Let me just blow the dust off of this website. Ffffffff. There we go. :) My computer is good and dead right now leaving me typing on a borrowed laptop with no clue how to upload my pictures or videos directly on the page. I guess I’ll resort to links. I also haven’t been on this site for a while and I came back to almost one thousand pieces of spam attaching themselves to comments and Laelie’s guestbook. Time to roll up my sleeves and clean this out.

Hello from the land of Gagas! “Ga ga” being the only thing my daughter says all the time. :) The joke is that every time she says “Ga ga!!!” Charley and I look at each other and say, “She says she wants you.” :) She has been able to accidentally stumble upon a “b” or “d” sound to the instant attention of everyone around her which, in turn, excites her into more loud and energetic “ga ga”s. :) She did have a “t” sound once. She was watching me intently while I played a video game, Legend of Zelda (got to keep the kid cultured :)). I got a treasure chest in the game and as my character held it over his head I said, “Ta Da!” in my excitement and I got a small, tentative “ta da” in response from the peanut gallery. :) But the best one of all happened when Charley was in Portland. My husband has been on a business trip all week leaving me to single parent the days away. I sent him this video of his little girl saying her first word. He had tears in his voice when he called that night. When he finally got home yesterday night around 11:00pm, he watched her sleep for quite a while before going to bed.

I am just so thankful that my little one is starting to make noise! Many kids with her condition have lots of speech therapy because the muscles, nerves and tendons are affected in lots of ways we can’t see. Amyoplasia is a very insidious condition that way. But now I think that even if we do have some speech therapy, it won’t be as bad as we thought. In fact it looks like she will be able to speak with some degree of quality. Praise God! A lot of people could have guessed that she would have those skills based on the tongue acrobatics she can do. But it’s still good to hear those first sounds!

Another breakthrough has been with Laelie’s movement. She can now figure out the connection between flinging her body, shrugging her shoulders and arching her back to achieve some arm lift. She is missing biceps so she cannot lift her arm directly, but I have watched her fling her arm against the couch and then swing her body again to get it a little higher until it’s high enough to look at. Which is amazing! We had her use her new skills to get a small toy we placed up on her bird bath toy. We were bribing her with cookies and attention and told her if she got the toy we would take her to Disneyland. I don’t know how much she understood us, but she wanted that toy pretty bad. And she got it, but as is usually the case, she got it her own way. Here’s the link to the video of her achievement. (The best part is when she realizes it’s too hard to get it the “right” way.) Now we have to take her to Disneyland. A deal’s a deal. Thems the breaks. That’s the way the mop flops, the cookie crumbles and the world turns. And all that. :)

So much has been going on lately. We’ve had a lot of trials and a lot of things breaking. :) Our computer kicked the bucket again as you know. Charley and a friend built it from parts his last year of college so I don’t think it’s entirely internally all there. I can’t even turn it on. But the more interesting break this week was that of our decrepit bed… while we were in it… around midnight. Yeah. I’m starting to realize why we got it so cheap at that garage sale. So now we’ve been sleeping on the floor because it’s been too crazy the last few weeks to muster up the energy to get another one up here. But one bright spot in my breakage list comes from the kitchen. My $10, older-than-my-marriage set of pots and pans finally got thrown out after we realized that neither one of us was adding pepper to our food. It was instead bits of our pots’ and pans’ Teflon interior flaking off into the food while it was cooking. My aunt Charlotte and cousin Charilyn surprised us with a set of pots and pans when they came down to visit!

Speaking of surprises, last week we got an anonymous gift that will cover much of my flight to Shriner’s for a visit with Dr. James, a second opinion for Laelie’s feet, (whenever we can arrange that) and will also help with a $300 out of pocket expense for Laelie’s orthotics! (Long story.) I was so thrilled that I was stuttering! The week before we had another gift that will cover the other half of the flight expense. Thanks K and D! It seems that lately all of our needs have been met. Praise God!

We also had Laelie’s evil EMG test. The link I just threw in describes what an EMG test involves, although I’d like to change the description of “small needle” to “gigantic needle,” as far as it I can discern from Charley’s relaying of the experience and the giant needle marks on my baby. She got stuck four times: two in her calf, one in her thigh and one in her arm. I’m glad I didn’t go. It was a depressing visit. The tests were largely inconclusive, but the guess is that she has some sort of major nerve damage. What it did show was extremely poor muscle tone. Dr. Schwartz told me about it when I visited him because he had just received the report. We knew the muscle was bad, but we forget how special she is especially since she finds ways to wiggle around. They now suggest a muscle biopsy for our next step. The procedures just get more evil.

This was a dark time for our family. What we had suspected was now proved on a test. The muscles in her arms and legs are in extremely poor shape. I start to wonder once again how her life will be. I wasn’t okay for a while, but I’m better now.

As far as daycare, we have been denied by over 30 daycare centers and homes this last week. The week before I was denied by around 20 centers before I switched to calling homes. (I have three referral groups helping me now.) That was hard on me emotionally, but more so this week with Charley gone. We do have one lead in El Cajon, about an hour in rush hour traffic out of our way (round trip). I think our gas budget is a bit too shaky for this, but at least it’s something. We may also have another home daycare willing to give us a chance, and even though I’m not thrilled with this one, it may be a temporary solution since I should really get someone by the end of August. This will be a hard decision.

Two weeks ago before I realized that no daycare center will even consider taking Laelie, I explained her disability to one daycare who offered us a tour anyway. When I showed up they seemed excited to have us until they asked if she could feed herself yet. I reminded them of her disability and she was denied on the spot. I guess the person offering us the tour was not the same person who does admissions so there was a miscommunication. The lady started to say it was impossible to offer any services for my little girl, but after one look at my face (which was later described to me by my sister-in-law as “about to break down”) she changed gears and started to make some phone calls. I just now (two weeks later) finished following all the leads she gave me. Yes, they were dead ends (although I haven’t hired a professional advocate like she suggested), but it was so good for me to have other options to pursue. I was just so grateful because that could have been a terrible experience for me, but I left encouraged.

Instead what has been a terrible experience for me has been the drama of Laelie’s orthopedic shoes. Orthotics are expensive and precise. The shoes she has now hurt her. No matter what kind of mole skin or thick sock or lotion or powder or whatever we try she still has bruises and rashes from hard straps over her skin. If we don’t wear the shoes, the surgery will be worse on her. It’s a lose-lose situation. So on a referral from another mom that Early Start called for us, we got the name of a man who, using orthotics himself, makes children’s orthotics and gives special care and attention to his clients because of his experiences as a kid. We met with him and he explained why the shoes we have now hurt her and why our KFOs don’t work and he offered a game plan to correct this and different shoes that would be gentle yet firm. I was thrilled. I gave his staff all of Laelie’s insurance information and they said if there were any problems they would call me back within the hour. I then called our insurance to let them know a prescription was coming in the next weeks. I then set up an appointment with our orthopedic doctor to get the prescription and get it sent to this guy. Then I was told after waiting a few days that the doctor’s office won’t send out the prescriptions (or do anything because they’re all lazy) until the doctor finished all the notes from our appointment that could take two weeks. So I went to Laelie’s pediatrician and I got him to fill out a prescription for Laelie’s shoes (Dr. Schwartz is the best!) so we didn’t have to wait for these shoes to destroy my baby’s feet. Then I called our insurance back to see that they got the fax and they labeled the whole thing urgent since what she had now is damaging her feet.

Then I get a few phone calls and it turns out that this orthotics company is not covered under our HMO even though they took all of her insurance information and told me they would call before my appointment if they didn’t accept my insurance. But they didn’t. And insurance won’t cover it. And it will be a $300 deductible (which I don’t really know what that means). And Laelie is STILL in her hurty shoes and I’m so angry!

*pant pant*

So please send up a prayer or two that this works out. She needs to be in her shoes (AFOs with a Dennis Brown bar) for many more years to come so this is a really big deal. And I needed these new shoes for her last month!

I mentioned that we went to Laelie’s pediatrician but what I failed to mention was that it as a really good visit. We found out that our baby was in the 10th percentile of length and the 80th percentile of weight–not a great combination, but the arthrogryposis doesn’t exactly let us stretch her out all the way and the amoyplasia doesn’t exactly let her work off the weight. But besides finding out all the stuff that our baby “should” be doing at this age but isn’t, it was a good visit because she only had to get one shot and one blood test. Plus I love Dr. Schwartz and his staff!

Despite all our troubles, we have gotten a respite from our troubles in the form of, um, Respite. :) We qualify for respite care through the Regional Center provided by the YMCA. We have so many hours a month that we can use to go grocery shopping or go on a date BUT WE CAN UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES USE RESPITE WHILE I AM AT WORK. Thus my daycare dilemma. We had to use quite a few of those hours interviewing different respite workers because we had a little trouble finding someone who would do Laelie’s stretches, but we finally found one. It’s been so nice. Plus the baby gets a lot more attention this way. Last Saturday I came home from Ryan and Lauren’s wedding (GREAT WEDDING!) to my little girl with a big smile on her face. Her respite worker said that she taught her how to say, “Mama” while I was out. I was skeptical so I said, “Laelie say, ‘Mama’ for Mama.” And that little pudgy face said it! It happened only once and I haven’t for the life of me figured out how to get her to say it again. Right now the only “m” sounds she makes is when she’s screaming her head off. Yeah wonderful. :-/

I know this is turning into the biggest, longest blog ever but I don’t know when I’ll be able to use a computer again so I’ll just keep going. Maybe you all should pace yourselves. :)

I don’t know what I would have done without Linda living with us this summer. She’s only staying until she moves to Bakersfield, but I have really enjoyed her stay. She is such a big help with Laelie. I don’t know what I would have done without her. And she came during a particularly rough time. God bless her.

Laelie has a new washcloth for bath times in the shape of a lion. It’s called a washcloth puppet. It plays with her and sings to her and tickles her with it’s “paws” (my thumb and little finger) while washing her. She giggles her head off during bath time! It’s the best ever! I wish I could put a picture up, but alas. Why was I using those boring washcloths before? Why oh why? :)

Work has been rough on me lately. I think these last few weeks with daycares and doctors and insurance and getting denied by iHSS again etc. etc. have been compounded by the stressful increase of work at my job. Right now we are going through a summer rush. I am a customer service rep for DawnSignPress, and a large part of my job is order entry for textbooks. Every college and high school who teaches ASL is ordering now for Fall semester. We have the best curriculum that has been #1 for years with no real close competition and it’s being updated this summer so it’s just been crazy. I’ve been getting out of work late almost everyday for the last couple of weeks. And when I do come home I’m stressed out. There was one week where I think I saw my babysitter only once before she left for the day because I got out of work so late. Good thing Linda is staying with us or I don’t know what I would do. My problem is that I’ve been trying to do too much work, but I only stay part time. I have had to realize my limitations and the fact that I just can’t put in the work to help out the rest of the staff that I would have liked. That’s hard on me, and hard on my friends at work. But I have this rule against melt downs. :)

It looks like I’ll be leaving for a business trip of my own in October after Laelie’s first birthday. I’ll be in Washington DC from Oct 15-19 at Gallaudet University. This will be my first time to Washington as well as the famous school for the Deaf. I’m excited, but Charley is already apprehensive about his turn as the single parent. His trepidations have me tempted to get him a babysitter… or at least have someone checking to see if he’s eating. :)

Okay have to go now. Linda is so great. The end. :)

2 Responses to “Hello!”

  1. Bethany Bassett says:

    That “dada” video may have been the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. I can see how that little girl absolutely melts your heart! I hope so much that you are able to get babysitting and/or daycare worked out soon. And Alexis, make sure you stick to your rule against melt downs, okay? ((Hugs from Italy))

  2. Shari says:

    Laelia is the cutest! The Dada video brought back many memories for me when my boys first said it. However, I know it’s such a milestone for your precious one! The way she went for the toy was cute, too! You are wonderful parents! I glean so much from you! Thank you for allowing me to view your website and learn from all you write! Take care! :o)

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