It’s been just over a month since we started Ivy’s physical therapy to help build up her low muscle tone in her legs and get her standing and walking. It has not been an easy road for sure, but we are making progress. She puts up less fuss when we do her exercises and is even starting to enjoy one of them. The therapist is very happy with her progress, and while we still have a long way to go towards her walking, I can tell she is getting stronger every day.
We have been doing the therapy once a week, and on a regular basis my mom and I do Ivy’s exercises with her. At first, she used to scream and cry when we did the weight bearing exercises with her but now, she only yells a little in the beginning and once we distract her (usually by singing the ABC’s) she will stand with my help for a few minutes. The one that she really enjoys involves me sitting her on my leg, while another person holds out their arms for her to pull herself up. She gets really proud of herself when she stands, and while her muscle tone is not strong enough to hold her up there, she is trying bless her. She has even started to reach up to things and try and pull herself up. The other day at therapy she even stood on her own for a few seconds. This is all good progress obviously. Every week the therapist says he sees an improvement and tells me I am doing all the right things to help her.
The key too getting her stronger lies not only in the daily exercises but also in incorporating them into things we do every day. When we are at the playground I lean her against the climbing structures and help her stand. We go up and down steps (and slides of course b/c they are fun!) and practice weight bearing while she holds onto various bars of the jungle gym.
While I know we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I am very proud of my little girl, and myself for all the hard work we’ve done. I also think that all of these exercises have made her want to try and walk, which was obviously lacking before. Ivy is a very strong headed little girl and I think all the therapy in the world wouldn’t do the trick, she had to get interested in walking. So we will keep up the hard work until she is ready to stand. And, at the end of the day, while carrying her around everywhere and relying on the stroller all the time are a major pain in the ass, there are so many worse things I could be having to deal with. I am grateful for her health and well being and don’t really see this developmental delay as an issue.
It’s no secret anymore that for the past 5 weeks I have been living with my parents in Jersey. While it’s not the time or the place to get into why I am living here with Ivy, I felt the need to blog about something other than Ivy’s Physical therapy which let’s face it is getting bor-ring. (Though she continues to make improvements so yay!)
So I just wanted to share a few observations I have made about suburban life over these past few weeks. Now, mind you I grew up in the suburbs but moved out at 19, so there’s a lot in my adult life to get used to in regard to living here.
The first is the driving. Oh holy hell, the driving. I used to have driver guilt in Brooklyn. Like when I’d take the car to the grocery store or to go pick up Ivy I always felt like a fool for wasting gas. But here I drive freaking everywhere. It’s so annoying. Like, the grocery store that is close by. It might be a reasonable walk except that there is a highway and no adequate sidewalks to get me there. It kills me because it’s literally like a 3 minute drive and I am there all the time. I should interject here to say that in Brooklyn I totally drove to the middle of nowhere on the waterfront fancy grocery store to do a big weekly shop, but – BUT! if I needed milk I could always go around the corner or walk 3 blocks to get some. Now it requires a drive. There are several places I can walk to, like the post office or the drugstore but really how often am I going to the post office?!?
The other driving thing that kills me here is the school children and their bus stop. There is a bus stop to the local elementary school at the top of the road here. I would like to point out here that this school is closer to my house than the grocery store and when I was young I used to walk there. Ahem. But the lazy kids getting the bus to school is not really the point here. The thing that annoys the living crap outta me is this: parents that live like 1 block away from the bus stop drive their freaking children one block to the bus stop then drive back home after dropping them off. I see that some of the kids are young, and sometimes it’s raining but for fucks sake people, really?!?! Walk your damn kid one block to the bus.
Luckily there are several parks and a nice walking trail close by that I can my walking fix in. My friend actually keeps making fun of me because he says I walk to fast and look suspicious like I just stole the kid in the stroller I’m pushing way too fast. I’m working on my suburban stride but damn it’s hard. As a person who used to pretty much walk to get everywhere I am used to walking with a purpose not just strolling along enjoying the day. I really need to do more of that.
So today was Ivy’s second session of Physical therapy. Last week, the therapist came and showed us several exercises to do with her that would help her build her muscle tone and help her get used to bearing weight on her little legs and feet. Ivy screamed, and cried, and yelled, and cried some more, but ultimately he was able to show me a few different exercises to do with her.
All week my mother and I have been faithfully doing these exercises with her. She’s hilarious because at first she gets so excited to see the exercise ball and to sit on it, until she realizes we are actually doing one of her exercises (which by the way basically involves sitting her on the ball and jiggling her around so she can get used to moving her torso in that way and also so she starts to get more comfortable ‘being up high’). There are also several other weight bearing exercises, one which involves standing her up against a wall and holding her shins so that she doesn’t lock her knees (and lead to more hyper extension), and the other which involves sitting her on your leg and a second person holding out their hands for her, so that she can try to pull herself up to standing. Once she pulls up (and she’s getting really good at it!) then you have to hold her shins to prevent the locking of the knees. Actually the other day while we were doing this exercise after she successfully pulled herself up she started laughing. I told the PT about this and he says that is a good sign.
He came today for the second week of actually doing exercises with her and said he can already see a difference in her. He says we are doing everything right and well we are still in for a lot of work, things are progressing nicely. He actually also told me that Ivy is not the screamiest toddlers he’s ever dealt with, and says that as she gets over the frustration of not being able to stand on her own, she will scream less. He said, she’s only screaming because she’s frustrated and this is her way of trying to make us stop.
But overall it has been challenging trying to tackle this while there is so much else going on in my life. So it was really nice to have the therapist tell me today that I am doing everything right (with the help of my mother mind you). So hopefully in a few months time I will be yearning for the days before Ivy started walking. And something tells me this one is going to go right from standing to running. Send help now.
After months of paperwork and meeting and faxed prescriptions from Ivy’s pediatrician, we are finally starting her physical therapy on Monday. On Wednesday the therapist came over to meet Ivy, and to get a basic sense of my concerns and her over all situation. It’s really hard because due to some bullshit I am going through in my life, I am no longer living in Brooklyn at the moment, so I have to drive up from Jersey every week for this. But we met him on Wednesday and he was really nice.
I guess since it’s his job he totally knows how to handle kids Ivy’s age, and he would start playing with her toys until she got interested in what he was doing. He is going to use an exercise ball with her in the therapy so they played with that too so she got used to it. He didn’t really try and exercises with her since this visit was just for her to get comfortable with him. He did stand her up once to see what was going on, and he says she’s has seriously underdeveloped muscle tone in her feet legs and butt, and that her knees are hyper extended, but not too bad. So the underdeveloped muscle tone is why she won’t pull up to stand. he says the knee hyper extension is caused by us standing her up and her putting pressure on her joints. He is certain all of this can be corrected with therapy, but we are in for a long road ahead. He showed me a new exercise to do with her, that will not put pressure on her knees and will help her get used to the squatting position. We have tried this a few times without much success, but I will be patient and persistent and do everything he says we need to do. He asked some questions about her other gross motor skills and language skills and based on my answers was sure that this isn’t due to some larger problem, so that put me at ease. So for now, we just keep moving forward and doing what we have to to help her.
Ivy goes to sleep most nights listening to either Bob Marley or some sort of mellow reggae mix. For a while when she slept at my mom’s house she would go to sleep listening to the Direct TV radio station called ‘Kingston’.
One of my absolute favorites to sing to her is ‘Mellow Mood’ by Bob Marley. I would suggest seeking out the old school version, from when he still had short dreads, this one is a little slow. Still, the words capture the essence of why it’s such a good night – night song.