Their birthday came and went and I struggled with what I’d write for their birthday post. (here’s their 8th birthday one that covers a lot and includes links to prior birthdays)
I tried to compare the start of their 11th year of life to that of their older brother. Eleven – specifically 5th grade- was a really difficult year for us (but OMG – 12 has been awesome). For Elliott, 11 has been just peachy. He’s still his normal, Elliott self. For Norah, well, lets just say that we’ve entered the tween years and its mimicking what Aidan went through….multiplied by 100, because this is Norah and she’s got a STRONG personality.
11 years ago, while sitting in the NICU, watching those monitors and charting their temps and weights, often journaling about their progresses and setbacks, I never imagined that 11 years from then, both would be solid students. One would be into mixed martial arts and be good at it (I still struggle with watching him in tournaments), the other a competitive gymnast. 11 years ago, when they told me that my baby had a brain bleed and what serious ramifications could come from it down the line, I never thought she would be playing violin, flute, piano, and be a ‘Math Olympiad’.
They’ve had to overcome a lot…being born 10 weeks early and growing outside the womb is no easy feat. Learning to breathe and suck and swallow…all while gaining weight? That’s like an olympic sport to a preemie, yo. My babies- they’ve come so far. They were colicky (omg, that doesn’t even begin to describe it. Crying from 4pm-1am, y’all). They both had reflux. They threw up all. the. time. Both receive(d) – one still does – speech services, starting in the birth-to-three program. But even with all of that, they were never picky eaters. I prided myself on that. Sure, there were some foods that they eventually decided they didn’t like, but overall, they had an awesome palate.
And then they got older. And Norah started getting pickier. I stood my ground. She stood hers. And yet, she continued to cut out more and more foods, complaining that it smelled weird. Or she just flat out wouldn’t try it.
This family has a motto when it comes to mealtime:
She won’t starve herself, right? That’s what “they” say. Only, “they” haven’t met my daughter, I think….
So at the twins 11 year checkup, I spoke with her pediatrician, who proceeded to ask Norah and I a ton of questions related to her sense of smell and touch and taste. And then I felt like a total and complete jerk. It was one of those mom-fail moments. One of those moments when you think, “why did this never occur to me? why did I not ask about this sooner?”
The pediatrician says that she needs to see an occupational (feeding) therapist because Norah seems to have a sensory integration disorder that is related to food. She has serious food aversions that are starting to impact her growth (as seen on her growth curve) and will continue to do so and will impact her development, as well. She explained that this is not something she will outgrow, but rather, this will worsen if left alone and kids like this literally do starve themselves.
OMG. That’s not something that ANY parent wants to hear. But especially not something that a parent who recovered from an ED ever wants to hear. Ever.
She explained that, as a former Speech and Language Pathologist, she knows that its not necessarily uncommon that this goes hand-in-hand with speech disorders. It could have also stemmed from her prematurity. Who knows. All we know now is that its something that we need to tackle. And I feel like a complete ass for writing it off as stubbornness.
On a positive note, as a friend mentioned to me, at least I don’t have to be the bad guy…I will be paying someone else to do that