By Thomas Eric – Dad

Last year when Gabriel’s doctor was recommending a gastrostomy so that Gabriel could receive food through a stomach tube, he was telling us the benefits: He’d get to go home from the hospital sooner, he wouldn’t have to deal with a nasal-gastric tube down his throat, and he wouldn’t develop oral aversion, which is when the baby says, “I hate having anything in my mouth because of this awful tube down my throat!”

Gabriel’s performance on the bottle at that point was pretty bad — only getting 30 percent of his food through the bottle or from breastfeeding, and the doctor said it was unlikely he’d pick up the pace any time soon.

But, I said to the doctor, “Other parents tell me that when they’re trying to teach their child to do something correctly like put on their own pants or wash their hands, they’ll nag and nag and nag the child and it’ll never work, until one day the child just does it without being asked. The parents will want to know what caused them to finally make the change, but they won’t get a meaningful answer. The child will just say, ‘Of course that’s how you do it, Dad. Everyone knows that.’ Is there any chance some extra maturity could cause the “feeding switch” inside him to just flip and he’d get it?”

 And the doctor laughed good-naturedly at my story and said that it probably wouldn’t work. And he got the gastrostomy.

 Over the past few days, though, he’s gotten this eating thing. There appears to be some kind of switch that just flipped. He’ll take one-quarter cup of full-fat Greek yogurt from the spoon without complaining, and he’ll take a full bin of baby-food vegetable beef. Those two together equal about 100-125 calories, which is about one-third of what he needs for one meal. 

 Previously, it took a great deal of trickery to get him to open his mouth, and then he would begrudgingly accept a small amount of food (he’d gag on large amounts) and even then he’d let us know he’d had enough after five or six tiny spoonfuls.

 We’re very happy about this progress. But we’re wondering what on earth made the difference. We’ll probably never know. He seems to be saying, “Of course that’s how you do it, Dad.”

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