Category Archives: welcome to the monkey house

a breakfast incident

something happened at breakfast this morning that hasn’t happened in a long time. Zander threw up.

this used to be a regular occurrence. so regular, that it was daily for a while. just the hint of texture in his food would send him gagging, and he would eventually throw up his entire meal. Zander would be crying from fright, i would be crying from sheer frustration, sadness, and fear that my little boy would never grow because he couldn’t/wouldn’t eat.

this morning was a bit different. sure, he gagged at some texture and ended up losing his breakfast. but it was because we have finally been able to move him off of the pureed-to-nothingness jarred baby food fruit to normal pureed fruit cups. you know…the kind that you and i might eat as a snack. not only are they so much cheaper, they also offer the same (if not better) nutritional value of the baby food with a bit more texture. and he’s been really good at eating it, as long as we are spoon-feeding him. i think there’s a comfort thing there, and we (as well as his Psychologist) are okay with the spoon feeding thing…’cause he’s eating! i guess the texture was just a bit much for him this morning.
so when he started gagging, i calmly told him it was okay. when he threw up, i still kept my calm (i’m amazed at myself for that!) and told him it was alright. he didn’t cry, probably because i didn’t cry. the only thing he was worried about was getting the puke off him, and i don’t blame him.

whether because of my meds for my ppd, the twice-a-month meetings with Zander’s Psychologist (who has been amazingly supportive and reassuring), or because of the progress he’s made, i was able to handle this morning’s breakfast incident with out trauma to myself or my son. looking back, i realize how much progress we have made in these past few months.

this time last year, Zander would only drink milk…no solid food whatsoever. the simple action of bringing a spoonful of pureed fruit or veggies would send him gagging and throwing up what little bit of milk was in his tiny tummy. he was almost 2 years old and a mere 20 pounds…the same weight he was just after he turned a year old.

when his iron deficiency was diagnosed, we had to resort to force feeding. i would sit on the couch with Zander on my lap and pry his mouth open while hubby would spoonfeed him a concoction of pureed fruits or veggies spiked with iron-fortified cereals. he would sputter and gag. we had to hold his mouth closed so he didn’t spit it out, and i would rock him and sing to him to keep him calm until he swallowed each spoonful. i cried with almost every meal. i felt nauseous before every meal, not knowing what horror lay ahead of us this time.

looking back, it is easy to see how far he’s come. instead of force feeding, screaming, gagging and vomiting, our meals have become much more relaxed. sure, it’s still difficult to get him to eat. he’s not eating much whole food…most of it’s still pureed. but i honestly can’t remember when the last time he gagged and threw up was. he has more energy. he’s happier and less cranky. he’s gained weight (he’s up to 29 pounds y’all!). we can count on him eating something at each meal, which used to seem like an unattainable goal.

i’m so proud of my boy, and what he’s struggle through to get where he is now. after dealing with this eating disorder for over 2 years, i still can’t imagine what it’s like for him. can you imagine being scared of food, one of the very things you need to survive? i can’t fathom what that must be like, and that’s probably a good thing.

but he’s slowly but steadily overcome his fear more and more. on top of his purees, he can now eat small chunks of cheese and toast. he’ll eat pizza, french fries and potato chips…not super nutritious, but it’s the texture that counts right now. he’s even started to eat pieces of whole banana! i never thought i would see the day….

i’m beaming with pride for my 2.5 year old little boy…one of the bravest and strongest little men i know!

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a milestone of the stinky kind

last night when dinner was done, Zander told us he had to “go pee pee on da toilet!”. this has actually, to our happy surprise, become a regular occurrence over the last few days.

some of you (those who followed me over from my first blog) may remember that we attempted to get Zander into the whole potty thing. he thought it was pretty neat at first, peeing in it a few times and enjoying the accolades he received when he did his thing. then the novelty wore off, and he didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

fast forward 7 months. on Friday afternoon we asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty and pee. he said yes (which surprised me since i’ve been asking him every once in a while for the past few months and the answer was always no), so we asked if he wanted to sit on the big toilet or the potty. big-boy-wannabe that he is, he wanted to sit on the toilet with his Diego toilet seat.

so off hubby and Zander go to the bathroom while i played with Logan. to be honest, i wasn’t expecting anything. in the past the only thing he has done on the toilet is waste play with the toilet paper. suddenly i hear hubby cheering, so i race to the bathroom to see big smiles on both their faces. Zander, brimming with pride, said “a peed on da toilet, mummy!”. even though he had peed on the potty before, this was different. i could tell he really understood what he had done this time…i could see it in his face and hear it in his voice.

later, after dinner, he said he had to pee on the potty, so we put him on the potty and within 30 seconds he peed. just like that. and Saturday morning, as soon as we got him out of bed, he said he had to go pee on the toilet, and he did. this has been going on since Friday. he knows he has to pee, he asks to go on the toilet or potty, and he goes. not every time, of course. the kid is so busy in Zander-world most of the day that it will take a while for him to use the potty full-time, but this is definitely an excellent start!.

what happened yesterday, however, was completely unexpected. he was sitting on the potty in front of the TV (don’t judge ;-)) after dinner. he had already had a little pee, but i knew a bigger one was coming, so i asked him to sit on it a little while longer. then he turned to look at me and said “a pooped mummy”…so matter of fact, like this was an everyday occurrence. i checked, and sure enough my son had pooped for the first time in the potty.

i have heard so many horror stories from friends and family about trying to get kids to poop on the toilet or the potty. my cousin’s daughter was so scared to do it, and later they found out that she thought her “insides” were falling out…how awful! i was just expecting….i don’t know what i was expecting, but i didn’t expecting him just to poop!

anyway, i’m realistic enough to know that he might not want to poop on the potty again for a while. but the fact that there was no trauma or anything gives me hope that it won’t be too hard.

plus he didn’t pick his poop out of the potty to show me…that’s a bonus, right?

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you know your toddler watches too much Thomas when…

seriously, my kids watch too much TV. way too much. i was one of those first-time moms that didn’t let their baby watch any TV. i had read the research linking ADD and ADHD to early TV watching. we got all the Baby Einstein videos as gifts, but Zander didn’t watch them. he actually didn’t watch one second of TV until he was 8 months old. and even then, it was limited.

then came Logan. a preemie. with health problems. and special needs. Zander was a curious, newly-walking 13-month old at the time. ya, that no-TV-watching thing went right down the toilet. i freely admit that i used the TV to distract and entertain Zander while i was taking care of Logan…not that i’m proud of it.

the end result….both of them are now addicted to that stupid box. i confess, it is nice at times to get some time to myself. but i always end up feeling guilty that they are watching TV instead of having play-time with mommy…unfortunately, i need some me time some times, and that need doesn’t always correspond with their naptime.

so in an effort to to find the humour in this horrible addiction (that their mother is also afflicted with), here is a list i have compiled. (i should give credit where credit is due…Zander basically wrote the whole list…i just typed it out!)

you know your toddler watches too much Thomas and Friends when…

  1. he walks around saying “bother” and “bust ma buffers!” when something goes wrong (we’re just waiting for him to add “cinders and ashes!” to his repertoire)
  2. he re-enacts episodes with his train track, getting frustrated that he can’t get the track to look the same or have Thomas hang perilously from the end of a collapsed bridge (he’ll have part of the track hanging off the edge of the table, and expects Thomas to just sit there on the track at a 60 degree angle, but Thomas just slides off the plastic track and falls to the floor)
  3. he asks where daddy is, mommy says he’s at work, and he nods and replies “yup…daddy work at a coal plant!” (seriously!)
  4. he uses his mommy as a bridge when she is lying on her tummy on the couch, crawling back and forth on her back pretending he is Thomas…and then says “mommy makin’ a creaking sound!” (from the episode where the bridge collapsed…the bridge made a creaking sound)
  5. he is watching Thomas and Friends and one of the engines has an accident because of their freight cars and he turns around, shakes his head and says “trouble-a trucks!” (translation – troublesome trucks)
  6. he declares his cheese “dirty”, and you tell him that it’s just crumbs from his toast, to which he suggests “cheese be’er go to da wash down!”
  7. he asks if we can get his Thomas train a “night cap” for when he goes to sleep..like the Thomas on TV has
  8. he sees a picture in a book of someone who is mad, he says they are “cross”
  9. he hears daddy coming down the stairs and mommy says “who’s coming?”, he replies “Skarloey!”
  10. he’s play with his Thomas engine and track, and he says to himself “oh…a be’er change da points!”
  11. he can recognize all the engines in his colouring books, even though their are artist renditions and there are no colours to help him distinguish them…sometimes it’s just their faces
  12. you draw him a train and when you are done he looks up at you and asks “where i’ da coal tender?”
  13. your reading him one of his Thomas books, and you point to a blue engine and say “oh look, there’s Edward”, to which he replies “no mommy! dat Gordon!” with a tone of disgust and a look of utter disappointment
  14. he names each bite of food after the engines on the show before he will eat them
  15. he is watching Thomas and Friends and one of the connect-the-dots segments comes on…and he tells you which engine it is before they even start connecting the damn dots
  16. you say “Thomas” and he says “he da cheeky one!” (from the theme song)
  17. we’re out and about and mommy says “we’re going to go home now” and he replies “to Tidmouth Sheds!”
  18. he asks you to help him build a track, and you ask him what he wants, to which he replies “i need fwee bwanch lines!” (translation – three branch lines)
  19. he will bring his Thomas engine over to you and proceed to point out “this i’ da tall funnel, da dome, da whistle, da cab, da drive wheels, da coal tender, da buffers,……”
  20. he can name every. frickin’. engine. and their numbers. even the ones i don’t remember ever seeing.

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Zander’s Secret

Zander recently picked up the word secret from watching an episode of Backyardigans…i think. anyway, he’s been using it as often as he can, even though he doesn’t exactly know what it means yet. which, of course, makes it that much more entertaining.

the other night we were sitting at the dinner table. Zander was done eating what was on his plate and, as usual, had dragged his chair over to sit beside daddy.

Zander: daddy! i ha’ a secret!

hubby: you have a secret? wow!

Zander: ya! Zan’er ha’ a secret!

hubby: what’s your secret, Zander?

suddenly hubby’s face twists into a look of horror.

Zander: poop!

sure enough, Zander’s diaper was full of….his secret. i was laughing my head off…of course, i wasn’t close enough to smell this secret of Zander’s…unlike my poor hubby.

*****

yesterday morning, Zander was sitting beside me on the couch. all of a sudden he jumped up to stand on the couch and stared down at me.

Zander: mommy! i ha’ a secret!

me: you do? what is it?

Zander: a secret mommy! Zan’er ha’ a secret!

me: wow, Zander! can you tell mommy what your secret is?

Zander: a snowball….WATCH OUT!

then he flopped down on the couch and rolled around laughing. silly monkey.

later that morning, i was in the kitchen playing on the floor with Logan. Zander ran in all upset.

Zander: mommy….i ha’ a poop in a diaper…and i’ not a secret!

man, this kid makes me laugh.

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i’m not strong enough

oh God…i can’t do this. i’m not strong enough. i can’t watch my 2.5 year old son starve himself. i can’t keep trying things that don’t work. i can’t get my hopes up, only to have them dashed so soon after.

i’m not strong enough for this. why is this happening? i don’t understand.

we went to the parents’ group at the Children’s Hospital. we talked to other parents whose children had similar eating issues/disorders. we talked to a myriad of specialists. we thought we had to tools and information to attack this problem.

none of it helped.

we had a one-on-one session with the OT and Psychologist from the group, and we thought we heard what we needed to hear…what would help us.

we were wrong.

we now go for twice-monthly visits with his Psychologist. each time, we leave there with a new plan of attack…a new method to try….a new way of doing things. we leave with a spring in our step, and some optimism that we’ve finally found something that will work.

it never does.

i don’t know how much more of this i can take. i’ve never felt so helpless in my life. my child not only doesn’t want to eat…doesn’t like to eat. he is almost petrified of eating. he screams to get away from the table. and it’s getting worse.

he used to eat pizza like it was going out of style. now he will take his few bites, and then ask to leave the table with this fright in his voice…he needs to get away from this eating scene. the few things that he used to like to eat, he doesn’t want to eat anymore. i don’t get it.

last night we put cut-up bits of chicken fingers, corn and cauliflower on his plate. he had a sip of his water, took one look at his plate and scream “done!”. we begged and pleaded, as we always do. but he was done. not one bite, and as far as he was concerned his dinner was over. we did manage to get two teeny tiny bites of chicken into him, but we had to bribe him…he could get down from the table if he had two pieces of chicken. and we had to pretend they were Percy and Skarloey, two of his favourite engines from Thomas. even then, he was thisclose to spitting them out…we had to convince him it was okay to chew and swallow them. it was as if he thought the food was going to hurt him. a look of fear mixed with disgust was painted on his face as he painfully chewed and swallowed these minuscule bits of chicken.

after he had eaten the chicken, we let him down as promised. he ran around playing with his train and track while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. we invited Zander back to the table for dessert. yogurt…his favourite. but no, he did not want to come back to that damn table. i believe his exact words were “no way!”.

beaten down and needing our little boy to go to bed with more than 1/20th of a chicken finger (especially since he had refused his after-nap snack, meaning he hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch), we agreed to feed him yogurt on the couch while he watched TV. and when i say we agreed to feed him, i mean we spoon fed him. that’s right…we had to spoon feed yogurt to our 2.5 year old son. ’cause that’s the only way he would have anything to do with it.

with the terror of the dining table behind him and Thomas the Train suitably entertaining him, we snuck another yogurt and some puréed strawberry-banana into him. far from what a toddler should be having for dinner since most toddlers don’t eat mainly purées, but it’s better than nothing.

tonight’s dinner took almost an hour and a half, start to finish. now i could handle that if it happened every once in a while. but it doesn’t. it happens everyday. everyday. sometimes every meal.

i watch this smart, funny, beautiful, amazing little boy of ours….he’s barely eating, he won’t try to eat new things, he’s growing slowly, he’s been bouncing between 22 and 26 pounds for over a year, but never gains anymore weight….and i don’t know how to help him. and it’s killing me.

i don’t know how much longer i can do this. i want to stop trying to be strong. i want to just let myself crumble. i want to curl up into a ball and let the tears flow for however many hours or days they keep coming. i want to wallow in my feelings of uselessness and failure, my ppd and self-pity.

but i can’t. i have to be there for Zander and help him through this. i have another son who has issues of his own. and i have a husband that is going through all of this too, and who needs me there with him.

i just don’t know if i’m strong enough to do this.

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manicures all around

every couple of days i clip the boys’ fingernails. i clip, and then i file…and i file and i file away any sharp edges and corners. and then i file some more. why? because they both have eczema and are crazy allergic to….everything…nothing…who knows. what can happen if i forget to do it on time?

This….

Logan’s eczema leg

Logan’s leg after a night of scratching

so i do my best not to miss any manicure appointment for the boys…which is tough. not so much for Zander. he’ll actually tell me he wants his nails clipped, and is excited when i tell it’s time for a clipping.

Logan is a whole different kettle of squirmy, flailing monkey. the odd time i will be lucky…if he’s mesmerized by the TV and in a co-operative mood, he’ll sit quietly and let me clip away. but most of the time he screams and grabs at the clippers and kicks and hits and punches and tries (sometimes successfully) to wriggle and squirm from my grip. and unfortunately Logan’s eczema is the worst of the two, so his nails NEED to be clipped most often. oh, what fun!

well, tonight was one of the easy manicures for Logan. fresh from his bath, he sat quietly, snuggled in my arms while he watch Harry and His Bucket Full Of Dinosaurs…and i got the job done with absolutely no bloodshed. bonus.

why can’t it always be that easy?

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who are you and what have you done with my son?

despite Zander’s eating issues, iron deficiency and what-have-you, he’s a pretty easy going kid. and we have been blessed with the fact that he loves being in his crib, he loves taking his nap and loves going to bed when he’s tired. well…until last week. suddenly he dreads going to bed, whether if be nap-time or bedtime…he just ain’t havin’ it.as soon as i start doing the normal before-nap things (giving him his iron drops, changing the boys diapers, etc.), he starts telling me that he isn’t tired and he’s not going to go to sleep…just in passing. the first time he did this, i didn’t think much of it. after all, the kid likes to flex his vocabularic muscles…a lot.

but then, when i said “time for nap!” and opened the gate at the bottom of the stairs, instead of racing his little brother to get to the stairs first, he started screaming. i couldn’t get him to calm down, so i told him i was going to put Logan to bed first and left him downstairs. when i closed the door to Logan’s room and turned around, Zander was standing at the top of the stairs. as soon as he saw me he started crying again.

it took me 20 minutes to get it out of him that he wanted to go back downstairs and play. i assured him that there would be plenty more playtime when got up from his nap, even listing all the different possibilities for the afternoon.

i finally got him settled. unfortunately this now happens everyday before both his nap and bedtime. fun fun fun!

i’ve wondered whether he could be weaning himself from his nap, but i don’t think that’s it. even with the fight he puts up, he’s normally asleep within 10 minutes and sleeps for a couple of hours. me thinks he’s just getting so busy with his newfound love for pretend-play and craft time that he just doesn’t want to miss out. at least i hope that’s it….i’m not ready to give up nap-time!

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