A Weekend with Hannah Banana

As I got ready for bed last night I looked around the room at the remnants of the weekend (a basket full of unfolded laundry, a new pile of clothes to wash) and thought about the mess in the kitchen (a stack of mail and paperwork, a bundled up sunshade blocking the back door, dirty dishes in the sink). I wasn’t as productive as usual and the house is a hot mess. I’ll have to catch up on cleaning this week, which is already going to be extra busy and emotionally draining. The mess reminds me that it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in months.

The reason it was such a good weekend was because I gave up on my “to do” list. I let myself enjoy the amazing weather with my family and not worry about the mundane tasks at home. When my coworkers ask me what I did this weekend my answer won’t be “Oh you know, the usual.” This time I have stories to tell and pictures to show!

I’ll tell them how Pete had to go into work Saturday morning and I tore Hannah’s closest apart searching for the 6-9 month clothes. She played under her activity gym while I packed away her tiny clothes and stared at 18-24 month sizes in disbelief that they will fit her one day. I thought about all the baby things she no longer does and wondered what 2 year old Hannah will do. We also survived our first diaper blowout and thanked our lucky stars that it happened at home (and that the brand new white onesie, white crib sheet, and white mattress pad show no signs of doody destruction).

It was eventually cleaned up!

I’ll tell them about the walk we took along the Farmington River. That Hannah slept the whole time and that my arm is sore from Gamy pulling me from one scent to the next. After the walk we drove over to our favorite deli for a late lunch. It was close to feeding time for Hannah but we risked a meltdown in favor of dining outside. Hannah and Gamy were both perfect lunch dates, as usual.


I’ll tell them how I slept through my alarm clock on Sunday and didn’t wake up until 6 am. Somehow Hannah was on board with the late start and only mildly irritated with the delayed breakfast. Pete went fishing and I dropped the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house after Hannah’s morning nap. I had some errands to run and grocery shopping to do and knew I’d be more efficient without my adorable sidekick. I hate not spending time with Hannah on the weekends but sometimes this momma needs her personal time. I drove with the windows down and music up thanks to Pandora playing my favorite songs.

I’ll tell them how the pre-Labor Day sales were too enticing to pass up and that I left Old Navy and Kohl’s with bags full of new clothes for Hannah. While the stores are filling their shelves with scarves, candy corn, and all the things pumpkin spice, Hannah and I put on our bathing suits for the first time all year. I finally bought a plastic kiddie pool to play in but Hannah was unenthusiastic due to her afternoon nap strike. I finally got her to fall asleep on my chest but she immediately woke up when I tried to deposit her into the crib.


I’ll tell them how we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner and that Hannah still refused to fall asleep. She must know she’s the life of the party and refuses to miss any excitement. We ate and chatted and left in time to watch Bachelor in Paradise and Hannah finally fell asleep.

6 hours without a nap and still smiling

I’ll tell them how I wish chores didn’t exist so I could always have weekends like that.

Early Intervention at 6 months

We knew from Day 1 that Hannah was a “floppy” baby, which would result in physical developmental delays. I didn’t really understand what the doctors meant until Hannah was home from the hospital and constantly cradled in my arms. She was heavy and hard to maneuver. Trying to manipulate her body to find a comfortable nursing position was like trying to move a canvas sack full of wet sand.

I knew I wanted to start tummy time right away. I’d lay Hannah on my chest and she’d lift her head in small, jerking pulls. As she got older I’d lay her on the floor and she’d briefly tolerate the exercise before quickly transitioning into silent protest. She disliked tummy time more and more each day and the pediatrician assured me that it was normal at Hannah’s age because she learned it’s hard work. lee's pictures 010

An evaluation by a local Birth to Three program done at 8 weeks showed that Hannah was not far behind a typically developing child; however, at such a young age she wasn’t expected to be doing much. As a family, and with the input of the Birth to Three coordination, we agreed to wait until after Hannah’s heart surgery to begin therapy sessions since she needed to save her energy for daily functions of life.

We gave Hannah 6 weeks to recover from surgery, at which point the physical restrictions had been lifted. At a meeting with the coordinator and Hannah’s teacher Maureen, we were asked what our goal was for Hannah. I knew it was a goal that would require time and hard work from Hannah but I said that I’d like for her to be able to sit unassisted. We scheduled weekly visits with Maureen, a Special Education teacher, and a couple visits were scheduled later on with Ann, a Physical Therapist.

Days before therapy started I was dressing Hannah one morning and rolled her onto her side to reach the buttons on the back of her shirt. Hannah was bored with my fumbling and flipped herself right onto her belly and proudly lifted her head up to look at me. I was so astonished and of course I didn’t have my phone near me to document the achievement. It was at this moment that I realized how hard tummy time must have been for Hannah pre-surgery. Not only did she have little energy, but the pressure put on her lungs must have made breathing even more challenging for her. Post-surgery Hannah was ready to work!

Physical therapy with a child is essentially functional play time. Maureen and Ann hold Hannah in different positions to help strengthen the back and neck muscles. They try to lure Hannah to roll from one side over to the other, from back to belly, and from belly to back. Our program splits the visits between home and daycare so that all of the caregivers are familiar with Hannah’s progress and what exercises to do with her.


Hannah is an amazing student. Even when she’s tired and clearly had enough she does not cry or refuse to participate. She can easily roll to her left side to get to her belly and has no problem raising and gently lowering her head. She no longer sits up like a wet noddle and she finally has some control over that noggin. We are thrilled with the improvement in just 4 weeks!

The added benefit is a great workout makes for an easy bedtime.


My Favorite Part of the Day

The morning started with a bang. And another. Oh, one more. I check the monitor and see Hannah lifting her legs and letting them free-fall to the crib. She looks like a whale smashing the ocean’s surface with its tail. These leg lifts are the reason she was moved out of our bedroom and into her own. I needed to get more than an hour of sleep without thinking our house was being burglarized. Now that she’s in her crib, she sometimes drops her legs into the crib walls so forcefully that I have to check her for broken bones.

I watch Hannah for a few minutes hoping that she will continue sleeping. I’ve become accustomed to her morning schedule, which she adheres to 99% of the time. Not today. She begins to roll side to side, her mouth searching for a bottle like a shark thrashing on its prey. Apparently Hannah has moved breakfast up an hour and I am not prepared. I pop a bottle into the warmer and run back upstairs to scoop up The Hangry One. She whines into my neck while I bop around, shushing and whispering sweet nothings into her ear. I retrieve the bottle 30 seconds early to avoid a morning meltdown. Hannah does not like to wait for her meals.

We settle in to the armchair in the nursery. The lights are off but there’s just enough morning light for me to guide the bottle into Hannah’s mouth. The first few sucks on the nipple are overzealous. She finds a comfortable rhythm while I gently rock us. She’s relaxed, trusting my lap and left arm to bear the weight of her tiny body. She sucks, swallows, breathes without pause. Her hands roam. She pets the bottle, wraps both hands around it, then her right hand searches for mine. Her five miniature fingers wrap around my one and she holds tight.

Her body melts into mine and my mind takes a cue from her muscles. There are no worries. No dishes in the sink, no bills to pay, no appointments to schedule, no exercises to do. In that moment we are just a baby and just a mom. It’s my favorite part of the day.

We’re live in…5…4…3…

It’s 4:30 am. Hannah is sleeping. Gamy is sleeping. Pete left to go fishing. I’m attached to a machine that’s harvesting Hannah’s breakfast. I’m also typing, thanks to a homemade hands-free pumping bra. I have a funny feeling in my stomach that I’ve diagnosed as nerves. Nerves because when I finish typing I plan to click “Publish” for the first time. Nerves because I’m opening our lives up to strangers, strangers who I hope will become friends. Behind the nerves I can feel the excitement brewing for this new adventure.

My hopes for this blog are simple. I hope to guide you, inspire you, and learn from you. I am a student and a teacher in this crazy world.

Let’s toast to first day of my life as a blogger. Welcome to our Life with Hannah Banana!

lee's pictures 328