Dear Tom Tom,
How are you 18 months old already? You are entering into one of my very favorite stages of toddlerhood and I couldn’t be more excited to watch you grow into an independent little man. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to mourn the loss of your delicious chubby legs as you continue to grow, I’ll weep like a baby when we finally trim your mullet (and your sissy will too, in envy) and I’ll give you whatever you want once you master “I love you.” But my goodness, I love watching you try to do everything your sister does, listening to you slur words in attempt to chat, and to see your dancing skills getting funnier and funnier. This season is filled with bittersweet moments and milestones. I love you so, so, so much.
PS – thank you for being my only child to eat what I cook. Even if you throw half of it on the floor, ceiling and walls. I love you.
Now that we have the sappy stuff out of the way, here are a few things about your little life the past few months:
- At 12 months you started climbing on things in a way your sister never did. If left alone for a few minutes we’d find you sitting on top of the back of the couch, standing on the dining room table or pushing chairs over to larger objects of furniture to go higher. You also had the absolute worst case of HFM right after your first birthday — it was awful, but you were a champ!
- At 14 months you officially took off on your two little legs after two months of practice. You also started saying “up,” which is still one of my favorite first words ever. You also rocked the heck out of your strabismus surgery and we got the green light to stop patching!
- At 17 months your temper tantrums escalated to a whole new level. If we take anything away from you or heaven forbid tell you “no” you throw yourself on the floor, starfish out and begin rolling back and forth through screams and sobs.
- As soon as we say “bath time” you are the first (and the only) to skip right over to the tub and strip down.
- No to jinx anything, but for the most part you are our solid little sleeper. You don’t pull nearly as many regressions and no-sleep phases as your sister did.
- You are a man of few words but you’re really loving “turtle” and “more” and “nana” (banana) and your personally favorite — “sissy!”
- You eat anything that isn’t green and MUST be greeted in the mornings with a banana when we come get you out of your crib. You are the hangriest little tot I’ve ever seen, otherwise you are pretty happy. You also love to help yourself to the snack drawer and can frequently be found walking around looking for someone to open your applesauce pouch.
- Favorite song: Jesus Loves Me
- I am absolutely convinced that you are going to be gifted to play an
instrument. I’ve never seen a toddler love instruments and music as much
- Other loves: brushing your teeth, using utensils to eat, the drawer of pots & pans, giving hugs
- Weight: 24 pounds
- 18 month favorites: Vacuum // Sippy Cups // Beat Bo // Kitchen // Turtle Night Light // Sound Machine // Scooter
A few favorite pictures of our little Tom Tom from each month (in chronological order):
And for fun — Caroline at 18 months.
EYES UPDATE! Thomas’ eyes definitely deserve their very own update. In September Thomas had strabismus surgery to correct his eye alignment and improve his vision. The surgery goal was to turn his brain on to use both eyes together (not just one and shut down the other). Within a few days we saw a remarkable improvement in his vision. We noticed Thomas getting around better and he seemed like a whole new little man. Oh, and we no longer had to patch him — hallelujah! And so we were happy, happy, happy. And thankful. Very thankful.
But we’ve been warned a zillion times that this journey will continue to take us on a roller coaster of highs and lows. And shortly after we celebrated his successful surgery we were battling our next challenge — contacts. Now, we’ve been extremely blessed (more than the usual cataracts baby) with contacts thus far as they usually stay in his eyes for the most part. However, out of nowhere Thomas began losing contacts — frequently. This is extremely frustrating because when one or both of his eyes lose contact attention it shuts down, turns inward and his brain starts signaling him to go blind (very scary, as you can imagine). So all the progress we made with strabismus surgery basically went down the drain the second we lost a good contact fit. For weeks, at daycare pick-up we’d find him without contacts, eyes pointed in and unable to see at all (cue the deepest, darkest working mom guilt).
So back to the eye doctor for frequently appointments we went. The process went a little like this:
- Undergo a full blown eye exam (now with an extremely squirmy toddler) to take new measurements of his eyes (diameter, base curve, power)
- Doctor orders new set of contacts (which takes 2 weeks to make from scratch)
- Test new contacts for about a week and report back to the doctor on fit
- Doctor adjusts one, two or three of the measurements and re-orders contacts
- Repeat steps 1-5 until we nailed a contact size that would stay over his pupil and not pop out or slide into his eye lid. This took 10 rounds of contact trials.
Yes, we went through this process 10 TIMES. This was probably one of the darkest times for us as we just couldn’t find a good fit no matter how the measurements were tweaked and we continued to see his vision plummet with each passing hour. Thomas was also losing 1-2 contacts a DAY — for months. And these contacts cost us $200 a lens and are not covered by insurance. Our doctor told us this is when most families give up because of the financial burden and switch to glasses. But he encouraged us to stick with the contacts because glasses aren’t recommended for improving vision, just maintaining — and we had a lot of improvement to catch up on. So for several months Matt and I were at a loss. We were angry and sad.
However, our most recent set of contacts seem to be doing the best so far…until Thomas outgrows them and we have to start the process over again. Despite the frustrations that we’ve faced we are beyond thankful for contacts and how far we’ve come in this journey.
FOR MY FELLOW CATARACT & APHAKIA MAMAS who follow my blog for support, advice and encouragement, I wanted to share a short video and some tips that Matt and I created for a FB support group we’re in on how we change Thomas’ contacts. **Note: Thomas currently wears soft lenses, not hard lenses.
Contact tricks we’ve learned along the way include:
- Wait until baby/toddler is asleep, but not too asleep to change contacts. We remove the contacts when Thomas is tired but wait until he is asleep to re-insert them. This also allows time for the contacts to soak in the solution while you’re rocking your baby to sleep! If he is too far asleep he won’t tolerate his eye lids being messed with, so we have to wait until he just starts to drift off to sleep.
- We’ve found Biotrue Contact Solution works best for cleaning the lenses.
- Make sure you’ve washed your hands really well before handling the contacts and keep a dry paper towel nearby to dry your fingers so you can handle the contact without it slipping around.
- Pinch the eye lids together to remove the contact rather than using your fingers. It took a trip across the state to a contact lens medical doctor (yes, those exist!) to learn this trick.
- Rub the eye lid a bit before lifting so it doesn’t startle the baby. I usually caress his little face, run my fingers over his closed eye lids and rub his lids gently so he is relaxed.
- Lightly fold the contact into a taco shape and lift the top lid as much as baby will allow. Then, just before inserting the contact, quickly and gently pull the bottom lid down too.
- After the lens has been inserted into the eye rub the eye lid to help massage it into place. There have been times we inserted the contact and it got stuck folded in his eye or wasn’t in all the way and pops out overnight. I like to peek into the eye one more time to make sure it’s centered before laying him down for bed.
- Last tip — be patient and hang in there. Changing contacts can take us up to several hours at times, and longer if awake. Also, this video was 3 clips out of 30 attempts.
*Also, if anyone has tips for changing contacts with baby AWAKE please share!!! On the occasions we are forced to do this, it is torture for everyone.
I am SO impressed with how well you and Thomas both handle contacts!!
Laura Wyatt says
That is one LOVED little boy (by all!). Thomas was immensely blessed by God when he was given you and Matt as his Mommy and Daddy. Your patience and strength amaze me every day! Love y'all so so much!
Theresa Ferrell says
Do you feel like the strabismus surgery was less…frustrating than his previous treatment? Our son has strabismus and is being treated with glasses, but we've been getting his eyes checked every 2 months for about a year now, and his prescription changes every time so we need to get new lenses every time. Like your contacts, they are $200 a pair and not covered by insurance (which is a separate, infuriating point…), so I'm wondering if it's just time to have the surgery talk now so we can move on from this.
Carolina Charm says
The way it was explained to us was that we wanted to get the eyes strong enough before we did the strabismus surgery, which took us about 6-8 months of patching. But we got to the point that we didn't think patching was doing much more and it would be more beneficial to have the surgery. I highly recommend the surgery as soon as your doctor recommends it because that is where we've seen the most improvement. Hang in there. I totally, totally, totally understand your frustrations. We pushed for a long time to move forward with the surgery before our doctor finally approved it.
Theresa Ferrell says
Toni :O) says
Wow, I've worn contacts since I was 14 (I'm 46 now) and I am deeply impressed and amazed with what you are going through. Sure isn't easy but with your love and guidance he's gonna do great!
The video made me cry ! You are so tough !!!! Thomas is so lucky that you're the mama that got him I wish and hope for lots of continued improvements ! You're so brave go tom tom!
Caley-Jade Rosenberg says
The cutest little 18 month old – love these updates!! You are one amazing mama my friend, and your courage and patience through this experience with the contacts is so inspiring x
Alexis Fetterman says
Wow! So many ups and downs, but you change those contacts like a pro ?. Can he wear glasses while you wait for new contacts to come in so it is at least doing something for his eyes?
Tanya McMann says
Happy 18 months Mr. Thomas! He just looks like the sweetest little man. You guys are such amazing, patient, loving parents, your kiddos are just as blessed as you are.
Atikkur Rahman says
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Marcela Dobalfi says
hi there. i am SO glad to see this video. my daughter is 20 minths old and had unilateral cataract removed at 9 days! she wears contacts but the silsoft and we dont have to remove. but in a couple months we’re moving to the other kind and have to remove and insert every day. and adding glasses! oh and keep patching! it’s so daunting sometimes. how is your little one doing with contacts? well, how are you doing with inserting and removing? any tips? thank you!! i loooved reading your blog. 🙂