February 1, 2014

Just a small setback...

When we met Meili in China, she weighed a mere 19 pounds. 
Nineteen pounds...at 33 months old. 

Of course, there were about a million things to do and a million emotions to go with them on that first day, but high on the priority list was getting some nutrition into her and start working on weight gain. I felt like if anyone knew how to put weight on a child, I would. Even in China, where we were extremely limited by her inability to chew and our lack of access to healthy foods, I was stirring butter packets into oatmeal and picking the soft, shredded meat out of all the steam buns in the hotel restaurant. 

By the time we came home, she was up to 20 pounds.

Back in the US, I was sure her weight would skyrocket when I was able to add coconut oil, avocados, fresh meat, whole milk yogurt, eggs and such to the equation. Unfortunately, for a child who was never able to move farther than 3 feet across her crib, it turns out running around all day burns a LOT of calories! Putting on weight was harder than we thought.

Since then, we've visited with a dietician (who amazingly approved of everything I was doing and promoted REAL foods and did NOT try to make me use PediaSure (Thank goodness! Have you ever looked at the ingredients in there?!?)) and did a daily calorie count. It turns out that if I do everything I can possibly do in a given day to push healthy fat, protein, fruits and vegetables, and I actually get her to eat it all (which means I am feeding her constantly almost all day), we just barely get the required 1200 calories in her. 

The problem is, most days, she just will not eat that much. She had been used to being hungry all.the.time. She swallowed air constantly for the first three months we were home (we think) to fill her tummy. Now that she can eat, she doesn't know how to fill herself up. A lot of adopted kids go to the opposite extreme and eat anything they can find. Meili just eats until she's bored or not starving anymore. 

Despite this, we had managed to get her up to 24 pounds. 
That is, until this happened:

She had had a cough that seemed to be getting worse. Of course, on a Friday at 4:55PM, I thought it was starting to sound bad enough that we should take her in. Our city has urgent care every evening except Friday.

We held off until Sunday night when after several solid hours of coughing and no sleep for three nights, we decided that an ER visit was inevitable. Since her twice-yearly heart check visits cause us to spend our insurance max-out-of-pocket anyway, we might as well start off the new insurance year with a bang, right? ;)

We knew she was pretty sick, but we were pretty surprised when they admitted her with a severe case of RSV. 

She hadn't eaten anything in the previous 3+ days and I had been everything I could to keep her drinking. Apparently, it wasn't enough. She was very dehydrated.

And, at admission, she weighed in at just over 21 pounds :(
All that hard work, down the drain! We knew she wasn't in any shape to start eating any time soon either.

Two full days later, on Tuesday afternoon, her appetite came back. Well, her appetite for steak fries. Normally, I wouldn't make a meal out of that type of food, but she kept eating so I kept feeding!

Steak fries, french fries and a few mandarin oranges are all she ate that day, but it was enough for them to decide she functioning well enough to go home.

The effects of the RSV lasted a good two weeks. Just five days ago I noticed her appetite was back to "normal" for the first time since the hospital visit. And four days ago a post-hospital check-up with her doctor confirmed we were back up to 24 pounds. 

Unfortunately, 24 pounds is still not a great weight for an almost four year old. And we're still adding as much fat and protein as we can sneak into her food. She's even been known to eat spoonfuls of coconut oil! In order to be in the 1st percentile on the growth chart, she needs to weigh 27 pounds by her fourth birthday.

Now, I'm not one to care about charts, especially one that lumps every child on the planet into one set of measurements, but I do think it's a good goal. She needs to grow, and we'd really like to see some accelerated growth soon, especially to make up for the month we lost with the RSV. So if, after almost one year, you're still following our story and still praying for Meili, please pray that she will continue to eat well and learn how to eat as much as she needs, not just enough to get rid of the empty feeling. 

Food issues can be tough, really tough, for many, many adopted kids. The sooner we can get her on the right track now, the better chance we'll have for healthy food relationships in the future.


  1. I don't have any personal experience with this, but I do read another blog written by an adoptive mother who has several children with severe disabilities and nutrition issues. Her blog is called No Greater Joy Mom and she has posted a few times lately about a supplement she is using with her children. You might find it helpful/interesting. Here is a link to her blog post about one of her children who has been using this supplement http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2013/10/reclaiming-hasyas-health.html. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion…I FINALLY got a chance to check it out today!