15 July 2011

Feeding While Out

A few days ago, Nana and Papa wanted to take the kids (and Brian and me) to the local Children's Museum. We were excited to go. But, we did find ourselves in a bit of a pickle with regard to time.

We weren't sure what to do.  Do we 1.) do Bennett's first feed, go to the museum and return for the second feed less than two hours later?   2.) skip Bennett's second feed altogether?  3.) give him his first two feeds but skip his nap (not a wise decision when it comes to a 21 month old)?  Or, 4.) try to feed Bennett - gulp - while we're out?

As we discussed it, I felt a sense of bravery come over me.  Let's try it!  (I remember, a few weeks into our feeding program, thinking we would never leave the house again.  But, with time, I began to believe that someway, somehow, we could find a way to take Bennett's feedings on the road to see Nana and Papa.  And here I was doing it again, beginning to consider that someway, somehow, we could find a way to make Bennett's feedings more portable.)

When we were at the Baylor Feeding Clinic, the staff reassured us that the feeding protocol could be done outside of the home environment - as long as we were willing to deal with Bennett's refusals where ever we were.  The questions we needed to consider were - would we be willing to deal with Bennett's refusals (should he decide to refuse food) while out?   Would we be willing to lug around all the necessarily supplies to make the protocol work?  Would we be willing to do the 25-minute protocol correctly despite potential onlookers?

We haven't tried a restaurant yet but, a few days ago, I was willing to try to the Children's Museum.  The fact is that Bennett doesn't typically cry and scream with refusals.  He just entertains himself quietly when he refuses bites so it takes us having to incentivize him to continue eating.  So, what I felt was most important was to find a quiet spot at the Museum where we could "set up shop" and continue things as normal.  Crying wasn't my concern.  Distractions were.  Could we, I wondered, find a place in the corner of the museum without distractions - a place where I could control Bennett's environment should he decide not to eat?

The answer is yes, I could.  And if I hadn't have been able to find a place, the worse case scenario would have been what we would have done anyway: to just go home and do the feed there.  Fortunately, however, we didn't need to do that.  Bennett did just fine.

We brought along a separate bag with the following items in it: Bennett's food (pureed macaroni and cheese, Chocolate Milk with Vanilla Instant Carnation Breakfast and Cheetos), Bennett's enzymes, a bib, a portable DVD player, our digital scale (which is very light and thin), a calculator, our paperwork, a pen and LOTS of toys.  I even went to the museum store to see if I could find any new nifty inexpensive toys Bennett might find interesting.  But the one thing we forgot?  Bennett's booster seat.

I almost chickened out and didn't try feeding Bennett without a seat.  I thought, what would I do if he tried to run away during a meal?  Nothing, I Brian reminded me.  I'd just do my best and see what happened.  And, as it turned out, things were just fine.  Bennett is so compliant that he neither tried to escape nor refused much food.  (although Brian, who sat nearby as assistance, did have to turn him back around in his seat several times).

Although our set up wasn't that fancy, it was workable.  We were able to do Bennett's feeding quite nicely in the Children's Museum's "party room" which no one was using.  It was hard but I had Brian there to help me.  And, fortunately, Nana and Papa entertained Oliver within the Museum while we were busy with Bennett.

This is Bennett's paperwork.  We list all of his menu items and mark each time he takes a bite.  This helps us remember which bite comes next.  And it helps us keep track of how Bennett is doing over time.  All paperwork is sent on a weekly basis to the Baylor Feeding Clinic's dietitian to make sure he is eating appropriately for his weight and height.

All in all, it worked.  Not smoothly.  Not easily.  But it worked.  I'm not excited about doing this again while out but I would if it meant we could enjoy our day more.  A few days later, we considered feeding Bennett while out at the mall.  But we, ultimately, decided not to.  The mall is just too distracting and would have been more difficult than it was worth.  However, what our feeding out at the Children's Museum did for me was remind me that everything - even this - can be overcome.  There is a way to make life easier, it just takes alittle creativity and ALOT of patience! :)

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