At our last pediatrician visit a couple of weeks ago, we discovered that Miss Celie had a “raging” ear infection (the doctor’s words, not mine), and that although she’d grown two inches since her last checkup five months ago (yes, we’re off schedule), she actually weighed less at 17 months than at 12 months. I know Celie is a horribly picky eater, and I had been dreading the appointment, because the list of foods she will eat is quite small, and lately she had begun rejecting certain foods that she previously would eat.
Dr. H said we might need to take her to an occupational therapist to work on her food aversion. (This is an actual thing, this food aversion!) But then she conferred with one of the other doctors in the practice and they came up with a plan whereby we are to offer Miss Celie food once an hour while she is awake. We are only to offer her foods which she actually likes, although they do want us to try giving her PediaSure or Carnation Instant Breakfast as a supplement. (It turns out she hates PediaSure and will only tolerate about one tablespoonful of Carnation Instant Breakfast in her milk.)
If she doesn’t gain weight on this plan, by April 21st, they will send us to jail. No, no, I kid. They will refer us to a nutritionist and possibly also an occupational therapist, who will re-teach her how to eat. (I am serious.) I don’t know if this comes through in my regular blogging, but we are actually pretty healthy, balanced-meal eaters. Viva has even commented that her teacher says she is the only kid who brings healthy snacks to school. (That is rather alarming and fodder for a whole post of its own.)
We are educated, middle-class, blah blah blah, which I hate even writing, but I feel like we have all the tools at our disposal for our little one to be healthy and flourishing. Is our kid failing to thrive? In all honesty, I walked away from the appointment with a giant lump in my throat, feeling like a terrible parent.
Sweet Dub’s reaction was similar: “I feel like we let her down,” he said.
Celie doesn’t look underweight. She has a layer of baby fat, and she has curvy little arms and legs. She has a little potbelly, as most healthy kids her age do. She isn’t fat, but her genetics are going to predispose her to that. Sweet Dub and I were both skinny kids and we are not large adults.
She’s also been teething, this time with molars, and she’s caught every cold that’s come down the pike. Her appetite has not been great. At the moment, she eats most kinds of fresh fruit*, cheese, some yogurt, applesauce, peanut butter, crackers of all types, some pasta, and that’s really it. Oh, and air, in the form of any kind of puffed veggie-type food item like Pirate’s Booty or Snapea Crisps. She won’t eat baby food, she won’t eat potatoes (except the occasional French fry, her one food vice), she won’t eat rice or bread, and she won’t eat any kind of meat. She also won’t eat tofu. She eats green beans and sometimes broccoli.
It’s tough. Sometime she will eat things they offer her at daycare and then she won’t eat the exact same thing at home. Months ago she tried peas from a classmate's plate, and ate a bunch of them. She would eat them at home, but then one day she refused and hasn't eaten a pea since.
She is often crabby, and I am quite sure she is just hungry. But if you offer her a food she doesn’t recognize she will turn her head away and screech until you remove it from her sight, or at least from her highchair.
Someday I will look back on this and shake my head at how overly concerned I was, as I watch Celie eat a bowl of ceviche or something. But for now, I’m in the thick of it, and feeling pretty bad.
P.S. My doctor even suggested feeding her ice cream to fatten her up. Not sure that’s the road I want to take – first of all because of the sugar, and second of all because I don’t want her to grow up thinking of ice cream as a food group. Talk to me in a couple of weeks if she still hasn't gained weight.
* Except bananas. What kid doesn’t eat bananas?