Sunday, November 14, 2010

Moving right along...

Danielle has been a busy little girl these past few months! We are now up to having therapy 4 days per week. Every week we see Danielle do something new....and let me tell you, as a parent, there is no better feeling in the world!
November is Premature Awareness Month. All month long I follow different prayer chains and blogs brought to me by the March of Dimes and the Children's Miracle Network. Recently we were asked by the University to be a Children's Miracle Network family for UIHC and to share our story for Dance Marathon 2011. We were very excited and honored. We filled out the sheets and sent in our family's story. We will see what they come back with to us and how we can help this great event in 2011.

It really is such a time in our life that we don't forget, yet, do like to try and put behind in our memory. But still to this day, as a parent of a preemie I really do feel like the NICU was such a huge part of our life and our children's lives, that is where they started and regardless of the situational experiences that the NICU brought to us....we do really owe them gratitude for saving our children so they could be with us today. So this month we are raising awareness for Preemie babies and thanking all of the doctors and nurses who fight every day to save these precious little ones...our little ones.

We have started Speech therapy and I will have some video and pictures to come soon! This is new and we are so excited to see Danielle progress in the area of speech. She only says a few words now on a continual basis and in context, which is awesome! 'Hi' and 'Mama' she says regularly and we are so excited for speech to help her vocabulary and pronunciation grow.
We also have started a new type of therapy called Vital Stim. Have I told you about our most fabulous OT?! She is a gift to our little girl. I mean, we really strongly believe that she was brought into our life for a reason. She started working with Danielle on Visual Therapy just about a year ago, and this has been the most fantastic year ever since we met Lisa. I started asking Lisa about feeding techniques for Danielle when I found out that she also helps kids with feeding. She loves to eat her baby food and for the most part does not have an issue eating, but in talking with Lisa we decided to try this new Vital Stim for a couple of reasons. One being that it will increase Danielle's swallow, she has a fairly 'soft' swallow right now and increasing the thickness of food to ex. table food, would be challenging with such a soft swallow. So we are working on making those tongue muscles stronger to really strengthen her swallow, make it more quiet and help her to control the food that is in her mouth better. And with all of these muscles getting stronger it will also help Danielle with communication and getting out those vowel sounds.
So we do this session 3 days per week for 6-8 weeks, in addition to her other PT, Speech and OT therapy also. So to say we are busy is a bit of an understatement! But Danielle is showing great results in just the 5 sessions that she has had. We have started with a rubber tool to help Danielle get that flavor of food moved around her mouth and also strengthening her 'bite'. So on this tool she puts different flavors such as, apple juice, strawberry shortcake sucker and various pureed foods like applesauce, baby food etc. I took a couple short video's at the end of this week and the progress is very encouraging! This coming week we will start moving back into a spoon and getting Danielle to lick the spoon and move the food around her mouth in order to swallow. We also started getting Danielle to stick out her tongue and try to lick the sucker. It breaks my heart that such eating tasks like licking a sucker can be difficult for Danielle....this is something that most people probably take for granted, yet for her it can be a challenge to work all of those muscles at the same time. But this Therapy will only help those tasks and for this we are SO thankful! So we are in a really good place right now and SO extremely thankful for all of the Therapists that work 4 days a week for our daughter! We finally feel that we have the right 'mix' of people in our life that work for our baby girl! Danielle does not complain one bit and in fact she communicates with our therapists like you would not believe. Signing to them and shaking her head 'yes' or 'no', rolling her eyes even, yep that super fun 2 year old stage is in full gear and we LOVE every minute of it!
Stay tuned for more great steps in the right direction :)