Saturday, August 24, 2013

Calories, Calories

I have an eating disorder. Yes, I have become obsessed with counting calories and looking at labels. I probably think about food several times an hour. But it's not my weight I'm obsessing over. It's my child's.

Yes, in my quest to get Maggie to eat enough to grow and to eventually get her g-button removed, I have become crazed with food. My kitchen contains all the highest calorie/low-volume foods Maggie will consume: Babybel cheese, Avocado, eggs, bacon, sausage, organic baby yogurt, snack size Hershey bars, pre-packaged mini donuts, and smoothie pouches. (Yes, little Maggie who didn't eat a morsel a year ago will and does eat ALL of these things!)

Now it may not be a lot, but she does eat a decent amount at every meal. Yet, frustratingly, she is still very thin. Partially because she is so active and has a crazy metabolism, but also because anytime she gets a cold or illness she'll stop eating completely for 4-5 days. (Madness!) So we are always trying to catch up and attain a good, healthy weight for her.

Maggie has been hovering around 28 or 29 pounds for about a year now. And it's just driving me crazy. So despite my lack of success with dietitians before, out of desperation I decided to try yet another one. She came out last week and was super nice. But I immediately brushed her off when at first she said that, according to Maggie's weight and height, she needed 800-900 calories a day.

I scoffed. I knew between her oral eating and nightly tube feeds she has been getting about 1200-1400 calories on a daily basis and is still not gaining weight. Even with that huge caloric intake she still has not topped thirty pounds on the scale and is (I think) still frighteningly thin.

Thankfully the dietician emailed me yesterday and said that when she considered how active Maggie is - and how many calories she must burn while doing six therapies a week and wearing the brace - she really needs 1560 calories a day. I think that number is probably right on, despite the fact that it's crazy high for a tiny three year old!

It seems insurmountable to try to get 1560 calories a day into a little person like Maggie, even with supplemental tube feeding. That's more than some health-conscious adults for that matter! So please email me or comment if you come across any high-calorie/low-volume food that I might have overlooked. Yes, we drizzle butter and oil on everything. I soak her waffles in syrup and she has bacon or sausage nearly every morning. And every night I tube feed her 300-500 calories worth of formula to make up for whatever she didn't eat that day. (Any more than that and she will vomit; trust me, I've tried.)

In reality, the biggest hurdle we face is that she won't drink much of anything besides water (which is strangely typical for kids with similar feeding issues). This is maddening on a daily basis when I see Mary Lawrence gulp down eight ounces of milk in about four seconds. So since I can't get her to "drink" her calories like just about every other American child, I have to get her to eat them and that's just a constant struggle. (Honestly, as I write this I realize I need to start praying Maggie will like whole milk because three glasses of that a day would be life-changing!)

The good news is that I do see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting her button out. I feel it will happen in the next year or two.

So it's that hope that keeps me going at night when the last thing I want to do after dealing with three screaming children all day is stay up and pump liquid into my daughter's stomach. But when I do, I remember the many nights I pleaded to God while tube feeding her, praying for him to heal her feeding issues. And look how He has worked!

I can't help but laugh every time Maggie says, "I'm hungry, Mommy, can I have a snack?" God is good. He is faithful.