Up until yesterday, I would have said the best news was that Jason came home from Egypt on May 10th, but we got some pretty momentous news at Cayden's 18-month check up yesterday afternoon. After a thorough exam, Dr. Rosenberg pronounced that Cayden no longer has any restrictions, meaning he is healthy enough to go out and interact and play and visit and see the world outside our house! Walking out of that hospital, I felt like what it must feel like when a prisoner gets released from jail after an 18-month sentence! WE'RE FREE!! SWEET FREEDOM!!! WE CAN FINALLY LIVE A NORMAL LIFE!!!
I was afraid that maybe our freedom would only be until the fall when cold and flu and RSV season is back, but Dr. Rosenberg said, no, he doesn't have to be isolated again this winter - he is healthy enough to be able to fight off any of those infections without major complications. He still recommends that Cayden get a flu vaccine, but he won't need the monthly RSV vaccines anymore. Hallelujah!! I'm sure our insurance company is pretty happy about that news too, considering those vaccines cost roughly $4000 each. Of course this probably means that he's going to be sick quite a bit, but all kids have to get these childhood bugs at some point and as long as he's strong enough to fight them off like a normal kid with just a cold, I can deal with that!
When Dr. Rosenberg first walked into the exam room, he just said, "Wow! A giant preemie!" You'd have to know his personality and have heard the intonation in his delivery to appreciate how hilarious it was to hear him say that. He was just amazed at how healthy Cayden is and how plump and "normal" he looks for a preemie who was born at 25 weeks. He went on about how the nurses would never recognize him and that no nurse would ever pick him out as having been a preemie. He weighed 23 lbs. 6 oz. yesterday which puts him at the 50th percentile for 18-month old babies, which is amazing!! My heart is just overflowing with happiness at how far he has come and how he seems to have come through this ordeal seemingly unscathed. We are so lucky and joyful and although neither Jason nor I is very religious, I'd have to say we are so grateful to whatever higher power allowed this to have such a happy outcome.
And as if all that weren't enough good news to get at one doctor's appointment, we found out that he didn't have to get any vaccines that day - he'll get one last dose of Hepatitis A at his two year check up in November and then he'll be done until he's four years old.
Going back to my last blog post about Cayden starting to walk, his physical therapist, Deb, has had some serious concerns about Cayden possibly needing braces to help him walk properly. He has always seemed to show a right-sided weakness, and this looked to be the case as he was learning to walk. When he was using his toys or walkers to practice, he was sort of dragging his right leg with it turned out a little, Quasimodo style. When he actually started walking on his own, he was all over the place - like a drunk sailor! I wanted to tell myself that all toddlers are that clumsy and unstable, but a little voice inside me said maybe something's not right and that if having orthotics is the only visible issue we have to deal with given where Cayden started, then that would be a simple thing to live with.
Deb first mentioned having him evaluated by an orthotics specialist back at the beginning of April. She said there was no immediate rush to have him seen, and that maybe it would be better to give him a little time to try to work things out on his own. I also wanted to wait to make such a big decision until Jason came home so he could be present at the evaluation as well. So back in April, we made an appointment for an evaluation for May 14th.
During the time between, Cayden went from cruising the furniture to pushing toys to walking on his own, but he still didn't seem quite right all the way until his PT appointment on May 10th. By then, I was thinking it didn't look good and that he was for sure going to need braces. But over the next four days, like the scene in Forrest Gump where he bursts out of his braces and starts running, that boy went from a totally awkward gait to breaking through and moving like a normal toddler! So by the time the orthotics specialist saw him four days later at the appointment on May 14th, she flat-out said, "This kid looks like he's doing fine to me!" and she did not recommend orthotics for him. Again, we are thrilled at having overcome another hurdle!
He really has picked up steam in his walking adventures. It seems like just a week ago, he was walking maybe 10% of the time and crawling the rest. Now, I think it's more like he's crawling 10% of the time and walking the rest! He still falls down a lot and still looks pretty tipsy, but he's so happy and loves showing off his new skill.
Speaking of skills, he can also go up and DOWN the stairs! He got 'up' a couple months ago, but 'down' seemed to not come as easily. Then, all of a sudden about three weeks ago, he just got it. Now, he races his brother up when it's time to go to bed, and he can come all the way down on his own too.
He's starting to pick up signs for words (he knows 'airplane', 'milk', and 'more') and he's saying more and more things that we're understanding as words for things. He's been saying 'maaaa-ma', 'da-dee', 'at' (for 'cat'), and we're pretty sure we've heard the same sounds for 'thank you', 'airplane', 'dog' and a few other words too! It's amazing how his physical and verbal skills are just exploding all of a sudden!
Once Daddy got home, we FINALLY took Cayden out to get his first haircut. I was about to break down and put a barette of some sort in the poor boy's hair so he could see! It was really crazy and out of control by the time we got it cut:
He was not at all happy about the situation, and cried the entire time:
But he looked SO much better after it was all over!
Now that we've got the all clear to get out and about, we didn't waste any time taking Cayden on his first airplane ride.
All buckled up and ready for takeoff!
We had a trip planned to visit my mom and grandma in Phoenix as soon as Cayden was able to fly and after Daddy came home from Egypt. We left on May 15th and came home on the 19th. It was the first time Cayden got to meet his Grandma Elaine and GG Bea, and we're so happy we were finally able to get down there to see them.
Sharing a snack with GG Bea
Playing with Grandma Elaine and Pillowduck
We stayed in a StayBridge Suites that had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and living area, and it was perfectly comfortable for us. Plus, they had a pool, so Cayden got to go swimming for the first time. He loved it!
And it was pretty fun playing on the luggage rack too!
We got to see the boys' Great Aunt Kathy and Great Uncle Joe too, as well as a few of my old friends from the area. We spent our last night at my dear friend, Elaine's house. Both boys had fun being pampered and spoiled with attention from Elaine's daughter, 8-year-old Brianna, and they loved playing with her toys!
Miraculously, Cayden was the only one who didn't come down with some sort of illness during the trip! I had a horrible sore throat by day two of our vacation, and was sick as a dog the rest of the trip. Jason had a stomach bug for two days, and even Jamison scared us by throwing up one morning. Who would have thought that little Cayden would be the toughest of the bunch?!
Me! That's who!
We are so excited to take Cayden places and do 'normal' kid things with him, finally! Simple things, like going to the playground and swinging on swings (which we did for the first time this past Sunday), or going to watch a softball game (which we did last night!), mean so much to us now!