21 June 2006

K is for..


Kaleigh is my niece, my sister's youngest child. She turned two last month and this picture is actually fairly recent. She's a very sweet tempered and rather patient child, quite content to play quietly by herself for as long as you'll let her. She has an infectious grin and very clearly has us all wrapped around her little finger!

All has not been sunshine and roses for this little cherub, though. At birth, she was diagnosed with laryngomalacia, which meant that she had a hard time breathing sometimes and would often be most comfortable as an infant with her head thrown all the way back. Partially because of this (at least I think), she never learned to really hold her head up as a very small infant, which led to a series of developmental delays - she couldn't hold her head up, so she didn't get put on her tummy very often and didn't learn to push herself up, etc.

Additionally, she is Gumby-incarnate. A more flexible child I've never met - she's destined to be a gymnast or a yogi! Even now, at just over two years old, she can lie flat on her stomach and pull her legs from a supine position around the side to directly under her torso. In fact, for quite some time that was her preferred method of sitting up (instead of rolling over onto her back and using her stomach muscles to pull her torso to a vertical position).

She, like her older brother, has also been "blessed" with her father's ears and her mother's eyes. Her father was plagued by ear infections as a small child, to the point that his ear drum ruptured one day when he was in 2nd grade. Knowing this family history, both her older brother and Kaleigh were watched fairly closely when they started getting repeated ear infections and they both now have tubes in their ears. Six or so months ago, during what I think was a routine exam, the doctor did an eye exam and determined that Kaleigh couldn't see as well as she should. As dubious as some of us were that they could accurately prescribe eyeglasses for a child so young, it's undoubtedly true that she engages the world around her with considerably more interest and enthusiasm than she ever did before she got her glasses.

These combined mean that at 2 she is just learning to walk - her muscles and her joints are just learning how they're *supposed* to work together, though her hips and her ankles still seem like they're not quite sure which direction they should be going - and also not yet talking (that's more the laryngomalacia). Her parents, my sister and brother-in-law, have been working and playing with her regularly and she attends regular sessions with a physical therapist, who has been instrumental in guiding them toward activities and toys that will help her get stronger and learn proper body alignment for walking and the like. They're trying to teach her sign language so that she has a method of communication in the instance she decides not to talk. And just in the last six to eight months, she's made tremendous strides.

All of that said, she's by far one of the most content children I've known. Now if I could just get her mom to put her in something other than pink..!


Anonymous said...

What a rough start. But what a cutie! :)


spaazlicious said...

Hey, some of my favorite people were developmentally delayed. My husband until he was nearly 16 I think was really just a serious of accidents, doctors visits, prescriptions & conditions. Then puberty really hit and his vision corrected, his asthma went away, and quite frankly he turned into a hottie. I love old pictures of him though, all weedy-looking in coke-bottle glasses.

It must be rough for K's parents because it seems so much a part of the culture to be competitive (I walked at ten months! Toilet trained at...) and it seems like there's a serious culture of fear in child development (the boogeyman of autism and so on) and it seems impossible to really know what to relax about and what needs therapeutic intervention ASAP. Sounds like they're on a good path though, and she's certainly a cutie. I'd be more confident about having kids if a)"expert opinions" on all things reproductive and child-rearing didn't seem to be in such flux and b) I knew that we would have a quiet introspective happy baby (my husband and I were both like that, but of course there are no guarantees. We also incurred roughly $15k in orthodontia fees all together too. Cute infants, hideous preteens. Guarantees are for appliances, adventure is for creating the next generation. Eek.)

How's your bicolor cardi? (I haven't touched mine in a while. I still need to sew seams, place buttons & knit the collar.)