It’s been two months since my daughter and I returned from the gastrostomy feeding tube (g-tube) weaning program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It has been a busy 60 days. Gia has been sick three times, had two ear infections and one surgery. She’s lost weight, gained it back and is almost her pre-wean weight. I’ve tolerated and dismissed doubts and worried opinions from our local medical team. However, during the hour preceding her weekly weigh-in I’ve struggled with my own fears. I hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope she is just a little heavier.
It is hard to put in words the emotions I have felt in these two months. But mostly I am still in a state of disbelief. Watching her now I cannot believe Gia did not eat anything orally for 19 months of her life.
This whole process has been nothing short of amazing. Within a few days of her breakthrough in Seattle, while waiting at the airport to return home, Gia grabbed and ate a third of a Starbucks scone! That evening she showed off for Daddy and big-sister Anna by polishing off her puree and then taking little bites of my pizza. The next morning when she nibbled on pancakes, her sister screamed: “Mommy! Gia’s eating HUMAN food!”
I’ve experienced moments of pure joy while watching Gia’s very excited reaction to my question, “Are you hungry?” She can hardly contain her enthusiasm as she quickly crawls straight for the high-chair. Tears of joy flowed these past two months as not only did my first baby, Anna, turn five, but to have her little sister eat and enjoy the special request ‘Aardvark and Cinderella’ birthday cake was more than I had ever hoped for. My heart continues to melt after each meal when she gives me such a look of satisfaction and pride. She is doing it.
What has been most unbelievable is that I have been given a little taste of normal life. With constant doctor and therapy appointments, we are still not a typical family; I have not found that I have more time or less laundry to do, but I don’t mind. Feeding Gia orally is far superior to g-tube feeding and I’d much rather be washing clothes with food stains than vomit.
She has not vomited since Seattle, which is beyond belief fantastic. I can treasure Gia’s hearty belly laugh without fear of puke. I can enjoy just watching and not stop Anna as she tickles her little sister. I have been able to leave the house without fear of Gia throwing up and have been thrilled to introduce experiences all toddler should have like: going for a long family walk in the spring, swinging at the park or practicing ‘downward dog’ while playing with her sister. As a result, Gia’s self-confidence and gross motor skills have skyrocketed!
And Holy Cow! She is eating un-mushed GREEN PEAS! Incredible. Mind-boggling. Unreal. Just plain wonderful.
She is so happy and so are we.