Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Open Your Ear and Say AH

Alia had her first encounter with the American healthcare system today. We went to the FACES clinic at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis. I have to admit that I have been worried about the visit. Alia seems perfectly healthy and ontrack developmentally. I didn't want anyone raining on our parade. Yet, there have been some things that we were concerned about.

Alia grabs her ear a lot. I have heard this can be from teething, which she is certainly good at (#5 is coming in as of today). She also pulls her hair HARD when she gets stressed. If I pulled my hair that hard I would cry. Sometimes she smiles. She also repetitively "head-butts" the mattress (and my chest) before she goes to sleep sometimes. We also weren't sure where she was developmentally. Luca hasn't been 9 months for quite some time and I don't remember a lot. I also don't think I should use him a barometer - I guess his development can be best described as asynchronous. He had great verbal & social skills, some of his motor skills lagged behind. He was also huge in size - often hitting 100th percentile for weight and 80th-90th for height. He is still big. I think he could use that head of his as a weapon.

Anyway, the good news is that Alia is tracking at about 12 months for her development. The only thing lagging behind is her verbal skills which are at 7 months. She is growing nicely - she is in roughly the 50% range (using American growth charts). She is almost 20 pounds. She was 18 when they were in Almaty and now she is about 19 1/2.

The bad news is she has an ear infection - both ears are red and fluid-filled. So, that explains the ear grabbing. It also may explain the verbal lag. She may not be able to hear so well. So, amoxicillin, here we come. I have zero experience with ear infections. Luca has never had one. I am not sure how we dodged that childhood bullet with him, but we did. I am amazed at how content she has been despite the raging ear infection. Maybe it is just her normal, but I have heard that ear infections can cause a lot of pain. You just wouldn't know it.

The hair pulling and head-butting are institutional behavior. The doctor suggested replacing the aggressive behavior with a gentle one. That never occurred to me, but makes perfect sense. So, no more hair pulling. Hair stroking - not pulling.

I won't mention the blood draw which still makes me dizzy to think about.

Oh Christmas Tree

I have to admit that I woke up on Sunday morning wondering how we would cut down a Christmas tree, get it home and decorate it within a day. Things seem to take a bit longer to do with 2. But, ye have little faith! We actually went to the Christmas tree farm where we discovered only 5' foot tall Christmas trees after squeezing on a trailer with 4 other families and being plopped in the middle of a field. We left the Christmas tree farm without a tree. Thankfully our high school band had a fundraiser and the perfect tree was right there. It took all of 5 minutes to pay for it and strap it to the top of the car. So, we went TWO places for a tree and decorated it all on Sunday.
In addition to all the ornaments we have collected and been given over the past 20 years, we hung some ornaments from Kazakhstan on our tree. All the while little Alia yelled with glee. Us too . . . us too.


Susan said...

Alia looks great-so happy-and so pretty! you'd never know she has a raging ear infection! Just think how happy she'll be when that is healed!
wow-Sean didn't have as many ear infections as some, but he still had some. Lucky Luca that you never dealt with that!

I still have to take Leeza to the doc-for soem reason her insruance card toook forever to get here.
I think she is about the same size as Alia-she was 18 lbs in Almaty and I think she is probably about 20 lbs now...at least my scale says so. She has defintely filled out more, but she is now getting so much more excercise running around like a maniac, as I am sure Alia is too!

Glad you got your tree-we got ours Sunday as well-at the church near our house, where we always get it, from the boy scouts. It's the biggest one we've ever had-it looked smaller on the lot. :)

Leeza thinks it's cool I guess-but she doesn't really get it yet but thinks the lights are fun and I am sure she will think the boxes are fun. Boxes are arriving from UPS for big brother and sister and she loves to play in them and take things in and out.

I am sure Alia will catch up on her verbal skills in no time flat-once that ear infection is healed. Leeza was a silent boogar in Kaz-um, now she is chatter box all the time!

Great update, pretty tree, pretty kiddo's....and hope that antiobiotic works it's magic very quickly!

I love seeing her udpates-they change so fast! Luca is so handsome!

ps. Sean was a tiny kiddo (preemie) and was behind until about kindergarden-now, he is HUGE and i think, fairly smart (sometimes)


Jennifer M said...

What total cuties, oh my gosh! I love Alia's little mouth in the photo. I can just picture her "chatting" away.

I'm so glad Alia is absolutely perfect though we already knew that. So sorry to hear about the ear infections though! Ugh! We went through 4 of them right after another with Gigi all using increasing meds for each one. Also delayed the speech thing. Finally she was old enough to get off the formula and after a month of whole cow milk, we switched to goat milk STRICTLY because of the ear infections and they disappeared. And no tubes. Yay.

Gigi also pulled her hair really hard when she was stressed or angry. Right behind and slightly below the ear, right? Yank, yank, yank! Oh I imagined that hurt. She grew out of that one too as like you said, it's institutionalization behavior. I haven't seen her do it in forever. In fact, I'd forgotten all about it until you just mentioned it.

Your tree looks so beautiful! I'm envious as we still don't have one. 2 places is impessive though!

Your family is just gorgeous and I image you spend at least half your time kissing cheeks!

Happy Holidays!

Karen said...

Poor little sweetie, an ear ache is very painful. Wonder how long she had it? Thank goodness, she's on her way to being healed. Coincidentally, Garrett had his first audiologist appointment and was given a clean bill of health. He has articulation issues and we thought it may be due to poor hearing. So we can scratch that off the list.

Your tree looks beautiful and your little ones are darling. Life is good.

Trudi said...

oh that poor angel with an ear infection! I hope the antibiotics kick in quickly!

For teething let me pass along a tip -- from a health food store (or even many Whole Foods markets), pick up some Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets. They will save Alia a lot of grief (and you too :)).

Don't worry much about the verbal skills at this point. It is my understanding that for orphans who have only heard another language, development is slower. That was true for our Aila -- we KNEW she understood everything for a long time but she didn't really verbalize until about 18 months. She is now 22 months and talking up a storm!

dnd82001 said...

Everyone & everything looks so beautiful!!

I must admit I have put off the tree as I just don't see how to get it done w/an active toddler running around. We decided to skip the real big tree we ususally do and did get a little 4 1/2 foot to put on a table - to help Nicholas avoid the temptation!!!

I'm hoping Alia gets rid of the nasty ear infection soon!! Nothing worse then knowing we can't fix all things like we want to!! Nicholas is suffering with a very bad diaper rash/yeast infection and it is tough to not be able to fix it - although I thnk we have the right stuff now and it seems to be getting better - the hard part is he doesn't understand not to scratch and scratch he does so his little penis is red, red, red!!!!

I'm glad things are good with your family and wishing you a joyous holiday!


Susan said...

I recall our visit at FACES too. It was not a pleasant experience with all the shots and the ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF blood they drew(and this x two babies). I'll just say this: the babies were not the only ones crying...

Evie did the headbutting-before-sleep thing too. It has transformed over time (into something that we've made interactive), but she still does funny little things before going to sleep. It cracks us up.

Looks like you are all settling in together nicely. Congratulations!

Chris and Tricia said...

Sorry to hear about Alia's ear infection. Keep a watch on her if this is the first time she is taking amoxicillin. Rustam had a reaction at the end of his course (a total body rash which looked like measles and was itchy). Now we will have to avoid that in the future. He also pulls on his ears ALOT and the doctor always says his ears look good. It makes me wonder. Rustam would also pull his hair and smack his head. I always found those behaviorss very curious. She and Luca look so cute together. The tree looks great. I am still trying to decide what to do because I know little hands will be all over that thing constantly. Merry Christmas season!

Kim said...

Ohh listen, any ear infection questions direct to me! I have had ear infections all through my life, childhood into adulthood. I have had 5 (FIVE) tube surgeries. The last one was 5 years ago. Awesome! Amoxicillian makes me gag! It usually works in 24 hours and all is good. I am sure Alia will be fine.

I love the Christmas tree photos.

Glad to hear Alia is doing well!

April said...

I'll come back and comment on the "non-mom" post later-I haven't got a lot of time to read it right now.

I wanted to respond on the ear-infection/speech comments. I have expereince with both. Joey had a lot ear infections throughout the first 2 1/2 years of life. The first one started when he was 3 weeks old and the last one was during Christmas week, 2006-2007. Although his verbal skills were excellent, whenever he had infections, his speech would certainly become more garbled and difficult to understand. Sometimes we didn't know he had them (a visit to the doctor for a regular checkup would pick up on them) and sometimes we knew because he didn't sleep well, cried a lot, pulled his ears, etc. It depended on the severity of them and whether or not they were in one or both ears.

Laura never had an infection but, she had chronic fluid which caused a hearing loss and a signficant delay in speech. We tried clearing them with antibiotics but it didn't work. Eventually, we put in tubes and her hearing is perfect now but her speech is still delayed. At 18M, she has a very small vocabulary, but we can see it emerging, so my pedi isn't worried, yet.

Anyway-all this is to say that the speech delay could very well be from fluid/infections, and that once the infection is cleared up, if you don't notice an improvement, consider seeking an ENT eval to see if she has fluid-I always assumed if a child had fluid it meant infections but a child can have chronic fluid w/o infections and if that's the case, it will affect hearing and speech.

Good luck!

McMary said...

Sorry to hear about Alia's infection--I'm glad they are putting her on an antibiotic--some doctors now just want you to "ride out" ear infections and I think that is so unfair to the little ones.
It is so fun to see you all as a family with Alia now. What a great Christmas you all will have.