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The Hunger Strike

August 5, 2011

Every day when I pick Baby Girl up from baby school, I get a daily report card. I don’t need a slip of paper to tell me she’s brilliant, but it does let me know how much she ate and how much she slept and which milestones she’s been mastering while mama’s working.

Today, for the fourth day in a row, I read on Baby Girl’s report card that she refused her bottles. I was worried Tuesday and Wednesday, I claimed the nearest rocking chair, lifted my shirt, and attempted to solve the problem. Not only was she not famished, she was simply uninterested in nursing. She grabbed on like you would sip a hot cup of tea on a cold morning; it was comforting, but she was more focused on snuggling with me. I was terrified.

Is this connected to the fever she had a few nights ago? She’s teething, does the sucking hurt? I had been enforcing the nighttime rituals, was that throwing her off? That was it. No sooner had I thought it than I catch her smirking.

This girl could give Ghandi a few pointers.

If you didn’t think I was a hippie before, you will after this next sentence.

My college major was International Peace and Conflict Resolution. I sold everything I owned and moved across the country with nothing to study Peace. Now here was my daughter, only seven months old, having already perfected a classic diplomat’s gamble. Her ally/benefactor is concerned and desperately searching for a solution she hasn’t articulated.

Her teachers reassured me. Baby Girl had oatmeal and veggies, she was happy, not fussy, she wasn’t feverish or over tired.

We got home and got ready for our Skype date with Delta. I told him about my little theory and tried – again unsuccessfully – to nurse her. Not only did he not object (need I remind you that he’s been deployed for four months), he was also amused by her little game.

So together we came up with a list of things she might be protesting against:

  • I want to snuggle in mama’s bed all night
  • I don’t want mama to wake me up for school, I should be able to go in my pajamas
  • I have worn leggings every day this week…a little variety mama! Do the laundry!
  • I want some of mama’s tea, but she won’t share
  • I miss Aunt Annie (she’s been in NYC this week) and she is the best at singing lullabies
  • I drop things sometimes and then I can’t reach them, do they disappear?
  • I want frozen bananas every day
  • I have to sit in a highchair while everyone else eats
  • I can use the cup all by myself…mama why did you let me get all wet?!
  • I am a big girl and I only want big girl food

This story was light-hearted, but there is a very real hunger tragedy happening today in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya that has nothing to do with a child’s fickle choices. With less than your weekly lunch budget, you can help. Here are some organizations working to end the crisis and links to donate.

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