Emil and Katie.jpg

Emil's Story

Emil was born with a laryngeal cleft (an abnormal opening where his airway and esophagus are supposed to part ways), which was not found until he was four months old when it was repaired. We always knew he had trouble eating though; he was aspirating very consistently with both thin and thick liquids. His G-tube was placed at five weeks old, and it was a joy to finally watch him put on weight... and for a time the stress was taken off our shoulders - feeding had been stressful since birth with his coughing and choking.

But as we all know, the tube comes with its own stressors, and once Emil has his repair and was cleared for drinking with nectar-thick formula, we started trying to get him to bottle, while he was still being fed all his calories through the tube.

Needless to say, he really wasn't very interested, and naturally I did wonder if he just wasn't hungry. We tried to condense his feeds so that he had a longer break between them, thinking he would get hungrier by next feeding time, but he could never tolerate the faster rate feeds anyway and would vomit. I felt like we were far from where we could get him eating more.

I can't quite remember how I found Growing Independent Eaters but I had been researching hunger based weaning and who I could find to help us with that. I liked that they were U.S.-based and had personal experience living with / weaning tubes, I knew they could relate to what we as parents were going through, the anxieties etc. We went ahead with the wean with GIE and haven't looked back and it has been so fantastic. They gave us tons of support, were always available for questions responding quickly, and helped to adjust the plan right away (several times) in those beginning stages when we were trying to find our groove. Becky is just amazing with the plans and intuitions about the direction things are going and why. It took a couple months of weaning gradually, working through illnesses and teething, until we weren't using the tube anymore. How freeing that is and to see your child start to form a natural relationship with food, it's so great!

We still check in with Becky here and there as Emil starts to explore table foods. I feel that we wouldn't even be to the point of trying table foods, or off the tube if not for GIE. There is nothing I regret about choosing to wean with GIE, I would choose this journey with them a thousand times over, for all it has done for Emil and our family.