charlottesmom (charlottesmom) wrote,
charlottesmom
charlottesmom

Foods I Never Thought I'd Feed My Child

This is a test drive of an essay I'm working on.  I envision this as radio commentary or a LiteraryMama.com style essay. I invite commentary and critique.

There are three things you need to know about me and food: 1) I love to cook; 2) I have maintained a relatively low-fat diet for about 8 years due to high cholesterol; 3) I prefer to serve natural, fresh foods as much as possible.  My husband might add a fourth thing—I love to eat.  He calls me his “food pouch” because I’m always hungry.



Knowing this, you'll not be surprised to learn that my first thoughts about feeding my baby were: "I will make a lot of my own baby food," "I will serve my baby fresh fruits and vegetables,"  "I will avoid processed food and chemical-laden foods," and, of course, “I will breast feed.” My husband and I love to try new foods. We simply assumed we’d continue to eat this way and that our child would learn to be a culinary adventurer.  



My good friend Mary gave me a book she had used called Mommy Made and Daddy, Too and I was so excited to use it. In fact, Mark and Mary's approach to feeding their children has been an inspiration--I don't see everything that they do, but I know their kids, ages 2 and 4, eat a broad range of things, enjoy spices, and have eaten the same food as Mom & Dad for as long as I can remember.  Watching Ruth chomp on sautéed onions when she was not quite 3 years old was an inspiration.

Not to sound trite, but things don’t always work out as planned.  Charlotte has reflux.  She was not offered a bottle until she was nearly 6 weeks old due to her heart surgery.  She never did get to breastfeed.


At first she ate well, but because she was a recovering surgical patient and preemie, she didn’t have enough energy to finish a meal.  We supplemented her oral feeds using an NG tube. She grew stronger but still didn’t always complete her meals. Eventually we had to place a g-tube so that we can complement her feeds directly into her stomach.  The g-tube exacerbated what was probably silent reflux.  Now, she’s got full-blown, vomit-once-a-day, I-like-to-eat-but-it-hurts reflux.

We’re working closely with the Feeding Team Clinic at the Children’s’ Hospital of Wisconsin to get Charlotte to eat. Given her minimal intake, they stress efficiency so any solids need to be supercharged calorically.  We feed her finger foods like fried veggie sticks, Goldfish crackers, Cheerios and chicken fingers. Instead of the homemade healthy fare I had imagined, the rule of thumb is, “If Charlotte wants to eat it, she can eat it.”


So, here's a picture of the groceries we bought for Charlotte
[Picture to come--it seems to have disappeared off of my hard drive:(  It's a picture of Easy Mac, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Jello pudding in 3 flavors, canned gravy, hotdogs, Cheez Wiz, beef and chicken bouillon cubes, etc.]


Yes, everything is processed, boxed, frozen, overpackaged and filled with chemicals and fat.

Why? 

Essentially, whenever I prepare something for Charlotte, say macaroni and cheese, I take a portion of it and blenderize it with a liquid using my Braun stick blender. Most foods are processed to a "honey" consistency. For instance, broccoli is mixed with cheese sauce. A taco would be mixed with full fat sour cream. Pudding is mixed with Carnation instant breakfast and whole milk. Oatmeal is mixed with whole milk, syrup and brown sugar.  The ratio of additive to food is huge—broccoli with butter and bouillon tastes like butter with a hint of broccoli.  Because she eats so little (maybe a teaspoon at a time), I buy small packages to reduce waste. Thus the Easy Mac.



Throughout all of this, Charlotte has proven that she is definitely not a picky eater.  She wants to taste everything I eat—Costco and Whole Food samples, turkey and mustard sandwiches, you name it.  She thinks it fun to put all foods on top of her head or in her ear. And she occasionally eats a tablespoon of blenderized food.  Feeding her is not the joy I had hoped it would be, but her eagerness and food play show me that one day it might be.


 

I still try to cook low-fat, fresh meals for my husband and myself.  We also eat a lot of ice cream and cookies—our coping tool.  

Parenting is a constant compromise, with one’s spouse, one’s child, and mostly with one’s self.  My compromise consists of lists of ingredients I can’t pronounce.  At least until I figure out how to make super-charged high-calorie baby foods in tiny portions from scratch.

Tags: essay, feeding children, food, parenting
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