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