Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Day of Firsts.

Today was Luna's last Synergis shot. Luna is weighed every time she receives the inoculation, and this morning she weighed 20.3 lbs! So, I'm declaring this will be the last time she ever sees the teens on the tiny scale again. It's also the last day of March. Leaving March behind also means it's the last of Luna's baby days for good. She is officially a toddler. On April 11th she'll turn 13 months.

Of course 'lasts' are usually synonymous with 'firsts'. We leave one job and go on to the next. Upon high school graduation, we, (in the words of John Mayer) bust down the double doors, never to re-enter them again, and thus open the door to a new chapter of our lives. Tomorrow is the first day of April. And though spring arrived during the evening of March 20th, April to me is when spring really begins. Living in northern New England for most of my life, March is still very much a winter month. Over a decade ago we got one of our biggest snow falls in one day-on April 1st. "Happy April's Fool Day!", Mother Nature seemed to mock as I shoveled out my parents drive way, with the sound of birds chirping from the trees above.

About a week ago Luna said her first word other than Mama or Dada: dog. Sienna was playing with her Leapfrog computer game and in one of the scenes there was a dog. The object was to click on various items on the screen-which would then activate-or animate-an action. For example, when Sienna clicked on a spicket, water came rushing out and the dog would excitedly jump over and drink from the faucet. Luna was enjoying the game. She has a huge fascination with the large variety of these four-legged animals (Sienna did at this age too, which is funny because neither The Architect nor I are big dog people, and we certainly don't own one). When the dog preformed one of his tricks, Luna would make her usual excited noise which sounds something like this (ah!, ah!, ah!, ah!). Only this time she blurted out DOG! Another first that would forever be in etched our memories.

Luna, as it turns out, doesn't like lasts either. In her case she is experiencing some pretty intense separation anxiety. This is normal for her age; though certainly may be exacerbated because of the regular poking and prodding she receives from weekly physical therapy sessions to monthly synergis shots. Babies do not fully understand the concept of when their mother leaves, she will return. Hannah, Luna's physical therapist, generously did some research on the topic and printed a definition so we may both better understand why Luna screams relentlessly during our sessions.

Here are some excerpts from the research she found:

Separation Anxiety and Stranger Anxiety both coincide with a new intellectual skill called object permanence. They now remember objects and specific people that are not present. They will search for toys that have dropped out of sight. They are able to call up a mental image of what or who they are missing. They do not want the stranger, because the stranger is not you.

And this part I found most heart breaking:

They understand that people leave before they learn that people return. They can tell from your actions that you are about to leave. Anxiety begins to build even before you leave. They can't tell from your actions that you are about to return. They have no idea when-or even if-you will come back. And they miss you intensely. For them, each separation seems endless.

The explanation then goes on to say that babies and toddlers experience it typically between 6-7 months and then again from 12-18 months. Each phase can last from 2-4 months.

The article concludes that separation anxiety is a dominant issue until language is understood by strangers. (Interesting!)

After each hour long therapy session Hannah writes-up a very official looking report on what Luna accomplished. I leave you my favorite part of this weeks report:

"She is continually going up to kneeling when she wants to go up to her mom. We tried standing up at the ottoman. She eventually did it with her mom holding her from behind while I opened a book and looked at it with her. She liked the puppies and imitated the puppies panting".

Panting like a puppy? That very well may have been a first for Luna!

Here Luna displays Stranger Anxiety with the Easter Bunny. But the photo begs to ask: Can we blame her?

1 comment:

Mindi said...

Such a classic picture! And despite your fuzzy company and what I'm sure were less than flattering photo conditions, you look stunning. Your girls are amazing. I hate the separation anxiety info--ick. Maybe I should never leave again if that's how it makes them feel...