3 (Charley edition)


— begin Charley summary 🙂 —

Today Charley turns three! We’ve had a great day; Charley slept in a bit after waking up early from allergies messing with his nose. We visited one of the local “paint your own pottery” places here in Tampa, and Charley splashed paint over all of us while putting multi-colored handprints on a piece of pottery.

Pottery painting in Tampa.

A visit to Cracker Barrel for lunch, where he picked up some toys (and a lot of dumplin sauce on his face), and now Charley’s taking his Birthday Nap.

Three is fun with Charley, although different. He still gets therapy at home 5 times a week (physical, speech, and occupational). He still doesn’t walk on his own (nor even stand) but he pulls to a stand and cruises on anything he can find. He has a metallic green walker which he careens all over the house (and the neighborhood!) in, terrorizing the dogs and our feet. He’s very ready to walk, but because of the tightness in his muscles it is difficult for him. Even so, we feel like it’ll happen soon. He wears leg braces 14-18 hours a day to help with his muscle tone.

Eating is still something Charley doesn’t really do – a 3 year old who doesn’t know much about ice cream. He’s still fed through his G-tube (in his belly), with a pump, which gets some stares if we take him out, but is normal for us by now. He likes to get tastes of food, which we encourage – although we’re talking very small amounts. As in, today he had 1/4 of a french fry which made him throw up a bit. Food is a long road with Charley, but Robyn works on it every day, along with his at-home nurse, and his speech therapist.

Speech – which doesn’t actually have anything to do with talking, but instead anything mouth related. A lot of Charley’s eating problem is a severe gag reflex he has (the medical term is dysphagia). The speech therapist helps Charley exercise and use his mouth, play with and smell foods, and continual stretches for all his mouth muscles. Oddly enough, not eating also gives him those cute chubby cheeks – most kids lose those when they start using their mouth to eat, exercising jaw muscles.

Charley talks, but only a few words – mama, dada, baby, jack, yah, and bye bye. He waves hello, and is learning new sounds a lot more lately – experimenting with his mouth, that sort of thing. Developmentally, we’re told he’s around 18 months. Doctors do say he will need much more work than a normal kid (hey, that is normal for us!), but they maintain he should be caught up with only very minor issues (probably no marathons for this kid) as he gets older.

Charley is starting school!

Charley’s starting SCHOOL on Tuesday! It’s a big change mentally for us – he’s a bit behind developmentally, which can make it difficult for him to hang with kids his age. The school near our house has an awesome program for kids who need a little more help, and we had a meeting with TEN people there who are really investing in helping him out. He’ll be with a nice small class, around a dozen kids. Some completely “on-track,” some who need some extra work… all great kids. He’ll be there 5 days a week, full days! This helps to prepare him for kindergarten – and they really seem like a great team.

— end Charley summary 🙂 —

Today is a strange day. It’s also Price’s birthday – Charley’s twin brother. Although they both had an incredible amount of issues to work through when born (Charley spent over a year hooked up to an oxygen machine, the first 7 months of which were in a hospital without really ever leaving his incubator/tiny hospital bed), Price died only a week after today, in 2010. Of course we can’t help thinking about Ezra’s third birthday, a couple years ago. That was only 9 months after we lost him. Other young parents ask about Charley as we’re out “How cute! How old is he?” and when we respond with his age, the answer is almost always “oh…” with a questioning look. It’s a good birthday, but it brings a load of reflection and memory with it.

So many of our friends all over the country are having really tough moments lately. It hurts to see people we love in pain, and it hurts to constantly be learning how much a part of life pain is. It makes small moments more beautiful.

Overall we’ve been good. Charley is becoming more and more a little boy, Because of Ezra is going well, and Robyn and I are feeling strong and in love. It’s spring in Tampa, which means weather in the 70s, sunshine, and light breezes. Perfect walking around weather. Or strolling, in Charley’s case. There’s a feeling of “waiting;” a pause, like some change is coming… but I think we’re great. We’re going to be great.