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Worrying Makes Me A Mom
I worried about Hollis constantly when he was an infant.

There were problems with the pregnancy from the beginning and we honestly didn't think we'd make it beyond the first trimester. My progesterone was way too low, the fetus measured too small for its gestational age, my hormones were so messed up I got a false positive on the AFP and had to go through an amniocentesis to rule out Down Syndrome.

Only when we got the amnio results back did we truly let ourselves think that we might actually be having a baby. We'd been disappointed too many times before. Still, I can't say I was all that surprised when other problems arose. First came the insulin dependent gestational diabetes. That resulted in four shots a day, constant monitoring of my blood sugar, a special diet, and two biophysical profiles and non-stress tests every week. I practically lived in the radiology department of the hospital.

We thought that might be the end of the problems. I mean what else could possibly go wrong? Well, a prematurely deteriorating placenta, of course. It happens gradually throughout every normal pregnancy, but mine was going way to fast. Then came the oligohydramnios and the Intrauterine Growth Retardation. My little guy stopped growing. He miraculously made it to 37 weeks and then was delivered by emergency c-section.

All of Hollis's problems in utero may explain the problems he had later on. Hollis had severe reflux. It took us awhile to figure out what was going on. I mean, all babies spit up, right? And lots of babies are fussy and colicky, right? When our pediatrician suggested reflux, we kind of hemmed and hawed at her offer of medication. Then the power puking started. Every single meal came up. Almost all of it. Every time. And Hollis started arching away from me when I fed him. Breast or bottle, it didn't matter. He screamed while eating and after eating and when he was hungry, which was all the time because of the puking.

Hollis started taking Zantac. It didn't work.

Our pediatrician suggested a milk protein intolerance. We tried some soy formula. It didn't work.

Hollis stopped eating.

We had to carefully monitor and record exactly how much my little guy drank and peed and pooped. After a horrible day when Hollis was 2 months old and had only taken in 2 ounces of fluid the entire day, we made an emergency trip to the on-call doctor at our pediatrician's office. He had me feed Hollis in front of him. Hollis ate one ounce of formula & then refused to continue, screaming his little head off. The asshat doctor then suggested that the baby sensed I was "uptight" and I was causing his problems. He told us "babies don't refuse to eat. They just don't." So therefore it must be something I was doing wrong.

Right, genius. Babies never refuse to eat.

I immediately took matters into my own hands, calling every pediatric gastroenterologist within 100 miles to get the earliest appointment possible. Tests were run, formula was changed, medications were added. Nothing worked. Every day was a fight to get just enough fluid into my baby to keep him from losing weight or at least keep him hydrated. By this time, even the sight of my breast or a bottle caused frantic screaming and thrashing. Hollis was 4 months old.

When Hollis began to drop on the growth chart (he was only in the 3rd percentile when he was born) and was regularly refusing more than 6 ounces of formula a day, he was hospitalized. His pediatric gastroenterologist wanted to run more exhaustive tests on him and have him evaluated for a feeding tube. A feeding tube. For my 4 month old baby.

Holding Hollis down while they put in his IV and took blood was the worst thing ever. The next time the technician came by to get more blood I made my husband stay and I went for a 15 minute walk, shaking the entire time. But I didn't leave the hospital for a week. I slept in the chair beside Hollis's crib, snuck showers in his bathroom, and had T bring me clothes. I wasn't leaving my baby there alone.

Hollis had every test known to man. I can't even remember them all, but the one that scared me the most was the head ultrasound. Why? Because his head size wasn't even on the growth chart, he was considered slightly microcephalic. The doctors didn't have many answers for us beyond a severe feeding aversion caused by reflux. (Well, there was another scary problem, but I don't want to go into it here.) The doctors told us it's a lesser known complication of reflux and not rare by any stretch of the imagination. (So much for the genius doctor who told us that babies never refuse to eat.) Hollis's doctors put him on a special amino acid based formula that had to be ordered through a medical supply company, at an outrageous price, and it still didn't help.

Hollis just didn't eat.

We had weight checks every week. If Hollis's weight dropped too low, a feeding tube would be inserted. We worked with a speech pathologist specializing in feeding disorders in infants, including food aversions. It didn't help. We latched on to the hope the GI gave us that Hollis might do fine once he switched to more solids. His digestive system was more mature and he might not associate solids with that white liquid that made him feel so bad. Once Hollis started solids, we would start seeing a pediatric nutritionist to help maximize his caloric intake.

We were lucky. Hollis loved food. We were actually forced to accelerate his intake of solid foods, going against conventional wisdom, because once Hollis discovered solids he refused formula completely. He weaned himself at 8 months and REFUSED to drink anything even resembling formula again. But he was eating.

At 12 months, I spent more than a month teaching him to drink milk again. We started with his beloved apple juice (maximizing calories, you know) and added a tiny bit of milk, increasing the amount each day until he was drinking milk. It worked.

By 14 months Hollis had stopped throwing up completely and by 16 months he was off of his medications. My little guy's horrible nightmare was over.

So what does all of this have to do with what makes me a mom? I'm a mother because I worried the whole time.

I'm going to have to say "we" worried because my husband was an equal player. He's a good dad because he worried about Hollis and he worried about me. But we never gave up. It simply wasn't an option. We didn't take the easy route and have a feeding tube inserted. (Of course, you can bet it would have happened if my little guy had needed it.) We kept trying, and tried some more. We did everything we could to make sure that Hollis ate and gained weight. And somehow we didn't make his entire life or our entire lives about Hollis and food.

Looking back on Hollis's first year, I wonder if I have some inkling of how the mother of a child with an eating disorder feels. Anorexia and bulimia in a teenager may create a far different parent-child dynamic, but I think some of it is the same. I felt helpless and no matter what I did, I could not force my child to eat. And once he ate, I couldn't make him keep it down. And, of course, there's the worry.

Still, I think I've blocked a lot of the fear and frustration from that first year out of my mind. It's easier to remember how sweet Hollis was and how he was always happy and smiley, unless he was eating. I realize that many parents face far worse with their children. Our problems with Hollis pale by comparison. But still, I think nothing makes you understand that you are a MOTHER more than worrying about your child.


This is part of the "What Makes You a Mother?" Blog Blast by the Parent Bloggers Network and Light Iris. Head over and check it out. If you'd like to participate, you can find the information here.

Parent Bloggers Network - Light Iris Blog Blast

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Blogger slouching mom said...

WOW. I had no idea. What an swful, trying experience that must have been.

And you showed an abundance of courage during it.

Ben had a texture aversion as a baby and todder, and wait -- he still does! Food became such a minefield. He wouldn't really eat solids at all until he was close to two.

It was a struggle, though not, of course, on the scale of what you faced.

But the anxiety about food and eating: I remember it well.

Blogger slouching mom said...


Blogger Jen Magnuson said...

Geeze. I am SO SORRY you all went through that. Poor, poor baby! And you're right -- that doctor was a total asshat.

Happy Mother's Day!

Blogger DD said...

At first I cringed with how people responded to your miscarriages and attempts to have a child. A type of been-there-done-that reaction.

However, I can only imagine the type of advice you had when Hollis was rejecting food (as touched upon by the jack-monkey of a doctor who said babies don't refuse food). And that you got through all of it very, very pregnant?

The more I get to know you, the more in love I feel. *swoon*

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you didn't take the advice of the doctor. What about just breastmilk? Did he have as much as an aversion to breastfeeding as the formula? You are one tough Mommy for this one.

Blogger steph! said...

thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure that just writing it brought back all sorts of memories for you. I have to disagree with you after reading - it sounds like you're not a mom because you worried, but a mom because you continued to fight for what is best for your child.

Yep, I'm a moron - starting an argument with a lawyer for god's sake :)

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies.

SM - we were so thankful he had no serious texture aversions. I know that's a hard one too.

DD - Yeah, I forgot to mention that when Hollis was at his worst, I was in my first trimester with Holden. Because reflux tends to run in families, I was TERRIFIED Holden would be the same way. Thankfully, Hollis was over the worst of it when Holden was born. Holden spit up a little, but that's about it. No power puking. THANK GOD! (Holden also had *no* problems inutero & no complications from my diabetes.)

Anonymous - Feeding aversions are a funny thing. It's not just the breastmilk or the formula (which made him throw up & therefore not want to drink them anymore), it was also the hold I put him in to breastfeed. Or if I sat down on the couch where I normally fed him. Or if I started fiddling with my bra. Feeding aversions are soooo complicated and Hollis associated all of this with pain.

I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate. Did it for 3 months with Hollis, pumping my butt off to keep up a supply he wouldn't eat. Did it for a year with Holden. But there are some problems breast milk can't solve. This was one of them.

We also had to be able to strictly monitor what he was taking in and to increase the calorie intake of what he was drinking. For anyone who finds this by Google, this can *only* be done under a doctor's supervision. Hollis's was supplemented to 30 calories per ounce for most of the time, higher for awhile.

In hindsight, again for the Google, I would have kept pumping only because the amino acid based formula did not help. At least the little he ate every day would have had antibodies. But we couldn't have known that at the time.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Steph - It's actually funny that you say that b/c this post was ORIGINALLY titled "I'm a Mom Because I Never Gave Up." So no argument with you there!

Blogger jen said...

wow. what an incredibly challenging road. and what a terrific mom you are.

i'd go out of my mind if my child didn't eat. happy mother's day, friend.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I had no idea our journeys were so similar.

Right up to the bastard doctor telling me it was all my fault, all my parenting.

And then, of course, the Zantac caused chronic constipation which lead to void aversion which lead to a plethora of other problems and then...well...anyway. I'll spare your comments. I have 4 posts devoted to this. :) I will add that the IF the second time around just really pissed me off, but was an entirely different experience having BTDT.

Suffice it to say...I feel for you, literally, and 100%.

So when I say "oh yeah, that really makes you a mom...a great one, way to be fabulous!" I really mean it. Really.

Thanks for sharing.

Blogger newnorth said...

Wow, I can't even imagine.
Happy things ended up okay.

I hung on every word of this post. I can't imagine having to go through all of this. Hollis is lucky to have you as a mom. And as for that first doctor who told you it was your fault....ugh, what a jerk!

Blogger Rebecca said...

How terrifying that must have been.
He is absolutely gorgeous, by the way :)

Blogger Paula said...

Doctors, ugh! LM, I'm so glad everything's okay now and that Holden didn't suffer from the same problem.

Happy Mother's Day!

You are an amazing mom!

We had the colic, the reflux, and the projectile vomitting, but not the food aversion!

Sounds like a nightmare!

Hollis is lucky he had parents like you to keep fighting for him!

Happy Mother's Day!

Blogger Jill said...

How awful! It makes me appreciate my healthy pregnancies and babies. Of course, we always find something to worry about anyway, don't we?

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I cannot even BEGIN to imagine this unending nightmare. One time, just one time, Tigger refused to eat (bad throat infection) for 24 hours and I had to take him in (3 months old I think) for IV fluids. I was hysterical. And that was only one time, one night. You are a rock and an inspiration! Wow!

Blogger PunditMom said...

What an amazing, strong and brave mother you are (though I thought that about you before I read this post).

Every good day our children have is a gift, because we never know what's coming next.

Blogger Amy W said...

I had no idea either...what a first year you went through and what an amazing mom you must be to have the strength to go through that...

Blogger Binky said...

What a relief it must have been at 16 months when the ordeal was over. Of course, the worrying never ends...

Blogger ewe are here said...

Wow. Just wow.

Hollis is d*mn lucky to have you for a mom. D*mn lucky. (and v.v. of course)

Happy belated Mother's Day.

Anonymous www.nolanotes.com said...

I am 32 weeks pregnant and had my first BPP this week. I go in for a NST today, and back again Monday. I was told my placenta is "old"--it looks 42 weeks. So all you wrote about your pregnancy sounds all too familiar to me.

Thanks for the inspiration! Good to not be forging new territory!!

Blogger PDX Mama said...

What a scary pregnancy and first year that was. I can only imagine how hard the not eating thing was. I know I was obssessed with how much the kids ate, especially my daugther (she was born at 33.5 wks and stayed in the 3rd % for the first year +), but at least for me, I knew she was healthy and she did eat. I'm sorry. It's amazing how strong we stay through times like that, isn't it?

I think you're on to something about the worrying. I know those feelings of panic and worry I felt when the kids had their own respective medical issues was some of the most intense feelings I've ever felt toward anyone. I've never wanted to switch places and endure the pain for someone so much.

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