There have been so many times during our seven months with Stella when we thought we had everything figured out, only to discover that we were completely wrong.
Back when she was refusing to eat and not gaining much weight, before her two months with the tube, we were, at one point, convinced that the issue was her poor latch. Then it was my low milk supply. We were way off, and it would take us a while to realize that Stella’s latch was indeed okay–she just didn’t want to take in milk and acted accordingly, which led to my low milk supply and not the other way around. Then we were certain that THRUSH explained why she didn’t want to eat. Nope–the doctor took one look and shot that down. Then it was lactose intolerance that was the cause of all our trials and tribulations. Wrong again! Her lab tests pointed in another direction (cow’s milk protein intolerance–whatever that means).
One night last week, Stella woke up AT LEAST a dozen times and screamed her head off upon opening her eyes. She shook her head from side to side. She was furious and clearly in pain. Holding her, bringing her to our bed–all the usual no-fail tactics–did little to nothing to soothe her. She was incredibly fussy with the bottle (our nightmare revisited). But we thought she’d just fought off a bug of some kind, so after some quick online research, the answer seemed obvious: Stella had an ear infection.
The next day, a pediatrician told us with 100% certainty, after peering into Stella’s adorable ears, that there was nothing resembling an ear infection. She also felt around Stella’s tummy, applying pressure in an attempt to find intestinal discomfort. There was none. There was no source of pain that could be identified, except for her second tooth coming in, just to the left of the one, in the front on the bottom, that came in a couple weeks ago. The last time a tooth erupted, sure, there was fussiness around eating but not endless bouts of screaming and almost completely sleepless nights. We were baffled. Again.
And to make matters worse, at her appointment, she weighed in a full two ounces less than the previous day’s doctor’s visit (she’d been acting like a rag doll and was clearly sick, then we thought she fought it off, then she stayed up all night screaming, then we thought she was okay for a day, then she developed a horrendous cough). Which put her one month weight gain at a mere 4 ounces and just about sent me off the edge. With the doctor’s help, we came up with a game plan to get her some additional calories. I’ll be mixing in rice cereal with all her spoon fed meals–though I don’t think she’ll ever take as much rice cereal as they want her to because she simply doesn’t like it. We have all but removed the fruit in her bottles, as it may have a laxative effect (especially the prunes) and take up the space of the more nutritionally important formula. (Though in hindsight, that plan seems futile–a sweet sort of futility made up of good parental intentions. Stella will eat what she wants to eat, when she wants to eat. And there is so incredibly little I can do about it.)
Just when we thought everything was going so well.
But then, earlier this week, she ate 30% more than she is “supposed to.” And now, she’s back to not wanting to eat, because she appears to be teething (she chews on the nipple, doesn’t want to suck, yadda yadda.) I guess that’s just the way babies are. Last week, Cody was feeding Stella, and despite how much I love her (so much that it makes me crazy sometimes), I just wanted to leave. I didn’t want to hear the crying. I didn’t want to worry myself sick. I didn”t want to wrestle with the mystery of “what is wrong now.” I just wanted her to be okay. To be healthy and happy. How can such a simple wish be so heavy?
Well, today I’m in a different place. Cody just fed her. She took about 100, far below her usual. But I don’t feel the need to avoid the situation. I am not as worried. Something has changed. Maybe because for the few days preceding this teething strike, she ate like a champ. She ate like you read about. She ate like eating was hip and she was a hipster. She ate like it was the only thing worth doing. So, if for a few days she doesn’t eat as much, how can I really worry? She is doing what she needs to do. I trust her. She is not the baby that used to scream her head off when she saw the bottle. Nowadays, if she doesn’t want to eat, she chews on the bottle. The bottle is her buddy, not her enemy. Her new tooth isn’t a buddy at the moment, but that’s okay. She is a baby, doing normal baby things. I am a new-ish mom. Experiencing normal new mom things. We are “normal.” (As normal as there is, anyway.) There is no tube. There is no feeding aversion. We are so blessed. And to worry this time in our lives away would be criminal.
Seriously. She is so cute I can’t stand it. I am so mindblowingly lucky. And gratitude now outweighs worry. By far. What a difference a few months make.
With that, I’m dragging Cody and Stella to Molly Moon’s. After all the emotional progress I’ve made, a sundae is in order. Make it snappy. And don’t you dare skimp on the whipped cream.