Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Grateful Beyond Measure
It's a MIRACLE!
Sophie is eating. Putting food in her mouth. Chewing. Swallowing. And then putting another bite in her mouth and repeating the process.
Real-deal eating. She's EATING!
For those of you coming along late in the game, saying, "Yes. ...AND?", I understand your confusion. I do. A miracle is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Walking on water. Turning two loaves and three small fish into enough food to feed five thousand. Today a miracle is having the medical technology and know-how to bring someone back to life after they've had a massive heart attack or stroke. Or a person waking up after being in a coma for years.
A miracle is not a three and a half year old eating 3/4 of a banana.
But it is. If you know Sophie and her history, you know I'm not being flippant in my use of the word. You know that her eating is a miracle. It is something unexpected. Something unusual and shocking. Something "extraordinary and manifesting divine intervention". A true miracle, by every definition Webster provides. It is from God. And it is something we have waited for for so long. Something deep-down we believed was possible, but could never quite imagine really happening.
Do you hear me shouting through the keyboard? It is happening!!
Over the past several months, she has slowly been making progress. First, in showing an interest in food - asking to try various things, licking them, putting them in her mouth, and often even chewing. And then, gradually, in acquiring the oral motor skills required to swallow food. Eating has slowly become less of a thought-out process and more of an instinctive act. By that I mean, a child born without a natural thirst or hunger response has learned to do something that is completely unnatural for her.
Since she was a newborn, eating has been something she has hated, something that has caused her discomfort, something we have had to do "to her" to keep her alive. To put it in perspective, for her, eating a banana has been as foreign a concept as eating a stick or any other inedible object would be for us. For her, eating has been a learned behavior. A step-by-step process that has involved learning how to put something in her mouth without gagging, learning how to chew without choking, learning how to maneuver a bolus of food in her mouth to a place where she can swallow it "down her chute" without vomiting -- a learned, practiced response to something the rest of us take for granted.
It has been slow. So very sllllllloooooow to get to this point. It still takes her a while to eat something. She still has a tendency to "pack" food during a meal (a common, and often difficult to correct, practice in children with feeding disorders). She's especially prone to this behavior when we're sitting down to a meal together and she's permitted to have several things in front of her on her plate. Russ or I will look over mid-conversation and her cheeks will be bloated out like a little chipmonk. And she still doesn't drink enough on her own to stay hydrated. Her version of "Sophie, you need to drink something!" is a quick minuscule swig from a straw as she's running to her next activity.
But she is getting there!
Two weeks ago she ate a few bites of cheese and a slice of ham. I, admittedly, didn't really believe it. I kept looking to find the pulverized pieces "redeposited" in an odd place - like behind a couch cushion. Last week she ate half a waffle. I stood there stunned and discreetly watched her from behind a cabinet in the kitchen - scared if she saw me, she'd stop eating. And yesterday she ate a whole piece of buttered toast and some cottage cheese. I sat right there at the table beside her, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I know the poor child thought her mom was nuts. ...And I am. I mean, at this point, after all this, let's not kid ourselves, I am most definitely nutty as a fruitcake. But a happy Fruitcake, I am.
The transformation and progression, especially over the past couple of weeks, has been amazing to watch. Incredible. And such a blessing. Every time I watch her, I am thankful. For all she has made it through. For her endurance. For her cheerful spirit, and the fact that it has remained intact, despite her hardships. For her sweet smile, her quirky little sense of humor, her love of life. For the fun she has added to our family. For her - our sweet Sophie. Every day I am so grateful to God for bringing her to our family.
She is proof that good things are worth the wait, and that God, in all of His infinite wisdom and power, is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.
For the first time in three years, I can actually visualize her going to kindergarten with a cheese sandwich and an apple in her lunchbox, instead of a syringe and a bottle of pediasure. For the first time since I started accepting things as they were and stopped trying to predict what the future would bring and how I would tackle it, I can visualize not having to go to her classroom every few hours to act as her g-tube. For the first time since we brought her home from the hospital, I haven't had a barf bucket in every room, ready to grab at a moment's notice. I can actually see a life ahead full of what I have wanted for her. Heath. Normalcy. Happiness. Independence.
It's amazing, and I am so exceeding thankful.
Thank you, Lord, for the way you show yourself in the everyday miracles and blessings you bestow.
"Believe all things are possible." (Mark 9:23)