Isaac's asthma attacks and the need for cleaner eating is not new. The one thing about this whole situation that is new: my resolve. I'm resolved to find foods and recipes that are Isaac-friendly and full of taste, flavor, deliciousness.
Today I am trying a recipe for grain free, dairy free, and egg free chicken nuggets. I can't even tell you how many chicken nuggets Isaac has eaten in his almost 3 years of life. He likes the frozen kind that I bake in the oven, with lots and lots of ketchup. Heinz ketchup (which I've always been a huge supporter of because of where it originates - I grew up in Pennsylvania!) which lists it's ingredients as follows: tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.
Sad days. One thing I thought he could surely eat plenty of (because I do and my husband does and almost everyone I know does...) is Heinz ketchup. But the 3rd ingredient? No good. I know there are ketchups out there that don't have it, but they never taste as good (at least to someone like me who is used to the sweet, sweet taste of Heinz!) And did I mention I grew up in Pennsylvania and feel a sense of loyalty? Sigh
Back to the point. Isaac-friendly chicken nuggets. I'm still waiting for approval from the recipe's creator to post it, and if I get that approval I'll definitely share it with ya'll. I can say that for me, they were a success. Easy to make (and if you know me, if it's not easy, I'm not doing it! I'm working to change that attitude...) and don't require a lot of random ingredients that I can't pronounce.
Here's a picture of the beginning:
They were delicious when I tried them. My husband tried them and he liked them (that is a BIG win!) Can you guess how Isaac felt about them?
He cried at the site of them. Sat on the couch and yelled,
"No! No chicken nuggets! I'm not eating them!"
He hadn't even tried them. This is how it is with every food that he's not familiar with. Literally a battle. Sometimes, SOMETIMES I can get him to take a bite and he smiles and says, "it's so yummy!" But most of the time, and tonight was no exception, even if I get him to take a bite, he gags, spits it out, and cries even more. I'm not above force feeding him, but after having been thrown up on, it's not my favorite thing to do.
So tonight we tried something new. Bubble Bites.
He wanted to play with bubbles. Looking over at the 3 chicken nuggets that had been sitting untouched on the table for over an hour, I came up with an idea. Actually, I think it was God who gave me the idea. I'm not especially creative when I've had just a few hours of sleep from waking up to take care of a 7 month old multiple times during the night, my neck and shoulder are killing me (that's another story for another blog post), and I'm on my last nerve after trying with ever fiber I have to get my 2 year old to eat ANYTHING worth eating.
I said, "If you want to play with bubbles, you have to take a bite first." He looked at me, smiled, turned on his heels and ran over to the table. He dipped his chicken nugget in that high fructose corn syrup filled, amazing tasting red stuff and bit off a huge bite. It took him a minute for his brain to catch up with what his mouth just did, but once it did, his eyes got wide with realization and he tried to spit out the bite. I looked at him and said, "no bubbles till you chew and swallow." He dutifully finished his bite and drank about a gallon of water to wash it down. So, we blew bubbles. Each time he wanted to dip the wand again, it required another bite. He wanted to hold the wand, another bite first!
I'm happy to say that this method got him to take 5 bites. By the end he was literally shaking and on the verge of crying. But he did it. So we played bubbles for awhile, and he got to eat more of something that he actually likes: grapes.
Thanks to daylight savings time, it was 9:30 on the clock before I heard him quiet in his room. I'm sitting on the couch, feet swollen from being used all day, throat hurting from pleading with him to just try a bite, mind reeling with information from books that all claim to have the answer to my son's problems, body aching from lack of sleep and being drop dead bone tired.
I hear it said that it'll be worth it. It'll get easier. One day I'll look back and long for these days. I wonder if the people who say that had a child with special needs? I don't mean to sound ungrateful or that I wish I had a different child, because that's not it at all. I love Isaac. He is my buddy. He is sensitive, funny, witty, emotional, passionate, and genuine. He melts hearts wherever he goes.
But today I feel tired. Spent. Like I have nothing left. I long for a time when we have at least 2 foods that are healthy that he likes to eat. I long for a time when he can tell me how he's hurting, tell me what he needs, and I can explain why we are doing things differently and he can understand. I will miss the funny toddler talk, and the satin skin. I will miss being able to pick him up because he's still small enough, and kissing boo boos. But I will never miss this feeling of exhaustion.
I only hope that when I'm older, and have lived through this season of life, that I can remember and help younger moms in their journey. I want to remember how it really was, and not say something like, "my kids were angels! They never cried. They slept through the night right away. They never threw tantrums in restaurants! I always had dinner on the table, my house was spotless, and my husband and I had ample alone time. Suck it up!"
Ok, so no one has ever said that to me in so many words, but I have been told that it shouldn't feel this hard for me and that I should maybe get some counseling. Maybe that's not a bad idea. It would give me an hour of quiet time.