Monday, April 19, 2010

Full Disclosure

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that yesterday we had a major setback in Operation Feed Yourself. We lasted 12 days. Eden lost one pound, Holland a pound and a half. After too many meals of them just sitting and staring forlornly into space, and too many entire plates of food scraped into the trash, I lost my nerve (and maybe my mind).

So, yesterday we fed them all 3 meals and they ate great.

We are going to take a week to regroup and come up with a new plan.

I can't help but feel like a failure.

The PMS is not helping.


Sarah said...

You didn't fail. Some kids really are truly happy to starve, and the "let them feed themselves" advice just doesn't work. **hugs**

Nancy said...

Don't think you failed, your original plan just didn't work. Time to come up with a new one is all. Just out of curiosity have you tried separating them while they eat? Also, what about only putting one thing at a time on their plates? I am a huge fan of timers in my house. Caitlyn gets a time limit to eat what I put in front of her. And typically, I give her about 4-6 more than I know she needs to eat what I have given her to make sure she is successful.

You could also try weaning them if you haven't already. So for example, for every three bites they take themselves, you will give them one. and then up the ante making them take more bites.

There is also the "incentive" charts you could do (you know, in all of your spare time). They get a sticker or a penny in a jar or something for every bite they take themselves. Once they hit a certain number, they get to stay up 5 minutes later or get extended time on the computer. The prize can really be anything. Can also be something that occurs naturally in their environment. so if they like loading the dishwasher or being able to hit the buttons on the microwave to warm up their food or prepare a snack or desert for themselves.

Hopefully, you will find something that works for them and for you soon!! Until then, try and hang in there.

Knowledge Safari said...

Ugh that is too bad - but you will bounce back with a new plan I'm sure.

Wanted to let you know about our new site We are a social networking and review site for parents, families and others who have children with special needs in their lives.

I am a long time reader of your site and hope you check us out!

Lisa C. said...

I had my fingers crossed that this was going to work. Bummer! I read comments on your previous post about professional feeding therapy. Maybe the girls would respond to that. Or maybe as the girls get more mature, something will just click and it won't be a struggle any more. Best of luck!

Kendra Lynn said...

So sorry, Billie. I know its hard. When I was reading this I was reliving my bout with Meredith when she was little. I know how painful it is. Praying for you that you find a solution. You are a great mommy.


Kim said...

You did not fail! My twins were 5.5 with NO eating or weight issues and the only reason I stopped feeding them myself was because I had to feed the baby! You are doing awesome!!

Sherry C said...

keep feeding them as long as they need it .. I'm sure they won't let you feed them when they are in high school. You are anything but a failure... your doing fabulous. My daughter turned 5 in march she has a g-tube for fluids but i need to feed her when she lets me. She is only 24 pounds. I try not to dwell on it to much I'm just thrilled she chews and swallows. She went 2 full years just tube feeding. She has only been eating this past year it's fabulous. She only eats so much but I'm so pleased.

KimN said...

Sorry Plan A didn't work. Here's to hoping that Plan B does the trick. But I agree with the others that you did not fail. You cannot fail with something that was never fully in your control in the first place. Unfortunately, they hold all the cards in this scenario.

Livi said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and your girls are just so cute and inspiring!
I just wanted to say something I've learnt over the years, it might not be of any help but I wanted to give my 2 cents. Sometimes kids are more inspred to eat if they help out with cooking and get the satisfaction of having been part of the preparations. There's obviously things they can't do with cooking, but helping with chopping vegetables and stirring are things that children usually enjoy. And it's great to be able to help!
Good luck to all four of you, I'm rooting for you :o)

Kristine said...

I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out. I know its hard. Very hard.

Perhaps you could try the same thing in a couple of weeks...Katie will pick up on some things only after I try it a few times. Ugh, I'm totally guessing here...our feeding issues are the same as yours and I have NO idea what to do.

Feeding Experts Review: I found out that our children's hospital had a team of feeding experts when Katie was about 1.5 years old. I was so excited and had so much hope for special techniques, ideas and things that would, you know, work! They met with us in their office a few times and even came out to our house. They were all very nice and tried to help, but bottom line is everything they suggested we had already tried. Pretty much all common sense stuff. I'm sure you've tried it all as well.

Not saying all FT are the same, just that ours didn't have any "magic" for us.

I'm totally convinced that Katie would starve herself too if I didn't feed her. That's the only reason I kill myself daily to get the calories in. Sigh.

I know your girls, and Katie will get there! They're just not ready right now.

Kim said...

What about doing hand over hand for feeding? You could eventually fade that out, but it would be a good next step in getting them to participate without completely doing it for them. (Just as a special education teacher, we love hand over hand then fading. System of most-to-least prompts, really.) I think keeping the same principles - no fighting, no begging them to eat - but making them active partipants with help could be a positive first step. Maybe!

Anonymous said...

Love you much girl. See you soon. Love, Jess

Anonymous said...

I've been lurking for awhile, thanks for your updates on feeding. I just wanted to let you know that I'm at the exact same place with my 4 year old daughter, she was also very premature but on a feeding tube for several years. She's off the tube, but I still feed her. She will take bites by herself if we prompt her to and/or give her a reward. A week or so ago we started the same thing you did--we read the same book on advice of our speech (feeding) therapist. Since then she probably has eaten about 1/4 of the food that she should eat. So, yesterday I started to feed her again. Sigh, my husband and I were fairly discouraged. We were seeing a behavioral feeding therapist (who helped get her off the feeding tube) and I think we'll go back to see him.
I don't have any advice, but just wanted to let you know that there are others out there... Good luck and your kids are beautiful!


Kate said...

I don't think you failed either. I have been a special educator working with kids who have multiple issues for over a decade and feeding is such a hard issue. Learned helplessness and attention seeking behaviors are interwoven with the need to eat to survive and the parental need to nurture with food. I think some of you commenters are mentioning less "all or nothing" plans that are based in behavior sciences (like using a prompt/cue hierarchy or "shaping" and "fading" which are two tools special educators and behaviorists use. Fading for example might mean you move from feeding them to handing them a filled spoon to helping them start scooping with a spoon and do less and less for them incrementally over time. You might want to visit the PBIS website (positive behavior interventions and supports) and enlist the help of the school OT and SLP, the pediatrician, behaviorist and a feeding specialist in a more comprehensive plan for round too. We say in special education that all behavior is communication and that we need to find ways to support the growth of new positive behaviors (like rewards and attention) and eliminate what ever is satisfying about the older more negative behaviors to make them less effective. You can't take away something with out replacing it with something else. How could the girls get the non-caloric benefits of being feed (one to one attention from mom or dad...) and still feed themselves? Can they earn special snuggle time or some other means of attention? Meanwhile if you are going to feed them (perhaps what is left after a timer goes off, or the reverse, feed them the first half and they are on their own for the second half) you need to eliminate whatever is reinforcing, i.e. perhaps only chatting, interacting and making eye contact when they self feel and becoming totally neutral in expression when/if you feed them? Just some ideas. Keep trying, they aren't going to grow up to bring you on dates and feed them while they are out with boys - this too shall pass.

Katy said...

Firm believer in Mom Knows Best no matter what you decide. Perhaps today is the day they needed to be fed a bit. I have no doubt that no matter what you do, it will be the right thing because you are a great mom.

Failure? Never. Look how far those girls have come.

Anonymous said...

Does it have to be all or nothing? Wishing you good results from the next plan. Barbara

Mum2twopreciousgifts said...


YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. It was YOUR reward chart that inspired me to try, yet again, to try and toilet train my 6-1/2 year old daughter who has physical and intellectual issues. And it without reading your blog and thinking to myself, I can do it, I can do it, I probably wouldn't have tried.

But I did, and our daughter is now more dry than wet. So hooray for Billie and yes, you will come up with a new plan and when the time is right, it will work.

You are an inspiration and please don't forget that!

Thank you all the way from Australia.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they would feed each other!

My oldest used to want me to feed her when her little sister (3 years younger!) was already feeding herself. She was a bit picky and would leave the onions from her spaghetti sauce, and other stuff like that, but my rule was that she could only pick stuff out if she was feeding herself - if I was putting it in her mouth, I got to choose what was on the fork. That was actually pretty good motivation for her to take over.

I'm sure there are a million tricks, and eventually you'll find a few that work, or they'll grow out of this. Don't feel like a failure in the meantime. It's ok to feel frustrated and annoyed and everything else, but don't let yourself feel like a failure!


Liz said...

Billie You are certainly not a failure! Congratulations for trying so hard and lasting as long as you did.

Maybe if you wait til Eden tries Conductive Ed - my own daughter did CE when she was a toddler, a big part of the program was to encourage self-feeding (as well as independence in other areas of course) and I have a sneaking suspicion that with the kind of external support and encouragement CE will offer you might stand a good chance of success. Hopefully this would flow on to Holland too?

Good luck and don't be so hard on yourself!


Anonymous said...

Hi Billie. I'm a Mom to a 25-weeker who is now 4 years old. We've been through Feeding Hell too. I cried when I read your rescent posts, but YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!!! At least you gave it a real try. I feed almost every bite to my son. He is growing and not puking anymore(most of the time.) I figure they will eat out of neccessity if not hunger when they are old enough to understand. Sometimes small graces are enough.

Taylors said...

I hear you Billie -- it's very frustrating. Don't blame yourself. And rest assured, they will learn to feed themselves (and like it) one day. Keep up the good work!

Taylors said...

Btw, incentives work for Ari (most of the time). I bribe her with her favorite healthy foods like watermelon, juice, or whatever else she might want to do at the table (hold a favorite toy?). If she doesn't keep taking bites, I take away what she wants. If she eats, she gets rewarded. Usually, this is great because rewarding food with food tricks her into thinking she is the one who wants to eat. Not a great tactic for kids at risk for being overweight, but for our girls, it's appropriate.

Lisa said...

I see Holland has a scooter. I've been wanting to get one for Margaret but have had a hard time choosing. She certainly needs three wheels like the one you have but can't decide b/w the double wheels in the front or the double wheels in the back. Does Holland have issues with hitting her ankle on the wheel in back and if so, does it bother her?

Thanks for your input! Your girls are doing so well and are looking so mature! Lovely!

Lisa said...

Oh, and absolutely not a failure! Now you know one thing that doesn't work for your family! :)

Billie said...

We haven't had any problems with Holland hitting her foot on the back wheel. She looooves this scooter. It used to be my nephews, and we actually yanked it out of the garage sale pile a couple of years ago and saved it. This is the first summer that she is pretty independent with it:-)