Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

She Is Not A Picky Eater

Eliza has "feeding issues." Why these are not called "eating issues" is beyond me. Every time I talk about "feeding" issues I have a vision of feeding time at the zoo. Her feeding issues are sensory in nature. There is no mechanical/physical reason why she cannot eat. Her oral aversions are likely linked to the extended time on a ventilator and are just one more by-product of being born too soon.

I think feeding problems seem to be the least researched and least acknowledged problems that preemies and micropreemies, in particular, face. There seems to be an attitude that so long as your child can breathe, see, hear and walk, that anything else really isn't a big deal. Not so, if you spend half your day trying to get the smallest amount of food in your child and the rest of the day cleaning up vomit.

Eliza's diet is limited, she only drinks pediasure and eats a small amount of yogurt. Despite me repeating this about 100 times a day to everyone from the doorman to friends, family and doctors, no one seems to understand that this is all she really eats. If one more person says "does she eat ____, all kids eat _____" I will scream. Why, when people are told that all she eats is yogurt and formula must they persist with quizzing me about her intake from the four food groups?

Although people are well intentioned when they say "have you tried getting her to eat _____?" does it not dawn on them that I have tried every food appropriate for a child her age? I hear this dozens of times a day. Or do they really think that they are the first to suggest I try Cheerios?

And why are Cheerios treated as an almost mystical food that all children must eat and that they can cure just about any feeding issue? Ahhhh the frustration. Of course if I act snarky, then I am the one being insensitive to the person making the Cheerios suggestion.

I am tired of Eliza being compared to little Johnny, or the neighbor's little Janie who is a "picky" eater. First of all, to be a picky eater implies you eat something. The amount of yogurt Eliza consumes is negligible. You cannot be a "picky" eater if you are a non-eater.

I am also tired of people trying to alleviate my concerns by telling me tales of some child they know of who, at 5 or 6 years old, "eats nothing, just formula." When questioned, "eating nothing" really means the kid eats 4 Chicken McNuggets and not 6 Chicken McNuggets. Because as those of us who have a child who really doesn't eat know, that 5 or 6 year old would long ago have been tube fed if all he lived on was formula.

These are the same people who also want to alleviate my concerns by telling me that Eliza really isn't that small (she is 18 months actual, 14.5 adjusted and 6 month size pants fall off of her). Invariably there is some child they know who is "tiny." But as with the "picky eaters" when questioned I find out that these babies are 2 or 3 pounds heavier than Eliza. Since she gains about 4 ounces in a good month, it would take her 8 months to gain those 2 pounds.

I know that all of these folks are well intentioned and have Eliza's best interests at heart, but sometimes it would just be nice to have someone say "wow that really stinks that Eliza doesn't eat" and leave it at that.

Photo: Eliza Grace At 18 Months


Sarah Furlough said...

Just wanted to say welcome to the blog world! It is so nice to finally be able to put a face with Eliza Grace's name!

She is gorgeous, can't wait to read more about her!

The Walsh's said...

AAAH! I was hoping to be the first comment. Sarah beat me to it. Soooo glad you came to Blogspot. Be prepared to become addicted :) Can't wait to read more!

Sarah Furlough said...

PS: It TOTALLY sucks that Eliza doesn't eat! You have every right to feel frustrated (though that isn't strong enough of a word).

Jamie and Jill said...

Oh My Gosh....she is a doll!!!

And, I'll be the first to say....IT SUCKS THAT ELIZA DOES NOT EAT!!!!

My son is in the same boat but he is tube feed and I get all those questions too:(

Cora said...

Eliza is just beautiful! I really love the picture of your two hands that you have in the corner. And I think that it more than sucks that she doesn't eat!

Rebecca said...

Ack! this is actually one of my fears. I'm having a lot of trouble getting Erin to take formula, I don't know what we're going to do when it comes to solids.

Nikki said...

Thank you so much for starting this blog. Since we no longer work together and I don't get to see Eliza on Fridays, this will allow me to read and see her great progress. Eliza is a trooper. I look forward to reading more about the both of you and just remember that you are both special friends to me!

Katie said...

I have one beautiful cousin and i love the page dedicated to her!!! This will definitely be something to look back on and obviously you will have billions of blogs to go through!

Believe me...I KNOW...Eliza does not eat so you will never hear me say try some cherrios or (fill in the blank)!!

Some people are just silly!!!

Love you and Eliza Grace so much xoxo!!

abby said...

Hi Anne,

I was wondering where you take Eliza for her feeding therapy. I know that you guys are in NY, and hence pretty close to where we are taking Hallie, which is St. Joseph's in Paterson, NJ. The staff there are wonderful and we made more progress with Hallie and her GI and eating issues during three visits there (we go monthly at this point; my sense from what you are describing is that Hallie's issues are a whole lot less serious than Eliza's) than we did during all of our multiple visits to CHOP, speech therapy, etc combined. They also do have an intensive outpatient multiple week program for kids, but I think our babies are a bit younger than the average ones I've seen attending those sessions. Anyway, email me off list at abbyschrad at earthlink dot net if you want more info, and please pardon my intrusion/recommendation if you don't need it!

Arlene Marine said...

Several tissues later I can only imagine what those first 100 days were like for both you and Eliza Grace. Her progress is truly amazing. I relish each and every picture of her precious face. She is truly a Miracle Child.
I'm new to this "blog" thing but I look forward to more of Eliza Grace's Story!
God Bless you both.

Mal said...

"All American Children learn to eat with Cheerios". Its a story from a friend of my mother's who was volunteering in an orphanage in Thailand with other volunteers, mostly from Australia & NZ. One child wouldn't feed herself so mom's friend offered to bring Cheerios to the apparant horror of the Aussies. She insisted that it is the miracle finger food you've been told about that "all American children have as their first finger food". Not understanding their horror of Cheerios she arrived the next day with a bag full. The Ausssies were relieved & amused - to them Cheerios are pigs in a blanket.

PS It sucks that Eliza doesn't eat

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...


I am still laughing over that story!

Maybe I should try pigs-in-a-blanket with Eliza?

Aidan's mom said...

I could not agree more with you about the "feeding therapy" vs. "eating therapy". While I must admit I learned a TON about how to help Aidan overcome his texture issues from the FT, I always bristled at it being called feeding therapy. It seemed to imply that I was the one doing something wrong instead of what the true issue was...that prematurity and a vent tube down my son's throat had caused EATING problems, not FEEDING problems.

That being said...I know you have LOTS of unsolicited advice but will just let you know what ended up working for us. We did only textures at the extreme ends of the spectrum and moved inward. For example, he either was having pureed Gerber and formula/milk or VERY crunchy things such as fruit puffs, graham crackers, etc. It was the in-between textures that confused the heck out of him because he didn't know what to do with them. Slowly I "snuck" in other textures with his crunchy stuff and as of today he is eating *mostly* what we eat. He is now 2 and we went through ft from 9/06-12/06. He was also a micro-preemie at 1lb 8oz and was vented for 7 weeks. You can check out our site through my blogger profile if you like.

Good luck!!!!


Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...


Thanks for the advice! That type of unsolicited advice is more than welcome. I think your comments are very interesting because ELiza does show an interest now in nibbling on Zweibacks but not the softer cookies so I think you're on to something here! I'm going to talk to her feeding therapist and OT about this and introduce a few crunchier items in the mean time.


trine said...

my ex-preemie, Helene (25+5 weeks, 585grams), wouldn't eat. we had the exactly same problems. and because technically she wasn't LOSING weight, the doctors did nothing. in the end (after about 6 months, and after developing an aversion to all things liquid and solid) she was put on an NG tube (she was about 9 months, 6 months corrected at the time). ever since she came off, we struggled and struggled to get her to eat properly, and - 4 years later - she eats like a hungry animal. really. it's possible.

it took a lot of biscuits and chocolates (just to get her to accept the food in her mouth), hours and hours of feeding, and like you say, about 4 different kinds of baby food each meal to see what would go down THIS time..

i am still not sure what turned the tide, but hopefully Helene's gradual acceptance of food and eating gives you some encouragement that one day she will pick up that spoon (fork even!) and help herself to broccoli, steak pie and mash potato.

Cathy said...

i have had this discussion on the preemie list with you. Erika, my 2nd baby (FT) is just a little petite thing. She is 2 and weighs 25 pounds soaking wet. It blows my mind of the amount of people who need to comment on her size. Sorry she is not a big fattie like your 6 month old who weighs 25 pounds. Sorry my kid likes to eat fruit and other healthy foods and has a high metabolism and started walking at 10 1/2 months old so she burns it all off!
I know Eliza's issues are completely different but people are still the same..even with full termers. I just stopped explaining why Christian was so little. I always felt like saying "you should have seen him when he was born. Now THAT was small!!" LOL

Billie said...

Gosh, I SO relate! I can say that since H and E turned 3, they have been doing a little better eating. It's still a LOT of work, but it's progress.

Cyndi said...

I just wanted to say that Yes, it does stink that Eliza doesn't eat more, but..this is what Eliza is apparently comfortable with right now. My 25 weeker was given the go ahead to try very thinned down rice cereal in a month (he is almost 2 months adjusted, 5 months actual). I will watch HIS cues...see what HE likes and go according to HIS wants and likes. Do what works for your girl and to heck with all the incoming suggestions. I'm proud of ya!

molu lusia said...

I also would like to say that it really stinks that Eliza doesn't eat more! I share your frustration sometimes when people keep asking silly questions after constantly having to repeat yourself. However, as you mentioned they only have good intentions in trying to help. My son was going through a period of not having a balanced diet, (although this is definitely not the same issue as you're facing) I did find that Pediasure helped to fulfil the gap in nutrients my son was not gaining from the meals we tried giving him. Thankfully after some time of drinking Pediasure he has grown to eat proper meals but he's attached to the chocolate Pediasure shakes now! Anyway, i wish your family the best of health and I really enjoy reading your blog posts!