When Ben was 13 months he started therapy. At that point he had just started crawling and was eating nothing but stage 2 babyfood and cheerios. It was determined he had an aversion to textures on his hands and feet and particularly in his mouth. With nominal occupational & physical therapy we were able to get him walking by 18 months and playing with Play-doh and other aversive textures by two. However...Despite extensive therapy with both a speech and occupational therapist, our progress in the feeding department was virtually non-existent. By age 2 & 1/2 we had exhausted the resources of 3 therapists and made the collective decision to discontinue therapy at that time. The therapy sessions were torturous for Ben and myself and seemed to only produce the results of making any attempt at feeding him, even just for meals, an all out war. At one point he regressed to consuming nothing but milk and a few crackers for almost a week.
So feeling hopeless and defeated we decided to let Ben eat his baby food, if it meant he would just eat something and take an extremely low pressure approach to introducing any new foods. Age three came and went and while we had been able to get him to try a few other things, he was still eating oatmeal for breakfast and babyfood twice a day, with yogurt and crackers for snack.
And then, a few months ago something changed. While I cannot be certain, I attribute the change to Clara. She was no longer eating babyfood and was sitting with us at the table eating what we ate. Ben suddenly seemed to really want to eat "big-people food" as he called it. He would point to the baby on the Gerber jar and say, dejectedly, "This food is for babies". It hurt my heart for him to see him want to be able to overcome his aversions, but be unable. Ultimately it did have a positive effect. He started occasionally, spontaneously, randomly, trying small bites of table food. Most foods were rejected because he couldn't get past the texture, or the taste, but little by little we were able to add a few new foods to his repertoire. And a few months ago we were down to eating baby food just at dinner time. To let you know what a huge deal this was for us, here is a picture of him -a few weeks ago - feeding himself waffles for the first time.
This was monumental not just because of the waffle, a previously rejected food, but because it was the first time he had fed himself with a fork. Yes, at 3 and a half he had never used a fork. Because when you only eat babyfood and yogurt there is little opportunity to try.
But tonight... tonight I made breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, eggs, bacon & apple sauce. It's one of the other kids favorite meals. I made it as a celebration for being finally out for Christmas break. And tonight, as usual, Ben sat with us at the table while we ate. And as usual, we offered him some food to try. But to all of our surprise, tonight he accepted. And even more shocking, he ate an entire pancake, and three pieces of bacon and some applesauce.
For the first time, my family of six sat around the table and all. ate. the. same. food. for. dinner.
It's something I have been praying for, for nearly two years. And have shed countless tears about. At one point, I had actually just accepted that Ben would still be packing yogurt and crackers for lunch when he started elementary school. And while we are certainly not off babyfood yet - Even if he does continue to eat these foods, the boy can't live on pancakes and bacon - and probably won't be for a long time to come, this was a very big first step. And I am terribly, terribly excited. And for the first time in a long time, full of hope.
And in the spirit of celebration I give you this dizzy video of Ben & Clara celebrating tonight. Because, as cliche as it sounds, I really couldn't have asked for a better Christmas present.
My little wired-on-too-much-Christmas-candy cuties. Oh and Clara's seventeen months now. And as you see, still bopping around on her knees. Which, when you have a three year old who just learned how to use a fork, doesn't seem like such a big deal.