Done being judged

About a week ago I posted an honest, desperate plea on Facebook. I asked for help. I got more honest than I originally intended to and I was afraid how it would be received. Fortunately, I seemed to have gotten mostly lucky… except for a few people who chose to use the opportunity to question my parenting, my kid, or my ability to read the situation. So for those who need the education, buckle up. This is our reality.

From the moment (yes, literally, from the very first exposure) I introduced solids to Bryce, he has had issues. Purees, no matter what it was, made him vomit. Every single time. Veggies. Fruits. Grains. All of it.

Finally, after some research, I decided to try giving my toothless little 7 month old tiny bites of my food, from my plate. He tolerated some things well, and other things not so much. I explored this with him for months. He ate very few things. I clung to the saying “Food before one is just for fun” and prayed for the best. Unfortunately, nothing ever really changed.

This little angel of mine was picky, beyond picky. He ate like a bird. He was very particular about what he would he and how he would eat it. If anything was ‘off’, that was it. He wouldn’t eat. I listened to well-intentioned loved ones who swore he would eat when he was hungry…. So I stopped offering the foods that he wanted and started giving him whatever we were having…. Guess what, for DAYS, this kid didn’t eat. ANYTHING. At all. Several days went by and I gave up. He is already on weight checks for being between the 6th and 8th percentile, he cant afford to lose weight.

I changed my method. I started giving him what he wanted again and would try to get him to try something new as often as possible, ideally daily, but that didn’t usually happen. And guess what, nothing changed. In fact, the more I pressed, the worse his eating got.

Meanwhile I heard every judgmental comment muttered by those around us: stop babying him, he will eat when he is hungry… she is spoiling him… this is a discipline issue… she is a pushover… he is playing games… she cant control him… that’s weird, it cant be as bad as she thinks it is… he is just looking for attention… he is too skinny… and on, and on, AND ON.

I was literally being shamed and judged for following my gut, listening to my child, and being the mom he needed me to be. I decided to stop pushing the issue and hope that he would grow out of it ‘soon’. Months went by and sometimes he would drop ‘favorite’ foods but usually they would be replaced with something similar. He kept battling bouts of constipation and then diarrhea, back and forth. Nothing seemed to help.

At one point, when he was about 3, Bryce insisted that all hot dogs, except one specific kind, made him sick. We basically laughed it off. But every time he would eat a hot dog at a restaurant he would get sick. For days. Awful diarrhea. He would be miserable. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but this happened SO MANY TIMES!! That is not normal.

Finally he started Speech and Occupational Therapy. Both work on his eating, as well as many other things. Sometimes there was some progress, but it is always short lived. Always. Bryce is anxious when it comes to food and eating. He will insist he is full after only a few bites, and he is famous for gagging and puking while eating. His Occupational Therapist (who is amazing) and I are certain that his stomach never properly stretched out and therefore some of his issues with eating are due to lack of space. But how do you combat that when he won’t eat?

Aside from his speech and occupational therapists, we have seen a Gastrointestinal Specialist Dr who ran several tests on Bryce that all came back normal. I have talked to at least 4 different pediatricians about it and none of them take it seriously, despite his low weight and weight checks. I have called well over 20 therapists who either wont see him because of his young age, or don’t even have the decency to return my call. I have searched medical journals. I have done my own research. I have looked for children like Bryce. We received his spectrum diagnosis and were referred to behavioral therapy…………..

So, what prompted my post? Total desperation. Bryce has cut out his two favorite foods. Foods that he requested daily, if not for every meal. Food that he would successfully eat 98% of the time when it was offered. Chick Fil A chicken nuggets and French fries (he will no longer eat ANY French fries and like it or not there were many times that was his meal because calories in is important and so is sleep – hungry kids don’t sleep). The most troubling part? He didn’t replace the chicken…. just the fries. With Hawaiian rolls. Also he has begun to inspect his food and if there is any black specs (spices), perceived discoloration, or anything ‘wrong’ in his opinion, he will not eat it. Example? Pancakes. You know when you make pancakes and the first side cooks perfectly, light brown, then you flip it and the bottom cooks multicolored, with lighter areas and darker areas….. well, he never noticed that before, but now he notices and WILL NOT eat them.

You see, this goes beyond picky eating. Picky eaters typically: have a decreased range of foods they will eat equaling 30 or more, will lose foods due to ‘burn out’ but will regain them after a short break (usually two weeks), can tolerate new foods on their plate, can touch and taste new foods even if reluctantly… where problem feeders typically: have a diet self restricted to 20 or less foods, foods lost to ‘burn out’ are not re-acquired, cries or melts down when presented with new foods, almost always eats different food than the family… (Toomey, 2017).

That is quite a difference. I am going to list facts about Bryce below and you can decide for yourself, is he a picky eater, or a problem feeder?

Facts about Bryce:

– Cries, gags, or vomits with new food exposure.

– Will refuse to eat at all when pressured.

– Will refuse to eat if ‘safe’ food is not available.

– Never goes back to foods he has abruptly cut out.

– Is sensitive to different brands, even without ever seeing the package.

– Currently eats:

o Safe foods:

Fruit snacks

▪ Hawaiian rolls

▪ Chocolate fudge pop tarts (only the center)

▪ Donuts

▪ Oreo and Fudge Stripe cookies

▪ Goldfish

▪ Some chips and pretzels

▪ Some waffles

▪ PB&J/peanut butter toast/nutella fluff sandwiches

o Sometimes:

▪ Smoothies (can only have specific things in them, very sensitive to ingredients/flavor/texture)

▪ Corn dogs

▪ Eggs (only scrambled and typically 1-2 bites total

▪ Ice cream (chocolate)

▪ Chocolate chip cookies

– Will completely refuse food if someone touches it or take a bite of it.

I’m sure I am forgetting things, because that is just how life works, but there is zero part of the above list that is normal behavior. This isn’t something we have done to him, with three kids he is the only one who struggles like this. Thankfully, my post did lead me into a direction where we can at least seek a specific diagnosis and get help for that.

Selective Eating Disorder, now known as Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder “is an eating disorder characterized by the persistent refusal to eat specific foods or refusal to eat any type of food due to a negative response from certain food colors, textures or smells. Additionally individuals may refuse to eat due to fear of becoming sick or choking on food. This disorder is not characterized by an obsession with body shape or weight but rather is simply due to the disinterest and avoidance of foods. Selective eating disorder can result in excessive unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition leading to nutritional impairment or the need for tube feeds. Oftentimes, psychosocial impairments result from ARFID as well” (Center For Discovery, no date).

I’ll wrap up by saying that the guilt and pressure I feel is heavy. It is a burden that I struggle to brush off every day. He has so much attention, and so many people that love him and accept him how he is, there is no need for attention seeking behavior. Bryce knows that he can trust me with food, and that is not something I am willing to risk, I am one of his VERY few safe people. I will not deliberately deceive him because he will not get past it. And I am working on getting all the referrals needed to move forward to get him the help he needs, even if it does mean a feeding tube. Heck, then at least we would have the assurance to know he is getting all the nutrition he needs to grow.

Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with special needs is even harder. Until you have walked in my shoes, back off, get off your high horse, and stop judging me. Otherwise, you’ll be cut from our lives. Unapologetically. I REFUSE TO FIGHT OVER FOOD. It isn’t worth it.

References:

Center For Discovery. (No date). Selective Eating Disorder or ARFID Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery. Retrieved from http://centerfordiscovery.com/treatment-programs/eating-disorders/selective-eating-disorder-arfid-treatment/

Toomey, K. (2017). Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders – Dr. Kay A Toomey. Retrieved from http://sosapproach-conferences.com/resources/picky-eaters-vs-problem-feeders/

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Keeping myself accountable!!

It’s been FOREVER, but here I am to offer an update on my journey to better!

First off: I am exercising five days a week. Yep. Five! And guess what?? I don’t hate it. That’s worth repeating. I don’t hate it!!!! I do have a confession though….. I haven’t been running. I started getting a cold a couple weeks ago and it was low 60’s and I made an excuse not to run. So instead I’ve been doing spin classes right here at home though the Peleton app! I haven’t gotten back to running due to life, but it hasn’t stopped me from putting me first 5 days a week and getting my sweat on! Next week I plan to run three times and do spin classes 2 or 3 times… depending on how I feel.

As for my results: they’re happening! The numbers on the scale are moving down, there are noticeable differences in my legs, stomach, and face too! I’m not going to go into details because, well, I’m not ready to share all that yet, but it is so motivating to see positive results happening!!

I’ve been reading up on the Keto Diet and watched a documentary called The Magic Pill. I’m telling you, it makes so much sense to me. So, with some preparation and further research/learning, our family will possibly be adapting that lifestyle. Yep. As a family.

For some non-scale wins, I have been sleeping better, aching less, have more energy, less overall stress, am responding better to what stressors arise, am eating better, have improved mental clarity (which is basically a miracle, I swear), and I’m feeling better in my own skin. All seemingly small things, but damn they feel good. Especially all together! Mostly, it’s really amazing to have gotten though the beginning without quitting. Working out has never been my favorite thing, so creating these healthy habits for myself was a big challenge in itself. So, YAY ME!!

Anyways, I’ll update again soon….. well, soonish! Until then, sweat on!!!!!

Boys will be……. whoops

Picture it: I’m 25 minutes into a 45 minute workout in the garage (turns out I actually like spin classes, who knew that could be possible??)…. I’m 30 seconds from the top of the “hill” (read: I get a ‘break’ for a couple minutes after pushing hard) and in walked my husband carrying our screaming two year old. I’m mentally blocking him out because I’m ALMOST THERE…. and then he turns the little one around and I see blood flowing off his face.

The story goes: Bryce was digging up fence posts for Daddy when Brooke spotted a lizard. She suggested that they lizard hunt (GROSS) and both boys went wild over the idea. She was kicking the bush and Bryce was hitting it with his shovel. (I’ll pause there, he swung multiple times, this wont be an approved activity anymore). One final swing, Bryce missed the bush and planted the shovel right in Everett’s face. Brooke says it happened in slow-motion, but she couldn’t stop it in time and was frozen in fear when it happened.

Fast forward 10 minutes, I’ve resisted the urge to yell at my husband (because, seriously, how could he let this happen) and we have discovered that it is not a simple bloody nose, but a gash under his nose that isn’t huge but opens up easily…. to the ER we go. As I’m driving I have a playlist running through my head: hopefully the kids at home are ok until Papa gets there, please help Everett keep his finger away from the gash (spoiler: he didn’t), accidents happen so fast, this isn’t anyone’s fault, please don’t let the ER be insane……. and on, and on…….

Within 2.5 hours from the accident we were headed home with dinner. Two stitches, lots of screaming, and stained shirts… this will soon be just a memory. I mean, it’ll be a memory after we get him healed. In the meantime it’s constant reminders not to touch, sleeping in elbow restraints so he doesn’t hurt himself, ice to numb it, movies galore, treats….. whatever it takes. Survival mode.

Replaying it all, what worries me most is that he was screaming angrily. It was not your typical “I’m hurt” cry. He was PISSED. We have joked a lot about his seemingly absent awareness of pain…. but yesterday it was pretty clear, he was mad, not hurting. That worries me. During stitches, he, again, was screaming because he was PISSED that they were restraining him. Mentally, I can’t piece together what this means, but it makes me further aware that he likely has a sensory processing problem. It’s something we will be exploring further with his Occupational Therapist.

Somehow, through this whole ordeal, Bryce seems to be taking it harder than Everett. Despite constant reassurance, he is sure we are mad at him or that he is in trouble and he will randomly mutter “mom, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to….”. The worry he feels breaks my heart. But wouldn’t ya know, he is anxiously waiting for Daddy to get home so he can go dig out posts again…….. ugh.

I suppose the moral of the story is: boys will be boys! Accidents are going to happen, they’re inevitable. And shovel swinging is never a good idea *ahem* I’ll say it again, SHOVEL SWINGING IS BAD (Jeremiah, did you get that???).

My journey to better

I have been on a slow journey to better for a little while now. It started with decluttering – which, I’ll be honest, it’s a work in progress, but progress counts!! Then trying to be more intentional with my time…..

Then, this month we have cut out almost ALL fast food. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit but I relied on it WAY too much. Long days, meltdowns, constantly refereeing the kids, feeling touched out, overwhelmed, mentally,physically, and emotionally exhausted…. it left too many nights where I’d say “I am not cooking…”…. so, we’d order take out. This became a crutch.

Back in February we took family pictures, and while I will cherish them forever, I cringe seeing me in them. I have never been this heavy. Ever. Truthfully, the family pics were my first piece of motivation to change my lifestyle.

Then, a couple weeks ago, we did an Autism walk through the vineyards with some of my family. It really was beautiful, but holy moly, I struggled. It was embarrassing. My entire family finished (1) ahead of me, or (2) were held back because the hill was KILLER to me. And people, I am NOT talking mountains okay…. one hill. One stupid hill. It felt like it would never end. I had to stop 3 or 4 times going up it. And I was not pushing the stroller. It. Was. Pathetic.

That was it. The final straw. The next day I decided I needed to change more. To grow. To get uncomfortable. The weight is not going to just fall off. Healthy won’t just come overnight. There isn’t a magic fix. I needed to do something. I started walking the next day. Pushing a stroller with both boys in it didn’t make for quite the experience I had hoped for, but it would do. It was a starting point.

Then, my brother put a bug in my ear. There is a half-marathon in January that I could do. It was the first one he had done several years ago, it was mostly flat and easy….. there is plenty of time to train. He had a plan. I took the bait. I signed up, much to everyone’s surprise, including my own. I mean, I am not a runner. But hell, I can do this. I think. I hope. Er, I CAN. I WILL.

This is my before pic. I am not going to look this way anymore. I am moving on to be a better me. For myself. For my kids. And for my love, because look at him, even when I look like this he looks at me like that. I do not deserve this man.

So, when you see me – ask me about my training. Help keep me accountable. And, if you’re looking for a workout buddy, I’m volunteering! It’s time for a better me!

My Bryce

Right now, I’m sitting on the couch questioning if I even have the words to write this post. Not a great starting place, but here goes nothin’!

I’m going to jump right in here……..

Somewhere inside me, I have known Bryce was special for a long time. He is the sweetest kid I’ve ever met, he has always been uncomfortable in crowds (seriously, even as an infant – family gatherings were NOT his forte), he is insanely literal, he is extremely emotional and grows attached to the funniest things, he melts down if anything happens out of ‘order’ (his order), etc. We started him in speech therapy last spring and were recommended to have him evaluated for occupational therapy also. He started that over summer.

Occupational therapy has been a huge eye opener for me. Major. For the first time in Bryce’s life I had someone who saw Bryce’s quirks and was agreeing that this isn’t ‘normal’ or ‘just Bryce being a boy’. She started suggesting things to me that I didn’t want to believe, but when I would do the research couldn’t honestly say that it didn’t sound like my Bryce. Finally I let some family in on the possibility and it was equally shocking to them. We, collectively, decided that it was best for Bryce to be thorough and started the process for a developmental evaluation. (I won’t even bore you with the pain in the ass that was, but dang I’m glad its behind me).

After a six month wait, hours and hours of preparation, countless evaluations, and more tears and lost sleep than I’d like to admit, our appointment is now behind us. My Bryce has ‘Mild/High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder’. Yes. You ARE reading that right. My Bryce. Mine.

While it wasn’t a shock, or even almost a surprise, it felt like a punch in the gut to hear. However, we are now focusing on getting him the support he needs to work through some of his quirks so he can enjoy school like a ‘normal’ kiddo.

Some of the things we have been dealing with are: obsessive behaviors and patterns, overwhelmed with too much verbal direction, very emotional, intolerance to foods and a very limited list of preferred food and actual intake, weight checks, compulsive behaviors, rigidity, difficulty with transitions, difficulty socializing with strangers/kids his age, decreased functional play (he is a toy organizer), walking on his toes (this is becoming more frequent), obsessing over how a task is performed, semi-frequent meltdowns, very literal, constipation, etc. Also, he was referred to the feeding team at the local Children’s Hospital. This eating thing…. or lack of eating thing… isn’t a ‘mom-made’ issue. It is a mental, emotional, physical, real, problem that he CANNOT change. We need more help. And we will get it.

So… Autism. Thank goodness this little word doesn’t change any thing at all about my sweet boy. He is still just as awesome as he was, in fact, I think he is even more awesome now. And there isn’t anything we won’t be able to handle, because we are taking this path with open eyes, open hearts, open arms, and the desire to know better and do better.

That is the point. Know better, do better.

on my journey to LESS

At the end of last year, I felt a major burden. The junk that continued building up all over our house was wearing on me. It was eating up my time and causing me stress and discontent. Before the New Year I had cleaned out my clothes and started a select few kitchen cabinets. I really had no plan of what would be next.

I joined a decluttering challenge with a ton of other moms on Facebook and I loved it. I was getting rid of SO much and it was so freeing. At the end of January I started to panic. The challenge was over. I needed more.

This weekend I decided to go back into the kids toys and get rid of more. My husband thinks I’m crazy, I’m sure, but I cannot stand the constant mess and lack of play! I send them to play and they dump out toys all over the floor and come back out in less than 5 minutes. I was careful not to get rid of anything they really love, and they still have plenty to play with, but there is definitely less available.

Since late December, I have packed up over 6 bags of toys (I think 8 is accurate). I’m talking nice toys, this doesn’t include the broken junk that got tossed. At first it felt so heavy. The guilt was intense. But, much to my surprise, they have not asked for a single thing that has been donated. Not once. I have even included them in the decision making, asking them to choose toys that we can give to other kids who don’t have as many toys. (The baby, if I can even call him that anymore, has not been included since he has NO idea what is happening anyways)

I plan to work through the house, letting go of everything we don’t need, want, or use. Its amazing how much stuff that has built up, taking up space and creating more work – and for what? The need for stuff is insane. I want to walk into my house and feel calm – not stressed. I want to feel comfortable if someone stops by unannounced and not stress about the mess that I can’t hide. Yes our house is lived in, but the piles… oh, the piles….. they have GOT to go.

Let me just say, one major impact has been the addition of a robot vacuum to the house. It is a magical little unicorn, I swear. It forces us to keep the floors clear, which is a huge help with my anxiety. Just a couple minutes of pick up in the morning and then the vacuum runs, and its helping me keep the house clean without much effort! I went from spending easily 1-1.5 hours a week vacuuming to less than 5 minutes. It is WONDERFUL! …….. Now if it could vacuum the couch too…. that would be PERFECTION.

Anyways, Im not sure where I’ll purge next, but im excited to keep it going! I notice a major difference already, and can practically TASTE more freedom on the horizon 🙂

this is MY motherhood

Life is funny. As a child, I can remember wanting to be an adult SO bad…. and then I became an adult, and I wanted to go back to childhood. Adulting isn’t all its cracked up to be. For me, being a mom has been the same.

Being a mom is awesome, my kids are amazing little humans. On the flip side, being a mom is the hardest ‘job’ I have ever had and there are days I seriously question my own sanity, or lack thereof.

You know what doesn’t help? Opinions. Unsolicited. Unwanted. Rude. Judgmental. Utterly ridiculous. Opinions.

Gather ’round fellow momma’s! We are taking back our motherhood!

 

Currently, in my momma journey, I am in the trenches. My boys are young, they never stop moving, they are wild, they are loud, they are stronger than they look, and man are they stubborn. From the moment they wake in the morning until they succumb to sleep at night, they are moving full speed ahead. And my littlest has no fear… ever… of anything. Ive decided to name all of my gray hair after him. My daughter is a teenager… and holy moly does she have my attitude. I have to remind myself (constantly) to breathe before reacting to her, because she is young and is learning her place in the world… she needs the grace to spread her wings and learn to fly. This is not easy.

Everyday I cringe when they ask me to play, or read to them, or read a story they wrote and I say “I need to finish cleaning, can I do it later…” Seriously, what is more important that spending time with them? Certainly not dusting, dishes, laundry, etc. I hate that I say things like “Go play so mommy can mop”… This is not the memories I want them to have of their childhood. And its not what I want to remember of my motherhood.

In my journey to take back my own motherhood, I am making some positive changes for myself and my family. I am decluttering, organizing, simplifying our home, and our life. I am setting healthy boundaries in necessary routines for the kids (read: we are semi-sleep training), allowing myself and my husband some time together, and time for ourselves in the evenings. I am letting go of things we don’t use, things we don’t like, and setting aside the guilt of how much something cost, when it was obtained, or whom it is from. My goal is to change the environment of our home, lessen the heavy load of constant cleaning and organization of junk we don’t even want/like/need, and allow us to enjoy more. More family time. More experiences. More flexibility. Whatever ‘more’ is.

Every year I feel like the time flew by and I took it for granted. I want that to end. I want to be present. I want to lessen the burden of the stupid guilt that comes alongside being a mom. I am putting it out there for the world to see, I will make these changes for my family. I will create a simpler life that allows us to enjoy more. We will take 2018 by the horns and live our lives to the fullest.

Watch me. This is my motherhood. Im doing this for me. And, of course, my littles.

P.S. Im also going to make this blog a priority again, so get ready for more posts!