It is that time again in the 'Tar household. The time where KayTar isn't eating and it drives me to the computer to hammer out my frustrations in words and phrases. The rant? Is long overdue. She hasn't been eating since t he first of the year. Really, she hasn't. I know parents of typical kids think this is a huge exaggeration, but with KayTar, it isn't. I don't mean she hasn't eaten ANYTHING in 22 days, I mean she's eaten veeeeeeeeeery little in that time. Let me give you four sample days, for your perusal.
1 Yumsters yogurt (100 calories/5g protein)
apples and chicken stage 2 jar food (70 calories/1g protein)
green beans stage 2 jar food (30 calories/1g protein)
Not.A.Thing (0 calories/0g protein)
sweet potatoes and chicken stage 2 jar food (80 calories/2g protein)
These are ENTIRE DAYS worth of what she is eating. DAYS. Some of you have very little babies who are eating more than KayTar on a daily basis. Some of those babies eat more than KayTar's daily intake in a SINGLE MEAL. I don't think she has eaten more than two jars (or one jar and one yogurt) in a day once since the start of the year. I know I've said this before, but if it were not for her bottle, can you imagine the shape she would be in? She is almost three and she eats enough for a 6 month old.
I don't know what happened exactly. She was doing well, eating quite a bit of table food (not healthy stuff, but progress nonetheless), then she had an episode, we went out of town, and she got sick. Boom, boom, boom. We always see regression with episodes in the food arena, we expect it, really. But it has been 21 days since the episode and still she is eating like a bird, less than a bird, really, because I think they eat on a daily basis. She stops eating in new environments, like when we were out of town. The first three days she ate nothing but a single yogurt on the third day. And when she is sick, she almost always gets borderline dehydrated, because her refusals are so entirely dedicated. There are three very solid reasons for this regression. I know, I know, I know, we always gain back the ground...it is just, I'm starting to worry is all. It is wearing on me.
The problem is not purely sensory-based, because these are SAFE foods, foods she trusts that are being denied. I mean, I sit her down to attempt to eat and she's screaming and thrashing and sobbing. I try and calm her down, talk her through it, distract her by having her read me the label, distract her by asking her to take and count bites, sometimes, rarely, something works and I can get her to eat a little. More often than not, I can't. I cave. I let her walk away. The alternative is worse, I don't want to make food a battle (more so than it naturally is for her). Josh gets home and says, "What did she eat today?" and I say, "Nothing." most days, in the eight hours he is gone, I usually cannot get her to eat ANYTHING. He will sit her down in the evening and try again. If she eats, this is usually when she does it, but it is rarely smooth sailing, it usually begins with the screaming and flailing and refusal, but sometimes, just having Daddy's face at the other end of the spoon works a little magic and she'll eat a jar....4 oz. 4 hard won ounces of food. Evening has always been her calm time, the time she is more willing to accept things. Breakfast is nearly impossible, even during good times she isn't too keen on morning food. Lunch is hit or miss. Dinner is the most reliable meal but even so, it isn't a sure thing.
A couple months ago, she was ASKING me for food. She would willingly pick a jar and go to her eating spot. Sometimes she might even say "MORE!" after we were done. Now, I say, "KayTar, are you ready to eat?" and she says, "Noooohohoho, I just PLAYIN, Mommy. No eating." which quickly dissolves into a sobbing, screaming mess if I happen to push the envelope any farther. I feel like I am doing her a disservice by not being able to convince her eating is a GOOD idea, but I know that pushing it any further will only compound the problem. But it feels careless, letting her effectively starve herself, you know? Shouldn't I be able to feed my child? Isn't it a tenet of parenthood? Anyone can feed a child. Anyone. But I can't, I can't get my nearly three year old to eat more than an infant.
She's back on Pediasure. Between the Pediasure and milk, she is hitting, roughly, 600 calories or so. It isn't her goal range, 900-1000, but it is something. At her check up next month, I suppose we'll see if any damage is being done to that weight we fought so hard to get back on her little body. I'm tracking her intake again. We're back there. I know we've been here before and things tend to move along at some point, but it is hard, walking these same circles over and over. Is she ever going to gain ground on this? Or is every step forward always going to be part of an endless loop of regression? Are we meant to push this boulder forever? Will we ever reach the top of the hill?
I remember when we initially saw her feeding disorder specialist, she told us the goal was to have KayTar eating normally by Kindergarten. At the time I was floored. FLOORED. Kindergarten? She might as well have said college. It was so distant and we smugly thought, "Surely she will be eating before KINDERGARTEN. How ridiculous!" But now? It seems too close. I actually have doubts than any sort of normal eating routine can be accomplished in the next two years. We've been at this nearly two years already, and here we are, my Excel spreadsheet looking exactly the same as it did last year.