When Christopher had his first surgery, I thought it was big deal, but it was nothing compared to this one. It took him much longer to bounce back this time. Fortunately, the doctors were able to keep him very comfortable with the pain medicine while his incision healed. After a few days it was time to feed him.
In my head it looked like a warm and fuzzy moment. I saw myself holding Christopher as he eagerly drank from his bottle. I could imagine him devouring his bottle and then dozing off to dreamland, full and satisfied from his feeding. It was all a beautiful, flawless dream.
However, the image I had created in my mind didn't come anywhere close to reality. The feeding started the way feedings usually do. There was a mom, and a baby, and a bottle full of formula. Naturally, Christopher was wrapped in a soft, blue baby blanket as I rocked him gently back and forth. I know it sounds good so far, but that is where the idyllic image ended. As soon as he saw that bottle coming towards him, he started crying and arched his back so high that I thought he might actually do a back flip off my lap and onto the floor.
To say I was disappointed would definitely be an understatement. I was completely devastated. This was not how this was supposed to go. Why was this happening? I thought they fixed him, and here we were right back where we started. I felt the panic flood through my body as I attempted time and time again to coax him into giving this eating thing another try, but I wasn't getting anywhere. He definitely wasn't "buying what I was selling."
Then the professionals stepped into rescue us. The nurse tried and so did the feeding specialist, but Christopher continued to resist all attempts to feed him. I wondered if we should try getting out those special formulas and flavors again. Maybe we should try holding him at a different angle or putting him in the bouncy seat again.
Instead they decided to consult with Christopher's other doctors to see if together they could figure this thing out. The answers they came up with stunned me. It really didn't make sense to me, but they told me that Christopher was suffering from a problem with "learned behavior." They felt that his aversion to the bottle was due to all his awful and painful experiences with eating. Therefore, he simply had learned to cry and arch his back anytime he saw a bottle coming near him. I was having a hard time "swallowing" that diagnosis. Eating is such a strong physical compulsion. They had surgically fixed his problems. Shouldn't his natural urge to eat kick in? Shouldn't he "re-learn" to eat pretty quickly as soon as his tummy signaled to him that he was hungry? Eating is such a normal and powerful reflex that I just couldn't imagine that an infant would ignore it, but I was told that with time and patience we could convince Christopher that feeding really was a satisfying experience.
I will give you three guesses what diagnosis option #2 was, and the first two don't count. I was told he had the FLU! I know kids are basically little germ factories. Colds and flu bugs are a normal part of childhood, but Christopher must have contracted some kind of new super flu or something that lasts for months. My response to this was...I would rather have you tell me that you don't know what's wrong because it's obvious that you don't know. I have never been to medical school, but even I know that's the standard default diagnosis.
Clearly, my idyllic image was completely shattered. The dream turned out to be a nightmare. I sat there in stunned silence. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said out loud what everybody else was thinking...now what?
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray like this: