Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's the Little Things

In addition to all the 'big' things Ella has been doing lately (putting herself to sleep, walking outside, generally being such a BIG girl) she has been doing so many small things too that sometimes I forget to notice if I don't take a minute to stop and look around. 

First of all, she's gotten much better at feeding herself. As with most things for Ella, it's not like she couldn't feed herself, just moreso that she wouldn't always. And she is SUCH a SLoooOOOOOWWW eater that most the time it's just easier to spoon feed her like a baby than let her take the time to take a bite every 10 minutes on her own. When you have a failure to thrive diagnosis and multiple doctors monitoring her every ounce gained or lost, just getting your child to eat suddenly becomes way more important than how they eat. 

She's a pro at putting the forkful of food in her mouth if we stab something on there for her, but lately she's also gotten better at getting it on herself and even scooping up peas by herself. (Our 6 and 8 year old still struggle with this soooo.. I think she's doing pretty good). She's also gotten a little better at staying in her own chair at meal times instead of sitting on our laps or wandering around the house while getting walk-by spoonfuls of food.
Yes, we're wearing a nightgown. And rain boots.  At lunch time. Big deal.

She's also started holding her own cup and taking her own drinks instead of us holding it for her. This might not sound like a big deal to some of you that my almost 4 year old can hold her own cup, but it really is to us. And again, she's had the ability to do this for awhile, but just like with other things (*ahem.. walking, anyone?) she wouldn't do it until she was sure she could do it without making a mistake or spilling a drop. She's confident enough now that she does it all the time on her own. And all this has led to... her drinking way more on her own.. which has led to 


*Warning: Poop Talk Ahead*
Ever since Ella was so so sick 3 years ago (3 years?? really???) when she came off the NG tube she got instantly very constipated. I think it had something to do with her getting too many calories through the tube, then cutting back so much it really just messed her up. Through the past 3 years we've managed to cut her dose in half, but every time I would try to cut it down more, she would immediately get backed up again. Then about a month or two ago our whole family got a little stomach bug which wasn't a big deal at all, but since Ella had diarrhea I wasn't giving her MiraLAX (obviously). Every day I would wait on pins and needles to see if she was going to get backed up, MiraLAX in hand, ready to administer at a moment's notice, and every day she would continue going, even after the stomach bug had passed. It's probably been 2 months now that she's been LAX-free. I have no idea why that stomach bug forced her gut back in order, but whoever we got those germs from, THANK YOU! :)

Before I could plan my much anticipated Miralax Burning Party where all us former Miralax moms would gather around a roaring bonfire deep in the woods and dump our unused portions of Polyethylene glycol 3350 into the flames while dancing around chanting, (too much?) another child of mine had to have an xray done for some leg pains he'd been having and the only thing that showed up.. was that he looked backed up. So what did the doctor prescribe? MiraLAX. Because of course...

Anyways, Ella has also been working on being able to help put her clothes on and take them off herself.

 She's not real great at it yet, but she is sure cute trying!

She loves to color and is great at drawing circles. 
(SOOOOO exciting for me since my boys absolutely HATED to color)

And for the girl who formerly refused to wear any kind of accessory on her head, have anything touch her face, or really wear anything that didn't absolutely need to be there.. I'd say she's doing pretty good.

She's really getting the hang of this dress up thing!
check out the heels!
Another thing I mentioned on Facebook, but haven't on here is that Ella has been going to the daycare at MOPS for a few hours every other week and.. LOVING IT! If you don't know how big of a deal this is, consider that Ella has never ever ever in her entire life been left with anyone other than a very close family member. Heck, just a year or so ago the number of people she would allow to touch her could be counted on one hand. When the first MOPS meeting came up and Papa wasn't able to watch her like he did all last year I wasn't even going to go. At the suggestion of a friend though who reassured me I could just keep Ella with me throughout the meeting, I decided at the last minute to go. As I dropped Hudson off in his room, Ella got up and started playing right along with him. She was having so much fun that even though I had never considered leaving her I decided to try it. She cried for a few minutes the first meeting, not at all the second, and by the third after I took her coat off she looked at me and pointed to the door, telling me to get out of there! HA! Now she walks down the hall on her own, turns at the right door, and goes right in to play. I would have NEVER expected her to transition so well to being left with complete strangers and a noisy room full of random children. Every other week I am completely shocked all over again. (Does this mean she might be getting ready to leave me for.. *gasp* school??)

A few other small things are that she figured out how to spit, so we can now brush her teeth with flouride toothpaste more often since she can rinse it out better. And her speech is really improving. Last night I dropped the boys off at CCD and called to ask JJ a question. Ella grabbed the phone and plain as day said "Hi Mom." Melted my heart.. Just before the weather turned so cold and winter-like Ella and Hudson got the gator out and even managed to take it for a little spin. In the past, Ella would have completely freaked out if something like this started to move with her in it, but she really enjoyed trying to make this go and even managed to do it a few times all on her own. She was still a little hesitant, but I'm pretty sure by next summer these two are going to be tearing it up!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

Since the day Ella was born she's basically always been rocked to sleep. 
Every nap time. Every bed time. Every day.
I'm guilty of this with all my kiddos. I have a hard time just laying them down when they're awake, even though I know you're 'supposed' to. I listen to the experts, hear that babies should learn to soothe themselves to sleep and you should lay them in their cribs before they even act sleepy, then I immediately go and either nurse or rock them to sleep. I can't help it. I'm always astounded when I'm at a friend's house and they just lay their baby down. In their crib. Just like that. Lay them down and leave. It's shocking. (Consequently this loving need to rock my babies to sleep usually ends at around the 9 month age when I'm so sleep deprived and in full blown crazy mom mode from them not being able to put themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night.) But I digress..

So we've always rocked Ella to sleep. It isn't usually that big of a deal. We wait until she's acting super sleepy, rock with her a few minutes (or more), wait a few more minutes until that magic moment when she's good and sleeping heavy, but not too long where she's had enough of a 5 minutes nap and wakes up good to go, then lay her down and all is well. Easy Peasy. At least it used to be that way. This summer Ella started being a real pain (for lack of better description) to put to sleep. She started staying up until 10:00 or 10:30 (past our own bed times!) not falling asleep easily, then when she finally did, would wake up and scream when we tried to lay her in her crib which would result in either more rocking or just giving up and bringing her to our bed. That meant that JJ and I had virtually no time to spend together after the kids went to bed. Neither of us could just relax in the evening and there was no time to get anything extra done without kids around. It got to be frustrating and stressful and one day last August while I was talking to a friend about it she casually asked "What would happen if you just laid her down?" 

What would happen?


What would happen is... I... I... I don't know. We'd never been able to just let Ella cry it out because of her reflux. She would get SUCH a gassy tummy and it sounded so painful and awful that it would have just been cruel to let her cry for any reason. But she'd mostly grown out of that now. So what would happen? There had been a few instances when I was rocking Ella at nap time and Hudson would start to cry downstairs so I would lay her down prematurely and she did actually put herself to sleep, but only a few times. I always meant to do it more often. Just lay her down. But I always had a reason not to. 'I think she's getting a cold so I'll just rock her to sleep one more time today.' 'We have plans tonight so I really want her to take a good nap.' 'Hudson's sleeping and I don't want her to cry and wake him up.' 'I just don't have the energy to listen to her cry today. Maybe tomorrow.' And on and on. Day after day after day. 

But that afternoon at nap time after my friend left, I decided to take her advice. I read Ella some books, sang her a few songs, rocked a few minutes, and laid her down. And what happened? She fell asleep! But she had done that before. The real test would be at bed time. I dreaded it. I knew it would be awful. But that night we did the same thing. We read, we sang, we rocked, we laid her down. And she was not happy. She screamed and cried. We checked on her. She taught herself to soil her diaper on command. We brought her back down stairs to change her. And back up again. We sang her a few more songs and laid her down. She screamed some more. But I think it actually only went on for about 20 minutes. The next night it was 10. And the next night? We didn't hear a peep after we laid her down.


It took three nights to overcome something we had struggled with for three years?

She got to the point where she actually LOVED going to bed. Sometimes she would ask to go to bed as early as 7:00. The extra 3 hours we had in the evening were so refreshing and we were able to get so much accomplished! You would think my house would be spotless, my garden weeded, and my blog less neglected, but I'm sure I've been doing something useful with my time.. I think. 

This is how good Ella got at putting herself to sleep. 
She slept about 30 minutes standing up on a metal folding chair like this.
It also possibly could have been something to do with the fact we found out she had strep throat the next day..
I wish I could say she's kept this whole 'awesome sleeper thing' up over the last few months, but the truth is we've let it slip a little. In fact, as I write this it is 9:30 at night and she is laying on the couch watching babies on her tablet. But in my defense we had an exhaustingly long day and nap time was completely torturous for Ella and Hudson (and mom) today and I'm pretty sure I have PTSD from it all, so we're just gonna let it slide for tonight. We might have to have another sleep-training session soon. And maybe one in the middle of the night too so she would actually stay in her own bed all night? But her bedroom is so close to the boys' I don't want her to wake them up.... ;)