Friday, April 04, 2014

D is for Deca

So last week, Xena reached a major milestone -- 10 kg. I had waited for this for 2 years. She has finally reached the average weight. For a 1-year-old. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my 3-year-old finally weighs as much as an average 1-year-old. Sarcasm aside, you might know from my lamentations on this that her weight has always been a major concern for us as well as her entourage of doctors. From birth, she has been under the 3rd percentile for weight, and at the moment she's off the charts.

Most of the time I joke about her poor growth and complete lack of interest in any kind of food by saying that she is a photosynthesiser, but only someone who has gone through the same thing would know how frustrating a journey it is. I know of another mommy in a similar but slightly better situation, and she told me she broke down in front of her kid's teachers and begged them to make him eat something. Anything. I could empathise with her. I have not broken down yet, but I've come pretty close to having a breakdown. When you have a kid who only starts solids at 18 months, that too rather reluctantly, takes an hour to finish any meal and then promptly throws up afterwards, hates even junk food (her dietitian won't believe me when I tell her that Xena is not interested in ice-cream and cake and French fries and nuggets), takes a year to put on a few hundred grams, but falls sick often and promptly loses it all within a week, you're pretty close to losing it yourself.

I sure am thankful for a lot of things about her (the very fact that she made it is nothing short of a miracle), but unfortunately, her battles are not over yet. Running from pediatrician to dietitian to lung doctor to gut doctor, and coming across depressing terms like 'failure to thrive' just add to the depression. So do studies that say that the brain grows the most in the first few years and poor nutrition during this period can have permanent negative effects. I try not to think about it too much, but when I find myself struggling to pick up her 1-year-old and 2-year-old friends at the playground, or when I'm putting her clothes to dry and I see the tag that says 12 months, it serves as another grim reminder. And then I look at how lively and talkative and happy she is, and I forget it all. And then something else happens and I'm forced to think about it all over again.

A lot of people don't understand that this is not the usual 'My kid hates vegetables' situation. This is a more serious, almost a medical problem. Everyone thinks I'm joking when they ask me, "So what does she like to eat then?" and I say, "Nothing." People try to empathise and say some random reassuring words. I think they mean well, but it can get pretty infuriating. I'm patient with the mothers who ask "Have you tried giving her XYZ?" because it is helpful information (though I think my 'I have tried feeding her this' list is wayyyyyyy longer than 'I haven't tried feeding her this' list). But I think I've had it with mothers who tell me "Her weight is fine. I mean, compare it to her birth weight!" It really annoys me. I can't compare it to her birth weight. I can't use her birth weight as a reference for anything. It was 990 grams, for heaven's sake. Since most babies triple their birth weight by age 1, I should have expected her to be about 3 kg at the age of 1? I've also had it with mothers who tell me that "they can totally understand" because their kids are "only in the 70th percentile". I kid you not, I've encountered this a couple of times. Jesus, this is not how percentile works. This is not an exam that you aim for 100%. If you want your baby to be in the 100th percentile, you are mad. And if your baby is really in the 70th percentile, I'm the last person you should be complaining about it to.

Another thing I hear is "Weight is just a number. As long as she's happy and healthy, it's normal, don't worry." This actually makes sense, but the issue here is that she's happy, but not healthy. I'm stuck in this vicious cycle where her lungs get infected at the slightest trigger, making her lose weight and the doctors say that she needs to put on weight so her lungs get bigger and stronger. It is pretty frustrating, I can tell you. Yes, premature underweight babies do take a while to catch up with their peers, but in most cases it happens by the age of 2. Plus, how on earth does one catch up on weight gain without eating? I'd still not mind the poor weight gain if her height gain was okay. It is not. It is far from okay. I don't know where this is going really and on some levels, the future scares me.

"I suppose we have no choice but to give her more time," is all her pediatrician can say. Her dietitian is out of ideas. Peer pressure at school has helped a little but there are still days where she throws up breakfast and refuses to eat lunch, so the first nourishment she gets for the day is her pre-nap milk in the afternoon. The ball is literally in her court and all I can do until she is ready is to keep serving.

When she was about 2 years old and in a position to understand stuff, I tried to bribe her with a much-desired toy by telling her she could only have it if she ate well and reached 10 kg. I have it on record, actually.

This did help slightly because every time she refused food or milk, I'd tell her that the toy was waiting for her to hit 10 kg. And she seemed to open up a bit towards milk at least, if not meals.

So last week when I weighed her and saw the double digit for the first time ever, I was thrilled. I celebrated, but with caution. Because I know how prone she is to promptly losing whatever she gains. And sure enough, the next time I weighed her, she was 9.8 kg. So I did a mean mommy and told her that though her post-milk weight was 10 kg, she had to hit it pre-milk. We should not see any more single-digit weights, I told her. And my poor little baby calmly agreed to it without any fuss. And she did hit 10 kg pre-milk. Exactly 10.0 kg, as you can see.

So yesterday, I decided to give her the coveted strawberry toy set, or 'toby wala toy' as she used to call it when she first encountered it. But I weighed her before that and she was 9.7 kg. Great. I had half a mind to withhold the toby wala toy, but then better sense prevailed. My experience so far has only indicated that I have to live in the present and enjoy every moment that I have today. She had hit 10 kg and it was only fair that she got the toy.

Because, in the words of Bill Cosby, the past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.


sujataravi6 said...

You're doing A-Z too!! :D VISIT MY BLOG! :)

sujataravi6 said...

Now that I've read your post, I know you don't want to hear this, but even though she's underweight she's so precocious and so adorable *touchwood*! She really doesn't seem unhealthy at all! I hope she gets big and strong really soon!

Arun said...

We bewdas hope and we pray that Xena will one of these days switch gears, step on the accelerator, and be a happy eater.

I have no doubt that Xena would do anything to make her mommy happy; her body has to cooperate with her.


My mom didn't want me drinking tea till I was grown up; but she'd put a drop of tea in my milk so that I'd be drinking the adult beverage. Seeing Xena pouring tea reminded me of that. :) :) :)

cluelesstill said...

Fingers crossed that she will learn to love eating some day. :)

That video is PRECIOUS. You can really tell the difference in her speech between then and now (she's a lot clearer now), but the "Booot sara kana kayegi aur dudu peeyegi" part had me awwww-ing in delight. SO KAYOOT.

Varsha said...

Hey, great to see the double digit, and the happy face when she got her toy... as always, hopeful, that she soon turns into a healthy little girl, and makes your troubles vanish.

chengiz said...

You are doing great. Congrats to Xena for reaching 10. Hopefully bribing her will be easier as she grows up :-)

Sri said...

Just want to give you a big hug!

I don't know what to say-You may get offended!;)

The only thing I want to say is even I went through what you are going through....

Sincerely wishing Xena becomes a foodie!

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Many congratulations on reaching the deca milestone!!!

Bhai!! not to infuriate you with more suggestions vagairah and you've probably already tried this.. but how about just having the "mature" talk with her?? She seems to be intelligent enough to have "conversations"!!! So may be you can have a talk with her about how she has to eat even if she doesn't like it as much so that she can celebrate her next birthday in a grander way? How it will make mommmy smile and be happy, how often in life we have to do things we hate for our own good, and similar talks, you know what I mean? of course you would then have to talk/convince her almost everyday and more at her level.. :) I understand she is after all a little adorable kid, but now that she is 3, may be she will understand?

Also, her throwing up is so concerning. :( why/how is that?! that doesn't sound like a "dislike" towards food, right? sigh. Wishing the best for you guys to reach the next milestone faster and better!

Thisisme said...

i actually dont know what to say! n i can understand how frustating when people try n empathise with you on this!

All i can say is..lets hope magic happens and she soon develops a taste for all foody stuff! magic n miracle does happen..sometimes u got to wait! wish you parents n xena good luck on this :)

Thisisme said...

n i must say she talks very cutely!! extremely sweet yaar! and i dont want to sound stalkish..but u have great voice quality..m sure ur a good singer!!

Subhash Chandra said...

I too was wondering the same thing as parkodi, bhai. Throwing up doesn't sound good. Besides, she looks very smart, did you try asking Her why she doesn't want to eat? May be she has some problem but can't articulate well?

Also eating the same kind of food a lot makes me crave for different food. You can try stimulating the effect if she likes to chew or something. Put some essence on her toys maybe. Pretty crazy idea, I know.

It's just that, our first born is overdue(probably lazy like me) and recently I find kids' problems very concerning.

Sayesha said...

Yes, her liveliness is what keeps me going. :)

Thank you. :)
PS: LOL at your tea story! Are you a heavy drinker now? :P

Did you see her hand movements when she said "Bahut sara khana khayegi aur dudu peeyegi"? :P

Thank you. :)

Thank you and I hope so. I guess I'm being a bad mommy by using bribery, but I'm really out of options. :(

Thank you. :)

I've had the mature talk with her, and continue to remind her at every opportunity I get, without pushing her too much, as that might put her off food even more. It really does look like it's a physiological problem and not just an aversion to food. She's on medication for her throwing up. The lung doc and gut doc are monitoring closely. All we know is that it's all related -- her not eating, her throwing up and even the lung issues she's frequently down with.

Thank you. :)
PS: I'm an accomplished bathroom singer! :P You have not seen us perform Piyu bole? :O

As I mentioned in my comment to Porkodi, she's on medication for her throwing up. I offer her a varierty of food but she rejects everything. She doesn't chew her toys anymore so the essence thing will not work. It's just a long wait. How long, we don't know.
PS: All the best for the birth of your baby, and welcome to the club! :D

SK said...

Congrats to Xena on hitting her 10Kg mark! :--)
The strawberry set is extremely cute :--)

Whatsup said...

Have you considered feeding therapy. A friend of mine considers it when her 3 yr old stopped eating for almost two years. Don't know much about it as she finally did not do it. May be worth a try?

Nachu said...

Bhai, hope Xena gets stronger and healthier very soon.
Congrats to Xena on hitting the 10kg mark... In the cuteness and liveliness chart, little doey is in the 100th percentile for sure :)

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Hmmmm. that must be so scary, tiring, frustrating, guilty, all kinds of emotions in a pot! but it does look like things are improving from where she started, so I guess we should all cheer for team Xena!! so much admiration for you bhai!!!

Raam Pyari said...

Bless her and i hope she stays in double digits now :)

sending a lot of love and +energy you and Xena's way!

darkandcomic said...

Hi Sayesha, I'm having a good time reading these daily posts from you :) As a new mom, this post made me overcome my laziness to comment. My baby had a weight-related scare early on and that little thing makes me still keep close tabs on her weight. Reading this post of yours made my concerns seem small. It must be very very hard for you to deal with Xena's lack of appetite. I'm sure you're trying everything the doctors suggest and things will soon be better. She's such an adorable little girl, her videos make me smile. You're doing a great job with her, and I take cues from your parenting - whether it's about limiting exposure to TV, activities with her or instilling discipline. It's a phase that will pass; try not to let it worry you too much. Hugs

Vijay said...

I will tell you a simple thing to increase Xena's appetite, which worked for many people whom I suggested. Give her water which has been kept in pure copper vessel overnight and see how see eats. Since, it is just plain water you can try it. But don't blame me, if Xena ask for more and more.

Vijay said...

The reason why I have suggested this is because it worked with my son and daughter, who were poor eaters. I gave it to them just for three days and they started wolfing down food like never before. So give it a try.

Sudha Natarajan said...

Congratulations on the double digits. Hoping and praying that these double digits usher in good health for Xena. You are a good mother and you both are very blessed to have each other.

You are right, well meaning advisers do irk you, when they do not understand the gravity of your situation. (I too had advised you a while ago.)But have been at the receiving end too.

I too am eagerly waiting for my 2 1/2 year old daughter to hit the double digits. Initially, she was not even on the charts, now she is in the 3rd percentile.
Good luck and God Bless!

sr said...

Congrats to Xena for hitting the 10 KG mark ! I don't think I've commented much but has been a regular reader over the years; infact when I don't see a post of yours for a few days, I hope that Xena is not sick and fervently say a little prayer for her .

I know you are going to hate me for saying this, but I suggest you to let her watch TV ( there I said it ) during meal times considering the fact that she responds to bribery . Come on ! desperate situations call for desperate measures ! I know that you have done a wonderful job in not letting her watch TV for all these years ( God knows how you are doing that, my 9 year old will probably run away from home if I do that :-) The key here is to distract her and if she doesn't eat, switch off the TV. Make it a habit to show her TV only during the meal times .. hopefully she will start looking forward to
that in a few days . Once she starts eating (even little) 3 times a day, make sure that you feed her at the same time everyday, after a few days, her body clock will give her a cue that it is time to eat .

My heart really goes out to you and Xena, but I think after reading this post, you are at a point that you've tried everything except this. I have done this for my daughter and it kind of helped me; she was 3 percentile on weight when she was baby and now at 30 % at the age of 9 . No complains though, as long as she is healthy and fit

Another option that I could think of is giving Ayurveda or Homeo medicines for building appetite. There are excellent medications in Ayurveda, but not sure if Xena will like the taste of it . Homeo would be a better option

Last but least with Xena crossing this milestone you too deserve a pat on your back :-) You've been a wondeful mother and Xena is lucky to have you !

sujataravi6 said...

Have you tried to give her Threptin biscuits? They're quite yum, and very high-calorie and nutritious of course.