Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 8 - Brennan at 5 months (actually it's August 16 already!)

I only have a few minutes while Brennan and I sit at Panera waiting for Conner to finish up at Speech Preschool but before it gets too far past, I wanted to do an update on little B.

We couldn't love this little girl more. We love Conner so much that I wasn't sure how it would be with a second, but I just love her to bits and pieces. She is so happy (most of the time!) and such a doll baby. We are so lucky (have I said that a million times already?!).

Brennan is doing amazingly well. We didn't have an official 5 month visit at the pediatrician (we have a 6 month one in a few weeks) but she had a sick visit for a bad cough so they weighed her. She was 16 lbs, 7 oz. HUGE! But doing so great. Around 4 months and 2 weeks old, she started rolling over and in the last 3 weeks, she has been ALL OVER THE PLACE! It was like, "Okay, I rolled over, now I'm ready to get moving". She rolled a lot for a few days, but now she is more interested in learning to crawl...and she almost has it. For a few days, she could only get backward. Now she can go forward and in all directions. It's more like a scoot/army crawl/jumping almost, but she is getting where she wants and crawling is not too far away. I was so worried about her development because we spend so much time going to Conner's appointments and she is always with me (not doing tummy time, playing, etc) but she is doing awesome (we think!). We do occasionally put her in the exersaucer or jumper (even though Conner's PT told us not too...I promise we don't do it that much or for that long) and she likes those, but she is definitely a floor baby, just like Conner was.

She is also starting to express her opinion (already...we are in trouble!) about stuff. When she is hungry or tired, everyone in the world knows it. It's become much more difficult for her to get rest in her carseat when we are on the go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we are making it work. One of the biggest challenges is that Conner is always in her face. He loves her so much and he doesn't care if she's sleeping so he wakes her up. We're working on it. She makes noises, but not babbling yet. I hope that will come soon (since Conner never did, I worry about this all the time...no babbling is a precursor to speech apraxia which we deal with every day. This could be hereditary and not necessarily related to Conner's prematurity, so just another thing to stress over!).

Brennan is NOT interested in solids at all. We have been trying oatmeal for a few weeks. I tried it and she gagged, so I waited a week and tried again. Now we have tried several times. I thought maybe she didn't like it, so we have tried apples and sweet potatoes. She was not interested. She is still just drinking formula, five 6 oz bottles a day. She is still gaining weight very well, so I'm not worrying about it yet, but I hope she will catch on to eating soon.

Well, that's about all I have time for. Have to give an update on Conners' school choice which was very difficult and changed at the last minute. Will do that when I have a minute.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Backtracking again - July 25, 2011 Conner Turns 4!!

Well, our little baby has turned 4 years old and he isn't so little any more. He has made so much progress this last year. I think he is a pretty incredible little kid.

So Conner at 4 years old...
Well, I haven't recorded a weight for him in a LONG time. All I wrote last year was that he was in the 25th percentile for height and weight. I think Conner weighed about 25 lbs when he turned 3. He didn't have a stellar year last year for weight gain and the GI doctor was not happy about it. Well, this year, Conner has really gotten big. He has grown a ton in height and weight. We think he is up to about 33 lbs. This is a HUGE weight gain for him. He hasn't gained 8 lbs in a year since before his first birthday. He has also grown at least 4 inches (the last time he was measured). So these stats are awesome for Conner, who started out at 1 lb, 5 oz. It can sometimes be hard for micropreemies to gain weight and to be on regular growth charts. Conner is on it, and is not even at the bottom of it! We'll find out in a few weeks when we go for his 4 year check up exactly where he is.

Conner finished his 3 year old year at Hillel with mixed emotions. Conner made a TON of progress this year, at least in our opinion. But his teacher would have liked more from him. They don't feel that he is ready for the "rigorous" 4 year old curriculum. Well, if it's that rigorous, I'm not sure that's what we want for Conner. So we made the difficult decision to switch him to another preschool AGAIN. It is not easy. We never know what the right thing to do is. I wish we had a crystal ball that could tell us where he should go. It continues (even now) to be a decision that we aren't sure about and we are still not 100% sure where he will be in the fall (a few short weeks away). We are on a waiting list for what we want, but chances of getting it at this point are very slim. So, we really don't know. It's a very stressful situation (no wonder my hair is turning grey and falling out). Conner is really going to miss his friends at school and it is so hard to leave the friends we have made, it is also hard to send Conner to a school where they feel he is a burden to them. So hopefully something will happen in the next few weeks and we will be able to figure something out that works for us.

Well last year at this time, I wrote about Conner's speech and I just went back and read it. At this time last year, Conner had just started labeling and did not have 2 word phrases yet. He was still pointing and labeling to get what he wanted. We had a TON of concern about his speech and were actually considering augmentative communication devices for him. We held off and I'm so glad we did (they can be VERy expensive). Speech has definitely been Conner's biggest area of growth this year. He is talking in complete sentences and is having conversations. Not everything is understandable to everyone, but David and I can understand 95% of things. Conner has actually started testing pretty well on speech standardized tests. He has started telling stories and is so creative and makes up stuff all the time. He asks for what he wants and we are just thrilled with all his progress. He still has a ways to go and will be in speech therapy for a while, but we couldn't ask more from him in this area. He is continuing private speech two times a week and has been in going to speech preschool 2 times a week all summer and really doing well there. He has made some friends there and we would really like to continue this in the fall (but may not be able to because of the preschool we go to). The teacher is awesome and Conner LOVES her!

Conner's health continues to be an issue, but we are dealing with it. Recently, we had a big scare with his breathing (for the first time since he has been home from the NICU) and we took him to the ER. By the time we got there, the steroids had kicked in and he was completely fine (and I felt like a complete idiot). But the doctor said we did the right thing by bringing him because his sats were too low. We have been dealing with sinus infections and colds all year. This last illness, the doctors kept thinking it was allergies. We tried lots of medications and NOTHING helped until antibiotics and steroids. Conner was well for about a week before he got better again. We visited the pediatrician, ENT and pulmonologist/ allergist. We  have changed around his medications several times and finally we seem to have found something which has eliminated his cough (it's so strange to have it so quiet sometimes). The pulmo was hoping to have Conner off his meds for the summer, but as it was last summer, this has proven to be a difficult time of the year for him. We are going back in 4 weeks (hopefully his cough will still be gone and he will be well) for repeat allergy testing just in case. Conner's eyes always look puffy so we are just covering our bases.

Conner's favorite food is buttered noodles. He could eat it three times a day and requests it for every meal. He still eats great though and we manage to get him to (usually) eat 3 decent meals a day. He's not so in to breakfast during the week but sometimes on the weekends he'll eat pancakes or eggs. Other things he really likes are Clif Bars, Grammy Sammies, spinach pie and Sun Chips. He doesn't like macaroni and cheese too much any more and really won't eat a hot dog (which he used to like). At camp this summer, they provided a dairy lunch every day (with stuff like tofu, eggplant, etc.) and Conner liked most things. He was probably one of the best eaters, always eating his fruit and vegetables.  Conner loves to go to restaurants or to eat at the mall. I can only assume it's because I'm a bad cook!

Conner still loves to play with trucks and cars. He is so creative with them and comes up with stuff I would never think of. He loves Cars stuff (from the movie) and we took him to see Cars 2 in the movie theater for his birthday which was a special treat! He has learned so much at speech preschool that he likes to talk about stuff that he learns there. One week, they learned about camping, so now Conner wants a "campsite" and to make smores. Conner is really also in to airplanes, rocketships, Dinosaur Train, and Mickey Mouse. He is OBSESSED with TV and we really have to work hard to limit his TV watching. He is a completely different child when he doesn't watch TV but sometimes he is just so tired, that's all he wants to do.

We have such a busy schedule this summer. Conner goes to camp on MWF all day. When he comes home, he is tired. He has a great time there. He has his own counselor and he has really liked her so much. She is a college student and she gives Conner lots of attention and is helping him go potty. He has been swimming every day and isn't as scared any more. He has also gone on a paddle boat, a canoe and a zip line among other things. He really loves sports days and field trips (because they get to go on a bus!). On T/Th we drive around the area to hit all of Conner's therapy. We do speech preschool in the morning, then speech, OT and PT in the afternoons. Conner also did a 6 week dance class through therapy too. It's tiring for me, so I can't even imagine how Conner does it.

I already talked about Speech...Conner still loves his therapist and is doing well with her. Not sure how long we will stay there (we only get 60 visits a year and those are almost up) but we have been with her almost 2 years already. She has definitely helped Conner make a TON of progress. Conner is doing okay with OT. He has good days and bad days and has a long way to go. I sometimes wonder if he will ever get there because fine motor skills are something he has a great deal of trouble with. I'm not sure that we will stay with this therapist much longer either. I'm thinking it will be much easier for us to get everything all in one location so we can get rid of all the driving. Conner is doing pretty well in PT too. We will probably get discharged when school starts and then get rechecked every few months to make sure all is okay. Conner has mastered riding his bike with training wheels and is decent at jumping (but still has to work on it). He can go up and down the stairs very well and can even do a few without holding on to anything. Conner's physical therapist has been with him for years and we will miss her a lot. I'm sure I will still be in contact with her because I worry about everything!!

I almost forgot to mention hippotherapy. Conner has started back to hippotherapy but it has been on and off all year. His wonderful therapist has had a bunch of health issues and so we have started and stopped a few times. We started going on Saturday mornings and this has been a great family day. Conner is doing AWESOME on the horse and he still loves it (I think more now than before). He can now ride on the horse on all 4's (like a puppy, he says!) and he can also ride on his knees. This takes incredible strength and fearlessness...both of which my little boy has. We are beyond proud of him. We haven't been able to go in a few weeks now, but hoping to get back again soon.

So Conner has loved school, loves speech preschool and loves camp. Most teachers like Conner and think he has an infectious smile and is happy all the time. He does have some bad days and tends to be a follower  and an "imitator" so he gets in trouble, but overall, he's a pretty good kid (away from home!). At home, he can be challenging. He does not like to take "no" for an answer and can throw a pretty good tantrum. Some days, I wish I could call Super Nanny to help us because I just don't know what to do. I worry about Conner having some long term learning disabilities as a result of his prematurity and I feel like I'm just waiting for that to be diagnosed. It's hard to always be waiting for something, to always be searching for the right schools, right programs, right therapy for your child. It's exhausting to even think about it.

Conner's biggest area that has changed over the last year is his sleep. He used to be the best sleeper, sleeping through the night most nights from the time he was an infant. Starting in November, that changed. Now, most nights, Conner is in our room at least one or two times a night, especially when the weather is bad. We have not figured it out yet, and although it has gotten better (we went through weeks where he was up half the night and wouldn't let us out of his room), it is still not resolved. I think he is having nightmares or something. I can tell when he falls asleep in the car, he wakes up freaked out. This is definitely on the list of questions for the pediatrician at the 4 year appointment.

Okay, well I think that's about all for my little awesome 4 year old. We are planning photos this weekend, so will post some then. Coming up this year, 4 year old preschool (wherever that may be), several road trips (starting with one in August to Wisconsin and November to Florida - Disney!!), and lots of learning and family fun.

Backtracking Posts...Brennan at 4 months - July 8, 2011

So here I am backtracking again, but I should get this stuff down before I forget.

Brennan was 4 months old on July 8.

She got her first pigtails for this photo. At 4 months, Brennan is a great baby. She sleeps great, usually going to sleep around 8, waking up for a bottle at about 5:30 and then going back to sleep until about 8 or 9. She eats great, still just formula - 5 bottles, usually 6 oz each. She doesn't fuss too much and goes along for all of Conner's appointments and hangs out with me when Conner is at camp. She is SO close to rolling over, but isn't quite there yet.

These are her stats from her 4 month check up:
Length - 24.5 inches, 75%ile
Weight - 14 lbs, 9 oz 75%ile
Head - 41.5 cm - 50%ile

So overall, Brennan is HUGE and developing great. I was concerned about how big she was getting but the pediatrician said she is really happy with her. I guess it's all relative because Conner was so tiny at this age, I really have nothing to compare her too.

Brennan developed a little cough recently. The pediatrician thinks it is from all the extra saliva that she is producing lately. She mostly handles it okay, but does get a cough every now and then. She did have her first ear infection that we found only because we took Conner in for a sick visit and she checked Brennan while we were there. The other things we discussed with the pediatrician are that she gets a bad heat rash or something under her neck and it is gross...and also the redness on her head. Both of these things she wanted me to talk about with her dermatologist. The redness on her head is another birthmark and nothing to worry about. The under the neck thing, not quite sure, but he said if it gets bad to put Hydrocortisone cream on it. Not quite sure why but that's what he said. Brennan is continuing to see the dermatologist for the hemangioma on her shoulder and had it frozen again. It is definitely not getting bigger which is what the doctor was hoping. I think it is just a part of my little girl and it's no big deal.

We did go on Brennan's first road trip and our first little trip in a long time. We went to Solon to visit our very awesome friends, The Stein's. We went strawberry picking and hung out for a day. It was so nice to see friends. Conner had a great time and it was good practice in the car for Brennan (for our next big trip in August!).

see you in a minute for the 5 month update!