And then I had no choice, but to surrender

I’ve previously written about my son’s struggles with feeding & eating since his birth. When he turned two back at the beginning of May, he started refusing to be spoon fed the puree he’d been accepting for the previous 18mths. On a human level, I understood it – none of his friends were being spoon fed anymore, so why should he? On an emotional level & in terms of being his mother & needing to feed him, panic set in. My little boy who was still considered ‘failure to thrive’ (FTT) & had recently lost weight had decided to refuse all meals. His daily intake consisted of snacks & his two milk bottles & I was beside myself with worry.

I stressed about this day & night. The thoughts & knot in my stomach was all consuming & encompassing. My anxiety (Selma) was through the roof. I could see that there were no physical & developmental deficits from his lack of intake as he continued to be full of beans, energetic, able to understand my commands & had started saying a few words (although we had started speech therapy with him a few months prior). Our weekly feeding clinics continued & he showed the same level of interest he had in previous weeks (apart from his rejection of cold & wet foods) & I continued to be at a loss as to how to get him to eat meals at home. He seemed to eat some of his meals at creche which was beyond relieving for both myself & his carers as they were also worried for him.

I have often thought that having a child with feeding & eating issues was one of the cruelest jokes mother nature can play on a mother. Feeding your baby/toddler is primal & having this taken away from you is one of the most awful things for a parent to experience. A friend of mine called it ‘emotional torture’ & I couldn’t agree more.

Months went by with no breakfast, lunch or dinner being eaten by him. He ate snacks, drank his milk & I was in a panicked frenzy every meal time & leading up to each meal. I decided to take Flynn & consulted with a Paediatric dietician to come up with some ideas of how to increase his calories & intake per day. He was prescribed Pediasure to be added into his milk & this was a successful addition to his daily bottles after a week of slowly adding the scoops (due to the vanilla flavour). I was relieved when he took his milk bottles & sometimes even finished them! It was suggested we try making other puree options for him, by pureeing meals prepared for both Orli & Seon & I due to the amount of protein in some of the on-the-shelf pouches. I bought squeeze ‘ems (reusable ouches where I could put in my own purees for him to suck on), bought & stuck Peppa Pig & Thomas the Tank stickers on them to excite him about the content. I pureed, it was rejected. I froze, ice cubed chicken, beef & veggies & they were all rejected. I wished he had a PEG or g-tube  because it was meal insurance – what he didn’t have orally, he would still get. It was the insurance I had for his first three months of life when he was being fed nasal-gastrically. (Note: Please know I don’t mean to minimise the function or use of feeding tubes & other long-term issues that feeding tubes create – weaning, oral issues etc – I am grateful for my son not having one, but my anxiety at the time just wanted my son to be fed).

I was exhausted, defeated, frustrated & disheartened. And then I surrended.

I HAD to relinquish my control over his food & his intake. I had to let him be the one to decide what & when & how he was going to eat. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my whole life & each day was a mental & emotional rollercoaster.

Three months of Flynn only eating at creche, we went to feeding clinic & something clicked inside Flynn’s brain. He started to eat new things & was happy, excited & engaging – he wanted to share the experience with us. At this session, we started using a new technique/strategy on how we spoke & engaged with him during meals & it was a thoroughly positive experience for all. It worked. And it worked because HE had decided he was ready. It worked because the room was free of anxiety & pressure. It worked because I had surrended myself a few weeks prior. And then I didn’t care why it worked – it was working.

He ate a chicken nugget, so that night at dinner it was nuggets. He ate them, I used the techniques learned that morning & I cried tears of joy that whole time. The next night I added chips (fries), which was something I was petrified of re-introducing after many failed attempts previously which included gagging/chocking & vomiting. He ate them. I cried. The next night was fish fingers as they looked similar to nuggets. He ate them. I cried. After months of offering & preparing toast, he started eating it. Meal times were more relaxed. Everyone got excited when he ate something new or tried something new. There were made up songs, dances of joy & lots of high-fives against those little toddler hands.

The next few weeks was researching recipes & preparing food together. We did healthy savoury muffins & vanilla cupcakes. I added quinoa flakes, chia seeds & at times & used veggies I’d never cooked with before. We used our strategies & techniques when he would try them & I’m proud to say that there have been many, many successes.

Even though Floo has started eating, I’ve had to admit I’ve now started worry about the nutritional value & calories content of his meals (will the worry ever be at bay?????). Some parents complain that all their child eats is nuggets & chips & I’m bloody thrilled. I’ve now started using Superfoods for Kidz powders in most of the foods I prepare for Flynn & Orli too. The best thing about the powder is that I can add it to batter, soups, mixtures – anything. I feel better knowing his food is ‘better’ for him & Orli too.

As much as I can report that Flynn’s eating has improved, so has his aim. Food flies across our kitchen, yoghurt is wiped all over the table & his is proud to tell himself off ‘nauttttyyy’ (naughty) when he throws food all over the place. And this brings a whole new level of frustration – but he’s eating & now we’re experiencing what other families experience with babies/toddlers at mealtimes – which is something I’ve been waiting for & hoping for since his feeding issues started at  eight months of age.

Another milestone we’ve experienced, is that we have officially eaten out as a family. We ate at a food court together which is simple & ordinary & something most families take for granted. At two years & three months, we have finally had a meal out together that didn’t include me spoon feeding my son, being stressed about him eating or worrying about him cracking it & refusing his food. I had to pinch myself as this has been something I have wished for for so very long.

I could not have stayed sane during this time had it not been for the love & support shown in the LTBM Australia (Laryngomalacia, Tracheomalacia &/or Bronchomalacia Australia) closed FB group. I’m certainly not alone there when dealing a FTT child, a child with oral aversions or food sensory issues, with the feelings of anger, frustration &/or sadness. I am certainly not alone of feeling robbed. Thank you, to each & every one of you that virtually held my hand & sent hugs during the ‘great food refusal of 2013′.

And to all of you that ‘liked’ or commented on my FB posts, photos & videos of Flynn eating – thank you. You’ve all made this hard (& often lonely) journey easier & it’s our pleasure & honour to share our good news & wins with you all.

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Job application for living my life well

There are many ways to look at oneself in order to gain an insight into how you truly think & feel about certain things & situations & to also learn about how your behaviour is shaped by these experiences (or memories). I enjoy the challenge of trying different things because you never know which approach you’ll resonate best with, which method will have the most impact for you or the technique by which you will learn the most about yourself.

I thought it would interesting to do a job application type of self-analysis & pretend I’m applying to living my life well. Nothing will happen if I’m not hired, I’m just using the categories that one tends to use when applying for work. I’m hoping to get a good look at myself & my life & to get an insight on how I think others might see me. I’m hoping through this process I’ll be able to better determine & prioritise what is truly important for me to live a healthy & authentic life: not hide behind fear & be the person I want to be & what I want my children to remember me for.

So without further ado: here’s my job application for living my life well.

Name: Yuz or mummy

Age: Old enough to know better, make better decisions & choices, but will never old enough to think I know everything about everything. I’ll never be that age. That age is full of negativity, loneliness & closed minds.

Education & experience:  I completed high school & went on to gain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. I went on to work within the advertising industry for the next ten years working in account management. Deadlines, massaging client & creative team egos was part of the job as well as meeting unrealistic timelines, deadlines & budgets. I worked hard, worked really long hours & wanted to do the best I could every day. I was an extremely loyal employee & conscientious too & this was an interesting combination in the advertising industry full of huge egos, employers who would often take advantage & the clients often reminding us all that we were in fact in a service industry. Some days I wasn’t far off table service in a restaurant without the tips.

My strengths:

* Loyal & conscientious – I still see them as a strength.

* I’m extremely passionate about all sorts of causes & will volunteer my time, experience & skills to helping out when I’m physically & emotionally possible.

* I will stand up for my kids health, welfare & their right to grow up in their own time & at their own pace. No one’s (that I know) has won a Nobel Prize for learning to point at six months or been the first to walk in their playgroup.

* I have the global phenomenon – & often ignored or downplayed characteristic – called ‘mothers instinct’. I might not be the best mother in the world, but I’m striving to be the best I can be, & while I don’t have a medical degree, I know my child: I know when they’re in pain, when something’s wrong & when to speak up when I don’t think I’ve been heard when it comes to their health & wellbeing. If you want to see my mama bear come out, just insult or talk down to my child or disregard, downplay or ignore my pleas for assistance when it comes to their wellbeing.

* Generous – with my time & with our money, but mostly time. I volunteer for many organisations & support groups that I am passionate about & rally up the troops for our annual Relay for Life event.

* Give people the benefit of the doubt – always. No matter how hard this is. The disclaimer here is that everyone gets three chances & depending on how much this person means to me, I either approach them about it or I let the friendship move down a rung on my importance-in-my-life ladder.

My weaknesses:

* Not stepping up to my intrusive thoughts about my worth, my doubts & my fears.

* Not being able to shut my mind down during discussions or an argument already thinking of the next thing I want to say & not hearing or listening to what’s been said.

* Channelling my inner Archaeologist: I dig up shit from the past & am passionate about holding on to it even though it holds no value or will help my contentment & happiness in the long term. And what’s so confronting about this is that I now have an audience to this behaviour & I don’t want my kids learning this trait through my actions & inactions. I want them to learn to deal with stuff & move on, let it go & not to assign any more meaning nor perceived worth to things that don’t deserve it.

* Lying to myself about when I’m not ok & putting on a brave face or mask.

Ok, now to stare down these weaknesses, confront them & make a concerted effort to do something about them. I know there’s no such things as a perfect person, but I know there’s always room for improvement. I can be & can do better.

Now to work out the ‘how’ in doing that…….

 

I wanna….

A few weeks ago there was a thread on the Mama’s Comfort Camp closed FB group that allowed us to explore our ‘ wannas’. The comments appeared quickly, were shameless, funny, honest, full of hope & love & the underlying realisation that approximately 90% of our ‘ wannas’ were just not going to happen or be feasible. However, it was a lot of fun where we learnt so much about each other & for a short period of time dreamt unashamedly & freely.

Allow me to share with you what I wrote as well as more ‘wannas’ that I’ve thought of since then. I’m also hoping that the chances of some of these being feasible works out more favourably, especially the ones where I share my hopes & dreams for myself & my family.

So here goes:

I wanna be able to call Maya Angelou whenever I need or want to.

I wanna nanny (to do the annoying things like clean up vomit & poo & deal with tantrums & I’ll still do everything else)

I wanna holiday home in every holiday destination around the world of my choosing.

I wanna endless supply of cash.

I wanna maid.

I wanna question what makes people famous.

I wanna have warm weather all year round – for it to always be Spring & Summer & to never ever have another Winter.

I wanna infrared capabilities to zap annoying people in the supermarket (grocery store) that are about to come up to me & say something stupid.

I wanna second toilet in our home.

I wanna have more time in the day for just me.

I wanna spend days & days talking to Dr Gordon Livingston.

I wanna chef & personal service from our favourite take away places.

I wanna wand so I can make people’s wishes come true.

I wanna employ the worlds smartest scientists & doctors who will work on getting rid of cancer. Cancer Sucks.

I wanna toy store at the back of our house so my kids can grab another whatever to play with when they’re bored.

I wanna have happy & healthy kids.

I wanna be able to go to the toilet by myself & be able to close the door.

I want my kids to learn they must be responsible for their actions & inactions.

I wanna only travel first class. Without kids. They can meet us where ever we go. Screw that. I wanna have our own jet with a play area, bedroom & lots of staff to do everything.

I wanna ensure my kids feel good about themselves – who they are what they look like & what body shape they have. I hope society, the media & advertising changes to help me with this quest.

I wanna rid the world of sick babies & children. It’s just the cruelest thing.

I want to invent a neurobionic sensor to place in my brain to zap away judgements before they occur. I wanna also be able to insert these into other people. I shall experiment on those people first. You know the ones I’m talking about.

I wanna hire more scientists & doctors to get rid of those ‘extra’ calories in the best tasting foods.

I wanna have go go gadget arms in the supermarket when I need to reach the top shelf.

I wanna be able to look back on my life & truly have no regrets.

I wanna ensure my kids are instilled with the knowledge on how to be good people & how to participate & contribute to society as they grow older.

I wanna end the shame & stigma of all mental illness, mostly all Postnatal (Postpatrum) Mood Disorders (PMDs)

I wanna have Elle Macpherson’s body. I don’t need to be that tall though. I’d be happy just with the overall shape.

I wanna be able to be teleported so I can meet all my PPDChat Mamas & my Comfort Camp Mamas. Maybe the boffins at Skype can work on this one.

I wanna have an infrared zapper in my kids so they get zapped Bart style when they start to whinge or whine.

I wanna ensure no child anywhere in the world lives in poverty or goes without food, water or shelter.

I wanna get rid of the substantial time differences between Australia & the UK/US. A few hours here & there could really help Seon & his game developing & also me catching up with my Mamas.

I wanna remote control for just about everything I can’t be bothered doing. I’m talking to you dish washing, bottle washing, clothes washing & hanging up & folding & putting away & also to you, putting away groceries & tidying up toys.

I wanna make Prejudice a flavour of ice-cream or icy pole & not a nasty human trait.

I wanna invent an anti-bacterial spray that automatically sprays out of the fire sprinkler systems in daycare centres, pre-schools & schools so that my kids don’t bring home lice, coughs, sniffles, diarrhea or vomiting. I know you’re going to tell me it’s good for them to get sick as it builds up their immune system & I shall retort with ‘that’s fine, if my nanny was dealing with it’. Also, I hate seeing my kids sick. It breaks my heart.

I wanna have Diet Coke on tap. Post mix is not acceptable.

I wanna ensure all children can access basic education so that they are given the opportunity to be the best they can be.

I wanna night nanny that looks & smells exactly like me, but isn’t me.

I wanna be remembered for being kind, generous, spirited & loving.

I wanna punch the next person that tells me having my kids at 36wks ‘isn’t really prem’.

I wanna be a cowboy & you can be my cowgirl. Just kidding. It’s just a really bad song.

I wanna let you all know that are suffering with any sort of PMD, it’s not forever & you will get through it.

I wanna be ok with cleaning up vomit, cos I’m not, & I have to be.

I wanna be ok knowing that anyone in the world that knows me or not, is going to read my blog.

I wanna rid my body of ever feeling tired. How good would life be if we didn’t get tired?

I wanna be happy, healthy, content & a good enough mum.

 

I know I’m not done with these & I’ll probably add more as the days go by. In the meantime, want to share some of your ‘wannas’?

Special thanks to @story3girl & for @jamesandjax for having the conversation on Twitter & opening the discussion up, giving us all the permission to dream.