Our Journey with Food

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Last year I posted a blog about Abigail finishing a whole container of baby food. You can read that story here. It was an exciting day!! Our journey of food and eating has been quite an adventure. We are blessed that we never have had a feeding tube, or even a thought of needing one. But there was a time we were not sure how we were ever going to get Abigail to eat anything. Today she eats so well; even eating table foods.

Before we had Abigail I had already decided to breastfeed simply because it is more cost effective for us. Baby formula is expensive! I read everything I could about it,  attended classes and still decided I had no idea what I was in for. Thankfully Abigail knew what to do and she was amazing!! I’m a huge believer that fed is best for any baby. If you can breastfeed great, if not then formula is great too!! I am not a breastfeeding advocate. I was not a huge breastfeeding fan if I have to be honest, so I cannot write about how amazing it was and how it helped my baby. But it did keep her nourished for the first year of her life and for that I am thankful for my breastfeeding journey.

We tried introducing baby food at six months. It did not go over well. Abigail hated the texture. She hated the spoon. I tried making my own baby food. I tried all the flavors Gerber offers. She would eat about a fourth of the container all day long. This is when the food struggle began. I would cry because I knew she could not live off breastmilk forever, and I would not breastfeed forever. But we kept offering, kept trying every trick we could, and kept listening to what our therapists would tell us. The one thing Abigail did catch onto quickly was drinking from a straw. We could not get her to take a bottle to save her life, and she could not figure out sippy cups. I was at a loss how to get liquids into her mouth. But my mother-in-law suggested a straw and we have not looked back since. Abigail was drinking with a straw by nine months, and it is still the only thing she uses today.

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First time eating baby food. She did not eat any of it despite what the picture shows.

At a year we were still mainly breastfeeding and eating what little baby food we could get in her. Our pediatrician referred us to another doctor to get a swallow study done. They wanted to make sure nothing was obstructing her throat because she would also choke and gag a lot, even while drinking water. Around a year old we went to Athens Regional Hospital to do the swallow study. They put barium in her food and water and put her under X-rays to watch her food go down her throat. It was the weirdest thing to watch as a parent. But, as always, there was nothing wrong with her swallowing except for the fact that Abigail did not chew, she simply sucked on everything and then swallowed. So we still were not ready for solid foods.

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Trying sweet potatoes. She hated touching them, but at least eating them wasn’t too bad.

In just a year of working with our therapists, continuing to offer food even when Abigail refused or would choke on it, and simply allowing her to grow up a little more she has made huge improvements. She stopped breast feeding around 15 months!!! She began finishing whole containers of baby food, and she even started eating table food. Today she loves fruit and bread!! She takes after her mama there. She eats chicken, quesadillas, strawberries, Mac and cheese, and other things. Her diet is varied and she is not picky. No, she cannot keep up with a toddler her age but to see her eat table food now after where we were a year ago is so exciting. I would cry at night and throw pity parties about how I would always be a milk machine and nothing else. I was scared Abigail would be that kid who was still nursing at five years old. Jordan, as always, would tell me that is ridiculous and stop my pity parties with his indisputable reasoning. I needed him as I always will. But those fears were so silly, and I am thankful Abigail can eat real food now.

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We still have a ways to go. Abigail gets choked on water every other sip, she still refuses to feed herself, and she will not bite food to save her life. But these things can be helped and learned. To see her progress already encourages me that we can only get better from here. Our food journey has been a rollercoaster, but I am excited where we are today. And I am proud of my daughter!! And I am glad she likes food and has become a little piggy.

My Little Tortoise

I love recording memories during this time. Especially when Abigail is changing almost overnight! I have photo albums, an app, journals, and baby books (and this blog of course) that I use to record this time in our lives. It might seem like overkill, and I know if a second child comes along all that might not be possible to keep up with. Hopefully my poor second child will not be forgotten and left out of baby memories, at least I am going to try to do my best when the time comes. It is wonderful to go back and look at what was happening a year or two ago, and see where we are today. This time two years ago I was about 38 weeks pregnant, and ready to meet our little girl. How time flies!!

But as I sat filling out Abigail’s baby book last night in preparation for her second birthday, I came across blanks everywhere in the ‘Firsts’ section of the book. When was the first time your baby sat up? When was the first time your baby crawled? When did your baby take their first steps? When did your baby first hold their sippy cup? All blank. But, oddly it brought a smile to my face. I just wanted to ditch the baby book and create a whole new baby book unique for Abigail. The questions would read more like, ‘What brings a smile to your face when you see Abigail? What is she good at? What are some of Abigail’s skills?’

Abigail has the ability to do so much more now than she ever could! In just the last few weeks our little girl has learned so many new things. She is responding to commands. She can now lift her leg, blow kisses, clap, and lift her head when you ask her. It is exciting to be able to communicate with Abigail and know she is understanding what you are saying. She is also blowing tummy time out of the water! This baby used to hate, and I mean cry when ever you even attempted to place her on her tummy, tummy time. She could tolerate about three minutes and then she was done. She would lay her head down in defeat because she just did not have the strength to do it any longer. Today, she laughs and smiles and plays while on her tummy, and she never complains or lays her head down even after 10 or 15 minutes!!! Her physical therapist is even trying to teach her how to army crawl in hopes of giving her some mobility soon! It gives me hope for her future.

I believe Abigail will be able to talk, roll around and sit some day. It might be tomorrow or it might be 4 years from now but she shows she has the potential to do these things. Her trunk and arms are getting stronger each and every day. She is getting louder as she babbles to us. In the car I feel like sometimes I need earplugs with her constant squealing. She is rolling from side to side and flipping over from her back to her stomach and visa versa when she decides she wants to. I know we have the potential to have a roller soon and that excites me!!! My baby could be independently mobile!! Honestly, I would just love for her to be able to sit on her own. Then she could play so much easier and we could do so much more with her. We just have to get Abigail some abs!

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It is a s-l-o-w process. We have been working on tummy time since day 1. We have been working on prop sitting for almost 18 months. And we have been working on talking and babbling for about a year now. It has been a long two years of waiting to see what exactly this little girl is capable of, and it is amazing to know we still do not know. She has so much potential in her tiny little body. But that is what keeps me going – the potential for change, for improvement, for independence. To imagine Abigail one day being able to communicate with us or being able to move herself around brings tears to my eyes. I know this day might still be a long ways coming. I mean she has been able to prop sit for over a year now and not once shown any desire to even attempt to sit on her own. Did I mention she is also a little stubborn and independent? If anyone asks, she got it from her daddy. Unless Abigail wants to do something, she will not do it. Trying to get that child into her positions to exercise her is a trip. For a baby who seems to have no muscle tone, she is STRONG, and she will fight you with all she has to not be put into a certain position. But this is also good because at least she has muscles to fight with!

Abigail reminds me of the tortoise in the “Tortoise and the Hare” story. All the other toddlers her age are running laps around her right now, literally. But Abigail is not concerned with them. She is marching steadily on in her very, very slow speed. Still gaining ground everyday, but you wonder if she will ever get to the finish line. Right now it does not look like it most days. But I just think of the end of the story. It is the tortoise that wins the race. I do not say that to say that all the hares will lose, but maybe the tortoise had something going for him. He enjoyed every leg of the journey. He was not rushed or hindered by anyone else. He did not try to keep up with his neighbor. He was on his own journey, loving every minute of it and honestly he probably did not think he would even win himself. Maybe, as always, my little tortoise will teach me something yet. This life is not about how fast you get to the end. We will all get there one way or the other. But life is the journey. Am I enjoying each day? Am I living each day to the fullest? Am I doing my best in everything God has called me to? Abigail may be my little tortoise, but maybe that tortoise will be a winner yet!!!

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