My 8 month old appears to hate all food. In fact, anything that does not come directly from the source, ie, mommy’s body, seems to baffle her. While she finds the opportunity to play with a bottle delightful, she has yet to actually consume its contents. There is a part of me that feels humbled and grateful by the fact that I have kept her alive and nourished with nothing other than my own milk, but, jeez, I haven’t been away from her for more than 3-4 hours in her entire life!
I excitedly awaited her introduction to solids, as she seemed to be quite enthralled with the food on my plate, assuming she would take to the spoon as eagerly as her sister did. Not the case. She was less than inspired by my efforts to spoon-feed her, and still refuses to eat anything by spoon other than mashed potatoes at a restaurant.
|Her reactions to mealtime include extreme lethargy and downright hostility|
No problem, we moved right on to self-feeding. Sweet potato fries, ham, and puffs (the oh so convenient and minimally tasty precursor to Cheerios that reproduce and multiply in my van overnight) appeal to her toothless, discerning palate, but she is contemptuous of any other nutrient-rich and delicious food I enthusiastically present. Avocados, bananas, blueberries, yogurt…the list goes on.
She of course excitedly attempts to ingest insects, living or dead, mulch (I found some in my nursing bra the other day- what the hell?), cellophane, the aforementioned bird poop, and a host of other disgusting non-nutritive substances.
The exception to this is anything that I happen to be snacking on. Nutritious meals eaten at the table do not factor into this equation: she is unequivocally opposed to my sneaking healthy bites of my dinner onto her highchair tray. Nachos, popcorn, candy: these are the foods she yearns to eat. I frequently find myself skipping lunch in favor of holding her for a 2-3 hour nap, leaving me ravenous afterward and pressed for time. One of my standard non-lunches is to microwave some cheddar cheese on a plate of blue chips.
On one lunchless day, in a gesture I found to be both courteous and responsible, I also cut up some small, infant-appropriate sized bites of mozzarella cheese for the baby to snack on while I ate. Settling onto the floor to watch the “Baby Channel”, I set my snack plate on the couch and handed Sophie her bowl of cheese. She stared longingly at my chips. “These are for Sophie, ” I urged patiently and authoritatively, picking up a piece of cheese for her.
She gave me a look as if to say, “F##k your cheese mommy, ” and pushed away the proffered bite. Stealthily she snatched the chip out of my other hand and stuffed it into her mouth.
|Other bottles (beer, lime juice) are much more appealing|
Recently our family was dining at the new Asian grill at the zoo (delicious, by the way, Denverites). I of course wound up holding Sophie while trying to eat my teriyaki bowl and spring rolls, and preemptively spread out some clumps of rice on our tray for her. After she had enjoyed the rice for a few minutes, I held my spring roll up to her lips, silently offering her a bite. She tipped her head backwards to gaze up into my eyes, simultaneously asking permission and expressing grateful appreciation for the treat we were sharing.
During these beautiful, rare moments when our eyes lock for an unusually long time, I feel myself connecting with Sophie on a soul level. With her unwavering gaze, she seems to be telling me, “I know you. I remember you. I love you.” I find myself captivated during these stare-downs,smiling at her in wonder. Sometimes Sophie laughs, quickly and sweetly, filled with some inexplicable emotion. I like to think it is joy, great joy, that we have found ourselves together.