Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Eating with Asher

I was happy to find out that Asher is able to feed himself, but to be honest I wish he wasn't. If he wasn't it would be easier to teach him how rather than now when I have to break habits.

First, what he's eating: Nothing with chunks, per an invisible nurse's orders. The first time I met him he was eating lunch which consisted of a brown paste, then a caregiver plopped some carrot pudding on top of that. He was given a cup to drink from that looked like thickened apple juice. I would put it about honey consistency.

What he's using: He never has a consistently sized spoon. Sometimes it's a giant tablespoon, other times a teaspoon or even a really slim but long handled spoon like we might have for an ice-cream sundae.

How he's eating: Here's why I wish we were starting from scratch. First of all, his tongue is always out, and because his foods are pureed so thin he has no reason to use his tongue to move food around in his mouth. He takes a GIANT scoop of whatever, and puts the spoon about 1/2 way back in his mouth. He creates some suction against his (very high and possibly small-clefted) palate to get the food off the spoon. He looses a lot of the food this way! I would say about 1/2 of his meal ends up on his bib. During one meal I made the mistake of scooping some off his bib and into his mouth and by the reaction of his caregivers you would have thought I scraped it off the floor.

Interestingly, when he's drinking his tongue is not out as far as it is when he's eating. Still, he has a tendency to gulp and there's no real lip usage to speak of. I've only seen him get something to "drink" twice, and he's clearly dehydrated like most kids in orphanages are.

We are definitely going to need the services of a feeding clinic to work on his skills as I think they're a bit beyond my ability/knowledge level. It's one thing to teach a child  how to eat, it's another to break long-standing habits.

So that first meal he was eating was some kind of bean puree (looked a lot like baked beans) carrot "pudding" made with carrots that I'm sure were boiled so long they had no nutritional value at that point. The next day I asked if I could bring him a snack of yogurt or pudding. They agreed hesitantly. (outside food is not normally allowed and they're pretty strict about this since the entire place had salmonella poisoning back in May.) So I bring some yogurt and am told two things. 1) I brought the kind with fruit chunks and he will choke and 2) no yogurt allowed since he just finished antibiotics and has diarrhea from them. They agreed he could have a mashed banana instead.

Along comes snack time and they tell me his banana is ready. (there were no other kids eating at this time.) It is in a cup and apparently mixed with water and mashed. I notice it has chunks slightly bigger (and firmer) that what would be in the yogurt. Interesting. So that was at 10:00 a.m. and it only took him a minute to eat it, scraping every last bit from the cup. His nurse later told me he will eat as long as you keep putting food in front of him. I soon found out why.....

At 11:30 it was time for lunch. All the other kids were given a plate that had mashed potatoes, what appeared to be boiled hamburger, and some kind of gravy that had tiny chunks of green in it. (like maybe ground peas or something?) They also had a cup with something to drink that appeared to be thickened apple juice. Asher was given a cup with an brownish-orange pudding consistency substance. While the other kids had probably 2 measuring cups of food, Ashe had maybe 8 oz at the most. (and remember, a good portion of that ends up on his bib.)  Since they usually only give him one dish at a time, when he had finished I asked if he had anything else. "No. He had a banana earlier so this is all he gets." There was nothing for him to drink, and he was clearly not satisfied. The social worker who speaks English was sitting with us, and I asked what it was he'd had. She asked the caregivers who said it was the same as the other kids, just pureed. Hmmm...I don't know how hamburger/mashed potatoes purees into and orange-tinged puree, but whatever. All I know is he was still hungry.

Today I had a meeting with his doctor for the first time to get his medical history. (which is pretty un-complicated. So was Axel's and we all know where that got us. LOL) Asher was sitting on my lap with the dangly toy and I had my hands on his belly. I could feel his little tummy growling under my hands and I knew it was still a couple of hours before lunch. Lucky for him, not long after our meeting was done the nurse came and said it was time for him to eat. (this was about 3:30) We went to the table and they handed him a cup of what looked and smelled like cocoa maltomeal. It was thinned to about honey consistency and he guzzled it down in a matter of seconds, but he had a good 8 ounces worth so it was a decent sized snack for him. Oops! Did I say snack? When I left at 4:30 the other kids were having the same thing, but it was their dinner. Asher had his at 10:00 and would now have to wait until until tomorrow morning to eat again. :-(

Tomorrow (which is already today for me!) I'm going to ask if I can give him the yogurt now. They acidophilus cultures are only going to help his antibiotic-affected intestines. If I must, I won't feed  him those dangerous fruit chunks.

Can't wait to get our boy out of there! This weekend I have a couple things on my agenda to find in stores. One of them is something similar to Pediasure that I can give him by cup during the trip home. It will keep him hydrated and satisfied when it will be difficult to have a puree with us. I don't know what I'm going to feed him when I get him out of the orphanage. I really don't want to try to make changes until we can get home and I have more tools at my disposal. For now it might just be malt meal or oatmeal with some canned fruit mixed in with it so he doesn't get too constipated. Should be interesting, I'm sure!

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