Monday, July 25, 2011

Everybody Has Their Something

I wouldn't say it has been completely smooth sailing since Jackson's birth, but we have been extremely lucky!  Jackson is a very mellow little guy who has been sleeping through the night since he was about 2 months old and he has been extremely healthy (minus our little scare in the week leading up to his birth and his first day of life).  In my mama classes they always say, "everybody has their something."  Meaning no baby is perfect- silly me in thinking that Jackson was the exception.

It all started at Jackson's 4-month well visit.  Jackson had developed a flat spot on the back left side of his head.  I read that this has become more common since the advent of back sleeping and that it typically goes away once the baby is able to roll over and sit up, so I wasn't too worried.  However, I started to incorporate different activities throughout the day to help, such as rotating his sleep position and increasing his tummy time, but the flatness seemed to be getting worse.

I asked the doctor if his head shape seemed out of the ordinary and she checked it out.  The first question she asked me was if he always tilted his head to his left.  He had seen a different doctor at his 2-month well visit and she asked the same thing, but then said nevermind...  That question had been nagging at me since, but I just figured I was worrying over nothing (as I tend to do).  As soon as I heard that question again, I knew something was up.  I told her that I guess he did have a tendency to tilt his head that way.  (Of course, I started blaming myself immediately for not bringing him in sooner).  She thought the head tilt could be related to the flatness and she referred us to a physical therapist for further evaluation.

When I got home I looked at the hundreds of pictures I've taken of Jackson and saw, very clearly, that he definitely tends to tilt his head...  I guess I just thought it was a cute little quirk of his.  I mean, come on, who would think there was anything wrong with this adorable little face:

Last Thursday we had our first appointment.  Jackson's therapist evaluated him from all different angles and positions and she measured his head with a caliper-like devise.  She said he has torticollis and plagiocephaly.  In regular language this means that the muscles in the left side of his neck are shorter than on the right side of his neck.  (Which she thought was most likely caused by how he was positioned in the womb).  This makes it difficult for him to turn his head to the right, especially when he sleeps.  Torticollis often leads to plagiocephaly (which is the flattening of the back/side of one's head).  Since infant's skulls are soft and moldable, if they are in the same position for too long (like on their back sleeping) their skull can re-shape.

Next, the physical therapist took Jackson through a series of strengthening exercises.  I could tell he wasn't super thrilled with all she was having him do, but he held it together....  at least for a little while longer.  The stretching exercises were done last (and now I know why).  He immediately started crying screaming.  She assured me that the stretches don't hurt, but that babies just aren't used to how it feels.  Hmmmm....  I wasn't buying it.  Watching him go through that was even worse than watching him get his shots.  Then, I was told that I would have to do this 2-3 times 3-4 times a day at home!  Now I was about to cry.

Finally, I got the worst news of the day.  Jackson would most likely need a helmet in order to correct his head shape.  Since this wasn't discovered earlier, even once the torticollis is resolved, his head probably won't reshape itself.  It's mostly a cosmetic thing, but in some cases the ears may become misaligned, which can lead to vision, balance, and TMJ issues later in life.  Now it took everything I had not to cry, especially when she informed me that these helmets must be worn 23 hours a day and that he'd probably have to wear one for several months!  I realize there are much worse things that can happen, but it was really hard to hear.

I fought back tears all the way home and kept telling myself that everything would be fine.  A few hours later, I had worked up the courage to try the stretches.  He immediately started screaming and I was only able to hold the stretch for 7 seconds (I'm supposed to hold it for 30).  At this point, I had completely lost it.  There is nothing worse than having to do something that causes your child pain.  Plus, I was feeling extremely guilty about not catching it sooner or asking more questions at his 2-month appointment.  I also couldn't help but wonder if doing more tummy time would have helped.

Over the past few days the stretches have gotten less painful (for both of us).  He does much better when I distract him with my beautiful singing voice (if there was a sarcasm font I would have used it there).  I have also gotten less freaked out by the whole helmet idea, especially after chatting with another mom whose son also had to wear a helmet.  Thank you Melissa!  She even pointed out how helpful it was to have a helmet during the rolling over, sitting up, and learning to crawl phase.  (If Jackson is anything like John and I, a little extra head protection will be a very good thing).

We have an appointment with an orthotist next week, who will fit Jackson for the helmet (and make sure that he's even a candidate).  We are also scheduled to meet with the physical therapist every other week, through September, to help correct his torticollis.  She'll give us different stretches to do at home as he gets stronger.

Despite all of this, Jackson is just as happy as ever and has even started laughing (it's the best sound in the world)!!!  He's only done it three times so far, even though John and I have tried EVERYTHING to get him to laugh.  Apparently, he doesn't find us all that amusing.  We have yet to capture his elusive laugh on video, so this picture will have to do...

Friday, July 8, 2011

4 months!

You are four months now, my not-so-little peanut!  As you can see from the video above, you are developing quite the little personality!!  You are about 15 pounds and 25.5 inches long- we can't wait for your doctor's appointment next week to get your exact measurements.  You've definitely caught up!!  You are getting stronger every day.  You really like sitting in your Bumbo and love your new exersaucer.  Although tummy time is still not your favorite activity, you are tolerating it much better and it's paying off.  I think you will be rolling over in no time!
You sleep about 10 hours at night (from about 8-6)- hallelujah!  Naps are a different story, however.  Mommy has been working hard to establish a nap-time routine/schedule, but no matter what you hardly ever sleep for longer than 30 minutes or so...  You also are becoming much more aware of your surroundings and get upset if mommy is not in your sight.  As a result, I haven't been getting much done during the day, except for taking care of you (which is much more fun than housework).

You have started to explore your voice and make all kinds of little shrieking and cooing noises- we've even heard a few giggles.  Other favorite past-times of yours are blowing bubbles and sucking on your hands...  Does this mean you're going to get teeth soon?

You and KG are becoming good friends.  You love to watch him chase after his ball and he often brings it to you to throw (we keep telling him that it will be a little while before you're able to do that, but he keeps trying anyway).
We are in the midst of summer and you are thoroughly enjoying it- you LOVE being outside.  We go for walks everyday that the weather allows- often twice a day.  Lake Harriet is our favorite.
You at Lake Harriet with our post-walk refreshments (milk for you and hibiscus punch for me).

We've found lots of other ways to enjoy the summer weather, too.  A few weeks ago we went to Minnehaha Falls with your friend Christopher.
You like to spend time out on our patio...
and on the 4th of July, you went to your first parade!

You've also met several more family members over the past month.  A couple of weeks ago you got to meet your daddy's cousin's kids:
 Noah, you, Nealie (who was born just 10 days after you), and Maranda
you and Benjamin (who was visiting from California)
Finally, Daddy celebrated his very first Father's Day!  We had a pretty relaxing day and then went out for a sushi dinner with your Grandma and Grandpa White.  Mom and dad were a little worried about bringing you to the restaurant, but you slept most of the time and when you woke up you enjoyed looking around.  Whew!
Your daddy is an amazing man and loves you so much.  His eyes light up every day when he gets home from work and sees your sweet little face.  I see so much of him in you already.  You are both early birds, so you have your "guy time" Saturday and Sunday mornings (while mommy and KG sleep in).  I usually find you two cuddling on the couch downstairs watching movies.  I've also heard daddy singing to you several times and even caught it on camera.  It is the cutest/funniest thing I've ever seen for two reasons.  First, daddy is a little completely tone deaf, so it's almost impossible to recognize what he's singing.  This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the second reason...  He doesn't know the words to most songs, so he just makes them up as he goes along!  I would post the video here, but daddy made me swear on my life to never show anyone...  (Although, I'm sure we'll show it to you when you're a little older and have a good laugh).
Happy four months peanut!
Love, Mom