So, as I reported earlier, we visited Seattle Children’s Hospital this week to see Robin, Stella’s wonderful and very wise occupational therapist. We wanted to check in and see how Stella is doing with solids. We were worried because she wasn’t eating as much as a nine-month-old is “supposed to” by now. She had not been showing any aversive behavior, and once in a while she’d chow down on bananas, avocado or toast, but overall, her intake of solids seemed pretty low–maybe 1/4 of a cup for an entire day and a few bites of finger food. And it was taking *forever*.
Well, Robin assured us that Stella was just fine. In fact, Stella has no feeding problems anymore, at all. I knew this deep down, but it was an incredible relief to hear it from our trusted expert.
We realized that the problem was us–not Stella. Robin gave us some very valuable pointers on how to feed Stella more effectively. It turns out that we’d been so afraid to push Stella, based on early battles over breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, that we weren’t offering her enough via spoon. We were way too timid. Stella doesn’t need to be coddled. Ever since our meeting with Robin, we’ve pretty much been “shoveling it in” and Stella has been enjoying 1/4 to 1/2 cup of baby food plus a few bites of finger food at each of her three meals. Just like she is “supposed to.” It’s amazing!
She seems to really enjoy my homemade blueberry puree mixed with a bit of cereal, and that makes me so happy! That said, Stella has a nasty cold, which is making food less appealing to her–especially chunky things like finger foods. She’s thrown up immediately after some of her meals due to coughing fits, but it’s tapering off as the worst of her illness appears to be over. It hasn’t slowed her down too much, but I’m interested to see how eating goes when she feels better.
Stella had been taking enormous bottles, up to nine ounces at a time for a total of 30 ounces of formula a day. Contrast that to the days when when 3 and a half ounces was HUGE! So in the two and a half hours before her first nap, she was getting 400-450 mls (that’s up to 15 ounces in the first couple hours!). No wonder she wasn’t into solids. She was full! As a result, we’re in the midst of a schedule shift. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but it’s made me anxious.
We had our old schedule *down.* I knew roughly how much she would eat when, and it created a nice comfort zone–for me as much as Stella. Well, as she grows we need to adjust, and that’s what we are doing now. But a low-level panic infiltrated my day. By fitting in these larger meals of solids, we are messing with the timing and amounts of her bottles. She doesn’t seem hungry enough to take a bottle RIGHT after solids. I don’t know exactly when she’ll get her 24-30 ounces for the day and it makes me nervous. I have to watch for hunger cues more closely. So, I am officially out of the comfort zone, and am figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s a bit of a throw back to when Stella had her tube and when we were weaning her. I never really knew when she would want to eat. I just had to pay attention and wait–not my strong suit.
I’m giving myself pep talks, and they are effective. They sound a little bit like this:
“If I can survive the anxiety of a newborn that won’t eat, pumping around the clock, mastering the use of a god damned supplemental nursing system, navigating the complexity and chaos of hospitals and healthcare, inserting and maintaining an NG tube, getting no more than three hours of sleep at a time for two months, weaning my baby off of the tube and curing her aversion without (completely) losing my mind, I think I can figure out a new feeding schedule. Damn it, I can do just about ANYTHING.
And so can Stella.”