. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this....
It's SO nice to have a plan! I think I will sleep a little better, cry a little less, and have a little more faith in my ability to parent. Give us a year, and this bad thing will end! (And in the meantime, I'll just become very well-educated on baby eating problems and enjoy life a little more.)


Heather said...

You and Gaylene are awesome! I learned so much from your post!

Cortney Scott said...

I am so glad to hear that he won't need a g-tube. You can do this!! and so can he!

Katie B said...

I can feel how excited you are to be making some progress! Or at least, getting ready to make progress. I'm really excited for you! That makes sense, to make the high chair only a positive place. I wouldn't have thought of it but I get it. Clever lady, that Gaylene