Friday, May 23, 2014

The warrior princess diaries - XV

I just realised that my last post in the warrior princess diaries series was in October last year. Of course, I have been blogging on and off about her, but posts in this particular series help me to put all the happenings together in one place, especially those about her health.

As usual, let me start with the health update. Since our last run to the hospital a night before her 3rd birthday party, we haven't had to rush there (*touchwood*) but we've had a couple of appointments with the 239847389745 specialists she's seeing. Her pediatrician was concerned at her poor growth (after years of waiting to hit that 10-kg mark, she's down to 9.4 kg again) and referred us to an endocrinologist. We saw him and he had a very very long meeting with us, where he explained a lot things. Genetically, she is designed to be tall because Viv is very tall and I'm above average, but if she follows her current growth chart, let's just say the numbers don't look good. He said that we will monitor her growth this year but if things don't look up, we might need to start growth hormone injections when she turns 4. We were horrified to learn that these injections will need to be administered to her every night for 10 years or more. Overall, it was a very depressing hospital visit. We have less than a year to somehow make her shoot up on the graph. I don't care so much about the weight, but I hope her height goes up soon. It's so scary, but I'm hopeful because Mom says I used to be very short as a toddler, but I had a sudden growth spurt in pre-teenage, and now I'm 165 cm. Fingers crossed the same (or better) happens for Xena.

Just when we thought we had to work harder on her eating, and I started listing ways to further increase her calories such as melting cheese over everything, adding more oil/ghee to her meals, we had an appointment with the gastrointestinal specialist that changed everything. He had put her on this anti-reflux medicine called omeprazol to see if it helped fix the issue of her throwing up. (Basically, the doctors suspect that reflux is causing food to enter her lungs, causing the frequent episodes of bronchiolitis, so we need to fix the reflux first, which in turn will fix the lungs and weight issues.) She was on the medicine for two months, but it didn't help at all. So now he had a radical suggestion for us. He said we need to look at the possibility of food allergies to see if anything she's taking is irritating her gut. Well, she pretty much lives on Pediasure, a very high-calorie formula milk. He asked us to cut out not just that, but all forms of dairy for a month. That means yogurt, cheese, butter, ghee, everything. In other words, anything that I was actually able to feed her or sneak into her food.

So for the last few days I have been crazily researching on dairy alternatives. Now that Pediasure is out, I not only need to match her caloric intake from before, I need to make sure she has enough calcium for her bones to grow. It's really really tough and I'm going slightly mad all over again. Fortunately, she has taken well to soya milk thanks to food colouring. At one point, she even asked me for milo. Viv was so amused and impressed when I mixed a drop of red and a drop of green food colouring to soya milk to make 'milo'! It's still the first week of the test and so far things look okay. She hasn't thrown up but I am not yet rejoicing because she's not eating enough; she's still only just nibbling on the dairy alternatives I've offered so far. She's very hungry for sure without Pediasure, because she wants to snack all the time, but there's very little she actually eats. Quantity is a huge issue at the moment, because she's happy to just have a lunch consisting of 10 banana chips. My fridge is now stocked with soya milk, almond milk, coconut milk, soya chocolate milk and what not. I've also become a crazy mathematician, trying to add up her calories and calcium RDA. If she loses weight because of this test, I will surely go mad. But I'm keeping my hopes up. I'll let you know in a month.

Okay, I'm done with the depressing stuff. Let's pretend the three paragraphs above don't exist, and move on. Someone sent me this very funny image, which I thought was so apt in my case. Mom tells me I was a picky eater and gave her more than a fair share of frustration, but my daughter is of course the mother of all picky eaters.

Xena loves the hospital visits for a special reason. The animal rides! She's too small to ride them by herself so she picks the animals, and either Viv or I accompany her.

Speaking of animal rides, a few weeks ago, she had her first pony ride! I'd met another blog bewdi who also has a 3-year-old so we made plans to take the kids to Pasir Ris park which has a tiny stable where kids can ride a pony. It was absolutely fabulous, and she loved it.

My little rider

I'd actually never been to Pasir Ris park before, so I was amazed at how big it was. The playground there was truly the coolest playground I've ever seen. Kids can do actual stunts there! Of course, there were also the regular playground rides, and Xena and her friend hopped into an 'hydroplane' piloted by another toddler.

This shot of her in the hydroplane amused me to no end. I don't even know what on earth she was doing, but it really looks like a 'Miss World wave'. 

We got her a proper outdoor scooter for her birthday (she had an indoor Hello Kitty one for the longest time, on which she would zoom in and out of rooms). She took to it instantly, and lately I'm finding myself actually having to run after her at times. That's my daily workout regime.

Xena and me, on our way to the beach

Fast and furious

In the later afternoons, after her nap, we sit down and play together. She makes me chai and vegetable soup using her kitchen set, sprinkling both with a generous amount of pepper, and we race cars and solve puzzles and build blocks and read books. She loves all her toys - the kitchen set, the race cars, the dinosaurs, the dolls, the blocks, so I have not faced a gender-stereotype issue yet. Play with everything I say, just not guns. I've noticed though that most of her clothes and toys tend to be pink. I suppose that's because people tend to give pink gifts to girls so that's one colour she's seen a lot of, since her early days. No wonder when we asked her to pick between the green and the pink scooters at the toy store, she picked pink. In general, I buy all sorts of colours for her, but I don't force her to pick non-pink stuff, if that's what she wants.

She got two doll sets on her birthday, so I merged both and made a whole family out of them. There's Felix and Fiona, and because Xena insisted that they were both 6 months old, I had to explain to her that though they are twins, because Felix doesn't eat much, he's much smaller than Fiona. Xena loves them to bits and every time she sits down to play, she uses her stethoscope to check their breathing, gives them their medicine, makes them poop, bathes them, and dresses them up.

When I asked her what she was doing, she said, "I'm giving the baby some medicine. Please don't disturb me." 

Recently, we even had an almost-scandal, involving Felix.
Xena - Mama, where is Felix?
Me - I don't know. Why don't you look around for him?
A few minutes later, she rushes over to me.
Xena - Mama!! I found Felix!!
Me - Good. Where did you find him?
Xena - I found him in the bathtub with Angelina!!
(Relax, bewdas. Angelina is Felix's bath ducky.)

Though she still doesn't watch any TV, she knows a few cartoon characters by name because of books and merchandise. Mickey mouse, Minnie mouse, Winnie the pooh, Hello Kitty, Dora, etc. I'm familiar with some of the characters, but not those in the new cartoons and movies. Sometimes she points to cartoon characters in the newspapers and asks me who they are and almost always, I have no idea. Her all-time favourite character is still Hello Kitty and now she has two pairs of Hello Kitty footwear, three Hello Kitty tops, a Hello Kitty scooter, a Hello Kitty toy camera, and loads of Hello Kitty plates and cutlery (anything to get her to eat!). She's even given all of us Hello Kitty names. She calls Viv Poppy Kitty and me Mama Kitty.

Speaking of cartoon characters, Viv had gone to Sri Lanka for a cricket tournament and came back armed with Mickey Mouse slippers for her. Here's a video of her talking about it, and also describing how a washing machine works.

We read lots of books together, and now she's making attempts to identify simple words, and even use a bit of phonics to read. I go to the library every fortnight to refresh her book collection. Being surrounded by books has also made her very creative and imaginative. Once I was reading the story of Dilly duckling to her. Dilly duckling was very upset about losing a feather until her mother told her that her downy yellow feathers would all go one day and she would become a white duck too. Xena later recounted the story to me and in her version, Dilly duckling relentlessly searched for the lost feather, found it and stuck it back on herself... using scotch tape!

Her speech is a lot more refined now, and she's stopped mispronouncing many words, which is nice but also makes Viv and me nostalgic about the days when she couldn't say them properly. She's now able to say 'r' quite clearly, and I am reminded of this incident from the time she couldn't. We were taking a walk when she came across a root sticking out of the ground. "Go over it, baby." I told her. She did. The next time it happened, she turned to me and said, "Go over it, mommy." Except that back then she couldn't quite say 'r' yet, and said 'w' instead. So what she said sounded exactly like "Go, overweight mommy." I was, of course, horrified for a second, before realisation hit me.

Another reason why she doesn't put on much weight is that she uses up a lot of calories talking. (Yep, it's my theory.) Seriously, 3-year-olds talk non-stop all day long. Almost every minute of her awake time is spent talking. She has theories and opinions and what not. This video shows her advising people to close their mouths when they look up at a bird sitting on a tree.

Here are some other conversations we had recently:

Xena - I don't want to brush my teeth.
Me - If you don't brush your teeth, they will become...?
Xena - Dirty!
Me - Yes! And...?
Xena - Smelly!
Me - Yes!
Xena - Just like a garbage truck!!!!
Me - .....

Xena (trying to draw with a light pink crayon on dark brown paper) - Mama! It's not working!
Me - Why isn't it working?
Xena - I don't know...
Me - Think?
Xena (thinks) - Hmmm... There is no battery!

Xena (watching the rain) - Oh no, Mama!
Me - What happened?
Xena - It's raining! Poppy did not take an umbrella! How will he play cricket without the umbrella??

I recently attended the sports day in her school, and my camera almost made a tumble for the ground because the moment she spotted me, she forgot the rules of the game and headed straight for me! But she did make the basket in the end.

At the parent-teacher meeting last week, her teachers told me she likes music and art, and also telling her classmates off if they don't tidy up after playing. They have appointed her as the manager of the library corner in the classroom, and she makes sure that everyone puts the books back properly. Viv and I are both a little Monica about different things, and I think she might have inherited it.

Almost every day, we do some art activity at home, and she really enjoys it. Here she is, drawing a face.

Just like how Xena talks all the time, no matter what she's doing, I sing all the time, no matter what I'm doing. Yes, ours is a very noisy household, but Viv balances it out by being the silent one. (Or maybe, he's just not able to get a word in.)

If a song gets stuck in my head and I end up singing it all the time, she starts to pick it up after a day or two. This video has me teasing her by singing the lyrics of Sooha saaha wrong. She patiently corrects me thrice.

Viv and I don't really celebrate days like Valentine's day, Mother's day and Father's day, but the school makes a big deal of the latter two, so this time when Viv realised it was Mother's day, he had this conversation with her at breakfast, while I was in the shower.

Viv - We will get a gift for Mama today. Don't tell her, ok? It's a secret. Shhh...
Xena (nodding) - It's a secret. Shhh...
5 seconds later, as soon as I stepped out of the shower...
Xena - Mama! Poppy and I will get a gift for you today.
Viv - :|

After I was done laughing, I only had one thought -- may such transparency in communication extend to her teenage years and beyond!


Prathima said...

Truly wishing that she would never need those injections and miraculously shoot up vertically beyond your expectations.

She looks so cute riding her scooter. Lots of love and good wishes to her.

Prathima said...

Truly wishing that she would never need those injections and miraculously shoot up vertically beyond your expectations.

She looks so cute riding her scooter. Lots of love and good wishes to her.

idom said...

I got one crazy idea.
Why don't you show her master chef junior or something like that (on TV !! ) and she might feel interested in eating.

Thisisme said...

that pic of her riding the scooter - fast n furious :) is damnnn cutttteee! :-)

and i loved all the videos!! ek toh xena n then ur amazing voice quality! u mst be a damn good singer! :)

n i love how patiently she corrected u all 3 times on the song :)

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

thank you for all the updates! :) She'll grow, sending positive vibes from here!

From the photos though, she looks like every other happy toddler to me.. (or may be, she's already graduated from toddler hehe) Different kids different ways of growing I feel. (although yes, the medical charts do matter to an extent)

And yes! Dairy is a huge allergen and might be worth the effort. And double yes! talking definitely burns calories, no matter what science says! personal experience.

Sig said...

Hey - been following Xena's story and your blog for a while and here's hoping she doesn't need those injections. She's a happy, gorgeous little girl :)

Good idea re: the dairy - when my baby was younger and had reflux that was one of the things I removed from my diet and saw immediate effects. He outgrew the reflux and is ok with cow's milk now but we generally as a family don't have much anyway (another long story for why we don't actually NEED to drink cow's milk). As for dairy alternatives - almond milk and full fat coconut milk is awesome - great to use like regular milk and the coconut milk in particular will have lots of good fats in it to help her calorie intake.

Other sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach - you can try giving her green smoothies - smoothies with spinach in them. I make them with almond milk, coconut water or coconut milk mixed with banana, some berries, sometimes a spoonful of peanut butter etc. My 13.5 month loves them and i know then he's at least getting some veggies in as well. Also chia seeds are great for omega 3's, fiber, protein and calcium and you can make chia puddings made with non-dairy milk too. I'd try and avoid too much soy, especially as too much can play around with women's hormones and the food colouring as well (although to be fair - I know you gotta pick your battles).

I'm a holistic health coach and have heaps of info re: non dairy alternatives (feel free to message me if you do want more info) -

Unknown said...

Hey I have been following your blog from a
Long time and wanted to say hi.. But just didn't .. Though this post made me do it :)) I have a 2.5 yr old daughter and she too replaces 'r' with 'w' like 'mumma wun wun it's waining ' lol.. I love watching xena' videos, such a Sweetheart ...keep posting them :)


Arun said...

The Miss World Wave and the Fast and Furious are so cute!

And Porkodi's vibes doubled.

zilch22 said...

God bless you and your family Sayesha! You have no idea how much your blog means to me. The way you write, it feels like kuch dil se dil ki baat ho rahi hai! Over the years, I've laughed and cried so much reading what you write, without ever having met any of you, especially over the warrior princess posts. Last month when you decided to write everyday, I was thrilled cos at least roz ek achhi cheez hoti thi padhne ko! :) Love you lots, take care and keep writing! And btw, you really sing well!!!! :D

Sameer said...

Hello Sayesha - have a vague suggestion. Been wanting to mention it for quite sometime...

Why don't you use iPad / TV (cartoons) to your advantage - kids find them extremely addictive and that is the main reason all us parents try to keep them away from it. But given Xena's health issue and severity it might make sense to use this addiction to your advantage.

I speak from my own kid's experience - he used to fall sick quite often and then would lose all appetite which would then prolong his sickness. There were days when he would not have a single bite. Then we started using the iPad /Tv. While watching YouTube / cartoon Tv he would be so mesmerized that he would keep eating without realising he is eating. I think you should use this option - as modern parents we don't want our kids to be additcted to tv etc but in your case since the medical need is so pressing, I think you shud resort to this. And it is easy to control their usage - my kid now 3.5 yrs is fully iPad / tv trained - he gets to view it for max of 20 mins a day and he dutifully switches it off when we tell him it's time up.

There are tons of clean, educational cartoons ( octonauts, Peggy pig etc) which have zero violence, and are actually educational. If you introduce cartoons during meal times she might actually look fwd to meal times since that is the only time she gets to watch tv. And when she is watching it use it to keep feeding her -you will be amazed how zombified they are in front of the tv - they will open their mouth to anything you put in at that time. Scary for other parents - but for you it might be the best bet.

Eventually as she grows stronger, you can easily wean her off tv - its not really that difficult.

Just a suggestion - you are the mom - you know the best :-)

Neha said...

Hi Sayesha,

Can Xena eat egg? If yes, you can blend it with soy milk and flavor it with chocolate or strawberry flavor (I add Bournvita). What I do with my daughter is that I boil the milk with bournvita and in other container I add 1 raw egg. Using hand blender I blend the egg in another container and add boiling milk. This cooks the egg. Once its cold enough I give it to her. The consistency is off slightly thick milk and my daughter does not seem to notice the difference. I use whole egg now but I started with adding just egg yolk this way. Try and see if it works.

Sum said...

Hope she never needs those injections... She's such a bubbly girl...
Coming to the allergy part, yes, my nearly 8 month old is allergic to dairy and since I'm BFing, i'm on a dairy free diet too. From what little i have researched, soy milk is not very good too, esp for kids. See if you can get hold of oat milk instead - here in Sweden, it is very easily available. And also, instead of using artificial coloring, pls try adding some fruit / veggie juice to color it... like spinach for green, beet for red, carrot for orange and so on... that way she'll get more nutrients too without the chemicals.... And, have you tried baking for her? I you want to, i have some vegan and dairy free recipes, but with lots of nuts and oil that you might want to try... just hoping that she gains weight soon... OH BTW, did you switch to dairy-free formula for these trial days? I think you should... else she might not get enough nutrients to maintain her weight....

Sum said...

I've come to fall in love with her!! Keep seeing her pics and videos and admire your parenting and getting inspired! Will probably write to you seeing some advice too, being a new parent, wanting it to do right :)