Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dear Oliver...

Dear Oliver -

Well, your big day has arrived. You (and we!) have made it your first trip around the sun, and what a wild trip it has been! A little over a year ago, as we brought the baby infrastructure up from the basement (the diaper champ, the crib, etc.) and the waves of realization hit me (we are going to have someone in DIAPERS again? We are going to be woken up at all hours? The early nursing... so hard! Labor and delivery... SO HARD!) I wondered how we were going to do it. I mean, my only frame of reference for having a baby was your sister, and for 3 1/2 years she'd had my undivided attention. When she was a newborn I didn't have to figure out how to take care of her and also parent a three year-old. How was this all going to work? How was I going to take care of a tiny, nursing around the clock, waking at all hours newborn and also be a Mommy to Julia?

I won't lie, there were some preposterous moments - some moments that made me feel like someone had stolen my very organized, in control life and given me this new, out of control, chaotic one in exchange. But somehow as a Mommy, as a FAMILY, we muddled on through and figured out how to expand our home, our life and our hearts as we transitioned from a family of three to a family of four. Looking back now, I can hardly remember what it was like to only have one child, because your arrival has made our family and our lives so much richer and more complete.

It has been amazing to watch you grow and develop from a little baby to a little boy, and I sometimes find myself staring at you in amazement as you sleep, amazed that your tiny body is not so tiny anymore, amazed that your little face looks like a little boy and not my little newborn. When did that happen? Did I blink a little too long? Find myself occupied by other things and forgot to notice when your body grew a little longer and your face grew a little older? I can't believe you are already one year old.

You have developed clear preferences at this point. You love Mama over everyone else. When you get fussy, 9 times out of 10 it is because you want Mama. When Daddy reaches his hands out to take you from me, you either turn and grip onto me like a little monkey, or you smack his hands away. You love your Daddy and Julia too - you squeal when you see them and your face lights up, but you LOVE your Mama. You love to bounce (whether on someone's arm or in your bumper jumper). You love to dance - the second you hear music, you start bouncing up and down on my hip and start squealing. You love your music class as well. And you love love love Chloe, the cat. When you see her, your little eyes sparkle and you beam!

You have favorite toys as well. Your very favorite toy is a set of stacking plastic cups. You love to have them stacked up into a tower so you can smack them down. You love anything you can knock over, anything that makes noise. You love sirens, wheels and balls. As though you innately know you are a boy and you are supposed to love those things.

We have had our ups and downs this year. You still aren't eating very much, after an endoscopy and two swallow assessments, and you are undergoing behavioral feeding therapy at NYU's swallow center. You haven't started to crawl or pull up either and you have also qualified for 7 therapy sessions per week under New York City's Early Intervention program. You will have physical therapy 2x per week, feeding therapy 2x per week, play therapy 2x per week, and occupational therapy 1x per week. You are growing and thriving, but you need a little help moving forward in some areas to become mobile, develop an appetite for solid foods, and explore and learn from your world. Your Daddy and I are going to see to it that you get all the help you need to become the best boy you can be.

Little boy, I am so privileged to be your mother, and am so thankful you chose me. I can't imagine my life and our family without you. You and your sister make me a better person each and every day. I can't wait to see what you have in store for the coming year, and can't wait to watch you continue to grow, thrive, and discover the world around you... I love you, my best boy. Happy First Birthday.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Report

So... Oliver's evaluation report arrived yesterday. While I was bracing myself for it, it was still hard to digest and process. The therapists unanimously evaluated him as 'delayed' on all fronts. He was even graded with letter grades in one section of the report, and received several 'Fs'. While Dave and I have known for a while now that he was behind in several areas (I mean, this is our second go-round as parents, and what parents don't compare the second experience to the first), it was hard to read the report with his name at the top and 'delayed' in every evaluation, gross motor, fine motor, cognition, speech and language and feeding. To read that he could be in danger of failure to thrive if he doesn't start eating soon, as breast milk will no longer meet his needs when he becomes more active. To read he is weak. To read he isn't playing like a one year-old should. To read he doesn't understand simple commands, or mimic back sounds or imitate signs. It's true. All of it is true.

It's also difficult to not assign blame to myself. I am the one that is with him 24 hours a day, I am the one that spends the most time with him, I am the one, I am the one, I am the one. And as much as I would like to figure out a cause, or assign blame, or really determine what we did and didn't do in order to figure out how to 'fix' this, more than likely this is just Oliver, the lot he was cast, and now we move forward from here.

Our big meeting is May 20th, where we go in and discuss his challenges, set goals, and find out what services the state is willing to pay for, and where we develop our plan. And for those people that know me, I am a woman that likes to set goals, make a plan, and move forward. We find out our therapy schedule, and we will know what we are looking at for the next 6 months. Then we go in and review his progress and make a new plan.

Tuesday we head to NYU Hospital's Swallow Center to have a swallow assessment done and to make a plan to start behavioral feeding therapy to get this boy interested in some solid foods beyond just a couple of rice puffs, a few crumbs of bread and miniscule amounts of dried fruit. His birthday party is next weekend, and realistically he won't even eat the dairy free / soy free cupcakes that I plan to make... because he won't be interested.

As his first birthday approaches, I have found myself willing him to meet any major milestone, just to send up a flare that he is okay and making progress - crawl, move to all fours, clap, wave, ANYTHING. As if he could sense my increasing anxiety and panic, he has made some major progress in his gross-motor skills in the last week or so. He has learned to sit up from a prone position (HUGE), has learned how to roll from back to front, not just front to back, and is correcting himself more consistently when he leans too far to one side and loses his balance. Additionally, he seems to be understanding a little more lately. Day before yesterday when I asked him if he wanted to nurse, he grabbed my shirt and started pulling at it. We are moving forward, just not according to any milestone chart. We are moving forward at Oliver's pace.

So that's it. We find out our plan in the next few weeks, a plan of action, a plan of therapy, and we will see what our lives will look like for the next 6 months. And hopefully Oliver's progress will begin to move forward at a more expedited pace and he will come up to curve. We may not know for years what it is that we are dealing with, or even if there is any big picture challenge we are facing. For now, he continues to be our perfect little boy, my little love, and we will work to get him the help he needs to continue to grow, learn and thrive. And remind me when he is crawling all over my apartment and destroying our home that I wished for him to become mobile!