Where do I start with little Juliana. Maybe I should start with her name. It's a name that has become increasingly popular in the last few years, but that's not the reason we chose it. It's because of this lovely woman, my paternal great-grandmother.
Great-grandma Julia (Juliana) - photo taken at a studio in Temesvar
I have always had a bit o f a fascination with Grandma Julia. I only met her when I was 6, and she passed away shortly after, a week short of her 100th birthday, but I've asked my parents time and again to tell me the story of how she and Great-grandpa Joszef moved from Germany to Temesvar (now Timisoara, Romania) and then decided to emmigrate to Argentina. As I grew up, I also became very familiar with some of the harder moments in her life. She had several children (7, I believe) , but only 3 of them survived it beyond infancy. She also lost her husband in her 40's. Thanks to one my grandpa's sisters, there is a brief history of Julia and her family as they left their homeland and raised their family in a new country. I haven't been able to find any information about her parents or her family, but so many family history records are released every year that I'm sure I'll find something one of these days.
Juliana posing (cheeky girl)
Going back to her great-great-granddaughter, Juliana is very sweet. She's very cuddly, especially with her dad. Very much a daddy's girl, like her older sister. She has round, beautifully expressive eyes. She's a bit shy around strangers but warms up after a while and loves to flirt once she's comfortable with someone. She's quite vocal and has learned quite a few words already: Mom, Papi, where are you? (weh ah youhh), tummy, kitty, banana (which she uses for any type of food) and fishy. She also loves to dance, sometimes at inappropriate moments. Just a few weeks ago, we were in church, singing a hymn, and she thought that was great dancing music :) Same thing with the National Anthem during the presidential inauguration.
Great-grandma would love this little namesake of hers.
Back in December of 2011 I noticed something was wrong with Landon's eyes. Juliana seemed to be focusing on things really well, in fact surprisingly well for a 3-month old, but Landon's eyes seemed to move back and forth without focusing and when he did focus both eyes, he was usually looking far to one side. Here's an example:
The back-and-forth eye movement reminded me of something I had read at work about the horizontal nystagmus test (one of the field sobriety tests performed when a driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI), so I googled "infant nystagmus". Big mistake, huge! There were all these posts from parents of children with ocular albinism and other conditions that had left their children almost blind or legally blind. Just what the mother of an infant wants to read... I kept thinking he'd need surgery and wouldn't be able to drive, or he'd need lots of help in school, and it went on and on in my head.
Well, I took Landon to our family doctor. He was familiar with strabismus (lazy eye) but not nystagmus, so he referred me to a pediatric ophthalmologist. Cue Dr. Brooks. I took Landon in to see Dr. Brooks right after Christmas that year and he saw a fairly typical case of idiopathic congenital nystagmus (idiopathic means that there is no know cause for it). He did not see any signs of neurological abnormalities and then checked, as much as he could in such a young patient, for actual vision problems. At that time it would just be a waiting game. He could end up with serious vision problems or he could end up seeing well in spite of his eye movement.
Landon had 2 follow-up appointments last year and one just this week, and we have had better and better news as he's grown older. The nystagmus is still there, and will be there all his life, but it has slowed down significantly. After several tests, it looks like he may only be slightly nearsighted, but that's to be expected. Nearsightedness runs in the family. We will still need to wait and see because we'll find out how much he really sees once he can communicate better, but right now he's only a month behind his sister when it comes to developmental milestones, so we are relieved and hopeful.