First off, I have to wonder, do all four-month-olds yell at their parents like pissed-off NYC taxi drivers in Manhattan rush-hour traffic? Stella’s got a good set of lungs and/or pipes. And she uses them non-stop lately. Of course, five seconds after shouting with a furrowed brow, she’s smiling. Then she’s on the verge of tears. The she’s hollering as if filling me in on her deeply held political opinions. Then laughing. And so on.

She averaged 88 mls per bottle today. That included one 130-ml bottle, and one 40-ml bottle. The latter came at 11pm, three hours after the amazing 130-ml performance. She was exhausted, screaming and just wanted to go to sleep. So it barely even counts in our minds. We just hope we didn’t push her too much. It’s such a delicate balance, knowing how far to push and when to let go and use the pump, and we still struggle with it at times.

If it weren’t for that last bottle, she would’ve averaged close to 100. She continues to progress. And this evening, we realized something about her progress. I did a quick scan of the spreadsheet, looking at weekends and holidays, and my suspicion was confirmed: Most of her best days happen when Cody is home, even if I do most of the feedings. His presence makes me feel better–more calm and secure. Therefore, I see the numbers as proof that our attitude and energy directly influence Stella’s eating.  While my mental state doesn’t drive her intake completely, it clearly has an impact. I thought I knew this already. But somewhere deep down, I guess I didn’t fully buy into it. Well, there’s really no denying it now.

So, I still need to take better care of myself. Eat more, rest more, be around people more, do things I enjoy, etc., so that when Cody’s not around, I’m feeling strong and calm. What’s good for me is good for Stella. So bring on the champagne, massages and new shoes! Okay, and maybe yoga, exercise, healthy, hearty meals and time with my fabulous friends.

On that note, I wish you an early “Happy New Year!”

How will we play this hand?

In between feedings and worrying about feedings, I was flipping around the airwaves when I briefly paused on a news show. I caught the end of a remembrance montage that honored some of the incredible people we lost in 2008. Randy Pausch was one of them.

If you haven’t seen his famous “Last Lecture,” I command you to go watch it RIGHT NOW. Whether you catch the long version he presented at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a professor, or the short version that he shared on Oprah, you’ll be changed  by it. I was.

Randy Pausch, a very loving husband and father of three little ones, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only months to live. With this lecture, which absolutely overflows with fatherly wisdom, humor, honesty, insight and an astoundingly positive attitude, he gives us all a great gift. Although it was initially presented under the title, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” it’s truly a guide to living well, and not just that, but living joyfully in the face of obstacles and even gut-wrenching misfortune. I first saw his talk many months ago, and watched it again today. In light of the situation with Stella, his words had a whole new meaning. He gave me a good smack on the forehead, actually.

He reminded me that I must choose to be a Tigger instead of an Eeyore. To allow Stella to paint rockets and elevator doors and whatever else she want on the walls of her room, if someday she wants to. And to see brick walls merely as opportunities to show just how much I care about and want something.

“We can not change the hand we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” There are so many more amazing quotes from Randy’s lecture, but to me, that one pretty much says it all. When I scale this massive bit of wisdom down, it applies to every aspect of what we are going through. From our overall attitude as parents, to our view of Stella’s feeding aversion, to how we respond to an individual feeding that doesn’t go well.

Randy’s grace in the face of what amounts to a death sentence left me in awe, and allowed me to put our situation into perspective. The tube and Stella’s feeding issue are unexpected twists in our story. A bit scary at times, sure. But it’s nothing we can’t handle. The tube can’t stop us from having fun, being silly, reading Goodnight Moon until it’s seared in our brains, going on long, lovely walks, and loving and enjoying each other’s company like crazy. It’s just a brick wall that we are going to smash down. Then we’ll dance on the debris.

(Thank you, Randy.)


Stella took a step back today. But I keep telling myself that it’s okay. That it’s to be expected. Just part of the process. And her total bottle intake today, on a decidedly so-so day, is higher than what we saw on an average day just a few weeks ago.

Of course, we can’t help but feel let down and look eagerly toward her next upswing.

At her first feeding, the nipple clogged four times (the thickener is likely to blame). She wanted to eat, but only had so much patience. The fact that she went back to the bottle three times in one feeding (after three nipple changes)  is encouraging. In the afternoon, I think her reflux was a major factor. I heard the telltale gurgles and gulping several times during the feeding, but she still managed to take 80 mls, which isn’t bad at all. This evening, after a very, very long nap, she “should” have been quite hungry but was fussy and only took 50 mls. We decided to skip the pump and try again with the bottle an hour later, at which time she took another 55, somewhat begrudgingly. After that, we had to give a bunch by pump as she’d fallen behind in terms of her caloric intake for the day.

It’s so perplexing to us how she can go from taking 135 mls in one feeding yesterday, to taking just 50 in one feeding today. While the overall trend is upward, it still feels like she’s all over the place, and the highs and lows are emotionally exhausting. I wanted to hurl the bottle across the room with all my might again this evening, but I didn’t. I guess I deserve a lame-ass pat on the back for that bit of restraint. *Overly dramatic sigh.*

Underneath all the pep talks and tears and thrown bottles and every other reaction and coping mechanism under our family’s sun is big fat ugly old FEAR. In just a couple of weeks, she’ll have had the NG tube for two whole calendar months. There’s a little voice inside my head, a tiny neurotic bastard, who keeps asking undermining questions and making incredibly stupid statements such as,”Shouldn’t she be further along by now?” “Wow, she really doesn’t want to eat this morning. We’re screwed.” “What if she never takes enough by bottle and has to have one of those surgically inserted tubes that goes right into your stomach?” “Is the NG tube making her reflux and swallowing worse and will it eventually ruin everything?” “That feeding didn’t go well at all–maybe she’s finally had it!”

The truth is that when I really stop and think about her feeding issue, I get very, very scared. So afraid that, at times, I can barely stand it. It’s physically uncomfortable. It takes the form of that deep pain in the pit of my stomach during some feedings and a stubbornly low appetite, which is so not me.

When I was pregnant with Stella, fear completely overtook me on more than one occasion. I worried that something I’d eaten or applied to my skin would hurt her. I also fell down our icy front steps one morning and proceeded to bawl my eyes out during a meeting at work. Yup. The shred of a thought of an inkling of a possibility of harm coming to her (combined with all the hormones) was too much to handle. Too many times, I became very concerned because I had not felt her kick in what felt like a reasonable time. But I swear to you that whenever I became really, really worried about not having felt her move, I would tell Cody about it, and at that very moment she would dance on my kidneys. It was absolutely uncanny. With her incredibly timely kicks, she was telling me to chill the hell out. I got the feeling that she could sense my worry and wanted to ease it.

In a way, she does the same thing these days. Just when we’re feeling sickenly worried and downright discouraged about her eating, she’ll go and polish off an entire bottle. And voila! All hope is renewed and there is light and justice and peace in the world. Birds and angels sing, rainbows appear, and for at least a little while, I am neither scared nor worried. I am free of all that heaviness, and we dance lightly around the house like the silly fools we are.

We set ’em up. Stella knocks ’em down.

Another triumphant feeding! Daddy and Stella celebrate after Stella takes 135 mls from the bottle!

Another triumphant feeding! Daddy and Stella celebrate after Stella takes 135 mls from the bottle!

Cody, Stella and I had a relaxing holiday weekend. I’m sad that it’s over and that Cody will have to return to work tomorrow. He’s been working a lot, which has been tough. Just having him around makes me feel better, and Stella loves it, too.

When I get down, he helps pick me up, and vice versa. Of course, when feeding doesn’t go well, we both feel discouraged and can sometimes work together to find the positives and pull ourselves up together.

This weekend, we realized that our standards had really risen in regards to Stella’s eating. We found ourselves feeling bummed when she took “only” 70 to 80 mls. We had to step back and remind ourselves that not long ago, that was considered a good feeding! 

Today is an interesting example. She had only four bottles because she slept so much, and because we gave her the usual two feedings via pump while she slept. The average number of mls she took per bottle was 111.75 (yes, we are that exact). Remember, her formula has 24 calories per ounce instead of the usual 20 calories per ounce, so she gets more calories with less volume–big feedings can really exacerbate reflux.

She complained a bit before her first feeding, but other than that, she accepted the bottle right away and was very comfortable while eating. Stella has come so very far! This whole feeding fiasco–or should I call it a “challenge” instead–has been an exercise in the power and importance of positive thinking. Slowly but surely, I’m learning.

Tonight, I returned the hospital grade breast pump that I rented two months ago. I was surprised by how emotional I got during this seemingly simple errand. I cried a lot and it really caught me off-guard. Then again, that pump and I, we spent so much time together. We worked so hard! We were side by side through the scariest times with Stella. When she didn’t want to eat and I thought her health was in serious danger and that it was my fault. When my milk supply was low because she wasn’t taking enough. When we had no idea what was going on with Stella and were desperate to get answers.

I tried. I really, really tried. Hundreds of ounces of breastmilk still sit in our freezer.

I tried. I really, really tried. Hundreds of ounces of breastmilk still sit in our freezer. Just can't bring myself to dump it. Too much effort and love went into making it. I'm wondering if I can donate it somewhere.

That huge, yellow pump became a fixture in our living room. It represented my long, last, and intense effort to continue breastfeeding Stella–and I suppose I had a hard time letting the pump go for that reason. Breastfeeding was what I wanted for her, and for me. I really miss the closeness that we enjoyed through breastfeeding. The proud and assured feeling that I was giving her the very best nutrition. The knowledge that I was nurturing her in such a direct and intimate way. I am grieving the loss of breastfeeding, though it’s not as sharp as when she had her first bottle of formula, or when I stopped pumping a couple of weeks ago. Even though formula truly helped Stella thrive by getting her comfortable and willing to eat, part of me really feels like Stella and I are missing out on something. However, toward the end of my time with this impressive piece of machinery, pumping was taking away more than it was giving us. 

At the hospital,  Stella was put on hypoallergenic formula “temporarily” to see how she’d do and to allow the doctors to do their assessment. (Of course, it didn’t turn out to be temporary, as stool testing showed that the switch helped Stella in many ways. I think that deep down, I actually knew that it would not be temporary, or at least I feared that would be the case.) I was pumping eight times a day even though it wasn’t clear if she’d ever safely be able to enjoy breastmilk again without jeopardizing her comfort and willingness to eat. I’d given up soy and dairy for the cause, which was difficult but wouldn’t have been as big a deal if anxiety wasn’t already beating the crap out of my appetite. 

Feeding Stella with the bottle, then the tube/pump is time-consuming and then to have to pump myself–it was too much for me to handle. I wanted more time to spend just being with and enjoying Stella instead of operating various pumps for hours a day. I needed rest, which was impossible with having to wake up to feed her via tube and stay up to pump. As my friend and cousin Regan pointed out, breastmilk is very beneficial to babies. But just as if not more beneficial? Happy, healthy moms.

Happy and healthy is how we can now describe Stella. Sure, I wish breastfeeding worked out for us. But it didn’t. It’s that pesky parenting lesson that keeps popping up! In short, sometimes things don’t work out like you planned or hoped or envisioned, and you just have to make the best of it. Besides, I have three months of fond breastfeeding memories to hold onto. I remember nursing her for 30 minutes right after she was born. I remember her first few weeks, when she’d wake up hungry in the middle of the night, and Cody would change her diaper and then place this beautiful, tiny, wriggling little baby next to me. She’d be crying and squirming and sucking on her hands–and then she’d latch on and suddenly be so peaceful. Later, that all changed and breastfeeding was not so peaceful, of course. But I’m so glad we had those early experiences together. And, stepping away from my emotional attachment to breastfeeding, I’m so very glad that the formula took away much of the pain Stella was experiencing.

She may no longer get my milk, but she’ll always get my best! I just love her so much. And that’s really all there is to it.

Merry Christmas!

Stella's first Christmas.

Stella's first Christmas rocked (and rolled).

I thought Stella’s holiday outfit made her look like a candy cane. Cody said it made her look like an escapee from Leprechaun Prison. Either way, she looked adorable.

Sleepy after eating too much ham and sweet potato pie, it’s time for us to hit the hay. Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy holiday, and inform you that Stella raised the bar in the feeding department. She took 530 mls by bottle, which is outstanding progress. A new record! And a very thoughtful Christmas gift for her parents–she really nailed it.

Just as importantly, she rolled from her belly to her back for the first time in weeks, saw and talked to her grandparents, great-grandfather, auntie and uncle via Skype, and helped me and Daddy cook Christmas dinner. A very merry day indeed. Hope yours was grand!

Hope in a bottle


Some days, the bottle looms so large that it casts a shadow over everything–but only because I let it. Because I’m so very, very tired and incredibly discouraged and wishing to the point of physical aching that Stella would just eat.

I mean, can you imagine if someone begged you, on their hands and knees, to eat tons more than you actually do? Wouldn’t you lose your mind due to the sheer abundance of joy and calories? What’s so crazy about all this is that there was a time years ago when I went to really unhealthy lengths to stay thin. Not anymore. But nwo I have a daughter who at four months won’t willingly eat enough. It’s circular and messed up and if I think about it too hard my brain hurts.

We had a bit of a tough day. Well, to be more accurate, I had a tough day. Stella was fine. She wasn’t enthused about eating. But she slept a lot, had fun with mommy and a bunch of new toys from her aunties, went for a walk, and just generally had a grand old time.  Really, she was fine, even though her tube came out again. Ugh. I’d like to point out that she doesn’t yank it out on purpose. She has a habit of grasping whatever is near her, and guess what? Her tube is always near her and if you take your eye off her for .2 seconds, she’ll grab it and flail her arms in her usual fashion except this time, because the tube happens to be in her chubby, cute, scrumptious-looking little paw, the tube comes flying out, the tape is torn from her face and my stomach drops to the floor with a loud thud. It’s happened way too many times, so upon seeing her waving the end of the tube around, the end that is supposed to be inside her tummy and not flapping around in the air, I resolved to NEVER let it happen again. It’s torture to put back in, and Cody and I fear that it exacerbates her reluctance to eat due to the irritation it causes to her throat. So, I hereby declare that the excess length of tube will now always be shoved down her onesie/outfit when not in use. I will  secure the bit that extends from the “tape” (Replicare underneath the tube with Tegaderm on top) behind her ear. I will watch her with even  more hawk-like intensity, removing the tube from her stunningly strong baby grip as soon as she snags it. So that’s settled anyway. Stressful, but settled.

In related news, Cody and I started going to a couples counselor. Being a new parent is really stressful. And being a new parent of a child with an NG tube is, I am pretty sure, even more stressful. And conflict inevitably arises. And it helps to have an objective, educated, helpful and kind third party to help work things out before they blow up in our faces. We believe that maintaining a strong relationship between is as important to Stella as solving her eating issue. Really. Our energy, the way we treat each other, the way we deal with conflict and stress, it all gets fed to Stella just like her $43-per-can hypoallergenic formula. It’s an eye-opening experience that really just boils down to us both learning how to deal with stress in healthier, more compatible ways. I am learning to not take my frustration out on Cody. And Cody is learning to not withdraw from me. We realized in our first appointment that “The Tube” has become an entity unto itself. It is the focus of a lot of attention and fear. We talk about “The Tube” like it’s Darth Vader, tempting us to the dark side. Well, I do anyway, and I’m working on letting all that go, which can only be good for all of us.

So, after her Obama-like, hope-filled weekend of feeding pr0gress, she’s had a downturn. There are some clogged nipples to blame, as the thickener we use in her bottles requires intense emulsification efforts–involving whisks, shaking, large containers and gourmet chefs–to blend properly or else little blobs of the goo will block the flow from the nipple. There are also ripped nipples and impatient moms (me) to blame. In an effort to clear out and prevent clogging, I aggressively cleaned those problematic bottle nipples with a tiny little Dr. Brown’s bottle brush and, without realizing it, tore the holes wide open so that formula gushed out at a pace that probably traumatized Stella. I felt horrible upon realizing what I’d done.

But in spite of everything, tonight at 9pm, after a discouraging day of what seemed like feeding regression and a blunderful gmail video chat attempt with my family back east, Stella downed a whole bottle in five minutes. If we’d had champagne on hand, I’d have popped that cork in a second and sprayed the alcoholic fizz all over Cody and Stella as if we’d just won the Superbowl. But we didn’t have any bubbly available, so we danced to The Kinks’ “Picture Book” again and ate Boston Baked Brownie Cake. I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas eve, really. I hope yours was just as good.

Stella rolls on.

I should know better by now. With Stella and her feeding issues, the answers are never simple. There are no clean, black-and-white solutions to this layered, messy challenge. The clogged nipple seems to have been only part of the issue. The fact of the matter is, Stella is doing well, but as her occupational therapist reminded me today over the phone, Stella’s road to recovery is not a ramp. It’s more like a staircase. She’ll leap forward, then stall or regress a bit, then progress again, and so on. I needed the reminder, and regained a sense of peace after hearing it.

The “messiness” of the feeding issue spills over into other areas a bit. Because of her reflux and because we fill her belly at night during her slumber, she sleeps in a wedge made for just her by one of the OT/PT therapists at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This means that her movement is restricted, which could affect her mobility and development. So, we spend extra time working on rolling and do tummy time in short stints several times a day. Today, Stella’s hard work paid off! She rolled from her back to her tummy three times! We were thrillled to see this. On her ten-week birthday, she rolled from her belly to her back for the first time, and proceeded to do it every time we placed her on her tummy, but as her feeding issue worsened, she did it less and less. Then, around the time of her hospital stay, she stopped. For that reason, today’s acrobatics were heartening. This milestone gave us all a little boost.

And speaking of needing a boost, Stella accompanied me to my therapy session today, and was very content to just let me hold her as I talked. I go because I’ve been struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, and through the Community Birth and Family Center, I found an absolutely wonderful therapist who has helped me cope.

I’m doing much, much better now. I think back to the days when Stella wasn’t eating or gaining weight as she should, when I had no idea why and no clue how to help her, and I feel such compassion for that new mom who, in trying so hard to take care of her struggling baby, was losing her grip on her own wellbeing. I’m proud of my efforts, because I knew something was wrong, and despite any dissenting or skeptical voices (“Oh, you’re overreacting” or “She seems fine to me”), I trusted my instincts and kept pushing for answers. With help from Cody, I prevented Stella from losing weight. Stella and I were constantly at the doctor’s office, and every week, the scale showed that she’d gained weight, even if it was just two ounces. But I didn’t take care of myself, which sent me plunging in a downward spiral and was not beneficial to Stella, even though all I wanted to do was help her.

Despite the continuing rollercoaster of emotions, the ups and downs of Stella’s feeding progress, the stress level in our home is so much lower these days. Last night, Stella and I danced to The Kinks’ “Picture Book” in front of the Christmas tree while Cody strummed along on his guitar. We go for one or two long walks each day, and we really enjoy it. When Stella’s problems peaked, when she wasn’t getting enough to eat and was in pain, I couldn’t take her anywhere because so much time was spent just trying to get her to eat, and in between, she was hungry, agitated, couldn’t nap, and would cry whenever I put her in the carrier or stroller. Now she loves the carrier and can fall asleep in her car seat. We laugh a lot. We can now just “be” together. It’s wonderful.

Sometimes, I forget how far Stella and I have come. But when I look back, it’s easy to appreciate where we are now. If this were a movie, we’d be way past the part where the hero hits rock bottom and wants to throw in the proverbial towel. We’d be well into the montage where determination builds in each subsequent shot–punching slabs of meat, drinking raw eggs, jogging through Philadelphia and doing one-handed push-ups. Stella’s story is a comeback in the making. And who doesn’t love a comeback?

Daddy saves the day!

It was a curious morning. Stella was happy as could be. She wanted to eat and took right to the bottle. She started with such gusto! Then, would barely suck at all, doing the short, unenthusiastic sucks we referred to as “fake nursing” back in Stella’s breastfeeding days. It made no sense.

During her evening feeding, my arm was killing me from holding her for so long. And I’d had it! She was barely eating anything, and I had no idea why. Emotionally and physically drained, I stopped the feeding, handed Stella to Cody and went to walk (and cry) in the snow. I just had to get away.

I called my friend Kari, who is always such a comfort. It didn’t take long before I was a bit calmer, and a lot colder! So I headed home, expecting to see Cody sitting by Stella, running the pump to give her the bulk of her feeding through the tube.

I walked in to see Stella resting peacefully in Cody’s arms, finishing off a bottle. Framed by the kitchen doorway, it was a scene that melted my heart. I cried again, of course, but this time from relief, gratitude and sheer, unabated happiness. Later, he gave her the last bottle of the day, and she finished it as well.

It turns out that the nipple was clogged. Cody, using that handy engineer brain of his, figured it out. Puzzled by her behavior, he stopped feeding her and shook the bottle. Nothing came out. He replaced the nipple with a new, clean one, and tried again, and she drank it down. Honestly, I never would’ve figured that out. I couldn’t distance myself enough to think through it clearly. Plus, as they say in Boston, Cody’s “wicked smaht.”

So, Daddy is a hero tonight. Stella, too! I’m in awe of both of them, and feeling extraordinarily lucky.

“We’re gonna need a bigger bottle.”

I said that this afternoon, when Stella finished a bottle and was sucking on the empty nipple. We were flying so high. (I apologize in advance for a less than sparkling post. I’m very tired and a bit grumpy, and lack the patience required for halfway decent writing, something I really care about and aspire to provide.)

This weekend. Stella took bottle after bottle–sometimes not finishing completely, but close enough. We weren’t even using the tube, except during the night feedings.

But then, a few hours ago, she pulled out her tube, even ripping the tape off of her cheek, leaving behind a pink patch. The feeding after that was a little rocky. She took 88 mls, still quite good, but during the feeding that followed, she was barely sucking and only took 20. To feed her, I still lightly swaddle her to keep her calm and stand up, with her in my right arm. After weeks of practice, I know how to use my hip to support a lot of her weight. But I often get a terrible pain in the pit of my stomach while feeding her. I don’t know if I’m developing an ulcer or it’s simply a matter of still having an unhealthy amount of hope and emotion and fear hinged on each feeding such that it affects me physically.

I’d let my hopes and expectations get so high that this setback (the 20-ml feeding) felt like a crushing blow. I jumped to the worst case scenario and wondered if the tube coming out was some kind of disastrous last straw that irritated her throat and erased her seemingly new and positive attitude toward eating. Cody urged me to step back and see it as the tiny blip it was. I’m actually embarrassed for getting so upset about it, given how incredibly well she is doing overall. Clearly, I still haven’t come to peace with the tube’s presence, as much as I try to accept it as the helpful and temporary tool it is. Then again, emotional raggedness and impatience comes with sleep deprivation and stress. I know that I need to be gentle and patient with Stella as she progresses at her own pace. And it just dawned on me that I need to treat myself the same way.

We just put the tube back in and as usual she was upset for a couple minutes, but settled down quickly. I can’t help but hope that this is the last tube. That we’ve put it back in for the last time. It’s quite possible. She has come so far. But we can’t rush this. She is where she is with feeding, and to fight that or be at odds with it is ridiculous and helps no one.

We took a walk in the snow tonight to show Stella some of the more dazzling Christmas light displays in our neighborhood, from decked out palm trees to a grand, electricity-hogging envisioning of Santa’s workshop. She was mesmerized.

During our stroll, we came across a sweet, sociable adolescent boy playing alone in the snow. His excited energy was in stark contrast to the tranquility of the dark, quiet, snow-filled streets. He encouraged us to make snow angels, informed us of the week’s weather forecast (more snow on Christmas eve? Awesome!), and told us how much fun he was having. I wanted to kidnap/adopt him. I’m not sure why, but as we went on our way, he wished us, “Good luck!” He had no idea how perfect a farewell that was.

Stella’s four-month shots made her a bit crankier than usual for a day or two. But, in the middle of a diaper change, she had her first bout of real laughter on Saturday and we captured some of it on video. Enjoy!

Stella is four months old.

Love at first sight.

Love at first sight. (Four days old.)

On Wednesday, December 17th, Stella turned four months old.

It’s absolutely stunning to think that she’s only been here for four months. How is it even possible to love a virtual stranger so deeply in so little time? How can your world change so drastically in a matter of mere weeks? How can so much drama, change, growth and wonderfulness unfold in just one third of one year?

Today, we went to Dr. Numrych’s office for her four-month “well child” check-up. Stella continues to amaze. Sure, she’s had some setbacks with eating due to her reflux and dairy intolerance, but developmentally, she’s right on track. She’s supporting her own weight when you stand her up and help her balance. She’s grasping and pulling things to her. She recognizes her parents from across the room (you can tell by the big smile). She babbles and laughs often–her signature sound is what Cody calls “motorboat noises” while I see it as a cross between cooing and purring. Basically, all of this and a few other skills make her one fabulous four-month-old.

Of course, at these check-ups, you get the line-up of baby stats. So here goes. She now weighs 14 pounds and 6 ounces, which puts her in the 75th percentile for chubbiness. She is 24.5 inches long or tall, depending on how you look at it, which places her squarely in the middle at the 50th percentile. Her head circumference of 43 centimeters means that her noggin is in the 90th percentile, which should come as no surprise. Cody and I have giant heads.

Big heads run in the family.

Big heads run in the family. (Two weeks old.)

A couple summers ago, I headed to a nearby bicycle shop on a simple, safety-conscious quest to buy a helmet. To my embarrassment and salesperson’s awkwardness, the largest women’s helmet was way too small. My head looked like an orange with a mushroom cap sitting on top of it, so I had to head to the men’s section. Cody just bought a one-size-fits-all wool cap from our favorite coffee shop, Fuel, and it doesn’t cover his ears, so it’s practically useless in this cold winter weather and just serves to squeeze the top of his head while emphasizing his cheeks. It kind of reminds me of when we put Stella’s Red Sox cap on for the first time–we really had to squeeze it on. In a most adorable fashion, the hat accentuated her chubby cheeks and left an indentation on her forehead. (Later, I stretched it out and it fit just fine, but it took some doing.)

I woke up at midnight, 3am and 6am to feed Stella last night–I did it one extra time because we’d fallen behind yesterday. Each feeding takes 40 minutes to complete. We woke up at 8am. So some quick math should tell you how braindead I am right now. But even in the midst of sleep deprivation delirium I can tell you that despite all the challenges, fear and exhaustion of the past four months,  I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Not even a blissful eight-hour stretch sleep on a magic mattress made of soft, billowy clouds.

Stella celebrates her four month birthday.

Stella celebrates her four month birthday.

This blog is supposed to be about Stella, but I can’t help but reflect on how the past four months have affected me. I’ve become expontentially stronger and a lot more vulnerable at the same time. I’ve cried and laughed more in these four months than in the rest of my 31 years combined. I’m more tired than ever, but also more alive. I’ve lost my mind while becoming more responsible. I’m a different person, but more fully myself. It’s insane. Insanely difficult! Yet it’s truly been the best time of my life. Stella has brought me more joy than I ever could’ve imagined. And we’re just getting started.

The question I keep asking Cody is, “How did we get so lucky?”