Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gili Goes to School

We sent Gili back to school late Sunday morning.  I was sick in bed and my husband asked me if GIli should still see a doctor even though she seemed much better.  I said, "if she's better, take her to school!"  She still coughs and has some green stuff coming from her nose, but she seems to be doing well.

She loves school and I love knowing that she's getting proper stimulation.  I love having the house quiet and making my own schedule without my husband reminding me to do the dishes or do the laundry before Gili wakes up.  I love bringing Big Sis and Big Bro home at 1:30 PM and not constantly shushing them because Gili is sleeping.  And they love getting my attention until I leave to pick Gili up around 3:00 PM.  Life is good.

I've gotten a lot of exercise this week taking her to school.  Usually I put her in the Baby Bjorn and walk to the bus stop and from the stop to her school, and then when I'm alone, I walk the whole way.  Yesterday I forgot my bus card and walked home 30 minutes with her in the Baby Bjorn.  My back is a little sore, but after having her away all day, I like to travel with her close.  When she faces me, we can talk, and when she faces forward, she leans her sweet head on my chest.  Either way I get to smell her and give her kisses the whole time.

Gili has had two or three sessions with the physical therapist, Yael.  The therapist also sets her chair and directs the other teachers and assistants in her exercises.   I was surprised to see her chair back completely vertical, but she seems to be doing well.  Sometimes it's nice to see her in an environment where she's not behind.  She is one of the more severe CMV cases in Israel, but one of the more advanced students in her little class.

Today a young woman came in to work with the kids in shiatsu / reflexology.  Sunday the class has water therapy / hydrotherapy.  Gili is only allowed in with a letter from Professor Amir saying she is not contagious, or at least that it is safe for her to go in with other children.  When I asked Professor Amir about such a letter months ago, he said that all children of preschool age should be considered contagious.  But no one likes that response.  It's annoying that Gili is singled out because she was born with CMV, even though she is less likely to have an active infection than other snotty-nose children.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Day of School

Yesterday we met Gili's teachers and left her at "school" for a few hours.  Today we had to take her home early because she was sick.  I had concerns about her health this morning, but I didn't want her to miss her first full day of care.  Hopefully she'll be back on Thursday.  I was a little nervous and giddy leaving her there.  She's my little buddy; I'm not used to doing anything without her.  But Dad was even more emotional!  I don't know if he was sad or scared.  I feel like my little baby is growing up.  She actually has classmates!  I'm just so happy with everything, I don't know where to start!

I'm so grateful she's finally getting all the care and therapy she needs.  And it's only a 20 minute walk from our place!  Transportation is part of the package, so hopefully next week she'll have a driver and an escort who will pick her up and bring her home.  I feel like I don't have to spend as much energy worrying about her progress and general well-being now that I have professionals to do that for me.  I know it seems like a bad attitude in this age of Nanny-cams and background checks, but her teachers seem so loving and "with it."  My biggest worry is teachers/caregivers kissing all the kids, and the parents kissing the kids... that's a lot of germs linked cheek to cheek.  But if you have to worry about something, too much affection is a good option.  Each child has their own thermometer so the teachers can check if they have any concerns, which they did today.  There is one main teacher and at least two assistants for the class.  Officially Gili has seven classmates, but I've only met 3, so I'm guessing it's not usually a full class.  They have food, bibs, matresses, blankets... all the stuff I had to buy for my other kids' preschool.
There are different therapists who work with the children on different days: Physical therapy, speech therapy (including eating and communicating), ocupational therapy (including using hands), and a visual instructor.  This facility is specifically for blind and visually impaired children.  I had to stress GIli's vision issues at our hearing in order to get in, and I will try not to take it for granted.  I expect that if they fill up with more severely blind kids, Gili might be sent elsewhere. 

For more information about Gili's new school, "Eliya," visit the website for American Friends of Eliya.  You can also see pictures of parents and children in the hydrotherapy facility.

A couple of the staff members questioned why I hadn't learned Hebrew, but we haven't had any communication issues.  And Gili's teacher's parents are American!  Gili has a note book that we send back and forth to write notes or quesitons for the teacher and v.v.  It's great to be able to write in English and the other staff has been very helpful with the forms.  G-d willing Gili will get water therapy on Sunday!  I'm so excited for her!  She will have a special chair set to her size and needs and she will also have a "standing chair" to help her body get used to standing.

I have so much more to say, but I think I should get some sleep and put down more thoughts once Gili's had a little more time in "school."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eating, Crawling, and Grandpa

The day before my last post I was trying to think of what I could get Gili for Chanukah that she could really appreciate, and also thinking about the Social Security money we would hopefully start getting.  I decided that the thing we would all enjoy the most would be flying my father in for Chanukah.  So I discussed it with my husband, who fully agreed that he would also enjoy having my father and that it would be an excellent use of the money we hoped to have, and even if it didn't come through, it meant enough to us that we could still probably split the ticket to get him here.  So Big Sis drew and picture and I wrote a note, and finally my father agreed to come, though he didn't agree to letting us pay.  And now he's here!  Today just him and I went to Tel Aviv, walked along the beach all the way to Yaffo (Jaffa), then back up through Tel Aviv to a yummy pizzeria.  But Gili is enjoying the cuddles and I think my father is enjoying her.  I've always thought they got along particularly well.  They're both quit and not needy or clingy and they both have very blue eyes.

We're on the verge of seeing Gili crawl.   My dad is here for two more days and we're hoping he gets to see her first "crawls."  My father and I have taken a little more initiative with her eating, as well.  She still doesn't quite seem to know what to do with the food once it's in her mouth.  But this evening I was able to spoon feed her slightly thickened formula without her objecting.  But I'm not sure if more went down or came out.  And do you see those new teeth?  Just when I was starting to worry about why she had three all on the bottom, four starting coming down on top!

On Sunday we had an appointment with Dr. Inbal.  He seems somewhat satisfied with her bits of progress.  Her head circumference is keeping up with the curve just below normal.  If she has more seizures she may have to go to a sleep lab to get a longer sampling of her brain activity.  He said that  the EEG showing nothing only means nothing happened while they were testing.

We did get the paper work from Betuach Leumi (Social Security) and we have an appointment to stand before the omitted that puts Gili in the rehabilitation day care.  There is no reason she wouldn't be accepted, but we still have to wait our turn and travel to Yaffo (Jaffa) and show up.  I hope to have good news about that soon!