leaps and bounds

When I was new mom I read all the developmental charts/books and followed along with what my baby ‘should’ be doing. By my second son, those books were out the window. While I think there is great value in developmental books and charts,  I had also learned to trust my instinct as a mom regarding what my baby ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be doing.

My daughter is 18 months old, only takes a ‘customized’ bottle and refuses to even touch food with her hands.

And that is totally fine.

It is fine with me, her doctors, her speech therapist – and everyone else that knows her well.

She hasn’t used a spoon nor does she snack on anything. But, my girl has made LEAPS and BOUNDS regarding eating in the last 4 months. Maybe her leaps are shorter than others. Maybe her bounds aren’t as high. But, they are her leaps and bounds. She is a growing, strong, healthy girl. She is overcoming major fears and stress related to eating. Because of her cleft lip & palate, she can easily feel like she is drowning or choking if too much gets in her mouth too fast. Early on it was highly stressful for both of us.

4 months ago ~ the first time I fed her

I ALWAYS hold her when feeding her, but I wanted to make sure and capture her eating by herself before her first surgery. Just kicking back and eating – stress free. Leaps and Bounds. Leaps and Bounds.

Because of her cleft, she is unable to suck like most babies. There are special cleft bottles, but she refuses to take them. Instead she uses a bottle with the top cut. We use bottles with liners so I can use my hand to control the flow. Home made concoctions of all kinds of stuff go in the bottles…as long as it is thick and sweet, she’s happy.

Well, hello there beautiful.

How in the world am I going to say goodbye to this smile this week?

And have I mentioned she gives the best hugs? Wraps both arms around tight and squeezes. They melt everyone that is lucky enough to get one. She is sporting some pretty great hair these days. Her mom is not.

Just for old time’s sake…hard to believe four months ago I was celebrating that she would let me just barely touch her hand before she pulled away. Leaps and bounds from here.


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  • Shannon Phillips - I just can’t over beautiful she is Ash. Prayers, prayers and more prayers for the journey this week. xoxo

  • marci - Her beautiful eyes will still sparkle no matter how her smile changes. She is precious indeed.

  • Quita miller - You are absolutely not saying goodbye to her smile. For her mom she will give her true smile forever. Changed or not she smiles with her heart in those photos. And the gift of confidence and as well as the many physiologic challenges that will improve over time are priceless. Hang in there. Her perfect beautiful smile will always be there for you.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you so, so much for allowing us to be a part of this journey. It is truly an honor to read.

  • ari - Her smile is really wonderful.
    Good luck with the surgery….

  • Ellie - My heart is melting

  • Cathryn - I have been reading here for quite a while, but i am finally compelled to comment that I have been truly touched by your family’s story. From seeing your sons take in your new daughter’s orphanage home to watching your beautiful children grow, I read each entry several times. Thank you for continuing to share your family’s journey.

  • Alison - I’m a pediatric nurse, and I cannot say enough what a great mom you are. You’re perfect! You’re wonderful! And Little One is going to be such a killer. She’s so beautiful.

  • Selina - I just wanted to let you know I found your blog last summer and started following your story because I have a similar situation. I have 4 bio kids, three boys and a girl in that order, and we just brought home our daughter with cl/cp from China in October. So many times, you write exactly what I am feeling. Our newest daughter is 23 months, and we had her first repair surgery early in December. I had so many similar feelings before her surgery. I was so worried I would miss her smile, which I do, but I also realized I loved her whole face when she smiled, and the mouth wasn’t the most important part of it. She is doing wonderfully and she will have her second repair in March. I would encourage you to be prepared to be overwhelmed at times, but also realize, she will heal, and she will love you the same. As soon as our daughter was waking up in the recovery room, she immediately reached out to me. I was so happy to know she was still in love with us.

  • elizabeth H - my SWEET PEA gives the BIGGEST squeeze when she hugs…it melts my heart! i can imagine the JOY it brings to see how far Little One has come when she hugs your neck!
    tears are coming.

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