Speech therapies, physical therapies, occupational therapies, big therapies, little therapies, long therapies, and short therapies!
Penelope has been receiving services through the East Hartford Birth to Three since she was was 6 weeks old. I remember those first few months, my heart and my head pulled in so many different directions with this beautiful new life. I had my 5 year old to worry about, the pumping and the trying to nurse routine (is there anything more frustrating than feeding your child?), twice weekly visiting nurse pulse-ox checks (Hi Meghan I am so glad we met!!), once a week visits to the pediatrician, and not to mention the round the clock medications she was on after her heart surgery. Somewhere we managed to squeeze in those early visits from our special ed teacher and our service coordinator, Marni from Bto3. Quickly, we added the phyisical therapy visits as well. I remember when the PT on the hospital staff stopped in to see Penny before she left the hospital for the first time and she mentioned that the average age for a child with Down syndrome to begin to walk was 2 years old. For some reason I was really blown away by that. As I looked down to the bed at that floppy little 7 lb baby, only 7 days out of surgery, I thought to myself, "Wow! How do I know if I am up to this challenge? I will have to work with her and push her so much just do accomplish something so basic as walking?" I will never really know if that physical therapist noticed the water welling up in my eyes for probably the, oh, fiftieth time in those past thirteen days, but she put her hand out and said firmly, "But she will walk." And I believed her. . .
In the past eighteen months we have seen our Birth to 3 physical therapist, Dr. Yvette, regularly about two times a month. If we really wanted to we could augment that to once a week, but as any one who knows Penny will attest, she is doing just fine with the status quo. It took Penelope a bit to learn how to sit up on her own. If someone came by and sat her up, she could stay there on her own for awhile by the time she was ten months old; the really neat trick came at about fourteen months when she was able to put her self in the sitting position. By this time she had also perfected her military crawl and would demonstrate this by transversing our downstairs floor plan on her belly in under 90 seconds time. This school year has gone by so fast it is tough to say when she finally crawled on her hands and knees full time, but I would guess that came around Halloween time. Now we are on to more challenging exercises to entice little Miss Penny pants to walk.
And through all of these incredible milestones, Dr. Yvette has been there to give support to not just Penny but the whole family. After she leaves, I sometimes wonder who benefits more from the visit, myself or Penelope. We are so blessed to have such a warm-hearted, intelligent person on our team, who truly wants to be here to support Penny and her family. We often talk about what I want out of life; and she listens to me! Dr. Yvette always gives wonderful advice on things we can do with and for Penny, but she gives it with such neutrality that it never seems dictated or scripted, but absolutely from the heart, what she knows to be right for our family. We are about half-way through our services with Bto3 and already I am looking to the time when Dr. Yvette will no longer be Penelope's instructor. Thankfully, I know that we will be able to continue a relationship with her, otherwise, I would really be dreading Penny's third Birthday. During our last visit on Friday, Dr. Yvette worked with Penny to help her walk while she was only holding onto one hand and we also worked on her climbing skills to get up and down off the big chair. And then she worked on my esteem skills to get me up and off my ass to look for something more fulfulling then to continue looking for something else within Enterprise. We talked a lot about me going back to school to get a Masters of Education. I always kind of steered toward becoming a high school mathematics teacher, and now I want to do this more than ever! If only everyone had a Dr. Yvette for their household!