Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Dear Ellie,

As of today, you are officially a toddler.  That is, you'd be one year old, had you been born on your due date.  I didn't expect your transition into toddlerdom to be some kind of grand transformative shift but strangely... it has.  The second you took your first step a little over a month ago, something happened inside of you.  You stopped hating milk, you started loving food, and all of the little residual preemie quirks that were making your life difficult all just evaporated: gagging and choking often while eating, acid reflux, sensory sensitivities, tight and tense muscles...  Even the little scars on your face that we assumed would be permanent seem to have said their goodbyes.  In front of us now is a normal little toddler, bursting with a lust to explore a world that--- as far as you know--- has no end.

Something inside of your mother and I has changed, too.  Years ago when we were in our early twenties, there was a special place we used to go in our imaginations together.  It was a place in our thoughts where we imagined our future with a family.  A place of warm weekend mornings.  Of evenings filled with games set to the soundtrack of worry free laughter.  Of late nights, when we awake at odd hours and look to the sky for some rare cosmic occurrence.  And most importantly, at the center of that place was you.

We lost track of that place during the long years of infertility, because we weren't sure if you would ever exist at all.  No place, imagined or real, is anything but lonely if it is empty.  During your time in the NICU, too, we could only see that place as the faintest of glimmers.  Even this past year, our plans for what we thought a family should be were shunted aside and smothered by a sense of urgency and emergency that pervaded every part of our lives.  All through the past six or seven years, I've wondered when I'd be able to return to that place without it being painted in sorrow or fear.  But then, as I was putting you down to bed last night, I realized that I never would imagine that place again.  We wouldn't need to.

I'd gone through that entire day without any worry.  No more scrutinizing your little nuances to determine whether something was wrong with you.  No more waking up in the middle of the night, believing that you are somehow suffocating.  No more turbulent future, wide and dark in its uncertainty.  Instead, we spent the day out at the beach, jumping on beds, and laughing at anything and everything.  I spent the day examining not your frailties, but instead your budding personality: sometimes intensely quiet, focused, and contemplative; sometimes cranky; often jubilant.  I spent the day smiling at your excitement each time you discovered a new word or new sound.  At how you bounce your legs and flail your arms upon witnessing a new book.

Somehow, when we weren't even paying attention, that place we had so often imagined was no longer some place of fantasy, but the place where we live.

 Here you are giggling with Uncle Zack

 This is right around the time you discovered that
food is delicious.  Just a week before, it used to take us 5 minutes 
to give you five spoons fulls.  Now you'll eat an entire jar in the time.  

 Here we are at the Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge: the best kept secret
on Florida's East Coast.  When you get bigger and your mother and
I make you angry, you can drive here to get some solitude.

 And here we are at the Palm Beach Inlet, where your grandfather grew up 
(and in some ways, me, your Aunt Andrea, and Uncle Zack).  Great Grandma Eleanor
used to walk us across the island to inlet here.  Above the waves, things have
changed a lot since then, but beneath the waves, it still looks quite the same.

 You've just recently learned how to sleep in beds, rather than just cribs.  You
looked funny to me at first seeing you like this, but then I realized I rarely
got to see you sleep in anything but a dark room.

 Since you hated drinking from a bottle for so long, you never learned to hold
the bottle (rather, instead, you learned to swat it away).  Thankfully, however,
this does not apply to containers with straws!

 Last Saturday, your mother and I took you out to a restaurant for
the first time.  As you can see, you handled it quite well.

 After the restaurant, we took a tour of the Treasure Coast.

 Here you are standing next to downstairs-wing of the Great Library of Elliexandria.

 You are obsessed with computers, but this is the last time I'll leave
you along with my laptop.  Somehow, with your crazy computer skills,
you managed to make 100 shortcuts for each and every program.

Relaxing in the swing...


  1. Beautiful, just beautiful ! It feels so good to hear all is well and all will be :)

    1. Thanks! I trust all is going well with your beautiful family as well :-)

  2. Beautiful, just beautiful ! It feels so good to hear all is well and all will be :)

  3. Awesome update! Ellie looks delightful and full of delight! Cannot wait for summer so I (we) can come visit. So thankful that things are looking sunny. What a charmer.

    1. Yes! Just let me know when you guys want to swing by and we'll all hang out!

  4. That is a lovely, lovely milestone---for you. She is just the pic where she is holding on to her toe! Toddlers universally have crazy computer skills. They are like hackers---hit a 1000 keys all at once, and do shit that flummoxes their parents, like changing the orientation of the screen.

    1. Yep, I've learned to keep her away from the danger keys: alt, control, shift, enter... What's incredible is the speed at which they can completely obliterate your operating system.

    2. Dana, where are you people ? Would love to see some of your posts !