How Old is Hallie?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Observations on Micropreemie Physical Development and Other Late Night Thoughts

I promised some more cute pictures of Hallie, and I am sure that there were ample opportuntiies for us to take some yesterday. This was especially the case since Hallie's Grammy was here visiting and Hallie had a lot of fun with her--they went to the park, ate a few excellent and successful meals that consisted of butter plus a few additional low-calorie filler ingredients like pears and peas, and had a splashing good time in the bath tub. But somehow her mommies were remiss and the camera remained in its case all day and we have no new images. I'll post a few more from Saturday but I just wanted to assure those of you who are particularly observant that we do, indeed, change her onesie regularly (at least once a day and often considerably more frequently than that, depending on the circumstances---you can fill in the details here).

Anyway, we've been fixated on figuring out how to promote active rolling on Hallie's part. It's not that she's particularly delayed--she's not (at least, not yet). She's a week shy of six months adjusted, and that's certainly within the normal range of beginning to roll over. The problem is that she's been trying and trying to heave her body over, can get to her side, but then sort of just falls back onto her back (or her stomach, depending on where she started). A few months ago she did manage to toss herself over, but now that she's a lot heavier (well, relatively speaking, anyway), this has become impossible for her to achieve. So we've been interested in diagnosing the problem and helping her figure out how to accomplish this milestone. I talked to Amy, Hallie's Occupational Therapist, about this on Thursday and she noted that we need to encourage Hallie to get out of her habit of staying within a single plane--essentially, in a standing or prone stretched out position. Hallie bears weight well and loves to stand (and to jump in her Jumperoo) but this just exacerbates the problem. Because she's reluctant to curl inwards and lean forward, she's having trouble rolling over, sitting up, and doing a whole host of other really important stuff. Because she's frustrated by her immobility, she arches her back further and uses her very strong legs to propel herself forward (often off of our laps to avoid her bottle). This needs to stop.

Our first observation (and for picky grammarians, I am purposely using the plural first person here since Sharon and I thought of the same thing at about the same time): one of the reasons that Hallie likes to exist in a single plane is that she never knew anything else. Most babies eventually run out of room in utero and have no recourse but to curl themselves up into little balls (that beloved fetal position) for a couple of months. Not our girls. All the ultrasounds showed lounging, stretching fetuses (especially Hallie) who had no space concerns whatsoever. There's one shot of Hallie with her arms clasped behind her head, legs stretched out, etc. It's a great picture and she still loves that position. So our goal has become teaching Hallie how to curl herself up and that curling herself up is fun.

First, she lost sock and shoe privileges. My reasoning on this is that it's a whole lot more fun to grab your toes when your toes are naked, and that they are probably a lot tastier than shoes and socks are, too. So we got rid of the footwear and started to curl Hallies legs and toes up towards her chest (and put them in her mouth a couple of times to give her the idea that she needn't look too far for an object to suck on when she required a teething ring). We did this on the changing table (which she loves) and in her crib (turns out that she loves her crib, too) and on the floor. We kept doing this for a day and a half, and by this weekend, Hallie started doing it herself:

Now she's doing this all the time and it's really helped with her rolling and sitting. She seems to be a pretty quick study where this sort of stuff is concerned and we feel very lucky about this.

So the next observation is: how do you get the baby who is ready to roll but a bit nervous about this (she kept catching herself as she was about to go over) to actually learn that rolling is fun. Here, Hallie's love of particular objects really came in handy. The first object is the Symphony in Motion mobile that hangs over her crib. She loves that thing. We're going stark raving mad listening to metallic Bach and Mozart, but Hallie can't get enough of it. She loves the music (and whines or thumps when it goes off), loves the colors and patterns, and loves to reach out for it and pull on it (either whens she's lying under it or standing next to it). What she does not love is not being able to see it if it is on. So, on Friday, I put her on her tummy in her crib, and though she loves being on her tummy, she was positioned in such a way that the mobile was just out of sight, even when she was craning her neck and her head. In order to see the mobile, she needed to look way up and over her shoulder. This is when she rolled from her stomach to her back. We then did this another twenty times to turn it into a game. It was a lot of fun until the mobile (which was a hand-me-down from cousins Adam and Hannah) had the audacity to up and die on Saturday afternoon. We were in the car within hours and trekking over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Babies-R-Us for a new one. Crisis averted.

The second object that gets her to roll over--this time on her rug and play mat--is the most excellent Manhattan Baby Toy Skwish Classic that our friends Sonja, Rickie, and Simmie bought Hallie for our shower. When I first saw the toy, I was a bit reluctant to offer it to Hallie--it's a bunch of brightly colored long wooden beads, round wooden beads, and stretchy wiry stuff connecting them in a fetching pattern. The colors are great, and the toy squishes up in an appealing way, but I was worried about how she would do with this toy because it's not soft. It turns out that my fears were totally unfounded: the toy ROCKS. She loves it to pieces---it makes clanky noises, the colors are wonderful, and it keeps her interested for hours on end. Even when she's got easy access to dozens of toys, she'll go out of her way to get a hold of the Skwish toy. Hence, we decided to entice her into rolling with this most beloved object. It worked like a charm.

Here's an image of the toy itself:

Finally, as you have no doubt noticed, the kid is not wearing any pants. This is quite purposeful. It's been warm around her (and Hallie's room is a nice cozy 75 or so) and we think it's a lot easier for her to roll around and curl up and such when not confined in tight clothing.

Besides, if she were wearing pants, we wouldn't be able to see the great little giraffe on Hallie's cute little butt:


Anonymous said...

That giraffe IS really cute... In a 75 degree room, I'd probably need to take off my pants- or at least wear shorts. I guess when you're a micro, you like it HOT! Glad she's doing so well!

Anonymous said...

You three are rock.
See you soon

terri c said...

She is just so.damn.cute!!!!!!

23wktwinsmommy said...

Great post! It will definitely come in handy for Serena and Edwin. They are 2 months adjusted age and they are in no hurry to even attempt to roll. I just roll them over myself and they deal with it for a few times, and then begin to cry. They too are infamous for being "straight" in their posture. They now put their weight on their feet while in a standing position for a moment or two, and then push off in an attempt to launch into outerspace I'm assuming. Thank you for sharing what is working with Hallie. And I think I'll buy that cool toy your friends purchased for your shower. It looks "intelligent." :)