Imagine that you have eaten something sticky — say, a bite of thick peanut butter on soft bread. It clings to the roof of your mouth, but you cannot move it because it’s in a part of your mouth that you cannot reach with your tongue. You suddenly feel like your airway is blocked, and what follows is a rush of adrenalin and panic and choking.
I cannot say I’ve experienced this myself, but based on the tot’s reaction to soft or sticky foods from the time she started solids to the surgery to release the tongue tie, I think this is accurate of her experience, at least.
Panic is a normal reaction to your airway being compromised, so it hardly seems fair to think she never should have panicked when faced with a new food or a soft food or a chunky food, but that is we did. We were constantly perplexed and confounded as to why our 9 month old could barely handle level 2 jarred baby food, which is smooth but thicker than the intro level stuff. I constantly felt like a failure because here was one thing that everyone expected should be easy. I mean, how hard should it be to teach a kid how to eat, right? You put food in front of them, and they eat. That is what everyone else’s kids seem to do.
But most kids are not tongue tied, so most kids eat and their parents don’t have to wonder why their toddler freaks out when they present yogurt with fruit in it for the first time after months of perfectly smooth yogurt. They don’t wonder why their kid won’t eat a sandwich or pizza or cupcakes with frosting.
Tomorrow, we start therapy with S, our old Food Friend. It will be only one aspect of the tot’s treatment. S will work with her on anxiety* and will help me line up an Occupational Therapist for the food side of the therapy. I feel hopeful and helpless at the same time. Our previous OT experience was mediocre, at best. I’ll jot some notes about that in time, but for now, I’ll leave it at this — I won’t see that therapist again, though I am willing to return to the center to see another therapist.