It’s not an emergency. Nothing is really “wrong.” But we’re about to head back to our old stomping ground: Seattle Children’s Hospital. We’re going there to see Robin, Stella’s occupational therapist. Stella isn’t warming up to solids the way all the charts and books say she “should” by now, at the ripe old age of nine months, so we’re looking for some reassurance and perhaps a few tips on how and when to best offer food to Stella–without getting pushy. As we learned with the bottle, pushing only makes her want to eat less.
This morning, a vision from the past won’t leave my brain. I’m not sure why. It brings me back to our first appointment with Robin, before Stella got her tube and back when my entire day was consumed with the struggle to feed Stella. That morning, Robin filled me with hope. She watched Stella scream at the prospect of eating, she watched us spend a half an hour battling with Stella to get her to take three ounces. And then she said, “I’m going to see you through this,” and I suddenly felt a lot less helpless. But that’s not the moment that’s been on my mind.
I remember departing the room where we’d met with Robin, and walking down the hall toward the waiting room with Robin at our side. Coming toward us at a brisk pace was Robin’s next appointment, a new mother accompanied by her own mother and arduously lugging her baby, left hand gripping the handle of the car seat. She walked with her entire body at an angle, as a counterbalance to the weight of the baby and her seat. She swung the seat forward a bit with each step, lurching along. The baby was peaceful but alert, with an NG tube taped to her right cheek. That terrified me at the time–I didn’t want Stella to wind up with a tube. But it was the mom who got me. There was such determination in her face and in her stride. She was clearly focused on the task at hand, eager to learn more about how to help her baby. Eyes locked on her destination. Moving awkwardly, but forward. I’ll never forget that mom.
We’re off. I’ll let you know what happens.