July 29, 2011

Just Eat It

There are all manner of comedy routines dedicated to the nuances and nightmares of feeding an infant, so I'll try not to veer onto that well-trodden path.

Yes, all infants wake up and demand sustenance at odd hours of the night. Yes, they hork up vast quantities of en-milk-ified bile onto your shoulder, just to see if your parental instincts are stronger than the urge to drop them and frantically wipe at the shoulder slime like it could eat through your flesh like alien blood.

My wife and I went through all of this already with our first child, so the humor has been pretty much diluted by experience.

Our latest family addition, however, is a different story entirely. Born as a micro-preemie at 23 weeks, our daughter, Zoey, had to surpass hurdles in her first four earthly months that make my toughest life challenges seem like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy's football by comparison.

The thing is, Zoey never really picked up on the whole concept of feeding. For the longest time, she was fed through a tube run into her nose and into her stomach. As far as she was concerned, dinner consisted of taking a few nasal snootfuls of air. So, when it came time to actually exercise her sucking reflex, she regarded it more of a necessary inconvenience than a lifelong pleasure, which I suppose makes her a lock as a future runway model.

Which brings me to the crux of this post, which I write mostly so 30 years from now I can read it and say "oh yeah, that sure sucked."

For the last three months since bringing Zoey home from the hospital, we've been trying to figure out some sort of feeding routine, some sort of preference, some sort of ANYTHING that works, and my wife and I haven't come up with any convincing theories. My wife basically gave up on breastfeeding after about one week out of the hospital, because A) it wasn't working at home and B) it never really worked in the hospital, either.

For the first month or so plus after Zoey came home, we'd consider it a major accomplishment if she drank more than 30 mL, which is about an ounce; and then Zoey would go and spew it all out and we'd start all over again.

While the reflux has basically come to an end, for the most part, we've entered a another feeding phase which I've come to refer to as the "Bruce Lee Feeding Phase."

Most babies, at this stage, take to the breast or the bottle and contentedly suck until they're adequately sated. Zoey, on the other hand, considers feeding time to be a most excellent excuse to practice martial arts techniques. So far, I've broken it down into the following moves:

1.) -- The head dodge: After two or three bottle nipple sucks, Zoey starts moving her head from side to side, trying to get the nipple to pop out of her mouth. It's not that she's not hungry. Rather, it's that she's not comfortable with her position. That wouldn't be a problem, necessarily, but I can't simply wait until her head comes back to a rest, because it always comes back to rest at the same spot, which means when I re-introduce the nipple, we'll go through the same thing over and over.

So, I have to do this kind of video game thing where I must try to keep the nipple in her mouth as she moves her head all over the place, like a convoluted first person shooter where you try to keep the cross hairs on target while the rumble pack in the control pad fights you all the way. Like a bull-rider, I have to keep this up for about eight seconds or so until Zoey finds a position she likes, which is different every damned time. If I can outlast her, she's good for about 10 - 20 mL, which is actually worth it.

2.) The cross block: I honestly don't know if this is a reflex, or if she's just messing with me. Regardless, Zoey can be thankfully sucking down milk and, suddenly, she'll just do this thing with her arm where she performs a perfect karate block. It's like Mr. Miyagi commands "WAX ON!" out of the blue, and Zoey will smack the bottle out of her mouth. If anyone doubts the power of a martial arts block, I defy you to keep a bottle in my daughter's mouth when she executes a karate block. She's nine pounds. I'm 180 pounds. I can't do it.

3.) The lip purse: I know she's still hungry, but she'll close her lips as hard as she can, fighting the nipple. Originally, I took this to mean she was no longer hungry--even after as little as five mL--until I tried to put her down and she was crying within 10 seconds. While not necessarily a martial arts technique, this is the equivalent of the "Rope-a-Dope." Zoey will eat just enough, and not eat any more. . . and then she'll wait. She'll even close her eyes. . . but put her down and. . . Oh, CRAP! SHE WANTS ATTENTION AND MORE MILK!

So, I'll sit and rock her, and she'll smile at me, and I know she's just thinking "I'm smiling because you're doing my exact bidding and when I'm a teenager I'll regard you as the old dude who couldn't even feed me adequately when I was a baby. Loser."

All of this, I suppose, is great since mixed martial arts (MMA) is becoming all the craze, and Zoey is apparently pretty much a natural. Still, I hate to have to wait 18+ years.

Is there an infant MMA beauty/kick ass pageant of which I should be aware?

Posted by Ryan at July 29, 2011 08:21 PM | TrackBack
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