a giant leap forward

We’ve been on a food journey with Little One. Before she came home, we knew she might have some challenges due to her past and her cleft. We knew she’d have trouble sucking on a normal bottle or eating certain foods. We packed a few cleft bottles, did our research on what formula her orphanage used and figured we’d either sink or swim.

The first bottle went okay.

The rest of the feedings in China were more of a sinking than a swimming. It was rough, to say the least. She had no interest in any type of food. Her strong aversion to food isn’t common with clefts or her orphanage. We figured we’d get home and with a little time she’d be ready to try food.

A couple months went by. Visits with therapists. Lots of ‘techniques’ and ‘methods’. Her progress was slow, but she eventually transitioned off of Chinese formula and the one taste she had always known.

Another month went by. More tips from therapy. More trying a million things. She began accepting new flavors and textures…so long as they were in her bottle. Touching food was still out of the question for her.

And then one day she touched my granola. And then a few other food items. Slow, slow, slow progress. In her own time.

A few months later with no end to the bottle in sight, we began making her smoothies (the tip of the nipple of her bottle is cut off). Lots of veggies. Lots of fruit. Almonds. Tofu. Wheat germ. Oatmeal. Flax seed. Anything nutritious got dumped in. Just fyi, if you give a toddler a bottle full of a green smoothie in public you might get some very confused glances from others.

So that is where she has been for the last 7 months. Just taking bottles. Refusing to let food within a foot of her face. Seeing a therapist. Enduring all our attempts at various methods to get her to eat. Just doing her own thing in her own time. Her diet may not look like most toddlers, but she is one crazy healthy little girl. And we are very much fine with that. She is strong, healthy, adjusting well…the food stuff will come eventually.

We’ve been playing pretend eating. She’ll pick up food and feed it to me, but never let me feed it to her. Then out of the blue while we were in PA, she fed me a pretzel. I told her to put it in her mouth. And she did. And then she repeated it with a few other things. I so wish Chris could have been there for the moment that she first touched food to her mouth. I can’t even describe how proud I was of her in that moment. It felt so much bigger than even when she learned to walk. Such a huge step forward for her.

She still isn’t eating, but just willingly putting food near her mouth is incredible for us. We are so proud of our girl!

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