It wasn't a one time thing. After eating the whole dog that first night, the next night, he ate a whole one again and then another quarter. On Friday night he ate 1 1/2. I cried.
It's not just the hot dogs, either. His daytime eating is just so much better. We skip breakfast and I swear it just makes his whole day better. Before the big change, he was averaging 6 or 7 ounces of purees each day, maybe 8. A really, really astoundingly good day, we might get 10 into him, but that was very unusual. And that was in 3, sometimes 4, meals. Now he's eating 10 oz or more in two meals. And it's not just the volume, it's the pleasure.
On Saturday, I was feeding him as he watched cartoons (still pretty much the only way to get him to eat). As I offered a bit, he glanced over at me. Historically, that has almost always resulted in him smacking at the spoon, so I instinctively withdrew that spoon. Only he didn't smack, he leaned forward to get the spoon, effectively chasing the bite. I started giggling. He looked a little silly, but really, it was just joy bubbling up out of me. HE CHASED THE BITE. He wanted the food and actively sought it out.
On Monday when I dropped him off at daycare, we talked about the change in him. They're just as pleasantly surprised at me. It really is just amazing.
Of course, with all of these positive changes, my hopes for the future have soared. I dropped his night time calories, letting him make up for it during the day. We're in the process of trying to find a new daycare (he's aging out of the one he's in now) and I'm telling the new places we're looking all about our current schedule & path, assuming it is permanent.
But then his eating started to wane a little. Sunday night he ate a chicken nugget and 1/4 of a hot dog. Monday, only the 1/4 of a hot dog. Last night, my dad babysat because David had a meeting and he ate less than 1/2. My anxiety sky-rocketed. There were other things going on as well, but panic set in. What if he stops? What if he backslides? What if he's sick of hot dogs but won't eat anything else? What if we fail again?
I sent a panicked email to Becky begging her to talk me down. Fortunately through writing out what was going on, I was able to work through some of it mentally. It would be okay. It had to be. Right?
Becky wrote back and reassured me. I tried to take slow, deep breaths.
Tonight, he did better. He ate very well all day again, then ate 3/4 of a hot dog. These are bigger than average hot dogs, so that's pretty close to the whole hot dog he ate last week. I felt myself breathe again. At bedtime, David called me at work so I could sing to Robbie and told me that he was cranky. He thought Robbie was hungry, but it was bedtime. I told him to give the kid a cracker. I'd never been so happy to hear that my son was in a bad mood in my life. (And yes, the cracker helped.)
If there's been a recurring them in my life for the last few years, it's how delicate hope is. It's so necessary to life, to give us a reason to move forward, to fight the good fight. It's also terrifying because it leaves us so open to destruction. This battle towards normal eating frequently leaves me being bruised & bleeding, damaged by disappointed, but still struggling forward. Hope makes me weak & keeps me strong. Hope is hard. Thank God it's worth it.