Friday, March 9, 2012

Feeding Woes

I've always hated the saying, "Never trust a preemie" - but it's been going through my head all week.  Just when I think we're making big steps with Samuel's feeding, he throws us all for a loop.

It's been a rough couple of days filled with tantrums, food spitting, and a LOT of gagging.  We've noticed that over the last several weeks, he is progressively chewing foods less and less.  The cause?  Poor oral motor skills?  A lack of desire to eat stemming from his continued use of the bottle?  Who knows.  The result?:  many heart-pounding moments of "Am I going to have to do the Heimlich?" and much less table food being attempted in general...even the foods that he has ALWAYS eaten (like crackers.)

So when his speech therapist offered to re-evaluated him for feeding therapy even though he likely won't qualify for the language portion of her services, I was relieved to say the least.  We have quite a ways to go before he becomes an 'average eater.'  I look forward to the day when I can check-out at Walmart without a cart full of baby food:
cashier: "Oh, how old is your baby?"
me:  "Almost two."  
cashier:  With a funny look on her face, "Oh...ooook."

In the meantime, it looks like we are going to have to take that scary, SCARY step of putting away his bottle...and no one's happy about it.  There have been quite a few melt-downs (his and mine - HA!) and Day 1 bottle-free has just begun.

I know what you're thinking.  "He is almost TWO and he's still taking a bottle?!?  He should have stopped using it a year ago!"  Believe me, I am well-aware of that fact.  It's not something we are doing because it's easy or because it's comforting for him.  The Pediasure that we give him in his bottle has been a significant source of calories over the past year.  It has been our safety net on those days when he wouldn't eat anything.  It has also been a great help over the last couple of months when he needed calories in the middle of the night because he didn't eat enough during the day - crucial for a child who has yet to hit the growth charts.  With a bottle, he can drink an 8 oz can of Pediasure in three minutes flat....several times a day.  With a sippy cup, we are lucky to get in 4 oz over the course of the day.  

By lowering his daily intake of Pediasure, his interest in table foods will increase.  At least, that's what we hope...

Although his feeding issues right now are nothing compared to what we were struggling with over a year ago, I've found that those old feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and hurt surface just as quickly as they used to.  The first thing that pops into my head is, "What kind of mom can't feed her child?"  Naturally, as a mother I feel that my job is to nurture and nourish Samuel...and when that mission becomes complicated, it's hard not take it as a personal failure.

I know he will get there eventually, and hopefully this will have just been an 'off' couple of weeks for him.  Either way, I'm going to be praying for progress for Samuel and a lot of patience for myself over the next couple of months!

And on a different note, I've noticed that the blog kinda gets neglected when it comes to photos.  So here is a week's worth!  (PS.  I'm a bit obsessed with my Instagram app right now.)


  1. This is really tough, that's for sure. And I know the pain of still using Pediasure with a nearly 2-year-old. But the fact that he's gagging so much and not simply refusing food makes me wonder if Samuel's not eating because there's something bothering him and not because he's being willful. In which case, simply taking the bottle away won't really help.

    That's just an idea, though. You obviously know your son/situation better than I do. And also you're doing a GREAT job feeding him. He looks so healthy and vibrant in these photos.

  2. So glad the therapist is going to look into the feeding issues. Praying they will have some clue as to what is going on and how to deal with it. Please don't beat yourself up...the only people judging your parenting skills are people who have NO IDEA what they're talking about. Who cares what the ignorant think?? Hang in there honey and don't get just another speed bump, but he is moving forward and doing well. And if he gets any cuter I am going to turn into a big pile of mush! He (and you) are adorable!!! BIG HUGZ!!!

  3. Sarah.. I know that anyone who has seen where you have come from through either first hand experience or through your words will ever judge your actions. You are feeding Samuel the only way you can. Let the cashiers look let them answer oddly but also try and let them go through what you guys have been through in the last two years and keep those same opinions. You are making wonderful strides with him. Don't get discouraged. We are all here praying for you.

  4. Totally with you on this one. Preemie feeding issues are a whole different world.

  5. I was a nanny a few years ago for a five year old who had a eating problem (well, he had lots more problems than that, but eating was a BIG issue.) If he didn't like what we put in front of him, he wouldn't eat at all. For days. And his mom was sick of dealing with it, so I had to deal with it. I remember soooooo many meals where I had to step out of the room, get a glass of water, and just breathe! Many, many meltdowns were had! I totally feel your pain. You're definitely in my prayers - specifically in getting him in feeding therapy! We also did feeding therapy. And it helped a lot.

  6. Sarah - I can only commiserate. We used bottles for both Mary Louise and David for over 2 years. Don't think we didn't get looks, snears, know it all comments from anyone and everyone. I could say don't worry about it - just look at how GORGEOUS and healthy your sweet boy is and know that you are fabulous parents - but of course it's easier said than done. I've said many many times that being a parent is so isolating - but being a micro preemie parent...oh, the back bone one must have! I am so hoping you find your way and things ease up. In our experience, we weaned bottles down to night time only - my guys would actively eat and put down in their sleep and we would brush teeth up to 3 times daily - no cavities. During the day, I had (and still have) food out constantly for them. They don't necessarily eat full meals just yet - but do eat almost constantly during the day. It took a long time (months) but when we finally took away their bottles, there were no fusses or fits - we just took them to choose new sippies, filled with water and read to bed as usual. They were actually excited! Very best wishes - hang in there Momma! All in their time!

  7. Both Camdyn and Cade are still using bottles too for the same reasons Samuel is. They will drink Pediasure from a bottle in no time at all but try a sippy cup and we, like you, only manage to get 4 oz. My other concern is that the developmental specialist we see at the high-risk clinic says they are supposed to be drinking from open cups, but at our last swallow study, we were told Cade can only drink from slow-flow nipples or sippy cups with stoppers. (Camdyn has to do the same only because they switch out cups.) They get so frustrated trying so hard to get anything out of the sippy cup. I really don't know what our next step is supposed to be.

    Has Samuel done a swallow study lately? I ask because I'm wondering what you've been told about cup alternatives and also just wondering if any of the gagging you talk about has to do with aspiration. Before we had Cade's swallow study done, he was still choking/coughing often, and we found out he had been aspirating without using a slow-flow nipple. I need to talk to our dr. about doing a repeat swallow study to see where we stand now. I would love to know what you guys have been told since both Cade and Samuel have the vocal cord paralysis.

    Also our dietician said to start trying less Pediasure in hopes of them eating more food instead. They get so many calories from the Pediasure that they just don't have any room left for calories from food.

    Sorry for the really long reply, but it seems we are often on the same page in our journey. Best of luck to you. I hope you start seeing an increase in his eating, and don't feel bad about any of it; you are doing everything you can to help Samuel. A lot of this preemie stuff is just not in our control.

  8. I would get him tested for food allergies right away. Many of the children we see have these issues that were unrecognized by their pediatricians and intervention teams.