Wednesday, May 30, 2012

random thoughts on PT

Physical therapy is hard.

Physical therapy is good for Millie. I know that. I really do.

It’s good for me, too. I have time that is dedicated on her, focused on helping her develop. I’m learning all sorts of things to do with her at home. The appointments have been eye-opening and very educational.

But I’m learning, too, I think, that PT days are going to be emotionally draining.

It’s hard for Millie because she is working different muscles and learning movements that she just doesn’t do, and, in many cases, doesn’t even realize she can do.

It’s hard for me to listen to her cry. Her appointment this morning was about 45 minutes long. Millie was physically drained. She was frustrated and tired. She cries because she doesn’t know how to do it; she cries because I’m sure her baby muscles are getting a good workout. But it’s hard to hear. She so rarely cries at home. At one point I must have looked pained because the physical therapist smiled (she’s super nice) and said it’s OK that she was crying, it just meant that she was working. And I know that. But, still, it is tough.

It’s hard to watch her lift her arms, whimpering, pleading to be picked up. Obviously, that would defeat the whole point, so she just keeps working. But it’s hard to see her asking for something and not get the response she seeks.

While watching Millie work with the physical therapist, my mind also wanders. The questions start and it’s impossible to shut them off. A lot of our focus has been on Lola because she demands it on a daily basis. Millie has been an easy baby. Was it too easy to just forget she was there? Did we not work with her often enough? Did we not pay attention to her closely enough? Should we have pushed her harder early on? Should we not have held her so much? Should we not have cuddled her so much? Did we do something wrong?

I go into physical therapy with a positive outlook, concentrating on helping Millie any way we possibly can. I leave 45 minutes later all  shook up, more worried than I was the week before. There is no reason for this. The physical therapist said she already can see that Millie is trying harder, working harder.

But it’s hard not to be worried. it’s hard to leave physical therapy and come to work and, somehow, compartmentalize the concerns separately, to focus on what I need to do during the workday.

It will get easier, right? As we get into the routine of physical therapy on a twice-weekly basis, I’ll adjust, right? Once I start seeing her making progress, I’ll be OK, right?

Will she?

- Bethany :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

'a complicated girl'

We took out and inflated my long-forgotten exercise ball this weekend, not so I could use it (which, honestly, I should), but because it was recommended last week that we have Millie use it to work on improving her balance.

Of course, Ray inflated it after Millie went to bed and Lola immediately claimed it as her own new toy. She loves doing somersaults and jumping on it. This kept her busy for about twenty minutes.

At one point, she spun around, caught my eye and just grinned.

It was one of those moments during which I became aware - yet again - that even though I see her every day, I don't notice her growing up, growing older day by day.

She looked so much older. When did that happen?

The other day she was in a quiet, contemplative mood in the car after day care. I let her have some time to decompress but she still was just not her usual vibrant, over-the-top self.

I finally asked her, "Lola, are you OK?"

She tilted her head upward, and made eye contact with me through the rear-view mirror.

"Mommy," she said, not unhappily. "I'm just a complicated girl."

She isn't even yet 4.

She continues to be our little fireball. Barreling through life one moment a time. Everything she does, from laughing to loving to playing, is done at 135 percent. A fun giggle becomes a high-pitched shriek. A stubbed toe a complete meltdown. A walk down a path an all-out foot race.

We've been playing more board games, never letting her win, never letting her cheat. The first few times were tough, if she didn't win, she'd pout or cry and say, "But I wanted to win," but, usually, now, with a few prompts and explanations, she gets over it and asks for a rematch. The other day, I beat her at Candyland. She smiled so warmly at me, "Good job, Mommy!" she said earnestly. "That was a good game."

She gets older every day.

Still, she has more than a couple of idiosyncrasies. She hates to have water on her face and has a breakdown when I wash her hair in the tub. So, for the sake of peace and household happiness (not to mention clean hair), I've taken to washing her mane in the sink.

While I was digging around the storage area for the exercise ball, I also uncovered a piece of my long-ago past. Girl Scouting.

Lola always wants to wear my clothes so she had quite a bit of fun in that for a while. Of course, she wanted to know what all the patches meant, and while I could remember a couple, most of them were a mystery. Still, she was pretty excited about it all.

Nearly a year into sisterhood, she loves being a big sister, playing with Amelia, showing her around the world. She is protective of Millie, always reminding me when she thinks Millie needs a bottle or a hug. She loves to make her laugh, to make her smile. She even tolerates it when Millie grabs hold of her hair and yanks.

Lola is definitely our spitfire, and while I can't say we aren't tested on a daily (some days, hourly) basis, she is still our little angel.

Most days anyway.

- Bethany :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Millie’s PT eval.

As I wrote earlier, we scheduled Amelia to undergo a physical therapy evaluation. She is now 11 months old (!!!) and, while she continues to be the happiest baby I’ve ever met, she still doesn’t crawl or stand or walk – she just isn’t very mobile.

Better safe than sorry, right?

Her PT evaluation was this morning.

I figured we'd go in, get evaluated, be told that she's just a larger-than-average baby and go home feeling kinda' stupid that we even went in in the first place.

Except that didn't happen.

(Let me pause here for a minute to tell a quick story. Every time we go  to the doctor, I’m always making sure my kids are clothed properly, wearing socks, hair is clean, no dried snots on their faces. You know, to at least give the appearance that I know what I’m doing with my kids. So, today, Amelia and get to the hospital, twelve minutes early [Bethany time]. Millie is in her cute little sporty outfit, looking clean, sharp and ready to go. We walk in, finding our way easily enough. I set her down, sitting, on the edge of the counter to check her in. And I instantly knew that someone needed a diaper change. So, stupid mother that I am, I reach down and gently pull out on her diaper to check if she had some ickies to be changed. And I end up with a finger full of baby poop. She didn’t just go No. 2, but she exploded. So, off to the bathroom we go. And it is everywhere, all over her pants, her shirt, me. Hating to have too heavy of a diaper bag, I, months ago, removed the recommended “extra set of baby clothes” since my Millie has never had such accidents before. Except of course for today. So, yeah, without other options, she was naked [in a diaper] for the entire evaluation. That whole “good mom image” I was hoping to project? That went out the window. Or rather, into the diaper genie at the hospital.)

But, anyhow, back to the evaluation…

The evaluation lasted an hour. In short, the PT lady said she is testing at about six months. She doesn't apparently realize she has any abdominal muscles and doesn't try to use them ever. In fact, when she was forced her to use them, she cried. You can't really learn to crawl or stand or walk without using your core (or your abs) so this is the biggest concern at this point.  There were a few other concerns as well. She favors her left side considerably. The PT lady would try to make her do things with her right side, like turning her head more than smidgen or moving her right leg and it was obviously painful for Millie. The PT lady said that she has favored her left side so long that her muscles are tight, so that's something to work on.

While she was strictly a physical therapist, the PT lady noticed, too, a few fine motor skills area that she thought should be looked at more carefully.

In summary, she showed me few exercises to focus on with Millie at home. Mainly concentrating on her core/abs and glutts (butt). She said she just likes to extend and force her back straight and legs stiff, so we basically need to force her to get comfortable scrunching up, being on her knees, and, most importantly, working her abs.

So, for now, we will be going to PT twice a week. She also ordered an occupational therapy evaluation. We go back Wednesday and Friday next week.

So that was that.

How am I feeling? OK. Really, if anything, just relieved that I brought her in. I know it’s just one more month until her 12-month appointment, but I’d rather she get some of the extra help/attention now, rather than later.

- Bethany :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

no news is good news (just catching up)

We're still adjusting to being home after a busy, but fun, trip "home" to the Cities for Mother's Day. It was so fun to see family - including several on Ray's side that we just don't get to see very much. Our trips can be so fun, but so short (it seems) so it was really nice to be able to connect with a lot of different people.

The trip really must have wore the kids out. Lola's bedtime is 7:30 p.m. sharp (except, somehow, that occasionally hits 8:30 p.m. on nights I'm working late, thanks to Ray, haha). But we got home from the Cities about 5 or 6. And before it was even 7, Lola looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm tired. I'm going to put on a pullup and go to bed, OK?" And she trudged off, got herself tucked into bed and asked for a kiss good night.

So sweet.

Millie is learning some new things every day - she is shaking her head no and clapping constantly. She still doesn't get the concept of "no" - she just shakes her head randomly for fun, I think - but she is learning when it is appropriate to clap. (i.e. this morning Ray had to change a rather explosive diaper and he said she clapped lots when she got a fresh one.)

She's such a sweetheart.

No, she's still not crawling. Her PT appointment was pushed back a week so we're waiting now until the 25th. She is much more into "standing" with my help than she has been, but she still isn't pulling herself up; she waits for me to get her going. I'm still not worried. I'd just rather be proactive.

Oh, she also is learning to wave. But I don't think she gets that it usually mean's bye-bye. She waves at me from across the room, as if she's just saying hi.

We're also working on giving kissing. But she'd rather try to eat my nose.

In other news, Lola is finally starting to, slowly, figure out the concept of time and days. Everything up to this point has been "yesterday," as in, "Remember yesterday when Santa came?" or "Remember yesterday when I got a new bike?" For months now, we've been working with the calendar to explain days, weeks, months, etc.

She's finally getting it though. She is now counting down the daycare days to weekend "family" days. And she knows that "yesterday" refers only to the day before.

So, progress. Which is awesome.

She also is now getting into real imagination play. She's done this for a few months, but it is getting more and more impressive every day. Instead of just sporadically wanting to playing pretend, she wants daily now to play with her Rapunzels and her dollhouse, creating imaginary situations such as Rapunzels going to a park or going dancing in the village.

She loves her dollhouse too, but I must say, I hate playing dollhouse. I'm always daddy. And the mommy (Lola) is always working. I come home from home (Daddy) and Mommy says hi and goes back to work. We wake up, and Mommy goes to work. Daddy, for some reason, never has to work. But Mommy (per Lola), wakes up, works, comes home with the kids, gives them to Daddy and goes back to work some more.

It makes me feel kinda' bad.

As Millie gets more and more mobile, Lola is really starting to connect with her all over again.

It's super cute to watch those two interact. I never would have imagine how quickly - and intensely - those two would connect to each other. Ray and I laugh about it, about how we can actually get jealous of Millie's love for Lola: Three is no doubt that Lola is No. 1. Lucy (the stupid cat) is No. 2. Ray and I are somewhere below there, haha.

So, in short, life continues. And we're still loving springtime.
- Bethany :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Millie, our new addition, and flying

Our sweetheart, Amelia, is 10.5 months old now, give or take. If Lola was our strong-willing, patience-teaching child, Millie is our easy-going, take-with-you-anywhere-you-wanna-go child.

She is doing so much these days:
- Babbling.  (Ray swears she called out for "Mama" one night when he went in to check on her before he went to bed; I was already sleeping.)

- Clapping. (Not so much with her hands, but she is clapping toys together to hear the sounds they make.)

- Eating. (Anything and everything I will let her. She loves pears, pineapple and carrots. She also loves sauces - marinara, etc.)

- Sitting. (She loves to just sit and play with Lola. I swear, I think I becoming a wee bit jealous of my 3-year-old. No one, and I mean no one, can make Millie laugh and smile like Lola can. She is her best friend, her daily constant. It's super cute. And I love that they're so close.)

- She waved a few times this past weekend. So cute.

- She gave me a first kiss. Well, I think so anyway. Ray said she was just trying to eat my nose. But it's my blog and I'm calling it a kiss.

But there are also a bunch of things that Millie isn't doing. Crawling. Standing. Pulling herself up. Getting up to her knees.

She is such a laid-back baby; she would be content to just lie on her back all day long. Tummy time is going pretty, well, really. She pushes herself up way high with her arms and, sometimes, she'll try to get her legs underneath her. But after about a minute of this, she just rolls onto her back and grins at you. If you force her to try it too much, she whines.

So after about a month of worrying (maybe not so much worrying as in getting concerned), I called the pediatrician today. He suggested a PT evaluation. So we are doing that. I don't have a date yet - I'm working on it. But I am feeling pretty good about it. Yeah, I am likely overreacting and worrying (being concerned) about nothing. But I'd rather have some piece of mind.

Better safe than sorry, right?

In other Wesley family news, we have a new addition.

I promised Ray that we'd get a boat before we got married, before we bought a house, before we had a baby, before we'd have a second baby, etc., etc., etc.

It was finally time to pay up.

He's taken it out a couple of times now and loves it. He is now anxiously awaiting fishing opener (although we'll be out of town that weekend). Some good friends of his (ours) are moving here in a few weeks and Ray now will have a fishing buddy. So it was just a matter of time before the boat arrived.

Meanwhile, we've been introducing the boat to Lola.

She likes it lots - when it's on land.

She has now taken two rides on it. While she enjoys the actual boat ride portion, she has so screamed bloody hell whenever it's time for anyone - Ray, me, her, anyone - to get in or out of the boat. It could just be the rocking, but I think she's terrified that the boat is going to drift away - nevermind the thing is tied up.

It's a learning process maybe.

Meanwhile, we're just thrilled she likes the actual boat ride portion of the trips...


In other Lola news, she's learned a new trick.

Jumping off her swing.

She has seen me do it a hundred times I'm sure but she has always been so scared to try it. We took a family walk to the park Saturday and she called to me, while swinging way up high, saying that she wanted to get off. I told her, from my comfortable bench spot, that she should just jump off.

I've told her than a dozen times or more. She always refused.

Not that time, she just did it. Just like that.

And she flew.

And then she laughed.

So then we did it some more.

Fun times.

- Bethany :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

springtime adventures

When we were pregnant (and less than smart parents-to-be), we thought it would be easy to fit babies and children into our outdoors-y life. We heard many stories about couples who brought their newborns into the Boundary Waters and took them backpacking along the Superior National Hiking Trail.

Yeah, that's what we'll do!

THEN we had Lola. Who, bless her heart, was anything but easy-going. It was hard enough taking her grocery shopping. The one time we tried just going drive-in camping went terribly.

But we have seemed to turn a corner. No, not in camping, but just in being outdoors-y again.

Lola has become our little explorer.

Since the beginning of the spring, we've been trying to do more walking, park time, stroller rides, etc. But what we really missed is the hiking. So, we've been visiting area state parks every weekend now.

And Lola is loving it!

The clincher was last weekend, when we returned to Itasca State Park. Lola heard us talking about a fun, big tower. And, sure, we told here we would be visiting a fire tower, but I never, ever imagined that Ms. Nervous would be anything but afraid of heights.


She loved it.

She and Ray climbed up, one step at a time, to three platforms from the top. Way above the trees. Ray at that point, though, said it was time to go back down. It was windy and the tower was kinda' swaying a bit. Plus, he wasn't exactly loving the height himself, I don't think.

Lola cried.

She wanted to go to the tippy top.

But she understood that it was time to come back down.

She was so proud of herself at the bottom. "Mommy, mommy! I was up way high, above all of the trees!"

I asked if she was scared and she just gave me a look. "No, I not scared at all. Why be scared?

With Millie on my back in a backpack, we then went for a family hike, about three miles. Like before, it was super fun and Lola was very much into exploring the world, looking at beaver dams and using her first natural walking stick.

I love springtime.

- Bethany :)