Thursday, March 25, 2010


As you may recall, Jack has gone by many names in his first 10 months of life. Most common was the simple "Baby Jack." Despite being less than a year old, he is a much different boy than he was at birth. In many ways he is much more grown up. He's about eleven times his birth weight (currently 13 pounds, 13 ounces), more than double his original height (currently 25 inches) and you can really see his happy, shining personality develop more each day. "Jackman" seems to be the go-to name we use now for our more grown up boy, with "Jackpants" coming in a close second. (long story there)

It's been a couple of months since my last update, and as always, there is just too much to report. The highlights, both good and bad, would fill your spambox within minutes. I will try to condense them into an email that you can read during a commercial break of American Idol, Dancing with the Stars or Lost.

Although Jack is ten months old, he is actually only about six months old, which is his corrected age calculated based off of when he should have been born. This last week, we went to Missoula for a NICU follow-up clinic where he was tested developmentally against standard milestones for six month old babies. He is a little behind on his motor skills and cognitive ratings, but not dramatically off considering his 23-week gestational age at birth and the brain hemorrhages he experienced. The specialists did not reveal anything Jessi or I didn't already know or suspect. He is doing therapies each week to work on his physical development, especially for his left hand and arm that seem to be overly tight and weak. He is also working on his upper arm and shoulder strength, abdominal muscles and more. Those roids he had back in the NICU would come in handy right about now.

It's been a long, lonely winter as we shield Jack from other children, sick people and large public places. Jessi is especially anxious to bust out of the Bennion bubble and see more of the outside world again. These extraordinary quarantine measures have paid off for Jack - he has avoided getting the flu, swine flu, RSV and a cold so far this season (do you know a baby that's done that? not me). In Montana, this danger period will extend a bit longer, but we are already making our plans to get Jack out of the house more. When we do start showing him off, we are still going to keep him away from small children and sick people. We will be carrying a large bottle of hand sanitizer with us where ever we go. So if we run into you at church, in a store, or out and about, don't be offended when we give you a nice squirt of it and ask you if you are sick. Call us paranoid, or overly-cautious, but our own chapped hands from overdosing on the sanitizer and the hermit lifestyle have kept Jack from some nasty stuff that can land him back in the hospital.

Jack's biggest problem for the moment is eating. He hates it. He's never been a big fan, and I don't blame him since he lives on powdered formula with an occassional feeding of baby food. There have been times when we spent hours trying to get him to take just a few ounces. The doctor put him on medications to treat reflux, a common problem in preemies. Those seemed to help for a few weeks, but he's back on the crash dieting plan. Our family has seen what measures we will take to get him to distract him from realizing that he is eating: bouncing him, singing weird songs, putting flashing lights in front of him, and beatboxing (yes, that was not a typo......beatboxing). We are going to see a pediatric GI specialist in Billings on Monday, and we hope we can get some answers there. It's no fun force feeding your kid, but the thought of him having to get a permanent stomack feeding tube keeps us vigilant. As time goes on we can rely more on solids, which he has done pretty well with. We choose those solids with the most calories and natural fat, so avocados rise to the top of the list.

Here's a little bit more about Jack's personality, preferences, and palate:

Favorite Things - smiling and laughing, banana baby food, advacados, standing up (with support), starring at his right hand, kicking himself around on the floor, music, and sleeping in the car.
Not a fan of - physical therapies, reflux meds, tummy time, formula, oxygen tubes (these are history now!), sun in his eyes and beatboxing.
Jury still out on - baths, strangers, his left hand, and Daisy.

Despite all the bumps in the road, there is one thing that is undisputable about Jackman: he is a happy kid. He will always face health challenges and even a few limitations not normally seen by your average kid, but it appears he will do so with resolve and a big ole smile on his face. What more could we ask for?


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Lindsay said...

Thanks for the update, Jon and Jessi! :)

Tami said...

Oh my! He is just so darned cute and he looks so grown up in the last picture! I know the feeding issues are a pain in the rear and I hope that seeing the specialist gives you the answers to the problem and solutions to solve it.

Yay for being close to his adjusted milestones - that's HUGE given his perilous beginnings! It's always difficult to see healthy, term babies doing all these things that our preemies aren't doing yet, but our guys will get there. =)

I always look forward to reading Jack updates! Thanks for sharing him with us.

MoDLin said...

Good news about Jack's progress. That is such a perfect picture - a smile that can light up a room!
My granddaughter is a peanut and has been very slow to gain weight. She is easily distracted and was cutting lots of teeth all at once, making her totally disinterested in putting anything in her mouth. Now that she is almost one and she has eight teeth, she is actively feed herself - MUCH more interesting! She loves vegetables, pasta, Cheerios, fruit... anything cut into small pieces that she can control. We're hoping for signs of progress at her one year checkup.
I look forward to more good news on Jack's progress.

Ashley said...

He is so adorably cute!