Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 Year Developmental Tests and a Swallow Study

Camdyn and Cade went in for their 3 year developmental exams about a month ago.  They've gone every year since they "graduated" from the NICU.  The test is very comprehensive.  It tests their motor, oral/language, cognitive, social skills and more.  I was really impressed at their ability to remain focused, for the most part anyway, through the 3 hour test.  College kids don't even remain focused for a 3 hour test!

They both loved doing the puzzles and were quite good at them.

Cade decided he didn't want to sit at the table anymore and that he would like to continue his test under the table.  Luckily, his test administrator was Liz, one of our former NICU nurses.  She works at the developmental clinic now.  She was so great.  She just crawled under the table or on the floor or on the steps or wherever he decided was a good place with him to do his test.

Then he decided laying on the floor to string the beads was better.

I was so impressed with both of their test results.  Camdyn who was behind in motor and language skills last time is now right on track.  She scored average in every category.  That's pretty awesome since she is tested with 3 year olds, and they aren't supposed to even be 3 until the end of July.  She has made awesome progress over the past year.  It's so fun to watch her language skills grow every day.  She still gets frustrated when she can't find the right words and wants to make her point right away.  I remind her to use her words, and she gets it out.  I think her frustration level will decrease even more as her language skills continue to improve.

Cade scored average in language and social skills categories, above average in motor skills, and superior in cognitive.  That means he scored in the 99% in cognitive skills among all 3 year olds.  I was really astonished by this.  Not that I don't think he is smart, but I remember this.  I remember being told he had a grade II brain bleed which usually doesn't have lasting effects but only time would tell.  I remember being told he would need dexamethasone to be weaned from the ventilator.  I remember being told they really didn't know the long term effects of this powerful drug and that mental disability was a potential risk factor.  How do I even say how blessed I feel?

I jokingly told my mom that if he is supposedly so smart, why can't he learn to go potty?  It's much more of a control issue with him.  I've been watching him lately with a new perspective.  He really is very creative.  He was standing in the doorway to my office playing with the little hole that the doorknob fits into when closed.  He told me, "Look Mommy, it's a rabbit hole," and then he went on and on about this "rabbit" in the hole.  Another time, he grabbed this mixer out of the dishwasher and told me, "Look, it's a merry-go-round!" 

And if all of that weren't enough good news, we have some really great news.  Cade finally, after 5 failed swallow studies, passed his swallow study!  He can now drink safely from an open cup or a straw.  He no longer has to use a sippy cup.  It doesn't mean his vocal cord is no longer paralyzed, it just means that the right one is compensating and getting enough closure that he has a much lower risk of aspiration.  It really is fantastic news!  I took the kids to Chick-fil-a to celebrate the good news and let Cade drink from my cup.  He was pretty excited about that.

NICU Visit - 3 Years Old

I'm going to try to play a little catch up on this here forgotten blog.  I remember following blogs when my kids were in the NICU, and then suddenly they would stop writing.  Then I was left to wonder how their kids were doing.  I'll try to avoid leaving my blog followers wondering for so long.

I took the kids to the NICU for a visit in mid-April since they turned 3.  I wanted to show all of our wonderful doctors and nurses how big they are now.  It's so rewarding to go back to visit because they all seem so genuinely excited to see them.  I think it helps remind them why they do what they do every day - so hopefully the tiny babies they take care of will come back to visit as big (and hopefully healthy) kids!

 Cade is such a flirt.  He went right up to his former nurses and gave them all a big hug and a sly smile.  They loved it!

Above - Dr. Breed with Cade and Camdyn just before discharge.
Below - Cade giving Dr. Breed a high five!

I can not say it enough - We LOVE Dr. Breed and Dr. McCormick!  They were both amazing, caring doctors.  The entire time we were there I know that our kids' health and well-being never left their mind.  I know they thought about the best course of treatment for them both when they were on call and when they were home.  We will forever be grateful for the wonderful care they gave our micro-preemies.

We were lucky enough to visit when Dr. Breed was leaving and Dr. McCormick was coming in so we got to see both of them plus some of our awesome nurses!

This set of stairs was my source of exercise for 4 1/2 months.  I avoided the elevators when I could because it always seemed like every time I stepped foot in them so did a beaming father or grandparent with a bouquet of pink or blue balloons welcoming their new healthy baby.  I just couldn't take it - so I took the stairs!

 And here is the wishing well where Brenna threw pennies in every time she visited the hospital.  This is also where I would sit to get some fresh air from time to time and pray, but then again, I prayed everywhere.

I can't wait to take the twins back to visit for the NICU reunion and then again next year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mom Taught Me to Fly My Own Plane

     I usually write about my kids or being a mom, but today, on Mother's Day, I want to write about my mom.  When you become a parent yourself, you see your own parents in a very different way.  I always knew my mom loved me, but until I felt the intense, undescribable love I have for my own kids, I never knew how much. 
     Now, my mom and I have very different ways of parenting.  As I reflect on my mom's parenting style, even though it is far different from my own, I realize it served my sister and me well.  My sister and I lovingly joke that it is amazing we turned out normal because my mom was about as laid back of a parent as you can get.  When you think of the term "helicoptor parent" describing moms who hover over their children making all decisions for them out of fear they might fail if left to their own devices, my mom was on the opposite end of the spectrum.  She was more of the type to say, "Sure, kids.  You want to fly a plane.  Hop on in and give it a try."  She might have intervened as we figuratively "plummeted back to earth" but more likely, she would have said, "You got yourself in this predicament.  Now figure out how to get yourself out of it."
     My sister and I both loved dancing (still do!).  While other parents may make their kids practice, my mom never made my sister and me practice what we had learned in dance class.  We just did because we loved it.  As a dance teacher, I'm not advocating no practice at home.  I'm only relating my mom's parenting style here.  For us, no forced practices meant we had the freedom to create our own shows.  We pushed the coffee table to the side, shoved the couch back, and pressed play on the Janet Jackson or Madonna cd.  Before long, we had choreographed full routines to "Control" and "Vogue".  By the time my mom got home from work, we had made tickets and programs to our show.  She would hand us back the ticket we made for her, take her program, and sit down on the couch.  Then the show would begin.  How much more fun (and creative) is that than a forced practice!
     Walking through the hallways of my daughter's school, it's clear to see all the projects with which parents have "helped".  The perfect handwriting and the Pinterest-worthy craftiness are all tell-tale signs of a parent completing a child's assignment for him or her.  What does this teach a child - that they are incapable of finishing the task on their own?   I only remember one time that my mom did part of the work for me on a project.  It was for the dreaded bug collection.  I hate bugs!  The idea of having to collect them and then pin them to styrofoam still creeps me out.  She caught a few bugs for me, but I still had to research them and pin them to the board.  Every other project that I did from kindergarten through my senior year, I did completely on my own.  She didn't oversee the completion of these projects.  It was up to me to know when they were due and turn them in on time.  My mom sat up with me several nights calling out spelling words, but she never checked over my homework to ensure I had the right anwers.  When it came time to apply for college and apply for student aid, I did both of those on my own too.  She taught my sister and me to think for ourselves, not to rely on her or anyone else.  My sister and I both have Master's degrees, so her hands-off approach worked well. 
     When my sister decided to open a dance studio as a senior in high school, my mom did not object.  She didn't say that's a crazy idea or why don't you wait until you are older.  She didn't tell her that it would interfere with her school work.  My sister successfully opened a dance studio with my mom's support when she was still in high school.  As a senior, I took over the studio when my sister went away to college.  Again, my mom did not object.  You might think that we did this because my mom was overseeing the operations of the business, but that was not the case.  We took care of every aspect of the business - advertising, paying rent, paying the bills, collecting tuition, ordering costumes, organizing community performances, and hosting an annual recital.  See those shows we had created in the living room turned us into little entrepreneurs.  I'm sure my mom had fears that we might fail.  Opening a business at any age is a scary endeavor.  Allowing your kids to do so would be even scarier, but she never let any fear show.  Instead, she let us try on our own.  Fortunately, we didn't fail.  It was a huge success.  It paid our way through college, and we never had to flip a burger!  Oh yeah, and I ended up going on to open a dance studio after I graduated from college turning my passion into my career.
     Would I allow my children to do half of what my mom allowed my sister and me to do?  Probably not.  I would never let them move the trampoline close enough to the playhouse so they could jump off the playhouse roof to the trampoline below!  (Yes, she did allow us to do that.)  But, I thank my mom for allowing us to be creative, finish our own projects, and follow our dreams.  She taught us to be independent thinkers, problem-solvers, task-finishers, and dream-followers.  She taught us that our future is in our hands.  You can't rely on others to create the life you want.  So, maybe more parents should try the approach, ""Sure, kids. You want to fly a plane. Hop on in and give it a try."
Thanks Mom!  I love you, and Happy Mother's Day!