Monday, November 20, 2006

$1300 Per Month!

Thank goodness for insurance. We found out that Beth's RSV vaccinations cost $1300.00 per shot and she is getting one every month. We were wondering why there was such a delay getting her these shots and now we understand why. The insurance company won't approve RSV shots until November 1 when the season officially opens and then the shot has to be administered the same day it is received in the doctor's office. It took a bit of coordination to figure it all out.
As a side note, RSV season officially opens on November 1 and ends on April 30 but apparently this can vary. If a local hospital sees a case earlier or later, then the season is altered to fit. For example, the Mercy San Juan NICU won't let children under 12 into the unit until after April 30. But if another case of RSV shows up in their hospital, they'll uphold this limit a few weeks longer.
So many little things in life we don't realize go on to keep our children healthy. I used to have a low opinion of health insurance due to the huge problems we had getting any coverage when we were trying to get pregnant. Now that all this is behind us and Beth was brought into the world with a million dollar plus price tag, I'm grateful for our insurance company's considerate handling of her case. We've only had our deductible to pay and that is an easy bill to handle when you are talking about a child's good health.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Elliott in Disneyland

I took Elliott to Disneyland on Sunday November 12 to celebrate his recovery from the tonsillectomy. In my frantic attempt to get him to take some tylenol, I said "If you drink this I'll take you to Disneyland!" Well, he drank it and I made good on my promise.

This trip was made easier by my brother-in-law who is a musician at the California Adventure Park at Disneyland. You can see him playing the bass in one of these photos. We also spent most of the day with our youngest cousin, Jonathan. We had a grand time and Elliott, who finally is big enough to ride real rides, went on the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster ride, the Jungle Cruise, the Grizzly River Run and Soaring California. We finished the night with the mind-blowing fireworks show.
Elliott collapsed at 10 a.m. and begged me to take him home to the hotel. Imagine me at little more than three times his weight and only a foot and half taller, lugging him the mile back to the hotel. We both melted into bed with smiles on our faces.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Developmental Clinic Visit - 6 Months

Mercy provides a developmental clinic service to track NICU babies to see if they are developing on track. The point is to determine if early intervention is needed and then direct the parents to specialists to give their babies the best chance possible. Beth's first visit to the clinic was November 8 at 6 months post-discharge.

Beth was given a Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID) test to measure her mental and motor development and test her behaviors.

Kathy the development specialist who was so wonderful with Beth while she was in the NICU put her through all kinds of fun tests, some of which you can see here. Kathy pulled out a long list of behaviors to see if Beth would complete. These are simple things like pulling a ring towards her to trying to grasp a small object. She also measured muscle tone and strength, verbal skills and cognitive development.

Beth did very well considering she hadn't slept much that day and was a little hungry. She was her happy self and quite pleased to show off her skills. She even managed to grasp a cheerio between her thumb and forefinger -- a skill normally seen in 9-month-old babies.

She rated between 5 months and 9 months on all the skills and averaged out to something like 6 months and 9 days, which is almost exactly her adjusted age. Our hunches are confirmed that Beth is right on track and seems to have a great and NORMAL future ahead of her.

You can see a photo of her being weighed (with my little photo editing to save her future embarrassment). She is currently about 24 inches long and weighs 13 pounds and 2.9 ounces. On the preemie weight charts she is below the 50th percentile but is gaining at a steady rate.

This was a joyous day for us because Joan, Beth's primary nurse at the NICU came to see her. It was such a treat for all of us. You can see Joan hovering over her during one of these tests. The nurses and medical staff there get so invested in the babies, especially those that are there for months and months. There seems to be no way to adequately express our gratitude for their loving and expert care of Beth. But if I were a nurse, I'd want to know how the babies I discharged are doing. So, I try to keep in touch with Joan and send photos to the NICU on occasion. There are hundreds of photos in the NICU and for every photograph, there is a nurse who would beam with pride when telling how well that baby was now doing.

As Joan carried Beth out the car a man walking by said, "what a cute granddaughter you have there." Joan just smiled and hugged her a little closer.

Monday, November 06, 2006

You Know Life is Normal When...

You know life is nearly normal when the family can pose for such a goofy picture. And, this photo was taken at Mike's Halloween office party which indicates we felt confident enough to bring Beth out to meet a few people. Granted we wouldn't let anyone touch her and we stayed well away from groups of people...but the experience was great. So many people followed her progress that it is a real joy to introduce her to the countless Aunties and Uncles who prayed for her almost every day.

Beth had her first Synagis vaccine which is for RSV The shot was quite painful and nearly a 1 ml injected into her tiny leg. We heard from her for 15 minutes afterwards. She cried but spend more time "talking" to us quite emphatically. If I could translate, I'd say she chewed me out for letting those darn nurses poke her yet again. "Oh the indignity of showing my leg and letting some 25-year-old nurse poke a needle...yada, yada, yada. " I'm not kidding about the talking part. Everyone in the doctor's office was giggling by the time I took her out of the exam room. She had been blathering away for 10 minutes before I ventured out and she still let me have it all the way to car. Then she fell fast asleep (thank goodness!)

She will receive this shot monthly (maybe by the end of winter she actually say something intelligible while chewing me out). She gets another influenza booster next week with her 9-month check up.

We are really looking forward to a return visit to the NICU this Wednesday where we will have our 6- month developmental clinic check up. All micro-preemie graduates at Mercy San Juan go through the clinic where they assess the babies development to note any lags. It will be quite interesting and I hope rather mundane when they tell us everything is on track. We will also get to see her primary nurse from the NICU who holds a special place in our heart as one of her surrogate mommies.

Check back in a few days to read about the results.