Ethan and Aria were born five and a half months ago, and food and feeding issues have re-arisen to the top of my things to think about. And conquer.
Feeding takes on an entirely new meaning when you have two little people totally dependent on you for sustenance. And along with the obvious – meaning feed them - comes how to help them feel better when they have feeding issues like gas or needs a diaper change or bigger concerns.
Aria has taught me quite a bit about eating healthy. She knows exactly what she needs to eat to gain exactly the right amount of weight. While with Ethan, we have gone through an incredibly frustrating and grueling five or so months of trying to figure out why he isn’t eating what he needs to gain a healthy weight and catch up to others his age (he was born premature and very small). We are pretty sure that we’ve figured it out: Turns out that he’s a lactose intolerant foodie who likes to snack sometimes.
But ending the war on feeding issues isn’t only about the kids. My relationship with food has long been an issue for me, as I believe it has been for just about everyone on the planet whether they’re aware of it or not. The babies’ relationship with food, and the need to think about it more than I ever would for myself, has brought to light my own relationship with food. And I’m the better for it. Because now I can declare, I have ended my own war with feeding issues and my body.
Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God says it best. We all have a relationship with food and eating that is reflective of how we approach life and our values.
I’ll share with you a smidgen of my own saga. Food has been the bane of my existence and also my savior, a source for strength and comfort, and a passion. I love food, especially really good food, and I also feel guilty because of food, like I’m never quite eating just right. Diabetes and celiac comes with restrictions and rules. You need to eat just the right amounts and right kinds or your body goes haywire. I know this, and I want to be fit and healthy. I feel better when I am. But when I see a beautiful meal, I can’t help but indulge a bit. And like many people, I also see food as love and family. I socialize around it. Holiday dinners revolve around food. I try to be conscious of what I’m eating, and yet somehow, it never turns out quite right. A sugar goes high, the weight doesn’t go down, but I also want to sit around the table with family and friends and enjoy. And then the guilt enters, the feeling bad about myself, the perfectionist that is me.
Alright, so how did I get from there to now? The end of my own personal war with food?
I was obsessing over Ethan’s feeding issues. I cannot even begin to describe to you how difficult dealing with an infant’s feeding issues is. Babies can’t really tell you what’s bothering them, and days are filled with crying and discomfort. So you have to observe closely, read the signs and symptoms, and try things out. We tried a lot of things out – from gas drops to tests and medications for reflux. But I’ll talk more about that another time. The point is: We needed it to be resolved. For his health. And for our health. And all of our sanity. Bottom line: He wasn’t reaching his potential because he wasn’t getting the proper nutrition, and it weighed down on all of us.
I would pray, meditate, journal, talk about it, talk about it again, then cry about it, pray some more, do some yoga, journal. And then I asked for spiritual guidance. Which I tend to do under these kinds of circumstances. And I got it.
First, his feeding issues are his journey, and I can’t control it. I need to go with the flow, and listen closely to my intuition.
And, I can use the opportunity to learn what I can about my own issues with food. I decided to re-visit Geneen Roth’s book in audio form.
Then the answers started coming regarding Ethan. We tried a lactose free formula. There are a number of them, and quite frankly they really stink. I mean they smell really bad. And he didn’t like them. We tried three until we found one that he likes. And bingo, he’s eating like a champ.
And as the answers were coming to us about Ethan, the answers were coming to me as well. I went to the mall one day for a break.
I was so tired from the sleepless nights and very long, tiring days. I asked for spiritual guidance again. Not about me or my own feeding issues. Just a general, I need help. Please. Now. I begged for a cleaner and two live-in nannies. To win the lottery. To have a house large enough for the live-in nannies. To have my life back again.
I was wandering aimlessly around Barnes and Noble thinking about these two amazing kids, but not really figuring out where I should go or what I should do. And I remembered something my doctor said to me, the OB/GYN who delivered the twins. He told me that we had been through so much, and it’s my job now to transform all of the fear of losing him and everything we went through with him at the NICU for three and a half months - to joy. He said, "What's the point of having kids if you aren't going to feel joy?"
That statement stuck with me. Why was I having such trouble transforming it to joy? And I realized that I’ve always been like this though, haven’t I? Never quite satisfied, always looking for trouble and obsessing over fixing it.
I walked out into the main part of the mall and sat on a bench for a moment to rest. And then I looked up and saw a large sign in one of the store windows: Get over it.
Those words stuck with me, but still didn’t quite penetrate. The hint hadn’t quite sunk in yet. Not until I left the mall and went out to my car to go home. I put on the audio CD of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, and sure enough, the first words I heard were, “Chapter Two: Ending the war.”
I didn’t need to hear anything else. What am I fighting for? I can choose my own battles with myself. And I choose peace of mind. I had been searching for some magical antidote. A message like: Go to five sessions of reiki and all of your problems will be solved. It doesn’t quite work like that though. And to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about my relationship with food or my body, even though I was listening to a book about Women, Food, and God. I was actually listening to it more for an epiphany regarding Ethan – not me.
I decided that day to end the war. I wasn’t sure exactly which war. But it was going to end. I decided to stop battling with myself.
A few days later, I realized that I actually love my body. I hadn’t been searching for that. And I realized that it felt really good to feel that way for the first time in my life. Alas, the war has ended.