When we last left the heroines of this story, Lea was a tiny little infant who was still in a blob-like phase. Fast forward through the two long weeks of my virtual absence from the blogosphere. She is now a HUGE baby (my best guess is somewhere in the area of 13 lbs., which is shocking to me since that's what Hallie weighed when she was around 6 months corrected and Lea isn't even 4 months old yet) who is beginning to bat at toys and has rolled over from tummy to back a few times. These have all been rolls while-on-somewhat-uneven-surfaces so we're not counting them, but it's pretty clear that our little one is going to begin moving in earnest sometime soon. When she's on her belly, she tends to move her legs in a swimming pattern (I am sure there is a more technically correct way of putting this, but that's all I could come up with on my own) that suggests a desire to scoot. And when she's on her back she rocks around a lot, which means that rolling over onto her belly cannot be long off, either.
Lea's a particular little baby. Just a couple of weeks ago, her single mode of eating involved snacking (a half ounce of breast milk there, a half ounce of breast milk here) but now she's taking anywhere between two and three ounces of milk at one time. This is a definite step in the right direction, but you better not run out of milk mid-bottle---it gets her SO mad. And when she's mad, she lets you know it! Also, if you are me, don't ever try to feed her while sitting down. She only likes bottles from me while I'm pacing across the floor, holding her in the crook of my arm. And, never, never try to put her down in the swing these days while she's awake...the swing is only for sleeping. She vastly prefers hanging out on the living room floor or in the changing table part of the pack and play where she can watch what's going on around her (and catch some of her big sister's television shows. We are horrified that Lea already seems so interested in Barney, Sesame Street, and Caillou and we can add 'less television exposure for Lea' to the list of the million reasons we want Hallie in preschool soon).
But the funniest thing that Lea likes to do is to love on her burp cloth. We began to notice this a few days ago. Often, we'll use the burp cloth to prop up the binky while she's in the swing, or we'll end up dropping it on the floor or in the pack and play next to her whenever we put Lea down. After walking away to do something else, we'll invariably come back to find that the burp cloth is over Lea's face. Whoever finds it this way will move it out of the way, only to find it back over her face two minutes later. And if it's next to her, rather than on her in some fashion, Lea will reach out her hands and grab it and throw it over her own face. We've tried to encourage her to use her organic plush bunny lovey instead, but Lea seems to prefer the burp cloths to any other security blanket. Maybe it's because it smells like milk (both fresh and burped?) Who knows. Right now it's very funny (but hopefully we will not have to explain to future college roomates and such why it is that she must carry one at all times!) Lea especially loves the burp cloths made by our excellent friend Sara, who is a nurse in the ICN at Pennsylvania Hospital. On top of being mom to Charlie and Aaron and a nurse, Sara is also hugely creative. She also took some very wonderful black and white pictures of Lea back in mid April that she framed into a collage for us and dropped by yesterday. In a shameless plug for her microbusiness, consider visiting the website where she displays the patterns of her keikicloths; they really do make a lovely baby gift!
Anyway, I digress. The other thing notable about Lea these days is that, if she is entirely asleep on her side (her preferred mode of sleeping since it allows her to sleepily locate Sharon's nipple all night long), she will stay asleep even if others in the bed get up. This worked out very nicely for me on Tuesday morning because it meant that Lea could get the rest that she needed and Hallie and I could have some quality time together.
So, even though Lea still likes to sleep on people, there's hope that we can someday put her down in her own bed. I'm sure that this will disappoint Grammy, though, who loves to hold her for hours and hours. She got a chance to do so last weekend when Sharon took the girls down to visit (while I was visiting my own mom, who broke her hip and femur a couple of weeks ago, but is doing quite well right now, all things considered):
Hannah, who just turned six, is hamming it up for the camera in the foreground. It's hard to think of Hannah as one of Hallie and Lea's little cousins anymore. She looks so grown up! Here's a picture of Hallie and Hannah; I wish the light on this were better (Sharon might be able to photoshop it to improve it somehow) because it's otherwise such a great shot:
You may have noticed how much neater Hallie's hair looks in these shots. Sharon took her in to our salon to have Whitney, who, in addition to being a versatile hairstylist also used to work as a childcare provider and nanny, give it a trim. Whitney did a spectacular job and Hallie really enjoyed the experience. We were a bit concerned about how she might react to the snipping in the absence of Elmo and company on a DVD player, but Hallie was great. She enjoyed making faces at herself in the mirror, sat still for the entire experience, and was not at all put off by the comb and scissors. In our estimation, the results of this haircut are spectacular and Hallie looks like a pretty little French girl. As it turns out, her hair is not entirely straight but contains some very fetching little curls and waves. Here's a closeup of Hallie's face during the school bus ride--which she thoroughly enjoyed since she associated it with one of her favorite songs, which she insisted on singing the entire time--to her cousin Sarah's crew meet last weekend:
But the smearing has an upside, I suppose: Hallie has been trying lots of new foods lately and a lot of them end up in her mouth and not just her hair. She is very fond of watermelon, appears to have a passion for Rita's mango water ice, has been very into eating raisins, and has tried cantaloupe (jury is still out on whether she likes it, but she's definitely interested in gnawing on it). She's been willing to put chunks of raw zucchini in her mouth. And, drum roll please, she ate a third of a piece of regular (cow milk cheese) pizza last Monday after gym class without any prompting or bribery. She just picked it up and ate it. She did insist on eating it upside down (cheese and sauce on the bottom, crusty bread on the top) and this made things a bit messier than average, but we're not going to be sticklers for detail. What we did notice, almost immediately (and it was Nadia who pointed this out to me, so it's not even my paranoia peeking through) is that Hallie began to sound very snarfly and stuffy and she clearly had some reflux after eating the pizza but the important thing is that she kept it down. This suggests to me that she is still sensitive to cow's milk and that we need to proceed with caution, but that a little bit isn't going to set off the major episodes of vomiting and reflux that we used to see around here. I'm beginning to wonder, too, whether something like Lactaid wouldn't help her. Perhaps it's an issue of a missing digestive enzyme (which seems to be the case for beef with Hallie). I know that Lactaid makes milk, cheese, and also pills that adults can take, but I am not sure whether they, or anyone else, makes lactase in a form appropriate for a small child who cannot swallow pills. If anyone has any leads, please let me know.
So the eating is going pretty well around here. Hallie is trying new stuff all the time and is eating a wider variety of food (she had a few bites of bialy the other day and really liked it; is willing to tolerate chunks of chicken nuggets dipped in catsup, of which she is quite fond; and adores creamy goat cheese spread on toast--which has to be brown and which she'd prefer to use only as a vehicle for transporting goat cheese to her mouth but not necessarily as a food worth ingesting in its own right; likewise, she loves the tomato sauce on pasta but is fairly indifferent to the noodles in their own right). Just as importantly, she has not been vomiting. At all. I am sure that I will be jinxing myself at this stage, but it's been fourteen straight days now and she has not upchucked. I do believe this is our record. And we stand at 89 days of no vomiting this year, so things are looking really good.
Because of this, we decided to pull the Reglan altogether from her list of medicines. Reglan has some scary immediate and cumulative neurological side effects and, while we believe it was a very important drug that helped her at some critical points, what we're seeing now indicates that she's no longer in need of it. She does not appear to have delayed gastric emptying at this point and, to the extent that she does, prunes and water (she loves water, which of course makes sense since it has no calories) are doing the trick. On top of this, we've cut her dose of Axid down to once a day. We're keeping the prilosec for now, but down the road may consider weaning her off of this too.
Hallie still has good and bad eating days, but we do notice that, over time, she does fine. Some days she might drink as little as six ounces of her super-charged goat milk and other days as much as 18 ounces. She stays hydrated, though, because she drinks a fair bit of water and juice (not to mentioned swigs of diet coke that she steals from me and once or twice a gulp of coffee--not that these are particularly hydrating and heaven knows that the last thing she needs is caffeine).
Our biggest concern now is getting her to eat like other kids. We don't mean that she needs a broader variety of food--honestly, the fact that she eats about 20 things and is willing to try stuff at her own rate is fine by us. What we mean is that we would like to get rid of the high chair, the TV/DVD player, and the prompting/reward system while still managing to get enough calories into our kid to keep her growing. We are not sure how to proceed with this, so if anyone has any clues, PLEASE let us know. Every time we try to feed her at the table with us and have a family meal (even if there are other kids here to keep her company), it never goes particularly well. She might take a bite or two but that's it, and usually a meltdown ensues.
We are hoping that preschool helps teach her a thing or two about how kids eat (and enhances her general social skills), but how that all plays out remains to be seen. The IEP is next week and that, and Hallie's assessment, warrant a separate post (yeah, I know I say that a lot, but this time I really mean it). Meanwhile, I leave you with some cute shots of Hallie taken at Sesame Place three or so weeks back:
Just Chillin' in her Stroller
Sliding was lots of fun but Hallie had the best time cavorting on the gym mats (and pulling her mama into the fray)
And here she is hugging Zoe:
As it turns out, she's in a Zoe phase (I am guessing that many little girls go through one). She especially likes imitating Zoe performing ballet. She'll place both hands over her head, pirouette-style, and lift one leg. This is cool, because I had no idea that she was able to stand on one leg even for a brief few seconds (this is one of the things that you are supposed to do by age 3; there are many many things that you are supposed to do by age 3 that Hallie cannot do, so it's nice to see that she can do one). So, between dancing like Zoe, galloping around the house with a cowboy hat on, saying "I ride horsie! NAY!" and marching like Barney the purple dinosaur (one of Hallie's longest sentences is "Barney purple dinosaur is MARCHING!"), I do think we have a bunch of emerging pretend play skills (one of those milestones-not-quite-met), which makes us very happy. So if she needs to be Zoe and Barney, that's fine by us! Now if we could only break her of some of her TV watching, we'd be even happier!