April 4, 2017 feeding tube, Hillary, March 2017 Feature - Feeding Challenges, Nutrition, oral aversion, oral-motor delays, refusing food 1 Comments

1. provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.

This is what a mama does, right?

We offer ourselves to nourish our children. Biologically, our bodies were made to do this. Emotionally, our hearts were made to do this, too.

But a mama is finite.

The whole first week and she never ate a thing. She never drank. It was so, so hot in Chongqing and she kept sweating. The sweat poured off of her brow and I wondered where it was coming from — was she going to dry up?

And I sweat the situation, too, stomach in knots and oh so worried about my new little girl. She was offered formula, water, juices, and yes, even soda. She was offered every possible kind of cup. And she was offered every combination of cups and liquids and temperatures possible. A Brecht feeder was thrust into her mouth and nourishment squirted in, but most of it leaked out as she screamed.

And so began our bumpy feeding road.

On the airplane to Guangzhou she finally drank. It was one of the happiest moments I have lived. She drank. She didn’t really drink enough, and it was clear that feeding was not enjoyable to her. But we survived, our little troop of China adventurers and that sweet baby girl of ours, and we made it home.

Days and weeks and months went by as we tried to decipher her feeding struggle and find some keys to unlock it. More and more of her story, unknown diagnoses and medical and developmental challenges were uncovered.

Eating and drinking are so fundamental to life, and yet they remained elusive.

Elusive despite so many occupational and speech therapy sessions.
Elusive despite regular feeding therapy from the “experts” several hours away from our home.
Elusive despite electrode stimulation to help her swallow.
Elusive despite many physician’s appointments in all manner of specialties.
Elusive despite mama reading every single thing related to feeding she could find and trying out its advice.
Elusive despite medication given to stimulate her appetite.
Elusive no matter what she was offered.

And for our girl, the very act of feeding was painful and traumatic.

For a while she quit it altogether. We left that hospital visit with a NG tube. We worked and worked and worked to get her freed from that tube, working on feeding hours and hours per day.

And she did lose the NG tube for a while. But then her dislike of feeding and her refusal to do so became even more potent.

And so, our sweet baby girl got a g-tube.

This seems like the story of feeding-intervention fail: baby can’t eat, every single intervention tried and baby still can’t eat. Baby lives dependently on a feeding tube.

This story is not an account of amazing interventions that were made and one healed, happy, snack-chomping sweet baby girl. This story is one foot in front of the other trudging, of tears and worry and ultimately of resting in Him as we face the foggy (to us) future. One day at a time.

Feeling unable to help your child be nourished is absolutely flattening. Oh, how I even now long to be able to create a situation where the life-giving nutrients that pump through her blood were swallowed with delight and enjoyment. And yet, as of this day, that is not what He has given.

And so we trust Him as we keep working towards oral feeding and as the sound of the feeding pump becomes our normal dinnertime background music.

Mamas do their best to nourish their children. And sometimes loving a child well does not look like we expected it to. But as we watch our children walk these roads, we nourish them with our love. We nourish them with our patience. And we nourish them by enjoying them for whom and where they are today.

Every single one of us needs to be nourished. And always, the main glory of our stories and the end-game light is this, it is not the food in our bellies alone that keeps us, it is our Father who sustains us all.

This is what our Father does. Right? He offers Himself to nourish us. And our Father is infinite.

Mamas, we can rest there.

One response to “Nourish”

  1. Julie says:

    I feel you! The first year my baby girl was eating but so little teaspoon of rice, two bites of apple… I felt so helpless and not competent…and sometime not a good mommy… Now, she’s eating like a little bird but she’s healthy and growing. Hope things will go better a small bite at the time!

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