Catching up

We’ve had a lot going on over here. I say that a lot, don’t I?

I have a back log of photos to share, of our first canoe trip with both kids, pool days and smiley Lina. Between the normal errands, summer outings and medical and therapy appointments, we’re on the go a lot. Our weekends have been full, as well, which has made for a couple of tired kiddos. We’ve been having fun, but I also find myself really valuing our increasingly-rare quiet days at home.

Corin started a Mother’s Day Out program last week. He goes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays to the little Baptist church five minutes up the road, and he loves it. I get an impressive amount done in that time. Thus this blog post.

We got a new-to-us couch this week. This bears mention, because the cheap Rooms to Go couches we’ve been abusing for 10 years had become such a bane to our existence. Between the dog and the kids (but mostly the dog), we cannot in good conscience even donate them to Goodwill. They will be going out on the curb as soon as I can arrange trash pick-up. Jon suggested a bonfire. Amazingly, Tennyson (the dog) seems mostly content with staying off the new couch. Perhaps it was the lecture Jon gave him in which he threatened, with little need for exaggeration, that if Tennyson in any way damaged the new couch, I was likely to send him out the front door with no hope of return admittance.

We’ve had some challenges, as well. The a/c at the house is not working properly, and by the end of the day, it hits at least 80 degrees in here. The repairman has not returned our call. The insomnia I experienced for quiet a while after Corin’s birth has returned, and I am running on too little sleep most of the time. And Lina is on day 10 of a hunger strike, which has me pretty concerned. She only finishes bottles if she’s asleep, and sometimes not then. She takes little to nothing at her waking feedings. We’re used to ebbs and flows in her feedings, but this is bad, even by Lina standards. I have a suspicion it may be thyroid-related. She was due for thyroid blood work this week, anyway. I wanted to get it done at Vanderbilt, but given my growing concern, I ran her up to the pediatrician yesterday to get it done sooner. This was a mistake. It took three nurses, three separate sticks and a nightmarish amount of digging before they found a vein on my pitiful, screaming baby. We were all traumatized. I have a whole new respect for the lab tech at Vandy who a few months ago drew blood with one simple stick and minimal screaming.

Speaking of the baby, it’s time to cajole her into downing her new standard of three ounces. Wish me luck.


Kiddie Pool with Claire and Cousin Benjamin

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Stones River Canoe Trip with Friends

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First Day of Mother’s Day Out

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More Pool Time

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Smiley Lina!

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That sweet face – 9 months


Eline at 9 months:

  • Has experienced a phase of rapid development and growth over the past couple weeks, with strides in both fine motor (rake grasp, manipulating toys with both hands, passing objects from hand to hand) and gross motor (sitting unassisted for 10 seconds, rotating her trunk toward people/sounds, arm strength, balance)
  • Smiles more frequently than ever and cackles often, with occasional outbursts of actual laughter
  • Is a bit of a mama’s girl, especially when hungry or tired, and is also very attached to daddy and brother
  • Has grown into 6 – 9 or 6 – 12 month clothes and can wear either size 2 or 3 diapers
  • Really enjoys eating purees when she is well-rested but does not have much patience for the process when she is tired. Her favorites so far are prunes, sweet potato and peas.
  • Is fascinated with her feet and loves to wave them around, hold onto them and even suck on her toes
  • Chews on everything and drools buckets, thanks to what appears to be a molar on its way in
  • Generally takes a 30-minute to 1-hour nap in the morning around 9 a.m. and a 3-plus hour nap in the afternoon starting around 12:30. Goes to bed around 7 – 7:30 p.m., feeds once more around 11 p.m., then sleeps until 6 a.m. Still sucks her fingers and seems to like her lamb lovey.
  • Has almost completely transitioned to straight formula. (A post on the end of pumping is forthcoming, I’m sure.) Still does 5 feedings a day but is taking more volume at most of her feedings and seems almost ready to drop the late-night bottle.
  • Speaks in mostly vowel sounds but has started producing some occasional consonants, along with the well-loved raspberries and buzzing and guttural sounds. The volume has gone way up! She can be loud when she really gets going.
  • Loves absolutely nothing better in the world than to have a family member cuddle, love on and talk to her.

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Physical therapy – or, she’s going to rock this, too

Lina had her PT evaluation this morning with a lovely woman named Abby at Hendersonville Medical Center’s rehab facility. Thankfully, this is a 17-minute drive from our house, and I am able to park a few steps from the entrance. Much simpler than a Vandy appointment, where it sometimes feels as if parking alone takes 17 minutes. Also, this place is around the corner from Target, likely to the detriment of the family budget.

Lina was a little show-off at her evaluation. She sat unsupported on the table for 10-plus seconds at a time, manipulated toys with both hands, smiled and “talked” to the therapist, and generally impressed her with her skills. This evaluation did not involve a quantitive scoring system like the speech evaluation, but the therapist was very positive and felt like Lina was doing so well. She said Lina’s muscle tone was not that low, and she did not feel there were any major delays to be concerned about. She felt that with weekly therapy, Lina will continue to make fantastic progress. (I was a little surprised at her recommendation for weekly vs. bi-weekly, but it sounded like that’s her standard recommendation. I may ask her about it at Lina’s first visit.) After the evaluation, Abby took Lina out to schmooze with the other therapists for a minute, and my girl cooed  and waved her feet around as if to make sure everyone saw her stylish sandals.

While Lina and I were busy charming Hendersonville’s PT staff, Grandma was watching Corin and Benjamin, who is staying with the grandparents for a few days. The boys had a blast playing in the sand box, chasing each other around the house, and yes, occasionally arguing over toys. I love that they play together so well, and I can’t watch them without imaging this relationship over the coming years. It always makes me smile.

Summer has been slow to arrive this year in Middle Tennessee. Temperatures are finally climbing, though, and Corin and Lina had the chance on Saturday to go to the pool for the first time this season. Uncle Justin and Auntie Katie have a lovely pool at their apartment complex, and Corin was beside himself with excitement about the outing. Lina finally got to wear her perfect polka-dot suit, and Corin had a blast kicking his way around the pool in his “puddle jumper” floatie. The water was still cool, but Lina was very happy to splash with Auntie Katie. Corin’s teeth were chattering and his lips were blue before he was willing to consider getting out of the pool.

Thanks to Uncle Justin for snapping a photo of Lina’s first dip while I was tied up back at the apartment.


Happy summer, everyone!

Vagina dialogues

A dear friend had her baby girl today – the third child after two smart and rambunctious boys – and I have stared so many times at the picture of her beautiful little face. She arrives just a few weeks after another dear friend’s baby boy, and I am dying to hop a plane, train or automobile and get myself to these munchkins before they’re half grown.

I mentioned yesterday to Corin that Miss Harmony was going to have a baby soon. I said, “The baby is in her tummy today, and tomorrow it will be born. Isn’t that exciting?!” Sometimes, I hear myself talking and realize as the words leave my mouth that I am asking for trouble. Sure enough, here it came.

“Lina was in your tummy, but now she’s not.”


“How do babies come out of their mommies?” Oh, boy.

“Mommies have a special place God made for babies to come out.” This was very shaky territory.

“Where, mommy? Where is that place? What is it called?”

And, boom. Boy, did I set myself up for that one. I tried distraction and avoidance, to no avail. My inquisitive son was not to be deterred. I finally decided there was no way out but my tried and true matter-of-fact approach.

“The place is between their legs. It’s called a vagina.”

And there you have it. If you run into my now world-wise son, and he happens to tell your still-innocent child where babies come out, you know whom to blame.

Hearing and speech – or, she’s going to rock this

Need to know where the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center is? Trying to find an office in the Vandy Children’s Doctors’ Office Tower? Wondering where to park in the South or East Garage? I am now the girl to ask.

In the last week, Lina has seen the audiologist about hearing aids, followed immediately by her first visit to the pediatric endocrinologist for management of her hypothyroidism, followed yesterday by a visit to the pediatric speech-language pathology clinic for speech therapy evaluation. At least Vanderbilt appointments no longer involve mild panic over finding my way to the proper spot in that mini-metropolis.

So, here comes another bulleted list of appointment highlights. Probably not the most interesting reading, but full disclosure: this is likely to be a recurring feature.

  • The hearing aid decision was more complicated than the ENT led me to believe. He seemed to indicate the next step would be a bone-anchored hearing aid, but in talking with the audiologist, there was also a strong case to be made for trying traditional (and less expensive) behind-the-ear aids. We talked over the pros and cons, and I opted for a loaner set of behind-the-ear aids. We will pay for the custom in-ear pieces that attach to the aids, but it seemed to make sense to hold off on buying her own full set, as there is a chance the standard aids will not work well with Lina’s tiny ear canals. The loaners will be available to us for up to three months. Besides helping us determine if they even work for her, it will also buy us time until her next visit with the ENT, when we can hopefully get more information about longer-term solutions. The big question is how long it will be before Lina’s ear canals are big enough for tubes, which we hope may make the hearing aids unnecessary long-term. (This is by no means guaranteed.)
  • The endocrinologist visit was pretty straight-forward. Lina’s thyroid production is only slightly low; the doctor said that in some cases with Down syndrome, young babies with low numbers may actually outgrow the problem. She suggested that if things still look pretty good by the time she turns three, we may be able to try taking her off the medication. We have thankfully been able to switch from a liquid medication that had to be compounded at a special pharmacy every eight days to a much more manageable tablet I crush and give her with a little water.
  • The speech evaluation was very interesting to me. I loved the therapist we met with (who is unfortunately leaving to get married in a month), and she was very encouraging. This evaluation was the first time anyone had given us quantitative information about Lina’s development. Based on information I provided and observing Lina’s interaction with people and toys, the therapist was able to give her a numerical score for several areas, including hearing, communication and cognitive. Lina scored on the low end of the normal range for cognitive and in the mild delay range on everything else. Her milestones are on par with a typically-developing 4-month-old. (That part was a little hard to hear.) The therapist was very pleased with the progress she has made thus far on her own and felt that with speech therapy (twice monthly for now), she could continue to make steady progress. She said that therapy should be able to help avoid a tendency for developmental gaps to widen after kids turn one. She felt Lina’s current progress has been helped a lot by being close to me all day, in a relatively quiet home environment with a lot of one-on-one interaction. I hadn’t thought too much about physical proximity and background noise, but it makes sense that those things would be factors for a child with hearing loss.

Running around to so many appointments has been exhausting, but I continue to be thankful that we have good resources for managing the challenges Lina is facing. I feel really good about the experts on Team Lina, and I like that we’re being proactive with therapy. She’s going to rock at this.  

And from the last few days, for fun:

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