Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quick Post

We have our 3rd appointment at the High Risk Follow-Up Clinic today...wish us luck! He goes to the Follow-Up Clinic because he was born at 25 weeks and will go until age 4. At each appointment we meet with a Pediatrician who specializes in Neonatology (who also works in the NICU), OT/ PT, a nurse, and sometimes the social worker. I feel comforted knowing that we will catch any major issues early.

Issues we will be discussing today:

1) Iron (Dylan has ZERO iron. I have a post in the works... Feeding him is a crazy puzzle that I don't entirely feel qualified to solve. I think I'm going to ask for a referral back to the Nutritionist.)

2) Autism Concerns (I do not think he has Autism, but he has a few behaviors that I want to ask experts about: hand flapping, no reaction to strong negative emotions although he does react to smiles and does initiate eye contact, fear of loud noises - even no so loud.) I worked with kids with Autism for my first year out of college so I feel relatively well informed, but I don't have experience with kids younger than 3. Also Dylan has tons of the risk factors for Autism: older father, antepartum stress, premature birth...so I'm just taking every detail very seriously just in case.

3) Lungs (Dylan's breathing has been a little more noticeable over the past month or so, but the Ped has never heard an issue. I want the specialists to weigh in. He was also wheezing for about 5 minutes this weekend - before and after throwing up - it's probably just a bug, but I want to mention it.)

4) Milestones (We are definitely not winning any races with walking or talking, but I'm not really concerned...yet. He is adding new words and starting to occasionally mimic. And he's climbing on chairs and strollers and couches...just not walking yet, but he's not 18 months adjusted for a few more months.)

I'll report back soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eighteen Months!

I think I need to do one of those typical "baby updates" in honor of Dylan reaching one and a half years old. I feels like he has been a part of our lives forever, but he's also still a "baby" so it feels a little strange to think of him as 18 months old.

Height: 28.5 (We started a wall chart in honor of his half birthday!)
Weight: 18 lbs (It's taken a LOT of work to get to 18, so I'm pretty proud of that number.)

Favorite Foods: 
Peas, cottage cheese, and baked ziti are the definite favorites. He usually likes black bean patties with cheese, meatballs, muffins, toast with pb and most foods. He just had his first taste of ice cream (Organic Strauss Family Creamery Raspberry) and he didn't like it the first time, but he did eat a fair amount last night.

Least Favorite Foods: 
Peaches - spits them right out. I think this is his only real consistency issue which is a good thing. Avocado - I can sometimes hide it in something, but he's not a fan...probably because it feels the same as peaches (or vice versa).

Favorite Toys:
Dylan likes most of his toys and he has a lot of them. Current faves are a bathtub toy that makes music. As well as two different bathtub toys that swim if you wind up or pull a string. He loves his electric piano. He's starting to loves two pull toys: a really cool alligator that makes lots of noise and another one. Water table... Dylan LOVES WATER!

Least Favorite Toys:
Walkers. He never has liked these. He's prefer to play with the stuff on the walker. When he does walk and push something, it's the big stroller.

I'd say Dylan is a happy kid about 90% of the time. We get lots of laughter. He actually laughs really loud sometimes when he wants attention because it works really well. He'll even laugh so the dog will play with him. Dylan is perfectly content playing by himself most of the time. We still do a lot with him, but it's not necessary. But his expressive language is lagging and so he's getting more and more frustrated as his opinions become stronger. We're getting lots of grunting/groaning to ask for things and when we don't respond right away (to try to prompt real language), he gets mad. He does get "tantrumy" when he's denied something he likes, like going out the doggie door, but we haven't had any on the floor sustained tantrums, it's more of a 1 minute cry and then he gets over it. Dylan still LOVES to read although he's much pickier about which books he wants to read. He's starting kind of asking us to read to him which is really cute, but he'll "read" by himself too.

Still good. D is on one nap. Occasionally, he'll play for up to an hour before falling asleep which is a new thing, but he still chills in his crib for that time.

Walking/Gross Motor - Well...not walking. Dylan is only 14.5 months adjusted, so we definitely do not need to worry yet, but he's not interested in walking. He has amazing balance...can climb onto chairs...yesterday
he climbed into his stroller when I turned away for a second. He can stand up and down without holding on to anything. But he doesn't want to walk and actively refuses when I try to practice with him (other people have more success). I really am not worried about this one because his gross motor seems to be so good overall.

Language - Like I said above, this one is going very slowly and it does worry me a bit. Although Dylan has fantastic eye contact and initiates social interaction, I still worry about Autism often. I used to work with kids with Autism and I read every study out there, including the ones that talk about how huge our risk factors are because Dylan's dad is old AND he was premature AND I had a lot of stress throughout the pregnancy. All = higher risk for autism. So I worry. But I don't think he does have it, I just worry about regression. Anyway. Dylan has his same few words, basically Daddy and Doggy which he says daily and then the randoms that I've heard like twice are Car, Turtle, and Outside. He makes no attempt to make animal noises or say Up or Bye-Bye. He seems to understand most of what I say, but won't respond to "where's your nose?" or "where's the cow?" type questions.

He will give kisses on cue, when he feels like it. We have nearly a 100% success rate with his giant Costco bear, about a 25% success rate for me...but it's ok, whenever I do get kisses they last me a long time : ). He will also give the dog the ball or bone when prompted which is helpful for keeping her things out of his mouth.

Fine Motor -  I think his fine motor is progressing well. We just started informally working on eating with utensils. I'll give him the spoon or fork, then load it, then guide it to his mouth. I'd saying it's going well! But mostly, he feeds himself by hand. He has a pincer grasp, but does not always use it. He's starting to understand how things twist, like caps. We made him a latch board that he occasionally likes to play with. He can turn book pages well and realizes that there are individual pages, so sometimes he'll try to split one board book page which I think shows pretty good understanding!

We have our next high-risk follow up with the hospital in a week, so I will get a professional to weigh in soon.

Dylan is a real pleasure to be around, a really sweet kid. He's serious in new or busy situations and loud and silly at home. I missed him so much while I was gone this week and I love being his mom!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Going on Vacation...Alone

And I might've been a sobbing, crying mess while walking Dylan around the block this evening. I even made him go in the carrier so I could be extra close to him.

It's weird...for me being away from him is getting harder and harder the older he gets. I didn't cry when I went back to work. But I still get to see him every afternoon... I didn't even get upset when I went out of town for a funeral last October. But that trip was rushed so I didn't have a lot of time to worry.

Now I know he will know I'm gone and it makes me horribly sad. But even worse is how much I will miss him. What new things will he start doing while I'm gone?

Also, I'm going to a super kid-friendly place...the Disney Resort in Hawaii...for a frend's wedding. And most others will be bringing their kids. :( There are lots of good reasons not to bring Dylan, 1) I'm in the wedding, therefor super busy, 2) it's still flu season and D shouldn't be flying 3) the trip is already pretty expensive.


I'm sure I'll have fun, but I'm thinking about bringing myself a lovey. Seriously. Maybe Dylan's Jelly at bear...

Oh- and planning for a trip with a toddler. No joke. I used to pack the night before...ha!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Super Rough Night

It must've been some kind of karma after posting my mostly good sleep post...Monday night was one of the most frustrating, scariest evenings I've had EVER.

Mr. GG was out of town, so I decided to take Dylan to Panera for dinner. First, I'm basically done with Panera after a years-long love affair. The last few times I've been have been less than satisfactory. Their kid's meals are mac n cheese or deli meat on white bread. I got ham for Dylan and subbed wheat bread, but it was just meat and a slice of American cheese. It came with go-gurt which he wouldn't touch. Next time I would just order a side of the chicken they put on salads and a fruit bowl. He did like my black bean soup though...

But that's not the story. Dylan was eating okay and wanted bites of my apples (which we've done before many times). He basically scrapes off little bits of apple where I've already eaten off the skin. But he got a bigger chunk (I think because the apple was so small) and choked. I left at the table everything and ran him outside to pound on his back. He basically resolved it himself because he was breathing fine and didn't throw up or anything after a few seconds. But my nice idea of a meal out turned into a scary, frustrating night-mare of a trip.

We sang Hullabaloo songs on the way home, got out of the car, I said "hi" to my neighbor who passed while walking her two kids.

I carried Dylan and a few other things toward the house...and then I saw Dylan's life flash before my eyes.

There are two, just two steps leading up to my front door. I completely tripped and we both fell all the way to the cement ground. It happened so fast, but I remember wondering how I could protect Dylan while falling, but I couldn't do much because it was so fast. I saw him come down, saw how close his head came to the door post. Then heard the deafening silence as he geared up for a long terrifying cry. It was the longest silence ever and I was sure he had a concussion or worse...

But when I finished calming him and checked him out, I couldn't find a mark...not one. I think I was able to turn sideways enough that I hit with my hip first and somehow kept my arms under Dylan. I lost half of my big toe nail and have a nice bruise, but luckily we are both fine.

It's just so scary how quickly bad things can happen! I have no idea why I tripped. I wasn't multi-tasking or talking or hurrying. I was just walking.

The whole thing was just such a shock and I keep replaying it over and over in my mind.

Has spontaneous fun ever turned in a disaster for anyone else?

(My favorite pic of the week...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adventures in Sleep...a Compilation of the First 14 Months

I'm seeing lots of sleep posts out there and I know many of you have little ones younger than Dylan. I thought it would be a good idea to share a general summary of our sleep journey in case it could help someone else. I do believe that Dylan is somewhat of a naturally good sleeper, but that doesn't mean we haven't had some very tough nights.

I've read lots of sleep books.  Here are some reviews:
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth
Babywise, Ezzo & Bucknam

I also read The Happiest Baby on the Block, Guide to Great Sleep by Dr. Karp which advocates the 5 S's (which are okay for infants, don't work later), and white noise among other things, but I never got around to a review.

So what we ended up doing is somewhat of a combination of everyone's advice with a priority placed on research. I do not have any major issues with CIO (cry it out), but I didn't feel that it worked in our specific situation. I didn't want Dylan losing calories from crying that he desperately needed. Also the couple times we did let him cry did not go well at all. So we primarily pursued other methods. Here are some previous sleep posts if you are interested in seeing the progression.

April 17, 2013 - Sleep (3 months adjusted)
May 11, 2013 - How the other half lives? (4 months adj.)
May 28, 2013 - Sleep Update (4 months adj.)

The Four Month Sleep Regression
I had seen people talk about this before we hit it, but it sure is a real thing! This was the phase where I could be seen walking circles around the house trying not to lose it with a crying baby in my arms. But the hardest part was that the walking and bouncing never seemed to stop the crying. It was very frustrating and sad not to be able to adequately calm my baby. So we resorted to walking around the block until he fell asleep. Often this was Mr. GG's job. I was afraid the whole time about creating a dependency on motion to fall asleep, but this was the easiest way for us as well as Dylan. We could easily manage walking around the block and it seemed to help so we used this method for quite awhile.

Eventually, on nights where he was calmer, we didn't walk. This was our transition. On these nights we did our normal routine: bath, stories+bottle, then lullabies+bottle (Dylan is a very slow drinker and I needed him to take in every milliliter possible.) Then I'd put him down usually completely asleep. And I still worried that I wasn't teaching him how to soothe himself to go to bed independently. I wondered whether I should gently shake him slightly awake like Dr. Karp advised. (I didn't. That sounded like potential disaster - but my sister did this very successfully with her son.)

Eight to Twelve Months
During this phase we pretty much never needed to walk around the block. Since Dylan was more aware and it was darker outside, we added another level of transition. I'd have a dim lamp on during reading time, then I'd turn it off and turn on the Twilight Turtle during lullaby time. Also...I always get his A & A blanket out of his bed for story-time; that's his transition item and he gets excited when he sees it because he loves to snuggle it.

During this phase, Dylan started to kind of snuggle in when he was ready (sometimes after a half an hour or more) and then just go to sleep on my chest! It was pretty cool. Then I would try to figure out the right amount of time to wait before putting him down in his crib. Too soon and he'd bolt upright and cry and we'd have to start over again.

Twelve Months Plus (Dylan is currently 14 months adjusted)
For the past couple of months, Dylan has been much more aware at bedtime and I can only think of one time recently (a really rough night) when he actually fell asleep on me. We are using the exact same routine.

Sidenote - What "sitting in the chair" actually looks like. After the lights go off this is basically what happens: Dylan crawls around to every corner of the chair. Attempts to get off the chair. Attempts to stand up on the arm rest to precariously reach for something on the shelf. At some point he wants his milk and spends a good twenty seconds calmly drinking. Then he climbs over me to open the curtain, usually with a knee in my neck, to look outside. We say "night night outside," well...I say it, hoping it's the last time. He tries to get off the chair again. He gets interested in his milk again. Repeat. Repeat. And then at some point, he puts his head down and kind of tripods and pushes his blanket down under him. This is when I know we are close...

Since he doesn't fall asleep or sometimes even seem extremely sleepy i.e. a big yawn will be followed by climbing and laughing, I have to decide when to put him down. It's a mental exercise in risk v. reward every time. But more and more if he's done his first little snuggle move, he'll go down without crying.

So what I've learned from just my own situation is that you can't completely ruin sleeping independently by using sleep crutches. For us, the crutches allowed sleep to happen and allowed sleep to mostly be a positive experience. But things change quickly. Our overall routine has stayed the same, but a couple of weeks ago Dylan went on a two day nap strike. I WAS TERRIFIED! On these days it was also harder to get him to sleep and there was lots and lots of crying. on one evening, I went back in 3 times to give him more milk/calm him (primarily I do try not to go back in...I'm ok with the kind of whiny sporadic cry, but usually when he's standing up and/or hard crying, it won't end without help).

I'm a big believer in routines and transition items. He is able to process what is about to happen and get used to it before I just "plop" him in the crib.

One thing that never ever works for us is earlier bedtime. There have been so many days where the nanny has said "I think he'll go to bed early tonight." And I naively believe this time will be different. We follow his sleep cues as much as possible, but if I start too early, it usually ends in frustration for both of us. Lesson almost learned.

We also still use white noise (on a pretty low level). I've felt like the biggest benefit for white noise is helping to prevent full wake-ups. I feel like it's a calming "normal" thing that reminds him it's still sleep time. he doesn't really need it at night anymore, but it's helpful for naps when outside noises are louder.

Lastly, I know sleep is the bane of many people's existence. I think most of sleep is genetic, so I don't mean to tell you that if you try any of this that it will work and all of a sudden, you'll have a good sleeper. But I hope to relieve some of the stress that one specific action will "ruin" your kid's sleep for the rest of his life because the reality is much more complicated.

Walking to sleep saved our lives during the 4 month sleep regression and since then, having a routine and a transition item have been really helpful.

I wish all of you a good night's sleep tonight!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Whole New Routine: Thanks Daylight Savings :/

I have absolutely no complaints about Dylan in the sleep department. We were blessed with a 12 hour-sleeper and we also get a 2 hour nap to boot. Back in the old days, before DST, Dylan's 12 hours started at 6:30 pm. I know it's kind of early, but it was also pretty awesome.

Old routine:
I get home at 4:00. I take Dylan and Stella to the park. Dylan eats dinner around 5. Then bath, stories, and bed with scattered playtime in between. Many nights Mr. GG was home early enough to do bath-time, so I'd put Dylan to bed while he put dinner together and we'd eat after Dylan was asleep.

Mr. GG does mornings and is generally a morning person so 6:30 worked well for us and he got quality time with Dylan before the nanny came at 8.

I figured I'd just do everything an hour later and it would be fine. I definitely didn't want to do anything to screw up good sleep! But...it was harder than I expected to add an extra hour into the evening. I just naturally started trying to put him down around 6. AND THAT DID NOT WORK. Cue 3 nights of frustration on everyone's part as we learned how to turn dinner into family dinner (which is hard when I don't cook...still working on this).

New routine:
I like the fact that I have extra time with Dylan between getting home and dinner because we have a lot more flexibility. We can go get dinner somewhere, go to Target, go to a farther away park...the options are endless. And I like eating dinner as a family. But Dylan never got into the "hour later which really is the same time as before" routine and now he goes to bed at 8. Don't get me wrong, this is not a problem and I love having more time with him. It's just an adjustment. My evening look different than before and I just don't roll with transitions as easy as I used to! Mr. GG and I are pretty much in bed before or right at 10 anyway.

I know this parenting thing will continue to be a series of adjustments. I was just surprised that I seemed to have a harder time with it than Dylan did. (Although he did completely nap strike 2 days last week (with the nanny). Freaked me out! But we're back to the usual.

How did Daylight Savings affect you and/or your lo?

(I need to take more sleeping pictures of Dylan! But here's a bath pic.)


Wordless Wednesday