Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The State of Isaac's Diet

For those who haven't been reading my blog since the beginning, I offer today my very first post.

This wasn't supposed to be my first blog post. I didn't originally envision that my blogging debut would be a piece about my son's baffling, terrifying refusal to eat enough food to grow.

I had been reading other people's blogs for quite a while before I started my own, and I had considered becoming a blogger for a long time before I took the plunge.

I had a Livejournal account, back in high school, before blogging was cool. Before blogging was even blogging, actually. Back then it was pretty much just called online journalling, because no one had thought of giving it a hip new name. So I had a Livejournal account, with an online journal. But I never really wrote much of anything in my online journal. I had a Livejournal account so I could read other people's online journals.

Some years later, I got myself a Fotolog. This was technically a blog-- a photo blog-- but I didn't really think of it as a blog so much as I did as a cool place to store and share my photos.

However, after my son was born, I discovered this newfangled blog genre called Mommyblogging. I loved to read other women's personal stories about parenting. Reading about other new mothers' total exhaustion made me feel less tired. Reading about other new mothers' isolation made me feel less alone. Reading that other new mothers had ALSO had to stifle the occasional disturbing impulse to toss their screaming newborns out the nearest window at three in the morning made me feel a WHOLE lot less crazy.

And as the "captions" on my photo blog began to grow suspiciously long, I started to wonder, should I start a blog?

I came up with the perfect name for my blog. I came up with the perfect subject, too!

(And that subject was?

Um, well, politics, actually. I originally thought I wanted to blog about the intersection of parenting and politics. With a little social and cultural criticism thrown in for spice. I know, I know. . . )

And then I proceded diligently not to write a blog for several months.

You see, something was happening in my life that was starting to distract me, a lot, from any ambition I might have had to become some sort of intellectual love-child of Erma Bombeck and George Orwell.

My son, my ONLY son, my baby, was getting very, very thin, sickly-thin, and refusing to eat. And I didn't know why. And neither, it seemed, did any of the expensive specialists I had been taking him to.

So when I finally wrote that post, that first post, here on that blog I'd so cleverly titled The State of Discontent, it wasn't about the intersection of parenting and politics. It wasn't a clever, sarcastic social critique. Because, frankly, at that point, I didn't give a rat's ass about that crap anymore.

When I wrote that post, it was a cry for help, in what I thought was an empty room, an echo chamber. It was a scream into the aether. I didn't expect anyone to read it, really, let alone respond.

But, people did. Mothers did. Offering me a supportive ear I even realize I'd needed so very desperately.

So I wrote more posts. And more people responded.

And then, offline, I found a diagnosis. Online, I found Lisa and Dawn, who each had a child with the same diagnosis. I finally found some good doctors. And a good occupational therapist. And
as the months went by, my son still struggled. I still struggled. But slowly, he kept getting better.

The other day, Peter asked how Isaac was doing in terms of his picky eating problem. And I realized I have not been updating my readers much recently on his progress.

I know a lot of people come here searching on Google for things like "why won't my child eat?" because their own children also are, or once were pathologically picky eaters. I have gotten another of emails from other parents of children with severe eating issues over the past couple of years, asking me for advice, offering me some advice or just wanting to commiserate.

I hope what I am about to write gives some encouragement to other parents who are dealing with this issue.

Isaac is still exceedingly picky, and still doesn't eat as much as I'd like, but, sometimes I lose perspective on how far my son has come.

He will now consistently eat: butter crackers, water crackers, graham crackers, Goldfish crackers, Wheat Thins, yellow corn chips, blue corn chips, potato chips, wheat bread, white bread, sourdough bread, plain bagels, blueberry bagels, asiago cheese bagels, cheese garlic bread, garlic nan, plain croutons, toast, french toast, pancakes, tortillas, hard pretzels, soft pretzels, Fruity Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Life Cereal, granola, butter, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, American cheese, colbyjack cheese, cheese quesadillas, chicken quesadillas (without salsa), grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, soy nuggets, popcorn shrimp(!), cheeseburgers (without toppings), french fries, sweet potato french fries, sweet potato chips, dried carrot chips, raisins, golden raisins, dried blueberries, dried apricot, dried pineapple, dried coconut, dried mango, fresh sliced apples(!!!), plain dark chocolate.

He will now occasionally nibble at: deli ham, scrambled eggs, gouda cheese, orange slices (!!!), blueberry muffins, bran muffins, banana bread, cupcakes, cake, cake frosting, vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream.

He will now consistently drink: water, apple juice, grape juice, berry juice, orange juice, lemonade, fruit punch, cow's milk, chocolate cow's milk, chocolate soy milk, chocolate milkshakes, strawberry milkshakes(!), mango lassi(!!), vanilla Pediasure.

All right. So, you'll notice, there are no fresh vegetables on that list. The fresh fruit selection is limited.

Rice is not on that list. Neither is pasta.

(Trust me, the fact that my child will not eat rice or pasta drives me up the proverbial wall on an almost daily basis.)

But, let's look at that old list again:
"The only things he is willing to eat in any quantity with a smile on his face are dried fruit, dried coconut, apple juice, and Breyers vanilla ice cream."
I think he's doing quite well these days in comparison. Don't you?


Farrell said...

I don't think sophie has that, though in the early days, when she was only in the 3rd percentile for her weight, our pediatrician did suggest occupational therapy for hear eating. But then she would eat something else, and it would be fine.

I was an extremely EXTREMELY picky eater when i was young, so my mom just thinks this is "payback." What Sophie does is she latches on to a certain food or foods and that's all she'll eat for like 12 months (no joke) until she's so sick of it she'll never touch it again. for example, she ate a bowl of Cinnamon Swirl (no other flavor) Quaker Oatmeal every. single. morning. for EIGHTEEN months. Now she won't go near the stuff.

Anyway, I'm not saying sophie has SID or that I am struggling like you struggled I am just saying that since she is super picky, I feel your pain.

Awesome Mom said...

I am so glad that he is adding more and more food to his list. I am sure it seemed like he would never eat anything. It has to be amazing to look back on where he was and see where he is now. Kudos to you for being an involved and educated parents so that you can figure out what if right for him rather than blindly taking what others tell you as fact.

Jaelithe said...

Trust me, Farrell, I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for parents of kids who are natural born picky eaters, no matter WHAT the cause.

Before I had a kid of my own, I honestly used to think that most parents of picky eaters just weren't trying hard enough to introduce their children to a healthy variety of foods.


I've learned THAT particular lesson in humility the hard way, haven't I?

Anonymous said...

That's absolutely awesome!

Debbie said...

Can I get seriously corny for a minute?

I started *sobbing* when I read that list.

It's a beautiful list. Wow. Whatta list.


Jaime said...

How wonderful! Your blog was the first one I found when my son's OT first mentioned his feeding issues might be related to sensory integration issues. When I read your post about Isaac trying a grape, I was thrilled. To see this list is so exciting. I do appreciate that you take the time to post updates like this. Seeing the food lists gives me ideas for foods to try, too.

My son's OT just told us about "food chaining" this morning. Have you heard of the book and the blog?

Jaelithe said...

You know, I hadn't heard of that book, but it looks like I've been doing that already! I always tell other mothers of picky eaters to have a picky kid try a new food that is similar to something he or she already eats, and to try to vary the way familiar foods are served (with added condiments or flavorings, cut in a different way, etc). So I am glad the authors of that book have come to the same conclusion and are spreading that advice, because it works.