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Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Good and the Guarded

This was supposed to be a uniformly positive, upbeat post. We've all been really quite upbeat lately with what has been going on with Hallie and I've been meaning to post for several days now but have been crazy busy and not able to sit down and write (and deal with converting a couple of recent movies we took into MP4 format).

Anyway, let's start with the really good stuff:

For the first time, ever, on Tuesday morning, Hallie said 'Mama'! Sharon was getting ready to leave for work and Ami had Hallie on the changing table and was changing her diaper. Hallie flipped over and stood up (as she is wont to do--this is one of those things we find bone-chillingly frightening), tried to reach over Ami to Sharon, and said "mama". Sharon had been trying to get her to say "bye-bye" (Hallie still just waves), but this was a pretty great substitute. Sharon called me just as I was getting off the train to Lancaster to give me the wonderful news.

So, of course, we tried several times to get her to say it on Tuesday night so that we could document the event. The only thing that worked (and that still works) is getting Hallie upset. Fortunately, our DVD player complied quite nicely with this request. Hallie had been bopping with Elmo to the "Bump-Bump Baby Bump" segment of one of the Sesame Beginnings videos we own when the frame paused mid-bump. For those of you out there interested in scientific experiments, let me just say that we've proven that sweet potato chicken splashed into a DVD player on numerous occasions is pretty much guaranteed to break it. Anyway, we got this video, which ends with one nice "mama" and a few classic whines. Forgive the real-life camera work.


Other than the DVD player dying a slow, painful death, we had a pretty good week until today. Hallie is teething--she appears to be getting 6 to 8 teeth right now and they are in various stages of popping through and so she is pretty miserable (and sleepless, as are all members of her family), but she's being a pretty good sport about things. Her vomiting is still way down (we've had 11 out of 22 days in February that have been totally vomit-free), and while her appetite has been off yesterday and today, it's been pretty good otherwise, and she's really been enjoying her Coach Farm drinkable goat yogurt. She has also been having a ton of fun with Karina, whom she has seen every night this week. We got the following cute video of the girls the other night: Karina shows off her penchant for hamming it up for the camera, and Hallie demonstrates her skills as a motorist and a climber. I, once again, demonstrate why I am not a gaffer, a best boy, a key grip, or a Foley artist:

So, other than the fact that we are all delirious because of teething (I really was up until 4am with Hallie, whose teeth were killing her, and then co-slept with a very fitful toddler until 8:30 this morning), things have been going quite well. So, where's the problem?

The problem was with Hallie's weight check today. We were in for our monthly Synagis shot and plopped her on the scale as usual. And we were SHOCKED. Hallie had lost about 13 ounces since February 6th---which amounts to close to an ounce a day. While it is true that we had backed off on the added calories and had first taken away the Karo syrup from her bottle and then decreased and finally removed the extra goat milk powder, we did not expect this kind of loss---just a leveling off of her weight. We had been joking that our girl was getting chubby, when indeed she had been wasting away. This threw us for a loop and sent us panicking. So, the Karo and the extra powder have now been added back into the formula and we are back to sleep-feeding her that final, huge 8 ounce bottle at bedtime. We are slated for another weight check and appointment with our pediatrician in two weeks. So much for not having to be back in his office until August!

This all shocked us, and made us realize, more broadly, how little Hallie is able to eat in a day. She is so dependent on her formula for calories, protein, and most of the good stuff that goes into her diet. Other than her goat milk formula, the kid eats about 2.5-3 jars of baby food a day, another few ounces of goat milk yogurt, a few ounces of homemade fruit puree, maybe a cheerio or five and a small cluster of Veggie Booty and some juice laced with Miralax. That's not much at all and we have been unable to increase the volume. This is clearly a problem and I wish that, one day, it would just go away on its own, but until then, we apparently have to micromanage Hallie's intake. This is sad, because we've been getting so much more relaxed about things and have clearly learned our lesson. I also suspect that some of the decreased vomiting is related to fewer calories in the bottle, and it's hard to admit that you'd prefer vomiting to weight loss, but this is all too true. Talk about a rock and a hard place (or at least a messy place).

So, in addition to feeling exhausted, I am (and Sharon is) a bit dejected. We are hoping that once the teeth are in, Hallie's appetite will improve and that, if she can gain back some of this lost weight---she has never lost weight before, other than the time last April/May when she was doing very poorly---we can begin to work on things like getting her to eat solids. We're hoping that this turns out to be just another one of those one-steps-back-to-take-two-steps-forward kind of a thing, but either way, this really put a damper on the week.



23wktwinsmommy said...

Well, first let me tell you how excited I was to read that Hallie is saying "mama" and clearly meaning it!!! Amazing news!

As for the weight loss, I feel terrible. I know you guys were trying not to stress as much about the eating, especially since she was gaining so well. I am sorry this stress is back, but with all your persistence, you know what will work for Hallie and that is adding the "stuff" back in. Hopefully, with the teeth in, things will turn around, and hopefully soon we will be watching video of Hallie eating chicken figers, spaghetti, french toast, and other table food goodies!!!

Anne said...

I am sure you were thrilled to hear "Mama!"

Sorry about the weight loss and the panic that can cause. Eliza has had quite a few months of weight loss over the past 2 years, oddly sometimes in the very months I would not have expected it. I have tried to train myself to panic only if it is two months in a row. Except for one dark period, each month of weight loss was followed by a month of gaining.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the weight loss ... teething, extra activity, bad karma, who knows. Try not to panic... Hallie looks beautiful and maybe this weight loss will just have have been an off month.

Lori said...

Congrats on "mama"! Hearing words come out of your toddler's mouth is one of the most amazing things ever!!!

I am trying to remember what things we did to maximize Aidan's calories when he was maxed out on volume. I guess we fed him a lot of high cal foods. He got a lot of bananas in lieu of other fruits since they are so much higher calorically. If I think of anything else I will pass it along. In my experience with Aidan, teething, new developmental things, etc definitely all temporarily affected his food intake. I think with all of the above he had a short period (a few weeks) where he lost weight. Then he would get over the teething or feel more masterful of the milestone and eat more and gain.

I HATE HATE HATE micromanaging food intake! It is such a pain. And all the while I was doing it, I always wondered if I was doing the right thing. Was I impacting his negative food attitudes even more?

Then add to it "well-meaning" friends and relatives who would be quick to tell me, "Don't push him. He will eat when he is hungry."

Oh really? And I guess you get that information from your vast experience with intubated preemies?! Give me a break. One of the most mentally and emotionally freeing things anybody ever said to me was when Aidan's feeding therapist said, "Lots of kids with feeding issues will let themselves starve. Kids with feeding issues don't fit the eat when they're hungry mold."

I am quite sure you and Sharon will do the right thing. You always do.


Judith and Jason said...

You're right, the filming is a bit dizzying!
That's so great to hear about her saying mama!
So disappointing about the weight loss. What did the nurse say once the number came up? I am sorry to hear that you have to go back to the dream feeding. In addition to the extra bottle at night, I guess you just need to give her the max calories in the volume she takes of purees. (which I am sure you do...)I always check the calorie content of the purees I give Nina. ..that's why she rarely gets carrots. Why give her 4oz of something for only 35 calories?

Cora said...

I don't suppose that you made them recheck her weight on the same scale and a different one, did you? I've gotten a weight before at the ped that had to be wrong, and I always wished that I had made them reweigh her on another scale. I'd really try not to worry too much about it, but I'd also probably re-add all those extra calories.

We feel your pain on the teething front...does it ever end?

Laura said...

awwwww! she said mama!!!!
that is so frustrating with the weight loss. it is a balancing act and so hard to deal with. we still struggle. sometimes i swear he will waste aay with what little he seems to eat at home. he eats like a horse at school....LOVES the school breakfast and lunch meals that they serve. i think it is the whole package....the cafeteria, being with his friends and all. i guess we have to take it hen we can.
hallie-bug sure is a cutie!

abby said...


Funny you should mention the scales. Of course, we were on the 'light' scale and I *insisted* that we visit the 'heavy' scale (turns out to be a difference of .05kg)! Sharon knew I had done this without asking. Funny how we never recheck if the weight seemed high, though!

The odd thing is that she had been wearing her Valentine Day heart outfit the night before our RSV visit and I had noticed that the jacket seemed to fit her better (wasn't pulling it up and seeming too short) than it had been two weeks earlier (when last she wore it). Now I know why.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I hope the same for you...Sounds like you at least know what to do to get her weight back up...It's good to know that much. So sorry you're going to have to push through the vomiting for this, but Hallie will thank you later. I hope that these teeth pop in and stop bothering her soon...

But YAY for 'Mama!!'