Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Overfed Sick Child Grows Up

As I continue to scan photos into my computer, I am getting way back into the pictures of my childhood....ok, make that my babyhood.

I started out in life on a precarious footing.
Soon after I was  born the folks found out I had food allergies.
This caused much concern for my survival back in the Days of early 1960's medicine.
It was not fashionable in that era to breastfeed your child.  And my parents were nothing if not social climbing fashionable wannabees.
All the hip people in 1960 were using modern technology and conveniences to make their lives easier and better.
Frozen tv dinners were the bomb.
Automatic washing machines gave the housewife more free time.
Breastfeeding a baby was so "your mother's generation" and time consuming.....why not buy this nifty new baby formula for your kid?  Just open the can, add water and slap that stuff in a bottle and feed your darling offspring.  No more having to wear special bras, dealing with engorged and leaky teats(and the added laundry they caused)and being tied to your baby 24/7.
A giant step forward for mankind, right?

The problem was that I had the bad fortune to be allergic to baby formula-which was based on cow's milk.
I'd drink a bottle and bring most of it right back up again.  Then they'd feed me all over again and hope that more would stay down.  Feeding me was almost a constant process in those early weeks.....forget having to clean a house, take care of 2 older boys, shop and cook dinner for a family.  The sick baby had to be fed continuously.

What stayed down wreaked havoc in my digestive system and came out the other end in much the same liquid state as it had gone in, but
It also caused me pain during the journey so I was a wailing, screaming child for much of the time I was awake during those first few weeks.
I also started not breathing well.  At 10 days old my mother came to get me up from a nap and I was turning blue and not breathing, which bought me a ticket to an ambulance ride to the hospital.

So the medical geniuses decided that the not breathing/not eating stuff was all tied together and they put me on straight goat's milk which was hardly available or affordable for my parents tiny income.  But if it kept their newborn alive, they scraped together the money and rejoiced that I would live on.

Then the story goes that I developed an allergy to goat's milk after a few months or so.
This is bad in the days before specialized baby formulas because everything was based on animal products.

The last resort was to put me on some newfangled thing called soy milk.  Soy milk was "new" back then to mainstream southern suburban American, hard to find and even more expensive than the goat milk.
But if it worked, they'd buy it, even if my grandmother had to work extra hours at her job to kick in money to pay for it.

It seemed to do the trick and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the sick baby was going to be ok now.
The family doctor had more tests done on me to test for other allergies.
And my tests came back with blinking lights and warning signs flashing aplenty!
Not only was I allergic to lots of other foods but environmental stimuli too.  Luckily though no medicines set me off.   I came away with a diagnosis of severe allergies as well as asthma.

Still, my mother had concerns about me thriving to adulthood.
She had so much concern that my mother shoved as much food into me as she could get down into my tiny stomach.  She put me on solid foods way too soon(now it's basic knowledge that you wait LONGER to introduce solids to a child that has allergies), and as long as it wasn't one of the foods I was allergic too, I was given the green light to eat it, whenever and whatever.

It didn't take long for me to pork up.
This is me at my 1st Easter.  I was a normal sized baby at birth.   I wasn't even 2 months old in this photo.....

And by August, I was about 7 months old and sporting the Jabba the Hutt look.  And this is one of my more svelte looking photo shoots....

I guess they figured that if I had another health scare, having a few extra rolls of fat on me would help me survive another episode of not being able to keep food down.

Here's a photo of me at about 9 months with a ginormous lollipop(it's blow pop sized!)crammed into my mouth.....

There are lots of photos of me either being fed or eating something myself all within my 1st year of life.
Back in the day a Fat Baby was a Cute Baby, so I must have been a real Looker!lol

As an you notice how I don't look happy in any of these photos?  Ok, so I look bewildered in the first one, but I can find very few photos of me growing up where I am smiling or happy.....well, except for those pictures where I am hamming it up for the camera, putting on my actress face.

After I lived through that first year, my parents switched gears and began restricting my food intake.
As far back as I can remember, how much I ate was watched, limited and (the worst)was commented on.
Seconds were never offered.
Yet if a food was not "liked" I still had to "clean my plate".....because there were starving children in the world who'd have loved to eat those peas, or liver, or spaghetti, or mashed potatoes, etc.

And since my parents became the Food Police, I became the Food Sneak.  Well, as much of a sneak as I could manage living in that household with an older brother who would snitch on me in a
I usually would just wait until we went to a picnic or party with other people where the food was not policed and binge to my heart's content while my parents were off socialized and drinking.  Let's just say that we went to A LOT of parties.....

If they had just let me alone to eat until I was full and not enforced the "clean plate" manifesto and not made comments(like I'd never get a boyfriend if I wasn't skinny....and that was said to me when I was 6 years old), I might have grown out of being food obsessed.

But no.
I've spent the last 52 years dealing with an unhealthy relationship with food.
I bet there are lots of folks out there who can relate to this.....well, I am hoping so!

Enough of my little Pity Party.
Therapy session over for today.



  1. Sluggy have you read a book by Francis Kuffel? It was a best seller a few years back abut a girl just our age and her obsession with food. It is fabulous and you will not put it down. I just wish I could remember the name. Look it up buy it! If I could find mine I would send it to you! But I can't find anything in this damn place....

  2. Sorry Sluggy. But I am glad that you shared it.

  3. I think all of us can relate at one time or another. I love the pics.

  4. My grandson weighed 20 lbs when he was 4 months old, way too heavy, but she loved him fat because she thought eating was the way for a child to be happy.

    My mother told me when I was 8 that no one would marry me if I did not quit biing my nails. She nagged an bribed and made me self-conscious and miserable. Finally, when I was abut 48, I got that under control. But there is nothing I love better than to peel off a nail, right down into the quick. I don't indulge anymore.

    Maybe if my father had not terrorized us, I would not have been peeling/biting my nails all the time.

    I sort of wanted to breast feed in 1968, but all my friends used bottles. Only dirt hippies breast fed, so I gave my child a bottle. I had milk for 6 months no matter what the doctor gave me, so I was just soggy-chested all the time.

    My post today is about my coming challenge to lose weight to live longer. I will post daily on a separate page about that part of my life.

    I am sad and sorry for your mother's treatment of you. Unfortuately, those same reactions by parents are still alive and well.

  5. I can relate to much of your post. I was formula fed and had horrible excema and bum rashes. Nobody clued in that i couldnt tolerate cows milk. I still hear about all of the work I caused my mother because I was colicky and needed my diapers washed in special detergent.
    I had lots of GI problems as a kid. I had to drink milk every day "or else my teeth would rot". As a teen if I drank it on an empty stomach it would all come out within 10 minutes. Apparently that was just me " being stupid" not a girl that cant tolerate milk.
    It is a wonder how people make it through their parents. I'm not a fan of Dr. Phil but for some reason he was on one day... "You have to rise above where you were raised". I couldn't agree more.


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