Wednesday, September 24, 2008


One night when Adriana was a few months old, I came out of the shower to find her crying in Brian's arms. As I dried and dressed before nursing her, I began to recite Good Night Moon. She began to calm down as soon as I began, and had completely stopped crying by the time Brian handed her to me

"Dude, you're like the Michael Jordan of mothering," he told me. I laughed and assured him that it was just hearing my voice and knowing that she would get milk shortly that soothed her.

It's been over a year since that happened, and I'm starting to think that Margaret Wise Brown worked some sort of magic spell into her words. Last night was one of those nights when I was ready for Adriana to be in bed before she was. After reading stories for nearly an hour, and putting her back in bed several times, I laid down beside her in bed to see if she wanted to nurse again. She cried and struggled to get up, and I began, "In the great green room..." Instantly she stopped fussing and rolled toward me. As I recited the rest of the poem, she latched on, tugged my hand to where it would rest on her cheek and ear, and stroked my arm. By the time I finished she had closed her eyes and after only a few more minutes I tiptoed away. 

Adriana sleeping


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


At Adriana's 18-month well baby visit, her pediatrician (whom I absolutely adore) expressed some concern about Adriana's lack of spoken language. It wasn't a huge concern now, but there is sometimes a long wait to get in for an evaluation, so the doctor suggested I begin the process soon and gave me the phone number for our county's Early Start program. 

We had our assessment at Early Start yesterday and I think it went well. By playing with Adriana and interviewing me for an hour, an early intervention teacher and a speech pathologist assessed Adriana's development in five different areas: physical, including both fine motor and gross motor skills, as well as her vision and hearing; adaptive/self help, which covered eating, sleeping, and dressing; cognitive; social/emotional; and communication. Adriana scored well above the baseline measures in all areas except for communication. There they found that her receptive language is quite good, but determined that she had a 50 percent delay in her expressive language. Basically, her level of speech is that of a child half her age. 

I am actually a little bit excited about this. We all want our kids to be perfect, so in some ways I feel like I should regret that they found a delay, but I knew the delay was there, and I think I would have been more bothered if they said everything was fine and weren't going to do anything. I am relieved that everything else looked good to them. There was a bit of nagging fear that she'd be on the autism spectrum, I guess. I mean, my gut instinct told me that she wasn't, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't find something excessive to worry about. 

Soon we'll meet with a social worker to set up a service plan, but it will probably involve weekly individual speech therapy at first and eventually probably continued therapy in a group setting. We'll also learn a lot about what we can do to help her out at home during the therapy. For now they said we were doing the things they would initially recommend: sign language, music, and animal noises. She does seem to be making some progress on her own, as well. Sunday night she was mimicking us (trying to say her name and "eggplant"), which she rarely does, and making new sounds (p and l). I know--I've known--that she'll get there at some point, but it's a relief to know that my instincts were right and that there is going to be a little bit of help to get her there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

20 months

Every month, I sit down and think about the challenges and the blessings of another month with Adriana. There are some months when I think the challenges seem to overwhelm the blessings, but as I write this after a rough week, the blessings are so apparent. Yes, Adriana did keep me on my toes each day. Yes, she threw tantrums over seemingly small things. Yes, she terrified me as she tried to do things at the park that she's just not physically capable of doing at this point, and would have hurt herself if I hadn't been there. Yes, there were days she barely napped, so I didn't get a chance to write it all down when I wanted to. But. But. There are things that I never thought about as things people had to learn, such as what a shadow is and how to jump, and I get to be there as she works those out. I got to play "Ring Around the Rosy" over and over again and heard her giggle each time she fell down, to see the delight on her face as she hung from the monkey bars at the park, to watch her studiously pour water from one container to another in the bath, and to feel her lean in for a kiss as she wrapped her arms around my neck. She left me exhausted, but she also left me in awe.

A few weeks ago, Adriana settled into a nice schedule: she woke up around 7:30 every morning, napped for two hours starting at 12:30, and went to bed at nine. I loved the predictability of it, and wondered why I hadn't tried to get her onto a schedule months ago. Then she changed her mind, and I realized that I hadn't gotten her onto a schedule so much as she'd gotten me onto one, and having it yanked out from under me was hard to cope with. I keep blaming her lack of predictability for making me nuts, but I think it's probably more closely related to the fact that she isn't going to bed until ten o'clock.

She is also going through a very clingy stage. She has always been clingy with me, but evenings lately have been rough: if she can't be in constant physical contact with me, she should at least be within one foot. If I want to get myself a glass of water six feet away from where she's sitting at the dinner table? Totally worth a tantrum. If I dare to walk into another room to get something? CALL CPS HER MOTHER IS ABANDONING HER. It's actually okay once I've left the room. I can go take a shower and after she screams and cries and throws things for a few minutes, she plays happily with Brian. Until I come back, at which point if I stop touching or looking at her for a second, we're back to where we were before. It's tiring, and it's all I can do sometimes to remind myself that this is only a stage, that she's only small once.

Yet she also is very independent in some ways. (Perhaps that's actually connected to the clinginess?) She wants to walk everywhere now, and usually fights the stroller or the Beco (although once she's in one or the other, she admits defeat and settles down), and it's fun to walk places with her. She knows she has to hold a hand when we cross a street, and usually when we walk along the sidewalk, she reaches up for a hand to hold. It feels so perfect to walk down the street with her and Brian, Adriana between us, holding our hands. She wants to sit in a regular chair, not a high chair, and feed herself. She's always been a bit like this--strong-willed and wishing she were more self-sufficient--but now she is much more vocal about what she wants, screeching when I try to do something for her.

She is making more attempts at words that she has in the past, although usually, no matter what we've asked her to say, she just tells us, "ba ba ba" or "ma ma ma." Instead she continues to sign constantly, picking up signs almost immediately (and has over 60 now). Reading with her is fun, because she knows so many signs and tries to tell the story too. For each page of Good Dog, Carl, she makes at least one sign. She's also paying more attention to the pictures now. Toward the end of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, another current favorite, she started signing "bird," and finally I asked her where the bird was. She pointed and there in the corner of one of the pictures there was a little bird in the tree that I hadn't even noticed.

She notices everything and is very busy. She will sit still for a story (sometimes several, or at least the same one several times in a row), but other than that it seems that she's constantly moving. Every day we go to the park, and she climbs up and down stairs, goes down slides, attempts to climb ladders, hangs from bars. She digs in the sand, throws and chases after a ball, kicks her legs to try to pump herself even higher in the swings. She keeps me running as I play games with her and try to keep her from falling. And even though I complain about her dare-devilish ways, I am also rather proud.

There are days I look at Adriana and I am just amazed that this is the little baby I had just last year. There are these little gestures she has--brushing her hair out of her eyes, sticking her tongue out a bit when she concentrates, tipping her head to the side as she watches something I am doing--that just make me want to cry, because they seems so perfect to me. I watch her when she's asleep, and I am amazed at how beautiful she is and I have to remind myself that picking her up just to hold her could wake her up. But sometimes I can't help myself and I slip into bed with her, even if she doesn't need me at that moment, just to enjoy the sweetness of being near.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

False cognates

When Adriana started using the sign for eyeglasses to refer to drinking glasses, Brian suggested making an effort to say "cup" instead of "glass," but since she isn't trying to wear drinking glasses or drink from my eyeglasses, I haven't bothered. She seems to understand that the same word works for more than one thing.

I often offer Adriana choices of things to snack on. "Do you want cheese or grapes?" I ask, and she signs her decision. A few days ago I asked her, "Do you want banana or edamame?"

"Mama," she signed.

"Banana or edamame?" I asked again.

"Mama," she signed, and pointed to the freezer.

I thought maybe I was wrong. I thought that she wasn't really saying "mama" for "edamame." But then at the park a couple of days later she pulled the little container of edamame out of the diaper bag and handed it to me to open.

"Mama beans, please," she signed. Oh well.

If we got a TV, maybe she could get herself up and watch cartoons

On more than one occasion during my pregnancy with Adriana, I woke up and immediately panicked because she wasn't there, so real had been my dreams that I already had the baby and she was there in bed with me. "Where's the baby?" I ask, startling Brian awake. Then she was born and there were a couple of times when I opened my eyes, saw the empty cosleeper and felt the panic well in my chest again for the second before I realized that the baby was in my arms.

Shortly after eight on Saturday morning, I opened my eyes and saw that it was already after eight. I'd stayed up too late reading, so after nursing the baby and feeding the cat at 6, I'd gone back to sleep for much longer than usual. Surprised that Adriana hadn't woken me up yet, I rolled to face her bed. It was empty.

"Where's the baby?" Brian sprang out of bed almost instantly. He was only gone a few seconds, but in that time I was able to reassure myself that Adriana hadn't manage to climb up onto the window sill and fall out (which I actually do worry about with this little monkey), nor was it likely that someone had entered our apartment, come into our room, gone around our bed to get to Adriana, and carried her away. For one thing, I probably hadn't been sleeping very deeply for the past couple of hours. And the thought of Adriana not shrieking when picked up by a stranger? She won't even let Brian pick her up out of bed if I'm still there.

Brian came back to report that she was playing around our desk and was fine. As we snuggled back into bed, I thought it was nice that our apartment was safe enough that she could wander around without us paying too much attention. In fact, just last weekend, I dozed off while nursing Adriana when she woke up from her nap, and after she'd finished, she got up and played by herself for a fair amount of time before Brian realized that someone ought to be paying attention, so that she didn't continue to strew Cheerios from her snack trap around the house. Finally, I heard Adriana leave the office and close the baby gate behind her. The house was quiet again. Until she began shrieking. This time I jumped out of bed. She was standing on the kitchen table. She saw me and smiled, and then requested a diaper change.