Reflecting back on pre-tube feeding times, I can remember the desperation we felt, the way we switched off when one parent reached the climax of frustration, and the myriad creative feeding techniques we tried. No matter what we did, Francesca would scream, cry, flip over and bury her head, hiding from the bottle. It seemed overwhelming, endless, and without solution. During the peak of frustration and hopelessness, I recall wishing that there was a magic way to get the calories in without a fight. It eventually occurred to me that we did in fact have that option and it was indeed the very same option that we were so devotedly against: the insertion of a feeding tube. Eventually, we felt as though we had no other choice and we succumbed to a feeding tube rather than living in fear that malnutrition would permanently compromise her development.
Over the last week, I have felt remnants of that same frustration, exhaustion, and desperation. I have found a continual need to remind myself that Francesca has a cold and colds are temporary, meaning that she will soon regain interest in eating. However, doubt and fear seeped back in as the time passed waiting for Francesca to take that next (or first) bite. There have, in fact, even been moments when I wished for the exact inverse of my earlier wish. I have wished for the strength, patience, and trust necessary to not resort to using Francesca’s tube for supplemental feedings, no longer our magic answer. Our past still lingers and it is easier to jump to the “what ifs” and harder to stay in the moment of “this too will pass.” While Francesca learns to trust food, I am learning to trust Francesca and this week our trust has been clouded with mucous.
To relax and have some fun, Uncle Blake and I took Francesca to her first movie in the theater on Saturday. We saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3-D, a therapeutic topic. Since Francesca has moved on from “a cone” to “a bowl,” we snuck “a bowl” of ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery into the theater. Sitting there in the dark, with larger than life cheese burgers, hot dogs, meatballs, and spaghetti flashing before our eyes, we experienced another first. Francesca actually let me spoon feed her ice cream, the first time in her entire life that she willingly accepted a bite from a spoon offered by my hand. She was enchanted by the movie. I was enchanted by the spoon feeding. To complete the day, Francesca even ate popcorn. A normalizing experience that we would have previously thought to be as likely as wishing meatballs to rain from the sky.