Last Thursday, the boys had their developmental appointment at the High-Risk Infant Clinic, which is run by the nurse practitioner who is a big dog at the Providence St. Joe's NICU, and this gets all the referrals from the hospital. The purpose of it is to make sure the hospital's preemies are catching up to their age group in the important ways, or at the very least not lagging in really critical ones.
We'd been nervous because of how small Dylan is. He SEEMS alert and bright and curious, and he's kept pace with Liam more or less, but there's always the fear that medical professionals are going to be like, MY GOD, WOMAN, FEED THIS CHILD. And then I'd have to tear my hair out and wave it in their faces and scream WE ARE TRYING, YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE, and then go wig shopping.
The first session is playtime on a floor mat with the two physical therapists. For reasons I don't entirely understand, they had us strip the boys down to their diapers for this, even though the medical evaluation wasn't until later, and of COURSE the room was cold. Our guys were fine, but it seems weird to me. I get that this is about how they engage with their environs; still, the strangeness of the room and the faces and the toys ought to be enough of a test, without also making them play pantsless and shirtless. I don't want these guys to get any ideas about stripping off their clothes in order to have fun -- not before they're at least 30.
Anyway, the boys were lain down on the mat and the therapist held a rattle over their faces. They're supposed to grab at it. At home, Liam and Dylan grab at everything. Here, Liam just spread-eagled on the mat and gazed at the ceiling, all, "AHHHHH." Like he was sunbathing. He could have cared less about the rattle. At this point Kevin and I were like, um, he totally grabs stuff at home. Dylan, meanwhile, took a swipe for it right away. And then tried to put it in his mouth. Point for the little guy.
Then we sat up the boys and positioned ourselves behind them(they did this individually) and were told only to offer a supportive hand to avoid them tipping over, but not to clasp them around the midriff. They then brought a little desk up to them, the kind that fits right up against them and extends back behind them to the left and right, so they can lean their arms on the table. Liam was totally on board with this; Dylan, a little confused. She introduced three red blocks, one at a time, presumably to see if their curiosity made them ditch the old in favor of the new (but I'm not sure). Liam kind of wanted all of them, and Dylan.. started crying. Then SOBBING. He was MISERABLE. I think it's because, even though we do sit him up, we usually brace him better and he's still not super comfortable like that, so it was a melting pot of crazy. He also is the one who, when he gets the least bit unsettled, suddenly goes from zero to WTF in about two seconds. It's rare but it happens. And on this day he was wiggy. So Kevin picked him up, patted him, got a burp out, then triumphantly sat him down again.
No dice. So they cuddled, he calmed down, and we tried a third time. The next tests: a bell (they both followed the sound; Liam tried to eat it, Dylan looked at it like it wanted to eat his liver), a small clear glass bottle (presumably to test if they can see it despite its lack of color), and a tiny pink pellet, which is supposed to discern whether they can make out objects that small. Liam reached out his hand and plopped it right on the pellet like a giant squashing a bug. Dylan acted like nothing had happened, and I don't know if it was residual wigged-out-ness, or just that he didn't know it was there. But the Koosh ball, oh, the Koosh ball. Both of them WANTED THAT THING. The therapist was like, "Hmm, most babies are freaked out by the texture," but no. Mine wanted it in their mouths immediately. Liam's face said, "This tastes terrible, but perhaps if I keep eating it, it will taste better... not yet... not yet... not yet..." Kind of like banging your head against a wall to see when it stops hurting. Dylan chomped away without revealing his thoughts.
So the little guy spazzed, and the big guy chilled. While we waited to see Debbie, the nurse, they got weighed (Dylan: 12 lbs, 12 oz; Liam, 16 lbs, 6 oz) and measured (Dylan, 25.5 inches; Liam, 28 inches, although I think that might've erred on the long side) and generally flirted like crazy with the lady nurse doing the work. Then Debbie came in and they pulled her hair and tugged at her chin and gazed into her eyes and said something along the lines of, "Come here often?" before inviting her to dinner. She checked them out and seemed delighted with how they looked -- references were made to Dylan being skinny, but nobody seemed concerned, just... observational -- and said they passed the therapy tests with "flying colors."
Well. THAT was a relief. In truth, they are grabby and interested and rolling all over the place and acting annoyed that they can't crawl, and all of that good stuff. So we suspected, even hoped, that everything would come out fine. And I guess it did.
Our project is to get their torsos stronger; they're a bit behind on that, but Debbie said it was in all the ways they expected. So we have to sit them with the Boppy breastfeeding pillow wrapped around them, supporting only their lower backs, thus forcing the torso to adapt. Dylan is so skinny that he doesn't really fit it too well, but we can improvise. I hope it helps. I'm VERY proud of how far the little guys have come. Here's hoping they'll do as well in June at the next appointment. I can't believe it's already almost February. They're seven months old and counting.
The OTHER ticking clock is how much time we have in this wonderful period in which they're noticing the world and smiling at us all the time, excited by everything, yet unable to move themselves in any way except by wriggling and rolling and accidentally shifting around from A to C to F to B. Once these guys have their wheels on, forget it.