b Papa Dog's Blog: Eighteen Month Check-Up

Papa Dog's Blog

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Eighteen Month Check-Up

[Hi - it's Mama Dog Duvalier, filling in for Papa Dog, who is unable to blog today. The reason for his absence will be revealed soon enough.]

Today I took Baby Dog in for her 18-month paediatrician check-up, even though she's nearly 19 months. It sucked.

Baby Dog has developed a rather acute case of separation anxiety recently (daycare drop-offs are now loud, teary, and mournful goodbyes) which seem to have expanded to a more general anxiety about anything that is not familiar, e.g., the doctor's office and the doctor. As soon as the nurse came in to check Baby's vitals, bawling began. Baby squirmed so violently on the scale, in fact, that it was difficult for the staff to get an accurate read. (She weighs 25.75 lbs - holding strong at 70th percentile; her height is 33.25 inches - 95th percentile.) The crying did not stop when the doctor came in to do the exam. The cold stethoscope didn't help matters, nor did the funny conical instrument that is used to examine baby's ears. During the crying, I went over my list of concerns and questions with the doctor: Is she drinking enough milk? (12-20 oz per day is fine.) Is she ready for potty training? (Sure, if she seems interested.) Why is she having separation anxiety all of a sudden? (It's a phase she's going through. Totally normal.) Is it normal that she's not walking yet?

The doctor said, "Well, no, it's not normal. Almost all kids at this age are walking. Let's put her down on the floor so that I can observe her walk."

So, I put Baby Dog on the floor, barefoot, held her hands, and encouraged her to take a few steps in the hallway. She was still crying and upset, of course, and the towering, white-coated people in the hallway observing her did not make performing her large motor skill abilities any easier. While Baby Dog took a few wobbly steps, I trained my eyes on the doctor's face, trying to gauge the degree of seriousness in her expression. She looked quite concerned, which troubled me deeply.

After the walking observation, our doctor asked me if Baby Dog has always walked in that manner - with her toes splayed out and her knees straight. I said, "I guess so," though it seemed as though the walking was less graceful today, given the stressfulness of the moment. "I'm concerned with her gait and want to have it checked out by a pediatric orthopaedist," the doctor said.

So, I got the sawbones' card and promised to make an appointment for Baby Dog ASAP. "Please call me and let me know what he says," our doctor requested. She really does care about Baby Dog.

The doctor said goodbye and left us in the room, to await the vaccinations, which always seem to take forever to prepare. I didn't have any books with me, which made the 15 minute wait seem particularly grueling. I sat with Baby Dog on my lap, stroked her head, and cooed at her, which successfully calmed her down before Nurse Pepe came in with his two syringes of DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis) and IPV (polio) vaccines. The moment Baby Dog eyed the needles, she burst into tears again. Thankfully, it didn't last long, and we were out of there in no time. I hurriedly dropped Baby Dog off w/ Papa Dog and went to work.

I couldn't concentrate for the first half of the day; all I could think about were worst case scenarios having to do with Baby Dog never being able to walk, or finding out that there's something horribly wrong with her legs or feet. With these new concerns about my child's health fresh in mind, my job seemed lame and meaningless. I wanted to quit right then and there and spend every minute of my time with Baby Dog. Guilt had taken over - I blamed myself for not being with Baby Dog during these crucial past few months. I got myself so worked up that I had to go to the bathroom and cry.

I'll make an appointment with the bone doctor tomorrow. Until we know what's going on with Baby Dog's walking, I'll have to be strong. I can't keep falling apart in the bathroom about this. Though I am powerless about this particular outcome, I can change the way I react. I am Mummy, damn it! I am the steely monolith of strength that holds my little fur family together.

On the bright side, Baby Dog's verbal abilities were pronounced by the doc to be "phenomenal." She's speaking at the level of a two-year-old. (But we already knew that, didn't we?)


Anonymous Big Sister said...

18 mos olds ALWAYS have separation anxiety. Its what they do at that age.

The toeing out used to be helped with special shoes that help strengthen weak ankle muscles. You might want to try letting her walk as much as possible without shoes on so that she can move her feet really easily. Just an idea. Maybe try playing a game where you get her to toe IN for fun to practice. She is so great with games and mimicry! I'll be keeping my eyes posted to the blog for updates. Take heart. She looks really healthy and is so great, I'm sure this will be resolved more easily than it feels.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I was so pigeon toed as a toddler that I was put into leg braces for a time. I have no recollection of it, no trauma, and no long term consequences of it.

I am blown away by Baby Dog's verbal skills, and my sister, a pediatrician, has pointed out to me before that when kids are exceedingly precocious in some areas, they tend to perform off the chart in the opposite direction in other areas. She chalks it up to the inevitable way that some brains grow differently than others. But that in general both things tend to track back to the middle over time.

All this said, I totally understand and sympathize with the guilt, the anxiety and the worry. She sounds like a healthy, happy girl, though. Try not to let yourself spend too much time formulating a hypothetical world where she is not. I hope a good resolution comes quickly.

1:03 PM  

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