Since we started really focusing on these issues, we've seen many examples of improvement:
- I mentioned in the last entry that for a long time Aias was barely drinking any liquid and that we were given a plan from a nutrition consultant that suggested we cut nursing down to only once in the morning and once at night. When we did this, Aias increased his liquid intake almost immediately. Because he didn't really like drinking straight water (I suppose because breastmilk is sweet flavoured) we started with 1/3 juice and 2/3 water. He was happy to accept this with some encouraging. We had about 15 different sippy cup varieties during this time, hoping to find just the right one. Our sippy cups ranged from $15 Foogoo bottles to cheap-o Take and Toss. Wouldn't you know, the Take and Toss were the ones he preferred. Since that time we slowly transitioned more water and less juice, and now he will drink just about any type of juice with 1/6 juice and 5/6 water. We're pretty happy about that. He also seems willing to sometimes drink chocolate milk (flavoured with stevia and cocoa) and we are hoping that we can soon mix in some pediasure.
- Once his liquid intake increased, his sleep improved incredibly. Instead of waking up so many times in the night, he would wake up maybe twice. At this point, Aias is able to go to bed between 7 and 8:30 (if he's had enough to eat and drink in the evening) and will almost always sleep indefinitely in the morning; we actually usually have to wake him up.
Because he has been getting more sleep, his mood and temperament have both improved tremendously. We are getting more sleep too, which is great.
- I think another issue that was happening for a long time was that Aias had no idea what it meant to be "hungry" or "thirsty." I think he knew that he felt uncomfortable or uneasy, and that nursing helped alleviate that, but didn't necessarily know that food or drink would make him feel better. At the time we cut back on the nursing, when he would ask to nurse during the day I would ask if he needed a hug (comfort), food (hunger), or a drink (thirst). At first he didn't seem to be able to identify which of those things he was needing, but in time, he was able to make a choice.
- After we made the adjustment in nursing, Aias also started to show that he was recognizing hunger. At first, he would just shout out different food words instead of saying that he's hungry. He may say "crackers! noodles! soup!" if he was feeling like he needed to eat. In the last 6 weeks or so, Aias has been saying "I'm hungry" or "I'm thirsty." This is a HUGE deal. This means that he is able to feel hunger and thirst (it's rare but some people can't) and it means he can identify it.
A bit of a frustrating thing is that he will often ask for something, even get excited about it, take part in the process of cooking it, and then when it comes to eating it, he won't even taste it. It feels somewhat demoralizing to us. We've asked ourselves time and time again if we are just indulging him by letting him direct us through a whole elaborate cooking process and then his repeatedly not eating what he's asked us to cook, but he does seem to be serious about wanting to try it, and then when faced with the actual opportunity, he gets cold feet. On several occasions he's heard about or seen a food, and gotten really excited about it (hamburgers, carrots, etc). We've gone out of our way to make the food with him and get it to him, but when it come to eating and tasting, it just doesn't happen. We're not really sure why he does this. At this point we can just take baby steps; the reality is, if he allows certain items on his plate it's progress. If he will touch it, even more progress. If he will lick it, or eat a tiny speck of it, even more progress. Etc, etc.
It looks like he will be starting sessions with a new Nutritionist and Occupational Therapist, and I have no idea what they will be suggesting or what plan they will want to implement, but it will be interesting to see. I feel like we've already done everything we can think of, so hopefully they have some new magical ideas.
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