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“There are different ways to feed your baby, and they are all beautiful,” Heather says. “I hope more people learn that during Feeding Tube Awareness Week.”
When her daughter Melia Grace was born last summer, Heather wasn’t familiar with all the different ways a child could eat. She expected her newborn to eat by mouth, like her two older daughters had. But Melia was born with a rare genetic disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes frequent blistering of the skin. For Melia, something as simple as eating can result in painful sores.
“We were introduced to the feeding tube soon after Melia was born because of the blisters she was getting in her mouth,” Heather recalls. “The idea of the feeding tube was scary for us and we were completely against it initially. But my biggest fear, and the fear so many mothers have, was whether my child was getting the nutrients she needed. I didn’t want to go home and then end up back in the hospital again a few days later because Melia had another blister and couldn’t eat.”
It soon became clear that traditional eating wasn’t working for Melia. She had gastrostomy surgery at five days old. Then Heather witnessed firsthand the amazing impact a feeding tube can have. “All of Melia’s numbers doubled in a matter of hours after the g-tube surgery,” Heather remembers. “We were discharged from the hospital a week later. Because of her feeding tube, I felt confident that we could give Melia everything she needed at home.”
With the help of her Aveanna enteral nutrition and nursing care, Melia has made incredible progress since coming home. Her health improves every day and, even better, she has so much fun. “Melia thrives at home,” Heather shares. “She’s with family, and you can see in her eyes what that means to her. Playing and laughing with her big sisters is what Melia wakes up for every day.”
Although the feeding tube frightened her parents at first, it proved to be exactly what Melia needed. Now, Heather can be confident in her daughter’s nutrition. And Melia can be where she is happiest – at home with her sisters.