Friday, February 22, 2008

Finally, a standing photo!

Chronological Age: 18.5 months
Adjusted Age: 14.5 months

We finally caught a shot of him standing. Usually, he crawls toward the camera as soon as he sees it. He's holding a bottle of Mama's body spray I gave him keep him entertained so that I could get dressed.

Truman's periennial favorite -- the spice and pot lid cabinet.
Here's Truman with new favorite toy -- his very own broom. In his hands is one of Flora's mice. Yes, I know we shouldn't let them share toys, but believe me, we've tried to get rid of the mice, but Flora keeps finding more and leaving them out.

Is this a baby? He sure looks like a little boy to me. :( He's underneath the kitchen chairs, which he loves to crawl in and out of.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

18-month checkup

Truman had his 18-month appointment today and great news: He grew 1 lb, 2.5 ounces over the last five weeks. He's back onto his growth curve. (See the chart above plotting him for his adjusted age of 14 months). He has also grown to 28 inches!

The pediatrician is very happy with his physical development and says we won't see a cerebral palsy diagnosis after all. He pronounced him at about 15 months in terms of gross motor skills, which is older than his adjusted age!

He does see problems in cognition and "major" problems with regard to speech, but is generally quite pleased with Truman overall and as usual, pronounces him to be in quite good health.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First Step

Truman took his first step this morning. I wasn't there to see it, but I happened to be on the phone for my morning home front check-in call to hear Ben's reaction. It was just one step to get from one chair to another to keep on cruising, but he did it! He's already quite an expert cruiser and pusher of things. He stands and pushes push toys, activity tables, dining chairs, etc., all over the house. And everyday, he seems to do a little more independent standing.

In other recent Truman news, he is making some big strides in occupational therapy with motor skills and age-appropriate play. He can actually take a big knobbed puzzle piece out on command and get it back in the hole about a third of the time. He also has been learning to put circles and squares back into a shape sorter when the right hole is isolated. A lot of the progress seems to have come since we got him a separate booster seat that we keep in the family room for his at-home therapy play. Before, we used the high chair, and with his feeding trouble history, clearly that chair doesn't have the greatest connotation.

He also seems to be trying to clap. Everytime he does something good in therapy, we clap for him and clap his hands (when he will let us). This weekend, he started sort of waving his hands past each other and ultimately clasping them together after we got excited for him, so he's finally caught onto what we are trying to get him to do and is moving closer to clapping as well. Ben said he also used his index finger to push a button for the first time that anyone has seen during therapy yesterday. These steps may not sound like that big of a deal, but for a child who only recently played with toys only by putting them in his mouth and who still struggles with his pincer grasp, these are really big steps. One of the part of our bedtime routine for Truman is for Ben to wave at him from the doorway as Truman is settling down to nurse to sleep. A few times over the last week or so, Truman seems to be trying to wave back, so that's another step he's working on. We've also heard a few more "mamas" now, but nothing consistent yet.
Speaking of puzzle pieces, one of Truman's favorite things is to grab a puzzle piece and clomp through the house crawling with one hand (or sometimes both hands) occupied by a puzzle piece. In fact, instead of a security blanket, he likes a particular puzzle piece -- we call it "security bird."
Another new fascination is brooms. He was playing on our back deck a couple of weeks ago and found the outdoor broom and just had the best time clomping around the deck with it. And, he recognizes other brooms because he got mad that I wouldn't give him the house broom when I was cleaning up a broken glass (me this time, not him). So, I think there will be a toy store trip soon for a kid broom.
On the eating front, he's had a couple of bad days the last two days with very little volume. We've seen a lot of improvement in the spontaneous vomiting, but he seems to be regressing again in what he will eat. He's back to completely smooth food and will push even the smallest lump back out with his tongue or dig his hands into mouth (causing vomiting) to get it out. That said, last week he ate a piece of soft bread. The eating with a spoon seems to be a one-weekend fluke. Now, if you give him a spoon, it makes him really happy, but he doesn't eat with it. He is also starting just to refuse our abilities to feed him generally. And, like before, we are back to crunchy only on the finger foods. He seems to be at this weird juncture where he wants to feed himself, but is unable to eat most foods and doesn't have the skills to feed himself. If he could like on cheetos and animal crackers, I think he would. So, we just try everyday to get him to eat some pureed veggies and offer lots of finger foods in the hopes that he eats something off his tray. Some days he does; some days he doesn't. He has his 18-month check-up, and we are hoping for 16 pounds. That would be 8 ounces in a month, so that's a pretty lofty goal, but hey, why not hope. We know he's gotten taller because he's outgrown his footed sleepers. We've discovered he has a molar. There's just one, but it appears to have gotten most of the way in before we realized it was there. We halted toothbrushing for a couple of weeks during the really bad eating for fear of causing a vomiting episode, but when we started back a couple of weeks ago, there it was. That makes 9 teeth now.

And no, there aren't any pictures of Truman taking his step or of standing, but I thought these were some cute recent ones to share, including this great sleeping shot. This is one of the first times he fell back to sleep after waking up and playing alone for a little while -- definitely worth memorializing. In the one at the very top, he had just tried to take a bite out of Flora. In the second one, he's demonstrating his excellent climbing skills.

Monday, February 4, 2008

NICU Balances Zero

As of today, I think the balances due on medical providers from Truman's NICU stay is finally zero. After 14 months of phone calls, letters, fights with insurance companies, insurance companies pointing the finger back at the other one to pay, fights with providers over being impatient with the insurers, and a few weeks of telephone hold time, everything seems to finally be wrapped up. We were fortunate to have two employer-insurance policies for Truman (one through each of our jobs) as well as low-birth weight Medicaid. So, of the $800,000 or so in bills from 2006, we paid less than $100. I think I'm an expert now at navigating through the morass of insurance companies.

That doesn't mean I still won't be spending time dealing with insurance. As long as Truman needs special nutrition, therapists, neonatologists, pediatric opthamologists, etc., etc., etc.,--all adding up to more than $4K per month, I will still be up my eyeballs in explanation of benefits forms, pre-authorization calls, and letters appealing for coverage beyond the designated annual number of appointments for X or limits on Y.

As annoying an insurance companies are, thank god for them. If not, we'd be living under my desk at work, with Truman sleeping in a file drawer.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Shout out to my big brother

My big brother, Chad, and his band, The Triptones, are competing in the International Blues Society Challenge in Memphis this week and weekend. This is the biggest gathering of blues bands in the world, akin to Jazzfest in New Orleans, I think. All of the bands have to win other contests to get there, and it's a really big deal. So, we're really proud of my big brother.

You can check out his music at