Wow. We just returned from Boston and I honestly don’t know where to begin. It was Stella’s first plane trip and travel experience. In fact, the ordeal adventure was loaded with firsts–for me and Stella Bella.
1.) Stella crawled–really crawled–for the first time.
This is big. As elated as I am that Stella triumphantly reached this big baby milestone, I am more excited that it will cut down on frustration-induced whining by at least 85%. After pushing herself backwards into corners and under furniture for weeks–wailing the entire time as the object of her mobile intentions got further and further away–she finally figured out how to move forward. If I leave the room, she can now follow me instead of just crying about it. We haven’t done much baby proofing, aside from plugging a few outlets. I’d better get on that before Stella chews on a bottle of tub and tile cleaner.
During our time in Massachusetts, Stella spent a lot of time watching my sister’s dog, Bosley. She clearly loves and adores Bosley, who is more human than canine, known to sit on his butt, upright on the couch as you or I would, with one paw resting on the armrest. I’m pretty sure he asked my dad for the remote one evening. So perhaps Stella was inspired by this noble animal’s ability to get around on all fours. Or perhaps she realized that her mom is far too lazy to bring toys to her and that she better figure out how to get them herself. Either way, the paradigm of our daily life has shifted.
2.) Stella met her first- and second-cousins for the first time.
Stella loves other babies and kids. She watches them with rapt attention, abandoning whatever it was she was doing in order to observe. She’ll place her hand on theirs and stare deeply and unblinkingly into their eyes. When she met her cousins James (5 years old) and Chase (3 weeks old), she was in complete awe of them. Perhaps she felt the familial connection. Or maybe because we made a big deal about their meeting, she picked up on the importance of it all. James would put his face right in front of hers, and within two seconds, she’d smile so big and warm that it had the effect of the sun coming out from behind a dark cloud.
The sight and sounds, at a cook-out hosted by my parents, of Rudy, Marley, Owen and Riley (my cousins’ children) were a feast for her giant eyes and alert ears. We took pictures of them all together, and in every one that I snapped, she is staring at the kids around her, taking mental notes, clearly fascinated by their advanced ways. In my favorite picture, Riley and Owen are smiling at Stella in such a sweet way. (If we hadn’t left our SIM card in my parents’ Wii, I’d post the photo.) I couldn’t help but wish that she could see them all on a regular basis. Stella seems very social, and unfortunately, her social circle is limited to yours truly 95% of the time. We’ve started going to the park almost daily where she exchanges smiles with other babies and kids, and I exchange awkwardness with other moms.
3.) I bared my ass to fellow passengers while changing Stella’s diaper on my lap. (Yes, MY ass.) Another first.
The return trip was FAR more memorable than the flight to Boston. Twenty minutes after take-off, a man–sitting just a couple rows ahead of us–had a heart attack. We watched as several doctors worked frantically to save his life. (A doctors’ conference in Boston meant that our flight was packed with MD’s.) Theyhung an IV from the overhead compartment, performed CPR in the aisle, and even broke out the defibrillator paddles. After an emergency landing in Syracuse, we sat on the ground for two and a half hours. Shortly after take-off, with my legs aching from sitting so long with Stella on my lap, I urgently needed to get up, so I thought I’d change Stella’s diaper while I was at it. We headed to the rear of the plane and entered the only vacant bathroom. It was about the size of me, and I instantly realized that there was no changing table. I had to pee like you read about, so I went ahead and changed Stella’s diaper on my lap while I relieved myself.
About mid-way through the change, someone opened the door. Yep, I’d neglected to lock it. I immediately closed the door (“hello lighting!”) and proceeded with the diaper change as if nothing had happened. Honestly, I don’t recall being alarmed or embarrassed at all. I calmly but quickly grabbed the slider handle and locked the door. The person on the other side, had they actually looked at my face and I hope and assume they didn’t (since the adorable upside-down face of the bare-bottomed baby on my lap was likely an effective distraction from my own face–or ass for that matter), would probably have been rather disturbed at my lack of alarm. But after you give birth without drugs, completely naked and pooping all over the table in a squatting position (deepest apologies for that visual), it takes a lot to phase you. I am fresh out of modesty. The last remnants of it were discarded with the placenta.
4.) For the first time, I truly and genuinely realized that, yes, Stella is still tough to feed. It’s not just me being insane.
It’s nothing like before, but still incredibly inconvenient. I realize that this issue is probably hard for other people, even most other new parents, t0 really understand. Stella doesn’t have a tube anymore. She looks and is happy and healthy. So some may think that Cody and I are overly protective or nutty when we take Stella to a dark quiet room to feed her or say things like, “We can’t go to that event/outing because Stella won’t eat if we do.” I sometimes sense that people are rolling their proverbial eyes and thinking to themselves that I am the problem. Granted, I’m extremely neurotic and defensive about it, my mothering confidence having been all but obliterated by the feeding aversion, though it is slowly being rebuilt like Chicago after the fire. But the trip armed me with examples that prove my point about Stella’s persnickety and impossibly annoying eating behavior.
One morning, Cody was giving Stella a bottle upstairs in the grandkids’ room, at my parents’ house where we stayed. It’s an adorable bedroom outfitted with a cute crib and bunk bed, complete with peace sign sheets. As usual with feedings, the room was dark and Stella was in her luxurious, super-duper-soft sleep sack. All the pieces were in place. They were in the middle of the feeding when my father came upstairs and said, somewhat loudly, from the stairs, “Hey Amber! Corinne wants to know what your schedule is for today.” Stella jerked her head and the feeding was over. As is always the case when a dog barks or a pin drops during a feeding, she would not pick up where she left off and continue. GAME OVER. Yep. It’s that easy to throw off her eating.
Stella completely refused to eat at Auntie Emily’s house. On two occasions, she had gone a good five hours without eating and was overdue for a bottle. We took her into her cousin James’ room, closed the door, pulled the blinds, put her in her sleep sack, sat down and put the bottle to her lips. No dice. Stella’s head was darting around the room, examining the toys and jolting in response to every noise from the living room down the hall.
And I know, you might think, “Big deal! She’d make up for it later.” Not necessarily! Stella never wakes up at night to be fed, even when she’s had very little to eat that day. Sometimes, if she does wake up crying, we’ll hurriedly make a bottle and offer it to her. We are denied every single time. Keeping Stella nourished is work. Not something you can take for granted. It’s tiring and, as we found out, limits your ability to do much of anything–especially while traveling.
A couple days into the trip, in response to her decreased intake resulting from the stress of the trip (happy stress, but stress nonetheless), I almost *lost it*. I woke up and Cody had taken her out with my parents to run some sort of errand. I went from being delighted at the much-needed extra sleep to over-the-top outraged at him for being gone with her at a time when she was supposed to eat and having taken no formula with him. I was beside myself. I actually grabbed my hair and pulled it. I simply didn’t know what to do with my fear and total panic set in. My phone was broken (Stella chewed it to death) so I couldn’t call them. A short while later, Cody walked in with Stella in her car seat. They were both smiling and calm. Stella idly kicked her feet and looked around delightedly. And I felt like the biggest, fattest ass ever. It was the wake-up call that I needed. From then on, I worried a lot less. Which is a good thing, because I don’t have any hair to spare, people.
5.) I bought and received (for my birthday) cute non-maternity clothing for the first time in a year and a half.
As I now type, I’m wearing this adorable T-shirt from Anthropologie, a birthday gift from Cody. It’s the first new, non-gray thing I’ve worn in ages. I also bought this Lilla P Colorblock Dress and a funky gold necklace to go with it, plus a couple other tops (one blue, one coral) and Christopher Blue shorts, in a charming brown/green/blue/pink on white plaid, that fit like a dream. Note that these are all very cheerful pieces. My attitude and the Seattle weather are following suit. And that’s a very good thing.
This new spring/summer wardrobe made the trip even more worthwhile. That and watching my daughter fall in love with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family and clothes are good for the soul. And in Boston, I got my share of both. I’m one lucky *32-year-old* lady.