9 Months Old!

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Very early in the month, Andie awoke screaming around midnight which also woke up Charlee.  Andy and I go in there and we each have a girl.  As Andie remains inconsolable (possible nightmare), Charlee starts throwing herself out of my arms in order to touch Andie.  We have seen this type of behavior frequently this past month – if one girl gets really upset, the other girls acts very curious and attempts to touch her; however they also frequently cause each other to get upset.  Even though the girls have a hundred toys to play with, they continue to tug-o-war with the same item.  The girls often fight over the bucket of blocks.  I think it is Charlee’s favorite, but Andie frequently pulls it away from her.  There are also a lot of binkie and blankie thefts, which are even funnier when the girls act like they aren’t doing anything or try to hide the fact that they took it.  The past couple of weeks, the girls crawl into my lap and each one is happy in my lap… until the other one wants to crawl into my lap and then we immediately have two crying babies in my lap.  The girls also try to crawl into my arms at inopportune times.  Just tonight, I had Andie laying down in front of me so that I could dress her in her jammies.  Charlee decided that this was a good time to crawl into my lap so I am trying to reach around Charlee to get Andie dressed.  The girls can play together well sometimes… like passing a ball back and forth between them, or pulling blankets off each others heads… Sometimes it is a bit messier as they take turns spitting their food out and laughing.

Last weekend my dad came over and helped install the baby jail since Andie is crawling and Charlee is scooting.  Since we frequently have to leave one girl unattended to do something with the other girl, we needed a safe space.  Prior to the jail, Andie was already pulling the baskets out of the table, trying to pull herself up on the table, and pulling on the DVD player.  Only two days passed before Andie was putting her legs through the bars at the gate and running her binkie along the rails for sound.

The girls really LOVE books and have managed to destroy many of their cardboard books with their chewing.  Their favorite book is Pajama Time.  Charlee is very impressive with her ability to turn each page one by one.  Andie will also stare at a book for a long time, but she isn’t so deliberate with the pages.

Andie chuckles all day every day… she thinks anything and everything is funny.  We can get Charlee to laugh and smile, but it still takes an effort sometimes.  When Charlee smiles really large or laughs, she squinches her eyes or silent laughs.  Charlee has been making an adorable gurgling sound, more often when she is upside down.  Andie likes to yell and scream when she wants to hear herself.  Andie continues to be much louder and faster in general.  She is trouble.  She likes to roll over or sit up during diaper changes.  If you don’t hold her, she would throw herself onto the floor.  Many of her changes have become a two person job.

Charlee has moved into size 4 diapers and is regularly wearing 18 months clothing.  Andie is almost the same height but is very wiry.  Charlee is pushing 25 pounds while Andie is still closer to 18 pounds.

Current schedule:  WAKE UP AT 530AM EVERY DAY!  6oz bottles, breakast at 730am, nap ~830 to 1000a, 4oz bottles, lunch at noon, nap ~130-300, 4oz bottles, dinner at 5pm, 6oz bottles at 6pm, asleep by 630pm.  The girls are still putting down a serious amount of food.  Favorite items include bananas, applesauce and other sweet fruits, and sweet potatoes and squash.  The peas and green beans do not get eaten as quickly, but the girls have still eaten everything that we put in front of them.  We have given them ice cream and brownie and they aren’t dummies… they know when we are eating something good and they cry when we stop giving it to them.  You cannot eat anything in front of these two.  It doesn’t matter if they just ate, they want your food.  When we *try* to eat dinner, they take their walkers to your side and pull on your pants or jacket begging for scraps like little puppies.  At least a couple times a week, I have to start giving them baby puffs or banana bits between my forkfulls so that they stop yelling at me.  Charlee really likes tea and also enjoyed V8, eggs, cream cheese, peanut butter, and brownie.

Charlee can regularly make it from 630pm to 530am without waking.  Sometimes Andie wakes her, sometimes she wakes up on her own, other times we don’t touch her.  Andie STILL wakes up EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.  I think we’ve only had 7 or 8 nights where we didn’t go into the nursery at all.  We have made progress though.  We are no longer feeding her, she just wants a diaper change, blankie and binkie and usually goes back down fairly quickly.  We still have at least a couple nights a week when the entire night is chaos, but that is because we are teething.  Last weekend, Andie DID NOT SLEEP… only single 1-hour naps during the day and then she cried for numerous hours at night.  I was so exhausted and ready to run away.  She wasn’t giving any indication that her tummy or teeth were bothering her, but then her first tooth popped through that Monday.

PERSONALITY AND OTHER FUNNY THINGS:

Charlee frequently crosses her ankles when she is sitting or laying (see first picture above).  She always crosses right over left.  Andie never crosses her ankles, but rather spends a lot of time kicking out her feet or rubbing the bottoms of her feet together while she sits.  It seems like anytime you put her on a new surface, she quickly rubs her feet to see what sound it will make.  Andie also uses her feet as a second set of hands… picking up toys or maneuvering toys like rotating a block.  Charlee hasn’t quite figured out how to crawl more than a step.  She leans to her hands and will briefly stay on hands and knees, but then will push back onto one hip and attempt to get back to sitting.  The funniest thing is when she attempts to back down onto her butt, but wedged herself up against a wall or her sister.  Watching her lower her butt into Andie’s lap is quite amusing.  Charlee’s attempt at crawling is very slow and you can tell that she is really struggling with her weight.  Andie can crawl, but hasn’t figured out that she needs to keep her tummy elevated to go a further distance.  She frequently lays on her tummy, arches her chest and feet up and screams to indicate that she needs help moving.  This is a complete act, she is never actually stuck.  Charlee has taken our “blanket head” game to the next level.  We have found her quietly playing while wearing a blanket hat for periods of time.  She also plays peek-a-boo with herself by putting the blanket over her face over and over again and she has also worn a blanket over her face while jumping in her jumper.  After the girls bath, I show them their selection of one-piece pajamas hanging nearby.  I ask each girl which one they want to wear… the blue one, the pink one, the white one, the red one, or the polka dot one?  Andie most often chooses the polka dot one, followed by the blue one, and then the pink.  Charlee most often picks the white or pink one followed by the blue one.  When I’m dressing the girls, I usually bring down two outfits and set them aside.  Andie usually tries to steal the outfit that I picked out for Charlee, especially if it is blue or teal.  Andie attempts to put her own clothes on… usually holding the item with both hands and attempting to jam it on her head and face while furiously and happily kicking her legs.  Andie is very attuned to highly detailed objects.  She will quickly go after your hair, jewelry and any details on clothing.  When she grabs your piece of jewelry, she will eye it up for a very long time and rotate it to catch a glimpse of every angle.  She will grab after a button or zipper over and over and she will repeatedly run her hand over any patterns in fabrics.  While both girls like cellphones and cameras, Charlee is much more determined to go after a phone or camera.  In many pictures, she is coming after me since she is trying to grab the camera.  When I put it down, she goes after it and pulls it into her lap and examines the writing and buttons.  Charlee is always going after my cellphone and insists on taking selfies.  Andie likes to do this too, but Charlee is much more forceful in her acquiring of the phone and amount of fussing until you start taking pictures of her.  Andie is much more interested in watching videos of herself.  She grins the entire time and frequently bursts into laughter.  Charlee has figured out what a camera is and does and starts smiling when you get it out to start taking pictures.  But then you have to show her the pictures that you took of her .

The Helmet Fiasco:

At our 4 month check-up we noted that Andie’s head was mis-shaped and the pediatrician stated that she had torticollis and plagiocephaly.  She sent us home with exercises that basically involved pressing her head in each direction and pulling her head down to her shoulders.  By our 6 month appointment, we were doing these stretches with both girls since we noticed that Charlee’s head was getting mis-shaped.  At the 6 month appointment, the pediatrician was happy with Andie’s movement, but we told her that her head had not improved… in fact it was worse and her face had become uneven.  The doctor was concerned about Charlee’s lack of movement, but did not think that her head was that uneven.  We were referred to a specialist.  The specialist could not see us for another 5 weeks, but it was over Christmas so we conceded.  Andrew got a schedule conflict a couple weeks before the appointment and when we attempted to reschedule, we were told that if we couldn’t come on January 8th, then they wouldn’t be able to see us until AUGUST.  So I rearranged my schedule for that day, only to receive a call the day earlier to move our appointment from the afternoon to the morning.  We were also originally scheduled for a two hour appointment and were crammed into one hour.  We were primarily there for Charlee, but the doctor spent more time with Andie.  He said that Andie’s movement was good, but her head and face were uneven and it was up to us to put a helmet on her since she was “borderline.”  He told us that Charlee didn’t need a helmet, but needed physical therapy and that the therapy center would follow up with us.  At the time, we were not happy with the amount of time or attention given to us.  At least two weeks passed and we never heard from the therapy center.  We eventually got in contact with them and got Charlee her first appointment on February 10th.  The therapist attempted to touch Charlee but she had a melt-down (common behavior with her and strangers) so the therapist would not touch her and instructed Andy to do the same exercises with her that we were told about months ago.  This is immediately disheartening as we were hoping for more.  We immediately start rigorously doing these exercises on both girls multiple times a day, but they are complete torture.  The girls tighten up and scream and you are basically trying to rip their head off.  The exercises make no sense as you are trying to stretch a muscle that they are tightening.  You would never do that on an adult.    The same week, Andy and the nanny take Andie to the helmet place since we finally determined that her head was really funky and we could not deal with her uneven face.  We called ahead and asked to bring Charlee too since we wanted a second opinion on her head.  Both girls get scanned up and the helmet place determines that they both need helmets.  Andy and the nanny are thrilled with Star Cranial and get to the end of the appointment and are told that they are not in our insurance network and it would be $2300 per girl.  WE ARE FURIOUS since we told them numerous times before we went down there that we had cigna and they never said that they didn’t take cigna.  We had also called cigna and cigna said that they covered cranial orthotic devices.  Star Cranial tells us that we are supposed to go Hanger if our helmets are to be covered.  They also tell us that we are on the back end of the helmets even working and we are losing precious time and that the girls will most likely need the helmets for 6 months now… rather than the 3 it would have taken if we started earlier.  We immediately book an appointment with Hanger.  They want a 4-hour long appointment since they don’t have the same technology as Star Cranial and must manually measure their heads.  Before we go to that appointment we call cigna again and they now tell us Hanger recently cancelled their contract and we need to initiate an out-of-network request.  This is problematic since the original specialist doctor is awful at paperwork, doesn’t think Charlee needs a helmet, wants to see Star’s report before doing the paperwork, etc etc.  We lose at least 10 days.  The request finally gets to cigna, another 5 days pass and we get a phone call that Cigna is denying our out-of-network request to use Star since they are now saying that Hanger IS in our network.  I call Cigna and attempt to figure out what is going on and they tell me again that Hanger recently cancelled and that they will make a note that our out-of-network request should be approved.  Of course, this is two different offices at Cigna and no one talks so they transfer me to the exception request office where I am immediately told again that Hanger is in network, but they bill under Linkia.  I do internet research where a bunch of other moms basically rave about Star and complain about Hanger since Hanger doesn’t have the same technology.  Meanwhile, during the week that we were putting together the paperwork, I see my acupuncturist who recommends a holistic physical therapist.  I get in touch with her and her first appointment is 6 weeks out, and that was skipping over a waiting list since they are babies… she then tells me that someone cancelled.  I leave work an hour later and we hull the babies to her.  She has a totally different approach and claims that the muscle tightness is throughout the entire body and not just one side of their neck.  She also massaged their heads, inside of their mouths and told us to do a lot of trunk twist exercises with the girls and force them to move in both directions.  ANDIE’S HEAD AND FACE LOOKED BETTER ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.  But what, Oh yeah, we’re paying this woman out of pocket since she is also not in Cigna’s network.  She also listed a bunch of PT people at Kennedy Krieger who she would recommend, but none of them were in our network.  I then get in touch with other moms who have been through this on a facebook page and they say that they were able to keep their babies out of helmets through some awesome therapists at Kennedy Krieger.  We then go to our 9 month check-up and tell her our entire helmet story and she immediately says, why did you attempt PT at Mt Washington, I would have sent you to Kennedy Krieger.  GUH.  The new PT lady and our pediatrician now believe that we are making such great progress that we don’t need the helmets… that if we keep the girls mobile, their heads should even out.  should.