Monday, September 8, 2008

18 months - April

April is now 18 months old!

April has a lot of nicknames. Sometimes, I call her "Trouble" (with much gratitude and joy behind that label). Audrey, for some unknown reason, calls her "Kitty." Maybe it is since she crawled around for such a long time. I also call her "Miss," and Claire, Jolie and I sometimes call her "Cutie." She seems to be doing pretty much everything she should be doing -- just a little bit behind.
April eats well. She is not very picky -- although she doesn't like plain Cheerios (she will eat them in a bowl with milk). She self-feeds finger foods well, and attempts to use a spoon occasionally. She drinks using a sippy cup, but can also drink from a straw and is beginning to learn to drink from an open cup. Thankfully, the days of spitting up every time she eats are long gone. She also doesn't care for water. She usually drinks whole milk, and enjoys juice occasionally, but she does NOT like water. The picture below shows her reaction to discovering water in her sippy instead of milk.
When April is finished eating (and she doesn't always finish what is on her tray or in her cup), she says "all done!" Although April doesn't run around talking all the time, she does actually say quite a few words. Among her repertoire are: mama, daddy, thank you (one of her first words), me (for "give me that"), nose, no (newly acquired - not surprising since she hears it all the time), ball, up, down, bath, uh oh, hi (which she calls out to many people she sees), bye, soft, lullaby, here, and baby (this was her other first word -- and she used to say it very clearly). A strange thing is that if she is out of my sight and I call to her, she never answers. I say "April!" and I predictably hear silence. Sometimes, when I find her, she is just around the corner from where I had been.
She obviously sucks her thumb, as have all my children (except Jolie didn't start until 18 months, and Audrey sucks her fingers). She is a pretty smart little cookie. When I do up her car seat or stroller straps, she watches carefully, and then grabs them to try herself. When we undo the straps, she sometimes (instead of trying to get out) grabs the buckles, stares intently at them, and tries to snap them together. She rotates her little wrist around to look at all angles of the buckle. I wonder whether she will learn how to get herself in and out of her car seat before Audrey does! (Audrey is just not interested.) As most kids, she loves remotes, phones, and the laptop. I've had to delete lots of unwanted characters from this message, as she has tried her best to contribute to it. Right now, she is trying to insert a straw into Audrey's empty juice box.
("See my four teeth?") April finally walks everywhere now. My "deadline" for her (before I began worrying) was August 20th. Audrey didn't walk until she was 15 months old, and August 20th was April's 15 month adjusted-for-prematurity-age. Well, as posted here earlier, her first steps were July 21, and that was a big relief. She didn't progress very quickly, but gradually we convinced her to take a few steps most days. Finally, in mid-August, she decided she'd had enough with crawling and that her future would be on her two feet. Way to go, April! She still has that wide stance and is building her strength. I look forward to her running eventually!

April has some fun facial expressions that she uses. She likes to scrunch up her nose like this (picture below) and seems to know that she looks funny / cute. She doesn't seem to have a favorite toy -- her favorite thing now is just to walk around, finding whatever looks good (especially if it is troublesome) or following someone around. Although she and Sophia don't have the typical twin relationship, they do have some touching moments. April gives Sophia her favorite ball toy without being asked. She doesn't play with it herself, although sometimes she takes it to look at (and then gives it right back -- again, no encouragement needed). One of the first times we helped Sophia in her stander, April reached out her little hand to help push Sophia up from her bent-over position. The reason she knows the word "soft" is because I show her how to pet Sophia's head softly and say, "soft." As Sophia would tell you if she could, April needs this reminder because her pats can be rough. Sadly, Sophia can usually tell if April is close by, and she cries if she is worried about being accosted. April's and Sophia's cribs are right next to each other. April's mattress is lower than Sophia's. One morning, they didn't notice me as I entered the room. I observed that Sophia had rolled over to the edge of her crib by April's, and Sophia's arm was extended through the slats into April's space. April rolled over so her back was against Sophia's arm, and Sophia patted April. It was fun to watch.
We love this independent, caring, talking, walking, bunk ladder-climbing, dishwasher sitting, helpful, little girl!

18 months - Sophia

Sophia is 18 months old today!

In a departure from my typical format to date, I'm going to journal a snapshot of Sophia today, at a year and a half old. She is a cute, little girl and we love her dearly. She seems "sweet" because her body doesn't let her get into much trouble, and she is not easily upset. However, she enjoys roughhousing and fun play, so I think her true personality may be much more fun-loving. She is fairly mellow, but when she is upset, she remains (sometimes) difficult to soothe. For example, we went camping a couple of weeks ago, and Sophia fell asleep in the stroller on a walk before bedtime. I woke her when I changed her diaper, and then April crawled all over her, and then NOTHING worked to pacify her for an hour and a half. (Which, I'm sure wasn't much appreciated by the neighboring campers.) This is very unusual, though.

This week, the physical therapist who sees her twice a month in our home through Early Intervention brought a stander for Sophia to try. This one offers minimal support, and if it works for her, that would be great -- less support means more work for her, which means more potential strength building. However, her trunk is not very strong, so she can lean forward way too much (not helpful):
Here are her cute little feet and toes (she also has some cute little Adidas shoes that she wears in this). Her feet always want to roll to the inside (scissoring), and her toes scrunch up during weight bearing. She also tends to lift her heels. I just position her feet for her when placing her into the stander. The knee pads help to align the legs and feet correctly.

Ahh, here is better posture. We tap firmly on her back to encourage her to stand up correctly, and, if this fails, we place one hand on her chest and one on her back and simply lift her to the correct position. Then we help her grab the bars, and that way she can use the bars to help hold herself upright.
Sophia is generally pretty smiley, but this is the first time I'd been able to get some good smiles from her while in the stander. I think her body is working so hard that it is just too much to smile. I don't think she minds the stander, though. In fact, when she's on the floor, she says "up" (which sounds like "uuub") and I think she is asking to either stand or sit up (or maybe just be held). She also says "ball" for her absolute favorite toy -- a ball on loan from the EI vision specialist -- and it also sounds like "uuub," but I really do think they are two separate words. "Ball" ("uuub") was her first word, and she began using it less than two months ago. We are excited that she has a few words now, as she is at risk of being non-verbal. We hope there are many more words to come! Her other word is "more" ("mmm-la") and she also verbalizes when she is hungry ("mmm-mmm" or a variant). Back to the stander -- when she's finished with it (currently about 15 minutes), she lets us know by fussing!
Statistically, if Sophia doesn't learn to sit well by the time she is two years old, her chances of walking someday are minuscule. We work on sitting every day. I sit behind her and place her in a sitting position (although we are also working on showing her how the transition goes from back-lying to sitting). I bend her knees so her feet are touching (to reduce the effect of her hamstring tightness on her hips). Then, I pull her behind back a bit to help her correctly tilt her pelvis. Finally, I help her weight bear on her arms to remind her to use them for balance as needed. This is her normal sitting posture, or sometimes she falls forward even more than this:
I help her adjust her balance by pressing down on the thigh opposite of the direction she is tilting, if necessary. Here is a notably good sitting moment:
It doesn't last long, however. After a few seconds, she does this:
And then this:
I place her in the following position to show her how to get down to the floor from sitting. This time, she held herself up with her arms before lowering to the floor. Although she was placed in this position, I look at this picture, and in my imagination she is just about to crawl off to play:
Sophia continues to be a relatively good eater. She swipes her left hand across her tray in an arc, looking for finger foods. When her hand touches something, she rakes it up and brings it to her mouth. She can eat with her right hand too (which is actually her less tight hand), but for some reason she generally uses the left. I think her right hand and arm may help her stabilize herself. If the food is beyond the reach of her arc, she doesn't get it. She doesn't seem to use her vision much while she is eating, although she sees and reaches for her sippy cup within about 15 seconds when I bring it to her and hold it in front of her. She handles her sippy clumsily, but has figured out how to maneuver it quite well and seldom fusses for help. Sometimes she drinks from it upside down, which works as long as the cup is fairly full. She drinks whole milk, occasionally formula (if we are out it is easy to transport), and loves juice, although I rarely give that to her. She'll drink a little water before she decides it isn't quite what she wants. She doesn't know how to drink out of a regular cup and doesn't have the slightest idea what to do with a straw (she chews on it). She eats most things, and gags only when she has too big of a bite of something. She needs to improve her chewing. Every meal, I am grateful that she eats so well.
Sophia rolls both directions. She will roll more than once in a direction, although she has yet to do anything like roll across the room. Today, she was close to the border of the family room, and I told her I would love to find her in the kitchen (due to her own mobility) one day. Yesterday, I vacuumed around her and she was excited about the vacuum cleaner. She rolled toward it in both directions. (I did stop and let her briefly touch it). Her vision is about the same as the last report. Her eyes are very crossed. She sees in near space and has a delay in reaching toward objects. Typical of CVI, she usually does not look directly at an object as she reaches for it. I hope her vision continues to improve. She has tracked me as I walk across the room several feet away from her, although since it is difficult to tell where she is looking, I can't really say whether this is due to visual or auditory cues.

She has begun to try to grab books when I am reading them to her. If successful in her quest, she tries to eat the pages. I am delighted that she is getting into this "trouble." Also, if I hold her while I play the piano in Primary at church, she slowly reaches for the piano keys. It is really, really, hard to not let her just play the piano. I'm not sure the Primary children and leaders would share my enthusiasm about this accomplishment.

We love this smiling, happy, sitting (or at least working on it), standing (with help), talking (3 words), eating, seeing (some things), fun kid.