Thursday, March 29, 2012

11 month old toddler

toddling at 11 months
 Baba is toddling around the house and anywhere he finds open ground.  He's trying to run.  Yes.  I said RUN!  Crazy kid has fallen and cut open his mouth, but it has not deterred him from trying to run again.  He can't even walk well yet.

I can't even skip one day of doing the Masgutova Method because his balance and the right leg function really show a significant difference the next day.  Yes.  That means more falling.  I had no idea what a constantly falling child meant when I was treating kids...yes, before I had my own kid. 

In my nice little OT gym, where everything was covered with carpets and mats...falling was good.  I could work with that.  I could help the kid learn to improve his balance.  There was no hard wooden surfaces to cut open lips or even bash heads.  Bashing heads into hard wooden surfaces that could cause another brain injury NEED TO BE BANNED in a house where the kid has already suffered a head injury.  Right?

But how does one get rid of kitchen cabinets and dressers and wall corners...and beds.  Do we need furniture? 

Where's the light?
When I was out around town, parents would warn me..."Wait till he walks!"  Then they would solemnly shake their heads and let out a sigh.  I didn't know.  I didn't know what they were talking about.  I was so ignorant!  So a newbie mom. 

NOW I KNOW!  Now I know how your heart can stop when your baby's head gets banged by the bed.  The first time you see blood and have no idea where it's coming from.  Let it not be a hole in his head!  Augh!

I have a newfound respect for parents who have survived toddlerhood.  Will I make it?

I can do this myself!
I won't fall in.
This is my long excuse for not being able to post anything for a while.  If you haven't seen it, I'm done with the "Wearing baby and Sensory Integration" Series...all five posts are complete for those of you who are interested. Click the treatment tab above or here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

For those of you who have older children, I'm working on a new series called "Therapy Secrets".  It will have ideas for kids of all ages. 

I have also found some cool Pinterest sites that offer ideas for activities with children.  I will be featuring those soon.

Meanwhile, here are a few toddling pictures!  Oh!  I almost forgot.  He's acting like a toddler too.  He has very strong opinions about everything!

Professional walker on the loose!
Already a little scientist.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wearing Baby and Sensory Integration-part 5-the conclusion

Side note:
I think next time I'll write the whole article split it into parts and publish it one after another.  This was difficult to write separately and I feel terrible that so much time passed between posts!  I hope you will be patient with me as I figure out how best to share information.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!  I would love to hear from you at!

I've re-read part 1 through 4 and I wanted to add a few more things that were helpful to me.  In case you haven't read them yet...part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

I also decided to do a completely new series about vestibular (movement) based treatment, where I'll share the story about the boy whose life changed with that treatment. 

In Balboa at 1 month old

1.  Use music

I am not an expert on therapeutic listening, but I know that music has a powerful effect on all of us.  I also know that it affects the same area as movement, the inner ear.  The place where we learn balance and a general sense of where our body is in space, is right next to where we hear.  In fact, as we listen to music, it activates our eardrum and moves the little hairs in our cochlea, our balance center.

For this reason, having the right music on while wearing baby around the house can also have a therapeutic effect.  It can work in concert with your body movement to provide the maximum therapeutic effect.  I usually choose music without vocals that have a heavy regular beat.  I organize a playlist that starts with a fast beat (think babies current heart rate) and each subsequent song is a slower beat (leading to mom's resting heart rate). 

Baba likes the following CD's: Jazz meets Cuba, Classic meets Cuba, Dreamcatcher by Secret Garden, Jewel's Lullaby CD, and Enya

So turn up the sound and dance with your baby!  The movement and music will help them fall asleep too! 

2.  Keep air flowing

Make sure your baby is not squished against your body without air.  Frequently check baby for comfort and safety.  When using a sling type carrier, always use your non-dominant hand to support baby.  This is especially important when you're getting things done.

3.  It takes time

It takes time to get used to wearing baby, but it can be very rewarding.  It may really help you bond with your baby and read your baby's signals.  You may find yourself knowing when your baby is hungry or uncomfortable.  Your ability to read your baby and your baby's increasing ability to modulate their sensory needs may drastically reduce crying.

4.  If you're breastfeeding...

Both the Ergo and the sling are perfect for discreet breastfeeding.  It takes a little practice to find your groove, but once you do, it's great!  I can breastfeed anywhere!

5.  When to wear baby

I try to time wearing Baba before nap time.  The movement relaxes him and by the time I breastfeed he's ready to nap or sleep.  When he wakes up, he's refreshed and ready to learn.  I also wear him when he doesn't feel well or he needs help to modulate. 

Newborns get overwhelmed easily by all the sensory stimulation, but babies with sensory issues have an even harder time.  So I use the expensive stroller to carry the diaper bag.  I usually wear him to all our outings, especially if I think it might be too stimulating.  When I'm too tired, Auntie takes over. 

I usually wear him when we go for our daily walks.  This is definitely a great way to lose the baby weight and get in shape!  It also helps boost my mood. 

If you're a working mom, just wear baby as you do chores before and after work, except when you're cooking.

In Bjorn with Auntie at around 4 months

6.  Who can wear baby

This is a great way for the father/partner to bond with your baby.  I know my son has a close relationship with his aunt because she frequently wears him.  So even though, he still prefers mom at this stage, he is happy to be worn by his auntie.

If possible, your baby can also be worn by the nanny/babysitter.  This will ensure that baby continues to get the therapeutic benefits of being worn.

7.  Interaction

I frequently interact with Baba while I wear him.  I showed him the leaves on the trees, I played with the lights around the house, I moved objects up/down/upside down, I sang, I taught him vocabulary, taught him about art, encouraged him to touch things, and I asked him questions...which I answered for him. 

I didn't always talk because that can be over stimulating, so I used exaggerated facial expressions and gestures too.  I also stayed quiet when he seemed to be trying to figure things out, so he could try to problem solve himself.  All this interaction can really increase brain activity to make more connections.  Of course that's really important for a child whose brain is compromised.

8.  Bonding

Most importantly, it's a great way to bond with your baby and get to know him.  When your child suffers a stroke, you might suffer from the trauma too.  The experience of finding out your child is ill and all the anxiety associated with that time, may leave you feeling less joy and more depressed.  It can interfere with bonding, especially with prolonged periods in the NICU.

I feel like I'm still healing 11 months later.  However, the time I spent wearing my baby, helped me see him...not a damaged child, but my little guy.  I got to know his personality and I was able to help him meet his needs because I was able to read him.  This made me feel good about my ability to care for him and also boosted my confidence...something we need after such a trauma.

In Ergo with Auntie at 10 months

More than anything, enjoy your time wearing your baby.  He won't be little for long.  I know that this time in my memory will be filled with our togetherness and happiness more than the worry and trauma of what's happened because we've spent so much time just hanging out.  When I wear him, I try to breath and focus on the present.  This has helped me tremendously.  It's so therapeutic for the both of us.  It's also an easy "therapy at home activity" thinking involved. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Metamorphosing into a mother

Metamorphosing from child to adult has been excruciating.  The stench from the rotting cocoon fills my nose and reminds me of my journey to this place.  The place where healing finally begins and the past can finally be burned into ashes.  Even the ashes must be set free into the wild ocean, for the tame ground of my soul is too tender for its teeth.  The scars are still healing and sometimes they burst open revealing the puss that must be extricated and thrown into the acid of no return.

This is just the beginning.  This is just the beginning of washing the stain of my pain.  The stain that tried to tattoo itself to my heart and body.  It won't be a short journey.  It's already lasted 39 years.  Many things have changed during that time, but the pain is always the same.  It started with my reluctant birth into a world where I was not wanted.  Into a world, where my presence burdened two broken beings together.

The healing began when I birthed another being.  One I had not expected.  One I didn't know I could mother into human form.  Then a lightening stroke broke open a wound in his brain and my mothering instincts pressed the pedal to the metal and a mother was born.  She is fierce.  She is capable.  She is trying to transform my broken form into the woman I need to be.  The kind of woman that becomes the mother of a strong man, without a man.

At the climax of all that could go wrong, a gift was given.  A gift I could not refuse, even when I thought it would be best.  I found my passion in loving a little form that clarifies my understanding of unconditional love.  I found that after all, I was meant to be a mother.  After all, I was meant to be his mother.

2 months old
  Linking up to Just Write.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Developmental Specialist Appointment

We met with the Developmental Specialist last Wednesday.  He had seen Baba when he was 4 months old.  At the time, he felt Baba had some spasticity and weakness on his right leg, but he seemed to test average for everything else.  At that point, there was always a possibility of developing more asymmetry (decreased strength and function on one side).  So they wanted to keep an eye on his progress.

At this appointment, he couldn't get over how well Baba was doing.  He couldn't believe that he was walking!  Baba also tested cognitively at 12 months (slightly above), verbally at 10 months (average), fine motor at 10 months (average), and gross motor at 12 months (slightly above). 

After the fellow (a doctor who is getting training in a specialty area) left, the attending came in excitedly.

"Will he walk for me?"

I wasn't sure.  Baba is very wary of strangers, for he probably didn't remember her.  My jaw absolutely dropped as he not only seemed comfortable with her, he asked her to pick him up!  I couldn't believe it!  He played with the toys she brought and showed off his walking, turning, and squatting.  Oh yeah!  He was flirting!

The attending felt that Baba was doing very well and she could not detect any asymmetry in his body or any other problems at this time.  They hoped to see him again, but we're moving far away, so it would be impossible. 

At home, we're noticing that his right toes are curling in when he walks.  So when he loses he's balance, it's almost always on his right side.  So we're continuing the Masgutova Method to try and encourage his brain to keep his body in symmetry.

These results are beyond all my expectations and even the expectations of the doctors.  We are all pleasantly surprised.  It is the best kind of surprise. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

A moment to remember #6

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link in the comments at SouleMama for all to see.

Have a lovely weekend!