Friday, December 12, 2008

5 Months Old

Stella is so interactive now. She knows my voice, Michael's and Sebastian's. Usually when someone talks to her she reacts by smiling, waving her arms and kicking her legs. When she is listening intently, she cocks her head to one side, opens her eyelids really wide, and holds perfectly still. It's so cute! When I pick her up she often reaches out to touch my face and she loves to put one hand on my mouth when I talk. Sometimes she grabs my lips. I think she is a pretty social person. She still does well when new people hold her, although I'm noticing that she enjoys spending a lot of time on her back playing with toys or chewing on her fingers. She is definitely teething already!

Stella has great head control, and does fairly well on her tummy now too. She holds her head up for a long time and will reach for toys in front of her. She has grabbing and batting down, so the next gross motor skill we are looking for is banging. Also we are trying to motivate her to roll. She enjoys it when I roll her around during play, she just doesn't seem to have any desire to do it on her own. Some of Stella's favorite toys are a stuffed lamb that jingles, a peek-a-boo piano that makes noise when she kicks it, and her taggies blanket that is easy to chew on.

Trips to her ocularist are difficult for me, as it seems very uncomfortable for her and I have a hard time listening to her cries. It is getting easier though, and she calms down quickly when June is done. Her sockets are expanding quickly, although her left socket is a bit behind the right socket. Every time we go June moves the conformer from Stella's right eye to her left eye and puts a new one in the right eye. I think the difference in a few months in remarkable and very noticable.

Stella currently takes 3 long naps per day - morning, afternoon and evening. Then she stays up until 1:00-1:30, but sleeps until around 9am, so I think it's a decent trade off. I often read with her in bed with me at night, and sometimes doze on and off until she falls asleep. Usually she takes a pacifier to fall asleep, but sometimes she just quiets down from playing and drifts off.

Sebastian has been signing Christmas Carols to Stella, and she seems to enjoy it. Stella's first Christmas - should be fun!

Friday, December 5, 2008

5 month well visit

We went to the pediatrician yesterday for Stella's well visit, and she was weighed and measured for the first time in 3 months. She is currently 14 pounds 2 ounces (25th percentile) and 24 inches long (10th percentile). As time passes she is getting smaller and smaller for her age. Hopefully this just means she is going to be petite (like many women in my family) and isn't a sign that something else is wrong. I'm choosing to think positively.

I actually like that she's so tiny. I just love little babies, so as long as she's healthy and thriving, I am fine with her staying little! It's much easier on my back and she still fits so nicely in my sling. It's just so odd for me because Sebastian was always so huge. When he was 6 weeks old he was bigger than she is now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Stella laughed for the first time today - three deep hearty chuckles while I was changing her. For weeks she has smiled when something brushes her cheeks. Today that turned into laughter as I pulled clothes over her head. How darling. There are few sounds better than a baby's laughter.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Four Months Old

Stella is still a very easy and happy baby. She is addicted to her pacifier and usually falls asleep while sucking on it. She smiles a lot, babbles, and reaches for and grabs objects. We usually put things on her tummy and she finds them and brings them to her mouth. She loves to have her cheeks stroked and smiles from the touch.

On October 20th, she met with Marla, her TVI (teacher of the visually impaired), for the first time. She was very impressed with how strong Stella was. The main thing we need to work on at this point is tummy time, which will strengthen Stella's muscles in preparation for rolling and crawling, just like any other baby. Getting blind babies moving is especially important though, because we don't want them to learn to become content staying in one place - she needs to explore her environment. So far though, Stella seems to be very curious and eager to interact with her environment.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pretty Eyes

Stella got new conformers today - not quite painted prosthetic eyes, but a much better step in that direction! They are white conformers with a circle of color in the middle of them - a quick and easy version of painted eyes. I love them. Who would have thought I would ever be so happy about fake eyes, LOL. She has one blue and one brown, but I'll take it! Much, much better than the conformers she had before. 
Stella does open her eye lids all the way when she is wide awake and alert, but it was hard to get a good picture. This is the best I could do. The conformers move around sometimes, like Stella actually has eyes that move. It's odd, but it's nice too, because she is much easier to look at now, and there is a decent illusion that she is looking back. It's nice to know that her lids and muscles work well at least.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Check out Stella! She was such a sweet, cuddly black kitty. We took her to a party, where she slept through just about everything and was happy being passed from person to person.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Stella wears conformers which get changed every 1-2 weeks at this point. The purpose is to stretch the soft tissue and stimulate her sockets to grow. She was born with very small fissures (basically the eye lid opening) and we are hoping they will stretch to look more normal eventually.
Stella's conformers are pretty small right now, so they have a part that sticks out so that the ocularist (June Nichols) can more easily put them in and take them out. Unfortunately, they are not very pretty to look at and we do get odd looks from strangers sometimes. The hardest thing for me is the questions from kids though. I try to answer as openly and honestly as possible, I just don't want to scare the poor kids! Sebastian's friends are all 3-4 years old and I can tell they just don't get it. Sebastian still occasionally asks if Stella will be able to see when she is older. The good news about the conformers is that they are working really well and her sockets are growing quickly, so hopefully soon she will be able to wear something a little more attractive.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Three Months Old

Well, at least I'm getting the milestone month recaps in. One of these days maybe I'll post more often...

Stella is doing very well. She is much more active now and sleeping less. She loves being held, but other than that is happiest on her back or in the swing. She smiles and coos and loves to suck on her hands. We try to work on tummy time, but she gets tired of it pretty quickly. She does grab objects and hold onto them and likes to play with her soft doll and stuffed animals.

The first week of October we went to Indianapolis to celebrate her Grandparents 40th anniversary and she got to meet the rest of her family. She obliged by sleeping right through the anniversary dinner.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Two Months Old

Stella is eating better now, but still sleeping a lot. By 6 weeks old she was almost 10 pounds. Also around 6 weeks she got her 1st set of conformers, and putting them in didn't seem to bother her at all. Conformers are plastic prosthetics that are put into Stella's sockets to help them grow. Eventually she will wear prosthetics painted to look like real eyes. You can read more about conformers on the MAPS website

When Stella was 5 weeks old we took her on her first vacation - a trip to Cape Cod for a family reunion. She did great on the airplane and during the whole trip. She was happy in anyone's arms and everyone just loved her! 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One Month Old

Stella is one month old today - hard to believe! She is sleeping really well, in fact I often have to wake her up to feed her. Seems wrong, but since she hasn't been gaining weight well, I have to feed her every 2-3 hours. She lost a lot of weight the first week after she was born, and has been slow to put it back on. I am working with a lactation consultant and feel confident we will get a good handle on it soon. She just now got back to her birth weight.

Stella is a very sweet, happy, cuddly baby. She loves to be held and just curls into the person holding her. I think she looks like a little mouse!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Introducing Stella

Stella Valvo Alford was born via C-section on Monday, July 7th at 9:29 am. She was 8 lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long.