How Old is Hallie?

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

EI, Eating, and Hanging Out at the Beach

I can't believe that it's taken me all week just to contemplate sitting down to write another update; I have to say that starting up work again has really cut into my blogging time...

All in all, it's been a fairly uneventful end-of-summer for Hallie. (We LOVE uneventful; it's bad enough that her mamas can be major drama queens! I hate to be cryptic, but those of you who know us in real life may--or may not--know what we mean).

First, Hallie finally had her third quarterly Early Intervention team meeting. Yes, the math does not add up: Hallie has been in the EI system pretty much since a week after she came home back in October 2006. Since that initial meeting, we've had exactly 2 other follow ups. We requested the first one in December when we added our excellent OT, Amy. We were never told that EI was supposed to evaluate us quarterly, and were thus under the impression that they wouldn't come out again until we were aged-out unless we had an issue. In May, our next issue---Hallie's delayed speech and eating problems--prompted us to call our EI coordinator again. It was then that we found out that Hallie's caseworker had faked her visits to us (purportedly monthly) and quarterly follow-ups. No wonder the system has cracks in it! We're not sure what happened to that caseworker, but hope that she's not been reassigned to other (unsuspecting) families. If we hadn't been pushy enough, who knows how long that would have gone on. Anyway, in June we finally did get the follow up and were approved for Speech. Our current quarterly assessment was done, as is so much of EI, on the fly. First, they did not check with us (or two out of the three team members) and scheduled the evaluation to occur when Hallie was supposed to be hospitalized in August. Then, they never called us back. Finally, I called them again and again since our goal was to increase Hallie's Speech Therapy from once a week to twice since she's made only a little progress in the month that Jenny, a very good ST, has been seeing her. When I eventually got the caseworker on the phone, she said that she would set up something and chose a time three days later. Of course two out of the three team members were unavailable, but at least Jenny could make it. Now that the Labor Day holiday is over, we'll finally begin to ramp up Hallie's speech therapy.

Anyway, we really do adore our whole team. Here's a nice picture of Hallie with Crystal, the Special Instructor who was the first member of Hallie's team (she began working with Hallie back in November, when our girl would hardly tolerate tummy time on a boppy pillow).

As they say, "you've come a long way, Baby!" It's hard for Crystal to believe that Hallie was once so small, so frail, and so attached to oxygen tubing.

Meanwhile, Hallie's speech has picked up a bit on its own. She's still pretty inconsistent about talking and her voice is often very faint (we have just noticed that you can hardly hear her cry when she's actually in a bad situation; she must be missing whatever speech register she is trying to use. This is pretty frightening and unfortunately just reinforces our tendencies not to take our eyes off of the kid at any moment). But on a more positive note, we're hearing more consonants---she definitely has a "g", has been known occassionally to say "woo, woo" and likes to go around saying "dada-dada-daddy." We find this particularly ironic given our status as a two-mommy household.

She's also eating pretty nicely. In addition to her fondness for mozzarella cheese (ripped up finely) and our discovery that she loves mushrooms and olives, she's also done a lot better with tiny bits of pasta. She is very interested in self-feeding, and oreo cookies are one of her favorites:

It's a good thing that we're also working on great oral hygeine skills:

And, like her moms, Hallie has discovered the virtues of multitasking as a means of survival:

It's not all about work, though, around here. Yes, it's true that Labor Day is not a holiday that I or my students are permitted to celebrate (GRRRRR), but at least Hallie and Sharon got to go to the Shore for the long weekend. Hallie, as usual, enjoyed catching some rays. She spent Saturday at the pool and Sunday at the beach, floating on her baby raft in the former, and taking up surfing in the latter:

Doesn't she look cute and sandy? I'll be uploading a video of our girl cavorting with her cousins and posting it, and some pics of Hallie's first baseball game (not the self-immolating Phillies but the far more consistent Atlantic City Surfs) in my next post.


23wktwinsmommy said...

Yay I was waiting for the update! She is so cute. I too especially love the sand picture. It is so weird how different places do things differently. Because they are 23 weekers, S&E automatically receive EI...there is no evaluation any time soon. If we want OT or ST to come in all we do is tell our EI worker, who is experienced in these areas as well, and she puts in for an appointment. I think it should be universal that all 23 weekers receive services just based upon the fact they are 23 weekers if the parents think they are necessary, which I would argue more often than not they are. Even if you want to stop the age adjusting as early as possible, EI should be involved ASAP. I'm glad your persistance seems like it will pay off! hahaha and da da da daddy...sorry all you daddy's out there but it looks like da da is an involuntary sound babies make!

Heidi said...

Hooray, update! I've been checking, too. Our SLP said the 'd' sound is easier to make than the 'm' sound so dada comes out first. Emiline just started saying, 'mama' but I am consistently still "DAAADDDY!" to Bennett. Or sometimes he'll call me Heidi. I wish I knew why.

I'm sorry ECI has been less than stellar in getting Hallie services. Any idea what happened to the caseworker? I hope she was fired.

Emily said...

Wow, talk about caseworker scandal! Our EI meetings are frustrating at times, but at least they show up when they're supposed to. We were told when Noah was 9 months old that they didn't think he needed speech therapy anymore. Hello!?! Noah is deaf and at that point had little to no oral motor skills (he didn't start in on purees until 22 months and isn't yet on solids). I feel bad for the kids whose parents don't know how to put up a fight when needed. I guess it comes with the territory of preemie parenting.