Dinnertime in our home is sooooo exciting. Can you tell?
Today is day #47 of Corrigan’s eating strike (solid food, he still drinks formula no problem) . Each day feels like another day closer to a g-tube. I keep explaining this to Corrigan but I am pretty sure he only hears, “mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa, Corrigan!”
We have had an OT come out and evaluate the situation and work with us on ways to encourage him to take food by spoon again. The consensus seems to be that something happened that Corrigan associated with a spoon during his April 29th hospitalization. The last that Corrigan took food, by spoon, was the day we went into the hospital and hasn’t agreed to take a bite, by spoon, since.
I was going with the theory that he was refusing to eat as a sort of control issue. In other words, he has no control over his life, and experiences such stress and pain, that clamping his mouth shut and avoiding solid foods was his way of taking a tiny bit of control of his life. Apparently, I watch too much SuperNanny. They tell me that 12 month olds do not have the ability to think of something like that and then carry it out over days and weeks. Duh. It sounded good though, right?
I am told that, more than likely, I must have tried to feed him by spoon immediately following something painful when he was in the hospital. The stress of that hospitalization and then whatever happened shortly before I innocently tried to feed him…he now associates, without reasoning, the spoon with pain/stress/anxiety. He seriously will NOT lay quietly on the therapist’s couch in order to get to the root of the situation so we are forced to play ridiculous games to re-integrate the spoon into his life without him throwing himself from the highchair in terror.
Also, I never knew that, in theory, the thought is that the sensitivity of the palm of your hand is almost identical to the sensitivy of the inside of your mouth. If you hate the way jello feels in your hand and it makes you want to pee your pants…then jello in your mouth is going to flip you out too. huh. In the course of evaluating Corrigan’s food situation the therapist did some touch testing and we have learnd that Mr. Corrigan has a slight texture aversion issue. Also, did you know that a baby’s brain associates the safety of a situation with the number of what is placed in front of him? huh. Me either.
The therapist shook a big box of Cheerios in front of him. He was VERY interested in the box. She poured out a big pile of Cheerios on a towel and I kid you not..he immediately crawled away at about 77MPH. When she covered all but 10 pieces of Cheerios with the towel and placed them in a cup, he returned and comfortably played with them in the cup only. When she placed a single Cheerio in the palm of his hand he became visibly anxious and stressed until he managed to shake it off of his palm. That would explain why it took over a week for Corrigan to even consider crawling into his little inflatable ball-pit. The therapist said that 50 balls was too much for his brain to feel safe…and had we placed 5-10 of the balls in there at first he would have been more willing to play in it sooner. The fact that it only took a week for him to feel safe indicates that his anxiety can be overcome relatively easily. Shocking that a kid that has been poked with needles hundreds of times and never knows when someone is going to “hurt” him would have anxiety issues, right?
This would all explain why Corrigan will not grasp small pieces of food and place them in his mouth. At his age he should be on mainly table food and not the jar stuff either. For Corrigan, the idea of a small piece of fruit on his tongue is awful and he will not even consider touching the food let alone trying to chew anything. Turns out that we need to do all sorts of ridiculous “play” with Cheerios and lima beans and other larger textured items…and then work down to more “scary” textures such as ground up graham cracker and sand…until he will be able to learn to eat solid foods. *sigh*
We also have to fuss with his face a lot more…tickle his cheeks in play-like behavior…more sloppy, over-dramatic cheek kissing…eventually working our way into slipping our fingers into his mouth in play…the goal being that he will eventually allow us to tap the top of his bottom teeth in a silly game or play “got yer tongue” while trying to pinch it with our fingers.
Have I mentioned that we only eat out in restaurants once a month or less because he will not tolerate a high-chair? In fact, we tried to go to Denny’s, last weekend, and had to leave before the waitress even took our food order. That was after a nearly 6 week break since trying the last time. Soooooooo, we are also doing high-chair desensitizing. *sighing again* Several times a day I place him in the highchair for no reason associated with food. Regardless of whether he sits well for 10 seconds or 60 seconds I let him sit there until he fusses, actually I am to anticipate the exact moment that he is about to fuss, and then swoop him up gleefully, kissing him copiously and telling him how HOLY MOLY YOU ARE AWESOME FOR SITTING THERE 15 SECONDS!!!!!! woooo hooooo…again…and again….
He is to sit with us for all meals but NOT eat. For now, he is simply to play…oh, and play now includes spoons..spoons EVERYWHERE around the house so that he gets used to them being in his life. At the dinner table I am not to FEED him. Just let him be. Which, for Corrigan, means stretching his body in order to try and make himself Gumby and attempting to slide out the legholes onto the dining room floor. Often, he enjoys whining and yelling too…all the while we are to exaggerate our eating sounds and show him how much FUN it is to eat.
Can you sense my frustration in all of this?
I am frustrated because he ate perfectly well for months. Because I doubt he has a sensitivity issue because while, yes, he will not let me put food in his mouth, he has no problem chewing on the corner of the endtable, licking the side of the metal bowl that the DOG drinks out of…because he lets me brush his teeth for goodness sakes. I am frustrated because months ago his Hopkins doctors predicted that my chunky, Buddah-belly baby boy…the baby boy that has never, notonce, NOT gained weight…the baby boy that has thighs that are proof that he was eating well….because before he ever had a single feeding issue…they said that he would need a feeding tube.
I told them he wouldn’t.
…and if this keeps up, Corrigan will be getting nutrition from a bag. Like life isnt already hard enough.
I don’t know what the answer is and to be honest, I don’t think OT knows what the problem is…so how can we fix it? All I can really do is offer him food, by spoon, several times a day and pray that one day it will all click again. One day he will let me shovel tons of greenbeans into his mouth and he will swallow it happily without horfing it all back onto my feet.
Until then, we pretty much all look like the photo above. Our lives revolving around food…eating…mealtimes…practicing…”playing”…eating again…until Corrigan decides that the spoon is no longer an implement of torture.