Days 12 and 13: A big meltdown. A bigger milestone.

I am an incredibly emotional and sensitive person. After reflecting on this and how it relates to my new role, I said to my own mom, while she was here to offer desperately needed support for almost three weeks when Stella’s tube was put in, “Motherhood will either break me, or make me incredibly strong.” But as any mother knows, breaking is not an option. There is only one choice: strength. And I am slowly but surely building it, though the journey has been a wild one so far.

This weekend, I let worry get the best of me a few times. I wasn’t so strong. After Friday’s appointment, I felt angry. I got down on myself and my ability to get Stella through these eating challenges, and I even updated Cody’s facebook profile status with an insult toward myself–a childish bit of dark humor that got him into some trouble.

I’ve said it to you already but I want to say it here as well. I am sorry about that, Cody. In general, you’ve been incredibly tolerant of an unbelievable amount of emotional upheaval from yours truly, and I really do appreciate it. You’ve been a wonderful source of confidence and support for Stella, as well. When I falter, you step up. And vice versa, though that happens a lot less often because you are the more stable one!

Anyway, we had a big night out on Saturday evening. Our friend Barb, who is awesomeness personified, watched Stella and it went very well. Stella didn’t eat much while we were gone, but Robin, Stella’s occupational therapist, put this in perspective for me. She explained that when babies’ schedules are disrupted,  they regress in some way. It’s absolutely normal baby behavior. Eating happens to be Stella’s most immature skill, so it’s most likely to fall apart in times of upheaval. Besides, Stella downed 200 mls after we got home and went to bed with a fully belly.

Stella had a remarkable day today. She was even more happy than usual! She is now JUMPING in her bouncer/activity center thingee, and her associated delight is infectious! She is rolling from her belly to her back with increased frequency and ease–back-to-belly rolling having been much easier for her for some reason. And (drumroll please)… as of 9pm, she has taken 780 mls from the bottle today! Let me explain the HUGENESS of this number. It is roughly the amount she took in her per day when she had the tube. Only this time, the tube didn’t give her half of that total. She did it all by herself.

I’ve explained this before but it bears mentioning again. When I was pregnant and hadn’t felt her kick in what seemed like a long while, I would start to worry. Eventually that worry got pushy, and needed an outlet, and so I would tell Cody about my concern. And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, Stella would do backflips, cartwheels and perform full routines from Broadway musicals, letting me know that not only was she just fine, but that she had learned a few new dance moves. When the tube was in and we were waiting for her bottle intake to rise so that we wouldn’t need to use the tube, she’d have days where things looked a bit bleak. Cody and I would talk about how worried we were, and not long after, Stella would polish off a whole bottle and we would be completely renewed. And today, just when I’d let worry take over again, she did it. She took 780 mls from the bottle.

Once again, she is telling me that she is okay. She is telling me to have faith in her. She’s telling me that she can do this. She’s telling me, in no uncertain terms, that my worry is misplaced.

Stella, I am listening. You teach and amaze me each and every day. You give me strength. I can’t wait to one day tell you the long, winding story of how, as a little baby, you overcame obstacles and showed everyone that you thrive in the face of challenges. And I’ll eagerly tell you the best part–that you did it all with a big, beaming smile.

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