Friday, February 17, 2012

One year!

Eliza came home from the hospital on February 17 of last year so she's now officially been home for a whole year! I know I've said it before, but on the one hand it's hard to believe it's been that long already and on the other hand it feels like it's already been a lot longer!

She's grown and changed so much in a year - from less than 13 inches, under 7 pounds, barely able to even move her arms and legs under her own control, to almost 30 inches, 22 pounds, sitting pretty and rolling on her own, how far she's come!

Here's another set of "then and now" photos to compare:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

This Valentine's Day is Eliza's last "first holiday at home", since February 17th will be her one-year anniversary of coming home from the hospital. What a milestone!

These portraits were taken by our friend Brea of Evanesce Photography. Thanks Brea!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some February photos

Heather managed to find a hat that Eliza will actually wear. It's warm, fuzzy, and cute; you still have to distract her for a bit before she'll stop trying to take it off her head, but she will get used to it soon enough. Since winter has finally decided to make an appearance, it's good to be able to keep her warm!

Eliza's getting so big and so mobile! She enjoys sitting all on her own now and playing with her blocks, her "laptop", and her "fish bowl". If her toy is out of reach, she'll lean over to get it, or if it's too far she'll drop onto her tummy or side to reach it. When we put her in her crib for nap time, she'll roll all the way across the entire crib and back again before she falls asleep. She'll be all over the house in no time!

Eliza got a visit this weekend from her Pops and Nana. She was so happy to have visitors who love her so much! She got a head start at spreading Valentine's Day cheer to everyone!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eliza's development

We haven't been posting much lately, have we? Daily life seems to be taking so much of our time lately that it's hard to make time to sit down and write a blog post. I guess it's been almost two months since the last post in which we talked at all about Eliza's development. So, since December, what's new with Eliza?

She's up to 10 teeth now - all eight of her incisors plus two upper molars that have just put in an appearance in the last couple of weeks. Guess we're gonna have to start learning to brush her teeth soon! (Since she doesn't really eat anything by mouth that would gunk up her teeth, that's been a lower priority than it might otherwise be...)

She weighs over 22 pounds now, and getting to be quite an armful to carry around. Eliza's continuing to move up the growth charts overall, and she'll have to graduate to a toddler car seat pretty soon!

Eliza has learned to clap and laugh. Both of these new skills put in an appearance at Christmas time - whenever a roomful of family members were talking and laughing together, Eliza would laugh along with them - it was super cute! She hasn't laughed much since we came home from the holidays (we're trying not to read too much into that...!) but she continues to clap a lot, especially when something is entertaining or pleasing to her. Yay communication skills!

She's gotten good enough at sitting now that she's comfortable leaning forward or sideways to reach for things. (When she first learned to sit on her own, Eliza was pretty much "locked down" and wouldn't move around at all if she could help it.) She's also much more comfortable prone (lying on her tummy or propped up on all fours by us) than she ever was before - she'll play with toys for several minutes before rolling back to her side, and doesn't seem at all fazed or stressed by being on her tummy any more.

We're working very hard in PT (and on our own between PT sessions) on teaching her the skills to transition between sitting, side-lying, and lying prone. All of this is especially challenging for her as a micropreemie, but she seems to be making good progress lately thanks to all the hard work. Just in the last few days, she's finally figured out how to repeatedly roll from her side to her tummy by herself, something that we've been watching for since last May. Hurray! She's clearly getting bored with staying in one place for a long time, so she's really motivated to get around now however she can - and rolling over seems to be a good starting point!

As far as the more long-term prognosis goes, we've been reminded that as a micropreemie who suffered a grade II IVH (brain bleed), Eliza continues to be at significantly elevated risk for conditions including cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and ADHD. The intensive PT exercises we've been doing to help with her low tone and learn to get around on her own are also essential for minimizing the likelihood/severity of cerebral palsy, especially. Also, we've been grappling with the awareness that even as Eliza's been making progress, she's falling "further behind" compared to the expected development of a baby her age. (In other words, for every "month" of developmental progress she's achieved, it's taken her more than a month to get there.)

At least one of her therapists seems to think this is not uncommon for babies like her - they fall further behind before they start to catch up long-term. She says that developmental delays can tend to be more "fractional" than "relative". So it's not a matter of her being 3 months developmentally at age 6 months, 6 months developmentally at 9 months age, 9 months developmentally at 12 months age, etc. Instead, it's more likely (and matches with what we've experienced so far) that her development will continue more like 3 months developmentally at 6 months age, 6 months developmentally at 12 months age, 9 months developmentally at 18 months age, etc. At some point (I guess as "normal development" begins to slow down?) this trend will reverse - she will hopefully not be 9 years developmentally at 18 years age! - but it seems like it will be a long time before we're there. It's been a really sobering (and stressful) message, but all things considered I'd rather be informed and have realistic expectations. We really can't predict her actual long-term development until we actually get there, so we will just continue to remind ourselves to enjoy the journey, and celebrate each step she makes!