October 20, 2008

What's a Mom to do?

I just put my daughter to bed. Her cheeks were filled with lasagna. And her epilepsy medication. It gets even better. She had eaten that lasagna almost 2 hours ago. I think I smelled vomit, but it was just her and the lasagna...digesting in her mouth. I couldn't bear to kiss her cheek so I did something I would never picture myself doing. I blew her a kiss and waved goodnight...from a pretty good distance.

What is this madness?

This is Ella four years after leaving a Ukrainian orphanage. Still dealing with 'food issues'. When we brought that cute two year old home we never expected to hear the doctor tell us that she was "failing to thrive" after three months with us. I expected more obvious behaviors--hoarding, rocking, night terrors, but got none of those. I suppose we should have been happy that our daughter wasn't struggling with other things. Instead, she was voluntarily starving herself to have control over some facet of her seemingly out of control life. We pleaded, coerced, and tried to force her to eat. We tried all kinds of foods to no avail. We couldn't tempt her with anything. I finally started feeding her half and half mixed with pediasure powder. She drank constantly and this was one way to give her some calories.

I don't remember when Ella started eating, but it happened. It's never been quite 'right' though. I always thought that at some point everything would just click for our daughter. One day, she would wake up and shake off the orphanage dust. Sadly, the survival skills that she learned as a toddler have stuck. As time passes, the behaviors don't rear their heads too often--nothing like those first few months at home. But every once in a while, subliminally, Ella reverts back. And watch out, because life is about to get pretty ugly.

Last week, Ella wouldn't eat her lunch. It was the usual fare, stuff she always eats. I put it away and told her she could have it for dinner. Then, I sent her to her room for a while. That seemed to be what she needed and she happily ate her dinner. A few days later the same thing happened. But, all was still well...until Sunday. She decided to pull out the big guns, by refusing lunch and dinner. Then this morning, she didn't eat breakfast. She didn't eat lunch. She finally ate dinner (it was passable to us--three bites of lasanga). Our policy is to just ignore her. We let her know that if she doesn't eat, she can miss out on the fun thing we will be doing after the meal. Very nonchantly and calm. Always calm, always cool, always scoring a point for the parents. Sometimes, Seth and I even meet for little sessions in the bathroom to figure out our next game plan. I'm serious.

Yeah, didn't work so well this time. Sunday, we figured out that we needed to turn up the heat a bit. I turned a MOVIE on after lunch yesterday and she still wouldn't eat. She lives for TV time. This was a serious anty upping on our part. She wouldn't budge. Seth popped popcorn. Still no dice. Fine, just sit on your bed and be hungry. It got a little more serious today when she started holding food in her mouth. She took one bite at breakfast and just refused to swallow. This may sound bizarre to you, but we've been seeing it around here for, oh, about four years. The I'll-take-a-bite-but-you-can't-make-me-swallow routine. She's obviously got some skills since she ate lasagna for dinner and managed to hold it in her mouth until bedtime. Seth thought that was a record breaker, but I can't wait to call him in the morning and let him know that she woke up with a mouthful of lasagna.

Why is she doing this? Great question, if you have the answer please contact me immediately. My first response is that she wants attention. She doesn't care what kind of attention she gets (we learned this early on), so even negative attention will do if she feels like she's missing out. My second guess is because we were gone at the hospital, life is out of control, yada, yada. That doesn't jive with her waiting two weeks before starting this nonsense. So, I'm thinking it's got to be attention. Which is why Seth and I have to pump ourselves up not to give her attention for this mess. And we chastise ourselves for not seeing sooner that maybe she was feeling left out. She gives us no warnings that she's about to burst. It would have been nice for her to pull me aside last week and say, "Mommy, I'm feeling a little weird about Sally being hurt. I want some special attention like she's getting."

Too bad I don't let her watch Dr. Phil or maybe that would have happened. Except I've never heard her string together that many words at one time. Sigh. Tomorrow is a new day. I have high aspirations for that bowl of cheerios.


Steve and Anna said...

Praying for you!!!
Anna (AWAA)

I live IN Jesus said...

You don't know me from Adam! but, I wanted to help you. I am also a follower of Jesus Christ and as you may or may not know that makes us ultimate targets from satan. You can see for yourself all through the Bible. Satan is here to kill us, steal from us and destroy us! Before I was saved I have bulemia/anorexia. After accepting Jesus as my savior I received deliverance from lots of bondage--THIS CAPTIVE WAS/IS FINALLY FREE!!!!! I don't know why and it requires you to step out in faith but take authority in Jesus name over satan or one of his fallen angels that is trying to kill your precious one--rebuke it in Jesus Christ mighty name!!! It is absolutely spiritual--for we wrestle not against flesh and blood butagainst powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS in high places. Eph 6:12
I will be praying for you and your trial that God would reveal to you the wise way of handling it. God bless
Sarah T

I live IN Jesus said...

I don't know where that q came from in front of your name ;)!!

Jason Egly said...

Hang in there ... your family inspires us. We are praying for you here in Middle Tennessee.

Mother Goose said...

You also don't know me, but my family is in the process of adoption and just finished watching a video educational series from "Heart of the Matter Seminars" called "Because They Waited." The co-founders are both adoptive moms from Russia, and while the videos are a bit boring, they are a wealth of good information ... particularly on sensory disorder issues, which can often involve eating problems. You should at least check out their website, or read about sensory deprivation issues in adopted children.

Good luck.

Apryl said...

Mother Goose-
I'll have to check out the website. AT one time, I read so much about sensory disorders it oozed from my pores, but it's been a while. She has never fit any stereotypical disorder. I guess I should say, she's not consistent with her behaviors (and I'm thankful for that).

Thanks for the comment!

Rob & Candy said...

Oh how I hate orphanage dust... I can relate on so many different levels. Praying for you.

Carpenters said...

If anyone has an answer let me know. We have had a few minor incidences like this. Josiah has tried the I'll hold the food in my mouth for hours trick. I'm with you a Dr. Phil answer would be nice. I hope the madness ends soon.

With Love,