Phew. Things are finally starting to get back to normal around here. And I feel so relieved and so glad! To briefly bring the story of our summer up to speed, we finally got an appointment with a gastroenterologist at Primary Children's last week. The doctor was very thorough in making sure that he had every detail of our story correct before offering any judgement, which was a huge comfort to me (I didn't feel like that was the case with our previous gastroenterologist). We came up with a game plan to help Noah start eating better, and Dr. Varier seemed confident that we could easily and quickly get him back on track. They did one more stool test and the results were--negative! The clostridium difficile was completely gone! Tyler and I both felt like a huge weight had fallen off our shoulders when we heard the news. We eagerly turned our attention to implementing the eating strategies that would encourage Noah to have a better relationship with food.
Dr. Varier gave us two different options to try at mealtimes, and the first one didn't work all. Instead of giving him his special Elecare shake with every meal and snack, we tried reserving the drink for snacktimes and just before bedtime, and serving food only at mealtimes. The theory behind this was that by withholding food and drink until specific times, Noah's hunger and thirst would build up enough that by the next meal or snacktime, he would eagerly dive into the food (at mealtime) or drink (at snacktime) and increase his intake. We tried this for four days without seeing any change at all in Noah's willingness to eat. We decided to switch to Plan B.
Plan B was to simply offer Noah his food first, and give him the drink only at the end of a meal or snack. We saw changes almost immediately, and by the end of the third day, Noah had increased his overall intake to about 100 calories per each meal and snack (before it was more like 25 to 50). It has continued to increase every day, and I can't tell you how thankful and happy I am to see him become invested in his meals again!
We've also had to really change our approach to mealtimes. Over the last month, Noah had developed a really negative attitude about meals and snacks, particularly when it came to sitting in his highchair. He became impatient and started throwing tantrums (and food) for no apparent reason--even if he had appeared to be enjoying his meal 30 seconds before. I'm sure many, many moms have experienced this before, and that his behavior is perfectly normal for a toddler his age. That, combined with his little drink "addiction," had been making meal times even more difficult and discouraging. I have a bad habit of getting wound up when Noah's wound up, so I really had to work hard to make myself relax even when Noah starts throwing food and crying. Tyler's much better at it than I am!
Our dietician also said that making mealtimes a social experience for him was important also, and so we've really been trying to sit down and eat with him. It's so tempting to use the few minutes of high-chair-containment to do dishes and sweep and other household tasks, but I've found that sitting down with Noah and giving him direct attention while we're eating has helped his patience increase tremendously. It took a few weeks of doing this regularly before we started seeing results, but I think that our efforts to make mealtimes a relaxing and pleasant social experience, as well as our little plan of giving him his drink at the end of a meal, have really paid off, and will continue to help Noah eat more (and get fatter!).
Now that it seems we've got the most of this mountain behind us, I've had a lot of time to reflect on the changes that are quickly approaching. Our second baby is due on November 18th, and I can't believe how quickly that is coming up! I feel like this pregnancy has flown by so fast. Sometimes I feel like a deer in a headlight when I think about how soon this pregnancy will come to an end, and how much our lives will change. Often, I feel apprehensive about how Noah will feel when he sees me holding her all the time and giving her so much physical attention. I don't want him to feel sad or replaced, but Tyler keeps assuring me that he will adjust and that he'll be just as happy as always. But mostly I just feel happy. I am so excited to meet our little Bethany!
I'm also using these next few weeks to just enjoy Noah and Tyler and the little life we lead together. Noah is learning to do and say so many things, and I just feel fascinated whenever I stop to watch him play and talk. He loves wearing his shoes, exploring outside, and laughing. He's also developed a keen interest in finding special places for him to sit down--the bottom of a bookshelf, the bottom of the stairs, and any chair he can manage to climb up on. Once we came across a small plastic chair in a consignment store, and he was so upset when I made him get out of it so we could leave! I think I foresee a special table and chairs under the tree for Noah this Christmas...
I love fall. It's such a perfect time to sit back and just drink the good things of the world into your heart. That's exactly how I intend to spend these next four and a half weeks. As always, thanks for reading.