Sunday, September 27, 2015

21 Month Update

Time for Stella's quarterly update!  I know I was going to post this last weekend, and I actually had it ready to go but the old desktop and sketchy middle-of-nowhere Internet wouldn't upload my pictures.  So today it is!  This summer technology was pretty much non-existent in our house, so we did a lot of playing, relaxing, and of course a few fun little outings.  To read more about our summer see THIS POST

Over the past 3 months Stella was (for the most part) healthy.  In May her eczema flared up pretty good and even turned into hives so we put her back on Zyrtec full time (was previously only using it as needed).  In June she got a really bad diaper rash (luckily the first one that every required a prescription cream) because she had a round of diarrhea.  But I am happy to say that after a follow-up visit with her allergy specialist this summer I began to slowly pull her medications.  I started by pulling the Zyrtec, only giving it to her as needed.  From there I completely eliminated dairy from her diet to help the constipation.  I was so sick of relying on Miralax, and we know I'm not a huge fan of medication (only when needed-don't get me wrong I am so thankful for it, just don't like to use it unless absolutely necessary!).  I started with soy milk and then switched to almond after a few weeks.  Eliminating dairy foods wasn't too hard because she was still eating pretty simple meals so we just cut out butter (subbed non-dairy mayo), cheese (tried soy cheese and YUCK!!), cottage cheese and yogurt.  This helped her constipation soooo much and I haven't had to use Miralax since (I have started adding a little dairy back in but more on that in the next update because I didn't do any at all for a few months).  In July I slowly pulled the Singular, so by the time she turned 21 months she was off all medications with the exception of her inhaler (which I planned to pull in September).  This has been a long time coming and made us all very happy!
Loves her Frozen couch/bed.  She flips it up and down several times a day :-)

Developmental Delay:
Stella didn't make a whole lot of progress with her gross motor skills during these 3 months.  At 18 months she was pulling up and crawling, by 21 months her only additions included getting on and off the couch independently, getting up and down from her new table and chairs, and finally bending her knees to sit down instead of falling straight back.  Therapy continued once a month, and we focused on walking while holding her hands.  I did this SEVERAL times a day with her, hoping it would eventually catch on and she would be confident enough to step out on her own.  No such luck yet.  It was frustrating, especially when she stood right up from the floor on her own around 18.5 months.  I thought for sure walking was around the corner, but it just wasn't in her plans yet.
Standing up on her own and finally able to get on her elephant by herself!

We saw some small progression in her speech development, but certainly not enough to get her caught up.  She started by mimicking sounds in her favorite songs ("Do you want to build a Snowman" and "Oh Toodles"), and then she started saying "hi da" when Mark gets home from work (still no "mama" dang it), "yea" all the time, and replying "MMMM" when we asked her if her food was good.  So a little responsive language, which was nice, but again just not enough.  We did a speech evaluation at the end of July and she qualified by a landslide.  Here it is almost October and her services haven't even started.  The EI (Early Intervention) program frustrates me, so much red tape preventing kids from getting what they need.  Meanwhile Stella falls further and further behind!  I know there is a budget crisis in Illinois and they are shorthanded, but I also know there are therapists out there that can take her on there's just too many peoples' hands in the fire trying to work it out.  I saw it firsthand teaching.  So for now I work with her as much as possible at home and we wait (I will say in the past month she's made some gains but more on those in the next update...)

OK, the last piece of the puzzle- her overall cognitive development.  When I took Stella to her regular doctor in May, he expressed some concerns with her overall development.  Concerns that I greatly share.  There is definitely something different about Stella, but no one can put their finger on it.  She is very social, never meets a stranger, and is generally a happy baby.  But there are things that push her over the edge, and it's a nightmare to get her to snap out of it.  Some of the major things that set her off are public restrooms (can't say I blame her there!), elevators, the scale at the doctor's office, when her motion comes to a stop (in the stroller, car, shopping cart, etc...), and when you try to re-direct her if she really has her mind set on something (common for kids I know, but Stella takes it to a whole other level).  She thrashes in your arms, bangs her head, and screams.  Full blown meltdowns.  The public ones are the worst.  I get so frustrated because I see kids do that often, and it's usually a result of no discipline at home.  Mark and I are very consistent with Stella and she does NOT get her way.  Yet she still thinks she's in charge.  So at this point we think there's more going on.  I hate to throw a diagnosis out there when no official one has been made, but there are a few things we are wondering about and I am happy to say that tomorrow we will be taking Stella to a pediatric developmental specialist at OSF in Peoria (her regular doctor referred us there).  He is rumored to be very stern yet excellent at his job.  I can handle that.  At this point I just want to know what's going on so we can give her the help she needs.  I have been doing some research on different things and preparing a lot for this appointment.  It took us 4 months to get in so to say we are ready is an understatement.  Keeping in mind that we love Stella more than anything no matter what, and that she is a beautiful, unique, happy and healthy girl, all prayers are appreciated as we navigate this journey.
Thought it was pretty funny to have kitty ride elephant!

The Routine:

Eating is one of Stella's strong points ;-)  She loves almost everything, although veggies aren't a favorite (except sweet corn!)  As I mentioned before, we did cut out dairy for these few months.  Thankfully Stella loved vanilla soy milk, but after hearing a lot of negatives about soy we did switch to almond milk.  We mix half vanilla with half unsweetened to give it a little taste but cut some of the sugar.  This works well for her!  At 20.5 months I was determined to get her to start using a big-girl sippy cup.  She bit holes in all the nipples of her old cups, so it was time.  Of course she refused and threw them at first, so one determined mama spent the majority of one morning teaching her.  I held her like a new baby and put it in her mouth, a little at a time, dripping milk out of it onto her mouth, until she finally started sucking out of the cup.  And then just like that she was fine and has used them ever since.  Stubborn little thing!

Still using her baby tub.  Once she started crawling she kind of slimmed down.  Now it's safe to say she is actually petite!  She must have daddy's metabolism because she eats like a horse!  She weighed in at 24 pounds (60%) at her doctor check up and is currently still in 18 month clothes.

Stella is still sleeping from about 8pm-8am with a 1-2 hour nap from about 1:30-3:30.  She did start to think she was too big for a nap and refused to sleep for a few days.  We started playing the TV music box on her crib set to the nature settings, and it put her out immediately.  Now I have to play that almost every day to get her to sleep.  I tried to save it for days when she REALLY needed a nap, but as long as it works I guess we'll roll with it!  Mama loves nap time (that's what time it is right now in fact!)

A few of Stella's favorite things: 
  • Highlighters, pens and pencils
  • Sitting at the computer watching videos of Ryder with mommy
  • Being outside (wagon rides, sitting at the deck table with mommy, swinging, playing on a blanket in the grass)
  • Hanging out with daddy
  • Trying to play with Kaiser
  • Reading books
  • Music, dancing, and learning to sing
  • Snuggles (hugs around 19 months and kisses around 20 months!)
  • Building pillow forts on the couch (and getting up and down from the couch all day!)
  • Her new table and chairs
  • Painting her toenails with Aunt Abby
  • Giving high 5's
  • Playing out in the shop with daddy

Around the house:
  •  Mark's new job is going well, but the drive (about 35 minutes one way) is starting to wear on him.  We looked at one house and one piece of land so far, but nothing fits yet.  Hoping that dream home comes up on the market soon!  We are slowly but surely working around our house to get it ready to sell.  Not too much to do, Mark's been doing some landscaping and I haven't been doing much.  Just keeping it real!  Lots of sorting and organizing to do (and probably a yard sale) but I'm saving that for winter when we're cooped up inside :-)
  • I know I still need to do a postpartum "after" update about my journey losing the baby weight and recovering from an awful c-section.  I have that on my to-do list, should get done in October.  Just trying to get Stella's situation all figured out and enjoy my favorite time of year for the time being, but it is coming up I promise!

As always, visit my Facebook page HERE for more pictures of our beautiful girl.  I only put a small portion of them on here ;-)

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