My Child is Average

This week Chick had his annual Early Intervention screening. It is a two-hour long screening, a combination of questions and hands-on exercises that determines whether or not Chick still qualifies for the program.

It was conducted by a speech therapist and Chick’s EI coordinator who has been working with him every week for the last year. His comfort level with her is very high- he smiles when he sees her and gives her giant, spontaneous hugs. It’s darling

Both Mr. O and I were there at the assessment, answering a ton of questions like “Can he feed himself?,” “Does he acknowledge you when you walk into a room?” You know… basic stuff. Since his coordinator sees him so regularly, she was actually able to answer a lot of the questions. It made me realize just how much she has seen him develop over the past year.

I won’t lie, there were some times when I felt nervous when we determined Chick wasn’t doing something yet. Like feeding himself with a spoon- he is trying but really it is mostly using a utensil to mush food around. What does it all meeeeaaaan?! (Thankfully, I couldn’t not really google during the screening, or I’m sure I would have found tons of examples of how this lack of regular spoon-feeding resorts in children who are miserable and hate their mothers.)

It turns out that it all means that Chick is now officially average. With the exception of language skills where he needs work, he even scores above average in several categories. This is a big deal. Let us remember when I brought Chick home, he was basically a fetus. He should have been cooking for another 6 weeks, and I was warned how that may impact his development. I’ve long toggled between his chronological age v. his gestational age when I chart his growth. Now, it’s like that whole being born early never happened. And now that my child is average, he no longer qualifies for EI services.

I am relieved? Kinda? Yeah, I think that’s the word for it. Maybe. I’m also a little bit sad. Okay, yes. I am sad my child no longer qualifies for early intervention. Ick. That makes me sound terrible. I don’t mean that I want him to be delayed. It was just so nice to have someone who was singularly focused on my child’s development, in a way that most daycares can’t really provide.

Don’t get me wrong- Daycare is really good for Chick. They seem to have intuited that he likes a lot of “hands off” playtime. He prefers less guidance so he can explore stuff on his own. In fact, even after all the dramz with EI, our coordinator noted that this is a good environment for him. I chalk his steady development up to their care, as well as our own and Early Intervention.

In a way, having these weekly EI visits meant that I got the benefits of a fancy schmancy daycare without having to pay for it. Chick got one-on-one assessments. As his parents,  we got weekly development reports and plans. I would be paying $30K a year for that some place else.

And then there is the other thing. I actually really like Chick’s coordinator. I would hang out with her, if that would not be unprofessional. She is compassionate, funny, and committed to her work. (Hell, you’d have to be to work in early intervention.) I love all these things about her.

When the assessment was over and we tallied Chick’s score, it was a happy/sad moment. I don’t think any of us are quite ready to say good bye. Which is why we’ve scheduled one more visit for next week to transition. I suspect it is more for me and her than for Chick.


Update on Daycare-gate

I owe you all an update on Daycare-gate. It’s okay now (or will be soon.) I just haven’t had a chance to fill you in. So why don’t I stop blathering on and just get to it.

After being told that maybe “This is not the daycare you’re looking for.” the Early Intervention office called the state governing board. Lo and behold, they have mandatory reporting laws that mean they are supposed to alert the state when daycares aren’t allowing them access. So in a way the whole “Do I report them/Do I not report them?” conundrum was out of my hands.

This turned out to be a pretty beneficial thing because it sounds like the governing board came in and helped them figure out how Chick could still have his EI appointments on site while also accommodating the larger needs of the daycare. (It also led to a truly awkward conversation with the director who asked me point blank if I called– thankfully I had no idea that this was happening, so I looked sufficiently surprised.)

I still have to write up an email to the director to finalize our new plan, but Chick should resume his in-care EI visits in two weeks.

In the meantime, I had been researching other daycare options, and was quickly reminded of why I was with this daycare in the first place. Though I found three other plausible options, they were a) out of my way, b) out of my budget, c) not working-parent-schedule friendly, or d) all of the above.

[Insert rant about how our country doesn’t prioritize quality early education care here.]

So for now, Chick is staying put.

I feel… okay about this decision? The truth is that this daycare is the best option for us, but honestly not the *best*. This whole thing drove it home for me. There are other daycares that wonderlands of early education. A friend of mine is in this amazing co-op which I coveted… until I realized it is twice as spendy as mine (which is already more expensive than my rent in an already expensive city.) It also requires she volunteer for two hours a week, a full day a month, and come in on one Saturday a month to clean.

This 9-5 bread-winning mama can’t do that, thank you very much.

I know, I know… in the scheme of things, Chick is perfectly fine where he is. He is doing great, actually. He continues to amaze me with how he hits his milestones regardless of his premie status. It seems to me that this is the first in many angst-ridden decisions I make as a parent, giving Chick the best that I can while knowing full well it isn’t always going to be the best that there is.

I’m a Fighter! (Or Am I?)

Why, Universe?! Why must you keep punching me in the face?!

So daycare is quickly imploding. That’s happening.

About a week ago, I got a text saying that daycare would no longer be allowing our Early Intervention coordinator to visit Chick on site. Less than 24 hours before her scheduled weekly visit.

The reasons given were weird– a combination for “too many kids in the classroom” and “another kid is having anxiety issues.” Regardless, the results were the same. No Early Intervention. No way, no how.

On short notice, Chick and I were able to meet with the EI coordinator at my home, but I ended up being two hours late for work. Daycare was all “This was a great solution, let’s just keep doing this!”  I was all “My being two hours late for work isn’t a solution at all. Let’s find a way for him to meet on site!”

Still no dice.

The emails back and forth have been so frustrating. With each and every one, my daycare seems to be showing that they don’t understand the regulations that are laid out by the state. It’s a little unnerving. Not only is it illegal (yes! ILLEGAL!) to deny services to children with developmental delays, it’s downright shitty that they are prioritizing the needs of other children to the detriment mine. This part is a little bit selfish, but as Chick’s parent it is my job to be selfish.

Through these emails, they have also divulged information about other children and families that I’m not supposed to know about. I’m not a childcare professional, but damn it, I even know this.

Last night I got an email which basically says it would be totally okay for us to find care elsewhere. A nice way of saying “Take you and your needs out of my classroom.”

Today I met with the EI coordinator and her office’s child care advocate (basically the liaison to daycares.) They were helpful and supportive, reiterating that I’m in the right here.

The trouble is… I don’t know if right really matters.

I’m caught between doing what’s right and doing what’s right for Chick.

What’s “right” might be educate them on how children with developmental needs should be cared for and what is covered under the law. Perhaps even point out that they are in violation of the licensing board and force them to see Chick on site.

What’s “right for Chick” might be to remove him from this place entirely. Start over somewhere else that understands the value of Early Intervention. (That also has availability, extended hours, and is in my price range. Ahem…)

There is a part of me that just wants to take my toys and go home. This is bullshit and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Another part of me wants to stand on principle and fight. Because this can’t be the only EI kid they will ever care for. Maybe next time, they’ll understand the level of care and flexibility that they are required to provide. (BY LAW. Did I mention that?)

Not to mention I really don’t want to find another daycare. This one was working so well, until… well, it didn’t work out at all.

A little Early Intervention PSA: These are programs supported by states that help children who are identified as having developmental challenges. Since Chick was so early, he qualified for the program fairly quickly as is the case with a lot of premature babies. Fortunately, he is meeting all his developmental goals despite his premie-ness. For this I am grateful. Still, most programs don’t recommend ending services until the child is walking and talking.

If you suspect your kid may have developmental delays, I would totally encourage seeking an evaluation. It breaks my heart when people don’t want to get their children evaluated because they think this means that their child isn’t “normal” or that they are “stupid.” Yes, your child may need different kinds of support, but this makes them no less perfect.



Long time, no see

Sweet bejezus… It has been a while since my last update. Like many bloggers with babies, I find myself composing posts in my head all the time– but have little spare time to actually write them down. This will be a mixed bag. But that about sums up where I’m at these days.

A few weeks ago, we went in for Chick’s check post dairy elimination. Though he had a bloody diaper or two, it was so very much better.

Rather than the nitwit NP we saw last time, we met with Chick’s pediatrician. I like her tons. (Aside: I’m slightly embarrassed to say that we picked her because she went to my alma mater. At a certain point, choices become a bit arbitrary I suppose. And this seemed like as good a criteria as any.)

Any way, she weighed Chick and he came in at 8.7 pounds. That means he gained about 1.5 oz a day since his last check up. This is good for a term baby, let alone a premie.

With this news, the doctor allowed us to go off the fortifier. So now we’re breastfeeding at every feeding. I only pump two times a day, I suppose to make sure these boobies of mine get emptied. This is a VAST improvement over where we were before. Though I realize Chick will never be exclusively breastfed, I’ve made my peace with that. He gets the nutrition he needs, I get a smidge of my sanity back, and we both get to spend that quality time together. Everybody wins.

Things were going along swimmingly until about two weeks ago when Chick had another bloody diaper. Then another. Then another one that looks vague mucousy. Everyone tells you to be on the look out for “currant jelly stool” and I was convinced I’d found it. This was, obviously, on a Sunday. Obviously. So we schlep Chick into the doctor’s office AGAIN.

To make a long story short, Chick is apparently also allergic to soy. Wouldn’t you know it? I had three things the day before that had soy hidden in them, and something that had sneaky cow milk product in it as well. Now I have to make ev-er-y thing I eat from scratch. It’s a pain in the ass– The doctor we saw said that she admired me– according to her, most moms she knows quit breastfeeding if their kid gets the diary/soy elimination diet prescribed. Fundamentally, I believe that people do what is best for them and their family, so I’m not in a position to judge. I will say that this elimination thing isn’t terrible as much as it is annoying that I have to prepare all my food. There are no hunger quick fixes for me, but this hardly seems like a good enough reason. For me, anyway.

Let’s seeee… what else has happened… My early intervention resource coordinator has been assigned, and I really like her. She also loves Chick, but I can imagine he is easy to love compared to some of the tougher cases she must get. She comes by every week, and does some stealthy tests to see how he is progressing. It’s kind of wild to see Chick through her eyes. I see his development little by little, so the changes he is going through don’t seem too dramatic to me. Since she sees him once a week, she can really note where he is developing. This week, for example, he is just starting to learn that he can suck on his hand to soothe himself. He is learning, and I get a front row seat.

I’ve also officially decided to use all my vacation and sick time in order to stay home with Chick longer. To be honest, this is largely triggered by financial concerns. I had lined up daycare based on his August due date, so I have about a month long gap to fill.

Also… how to put this… Chick is just starting to get interesting. Let’s be honest, newborns are pretty freaking boring. They sleep, crying, eat, pee and poop. Because I basically brought home a Negative 3 week old, Chick has had a longer dormant phase, or what I call the “Meatloaf” phase. He is just starting to smile, show interest in anything other than food, and snuggle. I’d like a little more time with that baby if I could.

Today, Chick went in for his 2 month check up and had his shots. As you can imagine, this wasn’t his favorite. He cried until his tiny little face turned red. Mr. O was there and did the physical restraining. Though I don’t think of myself as a softie by any stretch, I don’t think I could have held his arms down while he cried like that. Very thankful that Mr. O was on the scene. So far he has been a little fussy and not eating as much, but nothing terribly alarming.

Since we’ve gone off the fortified formula regime, Chick has gained some weight, but not as much as he did before. (Not sure how this would have been a surprise really…) Anyway, we’re continuing with our plan of breastfeeding followed by bottle, only to encourage him to take a little more each day. We have a weight check at 3 months, then we’ll re-evaluate.

Okay then. It’s sleep time for me. Thanks for hanging in there with this laundry list of a post. You are real troopers…