Friday, March 25, 2011

Cade is EATING !!!

I have the most exciting news ever!  Cade is eating!  This is huge; this is a breakthrough; this is AMAZING!  For the last 3 days, we have only fed him through his g-tube 3 times.  Every other time, he has eaten by mouth!  Up until this point, he could not figure out how to coordinate sucking from a bottle.  I know that seems crazy since he is almost a year old, but the crucial window of learning was closed to him after he failed the swallow study in the NICU.  "Babies do suck and swallow while in utero, but the sucking reflex is only developed properly and matures into a coordinated reflex at 36 weeks gestation. This is important to understand when baby can start to feed." (taken from Little Steps website)  Our babies were born well before 36 weeks.  While other babies are happily sucking on amniotic fluid in the womb at 36 weeks and improving their strength and coordination to suck, ours had feeding tubes, had already endured heart surgeries, had been on mechanical ventilation for 5 weeks followed by CPAP masks for several more weeks followed by cannulas for more weeks. 

Here's a quick version of a very long story of why Cade could not eat - heart surgery caused vocal cord paralysis which increases risk of aspiration (food in lungs), passed first swallow study, started learning to eat in NICU, failed 2nd swallow study, stopped all oral feeds, passed third swallow study, could start learning again but had already passed crucial window of opportunity to learn.  All of that plus a huge oral aversion caused by breathing tube, CPAP mask, nasal cannula, oral feeding tube, nasal gastric feeding tube, 3 swallow studies, upper GI, and 4 scopes shoved down his throat to look at vocal cords.  Do you blame him for not wanting anything in his mouth?  I have included a look back at all the stuff Cade has had to endure in, on, and around his mouth.

Cade at 1 month old on a ventilator with an oral feeding tube.

Camdyn and Cade on CPAP with oral feeding tubes.

Camdyn and Cade with cannulas and nasal gastric feeding tubes.  (They are so sweet here.)

Cade still with an ng tube.  He had it for 9 months!

Cade with his helmet.  This had nothing to do with his oral aversion.  I only included it to show how much my little guy has had to deal with.

Cade in the hospital after his g-tube surgery with Camdyn by his side.

So to get to this point AND sucking from a bottle - WOW!  I just might need to buy him a trophy - What an accomplishment!  Way to go big boy!

Side note: Please go to and vote for me for "Mother of the Year".  Click on "Leander/Cedar Park" and then "Michelle Hansel" (it's misspelled).  There is only 1 day left to vote.  Thanks so much for your support!


Jessica said...

This is amazing news!I have been following your story since late last year. I am a mother of a 28 weeker and she is battling the same issues that Cade is..We are currently working with therapy, and progress is SLOW! Do you have any advice or important things to share to make this any easier??!

Michelle said...


You can e-mail me at I don't really have any advice. I know that it takes tremendous patience and we have tried every bottle, pacifier, feeding toy, feeding utensils, baby food, baby crackers, baby cookies - you name it - we have tried it! We have a great therapist. If you e-mail me, leave me your number and I'll call you. In a past post, I wrote that "Sometimes progress is so slow that you forget if you have made any progress at all." So, I totally understand. For some reason, it's like a light bulb has just gone off for him, and he gets it now! Good luck to you all!

almudena said...

hi! i found your blog thru another blog and wanted to tell you that your 3 kids are beautiful. i'm also a mommy of a very stubborn eater - born not so prematurely at 36.5 weeks but only weighing 4 lbs 3 oz. we are in line to see our fair share of doctors - yay! so, i just wanted to say that i'm glad moms like you share your story to encourage the rest of us to know that we aren't alone - even if our stories are a tad bit - thanks!