Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

And what a year it has been...

When I reflect on all that has happened, I begin to feel fatigued.
So I wrote it all down in a very abridged timeline:


I was hugely pregnant, sick and miserable. My nephew Sam was born, I took my students through a cave while 8 months pregnant, Obama was inaugurated.


Had Ben! Then we found out Ben would need surgery.
Ben: first bath, first walk outside, visits from grandparents


Josh moved to Jefferson City for work. We bought the Prius and started seeds.
Ben: met great-grandparents, smiles, holds his head up, rolls to his side


Saw a fox for the first time (at our house, that is), we hardened plants outside, I joined La Leche League and started cloth diapering.
Ben: started playing with and reaching for toys, met his great-great grandma, slept through the night (a couple of times), babbles, rolls over


Josh moved back home and we got donkeys, chickens, and ducks. We then planted gardens and fruit trees.
Ben: had his first surgery, first trip to the zoo, first bad thunderstorm


Time to pick black raspberries, redo the kitchen floor, and I started sewing.
Ben: first baseball game, first swim, had staph infection


Sewed cloth diapers, fox got some of the chickens, started parents as teachers.
Ben: started sleeping in his own room, sitting up


Started back to work and I wasn't too happy about it.
Ben: first tooth, started eating food, first trip to the fair


We began major insurance battles after finding out Ben needs another surgery.
Ben: crawling, first cold, tooth #2, feeds himself finger food


We went to Glade Top Trail and Roaring River to enjoy the fall leaves.
Ben: tooth #3 and #4, pulling up to standing, peek a boo, Halloween


Bracing ourselves for the second surgery.
Ben: says mamama and addy indiscriminately, waves on occasion, separation anxiety


We had Christmas with both sides of my grandparents (Bolivar and Sullivan), both sets of parents (both in Ozark thankfully), and Josh's extended family (also Ozark), and made it to the Christmas Eve Vesper's service at church. We were Christmased out by December 26th.
Ben: first Christmas!, started helmet therapy, takes things out of containers, walks with push toys, doesn't like Santa


In addition to all of that, I wrote 182 blog entries this year, which is exactly one entry for every two days of the year. Blogging has kept us living in the moment and has proven to be a great way for me to document Ben's milestones and adventures. After looking back through the list, I can't believe out timing with some things, like Josh having to move for work just after Ben was born, us deciding to buy livestock and plant our gardens the month of Ben's surgery, and how bar Ben has come, in spite of the two surgeries this year. I am also reminded of how much our family has to be grateful for and what an amazing year this has been.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

First Christmas

Ben had a great first Christmas and I am so happy it snowed! We opened stockings at home, then went to my parents for breakfast. After opening presents there, we went to Josh's parents for lunch, and then to Josh's aunt and uncle's house for dinner. Our little Prius was overflowing by the time we made it home. We are still opening, assembling and figuring out where to put some of these things!

His striped Christmas jammies are from Josh's parents. They say "Little Elf" on the bum. The deer outfit is from my mom (from Bass Pro) and he did really well the first time we put him in them, but he generally doesn't like putting on or taking off any clothes, so we didn't keep those on too long.

By the end of the day, he was pretty overwhelmed and ready to be home. I'll have more pictures up of him playing with some of his new things soon. I also got a video camera, so as soon as I figure out how to get the video off that camera, I'll have more from Christmas day to post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Christmas in Sullivan

On Saturday, we had our first family Christmas with my mom's side of the family in Sullivan. Ben wore his helmet and slept in the car the entire way there and back (and almost none that night). He opened presents, ate Christmas dinner, and enjoyed all of the attention of being the youngest person there by 26 years. I'm sure he doesn't really understand Christmas yet, but with three houses to visit on Friday, I'm sure he will figure out that something different is going on.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ben's Helmet

Yesterday we picked up Ben's helmet. He was not thrilled about the fitting, but once we were home, he didn't seem to mind wearing it as much as I expected. Because a body's heat is regulated through the head, he sweat a ton and it will take a while for his body to get used to wearing the helmet all of the time. We started with one hour off, one hour on during the day. Tomorrow we will try two hours on, one hour off, and build until he is wearing the helmet 20-23 hours per day by next week.

After much debate, we chose to put bug stickers on his helmet. We will probably change it often, but this seemed like a simple enough theme. It's still hard for me to see him in the helmet because he looks so different, but I have to remember it's only for a short while.

The helmet is called a Star Band and has a strap across the back that holds it together. The top screw is adjustable and holds the front and back together, along with the velcro in the back. Unless he starts pulling it off, we will be able to get by without having a chin strap.

We were also very excited to find out that Children's Miracle Network covered $750 of the $2,800 cost of the helmet. Our insurance will not cover the expense because they claim it is experimental. Blue Cross also warned that if we attempt an appeal, it will be denied because they consistently deny helmet claims and have no intention of changing their minds on the issue. So that's helpful. Anyway, we are happy to be on the last leg of our cranio journey and will hopefully have all of this behind us soon.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pictures With Santa

After waiting in the long line at Bass Pro Shops for Ben's first encounter of with Santa, Ben wasn't too impressed. He was a little fussy already and missed his morning nap, so I wasn't sure about how well all of this would go over. Ben is normally fine around strangers and warms up to others pretty quickly, but he wasn't having anything to do with Santa Clause today. I'm not sure if the taxidermy in all directions, numerous screaming children, or the hot, stuffy room that pushed him over the edge. Maybe we'll have better luck next year, but it made for a pretty funny picture this year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Early Christmas Present

We received a sweet care package from an out of state friend. She sent Josh and I an old fashioned fruit sieve and a jar of recently made marmalade from her own fruit tree in Florida. She also sent an old book that contains directions on making a rag rug, and a gift for Ben. We put the wrapped gift for Ben under the tree, but that only lasted a few minutes. He was really interested in the glittery tag that came on the gift. It's a box that contains shapes to sort and push through the lid in the right places. I'm not sure you can tell that from the video.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peek A Boo

We finally got a good night of sleep last night, and I feel like I have the energy to write something again. Ben is doing well and happily eating, playing, and crawling all over the house like normal again. I don't have much else to update. He loves to initiate peek a boo with any available towel or blanket on the ground. We are working on waving and clapping. "Mama" refers to me, Josh, or a bottle equally, but he knows it gets results.

I am really missing Ben after going back to school. His separation anxiety is so high that he doesn't ever want us to leave the room. At least Christmas break is soon...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Pictures

The weekend before surgery, we had Ben's Christmas pictures taken at JC Penny's. I was so much more impressed with Penny's when compared to his three month pictures taken at Sears. I can't believe how different he looked before the surgery, compared to now. We haven't decided if we are going to try the picture with Santa this year or wait. I'm not sure if that would go well...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

9 Month Check Up

Today was Ben's 9 month check up. He had his second flu shot (booster) and his first H1N1 shot. They also drew blood to check for anemia and he barely flinched during the finger prick (test came back normal). He has had more blood drawn and IVs in his short little life than I have had in all of mine.

He weighs 17 lbs 3 oz. and is 26 inches long. That puts him in the bottom fifth percentile for weight and the third percentile for height. The pediatrician said that if he doesn't grow more in length, then at his one year appointment he would like to run tests to check his growth hormones and thyroid levels. This came as unnerving, but not a huge surprise because I have been concerned about his size for quite a while now.

Yesterday we met with Dr. Sami and the helmet company, Larson Inc. Dr. Sami said Ben's head looks great and his healing is going very well. In the picture above, you can see how small it looks when compared to his first surgery scar.

Larson had to make a plaster mold of Ben's head. He is older than most of the babies that require this and he threw a huge fit. It only took ten minutes, but it was a long ten. He pulled the plaster away the first chance he got and we had to hold his hands. By the time it was over we were all covered in plaster.

His helmet won't be here for two more weeks. This is much longer than we originally expected, but I am out of paid sick days so I'm going back to work on Monday anyway. I'm sure Josh will be fine with Ben for those two weeks before Christmas break.