Isabella Grace-ious

Isabella Grace
The story of the girl who changes my life

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Past 15 Months In One Post


I was so annoyed with myself that it had been 9, then 12, now almost 15 months since my last post that I kept putting it off, because hey, what's another month? But when I look at all the amazing things that have happened since I have last posted, I realize that a month's worth of changes in our family is huge, and I am even more annoyed with myself that I haven't documented it like I've wanted to.

So what have we been up to?

Meet Lilia:

She's awesome. I love watching Isabella and Noah with her. Bells thinks she's hilarious, she laughs at everything Lilia does. She'll ask her questions -- "Lilia, are you happy?" "Lilia, how was your day?" "Lilia, what's your favorite color?" -- and then she'll ask me what Lilia's response to those questions are. And then she'll laugh. 

Noah is the sweetest big brother I could have ever imagined. I'm not just being biased, he really is so good to her. Where Isabella sometimes forgets Lilia exists, Noah knows where she is and how happy or sad she is at every given moment. He checks on her when it's been a while since he's seen her, he kisses her 100 random times throughout the day, and he tells everyone that meets her that "we named her Lilia and she's very fragile". This boy of mine has a soft spot for babies, and especially for Lily.

So besides growing a baby and then loving on her for the past 4 and a half months, we've been busy with the normal routines of life. Noah is in preschool again this year and he is thriving. His speech has improved dramatically, and he's always coming up with phrases that make us laugh. He is sweet (he tells me he loves me all day long, which is usually followed up with a "do you love me so much mommy?") and very sensitive (his feelings get hurt and he cries easily if he is disciplined), and he is also the most stubborn child I have ever met. He loves to hang out with Lilia and I in the afternoons when he is home from school, but he also enjoys hanging upstairs in his room playing by himself. He just turned 4, which, while being a sometimes difficult age with his stubborn nature, is also a really fun age to parent a little boy.

As for Bells, the girl is PROGRESSING! Sometimes the speed of progress is hard to see because in some areas, she is still moving at a snail's pace. But in other areas, her improvements are huge and real and absolutely thrilling. She loves school, loves her teachers, loves going to therapy, and loves working on her reading, flashcards, and homework at night. She is working on and has shown improvement with holding her writing utensils the correct way with the correct pressure used for drawing and writing, and has shown a new interest in coloring (which she used to show absolutely no interest in).

She has also improved in her gross motor skills; sometimes she will run so fast across the house that I am afraid she won't be able to stop herself before she runs into a wall. She can bounce and hop, and jump forward a few inches and down off of a step. She is working on kicking, throwing and catching with more accuracy, but she is alternating feet when going up steps and is starting to put her coat on with minimal help (still not close to zipping or buttoning small buttons yet though). Her muscle tone is still ridiculously low, and she is always moving and leaning on things to help offset this, but she keeps trying and learning new skills.

Some of the biggest issues we are working on right now are her irrational fears. She is currently terrified of all movies, and will scream in terror if you even take out a DVD or VHS case. I'm not sure where this fear comes from, as she used to watch movies all day long. She has no problem watching her shows on TV, and even loves it when movies come on the Disney Jr. channel, but if I try to put those same movies on in DVD form she will flip out. I'm talking turning pale, uncontrollable shaking, and screaming in complete terror flipping out. It's pretty awful to watch, so we obviously aren't pushing her into facing her fears right now, but we are trying to talk to her about them. She can't really explain what she is afraid of, which is hard because I'm not sure that she really even knows. I know that sounds, sights, and textures can be overwhelming for her with her sensory processing disorder, but I'm always surprised when old fears dissipate and new fears emerge. She is also afraid of certain toys that she used to love... One of the hardest parts about these fears is that they are starting to effect her in school. She had to leave music class (her favorite!!) this week because they were watching a video. Another time a little girl in her class was playing with a balloon and Isabella melted down in tears. I hate this for her. I can't imagine having to face things that I am absolutely terrified of every single day, without having anyone else or even myself understand these fears. I wish I knew the best way to help her through this.

Health wise, Isabella is doing reasonably well lately. Somehow we have dodged the respiratory flu so far this winter, but she has gotten hit with frequent colds that have turned into pretty nasty ear infections, three of which have perforated her ear drums. She is scheduled for surgery to insert another set of ear tubes on Monday. I'm kind of bummed about this because for years it seemed like the horrors of the recurrent ear infections were behind us, but now that doesn't seem to be the case. My biggest worry surrounding this is her hearing. We've determined in the past year that her hearing isn't great... in fact it's bad enough in her left ear to warrant a CT scan next month to see if there is a surgery that can be done on the bones in her ear and head to somehow improve her hearing. If this doesn't seem to be an option for her, she will get hearing aides. I know that such frequent damage to her ear drums from the infections is only making matters worse, and I am noticing how poor her hearing is getting lately when I am trying to get her attention. I really hope that in one way or another we can fix this.

But overall, compared to last winter, she is tolerating illnesses as well as can be expected. Last winter her immune system really took a beating. One illness in particular (although what it was, I'm not sure... some virus turned very ugly) had me remembering days of her toddler-hood where her usually bright and smiling eyes were glassy and helpless. She was completely couch bound for ten days, and didn't even have the energy to walk herself to the bathroom, so we carried her. Although she required three different doctor visits and a night in the ER, luckily she wasn't admitted for a lengthy stay at the hospital. When Noah caught the same bug the following week, I prepared myself for another sleepless half of a month of nursing him back to health, but in typical Noah fashion, he recovered in two days. It's times like those that I resent Kabuki syndrome and what it does to Isabella's immune system.

Kabuki syndrome had already pissed me off a few other times last winter. In January her geneticist called and told me her spinal x rays showed that she had scoliosis, and not a mild case of it either. She thought it looked to be an 18 degree curve, which in a child Isabella's age is pretty significant. Later, at an appointment with a pediatric spinal specialist, we learned that it was actually closer to a 23 degree curve, but luckily spanned the length of her entire spine, making it's effects mild at the moment. So, for now, we watch and wait to see if it worsens and we go back for follow up appointments every 6 months. Surprisingly, with all of the many developmental and medical issues she has had, this one seemed to hit Nik the hardest. I even caught him Googling scoliosis treatments, which, if you know my husband, is totally not like him. But, in typical Isabella fashion, another diagnosis is not slowing her down a bit, which once again helps us to get through it all.

We also were discussing with her ENT the possibility of doing a surgery to repair her submucosal cleft palate and velopharyngeal insufficiency, but we have decided to put that on hold for now. Her speech has come so far in the past two years, and especially since she has started kindergarten, and recovering from a surgical procedure which would change the anatomy of her mouth and palate would require her to relearn how to make certain speech sounds. When she speaks now, air escapes out of her nose, which results in a nasally sound to her voice, but with that closed off, her speech would be almost incomprehensible (which we realized when she was completely stuffed up with that ugly virus last winter... we actually thought she may have had a stroke because her speech was so affected... turns out she just can't form sounds when her nose is blocked off from her throat. Which is exactly what the surgery would do).

She's working so hard at the things she knows she is behind on... and her just realizing that it's important to me for her to work on these things makes me so proud. Especially when it comes to making eye contact and looking at cameras... Enter: The Lean Head Toward Camera and Stare Directly At It Face:

It cracks me up. Between this and her scrunchy face, she takes the most ridiculous pictures, but to see her trying so hard to look at the camera for an extended period of time, something that is so hard for her, makes me love these pictures more than any other I could possibly take of her!

So there it is, the extremely condensed version of what has been happening in the past 15 months. Although I'm still experiencing severe writer's block, I am going to make more of an effort to update more frequently -- these kids are growing up way too fast for me not to document as much of this amazing time as I can!

1 comment:

  1. Mikaela, thanks so much for reading - and responding to - Celia's story. Your children are beautiful, too.