early intervention: getting started (part 2)

Last night I posted a bit about Phoebe’s initial assessment for Early Intervention services. This is part 2. (If you are interested, you might also want to look back at what I wrote back at the end of November, and how we ended up getting the assessment.)


As I mentioned, because of the time of year, it was several weeks after the assessment before our services got started.

In early January, we heard from the person who would be taking on our case. (I’m actually not sure what her specific qualifications were. And actually, I never thought to ask. But we’ll call her a speech pathologist.) She set up an appointment to come to our house for a first meeting to talk to us about goals, and to write up our ISP (Individual Service Plan).

At that time, our main concern was that, while she used quite a large number of different words to label things at her own discretion, and would occasionally produce longer utterances of her observations, Phoebe didn’t often use language to communicate her needs and wants. What was most difficult was that she would typically only ask for things by pointing, or sometimes just by becoming unhappy, and we would have the job of trying to figure out what was wanted. Most of the time, we were able to do this, largely through playing what was a lot like a game of 20 questions. Are you hungry? Do you want milk? Do you want the toy? Are you hurting? Those times when we didn’t come up with the right question, Phoebe would get frustrated. She would sometimes start making that sort of grunting/groaning toddler noise, and occasionally break down crying. Mind you, these times were few and far between, but we wanted to get past them. We knew, for example, that she could say the word (and in some cases the sign) for many of things that she wanted. But somehow, she was never willing to say them as a request.

This was the main goal written on her ISP: for Phoebe to make simple requests, using single words.

We also worked at that first meeting on getting a schedule for services. The speech pathologist would meet with Phoebe once a week, either at our home or at Phoebe’s daycare. Phoebe could also attend a weekly group at one of the program offices (either a parent-child group, or a “drop off” group). Since I wanted to be involved in the process, we got signed up for a parent-child group. I also wanted to be around for the one-on-one meetings, rather than have them take place at daycare. As it turned out, because of my tight schedule, we ended up scheduling our one-on-one meetings right after the play group, at the program building, rather than having a separate meeting at our home on a different day.

We did have one more home visit from the speech pathologist before starting the regular schedule. She came over with a bag of toys, and sat down to play with Phoebe. Because that was just what it seemed like. As they played, the speech pathologist used very short, simple sentences and repeated single words often. I was very impressed with how engaged Phoebe was right from the start.

The speech pathologist also left us with some suggestions for encouraging Phoebe to make requests. The main suggestion was to frequently give Phoebe a choice of two things. For example, when offering a crayon, we should ask “Do you want green or blue?” When she’d point to one or the other, we should use the single word, repeating it clearly a couple of times. I was a bit skeptical about how much difference this could make, but having seen how engaged Phoebe was during the meeting, I decided to work this into our daily routine.

It may well have been a total coincidence of timing, but we had a breakthrough shortly after. I wrote a post about it on my old “Phoebe blog” (which I used mostly to post updates for family and friends) on January 19th. Since that site seems to be broken just now, I’ll copy the whole thing here:

We’ve been working on trying to get Phoebe to express her wants to us more clearly. Phoebe uses a lot of words, but usually just to name things. She’s quite good at responding to questions, like “what does a dog say?” (“woof”) or “what color is this?” (“gee!”) or “do you want milk?” (“yup.”)

She has started asking for things that are just out of her reach. She will, for example, point to where we keep her beads and say “bee?” There has also been at least one time when she has wanted us to get her Bunny out of her crib, and she’s pointed towards her room and said her version of “Bunny.” However, she has been reluctant about making requests for things that she can’t see.

Today, though, we had an exciting moment. We were in the car heading home from a meeting in Boston, and having a snack of graham crackers. I asked Phoebe if she wanted some water. To which she replied. “No. Milk, yeah!”

(Unfortunately, we didn’t actually have any milk in the car with us. But we were at least able to acknowledge her request by saying that we would get milk later.)


Okay, I’ll have to continue this again later. (It’s late at night once more.) Next time, I’ll write about going to the play group.

what to expect when you weren’t expecting the Y chromosome

I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my head around something. I’m going to be having a son.

I joked a while back about the reassurance that an ultrasound would provide that I was not incubating “some sort of tentacled alien spawn.” But, aside from reassuring me that creature had the correct number and arrangement of limbs to be classified as human, it also revealed to us an appendage that I had not anticipated. It seems that I have been, in fact, incubating some sort of testacled alien spawn.

It’s come as quite a surprise to me just how much of a surprise this is to me. I mean, I have known all along that it was a possibility.

And yet somehow, I didn’t really think it would happen.

I left that ultrasound appointment feeling someone stunned. Surprised. In mild shock. And I will admit here, and please don’t attack me for this, even somewhat disappointed.

That seems so harsh. Disappointed? The poor little guy hasn’t even been born yet, and already I’m disappointed in him? That hardly seems fair.

“I guess we won’t be reusing Phoebe’s dresses,” I’ve said. But of course, even though I’d love to hold on to some of those cute girl clothes a bit longer, my feelings aren’t really based on wardrobe.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on here. And I’ve realized that there are a lot of things going on.

Ever since I was little, I imagined that someday I’d be a mother. The specific circumstances of this motherhood status were typically murky, especially with respect to the role of a father in these imaginings. But always, I imagined that I would have 2 girls. Just like in my family.

Growing up, and moving around so much as I did, my closest friend was always my sister. We were, and still are, very close. It always seemed the natural order of things.

Somehow, I always imagined I’d reproduce this pattern, when I got around to reproducing.

I realize that even if I were to have a second girl, the individuals wouldn’t necessarily have had the relationship that my sister and I had. I know, of course, that Phoebe is not a new version of my sister, and that a second daughter wouldn’t be a new version of me. And yet I feel like I’m saying goodbye to that person that never existed outside my head.

And then there’s the fact that boys were largely unknown to me growing up. My immediate family consisted of me, my mother, and my sister. The next most involved family member was my grandmother. Obviously, there had been males around at various points. But by and large, we were a family of females. Even the cousins I saw most often were girls.

My father was around for my first 6 years, and then died. Both grandfathers had already died at that point. There were uncles I’d see for a few days every few years. There were boy cousins that I’d met here and there. There were stepfathers and boyfriends of my mother’s. But mostly, these males never felt part of my own life. They were visitors, or passers-by. I knew boys at my various schools, but was never even friends with any till high school. It wasn’t till college that I had any close relationships with men.

I realized, in my various ponderings, that John is the first male to have been in my life in any significant way for more than the 6 years that my life overlapped with my father’s. And John has even passed that number by another 10 years, clocking in now at 16 years.

And I sure am glad that John is here to share this experience with me. Because, among other things, John has some experience with growing up around boys. In fact, he even grew up as a boy.

I find myself continuing to be surprised that we’ll be having a boy, still avoiding using the gendered pronoun even now that it’s weeks since the revelation. And I question whether this leads me to feel a bit more detached from the pregnancy than I was the first time around. Or maybe it’s just that I’m so busy right now, and that I’ve been feeling pretty bad physically.

I am certain that I’ll come to love him fiercely as I love Phoebe. And I expect that there will come a time when I won’t be able to imagine things any other way, and when I can’t imagine my life without him.

happy, sad, happy, sad… (ad nauseam)

It’s a bright, beautiful sunny day here. John, Phoebe and I got to spend some time together this morning hanging out and playing with toys. This had not actually been the plan for the day.

In spite of me joking around yesterday about sleep deprivation from goofing off online, what I’ve actually been busy with is work. I have a conference next week, and there is still lots to be done. (Admittedly, I did also spend some time socializing this weekend, with live-bodied people, a rare treat that perhaps used up more time than I had.)

Yesterday, I had a very productive day while Phoebe was off at daycare. I even managed to do a bit of work after Phoebe got home, while she played, which I don’t often manage. Then once she was in bed, I settled in for a long evening of more work, with big plans of productivity for the evening. I smugly sent off a report to the professors I work with, listing my accomplishments and my goals for the night, and offering to send spreadsheets and poster drafts.

Then some time around 10:00 p.m., my hard drive failed.

  • Happily, I live with an expert on disaster recovery, who knows his way around a Mac.
  • Sadly, the diagnosis was the dreaded Click of Death. (I’ll let you guess the prognosis.)
  • Happily, I had backed up only yesterday morning.
  • Sadly, I had largely lost my whole day of work, with less than a week before we’ll need to print a poster.
  • Happily, John was able to set aside his own work to try to recover and restore my data.
  • Sadly, John got no sleep, after only getting 4 hours the night before.
  • Happily, I did get some sleep, if fitful and haunted by dreams of lost data.
  • Sadly, Phoebe had a fever when she woke up, so couldn’t go to daycare, and leading to me cancelling my meeting with my advisor.
  • Happily, Phoebe seems generally okay, if a bit listless.
  • Sadly, it may turn out to be a stomach bug that was going around daycare.
  • Happily, John is also an expert at functioning without sleep, and could stay with Phoebe while I went out to get a new hard drive.
  • Sadly, the people at Best Buy were incompetent (not to mention rude), and gave me the wrong drive when I went to pick up what we’d ordered online for in-store pick-up.
  • Happily, after John made another trip, we now have the right drive, and the restore process is going on now.
  • Sadly, I still have a lot of work to do once I can get back to it. I not only lost most of yesterday’s progress, but today’s work time. And what feels worse, I’ve lost my momentum.

Hopefully, in the next hour or so, I’ll have enough of the data and software at my fingertips to get back to work. And hopefully, John will be able to get some good sleep, as he’s now been up for 32 hours. And hopefully this queasiness I’m feeling is just due to stress, tiredness and pregnancy…

the week catches up with me

I am feeling totally zonked. Wiped out. I had a good day at work today, but it was a long, long day. Yesterday was a long day, full of running around to appointments. Sunday was a fun day, but a long day. And Saturday was a long day, and really no fun at all. I’m feeling the stress of the past week catching up with me this evening.

Last Tuesday night we heard the news that a good friend of John’s was…and it seems hard to even write this…hit by a truck. He’s alive, but in critical condition. It seems his car broke down on the highway last Monday night, and he was hit by a tractor-trailer while standing outside his car. The full details aren’t known, as he hasn’t been conscious since then.

We’ve been thinking about him and his family a lot this past week, and eagerly awaiting updates. There’s been some improvement. But there are still many unknowns about how things will turn out.

To make it all more stressful, his wife is 8 months pregnant. I can hardly imagine what she is going through, to have her life turned upside-down like this while being hugely pregnant and getting ready for a new baby. They also have a 4-year-old. At least she has family close by. I feel like I should help, but they are 2 hours away, and I’m not sure how I could help. I will try to think of a way to help, especially once the baby is born. But tonight I just feel stretched so thin.

We drove down to the hospital Saturday, with Phoebe. John and another close friend were able to see their friend, though officially only immediate family members were allowed into the ICU.

This is the sort of thing that makes you think. I’ve been looking at those big tractor-trailers on the highway, and I find their size to be so threateningly large, their mass to be so very unequivocally solid. I’ve been thinking about how fragile we are, in our little breakable bodies.

And I’ve been thinking about how we need to make plans and provisions for Phoebe, that we still haven’t dealt with. A will. Life insurance. We need to talk about things that are not easy to talk about. Make provisions for things we’d rather not think about.

It’s one of those times when I feel like I can’t possibly be old enough to be a responsible adult.

the finger and 10 pounds of tomatoes

Vacation‘s over, and I’m back to the grind. Which in my case involves the violin and vegetables.

My CSA haul of this week featured 10 pounds of tomatoes. 10 freakin’ pounds. I’ve never had that many tomatoes before. There are quite a range of types, including some heirloom varieties, and I took a photo to document their pretty tomato-ness. (I didn’t arrange my tomatoes as artfully as jenny’s WTVG display, though.)


The most creative I have gotten with the tomatoes so far is to slice up a bunch of the little yellow ones on a plate, and pour some bottled salad dressing over them. (It was decent salad dressing, at least. Some sesame and lime stuff.) I even ate a tomato whole and plain, like an apple, while still at the farm. I’d forgotten to bring along a snack for Phoebe for the trip down to pick up the veggies, and her temper indicated hunger. I hoped we could snack on a nice fresh tomato, but while she was willing to taste it, she was not willing to ingest more than a bite. So I ate the whole tomato myself, sitting in the car, with a cranky toddler on my lap. So perhaps that was a more creative tomato experience than the slices on a plate.

The violin lesson yesterday was a mixed bag, too. I had not actually even opened my violin case since the previous lesson, 3 weeks before. Considering this, I played not too horribly. The first song came through moderately well. The second, on the other hand, led to a discussion of how my hand position needs adjusting and how I tend to overshoot the fourth finger position. I’m convinced that at least part of the problem is the way my little finger bends. I can’t move my damn pinkies smoothly. They sort of jerk and pop, and my muscle control is poor. I feel like I need to develop a workout routine for my pinky to build up its strength and dexterity. (I’m envisioning something set to the Rocky theme song.)

psychic baby (qu’est-ce que c’est?)

You know how when you’re expecting a phone call, or waiting for someone to show up at the door, it’s hard to settle down and concentrate? Well, that’s how I usually feel when Phoebe’s having a nap.

Even though she usually naps for about an hour and a half, the time zips by. I get her settled, putter around for a few minutes, and usually open up my laptop. To, well…putter. Before I know it, 45 minutes have elapsed. And I think about getting to work. Knowing that I probably have only about 45 minutes.

Today, we were down at John’s parents. (We’d gone down for the weekend to get in a visit before our big trip.) The plan was to head out to the rehab center to visit John’s dad after Phoebe’s nap, and then to go directly home. So, once Phoebe was napping, my puttering included some packing and getting organized. I read some stuff online, answered a couple emails, and did some other puttering and even some work-related stuff.

It looked like Phoebe was going to have a longer than usual nap. She was upstairs, and the baby monitor was with us downstairs.

I’d started reading the new Harry Potter last night, and managed to read about 15 pages before I fell asleep. In this unexpected quiet time, the book beckoned. John was sitting reading his copy of the book. (Yes, we did buy two copies yesterday.) I commented to him that I felt like whenever I settle down to do something focused, Phoebe always wakes up. “I feel like if I sit down to read, she’ll wake up.”

After some more deliberation, and couple more minutes of quiet from the baby monitor, I decided to pick up the book. I sat down. I said to John: “Do you want to time this?”

I started to open the book.

“Waaaaaahhhhhh!!” said the baby monitor.

I slammed the book shut. And there was silence.

Tell me, how did she know?