Our dear Matthew continues to give us highs and lows when it comes to concerns about his health. He just completely perplexes us, leaving us in this constant state of "wondering". Always wondering whether there is something wrong, whether it's just the type of kid he is, whether he'll simply outgrow the issues, whether we need to turn our heads the other way and ignore things or whether we should actually be concerned, etc.
I tend to ride the rollercoaster with Matthew most of the time. Some times I just can't ride it anymore and I get so frustrated and down about what to do with him. Other times I'm completely content to tag along and let him ride his ups and downs and just be there for him. Then there are the times where for some reason I'm content to just let him ride and not be concerned about the ride he's taking ... just sort of go with the flow in this non-phased mode. Most of the time I'm riding with Matthew, content to enjoy the good and forget the bad when it's going okay and wishing I could understand more and do more when it's not going so good.
While Matthew is riding the rollercoaster up and down I am also swinging ... back and forth ... between empathy and pure frustration. My motherly instincts tell me that there is something not right, that he is not acting so miserable just to drive me insane, that he is trying to tell us something, that he has pain/discomfort. But then I doubt my instincts because some of his ways seem to simply be attitude ... an unruly kid who demands and expects to get his way. How do I keep him in line but still provide the comfort that is required? His personality makes this very difficult and I am often ashamed and disappointed in my parenting skills when dealing with him ... my other kids would never have gotten away with the things he does ... they also would never have pushed their limits like he does either.
There is a pattern in his behaviour, but how do we explain it. Often his ups are short lived and his downs are quite regular and the pattern is not very obvious ... but if we look at the good stretches and bad stretches we've had we do see a general pattern ... two completely opposite kids!!
During those bad times we see a child who is clingy, whining, easily upset, doesn't play very well, or only for very short periods of time, becomes quite defiant and doesn't listen very well (it is like he is always testing you), wants to watch TV all the time, is always begging for his bottles and drinks lots from a cup but refuses to eat or eats very littles (nothing worth talking about),
And the good times are quite the opposite ... you see a kid who's busy, active, creative, plays nicely, listens half-decently (still improvement needed ... yes all kids need improvement, but this one stretches the limits) and the most important, eats relatively well. I say relatively because not all good stages are the same, sometimes he eats just a bit more, while others times he eats really well ... but regardless the eating improves to more like a normal toddler with some meals better then others, but in the end food gets in them. And the other thing we often notice is the difference on his face. At first I didn't clue in, but I would say "he looks different", it was Rob who realized that it was whenever he was in a good-good stage that I would say this ... it's like he just looks more relaxed and less worn out.
And just like Rebecca with her colic and James with what we thought was colic ... he loves to make a liar out of me ... for he does quite well elsewhere and is happy and content. And just like Rebecca and James I always question whether I need to just go out more (in my opinion we are gone plenty as it is), or find different ways to stimulate him, or spend more time playing with him ... but really, I can't be spending all day entertaining my kid. Or maybe it's just me, seeing as he doesn't ask and beg others for his bottles (not even Rob until he's really in need), but the second I step through the door I hear "bobby?!?". But I don't give in to him every time and I work hard to distract him from the desire to have his bottle all the time ... so am I a pushover or am I just his comfort zone. We know well enough that others do not see the grief and anxiety that Rebecca is going through, but we sure do as we are her comfort zone.
As you can see I'm just as mixed up as Matthew. But my title says "but ... he grows". And indeed this is the part that shocks us and relieves us. Even during those times where he's pretty much just surviving off his bottles (to a max. of 30oz a day, we have put a limit on what he gets so he's not being filled with liquid ... not that it helps) .... he still grows. His bottles only provide about a 1/4-1/3 of the calories that a child his age should be getting ... yet the kid is full of energy and growing perfectly fine. At the same time he also develops fine, absolutely no issues there. All the more reason to support the idea of just turning a blind eye ... which I would gladly do if he weren't making so much fuss with his crying, whining and hanging off my leg.
I started this blog a few weeks ago and never got around to sitting behind my computer long enough to finish it. During that time period we again made a change ... this time we removed two foods we have suspected for some time might be an issue ... soy and rice. This is after another change we did not long ago ... we reintroduced wheat. After four weeks back off wheat and no improvement we just got sick of it all and decided it was time to give up on that restriction and allow some freedom (ahhh ... and how nice for mom!!). There was no change ... good or bad ... when we did this. One of the holdups on pulling soy and rice was because I had no idea what I would feed him, especially when he was also off of wheat. So with wheat back in the diet we put him on a 50/50 combination of Oat Milk (Oat Dream) and Hemp Milk (Hemp Bliss). Just as with previous diet changes we had several quite good days at first (I think it was 5 days) and usually it goes downhill from there, but this time we're in a mediocre stage. He is eating okay (not consistently and not always up to par, but enough to keep me happy) and playing relatively well (we have seen better), but he's still begging for bottles and wanting to watch TV all day long. Although not ideal yet, I could settle for him staying like this as it's much more manageable and easier for me to keep my sanity :) Realistically we are not so confident that allergies/intolerance are the issue ... for then we would not have had the whole month of December and April so good ... but as it stands now if he stays like this it is much easier for us to cross our fingers that he'll outgrow his issues. I am also hoping the upcoming summer months, with the kids home, with a change in routine and living quarters (more to follow on that) with space to run and roam ... that he will be so busy he'll forget to be cranky, miserable and clingy. I hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment, but I do think it may help.
So here's to keeping positive and enjoying the "mediocre" time while hoping for "good times"!