The other day, as Adahlia strode into the kitchen in her moccasin slippers, I realized I was hearing “the putter-patter of little feet” and grinned. Not only is that particular sound amazingly cute, but with everything Adahlia has been through, it is nothing short of a miracle to hear her walking.
I am. So. Grateful.
I started writing this post on 11.11.13. Things have been busy; I’ve been exhausted. So by the time you get to the bottom of this post, you will realize that it’s nearly time for Adahlia to get her blood checked to see if she needs a transfusion. But first, news:
Very happy to announce that Adahlia is a bonafide free-walker, no longer needing to hold onto a wall or sofa for support! A couple days ago, we went to the playground and she walked, instead of having to be carried, from swing to see-saw to jungle gym. Hooray, little one!
She now loves following me everywhere I go… and I admit, I love it, too. All around the house, all day long, we walk around together. I don’t even mind when she follows me to the bathroom. And if we aren’t where she wants to be, she takes me everywhere she goes. For example, earlier today I was in the bedroom, but she wants me to come into the kitchen with her. She enters the room and stands in the doorway holding the doorframe, like a grown-up waiting for permission to enter. I look up: she waves. I wave back and say, “hi.” When I smile she grins. She toddles over, leans up, mouth open for a kiss, and I kiss her, pull her on to the bed for a cuddle. She then grabs my index finger, turns around, and pulling my arm above her head begins to walk away.
For exercise, or fun, or both, she walks me around and around the couch. I hold both her hands and lift to give her a boost up the stairs… Her little leg isn’t quite strong enough to push herself up the step.
We go on walks to the nearby nature park. The trail is paved and flat, and there are off-shoot trails of packed dirt and pine needles. She holds my finger as we walk. Sometimes, she walks alone. Sometimes, she rides the stroller. While standing alone a little boy comes running over, chased by his older brother, they are perhaps 6 and 8 years old. Their grandparents follow behind them. The littler boy is making a bee-line for Adahlia, his face lit up in excitement.
“Careful!” I call, as we near imminent collision. “She’s a new walker… Not so sturdy….” I have managed to restrain myself from reaching out to her but I can hear the nervousness in my voice.
She stands. Fearless. Watching. Waiting.
And as he nears, his face beaming in something like mischief and joy, he opens his arms and wraps her in a big bear hug, nearly lifting her off the ground. Then he dashes off, and I lunge forward in time to steady her. Beautiful.
There are some areas of the trail over wetland, or marsh, and the planks are slippery from rain. She slips and slides, holding onto my finger. “Whoaaa! Whooooaaaaa!” I say. She laughs and slips more, and laughs more.
We are at the edge of the park and we hear the sound of the railway crossing. “Look,” I say. “Train.” The light rail zooms by and Adahlia grins. Later, the railway chimes again but I’m lost in thought, or my own observations of nature. Adahlia tugs my hand and pulls. For a second I’m confused. Then I get it. “Oh! You’re right – train!” I say. And I lift her up do she can watch it race past.
On our return to the car, we pass an educational post featuring the photo of a rough skinned newt looking straight into the camera. Adahlia is in the stroller but as I show her the newt photo she lights up, and makes as if to try to sit up and get out. I know what she wants.
“You love him?” I ask. “You want to kiss him?” She smiles broader, eager eyes fixed on the newt, his orange underbelly shining, his eyes iridescent like black pearls.
I lift her up and towards the picture. She kisses it.
And then, as we are passing some oak trees, she again tries to get out of the stroller. This time, I don’t know what she wants. I lift her out and she walks off the path and plops down between the trees, on a deep pile of damp leaves. I crouch next to her as she contentedly examines and sorts the leaves, handing me twigs. We find something that looks like a shell of a nut, but is not. She leans back and then falls back, laying in the leaves, and I laugh. She tries to sit up, but I tell her its okay, so she lays back down and watches the branches move in the wind against the grey sky.
On our way to the car, in the parking lot, she is walking again, holding my finger and I push the stroller with my other hand. Suddenly she stops and squats down, examining the pavement. She is at the edge of a white line marking the crosswalk. She had never stepped on painted pavement before.
Recently, I found a bag of lavender in the back of our bathroom cupboards, either gifted from a friend moving out of town or saved from the free-box at NCNM, and we’ve begun taking baths in it. It’s lovely, and I feel it calms us both. I hold the bag open and she grabs a couple baby fistfuls and throws it in. Its a wonderful way to prepare to go to sleep.
With the windy, blustery days and evenings, we’ve started lighting fires in our living room. Adahlia comes running when she hears her dad open the stove to make a fire (even if I’ve already got her tucked in bed and she is about to fall asleep… sigh.)
She points to the fire and signs “water” — and I show her the sign for “fire.” But I also tell her she’s right: Fire is like water. They are the same, but opposite, and they control each other. They are both life-giving and life-taking. They are gifts, and neither good nor bad, but worthy of respect. Like many things in this world.
Adahlia helps me with the fire by removing the sticks of kindling one at a time from their bag and handing them to me. “Hot,” I tell her, regarding the stove. “No touch. Don’t touch.” But I know that like all of us, she will eventually learn the phenomenal power and pain of “hot” for herself through first-hand experience.
…. Just not today.
Adahlia loves helping. She helps empty the dishwasher – meticulously handing me one spoon or fork at a time, holding it up and behind her, waiting for me to take it from her but not looking at me, her eyes still on all the silverware to be removed. She also “washes” surfaces with a piece of cloth or tissue paper. She likes to “help” with sorting clothes when I’m folding them, too. And when we rake leaves, she helps by putting one leaf in the bag at a time… and then clapping.
Sometimes, if we aren’t reading a book to her, Adahlia will read a book to herself. She points at the pictures (the same things we point to, to draw her attention towards things happening in conjunction with the words we speak) and babbles in baby speak, “dah-dah-da-dah-dah…. bu-bu-bu.”. She flips the pages one by one, very purposefully.
Currently, Adahlia’s only true words are “baby,” “dada”, “mama” (or “me-me”), and “ba-ba-ba” … which very clearly means banana, as it is said with great enthusiasm, gesticulation, and pulling at me, while passing the banana display in the grocery store. (She wont eat bananas though. Very finicky eater. It’s tough. Very tough, trying to feed her.)
Adahlia enjoys drinking the smoothies I blend for us in the afternoon, as well as the fresh carrot, beet, celery, and apple juice I make fresh every morning. She is almost painfully adorable sipping our shared glass of juice through a straw – her hair pulled back, in an oversized sweatshirt. With her big eyes and pursed lips, its something from a more innocent era, like a 50s girl in a poodle skirt at a ice cream shoppe.
I’m very happy to say that her skin, which was getting very rough, like sandpaper, and was almost looking like eczema in spots, is entirely cleared up and is baby-smooth again. I think it might have been due to the bubble bath we were using… It wasn’t anything special for babies, just something I’d been given as a gift for myself. But over the month we used it, I noticed she was getting a couple strange rough spots on her upper arms, about the size of a dime, and her skin began to get sand-papery, first starting along her sides and then spreading to her chest and back. It wasn’t red like a rash, but it was definitely like sand-paper to the touch. So, I traded my bubble bath in for some organic baby bubble bath (about time, really, considering how fastidious I have been with all her other organic products). I also began applying olive oil to her skin again – we weren’t really doing anything this summer, and then I was applying coconut oil for awhile, but really, her skin responds best to olive oil. Its beautiful, really. Must be her Mediterranean blood. Honestly, I don’t know why people waste the money on lotion.
Speaking of ethnicity, Adahlia’s new favorite food these days is pasta – in any form. LOVES it. And a big chunk of crusty bread? THRILLED. Not the healthiest of fare, perhaps, but we take what we can get. (And she is eating other food, too.) Ever observant, Adahlia also now enjoys blowing on food to cool it off before she eats it. Last night, with her hitched up on my hip, I spooned out some Israeli couscous from the stove pot and let her taste test from the spoon. “Whheeew!” she blew, and we took turns blowing on it. Adorable.
Other cute things? Adahlia has decided to mooch my wardrobe. She likes to put on my shoes – she will wear them on her hands and walk around, or slide her feet into them and wave them around. She takes my scarf and wraps it around her. My head wrap goes around her neck and off and on again several times. She puts on my fingerless gloves and wears them while reading or playing with her wooden barn animal set.
She also picks out her own outfits now. I hold up a couple shirts and she selects them. I show her all of her pants, and she points to the ones she wants with a big smile. Her favorites? A pair of brown leggings with white polka dots and a lime-green shirt from Portland’s Japanese garden with an alphabet of bugs on the front and back. She has other outfits that she really likes, but that’s definitely amongst her favorites. She also picks out the necklace she wants to wear for the day, and her pajamas.
Its 11.18 tonight, and she looks really good right now, I think, for just about 4 weeks out from her last transfusion. Though it’s hard to say. This past month has been rough on her… on all of us. She got sick the day after her last transfusion and has been sick pretty much this whole month. It seemed to ease up last week, but just as it started to clear she caught something else. We’ve had a series of nights with very little sleep, as she can’t breathe thru her nose very well, and she’s not a mouth breather. It’s been about a week of very deep coughing and really icky, icky stuff coming out of her poor nose. She’s also cut her molars… A tough time, but at least now the worst of teething is behind us! With all the illness, I thought she looked pretty pale, pretty bad, for awhile. But now she’s coming out of it again, and I think she looks pretty good. Pretty good for four weeks. Dang good for having been sick this past month. It’ll be interesting to see what her numbers say.
I’m also doing better. A follow up test if my kidney function showed my creatinine and eGFR were improved. The nephrologist, of course, said we can’t read anything into it, that we need to see the trend over time. Apparently, I am showing some proteins in my urine, which indicates there’s some glomerular damage. But I feel ok about it. The pain is not nearly so bad. I am healing – albeit slowly- from this strange ordeal. Adahlia is too. Maybe it’s too soon to call it, but I think it will be one of those things where we will look back and say, “Oh yeah, that makes total sense, we really turned that around towards health! Thank goodness for integrative medicine!”
Truth is that our eyes are kind of in a misleading place. We just can’t see anything looking forward. It’s when we look back that we see how it all aligns. It’s when it’s the Fall, and we are looking back on our year, our toughest years, and we are so grateful, the most grateful, for them.