I fed Evan an entire 2.5 oz jar of sweet potatoes today. I can't promise he actually swallowed the whole jar, because a lot came out of his nose and he smeared quite a bit on his face and clothes. But over the course of two meals, I spooned every last bite into his--for the most part--open mouth.
By the fuss I am making about this, you would think Evan ate something tantamount to the size of a mayonnaise jar. But when your child can't or doesn't eat orally though, that's how big one of those tiny infant jars feels.
If you haven't lived this, there is no way you can understand the frustration involved. I mean, how do you teach your child to swallow? Something so basic--either they do it, or they don't. And if they don't...they really don't. They gag, choke, sputter--or if your are particularly unlucky, maybe even vomit--over the tiniest spoonful, the "non-nutritive taste" given least they forget God's intended purpose for a mouth.
Even more maddening is being caught in the catch-22 that is being labeled "NPO," for fear of aspiration. You are told that you can't feed your child anything by mouth (that's what NPO means, it's Latin) because it may go down the "wrong way" and he or she could get pneumonia. But how are they supposed to learn how to swallow without actually eating something??? The short answer is they can't--at some point you have to just take that risk, figuring it's more harmful to let them develop an oral aversion and take your chances with aspiration pneumonia.
And so, after almost a year of VitalStim therapy, over a year and a half of "tastings," here we are. One Jar. Not just a few spoonfuls, with the remainder languishing in the back of the fridge until there is no doubt in the answer to the age old question of "Could that still be good?" Or the rest being portioned out into tiny freezer containers for later tastings. Or, shy those spoonfuls, dumped into the day's blended diet to be tube fed throughout the day.
No, he actually ate it. One whole Jar.
The first sweet potato meal.
Sweet potatoes, part 2.