Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Guiltiest of Mommy Guilt

Mommy guilt.  We've all heard of it and if you're a mom, it's likely you've experienced it at one time or another.  It makes you question your ability to parent and can quickly make you feel like you are sinking in the vast hole of "not good enoughs".  But there's a different kind of mommy guilt that many women experience for months to years at a time; postpartum depression.  If you've ever read a new mom book, or pamphlet from your doctor, or  "20 things to know after giving birth" blog it's probably mentioned there and sounds a little something like this:
"Your hormones will be everywhere.  You will probably cry. A lot. It's normal. But if you feel like you are crying more than normal talk to your doctor, it may be postpartum depression and that's okay too."

Ummm...what?  I appreciate the "that's okay too" portion of this often watered down message, but you just said it's normal to cry so don't worry about it but also maybe you're not normal so if you can discern between the two, while also being sleep deprived, then at some point down the road maybe talk to your doctor.  

I remember during my first couple of months with Zilla, I would come across a blog about mommy guilt and I would hope to read something to make me feel normal or connected to these women who were writing.  But then they talked about all the guilt they felt because they didn't make their baby's food from organic fresh vegetables like Pinterest told you to.  And all I could think was the guilt I felt when another new mom would talk to me about how "absolutely wonderful it is! Isn't it?!" and all I wanted to do was run away and hide.  Or the guilt I felt when my first few hours away from Zilla I started crying because I felt guilty about not missing him, because that's the way I had been told I was supposed to feel.  Or the guilt I felt after I ran into the bathroom and screamed louder than I knew was possible and punched the wall.  That's the guilt I felt, but no one was writing about it.

And I get it.  It's taken me a year after lifting from my fog to sit down and feel comfortable sharing this story.  Well, comfortable may even be a stretch.  But I know a lot of new moms to be and while I pray it's not the journey you take, if it is, I want you to know you are more than okay; you are not alone. 

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how to diagnose yourself with PPD, because I'm not a professional in that area.  Rather I'm going to encourage every mother to talk to your doctor about the emotions you are experiencing.  Whether they are happy or sad.  Talk.  No more asking, "are the emotions I'm feeling significant enough to bring it up?" Yes. The unfortunate reality is that many doctors will even give you the same answer you'll find in the blogs "it's normal but if it's not then let me know."  I remember going into my 2 week check up prepared to talk to my OB about how I was feeling when the nurse asked me in the middle of the populated hallway "are you experiencing postpartum depression" right after asking me if my bleeding had stopped, as if it was just one more thing on the checklist and I would have no problem not only knowing if "yes I have diagnosed myself with a mental illness" but announcing it to every other person sitting in the hallway.  Needless to say, I shut down and never brought it up.  

So what to do if your doctor is no help?  My second suggestion is to talk to your significant other, family, and/or close friends about the emotions you are experiencing.  Again, happy or sad.  Even better, talk to them now (if you're still pregnant) about signs you might want them to look for and how they can best help you if they are worried about you.  You're in a better place now to make this decision than when you're a new mom and someone is telling you, "hey, you should see a counselor" instead they can say, "hey, remember when we talked about this before?  Maybe we can go together and just get everything checked out."  They will be an excellent objective gauge of your normal.  I think this is what got me through my stage.  Hubskie knew something wasn't right and, more importantly, knew that I was not going to ask for help.  So he called on our troops and they came a running.  I think there was maybe one day a week where I didn't have someone come by to spend time with Zilla and me.  And slow day by slow day and long month by long month we got through it.  Looking back, I 100% believe I should have talked with a professional because there were a lot of lingering issues I dealt with up until about 9 months.  And even writing this post now there's a tear drop or two that will fall every now and then.  

If the idea of talking to those close to you makes you squirm or you are simply feeling alone, reach out to a counselor or even to me!  I'm happy to hold another mom's hand, even if it's virtually, as you get the help that is available.  

I think more than anything what I want whoever is reading this and crying or sighing with the relief of camaraderie, is to know that PPD does not mean you love your son or daughter any less.  This was always my fear and so I always felt I had to prove otherwise.  But even when I wasn't happy I was so in love.  I know this because I never ceased to try breastfeeding when it was hard, never stopped swaddle/sush/sway/sucking instead of letting him cry it out, never stopped waking up at 2 am to feed him again, never stopped reveling in those moments where he smiled (and I smiled!) and never stopped trying.  You'll find your "never stopped" too.  You'll experience those authentic moments of joy and love for your baby that no one could ever understand.  They may be different than mine,  but just find it and hold onto it.  Even if it's as simple as you never stopped breathing.  Good for you, you made it another day, now give someone a call. Because I do not doubt that you love your child as much as the mom who breastfeeds while leading the yoga group in the park and neither should you. You are a great mom! 

Here's the article (also this website is full of resources) I read that sparked me wanting to write about this.  When I read it, it was the first time I truly felt I was not alone in the experiences I had. 
And here's mine, taken on Mother's Day

“When this picture was taken I was experiencing postpartum depression. You can’t tell by looking, but I spent most of my first mother's day looking for places to be alone so that I could cry and trying to will myself to put on a smile for a few more hours.” 

Know that it will lift, especially with self care and possibly treatment.  Know that it will not ruin your relationship with your child.  Zilla and I are besties these days and there's no looking back!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Version 1.5

Y'all, Zilla is 18 months old.  I am blown away at how fast the last 6 months have gone.  I mean seriously, I still look back at pictures of his birthday party as though it was yesterday.  I would say without a doubt the past 6 months have gone by faster than the first or second 6 months of Zilla's life.  Now, granted, the first 6 months was filled with screaming and crying and not sleeping (am I talking about me or Zilla?  I'll never tell...but probably both). So I'm not surprised that the first third of his life sometimes felt like it would never end.
But gosh, 18 months?  He is officially growing too fast.  The other day someone pointed out that he doesn't look like a baby anymore and looks more like a little boy.  I think it was meant as a compliment, but also it made me cry.  I read his baby books to him and right when I get to the punch line about "I'll love you forever" or "You changed me for the better" or "wherever you go my love will find you" I. Can't. Squeak the words out through my sobbing.  Hubskie thinks I'm little bizarre, but I get more and more emotional each day about him getting older.  Which is an issue, as he also gets older each day.

Okay, so what to do for the 18 month old post?  Well, I'm going to try to avoid much therapy/Scottish Rite talk because that's all I've written about lately and ultimately, that is just one part of Zilla's life.  He is a growing (have I mentioned that?) boy with so many facets to his sweet little self.  So let us begin:

Doll: One day I decided to move all of Zilla's dolls to his top shelf of his closet because he never touched them and they were taking up space in our living room.  The next morning when I woke him he started to panic and point frantically at the corner of the shelf.  Bewildered, I went over and picked up the bear he appeared to be pointing towards and handed it to him. He grabbed the bear, squeezed it, and kissed it.  Zilla and Brown Bear have been besties since.

Book:  Zilla has really started to enjoy reading books with us.  He's not as interested in the ones with lots of words.  But enjoys books with lots of pictures, some basic words he can understand, and items he is familiar with.  As it turns out, he does enjoy the book Brown Bear, but it is not his favorite.  
The Ball Bounced might be the most boring book ever written.  But don't tell Zilla that.  To him it is a literary masterpiece.  And I read it to him at least 3 times a day.  And by read I mean recite, because it has been memorized.  The other day I sang the words to the tune of "Favorite Things".  That helped a little. 

Activity: Going outside.  Zilla is an outdoorsy kind of kid.  He loves being outside whether it is going for walks or going to the park.  This is a lot of fun for mommy who also likes to stay active. 

Toy:  Balls balls and more balls.  Zilla loves to throw, kick, roll, and carry every ball.  In fact, it has become an issue with therapy (ahhh I'm breaking my promise) because there's a large ball pit in the room where we have his sessions and he could not be less interested in the therapy activities.  But it is incredibly adorable because he is just so happy playing in there. 

Food:  Bananas.  If this was one week ago I would have said crackers or bananas.  But bananas have won out.  Most days he eats at least two bananas.  I make regular runs to the grocery store to stock up because heaven help us if we run out of "nanas" when this child wants one. 

Game:  Peek-a-boo.  This one never gets old.  Just evolves to wandering around the house and having mommy jump out from behind corners and doors

Chore:  I love how much joy Zilla gets out of being helpful.  He just wants to participate in everything.  Please let this stick around.  Right now his favorite thing is throwing away trash (or "gah" as he says it).  Luckily he's pretty good at distinguishing between what is and isn't actually trash.

Moments: It's just not even possible to narrow this one down.  So this is the 14 things, short clips version:
1. Zilla tried to do burpies with mama and do the "Thriller" dance
2. Zilla cannot contain his excitement over seeing dada when he got home
3. If hubskie or I aren't there, every few minutes he will ask where the other half is.  He just know that it's best when we're all together.
4. Zilla has a step in our house where he goes to eat his banana and crackers
5. Zilla's first horse ride
6. The way Zilla's eyebrows raise when he sings
7. Zilla singing wheels on the bus and loving the "babies on the bus go wa-wa" verse
8. The first time Zilla folded his hands during prayer time and tried to do the sign of the cross (heart melting)
9. The way he picks up the picture of us at his baptism and every morning and tells us that ma-ma and da-da are in the picture

Added by Hubskie (his version of a guest blog):
10. Playing football with Da-Da. I don't know if he will ever get a chance to play the sport, but Da-Da will always be his biggest fan regardless. 
11. Aidan climbing into a diaper box. And being angry when he can't get out.
12. Aidan playing on a treadmill

13. Aidan going to put on his cowboy hat before bedtime. 
14. How the word "pasta" is always said in a whisper, and it's the only word he whispers. As if it's just the best thing ever and if he mentions it too loudly it might cease to exist.
1. Mass.  Turns out Mass isn't made for wiggly kids.  I went alone a couple of weeks ago and had this huge moment where I realized I had forgotten how beautiful the Mass is.  Don't get me wrong, I love that we all go to Mass together, and taking Zilla up with us to communion is still a favorite, but gosh it is so hard to be totally present when I'm mostly just trying to find a new way to distract him or keep him from touching all over the other parishioners.  
A friend of ours who has a kid who sits so well during Mass suggested that we trying sitting in front so that Zilla could see what was going on and have something to pay attention to.  I thought this was a great idea until I remembered that Zilla can't even pay attention to a cartoon much less find a church service interesting. Unfortunately, I did not remember this until after we had made the "walk of shame" up and down the aisle three times carrying a screaming child.
2. Stubborn.  My child is stubborn.  Like, whoa.  
3. Zilla's friendly pat can often be mistaken as hitting.  His cousin unfortunately takes the brunt of this one.  The concept of "gentle" just hasn't quite set in.  
The neighbor's cat also knows the feeling
Reese is just not going to handle it anymore
4. Similarly, Zilla isn't so much into sharing right now.  He's more into not sharing. 
None so pleased with his toy being used by someone who is not Zilla
 5. One of the things I love the most about him, his adventurous spirit, combined with his stubbornness can often result in some issues.  Like: no you cannot stand on the rocking chair.  And no, stop climbing up and standing on the table.

Every moment and memory since 1.5 years ago.
Woohoo!  We did it!  We made it 18 months and they just keep flying by.  Feel free to slow down any day now, Zilla.  I love you to the moon and back!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Zillupdate 2

Time for another update on our little man and the going ons around here.
Major Happenings:
We have another little one added to our cousin clan.  We are so pleased to welcome Baby John.  He is truly the sweetest little baby.  I’ve only heard him cry once and even his cry is precious.  I’m sure his parents have heard him cry more, but in my experience with him oh. My. Gosh. Presh.
Zilla is not so sure about all of this.  He has a little jealous bug and if hubskie or I are holding the new little man, he starts to climb up our legs and bounce.  Also, while the newbie was napping he tried to hit his swing with a stick.  We’re going to need to work on this if there are more small fries in our future.
Maybe act a little more like this....

And a little less like this...

Little Reese’s Pieces has turned 1!  How wonderful it has been to be so close to her as she has grown this past year.  It has been a true blessing going through the adventure of new motherhood with my sister.  It has also been wonderful to watch Reese and Zilla grow up together and how their interactions have changed from sitting and staring at one another to fighting over toys.  Little Reese, I just want you to know that I love to watch you stand your ground with Zilla when he tries to take things from you.  You are one smart cookie.
Any day now we will add another new cousin to Zilla's clan on hubskie's side!  We are so very excited to have a new baby to hold in Houston!

Therapy update
Zilla continues to make progress in therapy.  I think the most excited I have been with a new “milestone” was watching Zilla choose to use his left hand to feed himself with a spoon (though messily).  It told me that maybe all this therapy and stretching is doing something.  Although, I have to say I think he is catching on to us when we try to encourage him to use his left hand or try massaging/stretching it while he’s doing other activities.  He will pull it away more and become upset when I place items in that hand rather than his right.  Right now, he’s still pretty cooperative with his therapists.
With his life skills or speech therapy,  I've finally started to feel like I am clear on our goals with this therapist.  For a while I had a harder time putting into action what we are doing at therapy, but she has recommended some activities and we are doing our best to put them into play at home.  This therapy has taught me that Zilla has a pretty low frustration tolerance.  When he has trouble getting a puzzle or shape sorter right away, he will throw the item or start to screech.  I can't decide if this is related to his CP or if he just inherited this trait from his momma.
  Zilla’s vocabulary has increased some and I don’t know if it’s a product of therapy or just growing.  Either way it is so cute to hear him say “nana” (banana) “Cacka” (cracker) “shee” (cheese) "ffffu" (fruit) “uh oh” and “boo” (boots).  There are others and his receptive language is also making leaps and bounds…although his ability to understand is a different thing than his willingness to listen (aka he might understand please be patient, but patience is not his top quality). 
We have also been trying to work on Zilla's fits.  He can throw a tantrum to challenge a well seasoned two year old's.  It seems that it is usually due to a break down in communication and he decides that crying will get him whatever he wants.  This cannot become a habit.  We've had to start "Time Outs" or "Together Time" where Jason or I will take him to a quiet room and sit with him until he is ready to communicate more calmly.  This can take a couple minutes to multiple times in a row.  

Sometimes I can become very overwhelmed when it seems as though we are having a day filled with tantrums.  Nevertheless, it is amazing how bed time will come along and we all say our prayers together, he cuddles into my chest, and I choke back tears singing him to sleep because my heart cannot contain the joy he brings to our family. 

Ways we have tried to enact some of the exercises at home: 
 Up until about a month ago I found the easiest way to encourage him to use his left hand was to hold his right hand while walking around. If he insisted that I hold his left hand while walking, I’d take that opportunity to do some stretches and massages on his hand. I’m sure I have, on more than one occasion, looked entirely ridiculous squatting and waddling down the street with him moving his arm around.  But then it happened, he became more independent with walking, and gosh has it made it harder to do therapy.  We're actually having to do some of the activities we do with the therapist and toys.  He doesn't like sitting still much, which can make these activities challenging.  But we are doing our very best.  Below are some videos of our therapy attempts.
This is me guiding him around the kitchen keeping hold of his right hand.

Go Zilla Go!  Use that left hand!

We are teaching him some signs to help with communication until he starts using more words.  His favorite sign is "help"   For example, "help, I would like to touch the electrical outlet."  Um. No. 

This game forces Aidan to use his left hand in order to pull the blocks apart.  Oddly enough, he finds this very satisfying.

Zilla also loves this exercise for his core strength:

One of his favorite fine motor toys is a ball and hammer game.  We have a couple of variations at our house but I never remember to video him playing with it.  The real challenge is that he will usually use his right hand to pick up and place the ball as well as hammer.  He has even picked up two balls at a time with his right hand in order to avoid using his left.  He is not impressed when I try to hold his right hand and force the use of his left. 
Another fine motor activity we do is putting coins and buttons into his piggy bank.  This one encourages his pincer grasp.  It's one of the areas he struggles most with on his left hand so I don't make him do it too often because he becomes frustrated very fast. 

The life skills therapist has really encouraged us to use games that are closed ended in order to help with Aidan's patience and attention span. For example, doing shape puzzles, stacking cups, or shape sorters where there is a definite end to the game.  We have to say things like "okay, mommy's turn to do this one (aka Zilla refuses to do this one) and then Zilla's turn" and "first put the last piece in and then we can go play with the ball."  I haven't gotten any "successful" videos of these because they are his least favorite activities.

For Gross motor skills we mostly rely on our outings to the park.  We encourage Zilla to crawl up the slide, stairs, and through the tunnels to give his hand some weight-bearing exercises.

Most of the time our home therapy looks a little something like this:

Other news:
Zilla "ran" his first 5k!  One day I just decided I wanted to run one with him and signed us up for a race about two weeks out.  He did great and didn't even get fussy during the 30ish minute trek.  Zilla and mommy came in 16th in mommy's age group (out of about 40).  Not bad for first race back in the game + a stroller in tow.   Hubskie also came out to support us and cheer us on as we crossed the finish line.  This was AMAZING of him and so helpful

And now for an un-sponsored shout out (because my 30 person readership does not warrant any sponsors)...
We bought BooginHead Squeez'Ems a couple of weeks ago and they're my new favorite thing.  I initially bought them because Zilla's daycare said that once he transitions to the toddler classroom he will have to feed himself completely and if I intend on continuing to bring his own food, such as applesauce or yogurt, he would have to use the spoon himself.  Just review the video above, his right hand is not that much better.  Onto plan B, Squeez'Ems!
I know you can buy pre-filled pouches at the store, but now I get to choose what to put in them.  We have put yogurt, applesauce, and even oatmeal in them.  It's such an easy and far less messy on the go snack.  I think this product could generally be useful to kids who have trouble with utensils. Also, this brand is surprisingly easy to fill because the top comes off for a bigger opening.  I only wish it held a little more.
We had Zilla’s MRI today.  We had to head back to Scottish Rite, even though the original plan was to have the MRI on June 24th at Children's in Plano.  There was some mix up with insurance and our PCP, so we moved it back to good ole Scottish Rite. 

For some reason, Zilla woke up at about 4:45 am the morning of the MRI.   He went back in forth between crying and sleeping while being rocked. This really threw a wrench in our groove, but we rolled with it.  He was going to be fussy either way.  We gave him his last sip of water at 5:55 am and then had to cut him off from all liquids and solids.   He had a rough time all morning; being deprived from his favorite activity, eating, and all.  But with a little magic from daddy, we did get a few moments of peace in too.

Since Zilla was in such a bad mood over all of this, they had to give him Versed in order to help calm him down so that they could take his vitals.  This is basically a Benzodiazepine...aka, my baby was drunk.  I was a little nervous about this.  I don't really love even giving Zilla Tylenol, but it did help him forget about his extreme hunger and exhaustion.  Also we got this silly video of him being all loopy.

They had originally told us that only one of us could go back into the MRI room with Aidan.  After some discussion we decided that it would be best for hubskie to go as he was more likely to be emotionally stable; I was more likely to break down crying.  Although, I only cried twice today, and considering I cry during sappy commercials, this is quite a victory!   But then they took little man back without either one of us going with him. I was a little put off, but they recommended we go to the cafeteria to help pass the time.  This was a good suggestion and we ate some grub and momma drank some coffee while we waited.

Altogether he was in the back for about 45 minutes.  When they wheeled him out I was just all over the place with emotion.  My first thought was actually, "ET?"  And my second thought was, "okay can I hold him now?"  He was shivering and groggy and when he came out of it, boy was he cranky.  Rightfully so.  His head probably felt funny and he was super hungry.  

I firmly believe nothing can prepare a parent for moments like these.  You just want to take away any and all discomfort. 

He sucked down two bottles of pedialite and then started drinking some milk.  They cleared him for discharge and we headed out the door. 

By the time we made it outside, Zilla wasn't crying anymore so we walked around Scottish Rite's new all abilities playground.  It was really very neat!
Oh hey wheelchair ramp play structure! 
Once momma and Zilla got home he was starting to feel more like himself.  We played with the red ball Scottish Rite had given him for being so brave.
And of course, we ate some grub! 

We will receive a phone call in the next couple of days with the results. 

All in all, things are pretty blessed around here as we continue to run this beautiful race! 

That's all for now, 
The Vrlyfries

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Child's Love

Oh hey, it's mother's day!  I have been blessed to be surrounded by amazing mothers throughout my life who have helped me become a better mother every day.  It's still hard to believe that I get to be a part of this club or sisterhood or whatever you want to call it.  

They say being a mom can be a thankless job, which it can, but it can also be the most appreciated job.  Just look at your kiddo.  Go on, do it.  Now remember back when he/she was just 15 months old.  I'd be willing to bet you were that little one's whole world.  It is overwhelming to think about how much I am loved by Zilla.  Although he doesn't know that word or understand it's meaning, he sure does feel it and show it.  Has anyone other than your child ever loved you so much that they cry whenever you leave them (hubskie could answer yes to this about me and our long distance years)?   They are perfectly able to walk on their own but prefer to hold your hand? Or they laugh when you walk into the room after a long day apart and crawl with their whole might to give you the best hug?   This past week transitioning to a new Daycare has really reminded me how much Zilla depends on and trusts me and hubskie.  Dropping him off has not been the easiest as he gives us a look of "but I love you, please don't leave me."  And oh my gosh the number of times I have contemplated taking off work to just stay with him.  It was one of those moments that really got to me in that "wow I really mean something to this kid" kind of way. 

I've talked a lot about how I have this unexplainable often irrational love for Zilla, but it's equally amazing to be on the receiving end of this unbridled love too!  I know he will grow out of this stage, but while we are here I'm going to soak it in.  Hopefully during those teenage years when he's asking me to drop him off 100 yards from the school, I'll remember that deep down he's still that little Zilla, who loves and needs his momma.

Props to my sweet hubskie who has made this a full weekend of appreciation.  He had lunch with me on Friday and brought along some flowers and a balloon, took us out for ice cream, took me to dinner on Saturday, and surprised me with more flowers and a beautiful note this morning.  He's the best...I guess I better start planning for Father's Day!

Sunday, May 4, 2014


It's  been a few weeks since my last post putting down my initial reaction to Zilla's diagnosis.  In some way (ehmm emotionally) things have really calmed down since then and in others have really picked up. 
Our first day of therapy...I'm a little obsessed with this shirt
We were set up with an assessment meeting with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) so that they could determine if Zilla qualifies for services.  The assessment included a  lot of questioning Hubskie and I as well as watching Zilla move about their room and play with their toys.  After all the questions and observation, it was determined he qualified for fine motor skills on his left side and communication.  We were definitely expecting to qualify for fine motor skills and I was a little relieved to hear he also qualified for communication.  We have a pretty rough time with him sometimes as his go to means of communication is to immediately break down into tears.  This can be frustrating and confusing for all of us.  At the time of the assessment he wasn't gesturing much to indicate wanting something and also didn't seem to be picking up on basic words like "Ball" or even "mama" and "dada".  

So this is where the "things have picked up" comes in.  Our schedules are becoming increasingly filled with appointments for Zilla.  ECI is awesome in that they will go to his daycare, however, it is encouraged for a parent to come when possible so that we can observe the exercises they are doing and put them into practice at home.  In the last couple of weeks he started both his occupational and life skills therapy.  The OT will be coming once a week and the LST will come every other week.  Since his daycare is so close I am trying to use my lunch breaks to go to his appointments, but this can make for a pretty hectic, no-break kind of day.

We had our first OT appointment at home so that the therapist could see the kind of environment he has and the types of toys at home they we may be able to incorporate into therapy.  He was such a little angel during this appointment.  I kept telling the therapist how unusual this was.  He sat in my lap for 30 minutes, y'all!  That is UNHEARD of.   It's amazing when he sits in my lap for 5 minutes.  But he sat there, all sorts of engaged and was so compliant using his left hand for things.  While he still struggled with some of the tasks he wasn't getting frustrated and just participated so well.  Of course every time since this appointment that we have tried to do exercises at home he gets very upset with momma and dada for trying to convince him to use his left hand.  We may need out OT to move in with us. 

At his second OT appointment we were at his home day care and it didn't go quite as smoothly.  He wasn't necessarily fussy, but the other kids were outside so he was very distracted and uninterested in her toys.  We ended up going out side and tried to incorporate some of the outside activities into therapy.

We have only met with the LST once and it was mostly a meet and greet so she could observe Zilla for awhile and ask us some questions.  The main goal with her will be helping Aidan find gestures he can use to communicate his needs and wants to us other than screaming.  I am hopeful this will help.  Hubskie and I have really been struggling with his behavior at times.  He can switch from being in a great mood to an unsootheable tantrum in a matter of seconds.  This becomes quite the problem at places like Church.  I'm also hoping she will give us some ideas on how to help him concentrate on tasks for longer than 5 minutes.  This won't only help in his therapy, but also when we go places where he has to sit for awhile.

As far as our work at home, it is a work in progress.  Like I said, he seems to do so well with the therapist but has no patience with me.  I have the feeling this is because he is bored with his toys here at home. There are a lot of sensory activities I think he will enjoy that I can't wait to try with him, but we haven't had much free time the past few weeks and these activities tend to be a little messier.  I am also so glad it is finally warming up.  This means lots more time outside and going to the park.  There are a lot of wonderful ways to incorporate park equipment into exercise.  Even though most of these are gross motor related.  Zilla tends to be calmer outside, which makes it a little easier to get him let me move around his fingers and stretch out his arm.

Upcoming:  Zilla will be starting at a Montessori school!  We will miss a lot about his old day care, like all the time he got to spend with his cousin, but I think this will be a good move for him to have a little more structure.  He also has a neurology appointment this week which means back to Scottish Rite!

Overall we are doing great and ready for the road ahead of us.  Even though Zilla can be exhausting at times with his never ending supply of energy and tendency towards being stubborn, we know we are blessed to have him as our son.  It's hard to explain sometimes because I'm sure Hubskie and I look tired a lot (because we are), but gosh we love this kid so much.  It really is worth every bit of energy to experience this kind of love. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Scottish Right On!

 When you have a child, your life changes.  All of your perspectives shift and your heart resides outside of you.  The transition starts slowly, carrying your new little heart close to you at all times.  The next thing you know, he's going to daycare for the first time, or crawling, or walking down the sidewalk with his lunchbox holding his daddy's hand.  And all you can think is that you want to protect this being from any harm.  Because if harm came his way, you're not sure your heart would continue beating.  And then you learn that there might be something wrong that you can't control and you can't fix by kissing or putting on a band aid.  So you do the only thing that feels right and you pray.  

Today I had the smallest taste of this and now I sit here crying.  I am crying because there are a lot of unknowns up ahead.  But I am also crying because I am so grateful for what I have been given.  And today I saw parents who, though their circumstances are more serious, were equally grateful and equally vulnerable with their precious hearts running and rolling around the waiting room. 
For about 7 months, Hubskie and I have been noticing small differences in little Aidanzilla, particularly regarding his left hand.  He has a lot of trouble using it and in general prefers his right hand.  Me being the obsessive mother, I googled constantly looking at milestones and what this could be indicating.  We brought it up to his doctor a few times, but because he was consistently hitting major milestones he said there was nothing to worry about.  But, let's be honest, I continued to worry.  At our last visit, the pediatrician decided to send us to Scottish Rite to see if there was something else going on.

So today Hubskie and I packed up our Zilla and headed to the most magical hospital in Dallas.  Scottish Rite gets it, well, right.  There was not a sad face in the place.  Beautiful paintings decorated the walls and mechanical contraptions hung from the ceiling.  They gave you free popcorn for filling out surveys and each person we interacted with treated us with genuine care.  The waiting rooms were covered with toys of all age levels, though you only had minutes to explore them because there was basically no wait.  If we had to be at a hospital, I'm glad it was this one.

We met with a hand doctor first who examined Zilla and moved his arms in funny ways and tested his reflexes.  After looking him over she let us know that she believed that Aidan has a very mild form of Cerebral Palsy.  At this moment I was so happy for my obsessive internet searching because I already knew this was a likely prognosis.  If I hadn't, I may have broke down crying right there in the room.  It's funny, I have learned extensively about disabilities and how Cerebral Palsy is particularly misunderstood.  Yet, here I was listening to a doctor saying it was likely that my son has this and all I could imagine was worse case scenarios.

You see, the thing with cerebral palsy is that no two cases are the same.  It ranges from minor muscle and nerve abnormalities to intellectual and major physical impacts.  The doctor reiterated that Aidan's case was one of the most mild she has seen.  Hearing this was comforting, but there was still a part of me that wondered where did it go wrong?  Was it that deli meat I ate that one time during pregnancy, did I workout too much near the end, was it that smokey dance hall I went to?  Did delivery go too fast?  I wish I could say I was able to not ruminate on these things, but the thoughts kept coming.  And then I looked over at Zilla, who was walking holding his Daddy's hand just like he always does and I knew it would be okay.  Because he is resilient and so loved.  The only thing this diagnosis does is give us the opportunity to have access to early childhood intervention services and therapy.

There may be difficulties ahead.  The doctor said his condition won't worsen but we may notice new ways it is affecting him as he grows older and should be hitting other milestones.  It's hard to know the full extent of the prognosis at this age.  But it's good that it has been identified early so that he can have access to interventions now.  

The crying has been on and off today.  I managed not to cry at all while at the hospital, but tears came the moment I was in my car.  From there I've cried as emails and texts from my family sending their love and encouragement have come in.  Even his daycare lady sent me encouragement in her own quirky way by sending me a text saying that she thinks he will make an excellent soccer player because he is great at kicking the soccer ball there.  I had told her earlier the doctor told me as he grows we'll learn more and that he may find it frustrating when his hand isn't cooperating when he's trying to play sports.  I know that there are parents who are struggling with so much more and I know that I will be praying for them a little extra.  Having even a small glimpse into the scary world of holding your child's hand through an illness makes me even more grateful for all of the amazing supports we have in our God, each other, our family, and our friends.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Adventures with Zilla: 12 months!

How old?: 
12 months!  1 year!  It's my mommiversary! We survived!

At his 12 month check up Zilla comes in at 31 inches (87th percentile) and 21.6 lbs (50th percentile).  Sounds like a great build for an athlete if you ask me ;-)

Baby clothes:  
12 month clothes pretty consistently although I squeeze him into 9 month clothing on a regular basis.  Also, there are still 6 month outfits hanging in his closet because I don't want to put them away. 

Wow!  I feel like a lot has happened this month.  Zilla is quickly becoming more and more confident with his walking.  We can walk just holding one hand and it is one of my favorite things in the world to just walk around holding my son's hand.  He pulls up on anything and everything and will walk along holding onto to whatever he can to get to where he wants to go.

Zilla has made strides in his fine motor movements as well.  Rather than knocking blocks over as a hobby, he is now able to stack blocks and continues to enjoy putting shapes into holes. 
I can see his little personality coming out everyday.  He will try to trick us sometimes or test our limits.  For example, one day he was dropping his food on the floor for Boots to eat.  We started to tell him to stop and when he didn't we held off on giving him more food.  When we did he ate a few pieces and then picked up a piece, put it close to his mouth, and then held it out to drop for Boots.  He's not great at his trickery skills just yet, but I can already see how important discipline will be from an early age. 

He likes to hit his head with his hand while eating and I think we've done it enough to where he knows where is head is.  He is definitely getting awesome at making associations.  He tries to put his socks and shoes on his feet, though unsuccessful.  He also picked up the remote to the fan and looked up towards it, like he knew that's what it did.  Which I'm not sure how he learned because we've not used that thing all winter.  He's simply very smart, pays close attention to detail and learns patterns quickly. 

Special outings: 
We made a trip to Houston this month.  As always, it was so nice to see our Houston family.  It was a pretty packed weekend.  We spent most of Saturday with Nina and that night mommy and daddy went to lunch with Hubskie's brother and family while Nina watched Zilla .  On Sunday we went to Hubskie's sister's house and they surprised us with a little party for Zilla's birthday!  It was so much fun to see everyone and wonderful to watch Zilla play with his Aunts and Uncles. 
I feel like we have been very plagued with illness this month (this winter) so we didn't go on as many outings as maybe we would have liked.  Also, it has been so cold it's hard to go out.  I am looking forward to the Sping so we can go to the park everyday after work! 

Highlights of the month: 
For sure Zilla's birthday!  I still can't believe he's 1.  We kept his birthday pretty low key, but did go out for ice cream with sister and bro in law; and of course little Reesearoo! 

Even though we technically had the party a few days after his actual birthday, I'll include it in the highlights.  It was so much fun to have all of our loved ones there to celebrate Zilla.  I am still overwhelmed by how loved he is.  We had people traveling from Houston and College Station just to celebrate with us! 

We got to spend time with some dear friends we don't get to see as often as we'd like and time with our family members who have been so supportive this past year. 
Jason gave me instructions that I was not to go overboard with this so I had to strike a happy balance.  I wanted the theme to be evident, without hiring a cat in the hat impersonator to come to the party.  Here's what we came up with:
Nothing too extravagant.  We were even able to reuse the foam board we made for Reesearoo's baby shower.  The banner on the window had a picture of him for each month starting with the day he was born and one picture from each of his monthly chair sessions.  I of course cried putting it together.
Even the artistically challenged can create some fun extras!  This was a great prop for some fun pictures of our guests

We wrestled with baking something or ordering a sheet cake.  I finally went with my gut and decided to attempt something Cat In the Hat like.  It didn't turn out too bad!
And of course my signature themed food...

I love this idea to sign a book for him!  I hope he does cherish these things one day!
I teared up while we were singing him happy birthday and had to stop singing to keep from going into a full on cry fest.  It was just one of those moments where you realize how blessed you are, and even more so how blessed your son is.  My heart was just bursting with gratitude.  I wish I could have hugged everyone in the room at that moment and tell them how much it meant to me that they were there, singing happy birthday to our one year old.  God is so good.

Baby's routine:  
Same as last month.  We are still trying to navigate his first and second naps and deciding how much sleep he needs between the two.  It seems if he gets his full two hours during his 9 to 11 nap, he will not go back to sleep for his "1:00" nap until 3...and then push his wake up time to 5.  Which just seems so late when his bedtime is 8.  So, I'm slowly wanting to shorten his morning nap but pushing it back to 9:30 and then 10-11 until we are ready to transition to one nap a day.

Baby's favorite food: 
What doesn't this kid eat?  Going to restaurants isn't too difficult these days because we can just feed him whatever we're eating and he is completely content to just keep eating and eating and eating.  He does love avocado and eats lots of those.  We are about to start him on milk and will likely go with almond milk.  

Baby's favorite activity: 
Holding our hands and going for a stroll.  He loves to walk and explore.  A new activity he started this month was throwing his balls.  This just tickled his daddy to get to play "toss" with him.

Baby's favorite toy: 
Hmm this is a tough one.   Zilla loves all of his sports balls. In addition to throwing, he is excellent at walking around and kicking his soccer ball.   

Big changes:  
The biggest change for me is that I feel like he's not a little baby anymore.  This little being has become a toddler right before my eyes.  Other than that, in general there haven't been any drastic changes this last month. 
Look at this picture!  He looks so grown up!  
Mommy Journal:
I mean oh my gosh, y'all.  It is surreal to think we have made it 12 months;to look back and see the struggles, relive the joys, and smile at all the memories.  What a year!  This month I focused on little things I never want to forget about this past year that I have yet to write down anywhere else:
1) The way Zilla crosses his legs while he eats

2) The way Zilla favored his daddy for much of month 11 and 12.  This made (makes) mommy very sad sometimes when he starts screaming as hubskie leaves the room.  I wonder what I did wrong to make him not like me as much.  But then I realize how blessed I am that my biggest concern as a mother right now is that my husband is too good of a father.  Woe is me.  
3) The look in Zilla's eyes whenever we go somewhere new.  He has a very distinct observant eye, where I can just see him taking in new information and making inferences about his surroundings. 
4) How mommy and daddy secretly "fight" over who will be holding him when we go to communion at Mass because there is no better feeling than bringing your son with you as you approach the table of our Lord. 
5) His love for eating paper

6) The way Zilla coos and babbles along with songs, and sometimes with mommy as I sing him to sleep

This video is probably mind-numbingly boring for most of you, but I just think it's so cute!

7) Mommy and Zilla's songs of choice for bedtime: Hallelujah, My Father; Hail Mary, Gentle Woman (just the Hail Mary part); and The Blessing Song (Aggie Awakening Whoop!)
8) Zilla's inability to sit still for longer than 5 minutes (I have a feeling I won't forget this one, as it may be a lasting trait)
9) His bizarre habit of purposefully bumping his head against hard surfaces like mirrors, windows, the entertainment center, etc.
10) His general curiosity for the world.  This kid loves to experiment.  I guess that's the nature of babies.  But I just like to think mine is extra explorative

I guess that's it for these monthly updates!  Phew, I have to say I am a little relieved.  Going forward I hope to share short updates on our major happenings and eventually fun quotes and anecdotes about our funny little man.
Zilla, I will love you forever, like you for always, as long as you're living my baby you'll be!