Smiles/ baby sign language/ routine

My oh my, the first smiles of my a baby. We’ve gotten a little more each day. Gnnnuuuuuaaaahhhh. That’s all I can say. Heartsplode. And I could swear he has started trying out new sounds, changes from the guttural, grunty, screechy-squeaky sounds, that make him sound like Gizmo, Chewbacca, or a super-tiny baby horse neighing. In between all that will come very rarely a sweet and brief sing-song, “Oh-ohhhh.” It’s in the back of his throat. (Baby’s move from the chest and throat up into the mouth, tongue, lips as they develop langauge.)

In the meantime we are already at the very beginning stages of introducing baby sign language. It seems a bit early, but then again, it is introduced to deaf children from the time of birth. I got flash cards and yesterday, at lightening speed while he slept, I taped them all to cardstock and pinned the posters to the wall. I’m really excited to get more into this as he gets bigger.

sign langI’ve also been reading Good Morning, Sun to him each morning, and Goodnight, Moon each night. We have a semi-routine going. Morning time begins with a feeding and we move on to a bath in the kitchen sink—sometimes with soap, sometimes just a quick dip in the warm water. He loves baths, and so do I.  He goes limp and I swoosh him gently around on his back. Then we move to a sunny spot in the living room where I dry him off and let him be naked in the sun for a little while (shielding his more sensitive parts), which he also loves. He just lays there limply, looking at me with this relaxed, happy expression. Then we go to the changing table, where we put on a fresh diaper, and I sing the song I made up for this occasion, entitled: Doing the Dipes! (A full playlist of  the songs I’ve written for ST to come…there are about ten now.) This is a happy time filled with all sorts of sensory yumminess…I rub this wonderful-smelling cream/ointment that R gave us (she just visited from Hawaii!) into his hands, feet, belly, neck. I give him an all-over massage, including his jaws and face. Then I move him to the crib, where he can check out the mobile, while I pick out an outfit for him (everything is either too big or too small right now). He’s usually awake and happy after all of this and ready for some reading—this is when I read Good Morning, Sun. Then some music and exercises—he stands up on my chest or belly, does back bends, or we do various other kinds of stretches. After that, we’ll maybe do some tummy time or checking out the stuffed animals hanging from the gym. At some point in all this, he starts to signal that he’s had enough, and after some soothing, he’ll take a nap. Such progress in such a short amount of time!

Another thing we are doing differently: Feeding him less. Good lord, I think we were over-feeding him without realizing it. So we’re trying to keep him on more of a schedule. So far (it has been two days) so good! He doesn’t spit up as much and he doesn’t dribble as much during a feeding. (We had even had some vomiting.) Usually his clothes are pretty spent from feedings, but yesterday, he didn’t get anything on his clothes. I think these are all good signs.

Sweet boy was born with something called microtia of the ear, which means one ear is smaller and malformed. We’re not sure if he can hear out of that ear, but I think he can, because I’ve noticed that sometimes when his non-microtia ear is pressed up against me, covered up, his microtia ear out to the world, he hears things as distant as the shower in the bathroom being turned on. The ear is folded over and there is no canal. If he has a middle ear and ear drum sealed up in there, there is the possibility of space-age technology really helping him hear somewhat normally out of it someday. But the good news is, he hears fine out of the other ear, and doctors say that he will not have trouble picking up language or with equilibrium, walking, and so on. The thing we worry about is teasing from other children. We won’t be able to get reconstructive surgery for him until he is older, and even then, the results can be a little iffy. Prosthetic ears look great on websites, but I’m not sure what they are like in person. No matter what, we are going to give him the love, guidance, and support that he needs to handle this extra challenge. I was talking to a friend about it—maybe this is one of those gifts in disguise. Maybe it will teach him to have a lot of empathy for those who are “different,” early in life. Maybe it will actually help him have more self-confidence than he would otherwise, because of the way we will help him view it. Who knows? If you have a child with microtia, or know someone who does, I’d love to hear anything you have to say about it.

It does not appear to be genetic or to be related to anything at all. (DH’s mom assumed it was because it was donor egg and because I am old! That woman. She actually asked if we had any regrets or if we are happy. She’s super-crazy.) What seems to be the case to me is that it had to do with his position in the womb. He was sort of at an angle in there, my OB said, and I notice that when he sleeps, he will put his hand up to his microtia ear and his fingers fit into the grooves of the microtia ear like key in a lock. I bet he was on one side, putting a lot of pressure on that hand and ear. (The hand is a little smaller, too, but is otherwise normal.) So we’ve gone to ENTs, geneticists, etc., and test results are showing that it is not related to any syndromes. Also, no kidney or vertebral problems. We’ll go to a cardiologist next, just to be safe, but he appears perfectly healthy.

As for the hearing—well, studies show that he could have a 5 to 10% learning deficit, but those studies are a bit dated. We’re just going to do everything we can to make ensure we’re helping him overcome any disadvantages.

Which brings me back to baby sign language, and reading…helping him develop a love of language and communication and song is where that help starts.


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  1. You are so awesome starting reading/signing now! And he’s perfect! Looking forward to reading more about your journey with microtia, mommy hood, etc.

  2. Awww! What a cutie! My nephew has microtia. Also with no other physical effects. He has a canal but the bone is closing it in. He wears a ‘hearing aid’ that transmits sound through the bone. He sees a birth to three teacher weekly and is developing on target. His speech is delayed but otherwise he’s right on. He communicates fine. I’m glad things seem fine in your case too. Im sure the possibility of kindness problems was scary. What a sweetheart! Oh – your MIL. UGH!

    • this is all so great to hear—thank you for chiming in! when did he start seeing a birth-to-three teacher? does she take him to the teacher’s house or something like that?

      and i know, my MIL!… she actually said this about a week after he was born, when she was here. it made me realize that she really is just kind of a crappy person…i keep trying to give her the benefit of the doubt but after a while you just have to stop and say, Nope, crap person.

  3. Julia

     /  January 17, 2015

    Your mother-in-law is quite the piece of work! Gah!!!

    Your little one is so precious and I love the description of the simple pleasures you both enjoy together. The begining of such a beautiful relationship. :)

    I wish you well as you navigate through the medical system. Sounds like you have a wonderful handle on everything and he is well taken care of. Will be following along with you and cheering you on.

    What a beautiful little boy. I’m so happy for you.

    • Julia

       /  January 17, 2015


    • MIL…sigh….years and years and years to come of CUH-RAY-ZEE. Not gonna lie—I think it’ll be a smidge difficult for me to forgive and forget when it comes to this recent smack in the face. I mean, come on. I have resisted telling all of the stories about the CRAZY that happened while I was pregnant, but perhaps I actually should write one juicy, blowing-off-steam post….

      Thank you so muc for your support and your cheers. Felt and appreciated as always! He is incredibly beautiful, isn’t he. He continues to dazzle me.

      • Julia

         /  January 27, 2015

        A vent post does sound juicy. Maybe yours will inspire me to write one about my MIL. Even without hearing your story yet, I think yours may have mine whipped…and mine is quite the piece of work…

  4. Ok so I don’t know much about microtia admittedly, but one of Fi’s ears is noticeably smaller than the other. Her hearing is fine in it though. She has something called VACTERL (which is sorta like a syndrome) and that can be one of the associated problems. She’s just had so much other stuff going on that I haven’t thought too much about it. Although even though it’s a pretty minor thing on the scheme of things right now, when she reaches school age it would likely be the one thing that’s noticeably different about her. It makes me all kinds of crazy to think of her being bullied especially after all she’s been through. Hoping I can instill in her that all these things are part of the unique and awesome person that she is.
    Ps. my diaper song goes Changey de diapady, change-oh-dipo day-o…

    • First off, your diaper song ROCKS. I incorprated “change-oh-dipo-day-o” into “Doing the Dipes!” We might have to contact Jim O’Rourke or Vangelis or Arthur Russell for production advice.

      I looked up VACTERL. I’d never heard of it before. Please give little Fi a hug from me. Gnuh. That’s so much stuff. I’m so glad you’re her mama. You seem like such a strong resourceful lady.

      The ear—what we have in common continues! If you find out anything about reconstructive surgery or, well, whatever you come across, would love to hear about it. I will do the same.

      So far, his cousin, who is seven, said immediately upon seeing him, “What’s wrong with his ear?!” She wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. She’s just a kid who, like all kids, notices difference right away. Sigh. It made my heart sink a little.

      Am here for you if you ever need a friend for support.

      • Ah thanks so much. Glad we could collab on a diaper song! Diaper songs are very important for everyone’s sanity!!
        Yeah I had never heard of VACTERL before either. Never in a million years did I think I’d be affected by something like this. It’s still totally bizarre and shocking to me. Fortunately, what she has is on the milder end of the spectrum. She does have all the letters exept A, but her heart defects resolved themselves and her kidney problems are very mild. But we’re still at the hospital all the time and she’s had a lot to deal with already in her short life. She’s always super happy though, babies are unbelievably resilient.
        I can relate to that feeling you must have had when ST cousin mentioned his ear. It’s like you just want so badly to shield them from hurtful comments. But I bet we’ll get pretty good at navigating those moments. xo

  5. Hi, sweet face!! Glad you two are getting along better together :)

  6. You give me so much happiness. I love your love for the tiny man. I love that things are better now. Cause that itty bitty first few weeks stage is sooooo hard! And I kinda want to look into signing now! He’s such a cute man!!


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