The end of the year always calls for a review of where our lives are. Although the year is not quite over, I thought I would get a head start on things.
Eliza has been home from the NICU for 1,258 days. In those 1,258 days, Eliza has gone from needing supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, to running with abandon through Central Park. Eliza previously would gag at the sight of play-doh and now will gingerly play with it. A year ago Eliza wouldn't even touch paint and, while she still insists on using a brush and would never consider finger painting, she no longer cries if paint gets on her, but instead simply asks me to clean her hands. A year ago Eliza barely had two words strung together and today she can recite her address and will let you know if you incorrectly refer to the Central Park alpacas as llamas (and really you should know the difference). For well over two years Eliza vomited 10 to 15 times a day, yet today I can't really recall the last time that she vomited. Eliza can count to thirty in English, and to twenty in Spanish. She knows her alphabet and can name most colors in English and Spanish.
This week, for the first time ever at three and a half years old, Eliza engaged in real pretend play. This is something that most children do at 18 to 24 months, if not sooner. Eliza dug out her Backyardigan dolls, which had sat dormant in her toy box for two years, and sat them down for a tea party. This week, Eliza finally took out her pretend wooden "birthday" cake and shared the cake with her Backyardigan dolls. And tonight, for the first time ever, Eliza went to her doll house, took out two dolls and said "we're friends." These may seem like silly, small things, that a parent of an average child would simply smile at and think were "cute." For the parent of a developmentally delayed child, seeing that child engage in pretend play is cause for joy and celebration, and even relief at this sign of normalcy.
Eliza still gets all of her nutrition from a bottle (much to the chagrin of complete strangers and family members alike), has only slept through the night for 46 out of 1258 nights, is showing no interest in toilet training, is plagued with chronic coughs, sensory issues and speech delays. Eliza still can smell a doctor a mile away, making the dozens of visits each year very difficult, but she will now willingly let a stethoscope near her. Despite these and other issues, Eliza is making great strides in her speech, physical and occupational therapies. She has made these great strides with the help of all of her Early Intervention therapists and her wonderful teachers, therapists and aides at Gramercy School.
I am, and probably always will be, a die hard New Yorker. But New York City has served Eliza well, from her great care at Lenox Hill Hospital to her wonderful YAI preschool, Gramercy School. For all of this, I am grateful.