Monday, January 9, 2012

Off The Charts

The only time in recorded history that Ian has eaten a banana.

After Ian was born, he was in the NICU for ten days. At 8 lbs. 11 oz., he was easily the largest baby there. The other seven babies in his "pod" were all tiny preemies, and then there was Ian, huge by comparison, down at the end. Fast forward to present day, where Ian has fallen off the bottom of the weight charts. He drinks whole milk, plus two Pediasure shakes a day, in addition to his meals, and yet we can't move him past 25 lbs. It's one of my biggest frustrations because every time we go to clinic or see the pediatrician it's always the same, and it makes me feel inadequate as a parent.

Ian was a great eater and gained weight perfectly until he was around 18 months old. The transition from pureed food to regular table food was a difficult one, for all of us. Because of his spina bifida, Ian also has a Chiari II Malformation, which can sometimes cause apnea or swallowing issues. His neurologists have determined that his malformation isn't severe enough to hinder his swallowing, but he does have a really sensitive gag reflex. He can gag, or even throw up, just from seeing someone else eating a food he finds unappealing, or simply from seeing someone chew gum. When he began eating "real food" he choked and gagged on almost everything; it was a nightmare. He began to refuse to try new foods, preferring to stick with a few "safety foods", which were mac & cheese, cut up hot dogs, and applesauce. We've managed to add a few other foods to his menu: grilled cheese, toast with Nutella, and pudding, to name a few. Problem is, he still won't gain weight, and feeding him a meal can take a hour or longer. We have to beg, bargain, and threaten to get him to eat on a daily basis. Asking him if he is hungry or wants to eat always results in a vehement head shake, usually accompanied by whining for emphasis.

When we came to terms with the fact that Ian would not use his legs, and therefore not walk or run, I was concerned that his weight would get too high from inactivity. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he'd be needing weight checks because he was underweight! We've been to nutritionists who've basically said to just put extra butter and cheese on his food, while others say it is just part of a typical phase of picky eating that he will get over eventually. After two years, I'm pretty tired of waiting for him to get over it.

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