Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Busy Boy

We have had a few meetings with our new OT and we really like her a lot. I've been meaning to post about it, but just haven't gotten around to it. Of course the day we took Cohen in for his evaluation, he wasn't feeling that well and cooperated nicely with everything she tried, despite my telling her that this was not his normal behavior. Thankfully, his regular OT was there and she could vouch for me that this wasn't typical for him.

The good news is, she thinks that all of his "issues" are a result of his prematurity and she doesn't think that they will be lifelong things. We would have loved him and did what we needed to regardless, but I am glad that these are things that we can hopefully work through.

We've been learning a lot of interesting things and finding new ways to help Cohen. Because he was born so early, he didn't get all that time squished in the womb in the fetal position. His brain also didn't get a chance to finish forming all of its neurological connections. Susan (his new OT) thinks that he just has a few gaps and when he learns or relearns those things then he will be much better.

Cohen is very "out" all the time. His arms are always straight out, his legs are always straight out, he is always looking far out and doesn't focus on things close to him very well. Again, this goes back to not getting all that time in the womb to be in a flexed position. Instead he was out in the world in his isolette, and while the nurses tried to make it as womb-like as possible, it's just not the same. Cohen has little awareness of "in", his own hands and feet, he has trouble focusing on faces and things that are close to him. Being in the out position all the time is an alarming thing and it causes him to get very restless and fussy and busy

 Cohen's other big issue, that goes along with the above, is that up until recently, he was always in an extended position with his back arched. He learned how to do a lot of things by arching his back and now we are trying to get him to be in more of a flexed position, which is more comfortable and less alarming and how a normal baby would be. Susan finds it interesting that Cohen can get up on all fours and try to crawl but he isn't able to sit up. He can't sit up because he doesn't have very good core muscles (he needs to work on his six pack!) because he is always in the extended position. Because he is in that position, he gets stressed and moves around way too much to even think about being able to sit up. Get the picture? It all goes back to those things that seem so very basic, but that he just didn't get because of his prematurity.

After just 3 weeks of meeting with Susan, we have already seen some changes that we are pretty excited about. She has showed us how to play with Cohen and help him notice things like his hands and feet. I think I mentioned this before, but at one of his appointments Cohen grabbed his foot and put it to his mouth for the first time ever. I almost cried because it was just such a "normal" baby thing to do. Since then, he has been getting better about finding his feet on his own. I've even noticed when he lays on the floor that he has his legs flexed up now instead of just straight out all the time. We have also been doing a few things to help him learn to be more in the flexed position instead of extended. We have learned to play with him in ways that help him and we hold him in ways that teach him to not to always arch his back to get what he needs.

It is kind of hard because a lot of it means that we are sitting there with him for most of the time that he is playing, keeping him in a certain position, or keeping him interested in the close up instead of focusing on all the far away things. But, it has been so great to see little changes in him already! Danny and I were getting ready to eat dinner and we looked at each other and just commented on how calm Cohen was being. We were able to both eat dinner at the same time instead of one of us having to keep Cohen happy.

 In case you missed Cohen's project, you can see it here. So far we have 30 sets of diapers sponsored, but the goal is 100! Don't let Cohen down. Did you know that 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely and there are 13 million preemies each year!? We never imagined it would happen to us, but it did. Donating to the March of Dimes helps fund their research for treatment of preemies like Cohen and also research for how to prevent preterm labor. Thank you to those of you who have already donated, it really means a lot to us. And also, look where Cohen and the diapers showed up yesterday!

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