Wednesday, June 17, 2015

18 Month Update

Stella actually turned 19 months old today, but I am playing catch-up (per usual) so this post will cover months 16-18.

We continued weekly doctor visits into April, when we finally got in to the Pediatric Allergy Specialist in Rockford (read more about that post HERE)  That pretty much ended our long streak of visits, but we didn't escape Spring without one more nasty round of colds for Stella, me, and this time even Mark (he hadn't been sick since college!!).  But I am happy to report we have been illness-free since the beginning of May (FYI I am knocking on wood right now!)

Tolerating the inhaler a little better ;-)
We kicked April off with a trip to the zoo with Jenny, Beau and Mo.  Stella had fun as long as I didn't stop the stroller ;-)  We also had a great Easter (read more HERE) and celebrated Ryder's 3rd birthday.  Mark was working late most of the month, so Stella and I made several trips to the park and did lots of playing around the house.

Picnic at Ryders and a birthday party at Great Grandma's
In May we had a low-key Mother's Day.  Mark made us pancakes for brunch and got me roses.  But my favorite were the homemade cards from him and "Stella".  I cherish the effort and sweetness he put into them, and more importantly I know he means every word.  After Stella's nap we headed to the park for some swinging and a family walk around the lake.  We finished the day off with pizza and a movie.  Perfect Mother's Day in my opinion!

On Stella's 18 month "birthday" we celebrated my cousin Molly's graduation.  Stella had so much fun at the ceremony and sat so well, but she threw quite the fit at the party afterwords.  She missed her nap, and baby likes her naps!!  I did capture a few sweet 18 month pictures of her.

Graduation time

Developmental Delay:
I absolutely hate that this has its' own category now, but it is what it is.  Stella has been attending Physical Therapy for her gross motor delay.  We go once a month to the Bradford Grade School for an hour.  And the sessions go TERRIBLY.  Stella screams the entire time and I always want to cry.  She is stubborn and hates being forced to do things.  And the sessions are usually in the middle of her nap.  So the therapist and I talk for as long as Stella can take it and then she writes exercises for me to do at home in a notebook.  I will say that I really, really like the therapist.  If I didn't know any better I would think it was an hour of "mommy therapy" because we talk about everything and she is so knowledgeable and understanding.  And the exercises have helped Stella.  First we focused on teaching her to pull up.  I can't work with Stella for more than a few minutes at a time because she throws a fit.  So about 10 times a day I would do the exercise 1 or 2 times with her.  We started by going up to her knees, one foot at a time.  Stella has to be taught EVERY SINGLE MOVE, even how to put her feet flat-footed on the floor.  I don't know why.  They don't know why.  Just how she is.  Testing my patience I suppose!  So I would put one foot out, then the other, then help her pull up to the couch.  Mid-April she started doing "downward dog" so I knew she was ready to get up.  Then she started pulling herself up to the toy box on her knees.  By the end of April she could pull herself up to and walk along the couch, but it was really shaky and she didn't do it often.  And she would only pull up to the couch.  So after the next PT session we worked on pulling up to other things and walking along the couch, being able to turn directions.  By the end of April she was pulling up more often, and finally crawling all over the house.  At this time she was 16 1/2 months old.  Early in May she finally got into her little brown chair on her own, crawled into the tub on her own, and pulled herself up in her crib.  She also started standing up from her brown chair independently (not holding onto anything).  She can stand for about 15 seconds, but only when she's watching TV and not paying attention to what she's doing.  This tells me she CAN do it, but just lacks confidence, or interest, or both.  So by 18 months she was crawling all over, pulling herself up regularly (but mainly to only the couch), and walking along the entire couch.

A little downward dog to some Friends
Finally getting up on her knees
Pulling herself up to us and the couch, pulling up in her crib, and standing independently from her chair!
Getting into her chair on her own!
The next delay is her speech.  She is in modified speech at this point.  Once a month the therapist comes to our house and works on expressive language skills.  Basically they just sit and play.  She used to say "cheese" and "please" but only for a week or so and then just quit.  Then she started saying "go" and when I would count "one" she would say "two" (picked this up from hanging out with me when I did my PT exercises).  But same thing, after a week or so she just quit.  We did a hearing test at the end of March and it came back perfect.  Again, not sure why she doesn't say any words.  We are working on a little sign language, she has picked up "more" when she is eating.  Her temper tantrums have really gotten worse, her physical therapist thinks it's because she can't (or won't) communicate what she wants.  We are possibly going to see if she qualifies for actual speech, but she's pretty young.  I'm just waiting for them to set up the evaluation for that.

The developmental delays, teamed with the health issues, have been pretty stressful.  I feel like I could dedicate an entire post to what we've been through mentally (I think I've updated enough on the physical process!), so I will post on that soon.  I will just leave it as she is still incredibly behind, but I have found out how to escape the stress.  More soon :-)

The Routine:
Stella still eats very well.  We do breakfast around 8:30, lunch around 11:30, snack around 3:30, and supper around 6:30.  She only gets milk with breakfast and then before bed, the rest of the time we do a 75/25 water and juice mix.  This helps her eat better.  I have been doing lots of the same foods, so I do want to start branching out.  We are still in sippy cups, but I have introduced drinking from a cup.  She doesn't do very well so we only practice once and a while.  She is doing much better eating from plates and bowls, but no silverware yet.  Just not ready!
First Happy Meal (gotta have some treats!), using her new Minnie tableware, and loving spaghetti and pasta (so messy, so worth it!)

Diaper changes are still a little rough, and we still do Miralax every few days.  Otherwise all is well in the cloth diaper department!

Shower baths are going well.  Stella LOVES to take baths.  She throws a fit when we get her out, so we try to let her play a little longer.  Going to need a bigger tub soon!  We are also working on brushing her teeth.  Right now I only do it about once a day, but looking to get in a routine of every morning and night.  She pretty much has all her teeth so it's time :-)  I clip her nails about twice a week and I am lucky because she sits so well for me (as long as Mickey, Barney or Shrek are on!)
Just takes some motivation to get this girl moving:  when she saw daddy bring the tub upstairs she went to the bathroom and got in all by herself when we were getting things set up; clothes, fences and all!!

Stella is still sleeping well, but we hit a weird patch for a few weeks.  She'd wake up a few times during the night talking and singing.  I read once they do that when they start crawling/walking because they are excited to play.  Makes sense, I think that is what was going on.  I never got her up, just pushed play on puppy and she'd go back to sleep (although a few times it took an hour or so!)  Happily that's over and we're back to normal.  Now she goes to bed a little later, around 8 (summer hours, still light out!) and has been sleeping until about 8.  I like this better, allows me to stay up a little later and then either workout and shower or sleep in before she gets up!  Plus she still takes a nap, usually about an hour and a half!  I can't stress it enough, work to create a sleep schedule from Day 1 and you (and your babies) will be much happier!  WORTH IT!!
Still snuggling puppy EVERY NIGHT and EVERY NAP!
A few of Stella's favorite things:
  • Being outside
  • Shutting doors
  • Sucking her thumb (even had to have the Dr check it out because it turned really red and was swollen and peeling.  Mark had to have his drained when he was a baby because it got infected.  Stella's wasn't infected, just have to keep it moisturized).
  • Stickers
  • Playing with Little People
  • Snuggling Kaiser and laying on his dog bed
  • Carrying around little toys.  She carried around fences from my Grandma's from the beginning of March until just recently.  They went EVERYWHERE!  She is an expert at crawling with 3 or 4 toys in her hands.
  • Still loving all the same things from the 16 Month Post (read those HERE).  She is a very content baby and loves to play with toys!
  • And...because I can't leave it out...what she hates.  Being left at the gym (she kept crying and they'd have to come get me so we haven't been in a while).  Elevators.  Public restrooms.  Grass. 
Loving the stickers from her weekly doctor visits.

Favorites:  Little People (puts them in their holes now), blocks, puzzles, and little toys.

Kaiser is so sweet to Stella Anne.  Laying outside he door and sharing his bed with her.  Love my puppy!

Stella has what I call extreme moods.  She is either totally happy or totally upset.  Not much middle ground right now!!  Makes running errands very interesting!

Around the house:
  • Things are going to be changing for our family:  Mark got a new job!  He is now working in Atkinson selling Pioneer at Atkinson Grain.  This job change is a blessing for our family.  We will also be selling our house and making one last move:  back home!  Before Stella is in Kindergarten (and preferably preschool) we will be moving back into the Annawan or Geneseo school district.  We've moved 4 times since college, met some incredible people, and had wonderful career experiences.  But now it's time to plant our roots.  This means we won't be settling, so we are holding out for our "dream home" (or at least one we can mold into that).  We couldn't be happier!
  • I finished my physical therapy and WOW what a difference!  The pain from my C-section is virtually gone and I have lost almost all my baby weight.  Finally!  I have one last PT session before they release me and a few pounds left to go, so I also plan to post on that soon.  It's been a long road of pain and frustration, but I've worked my butt off (the right way, no crash diets here) and I'm proud of how far I've come so I can't wait to share my results!
So things are going very well!  I am looking forward to a fun summer with Stella, but also have lots of things to get done around the house if we're going to be putting it up for sale!  Lots of changes coming our way between now and the 21 Month Update!

***I have more photos of Stella on my Facebook page, please look HERE to view them.  Figured this post was long enough!!