Ear we go….

Dear Charlie,

I am late on your letter as usual… it’s been a really crazy/rough 6 weeks. So much has been going on that I don’t know where to begin. You might be wondering about the title of this letter– to give you some background, your brother had chronic ear infections that started when he was around 10 months and continued until he was about 18 months. As a result, I’ve gotten pretty well-versed on all things related to infant/toddler ear health. So about 6 weeks ago, when you started waking up crying several times a night, multiple nights in a row, and not even Motrin was helping, I strongly suspected an ear infection was to blame and took you to the doctor. They confirmed my suspicions and prescribed an antibiotic, but told me to not give it to you unless you got a fever. So we endured another 5 horrible nights and then the fever came. In hindsight, I wish I had went ahead and started the antibiotic while the infection was still mild. Maybe we wouldn’t have gone through the rest of the story I’m about to tell you…

The fever broke within a couple days of being on antibiotics, but you never really returned 100% to your normal self and were still having a really hard time sleeping  (which is hugely out of character for you– typically you sleep soundly from 6:30pm-6:30am without a peep). So, I knew the infection had not cleared up and took you back to the doctor, who again confirmed my suspicions. They prescribed a stronger antibiotic and I left feeling hopeful  (as this second antibiotic was always the one that worked for Alex), but worried because that weekend you were going to visit your grandparents without me for several days. The thought that you might be sick or uncomfortable in any way without me nearby to comfort you made me sick to my stomach… but the plans could not be undone at that point so I had to just hope for the best. You did better while on that antibiotic, but things went downhill as soon as you finished it. So back to the pediatrician we went only to find that now BOTH ears were infected (rather than just the one infected ear you started with), they prescribed an even stronger antibiotic and sent us on our way. Just a few days ago we finished that most recent round and checked back in with the doctor… and your ears are STILL infected. So, she gave us an ENT referral & we were luckily able to go see him the next day. After talking about the options, we agreed that it was better to go the more aggressive route given your developmental delays (I’ll talk about that next) and go ahead with putting tubes in your ears.

So that’s where things stand with your ears for now. Your surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday– 3 days from today. It’s a relatively minor outpatient procedure that only takes about 5 minutes to do & we shouldn’t be at the hospital more than an hour or two from start to finish, but it is indeed surgery and they do have to put you under general anesthesia…. definitely a big deal for such a little guy. SURGERY is a word that no mother ever wants to hear in relation to her kids, regardless of the circumstances. It is heartbreaking and terrifying. I’ll be honest, I haven’t slept very well since we got the ENT referral and the word SURGERY just keeps popping into my head. But, I am hopeful that this will lead to relief– finally! – from all these ear infections and we can resume life as normal.

And since you’ll be able to hear much better (right now the doctor says it’s akin to listening to something while under water), we are hopeful that it will help you start to catch up developmentally. To back track a bit, at your 9 month checkup you were physically fine, but the doctor expressed some concern that you hadn’t met enough of the milestones for communication and gross motor skills to be on par with other babies your age. He said that you were right on the border of needing therapy/intervention to help, but said it was okay to wait until your 12 month appointment to see if you’d catch up on your own.

However, after doing some research I discovered that it is free to have our local Early Intervention (EI) department come out to evaluate you and let us know whether they think further assistance is needed to catch you up. Two therapists & a social worker came out to do the evaluation, and  I’m glad they did. You had actually caught up a great deal on your gross motor skills while you were gone for Thanksgiving, but still rated pretty low in the other categories they looked at — (1) communication, (2) fine motor, and (3) social/emotional. I was expecting (1) since you don’t really have any words yet except “mama” on occasion (usually when you’re upset), nor do you really communicate much in a nonverbal manner such as waving…. but (2) and (3) were surprises to me. They were mainly concerned that you would not hold onto things for very long, imitate others, look at yourself in the mirror, or make a lot of eye contact with others. That being said, you honestly do those things a lot with us at home, and I suspect that you just weren’t into some of the activities they were trying to get you to do. Despite this, I agreed to their recommendation of weekly therapy sessions because it is relatively low-cost and it never hurts to get a little extra help. I just spoke with your assigned therapist today, and your first session will be next Wednesday (yes, just 2 days after your surgery… we’re optimistic that you’ll be feeling better by then as the recovery time is usually just one day or so).

Other than all THAT, haha, we’ve just been enjoying life and spending lots of quality family time together, especially with the holiday season going on. As I mentioned earlier, you went to visit your grandparents the week of Thanksgiving, and had a wonderful time with them + your cousins! While you were there, you learned how to “properly” crawl, pull up to stand, climb stairs and even cruise a little bit.

You really enjoyed your first Thanksgiving meal too!

Apparently you got the memo that most people wake up early on Black Friday. Or maybe your ears were bothering you. Either way, you ended up in bed with us at 5am the next morning…

Since we’ve been home, we’ve been enjoying lots of Christmas festivities as well!

You got to put up your first Christmas ornaments, then took a nap while the rest of us decorated the tree. You got up just in time to help me finish!

We’ve been busy making Christmas cookies (which you weren’t that into but enjoyed the fruits of my labor, LOL), going to fun holiday events around the area such as ZooLights, and opening up little gifts on our advent calendar. Each night you guys get a small gift which is usually a Christmas/winter-themed book or activity (like the felt tree in the picture above). Right now I think your favorite two books have been “That’s Not My Snowman” which is a touchy-feely book, and “Jingle Jingle Little Reindeer” which has a little reindeer finger puppet built into it. And of course, we can’t be ready for Christmas without a quick chat with THIS guy…

Santa! Your first Santa experience was very positive. You did not mind sitting in his lap at all, and enjoyed grabbing his nose & beard. LOL. It was definitely a very different scene, compared to your brother’s first Santa experience…

Anyway, this year Santa came to our house for our playgroup’s annual holiday party and gave out gifts to all the kiddos. You naturally enjoyed the bow + wrapping paper more than the gift (once Alex helped you open it 😉 ).

Here’s some of our other fun moments from the last month:

You’re such a water baby! Bath time is like this most every night… you just go crazy in there are love every minute of it! This particular night you were in the tub by yourself, but usually you & Alex take baths together just because it’s a lot easier logistically.

You’re quite an excellent eater! You’ve gotten two teeth, bottom center, which I suspect contributed to the start of this ear infection business. Also, despite being in a phase were you very much enjoy throwing things on the floor (especially when Annie is around), you still manage to consume more than you drop these days.

Look how well you can crawl now! Since this video was taken, you’ve gotten even faster. I have to watch you like a hawk.

Despite being very sick, you still managed to have many smiley moments. Overall, you’re a very chill & happy baby still. I look forward to you being an even happier baby once we have all these ear troubles behind us.

This is my MOST FAVORITE PHOTO right now! You & Dad were snuggled up in bed with Alex, just after he’d woken up from his nap. I think it shows very well how much love the three of you have for one another. 🙂 Such a sweet moment! Alex was giving you lots of kisses. Obviously between daycare & home, you two are never far from each other’s side….

Dad getting lots of help fixing one of your toys. LOL

Alex wanted desperately for you to wear one of the Ninja Turtle masks he made… but if you couldn’t eat it, you decided you’d rather not. 😉

I put you in bed with Alex a lot, especially on the weekends when we all read together before nap time. He loves to cuddle with you, but now that you can crawl you’d rather explore his bed and mess with his stuffed animals!

So I have to say, as difficult as it was to get your monthly photo last time, it was even worse this time with you being able to stand…. you would NOT. STAY. STILL. Good lord. Huge PITA, but we got there eventually (sort of). Only two more of these to go though!

And so I think I’ve finally said all I wanted to say… I can wrap up this mammoth letter! As you can see, it’s been a very eventful month (and then some). Parenting the second child may sound easier in theory, but you have been excellent at keeping me on my toes! And now that you’re mobile (not to mention having a huge penchant for trouble/being drawn to the most dangerous thing in the room like flies to honey), I mean that in the most literal sense. LOL. It’s a crazy, busy, exhausting, challenging life… but I wouldn’t trade it. 😉 Happy 10 (well heck, almost 11) months Charlie– you are such a blessing to this family. Dad, Alex & I simply cannot imagine our lives without you!

All my love,
Mom

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