Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coming Soon: New Arm

Dear maker of the portable DVD player. I love you!! You are a dream come true. How did parents travel with their children prior to this invention? I shudder at the very thought. I owe you much gratitude for your brilliant ideas and wisdom. Will you marry me?

The trip to St. Louis was a very nice trip. Thanks to my mom and the ever wonderful portable DVD player. We headed out in the early afternoon on Sunday. Monsters, Inc. was the in-car movie of choice (she’s only seen this about 1,000 times). I thought she would sleep soundly since we kept her up and hit the road close to her normal nap time. Nope, she stayed awake long enough to watch the entire movie. Once it was over, she was asleep in about 2.2 seconds. We made it to Kingdom City before making our first stop. Legs needed stretching, food, drink and just a break from driving. Ashlyn was sound asleep. Well, as soon as the door closed she was wide awake and ready for some McDonald’s. We all piled out of the car and grabbed a bite to eat and prepared for the next leg of our trip. Panic struck when the DVD player wouldn’t work. I thought it had run out of juice, turns out she had just kicked it and somehow hit it just right and turned the power off. Oh well, we made the last bit of our journey without the help of the DVD player and survived…somehow.

We arrived at out hotel just after 6 p.m. We got to our room and unloaded our belongings. Ashlyn has never stayed in a hotel to my knowledge, but when I asked if she had ever been to a hotel she replied, “Yeah, I stay here all the time,” and very matter-of-factly about it. Little knucklehead. Our room overlooked the pool, which of course is closed because it’s an outdoor pool and it’s still way too cold to be swimming outdoors. After unloading all of our things, we decided to get a trial run in to the hospital so we would know where we were going. Good thing too, because Google Maps gave us the run around. Had we not been there before and knew what the hospital looked like and the surrounding area, who knows where we would have ended up. Alas, we found it and it was going to be a fairly easy commute in the morning we hoped. We then set out to go shopping for a bit, just to get out of the car and wander around. I had hoped we would make it there long before we did so that we could visit the Magic House in Kirkwood, MO which looked like a ton of fun for all of us. It closed at 5:30 though and wasn’t open on Mondays. Just my luck. *sigh* We went to Walmart instead. Woo hoo. Do we know how to live it up or what? Eh, it was still shopping. Pretty much the entire town was closed by the time we got there except for all the stores that we have at home.

After shopping for a bit and buying nothing of any real value, we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel. Have you ever stayed at a hotel with a 2 year old? Craziness I tell you. Complete craziness. It was probably from being cooped up in a car for 4+ hours, but she had energy to burn. She ran around the room, opening and closing doors, flushing the toilet 100 times, jumping on the bed, climbing in the chairs…it was as though she’d just been let out of a cage. Crazy girl. Needless to say, when bedtime came along she was just not ready to call it a night. We had a battle of wills, and eventually, I won.

The next morning we arrived at Shriner’s. I can’t say enough good things about this hospital. I wish it were closer to home, but other than that I do not have a single complaint. Our appointment was at 9 a.m. We arrived around 8:45. Ashlyn, upon entering the doors, received a beautiful handmade knitted blanket. She thought that was fantastic. When we got signed in at “The Shop” (this is what they call the prosthetic/orthotic making area of the hospital), she got a beanie baby puppy and promptly swiped one for me too. (No worries, I made sure it was okay before we took 2 puppies home). We were seen by 8:55. She was so incredibly good. She sat there while she was measured, marked, cast and measured some more and didn’t act up at all. I did leave the room at one point to go to the car to get her “baby arm” to return to them if they could re-use it, and she was a little worried while I was gone (my mom stayed with her), but other than that she was good as she could possibly be. She sat very still while all this was going on, making it much easier to get things done I’m sure. Then she got to pick out a fabric for her new arm. After much debate and a few “Uh, no” moments from me, we decided on a very pretty pastel colored butterfly pattern. I’m thinking she’s going to want to wear the arm just for the pretty material. She’s so much like me it’s scary. We were informed that this new arm will be a “functioning” arm. It will come equipped with hinges and all so that she will be able to open and close the arm. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but in 2-3 weeks we’ll be headed back to pick it up and learn all about it. I’m excited. I don’t think she has this all figured out either, so I’m eager to see her reaction and to see if she is excited, indifferent or total against the idea. It’s her call. I just hope she doesn’t discount it too quickly.

I had hoped that we would be able to go to the City Museum after our visit to the hospital, but that too was closed on Mondays. Maybe next time our trip will be during the time some of these things are open. *fingers crossed* We could have gone to the zoo or the botanical gardens, but it was still fairly chilly and pretty windy and I didn’t think we all needed to be out wandering around in that. So, after the hospital we stopped for brunch and then headed home. We took our time getting home because it was early and we had nothing set to do for the rest of the day. We made a few stops and even bought her a couple of shirts (because she’s spoiled that way) and then eventually stopped for ice cream in our home town and got home to sit on the deck and relax. Ahhh…it was good to be home.

She’s just such an amazing little girl. I can’t tell you how proud of her I am. Words just don’t describe it. Newly potty trained and logging 8+ hours in a car in two days and not even have the smallest of an accident. She acted up every now and then, but she’s 2, it’s to be expected. All in all it was a very good trip. It was kind of nice to get away for a little while and having her with us was just wonderful. I really don’t know what I would have done without my mom’s help and the assistance of the portable DVD player. I probably would have just gone with earplugs and driving at warp speed. *smiles*

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Potty Training Success

My girl has been working on this whole potty training thing. I hesitated to write sooner because I was afraid I would jinx it. I think I'm in the clear now.

So, about 6 weeks ago we started on this long journey of potty training. We had been doing a little bit here and there, but she was happy to run and hide somewhere and potty in her diaper and when you would take her to the bathroom she was kicking and screaming the whole way 90% of the time.

One evening Ashlyn joined me in the bathroom while I took a shower. She played with her toys and chatted with me while I showered and then she got quiet. Well, every one knows that a quiet kid isn't a good thing when they aren't in your direct line of sight. I yelled her name a couple of times and could see her blurry figure though the steam covered glass doors of the shower so I knew she wasn't hurt, but finally curiosity got the best of me so I stuck my head out the door and there she stood with my underwear on her head proudly proclaiming, "Look ma, I got your clothes on." I, of course laughed and told her those didn't belong and her head but when I was done I would show her how "big girls" go to wear underwear.

After finishing my shower, I did just that. She was very impressed with the fact that I didn't have to wear a diaper and she demanded underwear right then and there for herself. I was caught off guard because she had never really express much interest in underwear or become a full fledged potty-trained girl. I promised I would get her new underwear soon but that she had to start going potty on her chair and not her diapers. She agreed to do whatever I asked for the sake of underwear. Fair enough.

Once the underwear was purchased (SEVERAL PAIRS because I'm OCD like that) she was thrilled to bits that she was going to get to wear them. I was thrilled to bits that she WANTED to wear them. That weekend it seemed I had jumped the gun yet again. She would wet her pants and continue to play as though nothing were wrong. She would do the other and not care one bit. I was hoping she'd take to it like a fish in water, but that wasn't going to happen. It took about a week and then it started to sink in with her. She had done good at daycare all day and we went to my dads and she had an accident and was incredibly upset by it. She wanted underwear and she wanted CLEAN underwear at all times. That was over a month ago now and she has not had a single accident, not one. Not even at nap time or bedtime. She was just DONE WITH DIAPERS. I had, of course, just purchased a brand new pack of night-time pull-ups on the off chance she would need them, and she just proved me wrong yet again. (I'm sure this "proving me wrong" thing is bound to be repeated about a zillion-trillion times in my life.)

So, she is now 100% potty trained. She will even go into the bathroom by herself, undress herself (providing the clothes aren't too cumbersome - which I try to avoid), go potty in her potty chair, dump it into the big potty and flush. It was like it just clicked and she had grown up overnight.

I'm so proud of her. Again, proving to me that she can (and will) do anything she sets her mind to do...also proving that she is growing up just too darn fast. Speaking of growing, she's also going through a growth spurt. Where did my little helpless baby that needed me for everything go???

Monday, March 8, 2010

Appointment with Shriner's in St. Louis

I'm so excited to say that we have an appointment with Shriners in St. Louis on March 29th. My mom and I are going to head out the Sunday before so we aren't spending 8+ hours on the road in one day, since I'll be doing the driving. We used to take the Shriner's van and it would be a full day trip to and from and also the doctor's appointment. That was when she was little and would spend most of the trip sleeping. Now, however, at 2 1/2 she talks non-stop and I'm afraid they would kick us all off out of the van because no one would be able to sleep. :)

It will make a nice little get-away for the 3 of us also. We are going to leave on Sunday mid-afternoon early enough to arrive before dark. I'm sure Ashlyn is going to LOVE being in a hotel for the first time ever. We'll spend the evening there thinking of ways to entertain her, since she has the attention span of a...well, 2.5 year old. Her appointment is at 9:00 am on Monday.

This appointment will just be for a fitting for her new arm. I'm excited about this because this arm should be a more useful arm. It'll be a new "gadget" for her to explore and learn to use. She doesn't really "need" it because she has compensated for the lack of a left arm so well. I just don't want to limit her if she wants to become a super-user of the new arm.

She showed her first real signs of interest in getting a new arm a couple of weeks ago. She found her old arm in a desk in our entry hall. Although it didn't fit (since that was from our last trip at 9 months old) she stuck it on her little arm and waved it around saying "Hi!" to me and my mom. It was pretty darn cute. So I asked if she wanted to go get a new one. Of course she did, she wants anything NEW. Shoes, clothes, ponytail ties, dresses...yep...she's her momma's girl alright.

I'm sure I'll be posting more between now and then. In fact I KNOW I will because I now have potty-training bragging rights!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

She's not only extremely cute...she is super smart too!

I met with the School District this week to discuss what options are available for Ashlyn and what might be needed for the transition from daycare to kindergarten in a couple of years. We discussed her motor skills, her comprehension, her speech, her "education" level and pretty much everything that is required for kindergarten. We talked for about 30 minutes and the director was amazed at how much Ashlyn already knew. She knows her ABC's, she can count to 24, she knows her colors, she can sing songs with several words, she can can follow lengthy directions, she potty-trained...in short, there is nothing that she can't do.

Once the meeting was over, the director advised me that she had been working in this position for 10 years and had never told a parent this but, "She doesn't need any assistance. There is nothing we can do to advance her because she is already doing at 2 1/2 what we would hope for (and rarely see) with some of the kiddo's going on to kindergarten, with and without any disabilities." Wow!! That was a GREAT way to start my day.

We did discuss the fact that she still had almost 3 years before starting Kindergarten, so there was the possibility that she could start falling behind in some areas, and this meeting was not a final decision written in stone that she could never get assistance. It was just letting me know that Ashlyn is WAY ahead of children her age in so many areas that right now, well, she's just too smart. *smile*

I told the director that was kind of what I was expecting to hear, but just didn't want to miss any opportunities that may be out there for her. I mean, I KNOW she's smart, but it never hurts to hear it from people outside the family and friends circle.

So anyone that has a child with a limb difference or limb loss, just because they may be missing a limb certainly doesn't mean they will be falling behind in any area of their life. They will compensate and amaze you over and over and over again!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Welcome to Ashlyn's World

Ashlyn was born in September of 2007. Prior to her arrival I had no idea that she was missing her left forearm and hand. When she finally made her way into the world (she is as stubborn now as she was then), I was told so many different things caused this. We went to Shriner's when she was about 4 months old and we were finally told they really don't have any idea what the real cause is. It is just a lack of development. More common in girls than boys. More common in the left arm than the right arm. This, at least, gave me the satisfaction of knowing that I didn't do anything wrong. That had always been one of my greatest fears, thinking that I had somehow caused this to happen. That, in fact, is not the case. I was very thankful to hear that.

During the first few months of her life I had times of disbelief and sadness. I was confused and scared of what life had in store for her in the future. People can be so rude and unbearable at times. How would I be able to shelter her? Ah yes, Finding Nemo comes to mind over and over again, even today. However I have incredible support from my family. I knew that with the love I had for this child of mine (even before I met her) and the love and support of my family and friends and extended family, we would conquer any obstacle that was presented to us, and boy have we ever!!!

I thought about blogging several times. I had another blog before she was born that was more about me and the things I was going through at the time just before her birth. I didn't feel that starting that blog over would do her justice and so I have started a new blog that will only pertain to Ashlyn. Her life, her successes, her stubbornness...all in all her WORLD!

Welcome to ASHLYN'S WORLD!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!