All in Oral and Tube Feeding

Hello from Cincinnati... Let's Have Cake

had a heavy heart Monday evening when I merged from Interstate 74 south to 275 east. I do not need a map to get to our Cincinnati hotel anymore. I know this city well. We walked into the lobby, and Nathaniel started to cry. He was inconsolable through the check in process and worse when we got to the room. He stood frozen halfway between the bed and the door, held his trach and cried. I had to wipe tears too. Everything about arriving in southern Ohio for another group of appointments felt hard and heavy and sad to both of us. We've done this a lot in the last year. Many of the visits produced physical pain and difficult news. Neither of us wanted to be here.

In the process of settling into the room, Nathaniel's g-button was pulled out. My twelve-year-old niece was in St. Louis last week for her annual "Camp Rankin" visit, and I asked her parents for a second week so she could be my travel companion. She is brave beyond her years. She responded quickly and confidently to instructions and helped to reinsert the button. Nathaniel laying on the floor without his shirt led to tickling and giggles. Ellie is old enough to be a fantastic mother's helper and young enough to be a buddy to Nathaniel.

Drink Formula, Eat Banana

We had a very happy little guy at dinner tonight. Nathaniel ate orally. And he loved it.

I had one overriding thought when the team in Cincinnati told me we could start oral feeds - "I want this to be simple." Advocating for someone's safety is hard work. Watchful waiting for three years is stressful. As we find a new routine to life post surgery, we are just beginning to see how much strain our whole family has lived with for a long time. Intense feeding therapy is the last thing I want to start right now.

When Nathaniel discontinued oral feeds, we decided to keep him at the family dinner table. He prayed with us. He listened and participated in our conversations. He received his g-tube feed while we ate. Almost nightly, he would reach for our silverware, plates, and glasses. I broke my heart. Often he ended the meal with someone's fork or spoon in his mouth. We kept his oral stimulation toys and other quiet activities available, but I think holding and pretending to use a utensil, even without food, gave him pleasure and helped him feel like he belonged.