Friday, December 25, 2009
All About Lea
Suddenly, over the past couple of months (and particularly over the past few weeks), Lea's spitfire personality has emerged full force. She was always a spirited baby who made her needs known to us -- for instance, we've known for quite some time that she doesn't really enjoy sleeping as much as she enjoys playing and being in the thick of things, and that she's very determined to do things in her own way. But, recently, we've discovered that Lea is a very, very good communicator.
A couple of examples: When Lea likes something and wants it, she clucks like a duck. It's sort of amazing to hear. If you don't give her the desired item (usually food or drink), she'll start clucking louder and faster and also reaching for whatever it is that she wants. When Lea wants to do something, she'll also let us know what it is quite effectively. If she wants to get into her swing (usually to chill out with a bottle of formula or her new favorite beverage, Yo Baby drinkable peach flavored yogurt), she will crawl over to the swing, pull to stand, and begin to swing the swing back and forth. If she wants her diaper changed, she will crawl over to the diaper pad, grab the wipes, or, if there is a diaper in her reach, she'll grab that and bring it over to you, waving it until you get the message.
Lea is also a highly skilled baby who learns new stuff quite quickly. This past week, after I showed her how to use her walker to get around, she began to walk around the room using her walker, which she thinks is great fun.
When I showed her how to stack two blocks on top of one another, she mimicked my moves very effectively. And she knows that socks and shoes belong on her feet and sweaters on her torso and tries quite hard to get them on and in the right place. She doesn't quite have the fine motor skills to perform these tasks, but that doesn't stop her from trying. And, like Hallie, she seems eager to try on everyone's shoes and not just her own and even said the word "shoe" today while trying to put on one of Hallie's.
Lea always keeps an eye on what Hallie is doing and wants to do it, too. So she often pulls to stand at the easel and attempts to draw; grabs Hallie's cars and trains and wants to play with them too; and will get in the middle of our puzzling, castle-building, and game-playing quite reliably. Hallie is almost always happy to play with Lea and often initiates games of "more silly" with Lea, but isn't always thrilled to share her toys, especially when she's doing a puzzle or building a structure and continually admonishes her sister quite emphatically, "No, Lea! That's my toy!"
Lea also keeps an eye on Zen and adores him. Zen is a great cat and puts up with all of Lea's attention, which not only involves gentle patting but some eager swatting and pulling. Lea is equally enamored with Zen's stuff. We have to watch her like a hawk or she'll end up grabbing food out of his bowl, playing in his water, or lying in his bed. (Truth be told, though, Zen doesn't really use his bed--he prefers the dining room table--so we're not too vigilant about this). Here's a cute shot of Lea curled up in the cat bed:
Lea remains an adventurous eater who is willing to try most new foods presented to her but, like Hallie, seems to prefer snacking to eating a full meal. We're not too concerned about this just yet because Lea tends to drink a lot of milk, formula, and yogurt and is growing quite effortlessly. And, in contrast to Hallie, Lea is an adventurous eater who will try (and often like) pretty much everything we offer her, especially if it comes from our plate. She and I often share a snack of hummus and pita and, the other night, she tried and loved smoked gouda; horseradish cheddar cheese and crackers; and crab and avocado dip. Veggies liked peas, carrots, and green beans are some of her favorites and she will cluck furiously for Earth's Best pear and mango whenever I'm giving Hallie her prilosec, which is often mixed into this fruit puree. We've started giving her a fruit snack at the same time to stave off the clucking, which otherwise escalates into whining. Of course, she also clucks for wine, which we are less indulgent about! We do hope that Lea begins to eat more at any one sitting so that her tummy is full and so that she eventually replaces her liquid (breast milk and formula) consumption with solids, but she is still under a year old so we're not going to push her to eat a full solid meal just yet.
Amazingly, however, we never had to push her to learn how to use a straw. Hallie showed her once, about five months ago, and Lea picked up this skill immediately. Here she's chilling with her Yo Baby treat:
We did have a bit of a medical scare with Lea last month but are hoping that all's well that ends well. Lea often seemed to us to run warm and her head was nearly always a bit hot, but she did not seem feverish so we merely attributed this to her being an extra sweaty baby and attributed her slight temperature elevation to continual teething (Lea now has six very sharp, big teeth and more on the way). But when she began to have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep and then started being very cranky, we grew a little more concerned. Like Hallie, she seems to have a perpetual runny nose (we blame preschool for this) and so we thought she had a cold on top of teething. But after she began spiking high temps--her highest was 104.5 but she'd been running around 102 or 103 for a 24 hour period. Tylenol or Motrin brought it down to about 100 but she was clearly not doing great. On top of this, Lea was refusing to eat and drink and I was worried that she was beginning to get dehydrated. Finally, I noticed that her pee smelled off, I began to worry about Lea having a urinary tract infection (UTI). She is at high risk of these because of labial adhesions (sorry about revealing too much information here) and so we brought her into the ped's office two Fridays ago to check out the situation. Of course, it's not possible for babies to pee into a cup, so getting a urine sample from Lea was a pretty traumatic affair that involved taping a plastic bag to her, which failed miserably, followed by two failed attempts to catheterize her (her anatomy made this hard), followed by sending us home two hours later with another bag attached to her. This, combined with Sharon coming home early from work to nurse Lea, finally yielded the necessary pee, which Sharon raced over to our excellent pediatrician's office just before they closed on Friday evening. One dip stick later and Lea was confirmed as having a raging UTI. They started her on antibiotics immediately (about which she was none too pleased; unlike Hallie, who, thankfully, is great about taking medicine, Lea is never happy about this at all and even fights things that taste relatively good like Tylenol).
Unfortunately, Lea did not appear to improve much on Saturday and remained reluctant to eat and slept away the day while Sharon and Hallie went to hippotherapy and then to a Chanukah party at Grandma Sandy's and Poppy Jack's. While she did seem better on Saturday evening, she was still running a low grade fever on Sunday and so, as per the recommendation of our ped's office, we took her in to the ER at CHOP on Sunday. I stayed home with Hallie while Grammy and Sharon brought her to the hospital (since there was no use exposing Hallie to a long wait and lots of germs in the hospital). There they confirmed that the original antibiotics were not ideal based upon the culture that had just come back and started her on a different antibiotic, which seems to have done the trick.
The big questions, however, were whether this was a chronic UTI that had caused kidney damage and whether Lea was experiencing bladder reflux. To figure out all of this required yet more testing, which Sharon and I completed last Tuesday. Fortunately, we can rule out those problems.
Still, Lea had been through a lot and she deserved a cheerful pick me up. It's long been our tradition that, if Hallie ends up at CHOP for something other than routine specialist care, we buy her a little gift to reward her for putting her through the wringer. Unfortunately, Sharon was unable to visit the gift shop after the ER but we made sure to get her a present after her testing was completed. Here's Lea playing with her smiley face balloon bouquet:
She is quite the little character and now that she's feeling better, she's even more of one. I am sure that, once she begins to walk, Lea will definitely give us a run for our money.
I'm still working on a Christmas post, so check back soon!