The first few months at home with Vivi were difficult. We spent a lot of time teaching her to use the bottle, and we also contended with stress related to the NG tube. (It’s hard to keep a newborn from pulling a tube out of her nose…we used a lot of tape!) She had acid reflux, and we had to feed her slowly because she vomited if we went too fast. I also decided to pump and feed her breast milk exclusively because she seemed to tolerate breast milk better than formula. It felt like our lives revolved around pumping and feeding for quite a while! When Vivi was three and a half months old and her feeding issues persisted, she had surgery to get a gastric tube in her stomach. It was a more permanent solution to the NG tube until she better learned to eat.
With respect to her cleft palate, we chose a wonderful craniofacial plastic surgeon who had experience repairing wider clefts like Vivi’s. He recommended a two-staged repair for her. At nine months old, she had her first repair, and she also had ear tubes placed to help with fluid build-up. The first day after surgery was rough, but things were much improved the second day after her tongue stitch came out. We were nervous about the arm restraints she would wear after surgery, but, fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as we feared! She seemed to feel like a new person after surgery and getting ear tubes, and she began crawling and pulling up to stand in no time at all.
It has now been eight weeks since her surgery, and Vivi is doing great! She turns one next month, which we can hardly believe. She says “Mama” and every day she eats a little more. We are working with a feeding therapist to get her eating enough to get her g-tube removed – hopefully soon! We are amazed by our daughter’s resilience and believe she will be a stronger, more beautiful person for having overcome these early obstacles. Our family is also stronger since Vivi was born. We have a greater appreciation for the little things, and we all have joined together to help Vivi thrive. Even our three-year-old son has risen to the occasion! Although these early years are hard, we do believe it will be a blessing for us in the end. We are enormously grateful for the medical interventions that make happy endings like ours possible!