How Old is Hallie?

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

French Fries

Who knew that we were going to end up being the sort of moms who not only constantly puts their kid in front of the DVD player to eat but also gives her french fries at every meal, including breakfast? Seriously, if you worked on these two pieces of evidence alone (and left out all of that bigger context stuff that we historians are always worrying about), you'd be on the phone with Child Protective Services about now.

Anyway, the fries are a big hit around here, and yesterday Hallie ate 8 for breakfast and 12 for dinner (and would have eaten more had I prepared more). She loves her 'sticks.' Apparently, one thing we should do is call any new food a 'stick' (and cut it up appropriately if it is not conveniently stick-sized and -shaped) and the kid will eat it. But I think, on second thought, that we also have to find a way of frying said foods: there is something about the texture, taste, and snap of fried foods, which are inherently crunchier on the outside and tender on the inside, that Hallie finds singularly appealing.

Regardless, there has certainly been quite a bit of progress on the food front around here, and for this we are very grateful. It sucks that we can't just go to any old restaurant and order up a plate of fries for Hallie because so many commercially available fries are coated in wheat or rice flour, or contain dairy or eggs (who knew?) but at least we can bring some safe brands with us (the organic shoestrings from Whole Foods or Cascadian Farms are two brands that seem to work nicely) and heat some up for her.

Next week, we'll try prunes/plums. And if all goes well, venture into the wide world of beef thereafter. Hallie's iron count is okay right now, but her iron stores are low, even with the very good daily multivitamin and minerals she is getting. Hallie's pediatrician is not terribly concerned and does not want us to add a supplement right now because this could wreak havoc with Hallie's system, but he does want us to try to get another, more iron-rich protein source on board if this proves possible. If that doesn't work, we'll seek out vegetarian-based iron sources (food, preferably, but if not food, then a veggie iron supplement).

Meanwhile, we'll revel in the fact that Hallie has officially passed bananas. She has had four vomit free days in a row, and the only days in the past two weeks when she has vomited have been from crying or injuries (and most often both) unrelated to food allergy issues. She is now up to 72 vomit free days this year and we have only done 2 loads of laundry this week (YAY!).

Overall, Hallie is energetic, talking, signing like a champ (better than I do, by far), and in a very good mood overall. The only annoying thing she has begun to do this week is to go up for her bath and bottle at 10 or 10:30pm, drink 2 ounces while lolling on the futon, and then want to come downstairs to play for another half hour. She's done this two nights in a row at this point and, on the first night, we attributed this to a very late nap. Last night, there was no reason to which we could attribute this except for the fact that she's establishing a new trend (Hallie has very well-established routines: when she passes the bathroom she must stop in and brush her teeth; when she passes the blue canister of coffee in the kitchen, she must remove and replace the pewter scoop, etc etc). We are hoping to break her of this new nighttime routine today: we are going to spend the night at Sharon's mom's condo and there is no downstairs. Perhaps this is enough of a switch up to rewire whatever side of the brain that establishes routines. Hopefully it will do the trick!

Friday, June 27, 2008


10 fries as a pre-dinner snack
71 vomit free days
5 foods? -- it sure seems like it
1 sleeping baby

I told you that this was going to be a short post!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In a New York State of Mind

Hallie made her first trip to the Big Apple (which is where I am from) this past weekend. The main reason was for my brother's wedding, but we managed to jam in a fun-packed and eventful few days.

First stop was to visit my best friend from college, Steve, and his lovely wife Sarah and their no-longer newborn daughter, Nina (who is about five months old). Raising a micropreemie who even just has minimal issues is a challenge: we were at six therapy appointments, plus doctors visits (thankfully these have tapered off to two to three times a year for most specialists, but still we end up at CHOP a lot, particularly during May/June, October, and January/February), plus weeks of chronic vomiting, and you get one hard to transport kid. Add on top of this two full time jobs and the need to transport all of your kid's food in a gianormous cooler and your mobility becomes severely impaired. Anyway, all this is to say that the three of us have been desperately wanting to get up to see Steve and Sarah and meet the lovely Nina, and this was the first chance we had to do so.

Hallie had a blast. She got to hang out with her two favorite creatures in the world (if you don't count Elmo and Ernie, of course): dogs and babies. What could be better?

Here's the only picture I got of Steve, who is hanging out with us at Au Bon Pain down the block from the midtown apartment in which he and the family temporarily live while their West End Avenue digs are renovated:

Sharon and Nina really hit it off and Nina loved playing with Sharon's face and getting cuddles from her:

In this one, Sarah is reading to Nina, and Hallie just had to get in on the action:

And here's an odd shot of Friday the dog; she just loves this fluffy puppy, which is the same dog toy that so enthralled Samantha (Kim Cattrall's) pooch in Sex and the City. Yes, Friday uses it for the same purpose as Samantha's doggie, if you know what I mean.

On Saturday, we were all up bright and early (much to Sharon's chagrin) and Steve and his family headed out of the city to their place in Connecticut. We headed to the Upper West Side for Hallie's first haircut and to see another one of my college friends who lives up there.

As is typical for Manhattan on a summer Saturday, there was a parade being held, which we only discovered after waiting and waiting and waiting for the M7. After a bit, we just decided to walk up Central Park West (which is how we discovered that the buses were all re-routed to some other location).

Instead of meeting up with Shelly and her two kids for a quick brunch, we ended up going straight to the hair salon. Hallie, of course, fell asleep in the stroller en route, and continued to nap at Cozy Cuts for Kids Westuntil it was time for her cut. Meanwhile, Sharon and I developed strategies (that included, of course, buying toys and bubbles and such and devising clever dances, ditties, and songs to use as distractions) because we assumed that Hallie would have a total meltdown during the hair cut (and would potentially start crying and bring up her breakfast and bottle. Such is the sad reality for parents whose kids vomit at the drop of a hairpin). As is getting more and more typical these days, boy did we overreact; Hallie's first haircut ended up being the most fabulous, trauma-free experience anyone could have possibly imagined. It really helped that Michelle, the stylist, was great with her, but to be truthful, it really helps to have a kid who has an insatiable appetite for Elmo and all things Sesame Street. We popped in a DVD of Elmo's World and Michelle could have done anything at all to Hallie and Hallie would have been fine. To think that all of those hours of eating in front of the DVD player were practice for this!

First, Michelle got rid of the mullet in back and gave Hallie a cute bob that makes her hair look a lot thicker instead:

Then she evened out the fringe we called bangs (keeping them long would not work for our kid, who tolerates a barrette for about 2.2 seconds---just long enough to check out her visage in the mirror, the dishwasher, or some other reflective surface and then pulls it out):

A few parts, a couple of snips, and a bunch of combs later, Michelle was ready to finish up:

Hallie even sat still and enjoyed being 'blown out':

This fabulous behavior earned Hallie an enormous kiss from Mommy:

And Michelle ended our spa kids-cut experience by taking a family portrait of the three of us.

Balloon, new toys, and first haircut certificate in tow, we all headed out for a quick bite to eat at a BBQ joint on Columbus. Sharon was bowled over by how kid-friendly the city is. I've been trying to tell her for years that NY is a GREAT place to raise kids, but she didn't believe me until the relatively hole-in-the-wallish bar we popped into had a kid's menu (not that it was relevant for us, but still), gave Hallie crayons, another balloon (which she promptly popped), a toy crocodile, and all the ice she could eat or toss on the floor. Hallie, for her part, was very well behaved for the first forty-five minutes of lunch, which was great for us.

Hallie only got antsy towards the end of lunch, so I walked her around the neighborhood while Sharon finished up lunch and paid the check. Then the three of us headed over to the Great Lawn at Central Park to meet up with Shelly, Diana, and Jeremy.

Jeremy and his friend happily shared their ball and Spider Man bat with Hallie, who ran around with both while I chased after her.

She had a great time, but displayed approximately zero interest in settling down for an afternoon nap that would prepare her for the evening's festivities. Nonetheless, her mood throughout was fabulous (and she did catnap a bit in the stroller on
our way back to Steve's apartment).

We all got changed for the wedding, checked into the hotel, and went off to the ceremony. Since it was in an outdoor courtyard, Hallie had a lot of room in which to run around safely and Sharon got a ton of exercise chasing after her.

At the reception, Hallie had her first ever dance, checked out the disco ball close up (very fun), and took a very long nap while some extremely loud (yet soothing) music blared. Oddly enough, she only woke up when the music stopped so that the best man could offer up a toast.

The next day, on our way out of town, the three of us got a chance to catch up with Eliza Grace and her mom, Anne, at a great park on the Upper East Side. The two girls literally hung out (and checked each other out) on the swings after Eliza awoke from a rare nap in her stroller.

They ran around a bit, Hallie climbed on the jungle gym and played in the sprinkler (thankfully we always travel with a change or two of clothing), and then the three moms headed off for a small bite before we took to the road. Hallie decided to take this chance to nap, which was great for lunch, and not too bad for the ride home, either. Once more, our DVD distraction came in handy, and the only thing minutely negative about it was that my wrist ached from holding up the portable player for so long. I hope that they plan to build these units in to tiny little electricity-powered smart cars in the future (and I hope that, despite their seemingly Lilliputian size, they also have room for a cooler that allows one to tailgate with three days' worth of goat milk formula).

Anyway, we were all exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday, and we're still catching up on our energy around here (which is part of why it's taken me so long to post; the other part is that it is a major pain in the butt to upload a million pictures to Blogger). It's pretty amazing to me that we actually made it on time (sort of) for Hallie's gym class on Tuesday, given that I had to wake our girl (she slept until 11:15am on Monday, and needed to be up by 9 on Tuesday for breakfast before class). Since Ami was off, I was the one taking her to the gym, and it was interesting to me to see what she could and could not, and did and did not wish to do. She loved climbing, of course, and took off for the mats immediately.

She also expressed a huge amount of interest in tumbling and was happy to have Bridget, her instructor, tumble her over forms and even roll her on the mat. This time around, unlike the first gym class, Hallie was fine on the balance beam and even let me walk her across it while holding her under the arms.

What she was not too great at doing was following directions. There were all of three kids in the class, and the other two, who are also two years old, were fine with sitting in a circle during circle time and singing and following directions. In contrast, Hallie kind of wandered off, ended up in the middle of the circle and enjoyed herself by getting twisted in a brightly colored parachute. Since her speech is delayed and her voice is so creaky, she doesn't really sing, so our rendition of Wheels on the Bus was kind of lost on her.

Finally, she doesn't seem to have the same interpersonal social skills as the other kids. While she has recently taken to waving hello and goodbye (in a way that is suspiciously reminiscent of Rachel Coleman from SIgning Time) and even saying "Hi!" and "Bye!", she doesn't really know to answer "Hallie" when asked her name. This means we need to redouble our efforts at teaching social graces in the way that we find most effective around here; namely, we'll be watching a lot of Signing Time: Nice to Meet You in the hopes that some of this will rub off on our girl. Given her propensity to learn by watching and sign-and-say, we expect this will work pretty well.

Meanwhile, on other fronts, eating and speech are really coming along. We did not trial a new food last week since Hallie was still working the soy out of her system. She had a GREAT week, and this made both Sharon and I want NOT to try any more new foods. We're not doing that, of course, since Hallie really does need to expand her repertoire, but we do want to report that we had FIVE vomit free days in a row last week, and that the only vomits we had (Sunday of last week, and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of this week) were NOT in the least related to food. Rather, each incident involved falling, hitting her head, getting her hand caught in a hamper, and other such events that could be chalked up to normal toddler stuff with a decent dose of mama negligence or carelessness thrown in for good measure. None of them concern us (even if they are still annoying because they deprived Hallie of much needed calories). And this week we've had two more vomit free days in a row (yesterday and today) during our most recent food trial of bananas. That's a whopping 60 vomit free days this year for those of you who are keeping count with us, and we've now surpassed our goal of having one third of the year being vomit-free).

Now it's still too soon to tell if bananas are totally safe, but today we've stepped up her intake from two ounces per day (which she ate on Monday and Tuesday) to four ounces. We expect that we'd be seeing a reaction already, or at least soon, if bananas are a problem. So, once more, we are hopeful.

And speaking of hopeful, I'd like to report that Hallie not only ate some lightly mashed very soft-cooked potato cubes today for breakfast and goat cheddar cheese sticks for lunch and dinner, but also had a snack of SIX french fries (Whole Foods brand, which are rice- and gluten-free) cooked in olive oil. These HAVE to have some calories in them, right? Anyway, she chews and swallows nicely when her throat and GI tract aren't inflamed, and this is very heartening.

On the speech front, Hallie is now asking for particular colors by name. What she does is sign (or approximate a sign---we understand her just fine) and speak a word approximation (pink-ie; eeeeen; oooh; ellow; owwwwn and the like). She also says 'up' and 'down' and 'in' really well and is naming particular letters of the alphabet when she sees them. While she is still mostly dropping first consonants, Hallie's speech therapist isn't too concerned because this is developmentally typical of a child of about 18 months old, which is where Hallie's speech seems to be right now. She is obviously still delayed by about 6 months in terms of her expressive speech but is making a huge amount of progress on a regular basis. Given that she was at the 12 month level back in February, she seems to be keeping pace and not falling further behind. So, while she does not have two-word utterances that are on target for age 2, one might expect that she'll have these by sometime late in 2008 or early 2009. That's fine with us, because Hallie will do what Hallie will do when Hallie will do it, and we moms will be helping her as much as we can along the way.

Whew! That was quite a marathon post, and if anyone is still reading this, I promise that I will be uncharacteristically terse next time around!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NICU Follow-Up Program Graduation

I can't believe we've graduated from Pennsylvania Hospital's Follow Up Program already. Honestly, for us 23 weekers, it seems that 2 years is far too soon to age out of the program (you'd think they were interested in what happens next, and on a personal level I think they are; it's just that they only follow their kiddos for 2 years and then it's sayonara). That's too bad, because we actually have come to enjoy these visits and very much like the folks who run the program.

Anyway, Hallie did swimmingly well yesterday. She is really into puzzles, and this was the first thing that Katie asked her to do, and she placed the large shapes into the proper cut outs like a champ. She then proceeded to put all of the long thin pegs into the pegboard, the small shape pieces into the proper place, etc. She also sat still for Katie and did not complain much (note to Hallie: can you try to replicate this sort of behavior at home from time to time? We'd really appreciate it). There were a couple of tasks where Hallie was noncompliant (like matching the proper color duck to the colored pencils on a page), but this was more out of a sense of finding the task tedious than out of not understanding what was expected of her. She was perfectly happy to tell you what color the duck was in her verbal or signing approximations ('oooh' for a blue duck; 'eeeeeen' for a green one; and a very clear 'yellow' for a yellow one); it was just a matter of why would you want to put a duck on a pencil, for Pete's sake, anyway?

Hallie was very happy to walk for Katie---she walked forwards, backwards, and sideways, and ran down the hall until we closed the office door, and then tried to open the door by turning it. She placed pennies into a miniature piggy bank until there were no more pennies to place, and then she tried her best to unscrew the nose of the pig (which is how you open the pig to empty it). She didn't quite manage to open the door or the pig, which we find heartening since this makes it less likely for her to break out of her room after a nap or break into a bottle of prilosec or God forbid something even worse. But she clearly gets the principle of the thing, and that is a good thing. She shows great capacity to generalize, as evidenced by her mistaking of Katie's stainless steel, french door with bottom lateral filing cabinet for a refrigerator (ours is stainless steel, french door, and bottom freezer in nature), and kept asking for an 'icy' (because this is what she does at home). That seemed clever to us.

Anyway, Hallie did do some talking this time around (in addition to saying her colors, approximating the word 'ball' ('awwwllll') and saying 'ready' and 'mama' quite clearly, she also said some other stuff. Back in October, Hallie hardly talked at all, and this had the NICU follow up team kind of worried. Now they aren't so much: Hallie's receptive language and cognition are phenomenal, and she is clearly trying to communicate using words and sign. Her expressive language is obviously delayed for her we-don't-correct-anymore-actual-age of just over two (she doesn't really try to use two word phrases, she obviously doesn't have the 300 to 400 words expected of those who are two), but she has come a long way and their sense is that she will catch up. It's just not clear when, and it is certainly true that her articulation still needs a lot of work. But other than that (and her eating issues; when they asked if she was on table food, Sharon and I just kind of looked at one another), no real problems. This was good to hear.

In terms of weight, there is no doubt that Hallie is thinner than she had been. We're not sure by how much, but the scale put her at 12.02 kilos dressed and with a diaper (probably not totally dry). She has certainly gained no weight since last week, but she might have gained in height. Standing up, the neonatalogist measured her at 35 inches. Sharon and I both think this is a bit of an exaggeration, but we wouldn't be surprised if Hallie were over 34 inches. So she is long and lean and, on top of this, is the proud owner of a pinhead---they measured her head at 43 cm, which is a loss of 2 cm over last week, and 1 cm over a month ago. Now we don't really think her head is shrinking---it just seems that these measurements could afford to be a tad bit more exact than they are. Anyway, her head doesn't look disproportionately smaller than the rest of her, and we're not terribly concerned (especially since Sharon has a bit of a pinhead).

So that was our visit; we'll continue to pop in at Pennsy (we live eight blocks from the hospital) but next time it'll just be to see friends, and not for any formal testing.

EDITED TO ADD: Two more vomit-free days to report...that's four in a row now...and make 57 days for 2008--precisely 1/3 days this year, given that June 20th is the 171st day of the year. And, of course, I probably just jinxed our whole family on the eve of our weekend in NY. Gee, I hope my 'magical thinking' stuff is proved wrong in this case....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Birthday Party Post

Hallie's birthday party was last Saturday. Have you guessed yet that the theme was Sesame Street? Sharon had the brilliant idea of an ice sculpture, which is just perfect for a kid who cannot eat cake but who loves ice, and Aunt Vanessa decorated the lovely Elmo cupcakes.

We held it at the local playground, which has a great (and huge, and most significantly given the heat wave we were experiencing last week, air conditioned) rec room that could accommodate the throngs and hordes whom we had invited. (Even though we vowed to keep it small this time around, we did not quite manage to keep to that promise).

Hallie had a rough end of the week last week---she was still working the soy out of her system, which was a mess---so she ended up taking a very long late morning/early afternoon nap. While this meant that she missed the first hour of the festivities, the upside to this was that she was well rested for the balance of the party.

For a 2 year old who doesn't yet attend preschool, Hallie sure has lots of little friends. This is just a small subset of our young party-goers:

Of course, all of Hallie's cousins were SOOO excited to see her (Newly-teenaged Megan is the one holding Hallie in the photo above). Her cousin Adam couldn't resist hugging her and hugging her and hugging her:

Hallie returned the favor by crowning Adam with one of the festive Elmo birthday hats:

Hannah was equally thrilled to see Hallie, and Hallie made her very happy by saying her name. Hannah made Hallie very happy by pushing her on the swings:

We also had some superstar former preemies at our party, including Nina Fox, who is even cuter in person than she is in the many photos of her posted by her lovely parents, Judith and Jason. We hope that Hallie and Nina get to hang out some more one-on-one this summer.

The Bell twins, 23 weekers who were born exactly one month prior to Olivia and Hallie and whose impressive development we watched from across the ICN at Pennsylvania Hospital, also made it to the party with their mom and aunt. They are doing so well (and impressed the heck out of Eric Mallow, one of Hallie's neonatalogists, who also attended the gala event. Eric was beaming like a proud parent and got some great shots of Hallie trying out a 'hot' (as in borrowed from another park user) tricycle and engaging in all sorts of antics). Here Hallie is striding into the party space with Payton Bell (I THINK!) right behind her.

And no party retrospective would be complete without a photo of Aunt Laura holding our girl:

On Sunday, Hallie, Sharon, Grammy, and I went to our favorite toddler playground, Three Bears Park, for a wild session of swinging, sliding, and bubble blowing. Then we came home and Hallie tried out one of her new ride-on toys, a hippity hop horse that Alex (and her parents Sheila and Brett) gave her. She thinks it's super cool.

Ride, em, cowgirl!

Hallie also got to test drive her new tricycle (given to her by Karina, Mark, and Vanessa) but we don't have stills of that yet. Let's just say that we're impressed that our girl understands where to place her feet and that she needs to peddle. Unfortunately, she's about a half inch too short to have quite enough leverage to go (a good thing because she still needs a helmet and doesn't quite get the concept of steering. Anyway, that will come in time.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this a special day for our little girl!

In other news, now that the soy is out of Hallie's system, she has had several great days in a row. We are up to 55 vomit-free days this year.

Just as important, Hallie's mood has been really good, she is well-rested, and she is talking up a storm. She was exceptionally well-behaved at our ENT appointment yesterday morning (especially since we had to drag her out of bed, asleep, at 7:45am to make it to our 8:20am appointment on time) and followed all the directions of the very nice audiologist who tested her hearing. Happily, her hearing tests within normal range, though I suspect (from her lack of response) that she cannot hear very high-pitched, soft noises. But still, given the heavy doses of IV antibiotics she received in the NICU and the length of their courses, we are very happy that she has avoided major hearing loss. And her ear tubes continue to look great and are doing their job; that she is no longer refluxing now that her allergies are mostly under control (except for when we poison her during our trials) helps a great deal with this. So we don't need to be back for another SIX months. That's fabulous. We no longer see anyone more frequently than twice a year, and this is super duper wonderful...especially in comparison to the weekly visits we made to the ped last summer and the every-two-to-three-month appointments we had with most of our specialists during that first year and a half of Hallie's life.

Today's our big 2 year NICU follow-up and I'll post about that later...

Meanwhile, here's one last pic of our kiddo, who really is too cool to be 2!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fashion Forward Two Year Old

I mostly live in Eddie Bauer or LL Bean shorts and tees in summer and Ann Taylor or Banana Republic pants and sweaters in winter; Sharon dresses in tailored slacks and shirts and sweaters (some of them mine...I guess this is a benefit of being a same-sex couple. Fashion-sensibility, alas, is not!). Hallie, however, seems to be headed down a fashion path of her own making, which definitely holds a candle (and what a lovely 2 year old candle, indeed) to all of the fashion-forward styles on display in Sex and the City, which we quite happily went to see tonight, despite the somewhat problematic digestive issues that our far more couture-evolved two year old experienced today (Thank you, Ami, for providing us with summer date nights!)

Both of us have been allowing Hallie to choose her outfits really, and does this girl know how to accessorize! From crazy leg warmers in summertime to shiny boots, shades, and yes, even hats, we've got quite the little mini fashionplate in our home. Her sense of style is eclectic, and certainly matches the unique 23 weeker that she is.

So, without any further ado, allow me to feature some recent shots that will give any runway model a run for her money:

And lest we forget, here's a couple of pics of Princess Hallie on the night of her birthday:

While it is certainly true that it was I who purchased the pink tiara (and the pink sunglasses, and the pink boots), please note that I do believe that her new favorite color is pink. She signs it and says it quite nicely, and boy does this girl (who is now enamored of Zoe from Sesame Street) know what she wants. And thank you, thank you, thank you, Rachel Coleman---not only for the lovely and over the top birthday gift for our amazing little micropreemie, but also for teaching her all of her colors! Even if the Academy's members (whoever they are) didn't vote for you guys, you know that you guys are winners here in our home! And, for the record, even if NY boasts a good cannoli, and even if I am originally from the Big Apple, the best ones are from Philly...we'll be sending you guys some from the Italian Market here in Philly pronto!

Meanwhile, stay tuned for pics from the Hallie birthday bash!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Failed Soy

Well, we were too optimistic, too soon. Apparently Hallie cannot tolerate soy.

She was fine until Wednesday afternoon (if we forget about that Sunday night vomit). We stepped up the amount of soy to 2 ounces of milk on Wednesday, and after lunch she vomited. Still, this could have been because she had cried following her blood draw (her doctor's appointment went great---her lungs sound clear, her weight is up to 26 lbs again and she is 33.5 inches tall. This places her at the 42nd percentile for weight and 44th for height. The doctor has no concerns about her cognitive ability at this point and was totally pleased).

Anyway, Wednesday night she seemed fine with more soy milk (another ounce) and yogurt (an ounce). But Thursday is a different story. She had diarrhea on Thursday afternoon, vomited after dinner (in public---the restaurant was nice, the patrons, not so much. Note to readers: extend sympathy, or at least simply ignore, retching and vomiting kids. Do not screech "EWWWWW", especially if you are a seemingly mature 30-something-year-old and above), had diarrhea after vomiting, woke up with diarrhea on Friday (necessitating another bath, a changing of the changing table, another load of laundry, and a shirt change for mama who finally figured out that the lingering smell was coming from herself). Then more diarrhea (3 bouts and counting, if you must know) and another vomit added in for good measure this afternoon, replete with ashen gray pallor. Fun, fun, fun. Little in the way of food eaten, but she is hydrated (a couple of wet diapers even with all that) and no sign of lethargy or anything like that, so we have no reason to believe she is sick.

We were careful to buy brands that did not contain rice (amazing that many do), so that's not the cause. And while she is teething (all 4 canines have finally broken through), we've been through teething before and it has never involved diarrhea. So in the absence of any other factor, we have to believe that it's soy that's at the root of all this and that we just hit a critical mass in terms of the amount she needed to trigger an enterocolitis event. We'll see. If we're correct, she should improve markedly in the next 36 hours and go back to baseline within 72.

Meanwhile, we're pretty dejected around here because we were so hopeful that soy would at least provide Hallie with another food option that was protein-rich. Not to mention it was wonderful to think that she might have FIVE food options. But I guess it wasn't meant to be, and while she can certainly tolerate trace amounts of soy (not true of rice and buckwheat and milk), it's important to strip her diet of allergens if we want a chance of her outgrowing all of this.

Anyway, this post preempted and eclipsed another post that I will be writing about Hallie's birthday week. Hopefully things will run their course tonight and I'll feel better about writing something more upbeat tomorrow after Hallie's big birthday bash.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Little Gymnast

Ami took Hallie to her first Movers and Shakers Class yesterday at the awesome new Philly Kids Gym and Hallie had a blast.

The gym itself is very well equipped and runs circles around the OT gym she was using (too infrequently for her taste, and ours) at private speech therapy. Ami recounted that, as is typical, Hallie hung back a bit at first and assessed the situation, got to know the layout of the gym and familiarize herself with the other kids. Then she took off and had a blast.

She was a bit hesitant about the balance beam, which is interesting given Hallie's general penchant for climbing. My sense is that she's happy to climb in familiar environments and when she has something to grasp. The balance beam took Hallie to the edge of her comfort zone, and this is good for her.

She did make it up, and stood on the beam:

But almost immediately began to sign and say "All Done!" She's really learning the power of using her words these days, because the instructor got her down immediately.

Now the ball pit was a different story. Placing Hallie in it elicited this very happy face:

All in all--a great experience. And a nice way to start off a generally fabulous day. Hallie ate like a champ all day long, and even more exciting was that she not only deigned to eat the chunks of Goat Cheddar we offered to her, but ASKED for them by saying "cheese" over and over. She loved them! And, not only that, but not a single gag, either. She must have eaten about 3/4 of an ounce of goat cheddar over the course of the day, and a billion or so potato sticks, on top of her normal fare. Jenny, Hallie's EI Speech Therapist was totally impressed by this (and by Hallie's new communicative skills---our girl is definitely moving on from labeling to using language to ask for things and send us messages). Jenny's assessment of it is that the tons of ice cubes that Hallie demands on a daily basis have a very important therapeutic purpose: by putting them in her mouth, swishing them around, taking them out, and replacing them and letting them melt on her tongue, Hallie is desensitizing her own palate (maybe we should be paying Hallie for her speech therapy?). All in all, this makes her less panicked about stuff in her mouth and more willing to try different textures. Neat theory, and I think it holds water (so to speak).

In any event, we're all seeing a very different little girl this week, compared to last. Last week she was a mess: her color was off, she was gagging, she was all over the place in terms of her mood and more prone to destroying the house and having tantrums than to anything else. This week--beginning on Saturday, really--she's well-organized emotionally, doesn't mess up the downstairs by pulling out all toys, books, etc and throwing them around (indeed, she's been pretty neat for a toddler) and only has bouts of whininess when excessively tired. She's sleeping well, her nose and throat and breathing sound clear, and she's happy. What a nice change. This alone is a good signal to us that she's okay with soy. And, on top of this, no vomiting again yesterday. So, day 54 down and hopefully many more spew-free days to come!

The rest of this week is going to be hectic. Today is Hallie and Olivia's birthday, and we'll be celebrating (???) by taking her for her 2-year checkup, which is going to involve a blood draw (boo hoo) and a weight check (who can say where she's at---we're nervous about this, but not excessively so because she clearly looks fine). Then dinner with Josh, Nancie, and the boys.

Thursday, Aunt Ellen (one of Hallie's fabulous NICU primaries) will pop in and we'll begin the party prep in earnest, which shall continue through the big day, which is Saturday. Hopefully it'll be sunny, not too hot, and a great park/playground day (because that's the party venue). I just checked the weather, and they are calling 89, Partly Sunny, and a 40% chance of Thunderstorms. If all of you can channel your climactic karma in the direction of holding off those storms until 5pm or so, we'd really appreciate it! We have a very special day planned for our little girl and we don't want it to rain on her parade!