Our train, still rumbling through New Glassesville, jumped the track a couple days ago. Stella took an impressive spill in one of her signature, glorious full-sprint to flat-out moments. The temples got bent out of whack. I bent them back into approximate place. That marked the beginning of a new wave of resistance. I’d put the glasses on her head, and Stella would immediately and mercilessly tear them off. This went on for about two days. She’d only leave them on while completely distracted–like say, at the playground, on helicopter rides, or watching the fireworks I convinced the city to present nightly over our home. Not really, but the effort to entertain Stella (necessitated by the specs) had been waning when it seemed  she was taking to the glasses. And now I’m kicking things back up a few exhausting notches.

Clearly, it seemed, the glasses needed to be adjusted. But it was Memorial Day weekend, so we couldn’t go in. We had to tough it out, and I almost went insane because they’d be fine at first, and if she left them on for a couple minutes (an act of God) they’d wind up about a half inch off to the right. Finally, Tuesday, wondrous Tuesday, arrived. We went in that morning for the adjustment on her frames.

I found myself showing a distinct lack of trust in the very skilled optician. I just can’t help it. Because didn’t you know? The fate of not only Stella’s eyesight but THE WORLD rests in my hands. Apparently. if I’m not 100% on top of everything, this increasingly oily ball of life we call Earth is going to burst into flames (easier now, with the oil spill and all) and it’s all over.

Seriously. I spent a good five minutes explaining what had happened and what was off about the glasses. As if she didn’t know anything. She did initially ask, “What’s going on?” But I really took that ball and ran with it–just like Forest Gump. I just kept going, across the goal line, out of the stadium and across the nation, only I didn’t make friends along the way and inspire people to pursue greatness, I instilled new worries and pointed out everyone’s flaws.

So, probably because I kept insisting that the glasses were seriously “off” (she didn’t really see it) and not staying in place, she tightened them up a bit. Which created a whole new problem. They looked perfectly straight, but Stella’s refusal to wear the glasses reached new heights.  It got worse and worse and I got more panicky and angry with each passing hour. Then, driving home after running errands (which actually do a decent job of distracting Stella from her glasses), I looked back to see that Stella had removed her troublesome specs. Holding the temples in her white-knuckled fists, with an expression of sheer rage on her face, she stretched the glasses–temples and all–into one straight, flat line. They were no longer glasses. They became a bookmark. I was driving and there was nothing I could do about it except unleash a nervous, faux-calm, sometimes faux-perky, sometimes serious and admonishing, nonsensical string of, “No! Gentle! Glasses! Uh… uh… hey Stella! Look at the truck! No! Stella, gentle! Glasses! Gentle glasses!” Finally I just said, to myself because I never ever swear in front of Stella (usually sort of–I’m really trying!), “Ah screw it,” and she kept those glasses in that horrifying horizontal position until we got home a few minutes later.

Imagine my surprise when, not only did they spring back into place, but they seemed to fit better. She has been wearing them with much more acceptance today. What? Yes. Stella, in a fit of anger, managed to execute a perfect adjustment to her own glasses. And I didn’t even have to fill her in on what the several, nuanced issues were. Now she just needs to get a job at the optician’s office so we can pay for her stylish and amazingly resilient Parisian specs.

What the crap.

Skyping with Stella's grandparents always cheers us up.

Skyping with grandparents cheers us up.

So, we’re dealing with what shall be known as “The Great Glasses Adjustment of 2010” (also referred to as “Operation Straight Eyes”) when at some point last night, Stella developed a cold, and some jerk broke into my humble tan sedan. Probably at the same time. I somehow left my now stolen iPhone (which I got for $99, refurbished, so don’t get the wrong idea about my spending habits) on the seat after a late-night grocery run to fetch staples for Stella and dinner ingredients for tonight. And I know what you’re thinking, but no. I don’t resent the fact that the fancy Volvo station wagon parked in front of my dented Ford Focus was left untouched.

We quickly replaced the smashed window, the remnants of which Cody spent the morning cleaning up, rather than working out as planned. He cut his hand, but not too bad. Between optical expenses, ER bills, theft, and broken windows, we are hemorrhaging money. I think I just saw a fat-ass fly ride a twenty dollar bill out the window like it was a magic carpet. Because money is just getting more and more creative about how to get the hell out of here.

Stella’s hypoallergenic formula, a.k.a. gastronomical gold dust, wasn’t covered by insurance after she was weaned from the tube, so for about eight months, we spent $1000 on Elecare every thirty days. Our household ran at a deficit–we haven’t had credit card debt for a long time and didn’t accumulate any, but our savings withered. There were also many, many tube-related ER trips and a hospital stay during that time. Over-the-top expensive, but to be honest we didn’t think much about it, because of the urgency of Stella’s healthcare needs back then. Cost didn’t really matter, because we had our savings to fall back on and because we just wanted her to eat, no matter what it took, and before too long, she did! Well, very recently, we’d finally caught up were able to send a chunk of change to our neglected nest egg. Now we’re taking a step backwards, further away from our financial goals. But that’s life. We’ll bounce back. I’ll get some project work. Come hell or high interest rates, we’ll own a home soon, and we’ll appreciate every nail in every floorboard, every drawer that opens and closes smoothly without creating sawdust, every annoying, costly repair that at least reinforces the home we own.

Do you believe in The Secret? I used to be pretty pumped up by it. Now I’m totally embarrassed about that. The Secret, at least in the form this concept took in the movie, creates the illusion of complete control over life and wealth and circumstances. Yes, that ever-elusive sense of control. Which is probably why I loved it so much at first. Not that there’s no truth contained therein. I do think that our attitude and beliefs to shape our world in powerful ways. But it’s not that simple. Some things really are beyond our control. We can’t avoid all disaster or disappointment or difficulty just by looking in the mirror and telling ourselves how wonderful and perfect our lives, bank accounts, and vision are. But we can choose how to respond, and make the best of it. What an old-fashioned idea.

I’ll buy a new phone, move on, and take care not to leave it or anything else of value in the car. Besides, the joke’s on them! Those stupid thieves didn’t realize Stella’s car seat was worth about three times as much as the iPhone. Though, it’s probably not quite as easy to tote around while lurking in an evil fashion along the streets looking for more shit to steal from stressed out, absentminded moms.

Here’s an attempt at a point. Why am I so quick to blame myself for everything? I don’t think that way about other people. Obviously, Stella didn’t do anything to deserve or “attract” a feeding tube or accommodative esotropia. And all those kids starving in Africa, and those hungry here in this wildly unbalanced country of ours? You think their bellies are grumbling because they don’t know The Secret? Right. I bring this up because part of me does wonder how I could’ve brought all this upon us. (Possible answers: My negative attitude. My dissatisfaction with our rented home and distance from family. My impatience.) But there’s another voice that is out of breath from jumping up and down while yelling loud enough to be heard: “It could be a lot worse, you idiot!” See? Even this voice is self-deprecating. It continues, “You are still very lucky! Remember all the things and people that are right and beautiful and decidedly not stolen!”

And hey, you know what? There’s this. Stella did a pretty fantastic job wearing her glasses today. At some point, she sat on the big chair by the window and counted to ten while smiling. And I got a free triple latte from Fuel today–they said the machine was acting up, but I think the barista knew I needed a boost. It’s a start. I’m grateful for that and a whole lot more.

Put me back together.


"Stella! No, use two hands! Gentle! Ah, crap. Just hand them to me."

Cody, Stella and I were all over at Cooper’s house the other day while his parents enjoyed a date night, an event that Cooper (Stella’s best bud and play-date companion)  refers to as an “update,” which really makes sense if you think about two parents going out and spending time together away from their one-year-old. Music is almost always playing while Stella and Co0per are together, because they love to dance (which looks a look like jogging–actually, sprinting–in place) during play dates and within five minutes of arrival one or the other starts in with, “Music? Musiiiiiiiic?” So, we’re intermittently bopping to the music and sending miniature skateboards down ramps when this irresistibly sweet, poppier-than-pop song by Meaghan Smith comes on. The chorus innocently asks, “What’s the use in fixing what’ll only break again?”  And good lord did it hit the proverbial nail on the head. Pesky tears invaded my eyes and a boulder lodged in my throat and I just danced toward the corner until it passed.

As you now know, Stella got her glasses on Friday. We were in the optical shop for an adjustment today, Monday. Already. At first, on Friday morning, I thought she was taking to them amazingly well. She wore them for a long stretch on the playground, briefly removed them and asked me to put them back on while in the car, and she wore them all through lunch. But now I’m realizing that her initial interest can be chalked up to sheer novelty. The more she realizes they’re sticking around, the less wants to do with them. Usually, she’ll wear them for two to five minutes before ripping them off with one hand, stretching the frames in a way that looks like nails on a chalkboard sound. It’s excruciating to see her twist and throw them. But it’s not just that. It’s tough because it’s such a battle, actually more of a war with many, many battles taking place and well-thought out strategies and tactics required for victory. It’s stressful and exhausting to see her tear them off, and then my brain starts whizzing, as in, “Okay, how long can I give her before I put them back on? How long before her eyes are in danger of crossing? What will I distract her with this time–a book? No, we’ve gone though all her favorites already. Stickers! I’ll try the stickers.  What if she doesn’t let me put them on–for the fourth time in a row during these last few minutes? Should I put them in the case for a while or is that like giving up? Wait–have I eaten yet today? When does Stella need to eat? Maybe she’ll wear them if I give her some chocolate chip.” Cue the screaming.

Like a well-programmed mombot with super human strength and endurance (but not really), I automatically bend over backwards to repair a fragile something that is forever poised to break. The glasses. But also something in me (and maybe Stella, too?). When Stella got over her feeding aversion, no longer required a feeding tube and learned to enjoy eating, I thought we were clear. We were going to be okay from then on. But it wasn’t true. That’s impossible, and every parent on earth faces the same perilous reality. There’s always another challenge, frustration, or heartbreak around the corner. Thank god they’re so damn cute and resilient. And for every soul-searing ER visit and agonizingly difficult hurdle that you somehow muster the strength to clear, there’s–oh, where to begin–thousands of laughs that lift you up so, so high, dozens and dozens of triumphs that affirm you, your child, and life itself, and about seven hundred smiley, silly dances. Not a bad bargain at all, even if the song makes me cry.

She’s worth it a million times over.

Baby got glasses.

I’m thrilled and proud to reveal Stella’s new look. Below you’ll find a selection of the bazillion photos I’ve taken since Friday morning, when we picked up Stella’s glasses. I love her beautiful frames, the TamTam by Lafont in Blue (color code 220), and Stella could not look more adorable in them. I’ve ordered a second pair with Trivex aspheric lenses to reduce the magnification of Stella’s eyes while providing her with a clearer view of the world (without sacrificing impact resistance), and to make sure she can still wear her glasses if one pair breaks or gets too bent out of shape to wear. Which already happened this morning. Ahem.

Really, though, Stella’s done fabulously. Her resistance is to be expected. Her vision is pretty great without them, so there’s no huge incentive for her to wear them. We know it will prevent her eyes from crossing and prevent vision problems associated with crossing, but she doesn’t. How could she? I’ve been worried about getting her to wear them–it’s tough.  I’m stressed when she rips them off and pretty much in general as we both adjust, but there have been many wonderful moments, too. On Friday, she wore them on the playground for a good while and had no trouble with balance or depth perception. (The optician said she might struggle with stairs or running on uneven surfaces. I’ve seen a little evidence of that, but it’s not too bad at this point.) Then she took them off on the way from the playground to the car, but once planted in her car seat she asked me to put them back on! On Saturday, she wore them for a glorious hour-and-a-half stretch, which included a car ride, even though kids with new glasses usually rip them off in the car, or whenever they get bored. On Sunday, she put two small pieces in a puzzle–she’s never really done that before, always seeming to have little to no patience with those sorts of precise tasks.

From what I understand of other parents’ accounts, shared on, it’ll probably take two weeks for Stella to get used to wearing them without constantly removing them. Three days down, 11 to go!

You’re doing great, Stella. I’m very, very proud to be your mom. I don’t even mind wearing these CRAZY vanity frames, though I wish my specs were as cool as yours. You really could not be more beautiful.

Day 1



A new view of lunch.

A new view of lunch.



Newfound clarity, same ol' mac and cheese

Newfound clarity, same ol' mac and cheese



She even got to watch TV. Your Baby Can READ! DVDs are the ultimate distraction.

She even got to watch TV. Your Baby Can READ! DVDs are the ultimate distraction.



I wonder how her view of the playground has changed. In any case, she's still focused on fun. (Sorry. I'm hopeless.)

I wonder how her view of the playground has changed. In any case, she's still focused on fun. (Sorry. I'm hopeless.)



And the treats don't stop. Celebratory ice cream.

And the treats don't stop. Celebratory ice cream... at Molly Moon's, of course.



An impromptu, post-ice cream Sears-catalog-style photo shoot in front of the grocery store.

An impromptu, post-ice cream Sears-catalog-style photo shoot in front of the grocery store.


Day 2



New glasses distraction purchase #547: "Kat Kong"

New glasses distraction purchase #547: "Kat Kong"






Day 3



All she wants to do is read! Even on the bus!

All she wants to do is read! Even on the bus!





Sorry to interrupt your reading, Professor Sweetness.

Sorry to interrupt your reading, Professor Sweetness.


Talking about PRACTICE.

Stella’s glasses are in. Arrived at Children’s Eye Care this morning. After her nap, currently failing to happen right now as evidenced by pained wailing, we’re schlepping back to the optical shop to fetch them.

Reading is even better with practice glasses! Imagine how amazing it will be with REAL glasses and lenses! Thanks to the photographer: Cooper's mom. A lovely lady, dear friend, and playdate savior.

Reading is even better with practice glasses! Imagine how amazing it will be with REAL glasses and lenses! Thanks to the photographer: Cooper's mom. A lovely lady, dear friend, and playdate savior.

During this morning’s playdate, she spent a couple of hours with her best buddy Cooper and his wonderful mom while I went out to track down some vanity frames. While I was scoring some white-framed, clear-lensed monstrosities at Forever 21 and a pair of sweet, sleek Ray-Bans at Macy’s (the former to wear indoors and the latter, much-needed ones to wear out), it turns out she was practicing–with Kevin-Garnett-esque focus.

Trial run with glasses

A trial run with vanity frames. Cooper's lens-free sunglasses tap into Stella's sporty, intense side while my white funksters really bring out the yellow in my dead front tooth. Our glasses motto is clearly "Go big or go home." No boring frames for us. Wait until you see her REAL glasses! From Paris with love!

My dear friend was thoughtful enough to bring makeshift toddler vanity glasses–little sunglasses without the lenses–for Stella and her little buddy to wear. You know, just for fun! What? No! Not for any grander purpose like acclimating her in preparation for a possible lifelong relationship with spectacles! Ha! <Nervous, maniacal laughter.> Ahem. Her sweet, easygoing son is quite good about wearing them and today was no exception. After he sported them for a while, Stella started to come around. She proceeded to put them on and destroy her previous three-second personal record for donning frames.

(Aaaaaaand she’s still not napping. Our momentous trek will likely be postponed until tomorrow morning. I don’t want Stella to be extremely cranky as they do the very important adjustment, to fit the glasses to her head.)

Of course, in truth, there is no grand finale expected when she gets her fabulous specs. Sure, we’ve done a lot of preparation leading up to today, which I realize has been as much for me as for Stella. We visited five different optical shops, an optician, and an ophthalmologist. Made dozens of stops at, a site full of tips, community and encouragement for parents of babies and kids with glasses. We’ve read heartening stories about lovable characters getting glasses and discovering new clarity and skills (for example, Arthur’s shooting percentage goes way the hell up in the timeless, spec-centric classic, Arthur’s Eyes). I bought her the cutest onesie ever (which I first spied on a bespectacled cutie in the gallery at, featuring a phat frog wearing glasses, which she loves. We’ve worn vanity frames (and I’ll continue to do so). Mimi (that’s my mom’s “grandmother moniker”) ordered Stella a doll with glasses. And at every possible opportunity, as in whenever we see anyone wearing glasses anywhere, we excitedly point it out to Stella in an effort to convince her that glasses are super fun and, to use 80’s lingo, awesome to the max. That’s all well and good and we can rest a bit easier knowing we did some groundwork. But I’m aware that it’s probably going to take some time–possibly weeks–for Stella to be comfortable enough to wear them consistently and reliably throughout the day without throwing fits of rage. I’ve got to be persistent, because not wearing them is really not an option, but I will have to learn when a break is really needed, in order to prevent all-out war. Bottom line: I don’t expect her to cooperate right away, because this will probably just seem like an nonsensical, offensive nuisance to her at first–and really, that’s okay.

But then again, you never know. When my sister was pregnant with her second child, they waited until she was “showing” to tell her then almost-5-year-old son James, the unsinkable kid who named his goldfish “Awesome,” that he’d soon be a big brother. People couldn’t resist asking him, casually and out of curiosity, “So James, ever think it would be nice to have a little brother?” He’d reply with a calm, cold and sure “No.” Well, all kinds of people kept posing this question until finally he exploded, shouting, “NO! Why does everybody keep asking me? I don’t want a brother! Now stop asking me!” Later, when they filled him in on his brotherly destiny, he was 100% thrilled with the “awesome” news.

So, I’m not sure what kind of glasses battles are in store. It’s probably going to be tough as HELL, but maybe Stella will surprise me. Like when she casually eats the broccoli out of our take-out pad see ew. I guess we’ll see, won’t we? All will become clear soon. Yes, everything will come into sharper focus shortly. I just have to keep the end goal in sight.

Assuming I can get a picture of her wearing them, I’ll post a photo of bespectacled Stella tomorrow. No more puns, I promise. Godspeed.

(P.S. I just realized that I’m still wearing my three-dollar white vanity frames. Almost two hours after putting Stella down for her nap. Talk about commitment to a bit!)

Strabismus confirmed. Glasses ordered.

Didn't you know? Cool characters wear glasses.

Didn't you know? Cool characters wear glasses. And have yogurt on their faces.

On Thursday afternoon, Stella’s eyes started rolling in again. All our questions evaporated. She has emerging accommodative esotropia. She really needs glasses. And that’s that.

So on Friday morning, we skipped Gymboree and went to find specs for Stella. She tried on three pairs.

Go ahead and judge me–I’ve watched “Say Yes to the Dress” once or twice. And our trip to the optical shop, in the Children’s Eye Care office in Kirkland, was a lot like that show. Except instead of catty commentary in the air and mimosas in our hands, there was extremely enthusiastic, high-pitched encouragement and a light-up spinning ball wand (which, somehow, is almost as intoxicating as OJ and bubbly).

The first and second pairs were total disappointments. Which in hindsight was perfect. Great for building suspense (and ratings). And then, as if scripted, we found the ones. They are French and fabulous. They are blue (also clear, white, purple and green) and if I described them in any detail, they would just sound crazy and over-the-top. But they are not. They work. Tim Gunn would most definitely approve–in fact, I bet he’d be super jealous. I am. As soon as the optician put those beauties on Stella’s face, she and I both knew. We just knew. We didn’t cry tears of joy, but we should have. Because audiences eat that up.

Her Parisian pair will be ready on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, barring any issues. You will want to wear glasses if you don’t. You may even view Stella as a budding fashion icon.* Stay tuned for the big reveal!

* All of this is assuming I’m able to get the glasses on her face for more than three seconds (the current record during try-ons).

Eye on Stella: Strabismus Watch 2010 Continues

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul and that the face is the soul of the body. Crap, now I'm confused. Anyway, if Stella gets glasses, they will just magnify the power of her soul, highlight her beautiful eyes, and possibly, shoot lasers to fend off bullies.

I’ve been hearing that many are concerned about Stella and wondering what’s up with her big blue eyes. To be honest, I keep sitting down to write about it, only to bail out and head directly to gossip blogs or pediatric eye health websites. The latter are now just as addictive as the former–but thankfully they don’t erode your soul. There are just too many details to convey! Too many questions! Too many nuances! Nuances can be real nuisances, you know.

Several weeks have passed since Stella’s ER visit during which doctors witnessed her eyes crossing and ruled out scary causes via a head CT scan. They stamped the nebulous “convergence spasms” n0n-diagnosis in our brains and promised they’d go above and beyond to help us to get in to see the head of ophthalmology at Children’s, Dr. Weiss, as soon as possible. As I fully expected, this never happened. They arranged for us to see another ophthalmologist, at a clinic that’s further away, after a two-and-a-half-week wait. All appointments are double- and triple-booked, so Stella is clearly not alone.

During our appointment, the ophthalmologist-who-is-not-Weiss and some other person, whose name and role I should certainly have noted, did a very thorough exam of Stella’s eyes. They dilated her eyes, with drops that nearly caused Stella’s eyeballs to unhelpfully shoot right out of her head due to sheer force of rage. They directed Stella’s gaze through lenses, at animatronic stuffed puppies and stickers, and on flicking, fast-moving fingers. They peered into her eyes through goggles that seemed to meld “space-age mind-reading device” with “old-timey miner helmet.”

Then, in very matter-of-fact fashion, the ophthalmologist told us that Stella is farsighted, and that they “think” she has accommodative esotropia, a type of strabismus (yep, I called it, and the ER can suck it). The doctor wrote a relatively strong prescription for glasses. This was big news in a way, but we took it well, considering the many worse scenarios we’d been ruminating.

Backing up. All toddlers are farsighted. They naturally outgrow it as their eyes get bigger and their vision develops. (By the way: Farsighted eyes are short eyes. Nearsighted eyes are long. Now you know.) Stella’s farsightedness is slightly above average for her age. Stella’s left eye is a bit more farsighted than her right, but the difference is not enough for concern. If her eyes never crossed, we were told, glasses wouldn’t be a consideration. The whole point of the glasses, we’re told, is to decrease strain in order to prevent her eyes from crossing. Because if Stella’s eyes start to cross more and more, her vision will suffer. Her brain, in an attempt to see clearly with two eyes that don’t cooperate with one another, would likely shut off one of her eyes (a condition called ambylopia). This would cause problems with depth perception and peripheral vision, among other potential worries. (Update: She totally wound up with amblyopia. Check it.)

Above all else, of course, we want to prevent problems with Stella’s vision–she gets frustrated enough already, trust me! Glasses are certainly nothing to cry about (though I have). But they will greatly impact her vision, for better or even possibly for worse. At this point, Stella rarely crosses her eyes. The last time I saw it, a couple weeks ago, it happened for about two seconds while she stared off into space–her right eye drifted in a bit, but snapped right back into place when I said, “Stella! Over here!” With accommodative esotropia, the crossing is expected to happen when looking at things up close. I think it’s possible or even likely that she has accommodative esotropia and needs glasses, but when I consult my gut, it doesn’t quite add up. I need a little more convincing before we move ahead with glasses. Yes, Stella’s doctors probably view me as a giant hemorrhoid. I am a second-guessing, question-asking pain in the ass that erupts at inconvenient times and makes it hard to sit down and relax. And proud of it. Pass the Preparation H.

I found a developmental optometrist via, and Stella and I ventured downtown for a second opinion. We only went to one wrong building and I only placed one out-of-breath phone call before we arrived seven minutes late at the correct destination–not bad! As suggested, Cody arranged for Children’s to send over the charts and notes from her previous exam. The optometrist reviewed them and conducted her own, less intensive exam with Stella, to see for herself how Stella’s eyes behaved.

Turns out that doctor number 2, after warning me that she has a “very different philosophy” from that of Children’s, strongly recommends holding off on glasses, and coming back to check Stella’s eyes in two months. A “wait and see” approach. (How’d that pun get in there?) Her opinion is that a strong glasses prescription is too aggressive at this point, because Stella’s eyes cross so rarely. She couldn’t get Stella’s eyes to cross during the exam–though she thought she may’ve seen one of them drift in very, very briefly at the end, while I got our stuff together and a tired Stella stared into space. During the previous exam, they put things right in front of Stella’s eye, moving to the center of her face and flicking quickly back out to the side. Again, far more aggressive. So, in the previous exam, Stella’s eyes did cross, but as I found out from doctor number two’s reading of the notes, only small number of times despite the intensive effort to get them to cross.

Here’s the thing that keeps me up at night. There is evidence that early intervention with strabismus reduces the risk of vision loss and other problems. Other studies inform me that glasses can inhibit the natural decrease in farsightedness that occurs at Stella’s age. We have a doctor on either side, for and against glasses. We also have solid research on either side, for and against glasses. I don’t know what Stella needs, and that isn’t a good feeling.

In a foll0w-up call with the ophthalmologist at Children’s, the one who prescribed glasses, I asked a lot of questions. During this chat, she tossed in, casually as an aside, “Stella has great vision in both eyes.” And that’s when confusion overload caused my own eyes to roll in and then drop out of my head. Turns out Stella’s visual acuity (acuteness or clearness of vision) is above average for her age. And she can track objects with her eyes very well. She, like most toddlers, has incredible focusing power. Stella can bring images into focus that adults with similar farsightedness just couldn’t sharpen. At the end of our talk, this doctor did reluctantly suggest that we could hold off on glasses but that she believes Stella’s eyes will start crossing more and more in the months ahead. (Update: This doctor was spot-on. I feel silly for delaying glasses at all. But you know what they say about hindsight: It’s a manipulative bitch!)

The consensus is that a short period of waiting is l0w-risk. Stella has great balance and her gross motor skills have always been ahead of schedule, she knows all the letters of the alphabet and numbers up to ten, and loves to read with us and page through books on her own. These are all reassuring signs that even if there is an issue requiring glasses, her vision is not hindering her at this point. On the other hand, Stella rubs her eyes a lot, and sometimes I wonder if the rubbing is really also “covering,” a behavior consistent with accommodative esotropia in which she is blocking one eye in order to help focus. She also stares into space quite often–but don’t most one-year-olds do that, especially when tired? It’s all so unclear (another pun?), so I find myself staring into her eyes all the time, looking for answers. Sometimes I think I see her eyes misaligned for a fraction of a second, but I’m never sure.

The optometrist told me that Stella is too young for vision therapy (eye exercises to correct vision problems), but that I should get Stella outside as much as possible, encourage her to crawl, and do “eye tracking” activities like rolling a ball back and forth. We’re going to get one of those collapsible fabric tunnels to get the crawling underway, and we’re spending even more time at the playground than before. I suspect it won’t make a huge difference, but you never know. And it’s something that, to some extent, I can control. Which is about as refreshing as a mimosa to my dehydrated, brunch-loving soul.

During that crazy ER trip when Stella was sick and her eyes were crossing severely–sometimes both at once, which is not really consistent with an early diagnosis of accommodative esotropia–I started blaming myself for this problem. Have I not made enough eye contact with her? Is it because she wasn’t fed in a “normal” fashion (bottle or breast) for some time as a baby, so her eyes didn’t get to “take turns” focusing during feedings? Is it because, despite our best intentions, we let her look at screens too much? Stella only crawled for two months–should I have encouraged her to crawl longer? Does she look at books too much at her young age?

During a session of my masochistic wondering, Cody made a remark that hit the spot. Among other possible sources for blame, and this is pretty ridiculous, I’d asked if we encouraged reading too much, if we rewarded that activity more than others without realizing it, because she sits in our lap to read. Cody pointed out that much of the time, she’s looking at books on her own. She’s always preferred books to other toys. She just loves books. He said, “That’s just who she is.”

He’s right. To the full extent possible, she calls her own shots. She has her own interests and preferences and personality that have little to do with me. I’m not, in fact, her. I’m her mom, and even at this early age, I only have so much influence over her. Stella is Stella. She’s an active little girl who walked at ten months. She loves to read, and cherishes her books above all other objects (except maybe Pup Pup). She couldn’t tolerate my milk but thrived on hypoallergenic formula while courageously overcoming a feeding aversion and moving on to develop a passion for cheese. She loves to do whatever we do, and that includes watching basketball when Daddy tunes in to a game and looking at pictures of herself on the computer and my iPhone at times. This eye issue, whatever it is and however it’s treated, is not so much a “problem” but just part of who Stella is. It’s not anyone’s fault. It just “is.” It’s something that needs to be addressed, yes. Something to lament or torment myself over? No.

After the initial diagnosis, I took Stella to several offices and shops to try on glasses. She hated it. I think the longest she tolerated wearing a pair was about four seconds, and that was with a very pained and confused expression on her face, and it required that I keep her fingers occupied–with a salted caramel cupcake. Yep, I really did resort to that. But since then, we’ve collected about six books featuring characters with glasses or getting glasses or finding amazing glasses. By the way, Stella and I absolutely love GOGGLES! by Ezra Jack Keats. As a result, her enthsiasm for glasses is growing, and it could come in handy. It would be great if Stella didn’t need glasses, to save us all extra hassle and to avoid inevitable battles over her having to wear them. But if after a third opinion (I’m working on that) and a few weeks of watching and waiting, Stella does need specs, we’ll figure it out. She’ll come around. She always does. My goal is to be ever positive, and as resilient as Stella.