Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Riddance to 2015

A few really great things happened in 2015.  In March, Blake and I went to Israel for the very first time - a life-changing trip - and returned home with a new family (our Israel group family).  In October, we watched Blake's sister marry the man of her dreams and our extraordinarily handsome and delicious children walk down the aisle at the wedding.  A few weeks later, we spent four luxurious days with Blake's sister and her new husband, Jeff, basking in the sun, sipping on cocktails, playing silly games and enjoying all that a five-star all-inclusive Mexican resort has to offer.  In November, Blake and I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Vegas with a few of our favorite friends.  All of these things, plus more that I am sure I am forgetting, were wonderful.

Setting all of that aside (without taking any of it for granted), I am yearning and itching for 2015 to come to a close.  No question that it was the worst year of my life.  Although I feel that Blake (and probably some other family members) feel the same way, I'm going to stick to speaking for myself for purposes of this blog entry. 

I hated this year.  It was the worst of my life.  I've never experienced so much pain and fear.  It was all-encompassing, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. 

Here is a snippet from an article I wrote for a blog about traveling to Israel (when the article is published, I'll add a link so that it will make sense as to why I addressed Ryder's crisis in it):


On June 2, 2015, my three-year old son almost died.  Depending on your definition of death and how technical you want to get… he did die.  A hard plastic tube was shoved down his tiny throat so that air could be manually pumped into his tiny lungs, and large, adult hands pounded rhythmically on his tiny chest.  After approximately two minutes, his heart started to beat again and some color returned to his beautiful, doll-like, long-lashed face.  Unfortunately, that incident of cardiac arrest was merely the beginning of a never-ending nightmare.  Again, if you want to get technical about things, the acute nightmare ended after roughly two months, but in a personal sense, the nightmare never ends once you watch your child slip away over and over again while brilliant doctors scratch their chins and tell you that they simply don’t know why your child is trying to die on you.  ... Once my son was resuscitated, I sat, in a state of utter shock and disbelief, by his side in an ambulance as he was rushed to Cook Children’s Hospital and admitted directly into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 
 
 
We had taken Ryder for what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy at an out-patient surgical center.  He had been snoring (both in his sleep and while awake, as strange as that sounds) for as long as we could remember, and we knew something wasn't quite right)  The ENT tried a less invasive treatment to see if he could minimize some of Ryder's inflammation, but once that failed, it was time to ditch the tonsils and adenoids.  I literally feel sick to my stomach when I think about that day.  I was incredibly nervous, and as hokey as it sounds, I feel like I had some type of mama-bear premonition and that my nerves were above and beyond the run of the mill nerves that any parents feels when putting their child through surgery.  I felt irrationally worried and guilty.  He was so tiny.  He's always been so tiny and so delicate. 
 
The ENT performed surgery and came to report to me, Blake and my parents.  We were waiting in a post-surgical consult room - so we were alone.  The doctor said that the surgery was completely routine and that Ryder did well.  He confirmed that Ryder's tonsils and adenoids were both astronomically large and almost completely obstructive.  He told us not to be surprised if Ryder started growing (both emotionally and physically) at a rapid rate and started sleeping better.  He indicated that a nurse would come to get us in the next 20-30 minutes once Ryder was awake from anesthesia.  We all breathed a sigh of relief.  The doctor left the premises.
 
The minutes ticked by.  Roughly an hour passed.  I was definitely concerned but not extraordinarily so.  When the door finally opened, it was the anesthesiologist, rather than a nurse, that stepped into the room.  I had liked the anesthesiologist from the start.  He had called me the night before surgery for a fairly in-depth consult, and when he visited with us while Ryder was being prepped for surgery, he was charming and great with Ryder.  He had a soothing South African accent and was extremely personable and reassuring.  When he stepped into that consult room post-surgery, I could tell he was making his best effort to keep a comforting tone and to stay professional, but something was wrong.  He said: "We have a problem."
 
As it was told to us, Ryder seemed fine as he slept in the recovery room immediately after the surgery.  His vitals were stable.  However, when he woke up, he became agitated, stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest.  They re-intubated him (the original intubation tube from while he was under general anesthesia had been removed in recovery since he was breathing on his own), bagged him and started chest compressions.  Although there is no clear written record, it was reported to us that it took somewhere in the range of 1.5 to 2 minutes to resuscitate him.  The anesthesiologist admitted that he had actually already given Ryder the all-clear, exited the building and started to drive away before the nurses frantically called him and told him that Ryder had arrested.  He flipped his car around and raced back to the surgical center.
 
Once they regained Ryder's heartbeat, he began having repeated episodes.  He would seem okay for a few minutes, then he'd get agitated again, sit up straight, stop breathing, his face would turn blue and you'd see his oxygen levels falling on the monitor, everyone would start screaming at him to breathe, and then he'd start posturing.  They'd bag him and force oxygen into his lungs, his oxygen levels would rise and he'd rest again until the next episode. 
 
The anesthesiologist briefly described Ryder's episodes before finally letting Blake and I back into recovery to see him.  He warned that things were not yet stable.  Literally, the moment we approached his recovery bed, he started an episode.  He shot straight up into a sitting position, his eyes glazed over, he looked like he was taking in a big breath of air and then he just literally stopped breathing.  It sort of looked like when a toddler has a tantrum and they hold their breath for longer than usual before finally screaming.  Except that he didn't scream.  And he didn't start breathing again.  His lips turned blue, his face turned blue, the monitors started beeping out of control and then he arched his back and stiffened. 
 
Posturing is the worse thing you can ever imagine seeing.  It's what characters do in movies when they are having a seizure right before they go limp and die.  Ryder's tiny body arched so that his stomach and chest were in the air and his entire body was stiff as a board.  His tiny hands clenched into balls of steel.  The stiffening, the twisted fists, the complete loss of color followed by the dark purple hue that spread across his entire face.  It is the thing nightmares are made of in general, and it is quite literally the thing my nightmares are now made of. 
 
We scooted back so that the nurses could bag him and pump oxygen into his lungs and he recovered (without going into cardiac arrest).  This happened approximately 8-10 different times in the recovery room while we waited for Cooks to send their Teddy Bear Transport (i.e. ambulance and paramedic team) to transfer him.  It was all so surreal.  I cried some, and I definitely felt scared, but I felt much, much number than I would have ever anticipated.  It felt very "out of body."  I now know that I was in shock.

The Cooks paramedics were very calm and provided me with a slight sense of relief.  Whereas it was clear that the nurses and employees at the surgical center were freaked the F out, the Cooks paramedics had seen far, far worse I am sure.  We waited for what felt like a very long time because the transport team did not want to move him until he seemed stable (i.e. until they thought there was a chance he could make it through the ambulance ride without another spell).  They were trying to avoid intubating him a third time (which would only increase airway swelling) but warned me they would need to do so in order to ensure a stable airway during the drive if he couldn't go at least 10 minutes without a spell.

Ryder passed the test and we loaded into the ambulance.  Only one parent is allowed to ride in the ambulance with the child, and the rule is that the parent ride up front with the driver.  Likely this type of rule is meant to ensure that the parent doesn't get in the way and/or panic should something go awry during the drive.  The Teddy Bear team whispered and apparently concluded that they would make an exception and allow me to sit in the back with Ryder.  They had observed that he seemed to quit breathing primarily when agitated, so they thought my presence might help calm him should he regain consciousness during the drive.  Again... so surreal.  I do remember looking out the back window of the ambulance and seeing Blake following right behind in my car.  I remember the drive felt long even though it took less than 15 minutes.  I remember praying hard that Ryder would stay sleeping and not quit breathing during the ride.  To be honest, I don't really remember anything after that in terms of arriving at Cooks and navigating through the hospital.  My next memory was standing in the pediatric intensive care unit, before we had even been assigned to a room, and watching Ryder start the whole cycle over again.  Sit up straight, stop breathing, turn blue, scary posturing, lots of nurses and doctors crowding around, bagging him, preparing intubation and CPR tools and then watching his oxygen stats rise, some color return and his body un-clench before full CPR intervention became necessary.  He had somewhere between 5-10 more spells within the first hour or two while we were in the PICU.  Eventually they sedated him, put him on oxygen (and I don't even know what else) and he stopped the seizure-like episodes.

The worst seemed to be over, and we all tried to reassure ourselves that perhaps he had a bizarre reaction to anesthesia (despite the anesthesiologist telling us that he'd never seen a post-surgical reaction to anesthesia like Ryder's).  That hope was crushed when Ryder had one more episode 36 hours post-surgery.  My mom and Randi were there in the room with me.  The nurse was in the hallway.  As his breathing stopped and his face turned blue, we literally ran to the glass doors and began banging on them and screaming for help.  It was the first time that he had stopped breathing when there wasn't already doctors and nurses surrounding him.  The anesthesia theory was destroyed because, first of all, they had given him Narcan in recovery to reverse any anesthesia effects in case the drugs were causing the spells (i.e. there was no more anesthesia in his body).  Second of all, even without Narcan, anesthesia has already worn off by the 36th hour post-op.  That final episode broke us.  We had thought the worst was over and that we may never see Ryder try to die on us again.  And then there was that one last time. 

The following days were a horrible, traumatic blur.  He was seen by cardiologists, pulmonologists, neurologists, physical therapists and even gastroenterologists.  He had an EEG, which showed sluggish brain waves, but the neurologist reassured us that the slightly abnormal results were likely because of all that Ryder's body had been through and not a sign of something worse.  The EEG also confirmed that Ryder was not having seizures.  Ryder had an echocardiogram that showed a healthy heart.  He had a swallow study to see if there was anything structurally abnormal about his windpipe.    There wasn't.  He was examined front to back and top to bottom by more doctors and nurses than I could count.  He was, unfortunately, the talk of the hospital.  Doctors conferred and traded theories.  No one knew what had happened to him.

Ryder was slightly sedated for the first several days, and although he wasn't having any more spells, it was a horrifying experience.  His eyes were glassy, he couldn't sit up by himself, when he did sit he was slumped over like a rag doll, he was hardly responsive.  Ryder was gone.  My panic grew with each passing hour.  I didn't know whether I'd ever have Ryder back.  Would he be forever changed?  Did he have brain damage?  The neurologist didn't think so but it was difficult to give a full exam because he was medicated and because they weren't willing to put him under anesthesia again to perform an MRI of his brain. 

As they started lowering his medications, the days were equally petrifying.  I heard that a therapy dog was visiting and I was SO EXCITED.  I was just sure that Ryder would love seeing the dog and that it would be a fun visit after days of just laying in bed and being prodded by doctors.  We sat Ryder on the floor and the beautiful golden retriever came in with its handler.  We all gathered around.  "Ryder, LOOK, it's such a cute puppy!"  "Isn't it fun that this dog is in your room?"  "Awww, Ryder- she's so pretty!"  Ryder did nothing.  He said nothing.  No reaction.  He sat, slumped over, and he didn't even look at the dog.  I was horrified and again, consumed with panic. 

The next day, Ryder was seeming a bit more awake.  I was feeling hopeful.  The nurse said we could take him for a wagon ride as long as we stayed in the PICU unit.  My mom and I led him around in circles and then we started hearing this god-awful noise.  It was nails-on-the-chalkboard awful.  It took us a few minutes to process.  Ryder was grinding his teeth.  He was grinding them so hard and so loudly that it sounded inhuman.  I didn't know that a person was physically capable of grinding their teeth at such a loud decibel.  He ground his teeth over and over and over again.  Panic again!  I had one of several meltdowns in a hallway that day.  The PICU doctor on rounds and Ryder's nurse that day stood there as I bawled my eyes out, panicking about the teeth grinding.  They hugged me.  They explained that it is a common sign of stress.  This made me feel worse.  His poor little body and soul were stressed!  Words cannot express what these days were like.  Soul-crushing.  Heart-wrenching.  Terrifying.  Unbearable. 

I think it was around the 5th day when Ryder came back to us.  He started talking and interacting.  His appetite started to return.  He asked to go on a wagon ride.  He didn't grind his teeth.  It was maybe the best day of my life.  I knew that my Ryder was still in there.  The neurologist visited again and reaffirmed that he felt strongly Ryder would not have lasting brain damage. 

The last couple of days were relatively "happy" days.  Ryder continued to improve.  He had some visitors and actually interacted with and enjoyed those visitors.  The physical therapist came by and helped him take his "first steps."  He was weak from days without using those muscles, and they weren't sure how he would do.  He was a little bit floppy, but he was a champ.  Watching him from behind as he walked across that PICU hallway with the therapist standing close by for support was beautiful.

Discharge from Cooks, on the other hand, was TERRIFYING.  I knew I should feel happy and relieved and eager to get Ryder home.  However, no one had given us any answers.  No one told us why Ryder did what he did.  Consequently, no one could promise that it wouldn't happen again.  Every doctor has had a different theory.  The pulmonologist believed Ryder had pulmonary hypertension caused by chronic obstructive sleep apnea and that with his tonsils removed, he wouldn't have further issues.  The cardiologists scoffed and disagreed with a pulmonary hypertension diagnosis because of his healthy echocardiogram.  Some doctors guessed breath-holding spells.  Most said no way.  Some said sensitive airways combined with major surgery trauma and swelling simply caused his little body to shut down.  Maybe so.  Yet others expressed other ideas.  Each doctor more confident than the next that their theory was the right one.  Regardless, no one could guarantee it wouldn't happen again.  Without a diagnosis, there was no treatment. 

In the months that followed, he was put under anesthesia again for follow-up testing.  He had a bronchoscopy, upper GI and colonoscopy.  He had an MRI.  He had a pH probe inserted.  He spent time at Cooks again.  None of the tests provided answers.  We sought second opinions from other pulmonologists and other cardiologists.   He saw a geneticist.  He had a sleep study (yet another night at Cooks).

No answers.  No clues.  Though I did find some solace in the fact that doctors had searched every inch of his body from top to bottom and found nothing wrong.  The only way to manage the fear was to assume that best case scenario:  It was a fluke, and although we would likely never know what caused it, he would hopefully never do it again.

All in all, Ryder was put under general anesthesia four separate times in the course of 6 months.  He spent countless nights, in addition to daytime visits, at Cooks.  He knows that hospital in and out.  Through it all, he's been amazing.  Today, he is the exact same Ryder that he was pre-surgery.  In fact, he's better.  He gained 5 pounds and a couple of inches after that tonsillectomy, as the ENT had predicted.  As it was explained, with completely obstructive tonsils and adenoids, he was constantly deprived of oxygen and unable to achieve restful sleep.  And as it turns out, when you have plentiful oxygen and restful sleep you grow .  Ryder is a trooper.  He is my hero.  He is a fighter. 

He remembers very little about his surgery/PICU stay.  His subsequent hospital visits have stayed with him though.  He hates IVs and asks about them each time we go to a doctor.  He loves that he gets to watch Frozen when he spends the night at Cooks.  He also loves the unlimited popsicles and ice cream.  Every now and then, he will say something about his medical experience that makes me realize he remembers/knows more than we think he does.  But he's fine.  He's not traumatized.  He's a normal little boy.  I, on the other hand, am not normal.  Again, I am sure that Blake and other family members have been similarly traumatized but I will not speak for them.  I am traumatized.  I think I had legit PTSD for the first 2 or 3 months post-surgery.  I had constant flashbacks.  I still have them occasionally.  I'll see an ambulance on the road and I'll get an instantaneous image in my head of Ryder's little body posturing on that hospital bed.  Just a few weeks ago, Ledger started grinding his teeth as I rocked him before bed, and I was literally swept with fear and anxiety.  I'm changed.  I'm sad.  But I'm also proud and relieved and happy.  I'm much less scared today than I was a few months ago.  Each day with my strong, healthy Ryder is more bearable and more enjoyable than the last.  We are so lucky.  We are so grateful.

It's a story for another day, but Ryder's medical scare was not our only 2015 nightmare.  Within days of Ryder's release from the hospital, someone who shares blood with my father, someone who was raised under the same roof with my father, served him with papers.  He sued my dad.  That person made horrible, baseless accusations that were devastating to begin with but even more so because my family was grieving and terrified in the aftermath of Ryder's near-death-experience.  This person knew what happened to Ryder and still allowed his attorneys to serve my father on that date.  The epitome of kicking someone while they are down.  Because I am helping my father legally, I cannot discuss any of the details surrounding the lawsuit.   However, much of it is public record.  Suffice it to say that the Moses legacy is no more.  The family is broken.  Bubbie and Zadie are rolling in their graves.  This person chose jealousy and bitterness and paranoia and hatred over his family.  Over the truth.  Over humanity.  My dad is kind and generous and honest.  His character is being challenged.  He'll prevail but will be forced to pay crazy sums of money to attorneys to defend his name and disprove ugly accusations. 

This year has taken me lower places than I ever thought possible.  But I'm ready for 2016.  Ryder and Ledger and incredible.  They are kind, funny, good-natured, well-behaved, freaking adorable little boys.  Blake is my rock.  He makes me proud every day.  He keeps the family business afloat in the face of a nasty lawsuit, ignoring the attacks that have now extended beyond my dad.  Blake is being targeted too... It is simply another means for a desperate individual to try to hurt my father.  It's not about Blake and yet he must suffer too.  He holds his head high and works hard.  My parents and in-laws have suffered along with us and their support has been invaluable.

All the while, I know there are starving children in Africa.  There are parents that have actually lost their children in 2015.  There is terrorism.  There is war.  There is poverty.  And many people survive things more horrible than the things we experienced this year.  But this post isn't about them.  It's about me and my family.  Luckily, there is enough love to keep us strong.  2016 will be a better year.

The purpose of this post was to allow myself the cathartic experience of rehashing my family's nightmare with the hope of entering the New Year with a fresh outlook.  Here's to 2016!

 



 




Unsuccessful visit from the therapy dog

The "turnaround" day - Ryder sees the light

First Steps

Discharge Day

 

Monday, September 9, 2013

21 Month Update

I've been terrible about blogging as of late, but I do have what I believe to be a pretty good excuse.  I'm pregnant.  I'll save those details for a separate blog post, but needless to say, I've been exceedingly low on energy lately. 

Ryder, on the other hand, is not low on energy lately.  He's a hustling, bustling little 21 month old who makes me want to burst with joy while at the same time makes me want to yank my hair out.  But goodness gracious I love the little booger.

Although he didn't start walking until 19 months, his gross motor skills have improved by leaps and bounds.  He skipped the wobbly, walk-and-fall phase, and within a month or so, you couldn't pick him out of a line-up of toddlers who had been walking for ages.  If given a test by a PT specialist, he would currently still test slightly behind in gross motor development, but he's close.  My guess is that by 2 years old, he'll be 100% on track.

He's talking up a storm these days.  No full sentences yet, but he is definitely starting to string some words together ("more, please") ("mommy, sit") ("light, off"), etc.  His vocabularly can no longer be quantified in a list either.  He says new things every day, half of which I don't even know where they came from.  Along with his developing vocabulary and increased ability to communicate has come.... opinions and demands.  He's officially bossy and strong-minded.  Combine an already tempermental kid with these new traits and you get... well... a handful. 

I was chatting with my mom the other day, and I figured out how to sum things up for Mr. Ryder Dylan.  It goes something like this:  In certain ways he is an easy toddler, and in certain ways he is a difficult toddler.  He is an "easy" toddler to the extent that he isn't wild.  He's not a rambunctious boy that is in to everything.  He is mostly reserved and fairly containable.  He tends to be mild-mannered (unless he is pissed), and he definitely isn't the kid that is going to disappear to another room when you turn your back for 10 seconds and unravel an entire roll of toilet paper.  He is not particularly mischevious and he is not a dare-devil.  I appreciate these aspects of Ryder.  On the other hand, he is a "difficult" toddler because he is super tempermental and high maintenance.  He is not chill.  He is not laid back.  He is not low-key.  He is not happy-go-lucky.  He is not a content child.  Consequently, you have to expend large amounts of energy (which might other wise be spent chasing a wild toddler around to keep him/her out of trouble) trying to keep Ryder happy.  He is clingy and likes to be carried a lot.  He is demanding.  He is generously exploring the world of toddler tantrums.  This "difficult" side of Ryder is going to make things very interesting when a new baby is added to the mix.  God help us all.

Although both items are limited to naptime and night time, Ryder is still very attached to his loveys ("Fuvey") and Pacis ("Massees").  I'd like to get rid of the pacifiers sooner rather than later, so that they can be completely out of mind before the new baby arrives.  At the same time, I'm petrified for any sleep regressions that may accompany paci-withdrawals.  I'm in the process of trying to muster of the courage to bite the bullet and do something about it.

Whereas Ryder was once an extremely stoic child (and still can be at times), he has become much more expressive in the past several months.  He makes a lot of funny faces.  He will give you a ridiculously cheesy, exaggerated grin if you ask him to "smile."  And his newest addition is what we call the "surprised face."  If he hears a strange noise or something surprises or excites him, his eyes get huge and his mouth morphs into a giant cartoon-like "O".  Attempts to capture the surprise face on camera have been mostly unsuccessful, but I'll post the best I have.

Ryder is still obsessed with trains ("choo-choos") and airplanes ("hairplanes").  OBSESSED.  Many people ask whether Blake brainwashed Ryder into loving planes, but if he did, he did it completely behind my back.  I've never seen Blake attempt to indoctrinate him, but I suppose anything is possible.  I'm honestly starting to wonder whether the obsession with planes could be hereditary.  Whenever Ryder hears an unidentified noise, he looks up from whatever he is doing and announces "airplane!"  If the vacuum cleaner is running... Airplane!  If the air-conditioning unit switches on... Airplane!  If a loud motorcycle drives by.... Airplane!  Ryder also loves to point out trucks, but his interest in trucks is definitely secondary to airplanes and trains.

Perhaps the only current obsessions of Ryder's that outweigh trains and airplanes is... dum, dum, dum dum... lights and fans.  I anticipate that when I read this blog post back to myself in five years, I'm going to dramatically smack my forehead and say "Oh my god... I remember that!  That was SOOOO annoying!"  That's right, I'm going to admit it upfront:  My kid annoys the heck out of me sometimes.  Blake and I are both at wits end with Ryder's light and fan obsession.  He constantly points at the lights, announces and/or demands "light!" and "on!" and "off!" and FREAKS THE F OUT if you don't proceed to lift him to the light/fan switch so that he can turn it on/off over and over again.  Everywhere we go, including inside our own home, he is pointing at the lights and wanting to turn them on and off.  It seems simple and like it could even provide some easy, cheap entertainment for the little fellow.  But trust me, it get's old fast. 

His favorite color is blue, at least to the extent that he calls everything blue.  If you ask him to identify a colored object (i.e. "Which one is the yellow car?"), then he will pick out the correct object 95% of the time.  However, if you just ask him what color something is, he will always say blue.  Likewise, his favorite number is "9."  Until the last couple of weeks, he would count by pointing (and using an exaggerated number-counting type intonation) and saying "nine, nine, nine, nine, etc."   But then, a week or so ago, he started to count by saying "one, two, three, nine."  In any event, his counting is at the very beginning stages, and he doesn't totally understand the concept yet.  We'll be working on it.  He does not yet know any of his ABCs, but he is very interested (as of the last couple of weeks) in his magnetic bulletin board with magnetized letters and numbers.  He likes to bring you the letters one-by-one so that you can identify them, and he will then repeat the letter out loud and go hang it on the board.  Ryder also loves working on "art projects," which he calls "Pat-Pats" (thanks to his teachers at school). 

Ryder's favorite food is still fruit.  I can't narrow it down to just one type because he doesn't much discriminate.  On his picky days, it's hard to get him to eat much other than fruit.  He still shuns carbs (other than crackers).  I can't, for the life of me, get the kid to eat bread.  I'll be so happy when the day comes that he'll realize that bread is delicious so that I can start sending sandwiches to school with him.  Try packing a school lunch four days a week when your kid won't eat a sandwich.  Annoying.  He's also not much into sweets.  This too shall pass (I assume).  If the kid doesn't open up to carbs and desserts in the coming months, I'll have no choice but to begin questioning whether he is truly mine.

-He likes to go down slides, but still hates the swings. 
-He prefers to be carried most of the time.
-He typically wants mommy over daddy and "Ro" over all others on the planet. 
-Even though he prefers Ro to Momo, he talks about Momo ALL.THE.TIME.
-The only tv character he identifies as of yet is Elmo.  And he adores Elmo.
-He has a love-hate relationship with Gaudi.  Loves to tease Gaudi with food.  Hates it when Gaudi snatches said food away.  Loves to be kissed on the mouth by Gaudi.  Hates when Gaudi gets in his space (at least when he's in a "mood").
-He is starting to test boundaries and was introduced to "time-out" for the first time a few days ago (after hitting mommy even after she told him twice that "we don't hit").
-He has started to self-feed with a spoon, is pretty darn good at it (though a mess is still inevitable) and he now demands a spoon regardless of what he is eating.
-He actually doesn't like to be messy.  He asks for a "towell" if he drips food on his face while eating or if he gets anything gooey or sticky on his hands.  He also mimics my meal-time clean-up attempts by using the spoon to scrape excess food off his chin, cheeks and bib.

Lunch with daddy.

I love Grandi ("Gee")

Rare family photo
 
Paw-paw, Gee, mommy and me
 

 
Selfie.

Daddy's selfie.

Evidence that mommy is thickening up with baby 2.0.

Lunch at the zoo.  Apparently it's hilarious!

Train ride at the zoo.



A bit overwhelmed by my first trip to the Children's Museum.
 
Lunch at Ms. Susie's house.

 

Family vacay to JW Marriott Hill Country Resort

Sporting my new backpack!



My new "surprised" facial expression.


Me, daddy and kermit the frog during our special bedtime routine.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

18 Month Update

   Can't believe my baby is 1.5 years old... crazy!  Ryder Dylan recently had his 18 month check-up and is doing great.  He weighs 20 pounds (5% for weight) and is 31 inches tall (9% for height).  My two biggest concerns, which I discussed in detail with Dr. Friedman, were Ryder's size (extremely small) and Ryder's mobility (still not walking).  As seems to be the trend, Dr. Friedman was very laid back regarding both issues.  As for Ryder's size, the doc's general attitude is that Ryder has been small from the get-go and although that certainly continues to be the case, he'll eventually grow and probably won't always be quite so pint-sized.  He did suggest that I try to supplement Ryder's diet with some pediasure type drinks to increase his caloric intake, but for the most part, Dr. Friedman reassured me that I don't need to be fretting about Ryder's weight.  I was a little bit weirded out at first by the fact that Ryder only gained 1 pound, 3 ounces since his one year check-up, but I'm going to stick to my policy of not being worried if Ryder's pediatrician isn't worried.  As for the walking, Dr. Friedman did confirm the need for a PT evaluation, and he helped me move Ryder's appointment up.  I had called for a PT referral several weeks ago, but Cook's first availability was not until mid-July.  With Dr. Friedman's help, I got the appointment moved up to June 7th.  I definitely didn't think I'd have an 18+ month old who couldn't walk, but I do.  Thank goodness the little dude is so small or elase I have no clue how I'd ever cart him around!

   In the past few weeks, Ryder has had a major explosion in his vocabulary, and it is way fun to hear him using a bunch of new words.  His current vocabulary looks something like this:

Mama/Mommy
Dada/Daddy
"Gow-Gow" (Gaudi)
Ro
Mo-Mo
Grandi (Randi)
Paw-Paw (Larry)
Sissy (Samantha)
"Geggie" (Peggie)
Ollie (parents' dog)
Susie (Ryder's fav teacher at school)
Hi/Hey
Bye
Thank You
Ball (rhymes with "owl" when he says it)
Shoe
Uh-Oh
Yay!
Poo-Poo/Poop
No
Yeah (yes)
Cracker ("Cracky")
Cookie
"Isssat" (What's That?)
Up
Help
Please
Outside ("'side")
Apple
Car
Airplane
Choo-Choo (train)
Wow
Woah
More (he usually signs for "more," but occassionally says the word itself)
Doggy ("Goggy")


   In addition to the above words, which he uses regularly, Ryder will repeat most words on command.  He has also gotten really good at his animal sounds and is no longer stubborn about doing them on command.  He knows the sounds for dog, cat, horse, cow, bird, tiger and pig (and probably a couple of others that I am forgetting)...

   In my opinion, Ryder is really starting to become more "toddler-ish" in the last few weeks.  He is starting to throw some toddler tantrums when he doesn't get his way (which are still relatively cute and funny, but I'm sure they'll get old rather quickly).  Sometimes he even drops to the floor, lays on his stomach and stiffens into the planking position with his angry/tear-streaked face sticking right down into the carpet.   Anyway, he is looking and acting more like a toddler each and every day (other than the fact that he isn't technically toddling yet...).  One of the biggest changes is in his level of communications.  He responds to our questions by answering "yeah" or "no" (or by shaking or nodding his head). 

   Ryder was evaulated by a physical therapist on June 7th (per Dr. Friedman's referral), and he is significantly behind in his gross motor skills (no big shock there!).  His fine motor skills, verbal skills, etc. are all great, but the fact that he still isn't walking at 18 months basically just means that he fails in the gross motor department (He tests at a 12 month level).  That being said, the physical therapist agrees that Ryder is close to walking on his own, and she is not overly concerned with things.  She did discover that his feet tend to pronate (the insides of his feet collapse inwards, if that makes sense), he favors his right leg/foot over the left and he is "loosey-goosey" (i.e his joints and muscles are ovely loose and flexible).  These are all things that can be corrected with work.  He may need to be fitted for some orthotic ankle braces to help realign his feet and strengthen his ankles, but the PT wants to work with him for a few weeks before deciding for sure.  He did really well at the appointment, and I am feeling much better about taking some action and moving forwards.

   I don't know if I've flat out said it in the past, but Ryder is officially a picky eater.  He loves something one day and refuses it the next.  The one and only category of food that is 100% reliable is fruit.  He will always eat fruit (copious amounts of it too).  I'm glad that he is in love with such a healthy food group, but it does leave me in a position of having to desperately push protein and calorie intake.  The kid isn't even tempted by sweets.  Occassionally I can get him to nom on a simple cookie (like a Nilla Wafer), but he turns up his nose at ice cream, cakes, pies, etc.  He's not interested and isn't even willing to taste them.  If I pin him down and try to force something delicious into his mouth, he just spits it out and yells at me ("No!"). 

   I'm excited to report that Ryder LOVES the swimming pool.  He's been in the pool a handful of times already this summer and simply adores it.  I didn't know what to expect since he was roughly 7 months old the last time he tried it.  I'm glad that we can use the pool as a fun escape from the awful Texas heat.

The below pictures are a random assortment from 16-18 months.  Enjoy!

Dip N' Dots at the Zoo with Ro

Big Boy at Barnes and Noble


Hanging with Aunt Lauren and cousin Elizabeth

I get to play with dolls at Elizabeth's house!



 



Matching Outfits

Toothy grin.



Enjoying my splash pool.
 
Tushy!!

Bounce House at cousin Elizabeth's 5th birthday party
 

 
Playing outside with BFF Micah



Sporting roughly 40 pounds of cute.



 
I'm angry!

Proof I'm starting to look like a toddler

Got to go swimming with Ms. Susie (Benson) at her pool!
 

Brrr!   Drying off after a dip in the pool.

Cousin Love.

Matching jersies on Father's Day 2013