But now to look ahead and catch up on the latest happenings!!
Gemma 10 weeks old
As I am typing this I have my new beautiful baby girl Gemma next to me wiggling, smiling and cooing at me! She is just about 11 weeks old and has been a "little gem" just as her name means in italian. She has been perfect!!! Loves to eat, sleeps well at night (6 hour stretches), puts up with me dragging her everywhere and letting others hold her. She already likes watching her older brother and sister...of course I have to keep an eye on both of them getting to rough with her...and Sofia is always looking for Gemma's pacifier or she wants to stick her finger in her mouth, eyes, ears or wants to rub her head!! Gemma looks a lot like both her brother and sister, but I think she may favor Michael a bit more...she is also started to get the skin issues he had as a baby...eczema!!
Adding in a third child has made life more challenging in the sense of it takes more time to do everything!! Getting out of the house, in the van, out of the van, bedtime, etc. I try to have Michael be my "helper" as much as possible, but I don't always get that cooperation from my 4 1/2 year old...and at times he is the one creating the delays!!! Everywhere I go now I have my side-by-side city mini baby jogger stroller with Sofia on one side and Gemma in her car seat on the other...it is quite the setup and I get comments on it all the time. Having the car seat on one side makes the stroller look huge, but once I can get Gemma just in the stroller it will be my dream stroller!!! I did a lot of research in to finding a double stroller to fit my needs and Sofia's needs...lightweight (only 23 lbs), easy to maneuver (turns so easily and can handle "bumps"), huge canopies (to block the sun for Sofia's heat intolerance), both sides recline flat (for naps and when Sofia's gets "floppy)...my advice to those stroller shopping, just spend the money and get a high quality stroller or you will end up with mulitple strollers sitting in the garage!!
I have kept Sofia's therapy schedule just as busy as it was before Gemma arrived...just about everyday we are going to a therapy session or two or expecting a therapist to come to us. And most sessions are great sessions these days!! But it all depends on Sofia...if she is motivated and wants to participate they can get some good work done...but other times she will throw a tantrum or just stare off into space...her ways of comunicating she doesn't want to do it. The most improved areas are her gross motor skills and her feeding skills. Just in the past week Sofia has learned how to climb up onto the couch and even though she has had a few falls, for the most part she knows to get on her belly and slide feet first off. She also has finally crawled up stairs!! Still working on going down stairs safely.
Enjoying be on the couch with Daddy!!
Sofia's appetite has sky rocketed!!! She loves to eat!! Just about every finger food I put in front of her she has no problem with and she wants to try just about everything...she will pull her herself to stand next to us and demand in her own way to give her some of what we have...she can make some strange faces if it is a new food, but almost always wants more. Still can not get her to accept a sippy cup or a straw. Bottle it is still for now. She has put on about 4 lbs in just a couple of months, and of course has gotten taller! The extra weight makes it a bit more difficult to carry her, especially when the low tone kicks in and if I am carrying Gemma in the other arm or in her carseat (i.e. reason the double stroller goes everywhere)
Michael would spend all his time upside down if he could!!
Communication and language are going to be our biggest battle in the long term. She is making new sounds and doing lots of great imitation, but still no real words. She does seem to be trying..."mm"sounds at times when she signs "more", "ee" sounds with the word "eat", I have wondered at times if her "ma-ma" sound is directed at me. The "ss" sound was her new sound last week...which she actually did for both of her speech therapists!! We are working on choice making and getting her to follow directions, such as getting a specific object or giving us an object, but we are still a ways off...she tends to gravitate towards the item she wants and throw objects off to the side when she is done with them. It is difficult to know what she actually understands and what is a motor planning problem. I could go on and on about what Sofia can not do, but I like to focus more on what she can!! And lately she loves to give hugs and give her new and improved kisses (actual kissing sounds with puckered lips!!)
Going to all of Sofia's therapy sessions have become such the "norm" for me and our family, that I do forget that this is not the normal for most families. As friends talk about the activities that they are doing with their kids and I realize how instead it seems we are always at therapy. This is where I have learned to love how I have been able to connect with others online who are living similar scenarios with special needs children...everyone in our lives is so supportive, but it is nice to get to know others who really understand what life with a special needs child is like.
The month of April is going to be a busy one for Sofia!! We are blessed to have excellent health insurance, so I am trying to do get as much done here before we move in July. We have also met our out of pocket max with our insurance, so by all means I am going to take advantage!! Sofia gets to have many followup appts...we are going to see neurology and get a repeat MRI ordered and maybe an EEG, opthamology to check make sure the eyes are still good, genetics for another look with a different doc, and the dentist to check on her chipped tooth. I am also going to take her to get fitted for a gait trainer/walker and a medical stroller. I am hoping she won't need to use a medical stroller so much, but I am thinking ahead to when she starts preschool next August...yes, I said preschool!!! She will be attending school 5 days a week all day when she turns 3...I can't even imagine it!! She will receive her therapies there and get the interaction with other children. I am hoping the system in florida will be a good one for her...we will see when the time comes. The whole process of moving this summer is going to be disruptive to therapy and I will be sad to leave the therapists that know Sofia so well and have seen her progress.
Michael has decided he will be called "Mike" when he is out in public...I think he actually realized that "Mike" is easier to spell and write at school!! Michael is a very busy boy when he is awake...bouncing and running everywhere!! He will sit still long enough to play his favorite X-box games... Legos Indiana Jones and Legos Star Wars...he has completed all the levels in both games!! Quite an achievement (I think) for a 4 year old!! He continues to attend preschool 4 mornings a week and is doing well. The big event coming up for Michael will be his bilateral otoplasty in April...in other words he is having surgery to pin his ears back! After a consult with the plastic surgeon last fall, we decided that this spring was a good time to get it done. We will wait to see just how challenging recovery will be...that is keeping the bandages on for 10 days!! I am hoping the surgery only adds to Michael's good looks!! Now we just need to wait for that darn grey tooth to fall out...
Tom and I are looking ahead to our move back to Florida!! We are planning for a move date of July 12th. We are planning to live with my mother-in-law when we first arrive and then start our house hunt. I am so looking forward to having a house again!! During what has seemed like a very long winter (it just snowed 4 inches this past weekend- ugh!) the walls in our apartment are closing in on us. Tom is looking forward to finishing fellowship and getting established with the allergy practice in Jacksonville. It will be sad though to leave the wonderful friends I have made here in Kansas...but they are more than welcome to come vacation in Florida :)
More pictures - Gemma is 10 weeks old :)