Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There are certain things I look forward to when it comes to Adriana growing up. For instance, I'm excited about her new interest in toilet training, and it will be nice when I don't have to have an eagle eye on her as she climbs things at the park. But it will be a sad, sad day when she figures out that simply because she runs to a tree and turns her back to me, she is not actually hidden. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Portrait of the artist

Adriana loves to draw. The MagnaDoodle I bought last fall for a long car trip was a fantastic investment, and crayons and paper can occupy her for a long time--she often sits in the kitchen and draws while I fix dinner in the evenings, and when we flew to Florida last month, she spent more time drawing on the flights (and in restaurants and in her great-grandfather's house) than pretty much anything else.

She'll bring one of us her MagnaDoodle, or hand us a crayon when we're sitting with her while she draws, and ask for a picture of a flower, a monkey, or herself. Brian and I are not exactly artists, but our skills are enough to impress a two-year-old. But I found it frustrating to constantly get these requests. Even if we were sitting together, and I wasn't using the crayons to occupy her so I could get something else done, I wanted her to be the one drawing. Who cares if she can't draw a cat? She can scribble, right? So I draw her the giraffe she asks for and tell her to put on the stripes, or make the main part of the requested 'A' and she can put the line through the middle. But then she is back, asking me to draw a picture of her in her flower shirt holding her baby doll, or a monkey holding a balloon in a tree. 

Now I think all that watching was good for her. On Saturday night, Brian's parents babysat while he and I went out to dinner. When we got home and were sitting around talking, Adriana got out her MagnaDoodle and began to draw. er scribbles have changed a great deal over the past few months. Instead of covering a piece of paper in one color, she changes color often (making sure to tell me with each change what color she is using). She went from short little marks to longer scribbles to very specific little "designs"--she makes rows and one-inch high scribbles, for instance. But now we were seeing another change. She carefully used the "pen" to make a potato shape and drew a lot of lines coming out from it. Then she erased it and as she started again, I asked her what she was drawing. "Ana," she said. And there was the potato shape again. She drew two squiggly lines out from the side. "Arms," she told us and then "Wegs," when I asked her about the two squiggly lines that came from the bottom. The two lop-sided circles inside the top of the potato were eyes, of course. And then she made a similar, smaller drawing right beside her--her baby, she told us. 

It's such a funny little milestone, and yet it was the one I've gotten most excited about in a while. Putting on her own socks and shoes is quite nice, but this, to me, showed more than just an improvement in her coordination. It somehow made her seem more grown up, in spite of her footed pajamas. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

26 months

I have always thought of Adriana as independent. She seemed to want to support her own head from a very early age, and she refused almost all solid foods until she could feed herself. Watching her and comparing her to other kids at the park, I felt that, even though she wanted me right with her most of the time, she didn't reach for me for help as often as some of the others reached for their caregivers. But I think her need for independence has become even bigger lately. Her lack of true independence means she compensates by exerting her authority when and where she can. "Ana do," I hear many times a day, whenever I attempt to help her with something she wants to do herself, which is pretty much everything. She picks out her own clothes each day (and heaven forbid her cupcake dress is in the wash when she wants to wear it--which is several times a week--or I offer her white tights instead of pink) and does her best to put them on herself. If I try to pick out what color hair bows she wears or try to put her shoes and socks on for her, it's a crisis. She tells me what she wants for breakfast and lunch, although, strangely, given her unwillingness to let me feed her as an infant, she mostly wants me to feed her now.

Sometimes her independence makes me nervous. She wants to climb up on a step stool to reach things, rather than having me get them for her. And at the park she terrifies me as she tries to imitate children several years older than she is. As she tried to stand up on the rails of a seesaw at the park, I put my hands out near her, spotting her, ready to catch her if she fell. Every time I got nervous and actually put my hands on her, she said, "No, Mom," in such an exasperated tone that I felt that I was gaining insight into our relationship ten years into the future. But at the same time, I'm excited to see this independent personality emerging.

She's also a bit of a bossy personality. She continues to talk more and more, and has definitely mastered the imperative: "Mom read book," and "Mom sit down," and other such orders are frequently heard around our house. "A three word sentence," my friend's husband commented one day at the park as Adriana directed me to push her in a swing. "Yes," I said, "but I'd rather it were four, with a 'please' at the end." He suggested that I should just be glad that she wasn't already tagging "now" onto her little sentence. The next day she ordered me to read her "monkey book" and I told her I needed to finish what I was doing, and she grabbed my leg and said, "Mom, please read monkey book, NOW." Okay, fine, it was, "Mom, pwee wee monk book, NOW." But I understood exactly what she meant. And I did as I was told. She knows so many words now, and she will try to say most things you ask her to say, provided that she is in the right mood and that the word is no more than two syllables. Even on the two-syllable words, the second half is mostly slurred, but she is making the attempt. If you ask her to say anything longer she smiles and tells you, "No."

A couple of weeks ago, her speech therapist ran though some sort of language inventory with us. At this point I am not really concerned about her speech at all, but it was good to hear that, according to this particular index, she has the language skills of a 22-month-old. I don't feel that I'm rewriting things to say that I wasn't incredibly concerned from the time we began the evaluation process last summer--I wished she would talk and figured getting her evaluated couldn't hurt and it might help. I honestly don't know how much the therapy has helped--I have a feeling this would have happened naturally, when she was ready--but the therapy is fun for her, and I am just glad she is talking. Even if it is to boss me around.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sick and wired

On Saturday, Adriana had a runny nose. There were a few sneezing fits and her eyes were watery, so I assumed it was hay fever, since there seem to be so many blooming plants all of a sudden. Sunday I decided it was a cold. And Monday, as we struggled awake in the face of Daylight Saving Time, I decided again that it was just spring allergies. But, whether it was a cold or allergies, I didn't think a trip to the doctor was entirely necessary. Still, not sure if the rattle I was hearing in her breath was coming from her chest or her throat, I called the doctor's office and they told me to bring her in. I sent Brian a quick note to let him know the plan. He didn't think the doctor's trip was really necessary. I was ambivalent--whenever I call the advice nurse hoping for reassurance, they end up telling me to bring Adriana in. I picked up the phone to cancel the appointment, but called Brian's mom instead. She suggested I just go to the appointment for the reassurance, even if things were fine. Figuring that maybe we could at least get an antihistimine if the doctor thought it was allergies, I decided she was right.

And so I was surprised when the doctor, instead of telling me it was just a cold and to give Adriana plenty of fluids or agreeing that it did seem like hay fever, looked at Adriana sitting there with her dress off and expressed concern over her breathing before she'd even listened to her chest. But I think it was good that I was surprised. That surprise meant that instead of worrying or panicking I just accepted what the doctor said, as she pressed her stethoscope to my baby's back and then ordered some Albuterol treatments and a chest X-ray. 

Adriana was amazingly good throughout it all. In fact, her good behavior was part of what had me and my mother-in-law concerned: while Adriana is good about sitting for stories, she is not ordinarily a kid who just wants to sit in the rocking chair and snuggle for an hour. She is not the kind of kid who lies quietly on the floor when she is set down--she either demands to be picked up or goes off to do something else--but on Monday I would find her exactly where I had left her. The frighteningly good behavior continued at the doctor's office. She sat quietly on my lap for the exam, and then patiently let me hold the nebulizer mask over her face while she received Albuterol to open up her lungs. She looked passively at the little teddy bear gadget on her finger that monitored her blood oxygen saturation (which, how on earth do those things work? I swear they must be magic) and stroked my arm with her free hand. She is normally a bit shy in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar faces, but this seemed particularly unusual. She did seem more energetic after the treatment, which brought her oxygen saturation up from 95 to 97 percent, and actually walked down to get her x-ray instead of insisting that I carry her. She sit perfectly still on the table for her x-rays, as I reminded her about the X-rays Curious George got. And back upstairs, she sat quietly for another Albuterol treatment, which brought her oxygen up to 98, while we waited for the doctor to come back with the X-ray results. 

We ended up with a diagnosis of bronchiolitis in Adriana's left lung (which is often caused by RSV and can be a serious issue in babies, but is less frightening in toddlers), and we were sent off with a nebulizer to continue Albuterol treatments for the next couple of days. Realizing that I hadn't eaten in hours and that I couldn't get the nebulizer and Adriana both home on my bike, I called Brian to meet us downtown for dinner and a lift home. Adriana had a fit of energy then (Albuterol can make kids hyper), and it was good to see her back to her normal self as she did a few laps in front of the doctor's office--up the stairs then down the ramp--and then insisted on walking the block and a half to the restaurant  for dinner. But at dinner she grew quiet again and ate only a bite or two of her pasta, and by the time we got home we discovered she had a fever. And because we were at home she fought us as we tried to give her the Albuterol, but eventually with snuggles from me and a Curious George story from Brian (and the promise of a "special sticker" afterward--one of the Curious George ones I've been hoarding for when we get to the bribing stage of potty training) she settled down and then went to bed without much fight.

After that I was totally drained, and yet I felt as though I imagined the Albuterol was making Adriana feel--tense and wired. The whole day was catching up to me, from the early wake-up, the shorter-than-usual break I got when Adriana took only a brief nap, and of course the craziness of what had happened at the doctor's office. None of it ended up being a big deal. Yes, she was having a bit of trouble breathing, but it wasn't a crisis by any means. Still, I had been hesitant to take her in at all, and had expected to be sent home with a pat on the head and a roll of the eyes at my first-time-mom anxiety, and had ended up holding my baby's hand for her first X-rays. I sat in the arm chair, stunned. I sent a message to a friend describing how I felt after my day. He suggested that I needed to go sledding, and as silly as that sounded (especially since I am in the bay area, not on the frozen tundra of the upper midwest) it really was exactly what I needed: the exertion of tromping uphill in the snow, the exhilaration of flying back down on a sled--just the simple physicalness of it--to help with the tension I was feeling.

Instead I went into Adriana's room and listened to her breathing, which was no longer as shallow as it had been, and then climbed into my own bed...and then went back to listen to her breathe a couple of more times before I finally managed to fall asleep.