Oh KayTar, where should I begin? I could begin at the beginning with the moment I saw you, but that seems more fitting for your birthday post in 2 months. I could begin at the first hint of things not being quite right, but nobody really knows when that was. I suppose I'll begin at the beginning of this journey. The day we first knowingly embarked on this journey.
I was so worried about you. You had been ill for almost the entirety of your first year. The pediatrician always brushed it off and said "respiratory virus". I don't think I worked one full week since you were born, you had to stay home sick almost weekly. It seemed the stuff of normal childhood illness, just much more frequent. The latest things we had noticed was your awful constipation. The pediatrician always said "Just give her a glycerin suppository." He didn't understand that you cried and bled each time you went to the restroom. On our own, your dad and I did research on natural ways to help constipation. We changed your diet completely. Anything on the "firm" side of the scale was tossed out and replaced with a "soft" food. We supplemented with flax oil. We added fiber to your diet. We changed everything we could and still it did no good. The doctor wouldn't listen. I knew your weight was low. I knew you weren't eating enough for your age. I still worried about that unexplained episode you had last May. I watched you "play" and knew something wasn't right. The pediatrician smiled at appointment after appointment and said you were fine. "Not to worry, Mom." He saw you almost weekly for your entire life, and he always said things were just fine. I couldn't worry anymore. I couldn't sit by and let you slip through my fingers. I couldn't ignore what I saw any longer. So we made an appointment with a new pediatrician.
I typed up a list of all my concerns. I documented your diet for 2 weeks in anticipation of the appointment. I typed up your milestones and brought a copy with me. I was prepared to fight for you. Prepared to make someone listen. Dr. H came in and looked at you and immediately asked me about each concern on my list, before I even pulled it out of the diaper bag.
"How is her development? I don't usually come into an exam room with a 17 month old and see her happily playing on her back with a rattle. Did your pediatrician have her evaluated?"
"Her weight seems low. According to the chart she is below the 5 percentile for her age group. How much does she eat? Was the pediatrician treating this? She is still on baby food?"
I did have to mention the constipation, but it isn't obvious at first glance. She put you on PediaSure and Miralax, and set up a follow up appointment to determine a course of action regarding the delays and further research the previous episode, she didn't want it ignored.
You had lost 1 set of words at that point. You could not eat anything except stage 2 baby foods. You weren't crawling with your belly off the floor. You rarely sat upright. You didn't play with toys. You could not communicate with us. You didn't seem to understand what we were saying to you. You were so small.
I was looking through pictures today, and I found one from the day of that first appointment. We were filling your prescription at the grocery store and I gave you a chocolate chip cookie. You couldn't eat it of course, but you smeared it all over yourself and I let you play with it a bit in your highchair when we got home. I snapped a picture because you looked like such a big girl, covered in cookie. You looked almost like a child your own age.
Until I looked back at this picture, I didn't realize how skinny you were. I couldn't remember how tiny you were. Looking at this photograph today, I saw exactly how far you had come in these 4 months.
Although you lost 3 different sets of words before they became sticky, you now know over 45 words in sign language, and can name at least 20 objects. You know most of the alphabet. You are beginning to connect words with their initial letter sound. (Bob! B!)You can eat chicken nuggets, cookies, crackers, toast, waffles, french fries, and stage 3 baby foods. You are not only crawling with your belly off the floor, you are cruising and taking steps between people. You can stand on your own for up to 15 seconds. You love to play toys; especially instruments, art supplies, and puzzles. You communicate beautifully. All of your needs and most of your wants are conveyed with a mixture of sign language and spoken sounds or words. We ask you things and you answer with a resounding "Yeah!" or vigorously shake your head "No." and open and close your little finger and thumb to reinforce the sentiment, sometimes you use both hands to sign "No." to us. You have grown so much. You were barely in 12 months clothes 4 months ago at that appointment. Yesterday and today I had to make emergency shopping trips to buy you new clothes....in 24 months and 2T. You have grown into and out of 2 sizes in 4 months. You look healthy. You are beautiful. You have graduated from the PediaSure club at a healthy 24 pounds. You were barely 19 pounds at that intial appointment. You have grown from 31 inches to 34 inches tall.
You are beautiful and bright and healthy. I have just been through the most difficult months of my life, and although they are not over, looking back at where we started and comparing it to where we are today, I can't contain the joy. You are nothing short of a miracle. Some people search their entire lives to see a miracle of God, and we have one sleeping in the next room. My sweet, KayTar, we could not be more thankful to have you.
All my love,