Hungry, hungry hippo

Since the day she was born, we’ve known Maddi liked to eat. At the hospital, our legendary luncher astonished the nurses by eating twice as much as other babies in a given sitting and by being ready for her next meal in half the time. And by ready, I mean screaming as though we’d been starving her.

Her first month was spent eating for two hours, breaking for 30 minutes, and then eating for two more hours. She could be sleeping or she could be pooping — it didn’t matter. Maddi could do anything and eat. Even as she got older and grew more interested in her surroundings, her meals continued to last a good 45 minutes to an hour.

But, apparently, it was all practice for the big event. Now that Maddi has finally been permitted to sample solid food, she eats, sleeps and breathes solids. When she wakes up, she eats about three-quarters as long as she used to, as if she’s saving a bit of room for that first solid meal. A few hours (and a second very short feeding) later, once she’s in her high chair, the baby who was only vaguely interested in her old-fashioned breakfast squeals and smiles as I prepare her food. Like an anaconda, our voracious daughter unhinges her jaw and swallows tremendous amounts of food, and before I can dip the spoon into the bowl for more, she’s got her mouth open again and is squawking like a starving baby bird, flapping her legs wildly against the high chair.

Only twice has she ever had “enough” — once was the infamous Granny Smith meal (she ate only half a cup) and once was when she had green beans (she lost interest before the time she normally squawks for thirds).

Let us say that Chris and I, a half-hour after Maddi has eaten a full cup and a half of sweet potatoes (and finally been “cut off” forcibly), are enjoying a fine meal of chicken burgers and fries in front of our little piglet. Now, one would think that after having eaten an amount that — for a person my size — would approximate four good-size yams, the wee one would be satisfied. But no. As we savored our french fries yesterday, Chris and I felt a pair of little eyes burning through our skulls and glanced over to see our wide-eyed baby staring at our food with an expression of covetous reproach.

In a scene reminiscent of the sci-fi thriller “Alien,” her salivary glands kicked in big-time, and drool cascaded down her chin as her little jaw clenched in predatory anticipation of any food that might possibly come her way (it didn’t). I’m sure that, had she been endowed with a tiny telescopic set of choppers that could shoot out from her gaping maw and annihilate things that were just out of reach, my fries would have disappeared in a violent, ketchupy mist, much like the crew of an alien-infested space vessel.

Sadly, there is no going back. Instead of filling up with milk before a high chair feeding, Maddi fasts all day in hopes that she will be given solids. I’m lucky if a regular feeding lasts 10 minutes these days. Meanwhile, no matter when she’s last eaten, she can make two bowls of solid food disappear as quickly as I can spoon it out for her.

Despite all this eating — and her recent gain of a half-pound — she seems to be thinning out. One of the rolls in her thighs has mysteriously disappeared, and her cheeks seem a little less fluffy. It could be height, or it could be that her breastfed-baby fat is disappearing. Since her clothes are all tight — even the ones that are still too long in the leg — it’s not as though she’s starving.

But you’d never know that, to look at her in the high chair.

And here’s a picture of our little piggie at 28 weeks, tummy full and fast asleep in a brand-new position.

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