Hope in a bottle


Some days, the bottle looms so large that it casts a shadow over everything–but only because I let it. Because I’m so very, very tired and incredibly discouraged and wishing to the point of physical aching that Stella would just eat.

I mean, can you imagine if someone begged you, on their hands and knees, to eat tons more than you actually do? Wouldn’t you lose your mind due to the sheer abundance of joy and calories? What’s so crazy about all this is that there was a time years ago when I went to really unhealthy lengths to stay thin. Not anymore. But nwo I have a daughter who at four months won’t willingly eat enough. It’s circular and messed up and if I think about it too hard my brain hurts.

We had a bit of a tough day. Well, to be more accurate, I had a tough day. Stella was fine. She wasn’t enthused about eating. But she slept a lot, had fun with mommy and a bunch of new toys from her aunties, went for a walk, and just generally had a grand old time.  Really, she was fine, even though her tube came out again. Ugh. I’d like to point out that she doesn’t yank it out on purpose. She has a habit of grasping whatever is near her, and guess what? Her tube is always near her and if you take your eye off her for .2 seconds, she’ll grab it and flail her arms in her usual fashion except this time, because the tube happens to be in her chubby, cute, scrumptious-looking little paw, the tube comes flying out, the tape is torn from her face and my stomach drops to the floor with a loud thud. It’s happened way too many times, so upon seeing her waving the end of the tube around, the end that is supposed to be inside her tummy and not flapping around in the air, I resolved to NEVER let it happen again. It’s torture to put back in, and Cody and I fear that it exacerbates her reluctance to eat due to the irritation it causes to her throat. So, I hereby declare that the excess length of tube will now always be shoved down her onesie/outfit when not in use. I will  secure the bit that extends from the “tape” (Replicare underneath the tube with Tegaderm on top) behind her ear. I will watch her with even  more hawk-like intensity, removing the tube from her stunningly strong baby grip as soon as she snags it. So that’s settled anyway. Stressful, but settled.

In related news, Cody and I started going to a couples counselor. Being a new parent is really stressful. And being a new parent of a child with an NG tube is, I am pretty sure, even more stressful. And conflict inevitably arises. And it helps to have an objective, educated, helpful and kind third party to help work things out before they blow up in our faces. We believe that maintaining a strong relationship between is as important to Stella as solving her eating issue. Really. Our energy, the way we treat each other, the way we deal with conflict and stress, it all gets fed to Stella just like her $43-per-can hypoallergenic formula. It’s an eye-opening experience that really just boils down to us both learning how to deal with stress in healthier, more compatible ways. I am learning to not take my frustration out on Cody. And Cody is learning to not withdraw from me. We realized in our first appointment that “The Tube” has become an entity unto itself. It is the focus of a lot of attention and fear. We talk about “The Tube” like it’s Darth Vader, tempting us to the dark side. Well, I do anyway, and I’m working on letting all that go, which can only be good for all of us.

So, after her Obama-like, hope-filled weekend of feeding pr0gress, she’s had a downturn. There are some clogged nipples to blame, as the thickener we use in her bottles requires intense emulsification efforts–involving whisks, shaking, large containers and gourmet chefs–to blend properly or else little blobs of the goo will block the flow from the nipple. There are also ripped nipples and impatient moms (me) to blame. In an effort to clear out and prevent clogging, I aggressively cleaned those problematic bottle nipples with a tiny little Dr. Brown’s bottle brush and, without realizing it, tore the holes wide open so that formula gushed out at a pace that probably traumatized Stella. I felt horrible upon realizing what I’d done.

But in spite of everything, tonight at 9pm, after a discouraging day of what seemed like feeding regression and a blunderful gmail video chat attempt with my family back east, Stella downed a whole bottle in five minutes. If we’d had champagne on hand, I’d have popped that cork in a second and sprayed the alcoholic fizz all over Cody and Stella as if we’d just won the Superbowl. But we didn’t have any bubbly available, so we danced to The Kinks’ “Picture Book” again and ate Boston Baked Brownie Cake. I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas eve, really. I hope yours was just as good.


  1. Hatice Toprak Yong · June 3, 2009

    Hi Amber,

    I fully understand you as Miray tube come out so many times My heart ackes every time happens, everytime I read diary I cry and hope that my baby will take the bottle or food one day..

    • amberhj · June 4, 2009

      Hang in there Hatice, and continue keep me posted via email if you can spare the time. She can get through this–you just need some support. It’s insane that doctors expect parents to manage the tube and weaning on their own! You are doing everything you can and in time, it will pay off. I once felt what you are feeling. You are not alone!

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