Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Mother's Intuition

Carl Sandburg once said that, "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." I love that saying, and, once again, hearing it has made me smile.
I am the kind of person who cheers for triumph over tragedy; I always hope for happy endings; I expect it to take a lot of patience and practice to get things right, but, I am comforted in knowing that it almost always works out in the end. However, the last couple of years has even tested the true optimist in me.....until I had children.
They have made me want to believe in the world, and, what is right with it, all over again. Having them in my life and under my care, has given me a renewed strength that failure is not an option, sadness and fear is not welcome, and life may get difficult but not impossible.
So, when I started to notice that there was something wrong with my youngest child, I no longer cared about the recession, the turmoils developing at work, my own long and painful recovery from my own ailments. Nope, none of it had a stronger bearing on me than trusting my intuition and staying focused on listening to the words he was not able, yet, to say.
There are many challenges in interpreting babies, for obvious reasons. Their only outlet of frustration is to cry and it is our job to translate their emotions in order to fix the problem. In every other respect, it was normal issues. Wet diapers, teething, crankiness, but, hunger....that became the tricky one.
By six months, he did not want food. He did not want me to change the size or flow of his bottle's nipple. I immediately brought it to his pediatrician's attention, and, was reminded that each child develops differently. There was no reason to overreact. My mind told me to listen to the doctors but my heart told me to listen to my child, and, I knew deep down, that it was not a typical rejection.
His little eyes, kind and innocent, would quickly change to torment and fear if I approached the subject of eating. He would panic and gag and cry. So, we compromised. I watered down the cereal, I didn't force anything than wasn't pureed and I kept insisting at every check up that there was a problem with his feeding skills.
It was not until he reached his first birthday, that I had actually allowed myself to have my only real breakdown over this ongoing situation. It occurred after the party was over and the guests had gone. About an hour beforehand, when the ceremonial first candle was lit, and, the adorable Winnie the Pooh cake was sat in front of him, the crowd of family and friends sang and anxiously awaited for him to smash his cake. I'm sure most of you know the importance of this moment which is proudly caught on camera and video at every first birthday. I admit it. I too, had sat my own feelings aside, in hopes that my baby would somehow get caught up in the moment and please the crowd with a smeared mess of icing in has hands and across his face. Then, one eager guest grew impatient and helped him along by physically encouraging him to touch his cake. He cried. It was that same unconsoled cry that only I knew. It fell on a roomful of sympathetic ears, but, I crumbled. I wanted to rush to soothe him and end the uncomfortableness of it all. I tried to put on a good face, but, secretly, my heart sank and I shook inside because I knew, at that moment, that enough was enough. I had to make someone listen to me and save my child from whatever THIS was........

Image Credit: Mother and Child - Mary Cassatt


  1. Hi there,
    I'm a friend of Leanne's, she thought I'd like your blog- and she was right!
    I got very ill with severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome when I was pregnant with my son and had to deliver at 26 weeks. He has a number of issues stemming from his prematurity including feeding difficulties. Right now he gets approximately 80% of his nutrition through a G-tube. He will eat purees in small quantities and he loves crackers (that's fairly new) but won't drink at all.

    Your description of the first b-day party was extremely familiar. Robbie doesn't really have the same sensory issues (he will touch things, and they can touch his face, he just won't eat) but no way he was going to dive into a smash cake. I smeared a little on his face just for the photo opportunity, but my grandmother was shouting over and over and over and over again "eat it! Take a bite! Just dive right in! You can do it buddy! Just eat it!" on and on. It was everything I had in me not to just scream and cry, instead I just smiled and pretended everything was fine.

    Anyway.. I'm enjoying catching up on your blog.. thanks for sharing!


  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog, Trish! How old is Robbie now? We didn't have to go the G-tube route but it took a good year of feeding therapy to move him up from pureed food. I smiled when I saw he likes crackers. that is one of my son's main back ups as well. Sensory issues are very challenging but they do get better. Read the entry, the Unexpected Answer, I posted yesterday for some follow up info. Please keep in touch with me, good luck and best wishes with Robbie's therapy, and thank Leanne for turning you on to my blog.

  3. Robbie is 21 months now. (18 adjusted for his prematurity.)
    At this point, he has more trouble (refusal) of drinking than eating. He'll try a lot of things as long as you don't try to feed him and let him do it himself. Granted a lot of things he puts in his mouth, chews and spits out, but it's still a massive improvement from where he was even 3 months ago.

    I have a blog as well, if you're interested. It goes back long before Robbie was born (I started it when we were going through infertility treatments) but Robbie was born 5/21/08, if you want to read anything about him.