Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Look Ahead. A new look, Homeschool, TTC

Hooray! I finally changed my blog title. Thank goodness! I really had long felt that the old title no longer fit my season of life. I will always consider myself an 'infertile.' My life is changed by that journey of infertility, miscarriage, and longing for pregnancy, but I'm now a mother and that dominates my daily life. We plan to begin trying to conceive a third child in December (I'll begin preparing in September), but even then my life will be primarily concerned with mothering the two boys I already have.

In other news, I will be getting the results of Gabriel's developmental clinic evaluation on June 5th. Not that far away! I really tried to glean some information from the psychologist who called me to make the appointment, but he wasn't falling for it. I did ask how long the appointment would take and he said they usually take about an hour. If there's nothing 'wrong' and he's completely neurotypical then it wouldn't take an hour to tell me that, right? right?! It's not that I want something to be wrong, it's just that I really want help. I don't want his behavior to be a result of my parenting. Not because I don't want the guilt, but because I don't really know how to parent any differently. We need help. We need services.  At this point, the best thing would be for him to be diagnosed with something so we could get help.

On a positive note, Friday was the last day of preschool. YAY! I'm looking forward to G attending pre-k next year, but right now he needs the break. I became convinced we just would not be able to potty train while he was in school, and even without PT school was becoming very stressful for him. On Sunday each week he'd finally be his wonderful self.  That would last until about Wednesday and then behavior problems would start again. I'm glad we're done with that for a while.  Our first few summer days of homeschooling and potty training have been going very well. Right now with schoolwork we are just working on writing.  I purchased a complete curriculum workbook designed for a 3yr old preschooler knowing it would be a bit below his level to boost his confidence and so we could just focus on writing.  These last two months of 'I don't want to go to school' have really done some damage and while I don't think Gabriel thinks he's stupid, I'm not sure he realizes how smart he is. I presume it's hard when everyone else in the class can write and hold a pencil and you can't. I got a variety of pencil grips off ebay and we've been doing great with the grotto grip. He's only done a few days of work with me and I've already seen a lot of improvement. We only do 12-15minutes a day. I know that's not much, but he's really not interested in school work and I'd rather work every day for a small amount of time than work a lot in the beginning and then he soon refuses to do anything. I've also noticed that his fingers get tired even in that small amount of time. I feel even more convinced that he has hypotonia like we initially thought and it's the reason for his poor fine motor skills. 

Potty Training Sticker Chart!
I feel like I've written a novel already, but I have to share a bit of my baby fever. I'm enjoying working out and my body feeling so small and strong, but I really do want another child. I'm sure I'll love being pregnant when it happens, but it will be more about the miracle that will soon be with me rather than the miracle growing inside me. I've started seeing the number 111 all around.  I made a motivational potty training sticker chart for Gabriel and it had 111 squares for stickers.  Then I ordered some TMNT stickers for it and when they arrived I saw they totalled exactly 111 stickers. From then on, I started noticing that number on the clock, price tags, and page numbers. I haven't stopped seeing it. While I was preparing to write this post I saw I'd already written 111 posts on the blog. It's really everywhere! I decided to go on the internet and find some kind of interpretation of those numbers. At first I was scared by it because I saw the number one often symbolized new beginnings, being alone, single parenthood or starting your own business. My DH drives so much I always have a fear of losing him in a car accident. I was afraid this was a terrible omen that I'd soon be starting over as a single mother, but after thinking about it more I realized it didn't really fit. I'm seeing three 1's. Why do I see 111? The number three symbolizes laughter, amusement, new friends, attracting love, sexual expression and creativity. I know it's all just a coincidence and probably doesn't mean anything, but I think this number means I will conceive a third son. Another strong, beautiful, independent boy. Three ones.  I'm hoping it also means I'll conceive in the first month of the year, but I think I've read into this irrelevant frivolity enough. LOL.

That's all for now! We will receive Gabriel's diagnosis or lack thereof in a few days and I'll at least be reporting the results to twitter if not on here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Development Clinic Evaluation Update

I only have a few hours left to keep up with my new years resolution of posting one blog post every month for all of 2014, but I think I'm going to make it! I never shared my March post on twitter, but it was a simple post displaying my 4yr old's photography. I may be biased, but I thought his perspective was so interesting! If you're into that sort of thing, you should check it out.

Earlier this month we finally had our evaluation at the child development clinic to get Gabriel diagnosed with whatever behavioral issue he might have.  In case you haven't been following, we know he has low muscle tone that is affecting his performance at school, but insurance will not pay for therapy because hypotonia is generally a symptom of a larger problem.  He needs to be diagnosed with whatever other issues he has in order to receive therapy for the immediate problem.  The evaluation was intense. It started off with Gabriel in the adjacent room with the psychologist while I was interviewed by a series of medical professionals. I heard Gabriel laughing in the other room and was even able to spy on him a bit in between interviews. He thoroughly enjoyed that portion of the evaluation.

My interviews were exhausting. They really pushed for every piece of relevant or irrelevant information about his birth, medical history, and family medical history. They asked the same questions a variety of different ways to make sure they got everything.  I definitely felt grilled. I wasn't resentful though, because I didn't want to leave anything out that might help them. Next I met with the psychologist after he'd finished with G. He was sort of difficult to talk to and now I kind of regret I didn't push past my own discomfort and share more about the issues we face. I did give him the scoop, but I don't know if I shared enough details or went as in depth as I could have.

After that last interview we'd been there for over two hours. I was taken to Gabriel who was getting a hearing test and I could immediately tell he needed a break. At home, after school, he usually needs 30minutes to an hour of 'zone out' time in front of the TV. During this time he doesn't want to interact with anyone. He prefers that no one else is in the room with him. Even in the summer he often needs these breaks after a busy morning and now that he's four, he is sometimes able to tell me that he 'needs a rest'.  I could tell he needed one of these breaks, but I knew we were at least 30 minutes away from being done.

Earlier, the psychologist had asked me what would happen if Gabriel didn't get one of these breaks. I said he would have a meltdown, but that rarely happened because I was pretty good at responding to his needs.  And if it did happen I was pretty good at mitigating it. Well, that wasn't to happen on that day! After the hearing test he met with another medical person to test reflexes and to rule out possible other causes for the low muscle tone. We pushed him beyond his limit and he had one of the biggest meltdowns I've ever seen. Certainly the biggest one he's had in the last six months. He screamed, kicked, and completely flipped out. I was able to calm him down enough to leave, but everyone agreed that the evaluation was over.

So, I guess they saw everything there was to see. Now we have to wait EIGHT WEEKS for the results! Eight weeks! UGH. I'm disappointed, but there's really nothing I can do about it. I'm sad that after all his preschool teacher has done to help us out in this process she won't know the diagnosis until after he moves out of her class. But, I'm glad his next teacher will have all the information she needs. Hopefully we can start some kind of therapy this summer and it won't be so much of a problem next year. 

Though the evaluation wasn't a great experience, I feel like they were very thorough.  I'm hoping this leads them to the correct diagnosis and we can move on to treatment. We made the decision to seek help for Gabriel on January 17th, and now I'm not sure we'll have help by June. I hope we'll have a diagnosis by then, but after that we'll have to choose a therapy program and get enrolled.  Not sure what my next post will be about. This time next month we still won't have any news!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My 4 year old's Photography

Still no more developments on our search for a diagnosis for Gabriel, but I recently gained an interesting new perspective into his world when I downloaded 200 pictures off his toy camera.  They were fascinating!  Since I don't have much to report on this month, I decided to share his best photos.  We have an evaluation next month at a child development clinic so hopefully I'll have more to report in my next post.
He got the camera at Christmas, better test it on little bro first!
And then mommy!
Took me a while, but this is toilet paper
Close up of a row of Arizona Green Tea at the Supermarket
Self checkout scanner
Grandma's interesting rug
I love his perspective! What a great shot of Daddy and brother
"Mommy! Say CHEEESE!"
Taking a picture of me, taking a picture of a record.
Our front steps
Headlights on the car! Took me forever to figure out this one.
My camera lense
Microwave buttons
Peering over the double stroller, waiting for mommy.
There I am!
Unintentional selfie

Are they not fascinating? Such a unique perspective. I love my little photographer!

Monday, February 3, 2014

3 Year Old Diagnosed with Hypotonia (Low Muscle Tone)

On Thursday my active 3 year old (who turns 4 in March) was diagnosed with hypotonia or low muscle tone in his mouth, fingers, and core.  I could not have been more shocked!  I didn't even talk about it on twitter until the weekend because I just could not believe it. I mean, I believed it, but I couldn't get over it. He's so active! He loves to run, jump, ride his bike and all sorts of normal little kid stuff. How could there be something wrong with his muscles?

Active Boy
The diagnosis came about because although we'd always noticed some issues, they seemed minor and waiting always seemed to be the right course. I half suspected he had ADD or something and I know that cannot be diagnosed in very young children. But recently, everything just came to a head. He had been having some trouble in school.  I knew of some trouble through parent/teacher conferences, but when I was given the notes at our child study I realized the teacher had only given us a glimpse of what was really going on. Apparently he had never made it completely through circle time, and when doing crafts at the table with a group he would get distracted and begin doing his own thing instead of the assigned task. In fact, he would ONLY complete his work when working one on one with the teacher. In addition to classroom troubles we were having a terrible time potty training. Gabriel is nearly 4 and if diaper-free he can't tell if he's had an accident.  When in diapers, before I take off his diaper I ask him if there's poo or peepee in there.  He makes a complete guess, and then we look to see if he's right.  He's always had difficulty in unstructured social situations like birthday parties, but recently it's been all the worse because he just seems too old to still be throwing tantrums.  It was time to do something.

"Mommy! Look! I brought chocolate cake to my bed!"
I first considered meeting with our pediatrician, but my DH insisted there was nothing wrong with him. All three year olds have issues and these were his. Harumph. I've since learned it's extremely common for men to have trouble acknowledging any health issues in their sons. Then we had another teacher conference in January, and she offered an evaluation through the public school system. I didn't know that was possible since we take him too a large church school, but apparently there is a child study committee that evaluates any child within the school district who may be eligible for SPED services. We decided to do it. I filled out the paperwork on a Friday and he was evaluated the following Monday! Fast! A wonderful evaluator came to the preschool and observed him in the classroom and worked with him separately. I went to a meeting with the entire child study committee the following Thursday. The committee was made up of a child psychologist, a speech therapist, early childhood educators and a SPED early childhood educator. I thought it would be intimidating, but it was such a small room and we were at a round table so I felt very comfortable.

I'll share the highlights from the report. "Gabriel had a hard time cutting anything but a straight line and kept snipping the paper instead of cutting. He also had a hard time manipulating his fingers when touching fingers to thumbs. He had to use one hand to manipulate the other to do what he needed to do. When copying figures, he was unable to do any except for a circle and straight line. He held his hand on the upper 1/3rd of the writing instrument and had a modified tripod grasp that was very weak..." You get the idea. He didn't have any strength in his fingers. 

They said they thought all his behavior issues were due to very low muscle tone in his mouth, fingers, and core and at first I just couldn't accept this explanation. How could this be? Surely I would have seen it. They asked me if he had a weak suck as a baby. I recalled that I had to nurse him with a nipple shield for two years because he wouldn't latch no matter what we tried. I remember that he refused straw sippy cups and wouldn't take anything except 3 month sippys until he was over 24months. He still drools excessively and doesn't feel that his chin and shirt are wet. They asked me if he had trouble with silverware, held cups with both hands, and did I still spoon feed him on occasion. Yes, yes, yes. Did he lay on the floor a lot when playing with toys, did he refuse to sit upright on the floor for extended periods at school? It went on and on. It was like they'd known him for years.

Abnormal to only be able to operate a
bulldozer if resting on stomach?

I took a few days to digest the news and then hit the interwebs to do research, except we didn't have any internet this weekend. ARGH! Anyway, I was able to at least do a little research on 3G and found this helpful article on The Pediatric OT, and I joined a moderately helpful facebook group on the subject.  It seems this is a pretty fixable problem and usually treated with physical and occupational therapy for at least a year. He starts pre-k next school year, so my goal is to have him within the normal or average range before kindergarten.  It's only been a few days since his diagnosis and I'm already frustrated at the slow pace of the system. I want him in therapy NOW! At the suggestion of the committee, we have an appointment with our pediatrician tomorrow to discuss everything. I understand the standard course of action is a referral for a full neurophysiological evaluation.  How long before that happens? How long afterwards does therapy start? So many unanswered questions at the moment and I'm feeling so impatient! Simultaneously to the medical route, he will get an evaluation from the city's child occupational therapist and then we'll meet with the child study committee again mid-feb. I'm hopeful that he will at least be able to get therapy through that avenue while we wait on things to get started via the pediatrician. Right now there's a lot of waiting.

Another active shot
That leaves me to do as much as possible with him at home.  He's already been taking gymnastics every Saturday and I'm thinking about swimming lessons. As I've slowly tried a few different things this weekend I'm left feeling more proud of my son than ever. As I try certain recommended exercises with him and later realize he's too weak to do them, I realize how far he's come at such a huge disadvantage! He's so active and good at sports despite no core muscle strength! He's done well in his first and second year of preschool with no therapy and no finger strength.  Considering his disadvantage, he's had very few problems.  He's such a happy, friendly, and eager to please child and I really think he'll do wonderful in therapy if we can ever get started.