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Last time I wrote in-depth about Kara’s therapy she was only 6 weeks old. We’ve come a long way since then! Kara continues to impress us all, which is no surprise. Visual and auditory tracking goals are yesterday’s news along with holding her head in mid-line and reaching for her toys.
Reaching for her toys was a big one. We started out slowly by laying her on her side so it was easier for her to reach out and control her arms & fingers.
Next, she started working in her Boppy pillow lounger (a MUST for your baby registry). She was ready to start working with a little less assistance. The pillow forces her shoulders up a little, but still makes her use more muscles to reach forward.
By Christmastime, she was laying flat on the ground and working completely against gravity to pull her arms up. One of her favorite Christmas presents really helped motivate her! Her eyes would lock onto her target and her little arms would shake unsteadily as they pulled up near the toys dangling above her.
Now we’re working on laying on her belly and reaching for toys. She is starting out on her thick Boppy pillow. It takes a lot of strength and coordination to do something like this, but I have caught her TWICE with a toy in her grasp while doing tummy time. TWICE! That’s huge! Her PT was so impressed!
Something else we’re watching is a slight head tilt that she’s developed. When you hold her up in front of you, you can see her head tilting to her left. The therapist measured it at a 20° angle, but thinks its due to weakness in the right side of her neck and shoulder (as opposed to torticollis). The solution? Stretching and exercises, but mostly tummy time.
I’ll let you in on a little secret… The answer is always tummy time.
Upper body weakness? Tummy time.
Digestive issues? Tummy time.
Problems latching? Tummy time.
Want to see that bald spot disappear? Tummy time.
Jacob and I are learning just how important tummy time is to Kara’s development. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs….in their crib at night, in their swing while you’re washing dishes, on their play mats in the afternoon, in the bathtub during the evening. Flipping them over and working those other muscles is crucial.
I will flip Kara over on her play mat and let her wear herself out (always supervised.) She’ll lay her cheek down and either close her eyes or gaze at me while she rests. Even resting in this position is helpful. Breathing into the ground works her lungs and chest muscles in a different way. I have found that it’s all about using gravity as a tool and incorporating a sense of balance (if you work one side, you have to work the other).
Kara’s also been seeing a chiropractor for the past couple of months. I started seeing Dr. Sarah Froehlich (soon-to-be Drake) during pregnancy and she worked magic on my lower back, my neck, and shoulders. I had always noticed the posters in her office promoting adjustments for babies and it stuck with me. Most people, when they think of a chiropractor think ‘pop’ ‘snap’ ‘crack’. However, I had a completely different experience with Dr. Froehlich and I was completely comfortable having her adjust my baby girl.
Upon her initial consult, Dr. Froehlich found that Kara’s upper back and neck were stiff and tight. She said this is very typical in babies born via C-section. It is also a trigger for tummy pains…Ah ha !
The adjustment Kara was given was quick and gentle. She uses no more pressure than you would use on your eyeball. In fact, when she was done I hadn’t even realized she had started!
I learned some things too. We chatted about possible spinal deformities that people with DS are more likely to have and she provided some thoughts for the future. If Kara becomes interested in certain sports or activities we will want to have an X-ray done first (think soccer, gymnastics, etc.) If the spinal deformity is ruled out, then Kara will be cleared to play as rough as she dares.
Dr. Froehlich was overall impressed with Kara and how her body responded to the adjustments. We saw her a handful times more and saw a giant difference in Kara’s mood and tummy problems. Now, Kara is only seen on an “as needed” basis.
(More information on Pediatric Chiropractic Care here.)
As a parent, it might be hard when you realize that you don’t have all the answers and it’s necessary to let someone else care for your child. I feel so lucky that Kara has such capable therapists and doctors that do an a m a z i n g job with her.
Therapy is such a big part of our lives now that we have Kara. It’s almost like a third job stacked on top of my part-time job and my stay-at-home-mom status. We had our first break from therapy over the holidays and it made me realize how much running around we do. I got a glimpse of what life would be like if she didn’t have Down syndrome (or if we didn’t care enough to take to her as often as we do). It was so nice. There was no pressure, no schedule, no exercises. We enjoyed our days of no plans and wide open schedules. It felt like a vacation.
On the other hand, I felt BORED. I slacked on doing any sort of developmental exercises at home with Kara which made me feel lazy, and I also missed seeing the same people every week. Turns out, my “busy bee” schedule isn’t so bad after all 🙂
Long story short: She is getting so very strong and I am happy with the life that Kara has brought me.
H A P P Y F R I D A Y !!! 🍋