I took this picture at the playgound last Friday, the day Hannah hit the 20 month mark.
Fall has been crazy, in all kinds of good and tough ways. I won’t say bad ways, because I think in general we are pretty charmed and grateful for that. I feel like I have a lot of friends going through some really difficult stuff at the moment, and so I don’t feel like we’ve earned a “bad” description for life these days.
Hannah’s been in feeding therapy since April or May (when we were able to get off the waiting list) because she has an intense gag reflex that prevented her from being able to eat solids. When we tried her with solids at 6 months, she threw up pretty much everything we gave her. I had my suspicions that food would be tough for her when she was unable to breastfeed without issues, despite seeing 4 different lactation consultants (so I pumped and bottle fed her for 11 months until my supply just died). But we didn’t really know the scope of it until we tried solids. We didn’t push the issue, but by about 8 months she was waking up every night for another bottle. She was just so hungry, and we couldn’t get enough in her. This went on until her first birthday, when she was old enough for the pediatrician to decide she wouldn’t outgrow the feeding issues and refer her for feeding therapy. That ended four months of almost daily middle-of-the-night feeding calls, which resulted in delirious parents, scrambles to get out of the house in the morning, and the eventual issues with my old job. It. Was. Stressful.
Around that same time, when she started waking up hungry, her physical development also started to slow. She rolled over, babbled, and crawled right on schedule. But then the schedule kind of ground to a halt. The feeding issues set her back a few months physcially, and she was also in PT until she just up and walked on the second day of school at her new Montessori program. She did 6 months of PT before being discharged at the end of September, and she’ll be in feeding therapy for a while. With a speech therapist who is also starting to work on her speech issues, since her oral muscles are way underdeveloped.
But she’s made so much progress. She eats purees. We are still working on adding texture and flavor, but it is incredibly difficult for her to handle…it doesn’t help that she was so traumatized by food early on that she is incredibly suspicious of it. She still has 3 (and sometimes 4) bottles of Carnation Instant Breakfast each day. Not our ideal choice, and certainly not what we the Whole Foods-shopping foodies imagined feeding our kid, but her gastroenterologist put her on this diet because, by her measurements, Hannah was pretty underweight (there are so many different charts and measures for this that we’re never sure where Hannah falls on the weight charts). She needed to pack on the calories while we slowly worked on getting her to eat real food, and Instant Breakfast is cheaper and tastier than toddler formula–she also didn’t refuse it like she did with PediaSure, which is just nasty. You pick your battles to keep your kid healthy. I try to avoid the “I’m a terrible mother because things aren’t going the way I envisioned” syndrome, but I definitely have my moments.
We were plugging along pretty happily, getting ready to move forward with her therapy, and then October just railroaded us. After our vacation Hannah had a series of bumps and bruises to her face (including a bit tongue, two canines that took forever to break through, and a tumble down the stairs) that regressed us pretty much back to where we were in June with food. It’s exhausting to make so much progress–which, admittedly, means going from no purees to purees with graham cracker crumbs mixed in!–and then be back at the drawing board. She wouldn’t take anything but bottles for a while, but we’re working our way back up to puree with the occasional crumb in it. She’s still a healthy weight and is insanely healthy otherwise, so I’m not panicking. It’s just tiring.
But she is an incredible little lady, and there’s the payoff. She is so funny, and lovable, and determined. She’s a fierce little thing, she’s constantly elbowing her way into packs of older kids to try and play with them. And she’s pretty fearless, which is amazing to see. In the world of “issues my child could have” I count this one as mild. I’m thankful for that, since it’s November and time to talk thankfulness. Very thankful for that.