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Still hard, still worth it. I think. I hope.

Lately I've been clicking on those little links at the bottom of each blog post and reading through past blog posts. Sometimes I need that. I do it on my family blog too. It brings back memories, helps me remember where we've come from, and reminds me that my babies are growing up WAY too fast. Today while I was reading some old posts, I came across one called "Not easy but worth it". It was from almost a year ago and as I read through my own account of chiseling dried oatmeal-raisin and bean purees off the floor, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of supporting the kids through another school year, giving enough attention to my dear little 3rd child, and trying to count calories and adapt to yet another change in feeding schedules for Raya, I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that not much has changed since then. We're rapidly approaching the start of another school year, I will still have 2 little girls at home (unless Raya gets into preschool, then I'll have 1 little girl at home by herself for part of the time), I'm taking classes myself (finishing prereqs for nursing school), and STILL trying to adapt to Raya's new eating skills while coping with her lack of desire to eat anything but what she feels like eating at that precise moment.

Really, it's not any different than what any other mom experiences. Mothers have burdens placed upon them, and although they take different forms, they all serve the same purposes of stretching our abilities, pushing the limits of our patience and self-esteem, and expanding our horizons as we learn to think outside of the box to solve our problems. I've had 2 or 3 people within the last week comment to me on how in awe they are of me (I'm blushing as I type that because there is really nothing to be in awe of...) and although I appreciate that they are trying to compliment me, at the same time I just want to tell them that what I'm doing is no more significant than what they do for their kids. We are all in the same business of raising children, and every mother faces different challenges with each of her children. None are more or less significant, they are just different.

And reeling myself back in from that tangent, I had to laugh when I read that blog post from a year ago because ironically, Raya is not eating any more now than she was then. Things are different, but they are largely still the same. She's just older and the messes no longer consist of pureed beans or oatmeal. She refuses to touch those foods now. :) She does eat a few different things now than she did a year ago, but she's very inconsistent and OH MY HEAVENS does that child have her own opinions about things. She can eat something one day, i.e. chocolate coconut milk yogurt (we're not giving her dairy anymore) and be motivated enough by whatever her prize food is to consume a decent quantity. Yesterday, she ate about 3 ounces of it. Today, however, she refuses to even kiss it. She doesn't want to touch it, she doesn't want it on her plate, she doesn't even want to watch ME take a bite of it. (side note, although I'm not a fan of chocolate yogurt of any kind, the strawberry-banana coconut milk yogurt we had with her feeding therapist this week was DELICIOUS) Even when I got out the Nutrigrain bar that she DID want to eat as a motivator, she didn't care enough to want to take a bite of the yogurt.

I had bought a couple other non-dairy yogurts so when she refused to have anything to do with the chocolate coconut milk yogurt today, I let her go to the fridge and get one of the soy yogurts.

(I should preface this by saying that there are many things that soybeans were not intended to be, and yogurt is most definitely one of those things. The following sequence of events was not entirely her fault.)

Mistake #1: I thought she'd be okay sitting on a regular chair instead of being strapped into her high chair, which she is rapidly outgrowing. While I was trying to get her to eat, there was WAY too much of this going on:
(this was when I heard her swallow loudly and she sat up and said, "Few-mahmouh" which translates to "There's puke in my mouth." Gross.)

Then she finally sat up and held still long enough to take a bite. The first bite went okay other than the funny faces she always makes on the first bite. The second bite looked more like this:

It's a nice mid-gag shot, isn't it? I didn't have the sounds or flash on so she didn't know I was taking her picture. Her feeding therapist always says she's gagging to put on a show for me and sometimes she definitely is. After I had given her the second bite, I tasted the yogurt myself to see how it was. Oh. My. Goodness, it was DISGUSTING. Absolutely, positively disgusting. The best description I can come up with is black cherry flavored ranch dressing. Yeah. Sick. Those gags were honest.

Knowing that Raya has pretty skewed tastebuds anyway, I decided to keep feeding it to her. At that point, she insisted on feeding herself the 3rd bite (she has to take 3 before she gets a bite of the "motivator" food). I handed her the spoon and she sat & stared at me for the next 2 minutes while the yogurt started to slide off. She had decided at that point that she wasn't going to have another drop of it pass her lips, and thus the standoff began.

She was still not strapped in at that point so she was all over the place. I'm not kidding when I say that this girl cannot sit still for more than a few seconds at a time. She is one of the absolute most active 2 1/2 year olds I've ever met. I was rapidly losing control of the situation & knew we weren't going to get anywhere if I didn't strap her in, so I did. It was a wrestling match that ended in tears.
(yes, her shirt is on backwards. she's very opinionated about how she wears her clothing and if she's not being seen in public, I let it slide. It's all about picking your battles.)
I walked away for a couple minutes while she calmed down and then came back to have another go at it. All attempts were stonewalled.

Mistake #2: I told her she couldn't get down until she took one more bite.
Her feeding therapist is always reminding me to make statements to her, not ask questions. So instead of saying, "Do you want one more bite?" I say, "Raya, have one more bite." It's amazing how you don't even realize that you pose questions to your children until you have a child who forces you to take a closer look at yourself. :) If I said it that way to my other 3 kids, it was never an issue but it's a completely different story with Raya. She's more of a "give her an inch & she'll take a mile" type of kid, bless her heart.

As soon as I uttered that fateful ultimatum, I knew I'd shot myself in the foot. I couldn't go back on it because then she'd be in control of the situation, which is not good for a 2 year old with eating problems. If I back down once, she'll expect me to do it again. After about half an hour (which was filled with interruptions or it wouldn't have been quite as long) I finally decided that it was more important to me that she eat the Nutrigrain bar she'd been asking for than it was for her to eat any more of the disgusting yogurt, so I made a small concession. Instead of making her eat the bite, I came down a notch on the heirarchy and told her that if she would kiss the bite of yogurt, I could take it away. To my surprise, she instantly agreed. She put her lips together and waited for me to let her kiss the spoon. I made sure plenty of yogurt got on her lips and told her to lick it off. She did no such thing, of course. She did eat the whole Nutrigrain bar though, so that was a 120 calorie victory of sorts.
Good enough for me, and now we know to NEVER buy yogurt that's made out of a legume again.

Sometimes when I'm sitting across the table from her trying to convince her to have another bite of something, I just can't believe how difficult it is to get her to eat. It seems so basic. You eat to live, but yet she doesn't comprehend that connection. Eating doesn't serve enough of a purpose for her to be willing to put forth the effort to do it a few times a day, every day. I watch her gag on a mouth full of food and just can't believe how hard it is. But you know what, EVERYBODY faces something that's hard with their kids. Every kid has things that are hard for them and every parent has difficulty dealing with something that their child goes through. The difficult thing for Raya and with Raya just happens to be eating. I'm glad I happened upon that old blog post today though, because what I said a year ago was right. This is hard but worth it, and whatever YOU go through with YOUR child will be hard but worth it too.

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