Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is 3 1/2 the perfect age for Christmas?

I haven't posted for a while because we've been having too darn much fun! Quinn is LOVING Christmas, and seeing him enjoy it is a total joy. He loves the lights and Christmas trees most of all, and gets quite perturbed if he sees a tree without a star on top (all pine trees should have stars, he believes). He also digs Santa - the big guy came to visit his school, and Quinn was one of the first to jump right up in his lap - as well as "Frosty Snowman" and "Ru-fall" (the red-nosed guy you might know as Rudolph.

The awesome part is, he has no understanding yet that presents are part of the equation. I'm sure that will change by next year, so I'm enjoying it while I can!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Raindrops keep falling on my tongue

It doesn't rain much in Tucson, which is maybe why Quinn got so darn excited last time it happened. He ran outside, screamed with glee and opened his mouth wide.

But the pictures say it better than I can:



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Compare and contrast

I have accepted that Quinn is on his own time table, and I'm almost always okay with that. So why is it so hard not to compare him to other kids? If I hear a kid chatting in a full conversation or see one who can hardly walk, I take every opportunity to find out how old that kid is and compare him or her to Quinn.

This weekend we went to a 3-year-old's birthday party. Most of the kids are in daycare together, and most are quite verbal. Quinn did really well and definitely kept us with them. The girls talked circles around the boys, but he didn't seem that behind the boys to me. Today Quinn had his first group speech/occupational therapy session - it will be with three 3-year-olds, but today it was just Quinn and one other boy. He had a far more sophisticated vocabulary than Quinn does, but a host of other issues.

I've tended to stay away from a lot of events with other kids, because I was a bit afraid of being confronted with how far behind Quinn is. I've had a couple instances with neighbors bragging about how their 1-year-olds are doing things Quinn isn't doing yet, and it's hard not to feel bad when that happens.

But I got through both of these events this week. I can get through more. It's clear that interaction with other kids is good for him, and that he needs more of it. And I'm ready for that.

Quinn is behind in some ways. On track in others. Ahead in some. I know that's the same of all kids. But I wonder if all parents obsessively compare the way I do, and the way I've seen other parents of SN kids do.

Actually, probably so.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Crying in the night

As I write this, Quinn is crying. Not because he's mad or hurt or hungry - something I can identify, something I can fix if it needs to be fixed. He's crying in his sleep.

He did this when he first came to us, and it was heart-wrenching. His second night with us, after he realized these strangers weren't going away and it didn't seem he was going back to his home, he mourned, moaning through the night. Once we got home, he would go down easy at bedtime, and then start crying once he was asleep. Thankfully, it went away within a couple of weeks.

The shut-down kid became goofy and happy-go-lucky and a joy to be around. He wakes up happy, goes to sleep happy, and smiles through most of this day. And yet, two years after coming home, the crying has returned.

It's a horrible thing to hear your child cry and not be able to do anything about it. It's nothing short of heart-breaking to know there are hurts we cannot fix, and sadness we cannot erase.

And it's so hard to know what to do about it. The advice on night terrors is to let kids sleep, the thinking being that if you wake them in the middle of a terror you'll it into their conscience and make a bad thing so much worse. But how do you let a 3-year-old lay on his belly and cry alone? We watch the monitor and wait, in case he becomes conscious enough to call us, as he did tonight.

Now he's in our bed, sleeping peacefully next to his Baba and holding a tin airplane he picked up as I carried him from his room to ours.

There's so much I wonder. Is crying in the night the same as a night terror? Do kids tend to outgrow them? Have any of you whose older kids used to have night terrors talked to them about it? Do they remember?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Really interesting insights

This was posted a while back, but I keep thinking about it. If you haven't read it, take a moment and do. It's Adoption Talk's coverage of Amy Eldridge's talk at a summer heritage camp. Her topic is changes in adoption in China, and why today's adoptees likely had a much tougher beginning than their peers of even a few years ago.

http://chinaadoptiontalk.blogspot.com/2010/07/amy-eldridge-of-lwb-speaks.html

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A stranger in town

Recently we were in San Francisco and spent an afternoon in Chinatown. We took Quinn to a park to play, and we loved how much it felt like China. Grandparents were sitting on benches chatting as kids played. We were the only parents hovering over our kid, and it was obvious the old folks thought we were pretty ridiculous.

Eventually a father arrived with a remote-controlled helicopter. That's right up Mr. Things That Go's alley, so he bopped over with the other kids to have a look. What happened next was so interesting. Quinn looked at the helicopter, and the kids - all Chinese-speaking - looked at Quinn. It was like they knew he was like them, but different.

I happened to have my camera ready and captured the moment. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: China Ghosts by Jeff Gammage

Oh, how I loved this book. I started it Sunday, finished it today (Tuesday). The author (like me) is a journalist, so maybe that's partly why I'm drawn to it. He balances his personal adoption story with history of China and Chinese adoption and insights into Chinese culture.

Our stories are remarkably similar. His daughter Jin Yu was completely non-responsive when he and his wife first met her. His description of Jin Yu in those first days sounded so much like Quinn, who just stared at the ceiling, the lights, the fan - anything but at us. His daughter, a 2000 NSN adoption, came with an unexpected and unexplained oozing head injury, which heightened their concern. My concern was more inward, and took the form of me rising at 4 a.m. to Google signs of autism.

Jin Yu popped out of her shell upon rising one morning. Quinn came out of his during a visit to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, when he was surrounded by tourists with cameras and became an instant celebrity with his blonde mother. Jin Yu, adopted at 2, advanced by leaps and bounds, talking and walking while still in China. Quinn, adopted at 16 months, did not outgrow his delays as I naively expected he would. I went from panic to dull fear to the mostly comfortable realization that he is on his time table, not mine.

What really fascinated me about the book was author Jeff Gammage's constant feelings of guilt for taking his daughters from their homeland (he and his wife adopted a second girl two years after Jin Yu, who is the focus of the book) and his constant awareness of their missing birth mothers - his family even puts an extra candle on the girls' cakes each year to honor their birth mothers. Reading his story, I felt guilty, too - but the source of my guilt is that I DON'T feel guilty. I am forever, deeply indebted to China for bringing Quinn and me together, and I suspect his birth parents must think of him every day. But I hate to admit, I don't think of them every day. Gammage asks his daughter regularly about her birth mother; I talk to Quinn about China and about adoption, but not about his birth mother. Not yet, anyway.

The book really made me wonder - again - about what is right and what is wrong -- and if there even IS a right or wrong when it comes to adoptive parenting. I definitely will think more about Quinn's birth parents after reading "China Ghosts," and I think that's a good thing. What I do with the product of that thinking, I'm not sure yet.

I highly, highly recommend this book. I found the writing to be smooth and compelling, and the author's voice to be honest and open and not at all sanctimonious, as has been the case in some adoption memoirs I have read.

Of every book I've read so far with an adoption theme, this is the one I enjoyed the most, and the one that made me think.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin patch!



On a small lot on a very busy city street, a couple that runs an annual Christmas tree lot expanded into an October and November pumpkin patch. Brilliant idea. We took Quinn when Auntie Bonny was visiting, and you'd think we had taken the boy to Disneyland. He LOVED this place. He found a little red wagon to haul around - it may have been intended strictly as a decoration; I was scared to ask - and he filled it up with the pumpkins that caught his fancy. He also loved the little, fenced-off pond, as well as the goat and pot-bellied pig pens.

What an awesome, cheap form of entertainment this was. We spent about $10 on the pumpkins, which are now happily decorating our house. And every day since, when we drive down that busy street, Quinn says, hopefully, "Pumpkin patch?" I suspect we'll be going back soon...



With Auntie Bonny


Happy Fall, from our family to yours!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy (eventually) Halloween



Granted, poor Quinn has a sinus infection and does not feel great. He sobbed when I pulled out his Halloween outfit, one of many outfits we brought back from China.

I offered him several choices of other outfits, and he didn't like those either, so I started trolling around for alternate costume ideas. I pulled out his hospital gown and tried to sell him on the idea of being a patient, but he wasn't digging that either.

Baba said let's either pick and outfit and rush out the door or bag it. So we quickly got him dressed and out we all went. He cried for as long as it took us to walk a few yard to "the Halloween house," which is draped in lights and scary scenes that may one day terrify him but for now just enchant him. We go there every night and usually just get to look from the street. Tonight we got to go ALL THE WAY UP TO THE DOOR. And wouldn't you know, suddenly Halloween went from bust to boom. Quinn started running down the street asking to "Go door?" at each house, and quickly mastered both "Trick or treat" and "Thank you."





We only went to a few houses, but Quinn came home with a quality haul (which Mama and Baba enjoyed after he went to bed... Yes, yes, stealing candy from a baby, blah, blah, blah...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family Day No. 2!

Today marks two years since we became a family. I echo the words of a mom in our travel group: In some ways it seems like we've been together forever, in others it feels like it's been about two weeks since Beijing.

When I think about the changes in Quinn, it's really nothing short of astonishing. Two years ago, at 16 months, he could sit up with assistance but couldn't stand or walk. He had little interest in toys or games, other than stacking cups. He avoided eye contact so thoroughly that one night in China I got up at 4 a.m. and Googled for signs of autism.

A year ago, he was walking and running, but hardly talking at all. He had a few single words here and there, but that was it.

Today, just try and stop the kid. In the past few months his single words became two-word phrases, then three words, and now sentences. He is fun-loving and affectionate and has a sense of humor that never ceases to floor me.

I can't imagine a more perfect fit for our family. And I cannot believe how much I love this kid, and how that love just seems to keep growing every day.

Happy family day, Quinny! Wo Ai Ni!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off the charts

I saw some Chinese growth charts on one of my Yahoo! groups, and after recently pulling them out to send to the mom of a little girl adopted the same day as Quinn, I decided to chart my little cherub. Before he came to us he was at about the 30th percentile by Chinese standards. Now he is at the 97th percentile for height and is OFF THE CHARTS for weight.

It's amazing what love and chocolate chip cookies can do for a boy...

I'm trying to figure out how to upload the PDFs - does anyone know how to do it??

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sentences!!

Quinn is getting pretty good at two- and three-word statements without adjectives, adverbs or pronouns. And then all of a sudden today he has uttered THREE full sentences.

While driving: "Mama, yellow car on top wall." Sure enough, we were passing a car dealership with a yellow car on the roof.

While walking past the bookstore with the beloved spinning ball fountain near the front door: "Go see ball in wa (water)?

After lunch, when Baba and Mama were getting into separate cars: "Baba, get in Mama car."

Fluke or breakthrough? Time will tell. But boy am I a proud mama today!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My kid is the smartest kid


Oh my goodness, is he smart. Just 3 years old and already he can ... Oh wait ... Never mind.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Potty training and the sensory-seeking kid

I've read over and over that when a child shows interest in the potty or discomfort at having a wet or dirty diaper, it's time to potty-train. As Quinn hasn't been in daycare where he needed to be potty trained, I really haven't worried about, figuring I'd wait for his cue.

But now that I'm learning about Sensory Processing Disorder, I'm realizing that cue may never come. He is PERFECTLY happy to spend the entire day in a wet diaper if I let him. He never complains about the feel, smell, whatever - in fact, he doesn't even seem to notice.

I got a little bench potty a few months ago, and while he loves to drag it all over the house and use it to step up to things he's not supposed to reach, he dislikes sitting on it. So I got him a potty seat that goes on top of the regular toilet seat. That he likes. He drags his potty bench over to it, steps up to sit on the potty and has a lovely time opening the little cubby door next to the toilet, unrolling the toilet paper, asking me to identify the fall foilage on the potpourri envelope. After a while he puts the potpourri back, closes the cubby door and says very cheerfully, "All done potty!" Then he hops down. NOT ONCE has he done anything in the toilet - and it's the same story at school, where he's taken to the potty each morning.

I'd love to hear any ideas, or things that worked for you!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Future fashionista (fashionisto?)


Funny how I'm seeing everything through the Sensory Processing lens these days. About a month ago Quinn went from not liking the feel of anything soft to loving the feel of coats and blankets draped over him. He often pulls my coats out the closet to try on, and also likes to pull blankets off the bed and drapes off the wall, both of which make fine capes (and stangulation risks, I know!).

It's a little bit funny, a little bit odd, and very Quinn. The upside, beyond the amusing live performance: If he ends up becoming a fashion designer and/or auditioning for Project Runway, I have the perfect photos for his audition tape/book jacket/press kit. All he'll have to do is add a heartfelt, "I've loved fabrics since I was a toddler," and he's good to go!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sensory processing disorder

Well, I'm a believer. A couple weeks ago I'd never heard of this and now I'm amazed at how much it explains about Quinn's sometimes odd reactions and behaviors. How he runs around on gravel without seeming to notice how sharp it is, how well he tolerates the cold, how he can spin forever and not get dizzy - all those things are related to his sensory processing.

What I've learned is that he is a "sensory seeker," meaning he needs extra sensory input for certain internal senses to kick in. Oddly, when he gets really cranked up if we give him deep or sudden pressure - anything from a long, hard squeeze on his shoulder to literally throwing him onto a huge, cushy dog bed that has been renamed his "crash pad," he calms right down. It's pretty amazing.

The occupational therapist at his school has started working with him - apparently the first session consisted mostly of her putting on a weighted vest (the constant deep pressure helps sensory-seeking kids to concentrate in school) and him commanding, "Take off! Take off!" We're also working with his private OT (the one we see for his post-surgical shoulder therapy) on coming up with a "sensory diet" of exercises we can do for him.

I read "The Out of Sync Child" - which many of you recommended - and was blown away at how perfectly the sensory-seeking examples described Quinn. Now reading "The Out of Sync Child has Fun," which is where we got the idea for the much-loved crash pad.

Still learning, and still kicking myself that we didn't figure this out sooner. I was told that Quinn had been tested for sensory integration issues and showed no sign of it, so anytime a therapist would bring it up I'd tell them he'd already been tested. Now I know he was only tested for being over-sensitive, which he most definitely is not.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another day, another disorder

In chatting with Quinn's post-surgery physical therapist yesterday, she mentioned something called proprioception and said he may have some challenges feeling where his body fits into the space around him, as in how to climb a ladder, how hard to push with a pencil, how rough to play with the dog (a current BIG issue in our house, as our poor new dog Rosie will tell you...).

I went home and Googled it and found a textbook description of my son as a sensory-seeking kid who is under-responsive to touch and movement. A few of the characteristics are off, but if you read the list below you'll pretty much know Quinn - it's astonishingly, eerily accurate.

I'm encouraged to know there might be a cause for his behavior besides cruelty to animals - which really didn't seem right to me because he LOVES Rosie but can't seem to help himself from being too rough with her. Still, it makes me nervous that I've never heard of this before. Is it real? Quackery? Something in between? If anyone knows about this or has any insights, I'd really appreciate hearing from you, either here or at jspitz@azstarnet.com

And if you haven't heard of this, either, here's what I learned in a quick Google search. First a general definition and then a definition of Quinn's apparent end of the beach along with those checklists that seem to be written just about him:

Proprioceptive dysfunction refers to a body’s inability to properly process sensory input related to proprioception. The sense of proprioception differs from the other senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch by involving more internal sensory perception by which we receive the pain and movement of the internal organs(1).

Sensory Seeking children have nervous systems that do not always process that sensory input is "coming in" to the brain. They are under-responsive to sensation. As a result, they seek out more intense or longer duration sensory experiences. Some behaviors that can be observed are: Hyper-activity as they seek more and more movement input; Unawareness of touch or pain, or touching others too often or too hard (may seem aggressive); Engaging in unsafe behaviors, such as climbing too high; Enjoying sounds that are too loud, such as TV or radio volume.

If they are under responsive to proprioceptive input (i.e. sensory seeking) they will...

  • walk to hard, push too hard, bang too hard write too hard, play with objects too hard, etc.

  • be the loud ones, rough ones, crashers, movers, shakers, runners, jumpers, and bouncers (i.e. an insatiable bundle of energy!)

  • shake his legs or constantly bang the back of his foot on the floor/chair while sitting in class

  • play too rough (often hurting himself or others), jump off of or crash into ANYTHING he can

  • crack his knuckles, chew on his fingers, bite his nails until they bleed, chew on pens, gum, pencils, clothing collars, sleeves, or strings, or inedible objects (i.e. paper clips, pieces of toys etc.)

  • enjoys TIGHT clothes (i.e. turtlenecks, tight belts, hoods, hats, jackets zipped ALL the way up, tight pajamas etc.) (This is the ONLY item on this list that doesn't describe Quinn!)


  • Hyposensitivity To Touch (Under-Responsive):

    __ may crave touch, needs to touch everything and everyone

    __ is not aware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force or intensity

    __ is not bothered by injuries, like cuts and bruises, and shows no distress with shots (may even say they love getting shots!)

    __ may not be aware that hands or face are dirty or feel his/her nose running

    __ may be self-abusive; pinching, biting, or banging his own head

    __ mouths objects excessively

    __ frequently hurts other children or pets while playing

    __ repeatedly touches surfaces or objects that are soothing (i.e., blanket)

    __ seeks out surfaces and textures that provide strong tactile feedback

    __ thoroughly enjoys and seeks out messy play

    __ craves vibrating or strong sensory input

    __ has a preference and craving for excessively spicy, sweet, sour, or salty foods


    Hyposensitivity To Movement (Under-Responsive):

    __ in constant motion, can't seem to sit still

    __ craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences

    __ loves being tossed in the air

    __ could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy

    __ loves the fast, intense, and/or scary rides at amusement parks

    __ always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions

    __ loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time

    __ is a "thrill-seeker"; dangerous at times

    __ always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking

    __ rocks body, shakes leg, or head while sitting

    __ likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    The surgery was a success!

    Before his surgery, Quinn could barely reach his mouth, and that was only if he used his left hand to push up his right hand. Check him out now. Thank you, Dr. Waters!!

    b video

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    First day of school

    Quinn headed off for his first day at pre-school today. Let's just say any tears shed were not shed by the little student...






    I'd taken him for a couple of visits to the school so when we pulled up this morning he said, "School!" We took some pictures, took him in and disappeared pretty quickly. Two hours later, BaBa and NaNa picked him up and he was as happy as when we dropped him off. Play Dough, playground, snack time and story time today - what's not to love?

    And now Quinn is officially a Wheeler Wildcat.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Boy in motion

    Multiply these few seconds by seven full hours and you'll get a sense of our day at the Boston Children's Museum. This was the day after Quinn got his giant cast off and he was ready to RUN!


    video

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    All that money wasn't wasted after all....


    Suddenly Quinn can't get enough of all those outfits I snapped up in China. Until now he pretty much hated them. Now, we have daily fashion shows!

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    BOOK REVIEW: Lucky Girl

    I've been reading pretty much any adoption-related book I can get my hands on in the past few years, and I thought it might be useful to other readers out there to share some that I liked - and maybe some I didn't.

    First up is my favorite so far: "Lucky Girl" by Mei-Ling Hopgood. This is a memoir by one of the first Chinese adoptees. She was raised in Michigan and had a happy, healthy childhood. She didn't have a strong interest in her birth family, and in fact for much of her growing-up years avoided things that seemed "too Chinese." Then the nun who had arranged her adoption casually mentioned she could probably find her birth parents. After some soul-searching Hopgood decided to make contact, and the book is largely a story of her budding, complex relationship with her large, loud, dysfunctional birth family.

    As a journalist, Hopgood knows how to tell a story. She is succinct, and includes just those details that move the story along. I found this to be an honest, revealing portrait of an adoptee, her new relationship with the family that did not raise her, and how that new relationship affects the family that did raise her. It's sometimes funny, sometimes sad and always insightful. I loved it.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    One awesome Nana


    Just have to say that I'm so proud of Quinn's Nana (formerly known as my mom), who is handling her macular degeneration with such grace that she was invited to speak today to a class of the newly vision-impaired at a local non-profit for the visually impaired.

    Here she is getting off the bus after her first ride on the handi-van. Freedom is hers once again!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Asian adoptees everywhere

    We've back from Boston, where it seemed like every other family had an Asian daughter. By noon our last day I counted 10 families!

    It was so awesome to see, and really got me thinking about where are the greatest concentration of kids from China. Hubby said he read Texas had the greatest number, but considering that those kids are scattered all over an enormous state, the concentration might not be that high.

    Does anyone know which city has the most Chinese adoptees per capita?

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    The cast is OFF!

    It's hard to believe it's been 4 1/2 weeks since Quinn's surgery, but I guess it has, because here we are back at the hospital. Our first stop was the cast tech lab, where Quinn climbed up on one of many beds and screamed in terror as a guy sawed at him with a little, but LOUD, round saw. I was pretty terrified, too, honestly.

    Next up we saw Dr. Waters, who declared the surgery a great success. He said the transferred muscles are "firing" already, meaning they're attached and working.

    Final stop on our Children's Hospital tour was physical therapist Megan, who took us through the exercises Quinn needs to do 2-3 times a day for the next six months. We took video so we can make sure we got it right and so we can show his new physcial therapist once we get home. She also showed us lots of things to do in day-to-day life to get him using that right arm, which he has spent three years learning not to use.

    Already, we can see that he can do things he couldn't do before, like reach up higher and twist his wrist. But he is more reluctant than ever to use it - it probably feels weird to have the cast gone - so I can see that PT will be very, very important.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    The cutest little fireman





    A local fire station had an open house today, and we had to take our little fire-truck-loving boy. He had a grand time getting in and out of the fire trucks and running around them in big, excited circles. He even wore a fire hat - and he almost never will wear a hat!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    His own worst enemy

    The good news is that despite the eight-pound cast Quinn is lugging around, he is feeling great. The bad news... despite the eight-pound cast Quinn is lugging around, he is feeling great. So great, in fact, that he thinks nothing of running across the porch and leaping off into the lawn, or standing up on the sofa or trying to climb up the side of a big rock. If he succeeds -- not surprisingly, considering how off-kilter his balance is -- he often falls. And hits his head. And cries.

    It's like having a brand-new walker again. We have to watch this child like a hawk.

    Seriously, I can't help but marvel at how amazingly well this kid is doing. And it hit me the other day that he doesn't know this thing is coming off in a month. To him, it's gotta be something like, "Well, I guess this is my new life." I'm a pretty optimistic person, and I truly believe I would be a basket case in his shoes. That cast is heavy. It's hot. It severely constricts him. It prevents him any use of his right arm. Good Lord, that's a lot to take in.

    But Quinn has no time or inclination to worry about any of that. He's too busy looking for the next thing he can climb up on and hurl himself off of.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    The car seat challenge

    A tip for those having trouble fitting their kiddos into car seats:

    Quinn's giant cast does not begin to fit in our car seat. The car seat expert at Children's Hospital told us we needed to find a local expert to help figure out what to do, and she told us we could find a list of experts on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I searched by entering my zip code, and noticed that one name on the list was our county health department, which I figured would know the best person in town.

    When I called and said I needed someone to help me with a mighty car-seat challenge, they immediately gave me the name of someone who does training sessions on fitting SN kids into car seats. I dialed him up and he turned out to be a police officer. It was 5 p.m. "I'll be at your house by 6," he said. And he was. Wow!

    Even he had trouble. He said Quinn would definitely fit in a SN car seat, but said that one for a child his size would cost thousands of dollars. There are rental seats available locally for smaller kids, but not for kids his size. Yikes.

    After much tinkering, adjusting and thinking, Officer Reeve figured out how to make it work. It takes some doing to get him into the seat arm first - good exercise for MaMa! - but he fits in snugly, safely and comfortably. We are SO grateful!

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Home again

    Quinn did astonishingly well on the plane trip home. That was the part of this whole ordeal I was most dreading, and it really was no big deal.

    To be honest, I think codeine may have been a factor. At my mom's wise suggestion, we gave him a dose of his pain meds shortly before each flight. The first takeoff was really tough - he could not get comfortable in the seat and was squirming, pulling off his seat belt and crying pretty hard. After takeoff I managed to get him to lay down with his feet in my lap and he went almost immediately to sleep. Miraculously, he stayed that way for the entire four-hour flight. I even got to read a book and drink a hot tea.

    In Dallas he had a nice dinner of his beloved vegetable lo mein, and on the flight home he laid with his head in my lap and watched Baby Beethoven (known to Quinn as "teh bear vi" after the violin-playing teddy bear that makes a couple of appearances near the beginning of the video.

    He's pooped and we're pooped, but we're all glad to be home.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Already walking!


    Amazingly, Quinn is walking on his own. None of us can figure out how he's doing it, but he's doing it. He gets tired really fast, not surprisingly, and wants to be carried, which is a mighty challenge.


    He falls quite a bit, which is scary - tonight in the room he went straight backwards and bonked his head on the floor. Ouch. It's also very difficult for him to sit up straight because his cast goes down to his hips. That makes high chairs, booster seats, regular chairs and sofas all very tricky.

    We're a bit nervous about the plane ride home tomorrow. But if the past few days are any indication, he'll find a way to get through it.

    Choo-choo!


    Quinn is a train fanatic, and loves nothing more than going to the small train station near the hospital and watching the choo-choo's come and go.

    Today we went for an actual ride on a train, to Faneuil Hall. He LOVED it.

    Share my pain


    This is the Wiggles song and video Quinn requested at least 100 times, all night long, in the hospital. Every time they woke him up for some procedure or another, he'd point at the TV and ask, "More more quack quack?"

    I was horrified the next morning to learn Quinn's roommate Zack and his dad heard it every single time - I thought hospital speakers could only be heard from one bed at a time. I guess not...

    I challenge you: Watch it and see if you can get it out of your head!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4dmelafrvk

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Out of the hospital

    Quinn has been discharged and we're back at the Yawkey Family House. We were told he'd be weepy and cranky for 2-3 days, and then realize the cast isn't going away and start to adapt to it. Instead, he started trying to walk while still in the hospital, which is extremely difficult because the cast is very heavy - I'd estimate about 10 pounds - and holds his right arm straight up and straight out. He's both top heavy and side heavy.

    In the hospital he had a really tough time putting one foot in front of the other and couldn't hold up his upper body at all. Back here, though, he is doing much better. He immediately wanted to go to the awesome play room ("Play toys? Play toys?"). And there he moved from his stroller to a chair, with assistance. After a while he wanted an "eh-bayter" ride so Tom helped him down the hall by duck-waddling behind him with his arms around Quinn's waist and cast. By the time they emerged Quinn was walking with Tom holding his hand. He's not walking unassisted yet, but I don't think it will be long. He can even sit in a restaurant high chair and eat with us, which is terrific.

    We had been told to bring button-down shirts two sizes two big to fit over the cast, but they're WAY too small. Turns out that when Dr. Waters got a view of Quinn in action pre-surgery, he decided a little redesign was in order. He built a double-thick cast and attached not one but two bars to hold Quinn's arm up in the right-turn position. The thing is HUGE. Quinn wears a 3T and we brought size 5s. Nana and I went to The Gap today and picked up four size 8s at a great price - buy one, get the second for $5. So Q now has a styling summer wardrobe.

    I wonder how much of Quinn's amazing adaptability is due to his personality and how much is due to his special need and his time in the orphanage. In China, he learned to make due with what he was given. and because of his bracial plexus injury, sustained at birth, he invented ways to compensate for an only partially useful right arm. I know all kids are highly adaptable, but this kid is pretty remarkable. I am in awe of him.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Bad night, better day (updated with photos)

    Quinn had a tough night. He repeatedly stopped breathing when he cried ("I will hold my breath until this cast is OFF!") and then the heart monitor indicated an irregularity. That meant an EKG - challenging with only a small chest hole for monitoring stickers. Then blood work - even more challenging because of his very deep veins. It took two teams of nurses and two needle sticks to get it right. So neither of us got much sleep.

    The only thing that kept Quinn calm was back to back to back playing of the very annoying, "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, cock-a-doodle-doo" by The Wiggles. Quinn found it at the beginning of a fairly ancient Barney VHS tape from the hospital library and it was love at first listen. So listen we did, and did, and did, and did.

    Today things are a little better. A cardiologist said Quinn likely has a very common early heartbeat in the upper chamber that 9 out of 10 kids grow out of. He's being fitted with a monitor today and will wear it for the next 24 hours. We also had visits from a car seat specialist, and a physical therapist who helped us figure out how to lift Quinn and get him in and out of his stroller. A cast tech cut some off the bottom of his cast because he couldn't sit up straight, and cut some out of the arm pit because it was sticking into him. And that was all before lunch!



    We went down to the cafeteria for lunch and Quinn watched the giant ball maze for a long time, and the fish tank for a long time, both of which he loves.


    After lunch he played in the activity room with BaBa and NaNa while I filled prescriptions, got travel letters, got release instructions and filled out release paperwork.

    He's back to saying he wants to go on a train ride and directing which Barney songs he wants to hear, so he's definitely getting back to normal.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Out of surgery and mad as hell (updated with photos)



    Quinn's surgery wasn't until 2:45 p.m., which really worried us because this kid does not like to skip meals. Our strategy was to keep him busy, busy, busy and filled up with apple juice, which was allowed until two hours before surgery.


    At 12:30, a bit nervous, we left the Yawkey Family House Here it is - a former frat house that was completely renovated and reopened about 9 months ago in its current form.)



    At the hospital, he walked happily into the OR. He had a great time operating the mechanical bed with directions from the awesomely cool anesthesiologist, and played a fun game blowing into a mask, which he didn't realize was the fumes that would knock him out. The nurses were very patient and took their time with him, but when he tried to convince them to put the mask on his toe ("On toe! On toe!"), the anesthesiologist popped the mask on his mouth and off to dreamland he went.

    While he was in surgery, we waited in this very nice family area. The surgery lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes, followed by an hour to put on the cast and an hour in the recovery room before we were ushered in. The poor kid woke up immobile, with his arm in a horribly awkward position.



    Understandably, he is MAD! Between tears and begging to put his arm down, he did ask for some apple juice (his new passion, discovered this morning when he was on a clear-liquids diet until our noon arrival at the hospital).



    He is doing well, all things considered. A nurse was able to scare up a master key to the locked video room, so Barney is making things better, as Barney always does for Quinn. After two doses of morphine, he is finally sleeping and I'm in the fold-out bed beside him.

    Dr. Waters said kids who wake up with a "spike" cast are typically mad, mad, mad for a day or two and then adjust quite well once they realize it's not going away. Let's hope that's the case for Quinn!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Surgery tomorrow (updated with pictures)



    We've made it to Boston for Quinn's long-awaited shoulder surgery. The trip went well despite my fears, and Quinn loved pulling his new big-boy back pack.

    This morning, thought, he woke up at 4:30 a.m. and refused to go back to sleep. We were even treated to a very nice call from the front desk telling us other guests were complaining about the racket.

    Today was pre-op madness. We visited the orthopedic clinic and pre-op clinics. Jess, Dr. Waters' nurse practitioner, explained the procedure and how everything will happen.


    She also showed us, and Quinn, a doll wearing the cast Quinn will get. Yikes, it's much worse than I had pictured. Full upper body, and it can't get wet. That's going to be a challenge. He's an active sweaty boy who gets hot on the coolest of days.

    In pre-op, Quinn was examined to make sure he was healthy for surgery. Then we met with the anesthesiologist and went through the hospital admissions process.



    His favorite part of the day was watching the ball maze in the lobby, which he just can't get enough of.


    He had so many appointments, and no nap, that he was just pooped. He slept right through his last two appointments.

    Tonight we enjoyed a great dinner with other families staying here at the fabulous Yawkey Family Inn, which is affiliated with Boston Children's. Volunteers come and cook several nights a week, which is so nice. It's great to meet with other families, and we even met a little girl who got double arm casts off today, and got some survival tips from her mom. It's a beautiful old house that's all updated and gorgeous - and rooms cost $30 a night. Amazing.

    Surgery tomorrow, so early bath and bed tonight. Please send your prayers, thoughts or good vibes at 2:15 p.m. eastern on May 20 - that's when Quinn's surgery begins.