Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I just need to vent.

Hey friends. Ever since last week's cardio appointment, and all the sickness that surrounded it, I've been in a bit of a funk. Maybe it's the fact that Ethan now has an ear infection, on top of all of his other ailments, and is back on as-needed breathing treatments, plus an antibiotic. Or, it could be that my own eye is starting to feel a little strange, and I've gone through more tissues than should be allotted to one person in two days.

Back in September, when Ethan's cardiologist told us to "let him live" during the cold and flu season, I was so excited about a winter out of confinement! However, now that we've been a little more loose with where we go and who he's around, he has managed to pick up a little bit of everything from everywhere!

(Disclaimer, just so y'all don't think we're completely inept: we haven't knowingly taken him around anyone who has been remotely close to being sick. Yet, those hidden germs still find their way into baby boy's system.)

So, now staying home is just naturally forced on us. And it sucks. Last night, my sister and I went to the grocery store and I'm not sure who ran out of the door the fastest: me, or her. She was home all day yesterday dealing with the insurance company after getting into a wreck this past weekend. The fact that we jumped at the chance to do some late-night shopping at Aldi (in our sweats, nonetheless) gives you an idea of how desperate we were for some fresh air.


Now, due to Ethan's general feeling of sickness, he's not eating. And, because he's not eating? Yup, you guessed it. He has lost weight.

Didn't I just say I was done obsessing about this??

I'm trying, y'all, but it makes me crazy when my boy won't eat. I don't like the person I become when he refuses two out of three meals a day. I know how vital every bite is to his nutrition, growth, and development; however, I also know that when I don't feel well, I don't want to ram a bunch of food down my throat, either. So, I struggle.

It especially drives me batty when he refuses breakfast but then devours an entire banana, with a side of pretzels and hummus an hour later. I'm starting to wonder if there's a power struggle going on? I'm positive I force food on him more than the average parent, which I believe is a direct result of medical professionals stressing me out about his weight. So, because he's almost two, and I've been told that's what two year olds do, he turns all defiant on me, which makes me push harder, which ticks him off, and then the only place the food ends up is on the floor.


I am so incredibly thankful that Ethan has overcome most of his texture/sensory/non-eating behaviors. I'm thankful that, on a good day, he consumes more calories than some adults I know. I KNOW he's able; I just don't know what to do when it turns into a "no!" fest. I would love to read any ideas or thoughts y'all have on this; I know lots of you out there have dealt with very similar situations!

If I'm honest, I think the news from last week's cardio check-up is factoring into my stress about his non-eating. I know that if a third heart surgery is looming in our near future, those doctors are going to want him as chunky as he can be, and his body will need that for healing, too.

I do trust God to take care of Ethan in ways that I can't. But, just as I know my parents only wanted the best for me, too, and acted as a result of that, I still feel the need to shake my fist in the air and say, "Daddy, what in the heck are you doing?!"


Kelli said...

I just recently started reading your blog and you have a very handsome little boy!!!

As a fellow heart mom, and the mother of 2, here's my advice for the what it's worth dept.

I agree that most of what you're dealing with is typical 2-yr-old power struggle mixed in with a sick boy. Yucky combination. If I were in your shoes, I would try to not choose this battle right now with his upcoming surgery, although I do think it's a battle worth fighting at some point when he's well. I'm a big believer in not letting the toddler rule the roost, but in your case I would let him graze if that's what it takes to get the weight on pre-surgery. This power struggle will be waiting for your after:)

One other thought that worked with my heart-boy. He was not a great eater for a long time either, but he was a great drinker. We added Carnation Instant Breakfast (which is packed with calories) to his milk and that helped tremendously. Of course, then you can run into the problem of them not eating because they're full of milk, so it can be difficult too. Just a thought.

Mostly I just want to say that I'll be praying for your entire family as you all approach this surgery. We've been through it too and it's just SO HARD! Stay close to the One that will carry you.

Jamie Fenley said...

Hi Joye!
I know every child is different, but one thing both Chad and I have noticed with Milo is that he eats more when we ignore him.
I often put food on the tray and busy myself around the room. He has no pressure from me to eat, and no sense of power from refusing food.
(Chad just laughed at me and said I should not be giving advice because MIlo is not good at gaining weight. Ha! I guess I can share my observation anyway. It's worth a try!)
Hopefully Ethan will feel better soon and regain an appetite (and some weight). I'll be praying for you guys and the decisions to be made about surgery.

Hope's Blog said...

Eating troubles are the worst. I have no advice because we can't get Hope to gain weight at all. She will eat a little and then give up. She will like something one day and not the next. She will eat like crazy one day and then hardly anything the next. It is frustrating and heartbreaking. I will wish you luck and tell you that you are not alone...maybe that will make you feel a little better.

Praying you all are feeling better soon.

Jen said...

Ah, the toddler eating battle! Lol. Andrew is/was the SAME way. He is much better now, I will tell you it gets better the older they get. Also, daycare has helped expand his horizons a little bit (got him off the chicken nuggets and mac n cheese kick). Like you, I used to completely obsess over this. Andrew being born premature and only weighed just under 4 lbs at birth, it has been a HUGE pressure on us as well. I finally gave it up and I agree with the comment above about ignoring them and NOT pressuring them. If they know you want them to do it (esp at age 2!) they will want to push your buttons (little stinkers!)

I am going to share my 2 cents, even though many may not agree with me, and that's fine! :P We use good ol' bribery. Plain and simple. He wants a cookie or fruit snacks? I hold it right in front of him and tell him he has to take four more bites (his age). Or we use the TV (BAD I know!) but we often pause his movie until he takes a bite. Works like a charm. And often he realizes he actually LIKES it and then we can stop bribing. Ha! Another "game" we play is I'll say, "Ok, mommy's turn!" and I make a huge deal of taking a bite, then we say "daddy's turn!" and he takes a bite! Then we say "Ok...Andrew's turn!" He usually grins and joins right in. Also, in the past (maybe when he was Ethan's age?) we used to cheer and jump and shout and clap when he would take a bite (being total dorks). That used to sort of work too. :)

Well, now that i've written a novel (ha!) I hope something works out and Ethan can get to eating a little better. I hope he gets to feeling better soon!

Jen Foster said...

Joye, I'm so sorry you're down in the dumps. Do we need another girls' night? (I know I do!)

One food thing that's worked well for my SIL is to make fun food. Cheese chunks on a toothpick? Way more interesting than just on a plate! Food coloring in mashed potatoes? Blue food is cool! Hot dog octopus (http://ameliagray.com/2010/05/one-1-can-of-creamed-corn/) anyone?!

Have you tried involving him in the food prep? Give him a plastic knife and let him "cut" with you. Let him put the food on the plate or help you pour the milk into a glass. That has been pretty helpful at our house.


Stefenie said...

Oh yes....the ever irritating power struggle with eating. Ugh!!! Feel your pain. It is frustrating and here is what our cardiologist said.....as long as Logan is eating the equivalent of ONE adult meal in a two day period he will be fine. Little ones hit a growth plateau around the age of two and often become picky little eaters because they don't require the huge caloric intake for all of the huge growth spurts they have the first two years of life.

So, with that being said try to R-E-L-A-X a bit. I know it is hard but you can't force him to eat. Although we all wish we could and that it would WORK. LOL!!!

Logan loves smoothies and those are the BEST way to pack in a lot of calories and good nutritican....fatty yogurt, whole milk, fresh fruit, etc. If all else fails give him a smoothie or carnation instant breakfast.

Praying it gets better!

Dana Enzor said...

Well, you know I don't have kids, so don't really know if you should take all my 1 penny advice or not, but I kinda think a few things of all this:

1 - I really like the no-pressure eating/leaving food out for him idea. I think alot of kids struggle for independence and power at this age, and that idea might help take the pressure off.

2 - I know how important it is for Ethan to gain weight, but what if you compromised a bit on how often you checked his weight, maybe take some of the stress off yourself by not checking so often. Instead, gauge things by how his clothes fit in between weigh-ins. It might help you feel okay with an ounce gone here or there, if he clothes aren't showing it, then when he gains it back it wont be like a continual roller-coaster. Might be totally going off my rocker on that one, but if it makes you a happier mommy, it might be worth trying?

3 - My nephew is in this whole phase of "feeding Thomas". He insists that the train needs to eat, but he doesn't need to. So I just act like I'm feeding the train, make a few "nom nom" noises and then feed it to him when the train is "finished" with each bite. He laughs, thinks it's funny, but he's eating the whole time. Not sure if Ethan has a favorite toy that you might want to try that with?

4 - My nephew eats just about anything off my plate. Not sure why he thinks whatever is on my plate is so much better than what he had previously, but as long as he's eating I don't care. I don't try to give it to him, he just sees me eating, and wants what I have. Of course, I think that's part of the power struggle, and I'm not his mom, so pretty much anything his Aunt does is so much different than his mom,...or so he thinks. You could also see if he'll eat better for Aunt Bubbie, before you try to get him to eat. Crazy I know, but he probably doesn't see her as the enemy in his fight for power.

You're doing a great job as his mom Joye. This seems to me like a 2 year's battle for independence and power mixed with a heart baby's need to gain weight.

Carolina Carters said...

Girl, oh my gosh, I am right there with you! We are struggling with the SAME thing! One day last week I had the nerve to post on our blog that D had become a much better eater...can you say STUPID?! Why I ever typed those words is beyond me because he has pretty much refused to eat anything except cereal since then! And not enough cereal to gain weight (or even sustain it), either.

It is such a struggle. And I'm sure a lot of it is age, but like you, I was hoping that the lull that most toddlers have in their weight gain would give D the chance to finally catch up. Looks like our boys are both following the "trends" of toddlers. Ugh!

Good luck! If you find some secret that works, let me know! I'll be praying for you...especially with the looming possibility of surgery coming.

If only I could pass on my love of eating to my little skinny son....

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