Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Will the Weasel Ever Pop?

This is one of Allie's OT toys. She is supposed to press the button with her right hand. The problem is, Allie doesn't quite understand that the button makes the Jack-in-the-Box pop. This is a video of Allie exploring the novelty of buttons.

When Chickens Fly

First off, these pictures have nothing to do with how our day has been. They're just cute pictures from Halloween that I never posted.

Today was Allie's 9 month checkup with her pediatrician. It seems silly to have a "checkup" when we are seeing a doctor nearly every week, but it was nice to see a doctor without an urgent medical need. At one point, the pediatrician was looking in Allie's right ear and Allie shoved her away with Righty. Way to go Righty!

Allie's Stats:
Weight: 17lb 9 oz (23rd percentile)
Height: 28.25in (70th percentile)
Head Diameter: 90th percentile

It appears as though we have a big-headed skinny baby.

Speaking of her head, Allie also had a helmet adjustment today and has been excused from wearing the helmet for the rest of the day. She has a red spot about the size of a dime that needs to go away before she can wear the helmet again.

Lastly, Allie got some more blood work done today. This is her third (and final) set of massive blood work to try to figure out why the stroke happened. So far, everything has come back fine and we hope this goes the same. We really want the stroke to have been a fluke and not something that she has to worry about recurring for the rest of her life.

We are off to the Bay Area tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Let's hope that our 5.5 hour flight with a lap baby goes well!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bend... and snap!

Allie has been working hard on her sit-to-stand and it is paying off. When she first started working on these, she would pike her left leg out, lock her left knee, and heave herself up by shifting her weight forward. Now, she bends her knees evenly and bears weight on both sides to stand up.

Her stand-to-sit is making good progress too! In the beginning, she wouldn't bend her knees at all. Her first PT said it was because Allie didn't trust herself enough not to fall if she unlocked her knees. She still sometimes hesitates before actually sitting, but she does it!

A major plus-side of all this exercise is that she seems to understand what "sit" and "stand" mean and she does them basically on demand.

Here are some pictures of her today. (left) Allie bundled up for a brief morning walk. (right) This was taken shortly before she flipped out and declared that she would not be wearing her helmet tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Helmet Head

Allie got her helmet!

She doesn't like putting it on or taking it off but she is fine once it's there.

We know this is for the best and that we're lucky that our insurance covered everything, but it is tough to see her in it.

She and I went to a local mall to fill some time before picking Jonathan up from work. There were several people who looked into the stroller and then quickly looked away and pretended that they hadn't looked at all. I'm glad that Allie is too young to know.

Allie will be in this helmet for 3-4 months. Hopefully her head growth will even out quickly and we won't have to do helmet #2!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adventures in Eating

Allie has been getting pretty creative in her eating habits lately. We have been trying in vain for months to get her to drink apple juice out of a sippy cup, but she hates the idea of it. The second the weird sippy cup spout touches her mouth, she flips out.

Today, I discovered a secret. Turns out that Allie is just fine drinking the apple juice directly out of a regular cup. Check out her exploring the world of grown up cups (I apologize for the cinematography on this one)

Allie's favorite treats are graham crackers and her PT suggested that we put some in a spill-proof snack cup so that Allie can get some practice practically using two hands. The idea is that Allie will hold the handle with her right hand and reach into the cup through a weird rubber lid with her left hand to get the treat. This is a work in progress.

Believe it or not, she eventually managed to get one out. However, she was cheating a little and found a way to put the cup down on her bench and then she could reach in without the use of Righty. I can't blame her for trying.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Update

Allie was not very happy having to do occupational therapy this morning. The second she made eye contact with the OT, she cried. And then cried. And cried some more. Needless to say, not much OT happened today during her session. Allie's therapist, however, recommended some exercises for her to do when she is in a better mood.

One of Allie's new exercises is to hold herself up on the step in her bedroom. She loved it! I think her favorite part was that the cats came up to visit during it.

This is Allie getting used to the new routine.

At the end of the OT session, when Allie finally stopped crying, her OT said that she was incredibly impressed with the improvements that Allie has been making. She said that Allie has made more progress than she had hoped for. Allie is starting to feel her left hand with her right hand and is continuing to reach out for objects with Righty. So, even though no OT was done during OT, it was still a useful session.

On a final note, Allie got through the wait list for additional physical therapy at Children's National Hospital. We start on Wednesday. She also gets her helmet this Thursday. She's a busy girl!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Good to be Home!

Jonathan, Bonnie, and Allie picked me up from the train station today as I made my way back from Raleigh, NC. What a wonderful sight!

While I'm enjoying settling in back home, here are some of the photos that Jonathan sent to keep me company while I was gone.

Allie eating rice at the Indian restaurant down the street.

Allie bundled up for a chilly Fall walk.

Allie posing for her morning photo.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Miss Personality

I left town this morning for a business trip, and am already missing the family! I have about 5 hours of my train ride ahead of me, so I started looking though old photos of Allie.

I think my favorite pictures are the ones that capture a little bit of what she is thinking. Here are some of my favorites:

"OK, so, I know that you have a hard time finding hats to fit me, but is this really what we are doing now? Why am I wearing a hat meant for someone twice my age and why is it still snug? But, on the plus side, I bet the ear flaps are going to be delicious!" (8 months old)

"I said that I was tired. I said that I didn't want to do any more exercises. I told you that I was hungry and that I had a long day being a chicken for Halloween. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?" (8 months old)

"I'm going to touch the cat!!! Braahahahahhhhaaaaa!" (8 months old)

"If you have to put a sweater on my head to keep me warm, you probably should have just packed me a hat." (8 months old)

"These workouts are exhausting!" (8 months old)

"I look like such a grown up in Daddy's hat!" (8 months old)

"What are you looking at?" (7 months old)

"Really, Grandma? Really?" (7 months old)

"Come on, Mama! Just because I can stand, it doesn't mean that I want to stand! Give me some help here!" (7 months old)

"OK... OK... I'm at the big kids' table now... DON'T MESS UP! DON'T MESS UP! What are the other kids doing? Am I doing it right? Must stay focused!" (6 months old)

Enjoying Daddy's company. (6 months old)

"Why can't I just live on my changing table?" (6 months old)

Three-way staring contest. (5 months old)

"What is THIS?!? Is it going to bite me? Am I going to bite it? What is going on? Ekkk!" (5 months old)

"If I sit in my chair and look adorable, Mama lets me stay in the chair. I'm going to stick with that plan for now." (5 months old)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Goals

It is amazing how our idea of developmental milestones has changed. Yesterday, Allie's new PT said that Allie has all the positive signs of a good recovery with none of the negative signs. That, in and of itself, is worth celebrating.

Allie has made some dramatic improvements with her right arm this past week. She seems to have figured out how to control her shoulder, which means she can now wield her arm arm at will. It also means that with a little help grabbing onto an object, she can then move it around like she is doing to the rings in the photo to the left.

We always put her bunny Penny on her right side when she's going to sleep so that she has to move to her right to cuddle with her. On Monday night, I put her in her crib and put Penny next to her inert arm. I kissed her goodnight and started to leave the room when I realized that I had mistakenly put Penny on the left because her right arm was flailing around. That's a good mistake to make.

We have adopted a new game called "Kisses for Righty!" that involves dramatically kissing Allie's right hand (affectionately called Righty) and shouting "Kisses for Righty!" whenever Allie raises her right hand. She has quickly taken to this game and will now raise her hand and start grunting if we don't immediately acknowledge Righty with proper enthusiasm.

Yesterday, I was taking Allie to the doctor on the bus. Allie was cozy in the Ergo carrier, which is like a backpack that I wear in the front. When Allie is in the Ergo, our stomachs are touching and she usually just relaxes on my chest. Well, yesterday she didn't feel like relaxing. There was a very attractive yellow cord directly to my left (Allie's right) that signals the bus to stop when it gets pulled. Allie really liked this cord. So much so that she weaseled Righty out of the Ergo, reached up above her head, and gripped the cord. I was in shock, and it took me a minute---again---to realize that this was really Righty.

This was all great, but the best news of all came from her teachers at daycare today. Allie fed herself with Righty! The teacher, who is so very clever, restrained her left arm while Allie tried to figure out how to make Righty bring her the food. After a couple bites, Allie started to get frustrated so Allie's clever teacher broke the cracker in half so that both Righty and her left hand had some cracker. She ate all of the left cracker and then continued to feed herself with Righty.

We feel incredibly fortunate to have such network of caring people here. Her daycare teachers always go out of their way to find new things for Allie to try. She is the youngest of the six kids in her class, and she has some really great role models to look up to. Her therapists have also been fantastic. Her PT and OT come to our home every week and teach us strategies to help Allie.

Her pediatrician has been supportive and has helped ease the insurance burden. So far, our HMO (Kaiser) has covered everything that we have asked of them. Between my pregnancy, her delivery, and all of the doctor's appointments and specialists that we've seen, we have managed to pay only $120 out of pocket. Allie's therapists were both shocked that Kaiser is covering the head shaping helmet. Shocked.

I also had lunch with a local mom of a 10 year old who had an in utero stroke. She was able to give some great advice in terms of specific exercises and approaches that I hadn't thought about.

Allie's current PT and OT goals include:
  • Banging two objects together (one in each hand)
  • Clapping
  • Bearing more weight through her right arm and leg (hopefully enough weight to crawl soon!)
So far so good... fingers crossed!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Welcome to Allie's new blog! Jonathan and I are shocked at how quickly she is growing up and are so unbelievably impressed at how much Allie's hard work is paying off. We are glad that we can share some of her journey here with you.

As you know, Allie suffered an in utero stroke sometime around the end of her second or beginning of her third trimester. She didn't show any real signs of it for months! When she was about 4 months old, we started to notice that she was using mostly her left hand to reach for objects. After a few months of being assured that she would even out and that she was just a "strong lefty", her pediatrician told us that she suspected Allie might have a Cerebral Palsy and recommended that we get an MRI. The MRI identified the stroke and Allie's recovery began.

Allie now gets weekly physical therapy (PT), weekly occupational therapy (OT), and intermittent massage therapy. She also has a completely packed schedule with other doctor's appointments and specialists to help her on her way. Because she isn't very mobile, Allie's head is getting flat in the back. She will be getting a helmet (medically known as a D.O.C. band) next week to help her head grow into a more symmetric shape.

In Allie's free time, she enjoys eating new foods, throwing new foods on the floor, watching the cats, unpacking her toys from boxes, listening and dancing to music, shaking her head no, and playing with her friends. Her current favorite toy is Penny, a pink rabbit puppet that Papa gave her. Her favorite songs are "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Wheels on the Bus". And, her favorite time of the day is bath time when she gets to splash around and get Mommy and Daddy very wet.

Below are some pictures and videos of Allie so far. For many more photos of her first couple months, click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60466481@N02/

Month 1 -- Napping in her bouncy chair

Month 2 -- Hanging out on her changing table

Month 3 -- Playing on her play mat

Month 4 -- Jumper!

Month 5 -- Allie waking up and Allie laughing at Daddy

Month 6 -- Squats

Month 7 -- Bye Bye Daddy!

Month 8 -- Playing with the spiky ball