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Friday, January 18, 2013

Working on physical development

Brenna is 12.5 months right now (though not for long!), and for some reason, I remember so many things about this stage of life with Connor. Twelve and a half months.

At 12.5 months, Connor started walking. There was no stepping and then falling down. He's always been a cautious kid, and he finally started walking after I'd lean him up against a couch, step away, and then he'd charge toward me.

At 12.5 months, I stopped nursing Connor. We'd been through one whole year of nursing together, and I felt so much success about that. But I was sure ready for some freedom too :)

At 12.5 months, Connor began using American Sign Language (after we received Baby Signing Time DVDs for his birthday - which we LOVE). He first signed milk at this age (and then moved on to dozens of others!)

At 12.5 months, we got our first professional family photos taken (by Kyle Shultz, who also did our family portraits last summer). I still have these photos hanging all over our house. Connor was crawling all over but barely walking, smiling a big goofy grin, and clapping his hands with wild abandon.

Just look at that bald head! 

The other day I jokingly offered Brenna a bite of my sandwich, and Connor responded "Brenna can't eat that; she's just a baby!" I had to laugh when I thought at this age, Connor was eating cheeseburgers and pizza and whatever he could get his hands on.

At 12.5 months, life with Brenna is very, very different. I am long past even subconsciously comparing her to other children her age because there isn't anything to compare. It's no secret that Brenna is very behind, especially with physical development. Most of her peers are walking, and she isn't even crawling or scooting yet. And that's OK. Brenna's skin is restrictive, and so her muscles and tendons have grown tight as well. Her hips and hamstrings are especially tight, and her shoulder muscles are very weak.

But between physical delays and oral intake, I have been feeling the pressure lately. When your child is very behind in areas like this, there is no "just playing." There is holding the toy even farther up to stretch her shoulder muscles, there is tummy time at small intervals throughout the day so she doesn't get too upset by it, there is a lot of offering food to her - a cracker or a taste of a sauce on her pacifier - just to hope that she'll try one little chew or lick.

And there is some guilt at the end of the day if I realize I didn't do enough of these things.

With her birthday and the crazy holiday season behind us now, we have the whole year ahead of us. We have a little more flexibility in our days right work on progress.

And I'm really excited about the progress she is making, just after several therapy sessions (through Early Intervention). She's reaching higher, she's opening her hands more and she's tolerating tummy time so much better. She's even rolling over now (and not screaming about it :) )

I'm so proud of each of these milestones that she's hitting because it doesn't come easily to her like it does to other children. It makes me that much more appreciative...I even got a little choked up when she rolled over for the first time.

Some of my New Year's resolutions included Brenna's progress...and I'm excited to see how she will develop, especially with all of the work we are putting into it now. But sometimes, I just want to "be", to not have to think about how far she's reaching or how much her torso is pivoting. So I'm going to give myself some grace too, to push her gently when she needs it, but also to enjoy our times together without worrying about her development.


  1. What a CUTE picture of Connor:) You have probably learned to "Ejoy the Moment" with both the kids. We ALL need to do that more.
    Pete and Judy Olesen

  2. Your families story is both inspirational and heart breaking at the same time. Thank you so much for continued updates on Brennan's progress she is such a beautiful little girl every time I get onto my page and see your post with her big beautiful blue eyes and that heart warming smile it fills my heart with joy. Your family truly is an inspiration and also defines the true meaning of a parents unconditional love for their children. I hope that with each passing day Brennan gets stronger and more healthy and that your heart continues to be filled with more of the unconditional love that you have for her and may your soul be filled with peace every time you look at hour precious Brennan for she is the definition of a true miracle. Thank you once again for sharing Brennan's story with all of us her admirers. Bless you and the rest of Brennan's family. With much heartfelt love and respect. The Rinnus family.

    1. Sorry my phone keeps spelling her name wrong. Beautiful Brenna.

  3. She's not "behind", she's perfect for her! You are such an amazingly strong woman! God knew exactly what he was doing when he sent you such an angel. I typically read your blog but never post but I was always so comparative with my daughter to others her age to an obsessive point. And then I realized that other moms were doing the same. I wasn't noticing little things about her I never missed before. Every day is different, every day a blessing, a gift. It's easy to get twisted up into milestones, growing and learning. Everyone seems to want their kid to be the brightest, most developed and athletic but seems to overlook wanting their children to be the happiest. That's my new focus!

    1. that is a wonderful sentiment! I just might have to share that on my fb page if you don't mind :)

  4. As a pediatric Physical therapist, I do a lot of family teaching. I always recommend that people try to carve out some "therapy" time, and then during the rest of the time just be her Mommy. You have so many additional things that you need to do for her skin that is makes your just "being" time more important. The other thing that you will find is that now that she can roll on her own, some other things will begin to progress a little more quickly as well, because she has something that she can practice on her own without your intervention.

    1. thank you, I really like that idea! thanks for your encouragement :)

  5. I agree that she's not behind, she's perfect for her! When you look at everything she has acheived and endured, it is quite clear that she is an absolutely extraordinary child. On my best days I don't think I have half the stamina or spirit of your little girl. She's a rock star! I know it's hard to let go of the mom guilt. We all feel it, but it really serves no purpose...better to fill that space with gratitude. That's what I'm trying, anyway. All you can do is do your best and forget the rest! LOVE your blog and your little girl!


  7. Your boy was such a cute baby, such a cute 3 year old :)
    As for Brenna's progress - she's doing well for her. The milestones may not be matching her age, but they're all something to be celebrated. I think I was behind in a few movement-y type things too, and even now, I can't do some stuff as well as others. But I do what I can, and make up for it in other ways.
    You're doing an amazing job with the therapy. That associated therapy wasn't around in my babyhood. It was all about the skin focus. How things change hey!

  8. I've been reading your blog since the beginning and I continue to be amazed at how wonderful you are as parents of a special needs child. God gives these children to people whom he knows will give them the best life possible and are able to handle the added responsibilities of their needs. You are doing an amazing job and helping others along the way. Thank you for sharing your story. God chose the right parents for beautiful Brenna. God bless you.


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