This is Farm Boy 1. He’s got a growing problem. He’s had it his entire life.
When he was born, he was 1 lb 12 oz and had to live in the hospital for 3 long months.
When he was 1, he was still pretty tiny in his high chair. He would eat baby food really well–and then vomit his entire meal. His vomiting was unpredictable, but often. He had severe constipation and we used suppositories on him. One doctor even told us to give him mineral oil in every bottle–which was the dumbestÂ thing she could have said. Mineral oil would coat the gut and make nothing absorb. If he would have vomited mineral oil (he was prone to vomiting), he could have aspirated and died.
When Farm Boy 2 was born, 13 months after Farm Boy 1, there was barely a difference in size. At 1 month, Farm Boy 2 was 10 lbs. At 1 year, Farm Boy 1 was 13 lbs. He lived in 6-9 month clothes forever. He was clinically diagnosed by 2 doctors with Myotonic Dystrophy, which meant he would never walk and would need a machine to help him breathe by the time he was 10 years old. They said it was genetic and I had it too (but milder). We invited the elders from our church to our home to pray, and they anointed him with oil (the first time I’d ever seen this), and the blood test came back normal! Praise God!
Farm Boy 2 was a good eater and caught up quickly. Eventually, he was passing hand-me-downs to his big brother.
He ended up with a nasogastric feeding tube to help him grow. We would let him eat for 10 min, then start the drip feeding. We also ran it through the night. It was difficult figuring out how much to give him, because he vomited easily, and then the tube would come out, too. We learned that our nearest ER did not have anyone trained in placing an NG tube back in–The Farmer and I had to get trained. I would wrap him up in a blanket and hold him tight while The Farmer very carefully stuck the tube down his nose, praying that it didn’t accidently slip into his lungs. I woke up a lot during the night when he was getting drip feedings. What if it accidently went into his lungs? What if the tube strangled him? Oh the restless nights of a worried mom!
He was in the hospital A LOT. He had tons of blood work done as well as barium studies. During the year 2004 (between the ages of 2 and 3), he had 27 visits to his doctor’s office, plus hospital visits, plus visits to a GI specialist (not included in those 27 visits), plus at least that many phone consultations with dietitians. Nobody could figure out why he wasn’t growing.
He didn’t have much of an appetite. He had texture issues & would only eat the edges of a chicken nugget, not the insides. He would not eat yogurt, pudding, a pbj, or anything wet or sticky. He would rather feed his food to his toys than eat it himself.
He often looked nauseous at meal time. Like he just didn’t feel up to eating.
When we adopted Farm Boy 3, who was 2 years younger than Farm Boy 1, there wasn’t much of a difference in size between the two boys.
He ended up getting a G-Tube (Gastrointestinal Feeding Tube) via surgery. The NG-Tube had made him vomit so often that he only gained 3 lbs the entire year that he had it. His weight went up and down constantly that year. Before having a feeding tube, he was gaining 2 lbs per year. All that work for only 1 more pound than he would have gained without the tube!
We gave him tube feedings wherever we were.
He got “bolus” feedings daily, and drip feedings at night.
The first year he had the G-tube, he gained 8 lbs–a quicker gain than he’d had since he stopped drinking breast milk. But he wasn’t eating well. He still looked nauseous during meals and didn’t want to eat. He was still vomiting a lot. He still had acid reflux and severe constipation.
We discovered that his favorite food was pizza. August 2006 (almost 5 years old) he ate an entire piece of pizza for the first time in his life. For the next several months, we had pizza once a week to try to duplicate the success.
He still had his G-tube (taking in the corn-syrup + soy based high calorie formula), and he got his first ear infection and had to go on a round of antibiotics. That year his vomiting increased even more. He only gained 2 lbs that year, even with the highest calorie formula they make PLUS calorie boosters added. (Say it with me, THIS BOY HAD GAPS!)
When he was little, he went to several feeding clinic and speech & feeding therapy appointments. They encouraged us to do “food play” with him. He drove cars in pudding and stacked blocks in yogurt. It challenged my sensory issues 😉 but it seemed to help him with his aversion to sticky things..sort of. 😉
He still had to have lots of doctors appointments and testing, etc. How bad was his acid reflux? Was it damaging his esophagus? Why was he still not growing well? Why was he so constipated?
They had us wean down his feedings with the tube and eventually remove it. He was growing steadily, at, still, 2 lbs per year. They said that was “good enough” and since he maintained the same amount of gain with or without the added formula, we might as well stop the feedings.
One day he started crying about the kids on his soccer team being bigger than him. He cried “I eat so much but I don’t grow. Why? I want to grow.” Out of desperation (and since the medical doctors had given us zero answers to help our boy grow), we decided to try going gluten free. We were still eating sugar, and potatoes, and rice, but gluten free helped him a little. His acid reflux seemed to go away! He still struggled with constipation and had slow weight gain.
After 1 year eating gluten free, I read about GAPS and we switched over right away. We did not do the intro because he was opposed to soups. At a weight gain of 2 lbs per year (or 3 lbs when we were GF), he really couldn’t afford to not eat a meal and lose weight.
The first year we were on GAPS he gained 7 lbs. The second year, he gained 3 lbs–and then lost 3 lbs–and then gained 6 lbs (for a total gain of 6 lbs over the year–STILL better than before we changed our diet!!). His doctor saw him at the 3 lb loss mark and was concerned. So were we. What’s the deal with this boy’s weight??
We’re pretty sure we figured it out last week when he was sitting at the table with his glass of milk, looking nauseous again.
When we went on GAPS, he stopped drinking milk. Some might say, but wait! He won’t gain weight if he doesn’t drink MILK! Wrong. He gained 7 lbs. That was the most he’d ever gained from FOOD in his entire life. He was eating seconds, thirds, and fourths at most meals. We were criticized that we should feed him some starches, because he was obviously SO very hungry…But he actually had an appetite for the first time in his LIFE, and he grew–and he had no more constipation or acid reflux, and he didn’t vomit, and he didn’t look nauseous, and his energy level increased. He also went from 27 doctor visits per year for various illnesses to ONE.
Fast forward…Over the last year, we re-introduced raw milk. We started giving EXTRA to him for weight gain. We also bought store bought yogurt for several months (after we took in our foster kids and our days were so very full). Store bought yogurt is not cultured long enough and it still contains lactose. Guess who’s appetite went DOWN? Oh goodness!Â He also started getting itchy, all.the.time., which means his body has some serious detoxing to do…
Flus and colds increased in our home over the year (we had none the year before).Â He had a pretty serious bout of the flu (which did not help with his weight gain), as well. After that he began eating like a bird again–picking teeny tiny bits of food, sitting at the table forever. He started waking up weak & shaky, with barely enough energy to get dressed–the same way I remember feeling as a kid and all through high school.
He is now 10 years old, and he’s had some more testing done. Nothing is wrong, according to his blood work. We wondered about his liver since one test was a little elevated–but in the context of all of the other tests, he’s fine. We wondered about growth hormones, because one test was off–but after a thorough explanation about growth hormones from his endocrinologist, we know that the test that was off simply showed that he wasn’t gaining weight well…which we knew. We found out that his “bone age” is between 8 and 9 years old–and he is 10. That is good. That just means he’ll start growing taller a year or two after his peers. Oh well. No biggie, right? (So glad we homeschool, so that he won’t get teased!).
His endocrinologist predicted that he will be between 5’6″ and 5’9″…if he starts gaining weight a little quicker…He set a goal for Farm Boy 1 to gainÂ 5 lbs in the next 6 months. The last time he grew that quickly, he was drinking breast milk. Since that isn’t an option these days, 😉 I am busy learning about high calorie GAPS foods.
He is SO textbook GAPS!!! A bout of vomiting makes him even more sensitive to milk–GO FIGURE. His “good bacteria” got wiped out and until the population is fully restored in his gut, he won’t be able to process milk. Well, duh! I wish I would have thought that through before. A bout of the flu = back to stage 1 GAPS, at least for a little while. Re-build the gut. Lots of probiotics. NO UNCULTURED MILK!
I did not have him on a regular probiotic before this week. Now he’s getting 1 full Bio-Kult in 1/2 cup of 24-hour, whole milk, drained yogurt (higher fat) plus 2 TB sour cream and 2 TB honey every day. I went shopping for him today and got him a smoked turkey leg (no nitrates). He loves meat “on the bone,” and it’s a whopping 417 calorie snack! I’m not typically a calorie counter, but we’re counting calories to get him to gain weight these days. I’ll share more on this subject. I’ve got a list of high calorie GAPS foods to share with all of you, in case someone in your family is in the same boat. I will share his progress here. I have hope that he is going to grow WELL over the next year! 🙂