Last night I told Sophie, after, mind you, she ate all of her salad, cottage cheese, and oranges: "Please, eat your turkey now."
She proceeded to smile sweetly, flutter her eyelashes, and ask, FIRST, please Mama, for some Dippin' Dots for dessert.
To which I responded: "No, ma'am. Not until you finish your dinner."
The times, they have 'a changed, my friends.
While that's a perfectly normal parent/child exchange regarding a request for dessert, it's not one I thought I would have. Never did I expect to see the day when I would require that Sophie eat "x" before she got to eat something else. Six months ago, if she would have asked for a chocolate cupcake, deep-fried and covered in chocolate icing and dipped in caramel and sprinkles, I would have been THRILLED to grant her request. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Back then, when (if is actually more accurate) she would ask for something, whatever it was, I would RUN, dead-sprint, skidding and popping wheelies, to serve it up. And then if, shockingly, it actually made it into her mouth, instead of her ear, belly-button, or nose, I would drop everything and haul hiney to the store to buy caseloads more of whatever it was. Even though actually swallowing a smidgen of something was usually either a.) an accident or b.) a one-time occurrence, I still hoarded whatever it was. Like I was stocking a nuclear fallout shelter - preparing to live underground for ten years. Hoping. Praying it would be the thing that would get her to start eating.
That's why, to this day, we have cases of butterscotch pudding. It was the one thing she would take a few teeny licks of. It was the one "food-like" product that didn't immediately bring on The Hurls. So, naturally, and totally rationally, I bought enough 4-packs to fill our garage. Somewhere in the depths of my sleep-deprived, emotionally wonked out self, it made sense to gather enough butterscotch pudding to feed Sophie and any Third World Country that might spontaneously stop by - desperately needing butterscotch.
For those moms who know all too well what I mean - who think this little tale is funny, but not really. Not really. Those of you who are right now neck-deep in the pukes - still trudging through the incredibly deep, incredibly miserable trenches of severe reflux, dysphagia, DGE, and feeding aversions, this one is for you. I know you're out there. I know you're exhausted. I know you're desperate for answers. I know you feel alone. I know you feel like a hermit - trapped inside a house that smells like Essence of Puke with a kid you love to the very depths of your soul, who is driving you batty. I know you think the madness will never end.
Hear me now - I know. And I'm here to tell you, it gets better.
At some point everything you've been struggling to teach your Little Barfer - all those things that come instinctively to everyone else in the entire Eating Universe - all of those things they they never learned in years of feeding therapy, finally start to click. Sometime after their third birthday, they eat half a banana and you throw a party. They eat a pack of Yogos and you use enough exclamation points in your retelling of the fabulousness to fill a computer screen.
Their funked-out little digestive system calms down a bit. Suddenly you notice they don't gag at the mere smell of food. (Garlic, don't even get me started.) You don't have to carry their Barf Bucket into Target anymore. You no longer have to have a towel and pail in every single room of the house, always ready for a spontaneous launch. Your husband gets to rejoin you in the front seat of the vehicle, instead of riding, bucket in hand, in the back beside the carseat. You can actually find an outfit in your closet that does not have puke stains all over it. The bags under your eyes start to fade because you are in bed asleep during the night, rather than in the laundry room, washing and changing out bed linens all night long. YOU, my friend, are no longer The Puke Expert. (Okay, who are we kidding? You've cleaned up enough puke for five hundred kids. You are gifted in the ways of vomit. You will always be The Puke Expert.)
All of a sudden, the revolving door at the doctor's office for dehydration checks isn't spinning so fast. And you are no longer having to experience the blissful joys of first appointments with new doctors. Stuff starts finally making it down the chute. And staying there. But not for fourteen days. Much to your mother's delight, you can finally stop discussing poop on your blog.
Your child transforms from a child who doesn't bat an eye when she projectile vomits fifteen times a day, into a child who actually cries when she throws up from a virus. "Maaaaama! I'm thrrrrrrowing uuuuuuup!" You experience, for the first time since you took your little Rocket Launcher home from the hospital, a bit of normalcy. You pack away your stockpile of 30 mg Prevacid Solutabs for when someone else in the house needs them. (Like you and your acidic husband. Yeah, after all that, now you need them). For breakfast, your child exuberantly gulps down an entire pancake and glass of milk in under five minutes, proudly showing her plate and asking for more. You pick yourself up off of the floor and suddenly you realize: You might not even BE the mother of a refluxer anymore. You might, in fact, need to re-title your blog.
The world is suddenly so. much. easier. You can breathe again. You stop and think, holy sweet Jimmy, I made it! SHE made it! Our entire family unit actually MADE IT. The unimaginable happened. Our prayers were answered. God brought us through.
I'm here to testify, as a curly-headed, grinning little girl who just asked for a waffle is my witness, it really does get better. Just hang on. You, too, will make it.