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Friday, January 11, 2008

This Week in Hallie's World

I've been meaning to post about several different things this week, but then one thing led to another, and here we are: Friday.

Anyway, it's been a pretty busy and pretty fulfilling week. On Monday, Hallie's first friend from the old ICN days (Ellen, her primary nurse) came to dinner. Hallie was thrilled. She had a great time playing with Ellen and Karina (whom she calls "Kee"--it's very cute: if I tell her that Karina is coming over, Hallie races over to the door and bangs on it and says "Kee...Kee.").
And of course we had a great time seeing Ellen, too.

Then, bright and early on Tuesday morning, Hallie went to her first music class. Sharon and I decided that Hallie really needs to be around age-mates more often. While we are not throwing caution to the wind where germs are concerned, we are trying to walk a fine line where we balance Hallie's physical health and her emotional/social well-being. The Music Class seems to fit the bill pretty nicely: the size of each class is limited to 12 and they provide (and set a good example by using) alcohol and wipes to sanitize the instruments that the kids use. And they make it clear that sick kids need to stay away and make this possible for parents to reschedule an infinite number of classes missed for health reasons. So, at 10:30am on Tuesday, Hallie and I headed out to the community center where her class meets. (Of course, we were running a bit late because Hallie took the opportunity to poop right before we left the house--not that we are complaining about pooping or anything! It's been a banner poop week and we are very grateful for that).

Hallie's response to being in class was interesting: she was thrilled to see other kids, but a bit weirded out by seeing so many in one place (up until now, her exposure to other toddlers has been to one or two at a time and mostly -- nearly exclusively -- to her friends Karina and Ethan and her cousins Adam and Hannah, and Hannah hardly counts as a toddler at this stage). And then the music began. Hallie was intrigued but unsure what to do. A couple of times she burst into tears and needed to jump into my arms. Only when they took out the more percussive instruments did Hallie hit her stride. Anyway, none of this was made any easier by the fact that Hallie was super tired (the class coincides with her purported nap time). Still, she did not do too badly and I think that as the weeks wear on (the class runs for ten sessions), she'll get the hang of things and then we can enroll her in the spring session and she'll be an old pro. Being us, we have taken very seriously our need to do 'homework' by practicing our songs during the week and some of them make Hallie very happy here at home and hopefully this will be the case in 'school' too.

Then, later in the day on Tuesday, I took Hallie to one of the excellent toddler parks in our neighborhood. It was nearly seventy out and sunny and, global warming related guilt aside, it seemed criminal not to go to the park. This was only the second park experience that Hallie has had since beginning to walk in November, and I wanted to make it a good one.

Naturally, I was not the only one who had this thought and the park was filled with toddlers. For the second time that day, Hallie seemed a bit overwhelmed. She looked around at all of the kids and did not quite know what to make of things. Then I walked her over to the slide and helped her ascend the steps to the top. She slid down a few times and after a while (and especially after Auntie Ney met us there and helped enhance the experience), Hallie really seemed to have fun. She began to get into the other kids too; she smiled and waved at them and babbled incessantly. She was especially taken by the little girl in the swing next to hers and by two little boys that were just slightly younger than she is (adjusted). One, named Edison, particularly caught her eye. She noticed him the minute he and his mom got to the park and waved to him frantically. Then, after a long swinging session, I tried putting her into her stroller for a nap (she had been yawning all over the place). She would have none of this and insisted on playing some more. I relented and put her down next to the stroller. She raced over to Edison, grabbed his ball, slid it to him, ran over to get the ball and leaned over to Edison and planted a huge kiss on his face. It was very sweet. Watch out Edison!

Anyway, this experience underscored our sense that we need to let Hallie get out and play more. She strikes me as emotionally and socially closer to a one year old than an eighteen month old--and this is fine. But I want her to be able to have the same, or at least similar, experiences as other kids. She learns from them differently than she does from us and no amount of OT or mommy time or nanny time will make up for the fact that she is deprived of the company of her peers. Sharon and I are on the same page here. Neither of us is advocating that we place her into daycare full time or take inordinate risks, but both of us feel like we need some sort of structured play with peers for Hallie. So we'll start with music and then add in something else, and hopefully Hallie will remain healthy and will be able to fight off any of the germs with which she will inevitably come into contact.

Otherwise: it's been a great poop week, as I said earlier. I don't know if it's the miralax kicking in, the prune and peach cocktail, or the added flax seed oil, but we are not going to change a thing and hopefully this will continue. Hallie's reflux is in a bit of a flareup (she is teething like crazy) but most of the week this has amounted to a wet 'urp here or there -- urps aside we've had three vomit free days this year so far, which isn't too bad (especially compared to our experience in 2007). Hopefully this will continue, too.

And in terms of the eating, we've got a FEES (flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) scheduled with ENT for a couple of weeks from now. We're not sure how this will go: Hallie is not one for letting ANYTHING near her face, let alone a small camera threaded down her nostril. The goal is to see what is going on structurally with the laryngomalacia and paralyzed vocal cord and whether these, or something else, is structurally impeding Hallie's swallow. Neither of us want to assume out of hand that Hallie's inability to deal with solid food (including most meltables) is merely behavioral and our sense is that it's not entirely reflux-related, either. Hopefully Hallie will cooperate and we'll have more information in a couple of weeks from now and will have a better sense of how to proceed with treating her eating/feeding issues.

Well, that's all for now! Whew...


Judith and Jason said...

Interesting points you bring up and experienced with Hallie's interaction with other kids and the need to be around them for social dev despite the germ fears. I think about it almost daily about taking Nina around other kids just to watch them and hopefully interact (she's still too young) but I long for that day when she will fancy another kid and take his ball like you mention in this post. I think taking her to music class is wonderful and I hope she learns to love it! It's so good for you guys too! I love your blog and love reading about Hallie's adventures !

Lori said...

We had the same concerns with Aidan. It was tough to balance the fear with the need for him to socialize. We played it mostly safe for 2 winters, and now I have him in gym class. We tried music, but at this point, it just isn't his cup of tea. There is far too much organized activity and sitting in a circle for his liking! ;-)

But you are right about noticing the social lag. Aidan is a really tall kid at almost 39 inches tall, so everybody always thinks he is so much older than 2. Socially he seems closer to 18 months to me, but that is OK. We successfully avoided RSV, and he will catch up!

Glad she had fun!

23wktwinsmommy said...

Sounds like you guys have been busy. It's great to hear how Hallie responded to her peers! I've noticed lately that Serena and Edwin are very attached to each other and really seem to need each other to play with. It's great Hallie has peers to play with and I hope she continues with her good health and stays sick-free enough to continue with her friend fun!
I think there might be something to the structural thing. the ENT focused on asking me how Serena was eating and seemed very surprised when I told him how well she eats knowing her airway issues. Let me know what the ENT says about fixing or not fixing paralyzed vocal cords. If no one around your way does, I can give you info about the ENT up here, because as I mentioned on my blog he will do surgery to help kids who have severe aspiration as a result of a paralyzed cord. Keep us updated!

BusyLizzyMom said...

You are very right that our kids need to be around children their age. The first time I took Elizabeth to her Gymboree class it broke my heart as she was so timid and scared. Now I am often embarrassed when she interrupts with her 'No. I don't like that" or "it's mine". With careful watching and hand washing have our kids explore and learn with their peers is very important to their social well-being. As Hallie like Elizabeth spends so much of her time with adults doing therapy it is important to have periods of downtime and just playing.
I loved your comment on our blog, you are so right that we preemie moms get so much out of these little (huge for us) achievements.

Anna said...

Glad you can provide that contact for Hallie, are you in Music Together? We are, and love it, for many of the reasons you described. Hooray for no vomits!