"Rae...Mmmmm....Mmmmm...More?" as I tap my fingers together.
Sometimes she smiles showing me the remnants of her last bite and other times she sits there, staring at me, and after a few seconds starts to screech. So, I try again...
"Rae...Mmmm...Mmmm...More?" promptly followed with a bite of food in hopes it will reinforce what "more" means.
Occasionally, this is met with a modicum of success and Rae will tap her left hand on her tummy or tray (not always consistent, nor the same gesture). Of course this is immediately reinforced with food and me exclaiming, "Yea! You showed me "more!" You're doing such a good job!" As you can imagine, this repetitive process extends her mealtime and, for example, a simple bowl of oatmeal, which generally takes us about 20 minutes start to finish, can now take in excess of 30 minutes.
Scoop, Sign, "Mmmm...Mmmm...More," Feed, and Repeat
The "more" process can be further complicated with the addition of one more step. Instead of just showing Rae the sign for "more," I intermittently pick her hands up and make the "more" sign for her in hopes that she'll start consistently connecting her hand gesture with "more" food. So, now our mealtime steps go like this:
Scoop. Sign, Make Rae Sign, "Mmmm...Mmmm...More," Feed, and Repeat.
As much as I hate to admit this next part (since it will give people the impression that I am not...da, Da, DA...SUPERMOM!!!), I don't always like going through the "more" process during her mealtimes. Sometimes, I just want to get Rae fed so I can move to the next item on my extensive "to-do" list. I then feel immense guilt over not being Supermom and mentally flog myself for not putting Rae's developmental progress ahead of laundry, dishes, cooking dinner, Rae's physical therapy, or dare I say it...taking a shower!
I know what you may be thinking, "It's only 30 mintues. I don't see the big deal." But what you don't know is that the meals are usually followed by the two of us cuddled up in our La-Z-Boy recliner with a bottle of water or milk and trying to encourage Rae to drink more than 1 or 2 ounces at a time. The Hypotonia has made the transition from breast to bottle much more difficult because her muscles have to work harder to make the sucking motion required. For awhile I was trying to encourage her to drink in her high chair and hold the bottler herself. But, that was too much to ask her to attempt given her developmental delays. Our physical therapist, Anna, suggested I hold her so Rae would only have the physical demand of sucking from the bottle and sorta holding it to her mouth.
Before this suggestion I was worried about dehydration, but now she will take a bottle and chew/suck it like there is no tomorrow. She has gotten better at holding it, but still needs my support. So, after a meal we sit for another 15 to 20 minutes. These little routines start adding up, chipping away out our day, and before I know it we are starting the entire process over again. Figuring three meals a day, at least four attempts with a bottle, a snack and at least one nursing session...I estimate I spend about three hours of every day sitting in a chair feeding Rae. As a result, I believe I am entitled to not "Doing MORE" every once in awhile.