I'm fed up, grouchy and frustrated right now. As a Mother of a child with multiple "concerns" I have yet to find something more frustrating than the food battles. I understand a lot of toddlers are picky eaters and it comes with the territory. However, Gabe just doesn't eat. Period. And tonight's dinner just made everything worse: not only did a staple of Gabe's diet bite the dust (rice with butter, olive oil and cheese for calories), but Gabe had one of the worst meltdowns he's had in a LONG time.
Here's how our evening went:
Gabe: I HUNGRY! Mama cook rice?
Me: I can definitely cook rice. Let me start it for you.
*waits 40 minutes for rice to cook.*
*spends 3 minutes topping the rice with calories*
Me: Here you go, Gabriel!
*Gabriel takes one bite*
Gabe: All done rice!
Me: I don't think so, you can sit in your chair until I'm done eating then.
Gabe: All done rice! I go play!
Me: Nope--we're eating dinner. You need to sit until I'm done even if you don't want to eat.
*Gabe (very MAD) shoves a huge handful (yeah, he eats with his hands more often than not) of rice into his mouth. All is well for approximately 4 seconds. Then he starts choking. Not choking choking, like I need to do the Heimlich or anything. Just coughing and gagging. He breaks down into giant alligator tears, which only makes the coughing worse.
Gabe: (Still crying, screaming and coughing at the same time) All done RICE!!!!
*Gabe is bright red, obviously very scared, and screaming his head off about no more rice. I hug him to try to calm him down (and get the rice/butter/olive oil/cheese mixture all over my shirt in the process)*
Me: Ok, you can get down (yeah, I gave in. Well kind of--I mean the kid did just nearly choke!)
*Gabe gets down and continues his meltdown--screaming, shrieking, tears, the whole nine yards*
*I eat my dinner and ignore him*
Gabe: (a little calmer) I HUNGRY!
Me: Ok, let's get back in your chair and finish eating
*Gabe freaks out again--I turn away from him and keep eating*
*Gabe calms down*
Me: Do you want a cookie? (And yes, I KNOW what you're thinking...What kind of good parent offers a child a cookie after a tantrum when they didn't eat any dinner? A parent who will do literally anything in the world to get their child to eat a few calories throughout the day. A parent who dreads meal time like it's the freaking plague, because she's SO tired of this battle).
Me: Ok, well then get in your chair
*Gabe melts down again*
Gabe: No chair! Bad chair!
*Thinking to myself, "Great--now he's scared of his high chair because of the "choking" incident, and mealtimes are going to be that much worse."*
Me: If you want a cookie, you need to sit in your chair
Gabe: No cookie!
*Gabe screams some more*
After 30 minutes of on again/off again (but mostly on again--aside from a break to take a breath) screaming, shrieking, and flailing about, Gabe drinks a sippy of Pediasure and goes to bed. He never did eat the cookie. And honestly, I knew he wouldn't--another reason I wasn't so concerned about offering it to him in the first place.
And yes, I know Pediasure supplies him with calories (240 per bottle, to be exact) and I should be grateful for that. But when it's 85% of his caloric intake for the day (as of his nutritionist/feeding therapist's last estimate) it makes me hate it for 3 reasons:
1. It smells awful
2. It's expensive: $2 a bottle, times 3-4 bottles a day= $56 a week on a "supplement" that our health insurance won't cover, despite a doctor's prescription for it. But that's another rant.
And 3rd, and most important: It makes me feel like a failure as a Mother. I think a Mother's job is to provide 4 things: Food, Shelter, Clothes, and Love. (Of course as all parents know, there is way more to it than that, but when you break it down--A child can survive with those 4 things). I can't feed my child. And it kills me. It absolutely breaks my heart. You better believe that after Gabe's major dinner meltdown, I had a little mini-meltdown too. What kind of mother can't get their child to eat? And I'm not making him eat vegetables. I'm talking grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese. You know, kid food. Well kid food drowning in cholesterol and fat--we're supposed to load up all of Gabe's meals with condiments (I use that word loosely). You want to dip your mac and cheese that was already made with extra butter, in ranch dressing? Go ahead! It's good for you! I gave up on veggies a long time ago. Hell, Jake and I actually fed him a candy bar for lunch one day. He took one bite, spit it out and was done.
Now, I'm not nearly self-centered enough to think that Gabriel's feeding issues revolve completely around me. I understand the medical complexities behind it: hyper-sensitivity to textures coupled with weak muscles (including mouth and throat muscles), a.k.a hypotonia. Possible reflux--we're still working on diagnosing that one. But all the medical explanations in the world, doesn't really make the fact that I can't feed my child easier. Especially when he's so underweight to begin with (I believe a doctor at some point actually called him "malnourished."--talk about a kick to the gut). Pediasure is barely keeping him afloat.
Gabriel's nutritionist/feeding therapist told me that I need to separate myself from the food battle. That it is my job as a parent to provide a meal for Gabriel to partake in. After that, I'm done. If he doesn't eat it, don't worry about it. Yeah, obviously I'm still working on that one.