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Monday, August 27, 2012

Madilyn refuses to eat

    *I started this last week, then everything got crazy with moving (I'll catch you up soon), so I wanted to finish this one before going further.

 This has been an ongoing problem since we got the girls on January 31.  Figuring out what this baby will and won't eat/drink has been a constant puzzle.  At 3 and half months old then, she had terrible acid reflux and was on prescription baby zantac, which had to be given twice a day, and she hated it and therefore spit up constantly and fought you while trying to give it to her.  Regardless of her zantac, she used to vomit every single day, sometimes more than once, sometimes half a bottle or a whole one.  She never seemed to care, just casually vomiting all over you and herself and the furniture.  While I am glad it didn't cause her pain, it was still very annoying and problematic, raising several questions.  Did she eat enough? Should I make her another bottle since she threw up the whole thing? Did I do something wrong? Will that stain ever come out of the couch? Do I have any clean shirts I can throw on now since we should have left the house five minutes ago? Do I have to give her a full bath or will a good baby-wipe-wipe-down be good enough for now? Thank God she only pukes about once a week or less now.  She started growing out of it when she was around 6-7 months old.  We also started introducing baby solids at that time, and feeding her "solids" (they aren't really solid, just a nasty sloppy mush before you start feeding the baby, and then as the feeding progresses the slobber you have on the spoon mixes with the already moist goo and only becomes sloppier) was absolutely disgusting. John and I literally fought over whose turn it was to feed her, bargaining and dealing "I'll feed her now if you change Mary's next 3 poopy diapers," or "If I feed her and she pukes, you have to clean it up."  Then for a while when we changed her formula she refused to even drink a whole bottle.  She is such a picky baby that she literally starved herself because she didn't like the way it tasted! We had to mix her new formula with her old formula to get her to drink it. Here's a window to our most recent feeding production tonight.

     We believe our parents are the ones to blame here because they give Madilyn little morsels of real people food (you know, actual solids like little pieces of biscuits, cornbread, cake, goldfish, teddy grahams, etc), and she wisely realizes it tastes far better than the bland gerber baby food mixed with more bland baby cereal to thicken it.  Now she has recently begun to refuse all of her baby food and will only eat mashed potatoes and pudding.  John got her KFC mashed potatoes and she loved them.  She did not like Popeye's and we think it may be the "cajun" flavoring.  Tonight he got some from Danver's, and this is how it went:

     Madi has been crawling around getting into everything, as usual, ever since they came home from daycare, but now she is getting irritated.  She screams randomly when she is mad, and then throws a full-blown fit, scream crying until you give her what she wants.  So John takes out half of the individual serving portion and scoops it into a little bowl and heats it up. I stick her in the bumbo (which is totally safe when used on the floor, the recall was for irresponsible parents who left kids up high in them and then fell out).  He sits down in front of her, and Mary sits next to him.  Jonah gets to lay on the floor and wiggle and stretch since she is confined for now.  She won't open her mouth to eat and just sits there whimpering with her mouth closed, waving her little hands as though blocking the spoon.  Lately she has found out that hitting the spoon and/or the bowl of food is quite fun and entertaining when the adult feeding her freaks out and has to clean it off her hands, the floor, the bumbo, and themselves while saying irrational things like, "If you don't quit that I'm never going to feed you again," or "You're so nasty I should just let you feed yourself."  Recalling this, I decide perhaps it will work if I sit behind her and hold her hands down out of the way.

     Now I'm sitting behind her, John's sitting in front of her, Mary is next to John, and we're all fully employed in getting Madilyn to eat.  She likes to be cheered on, so John scoops up a spoonful, waves it in the air and says in his sweetest, cutest baby voice, "Yaaaaaaaaaay!" He nudges Mary and she follows suit, "Yaaaaaaaaaaay!" She also claps, I raise Madilyn's hands in a victory V and when she smiles John quickly puts the bite in her mouth.  She seems to like it, and he gets in a few bites without all 3 of us having to encourage her.  Then Mary picks up a Sesame Street baby book and browses the bright pictures, and Madilyn's attention on her food has been lost.  We start the cheerleading squad back up, and now she eats again.  However, this only works through about 2/3 of the bowl, and then she just quits, not caring about our fervent efforts to make her happy.  Now she closes her mouth tightly with her lips rolled inward like an elderly angry person who has removed their false teeth. It is comical in retrospect, but irritating in the moment that she won't eat more and her mouth is so tightly closed that her eyes seem to bulge.  She is 10 months old but has an expression on her face like I have seen on a first grader who was refusing to come out from under a table when recess was over.  John and I have great motivation to get her to continue to eat because the more she eats, the longer she sleeps.  We're not sure if it's something we did wrong or if it's her, but she still wakes up multiple times throughout the night, sometimes wanting a bottle, sometimes just wanting to be held. We have tried to let her "cry it out," and it only results in her scream crying so long and hard that she vomits all over herself and then still scream cries for about an hour before she falls asleep.  We only tried on purpose once at home, but then it happened again on a road trip that I took alone with all 3 babies (more on that experience later). She has no self-soothing skills whatsoever.  We are working very hard with Jonah to prevent this.

     So, despite the fact that she is now obviously finished, we keep trying to feed her.  She turns her head rapidly side to side, and now mashed potatoes are on her cheeks.  John tries to wipe it off, and I get distracted, and she gets a little hand free.  Madi immediately uses her fist to smear the mashed potatoes on her face and now she starts wildly waving it to try to block the spoon from coming near her face.  Common sense says, "Stop feeding the baby who doesn't want to be fed." However, sleep deprived parents will try anything, and we continue to try to feed her.  Now she head bangs up and down and there are mashed potatoes on her forehead, and she begins to get really angry, and is about to cry.  John tries one more bite, and she starts crying.  This actually helps because when she opens her mouth for a big "Waaaaaaaaa!" he slips in a bite.  This works for a few more bites, until she cries with her mouth closed and then gags.  Since we don't want her to vomit, we finally surrender, and just decide to clean her up.

     She did this multiple times a week, and was also starting to refuse to eat at daycare also.  We told DCS about the problem, and we are praying that her new foster family is patient with her and figures out to get her to eat.  We miss her so much. We do not miss feeding her, or cleaning up vomit, but we miss all the moments in between.  Here are some pics from the night described above:

(Please excuse the mess of toys in the background)

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