Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear Daniel, (seven months!)

Oh my goodness Daniel, you're more than half a year old! This has been quite a big month for you! You learned how to sit independently, and having more control of your body has totally improved your disposition. We started you out sitting with both your hands on the floor for balance, and slowly, you figured out how to sit up straight.

Now we're working on how to get down from a sitting position so that when you're tired, you don't have to cry for help to lay down. In the past few days, you've gotten much better at getting one leg behind you and getting down onto your belly from a seated position. For a week or so, you've been enjoying turning yourself around in circles while sitting, and you're rolling over a lot more when you're lying down.

The biggest thing that's changed this month is your mood. You have been crying so much less, I can't even tell you how much different things are now! I had this vivid dream at the beginning of the month that turned out to be a sign of things to come, in a way: I dreamed that we woke up one day and you had thirteen new teeth (up from zero, that was quite a surprise)! I looked in your mouth and thought, Well, no wonder you've been so fussy! This seems to be a metaphor for us figuring out that you have sensory processing issues.

We were all having a pretty hard time there for a while, with you spending a lot of time crying, but you seem to have turned a corner recently. We've been doing lots of new therapies with you, including the therapressure brushing (seen in the video in the link above). One week to the day after we started the brushing, you started taking long naps during the day. Your naps consistently last at least an hour (usually closer to two hours) and this seems to have impacted your mood greatly. By way of other therapies, we're doing a kind of "intensive tummy time" aimed at helping you improve your core strength and mobility, and decrease your fear of falling. We're also playing some special Mozart music for you a couple of times per day, that has a high-pass/low-pass filter on it. The filter makes high-pitched and low-pitched notes sound louder than the mid-level notes, helping to normalize these sounds for your brain. You don't like the music very much, but your tolerance for it does seem to be increasing. The last thing we're doing is swinging you in a blanket (like a small baby-hammock) front and back, side-to-side, and up and down to exercise your vestibular (balance) sense. You can't get enough of that one! You think it's a riot.

Since we started the therapies, besides napping more, you're also having more fun when we're in groups of people. You're more able to enjoy yourself and engage with people other than Papa and me. You are also smiling and laughing more! You and I like to play this game that's sort of like peek-a-boo (though you don't like it when I hide my face) where I look away from you, and then I look back at you, and you laugh like crazy. We've been trying for weeks to get this on video, but so far, we've had no luck. It's still one of the most delightful parts of our days together!

You enjoy playing by yourself now sometimes (not having to be touched by me or Papa the whole time, though still needing to be in close proximity to us). We made you a little Montessori-style play area in the living room with a green rug and a mirror on the wall. When you have just woken up from a nap, you are very content to sit there alone playing with the toys lying around you. The kitties like your new rug, too, which is nice because when you're sitting there, they're inclined to come over to keep you company and ask for you to pet them.

You're very good at grabbing things and passing them from one hand to the other. If there's anything you can reach for to try to grab, you do—and then promptly shove it in your mouth. I've fished many a piece of paper out of your mouth after you've grabbed it from me and bitten some off. You are always "helping" me and Papa with everything we're doing. I'm glad you're getting more interested in your environment!

We got you a high chair that clips onto our table, and now you enjoy sitting with us at the same level while we have meals together. I still really enjoy babywearing with you, and you like to have that security of being heart-to-heart with me and Papa. However, it's so nice that we can all sit together at the table when we're out to eat, and Papa and I can even sometimes eat at the same time! I love how we can interact with you in different ways when you're sitting with us at the table.

This month, we also got a stroller for you! It was a gift from some of your extended family members (thank you all again so much!). We haven't had a need for one up until now, but now it's nice to have another tool to use when you're having a hard day. We got a fancy stroller that is tall enough for Papa (but short enough for Momma) and the seat can face in or out. So far, you've only ridden facing the person who is pushing you. I really enjoy walking with you like this because I can still look at you and make much-needed eye contact, but we can go for longer periods without me getting so tired from wearing you. You seem to really enjoy getting out in the fresh air (and rain), seeing all the sights, and feeling the vibrations under you.

Papa and I went on our first date since you were born this month, and you stayed home with your Nana Julie, who was visiting. We had a good time (and you did, too, I hear) but we were happy to come back home to you. I'm so glad that you're better able to be around people other than just me and Papa these days.

You've tried more foods now, too. So far, you've had: avocado, yams, white potato, carrot, and bacon. That last one was a totally unplanned baby-led solids moment, where you kept grabbing for Papa's piece of bacon, so he held it and let you suck on it for a while. I guess we're only averaging about two new foods per month at this point, but that's alright; we're not in any hurry. Lately you've become more and more interested in foods, so we'll pick up the pace a bit. It's nice that you're getting so good at picking things up now, because I don't necessarily have to make purees for you to eat, just very soft cubes of food that you can mash up in your hands.

Another new thing this month is that you went on your first plane ride. Earlier this week, you and I flew South for a little vacation. You were so content on the planes, it was like you've been flying forever! Because of this trip, you've now met another of your Great-Grandmothers, and a Great-Aunt and -Uncle, among others. Everyone is really loving getting to know you.

You have to know, today is a special day for a reason other than that it is your seven-month birthday. It's the last day of this year! This is the last day of the year you were born, and you and I are spending it in Louisiana together visiting with family. Tomorrow it will be a whole new year, and you have so many new things to learn and experience in that new year. Thanks again for letting me be along for the ride with you. I can't wait to see everything this new year will bring!

Love,
Momma

3 comments:

  1. a friend directed me to your blog & i have a question for you. how did you discover your child has sensory issues already? my 6 year old has visual problems, but we didn't figure it out until she was in kindergarten. we're currently doing vision therapy, but not quite sure if that will take care of everything.

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  2. @Mindy: Thank you so much for reading!

    Re: sensory issues: Daniel was crying for several hours in a row every day, for seemingly no reason, and my husband and I were pretty much at the end of our ropes. After ruling out physical causes with our pediatrician, we started talking to people about what was going on, to see if anyone had any ideas about what we should try. I can't remember who first suggested that we might explore the sensory route, but I ended up getting connected with an OT who was willing to evaluate Daniel for us. She said he is the youngest child she's seen who is displaying these kinds of sensory defensiveness symptoms, but the therapies seem to be helping.

    I'd love to hear more about what's going on with your daughter.

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  3. very interesting. my daughter cried all the time too. at that time i also had a 23 month old so i didn't really have the time or energy to try to figure out why. finally at 9 months we sleep trained her. she got a little bit better when she started sleeping more. at age 2 we took her to a chiro who tested for food allergies (by this time she was starting to show neurological problems). he immediately put her on a special diet and supplements. at age 5 we took her to an acupuncturist to help with headaches & discovered she had parasites as well. at age 6 i decided to have her vision tested, because i was starting to worry about her being dyslexic. we discovered she needed bi-focals and had several vision related problems. at that time i was also reading a book about sensory disorders & while the things we read about vision really seemed to fit her not much else did. in august we started her 8 month vision therapy program. i guess we'll decide what if anything to do next this spring.....thanks for sharing your story. i'll be checking back!

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