Charlie cut her first tooth last night!
After a crazy night, we visited James River State Park. It was our thirteenth Virginia State Park. Charlie was busy playing most of the morning and early afternoon. Because she and I were alone, I did not get to take many pictures.
These are the pictures that I took…
There was a kids’ exploration area. Charlie practiced her standing (as suggested by the PT yesterday) in the stump garden. She also played with the drums, climbed on the logs, and played in the sand pit that was in the kids’ area.
She had her first fudgesicle and impromptu feeding therapy.
We wrapped things up by playing by the river.
Charlie seems to know when I’m starting to feign enthusiasm for her therapy. I think she may strategically choose those moments to master a skill. It is almost like she is saying, “Don’t give up on me!”. Similarly to the day she learned to use her arms, today was one of those days that she unexpectedly moved forward when I greatly needed it.
Because I did not sleep well last night (Charlie was restless and decided she needed a mid night feeding), I have been dragging through my routine today. Halfheartedly, I carried out her lunch time feeding therapy. Afterwards, I fed Charlie her bottle and seated her in her seat. She watched intently as I started to devour my lunch. As I often do when she seems interested in my food, I handed her a sliver of my grilled cheese sandwich. She grabbed it and stared at my blankly. In return, I maintained eye contact with her as I took a bite. I dramatically said, “MMMMMM, that’s so yummy!” as I chewed. She responded with a laugh and smile.
As I turned away, Charlie squealed. I looked and she had taken her piece up to her mouth. She was gumming on it and making her “mmmmm” noise. I cheered. She reveled in my delight. We (her feeding therapist, dad, and I) have been trying to teach her hand to mouth feeding for weeks. I suppose she decided that today was going to be the day. To have proof for her dad, I snapped a picture.
She continued to gum and gnaw at it. After transforming it into a manageable texture, she consumed about a quarter of what I gave her. In addition, I offered her a peach slice off of my plate (which did not turn out so well). She drifted off to sleep shortly afterwards. I found myself rejuvenated by the pleasant surprise.
While Charlie’s sensory issues have made a vast improvement in the last year, there remains room for improvement. Yesterday was Charlie’s first time playing in the ocean and sand. We went to Kiptopeke State Park on the eastern shore. This is how her initial interaction went:
She did enjoy things once she realized she could bang shells together.
Charlie’s first birthday is less than a week away. I wanted to see how far she has progressed and grown during her first year. I looked through the pics and videos that I have posted on Facebook.
Obviously, she has grown quite a bit since the NICU. In addition, Charlie has made amazing progress in a way that may not be obvious to others. Her motor skills have drastically improved.
In a video taken in mid December (she was four months adjusted age), Charlie was unable to use her arms or legs. (I will post the video after writing this.) At that point, Charlie had only begun PT. Clearly, something was not right.
In desperation, I posted on a special needs parents board. I explained my situation and asked the parents what advice they had for me. Early Intervention and seeing a developmental pediatrician were both suggested repeatedly.
I followed the advice. I had to. It is what I needed to do to be OK if she doesn’t catch up. I knew there was a problem. I could not pretend it was not happening. If I ignored it, she would pay the price for the comfort of my own denial.
For six months, she has been in Early Intervention (PT, OT, and Speech/feeding) while being followed by a developmental pediatrician. We still do not know the etiology of her developmental delay. She is still developmentally delayed. However, she is making amazing progress. Yesterday, she commando crawled for the first time.
Early Intervention has made all the difference for Charlie. I am unsure she would have progressed as far with out it.
I’ve noticed that it is either feast of famine when it comes to progress with Charlie’s therapy. Yesterday, it was feast.
Charlie had a very successful OT and feeding therapy session yesterday. Last session, the therapist and I noticed that she liked licking textured things despite gagging on anything that passes the threshold of her lips into her mouth. This knowledge allowed the OT to come up with ideas as she rummaged through her arsenal of items at home.
The OT brought these items yesterday.
I presented them to Charlie. I held each item individually in front of her lips. As predicted, she stuck out her tongue and licked those items.
The therapist was a little more adventurous and worked them past Charlie’s lips into the very front of her mouth. Charlie grimaced. The stress caused her to tremble. However, she did not gag. I tried with the same result.
I retreated for a moment to give Charlie a second to “reorganize”.
Could she actually want to try more? I handed her the green item and placed it in front of her mouth. She tried to stick it in her mouth. She grimaced and pulled it out quickly. The odd thing is that she tried it again. She tried a number of times. Each time she would grimace and sometimes she would gag. But, she kept trying.
The OT and I looked at each other. I think we were both wondering what this baby was thinking. I laughed and said, “This is one weird baby.”
After the session, Charlie and I worked with the pacifier looking tool after each time Charlie ate. By evening, Charlie was able to hold it in her mouth for a few seconds.
This is a very big deal. It is one more step towards Charlie actually being able to feast.