For the first five years of his life, Tahmima Anam's son would eat only one thing: baby porridge that she and her husband added formula, vitamins, and a calorie supplement to so that he could survive. He wasn't starving, but she describes a hellish existence in a lengthy piece for the Guardian. "For five years we have dreaded every meal, knowing that whatever he consumed was never enough," not knowing if he would "throw up or start another weeklong hunger strike. For these years, our parenting has revolved around food. We have only left the house for small intervals. We have never eaten a meal together. We have watched other children with wonder and envy." They had tried every expert out there. Then they heard about the Cindy & Tod Johnson Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders at St. Mary's hospital in New York.
There, he was an "anomaly": Aside from two months spent in the NICU after his birth at 6.5 months gestation (the experience and trauma of which Anam thoroughly details), he suffers from no medical or cognitive issues. They're there for six weeks. Day one at the center leaves Anam and her husband in "shock and disbelief." She details the process her son's therapist, Kisha Anderson, uses to get him to eat something that isn't porridge for the first time: pink yogurt. It involves a maroon spoon, 10-second intervals of Despicable Me 3 on an iPad, the "impassive" repetition of "take your bite," and extreme enthusiasm when he does so. Three weeks in, they try getting him to chew a solid—crumbs of graham crackers. He gags then vomits. Read her beautifully written article in full to find out where the story goes from there. (Read more Longform stories.)