Calvin goes to the chiropractor weekly (as do I and the other 2 boys; Joe does not go as often, but probably should). On the wall hangs a quote which reminded me that possibilities lie in the will to try and the belief they can happen. This struck a cord with me as I had on my mind the constant desire to nurse Calvin. Behind nursing him lies his ability to a) choose to do so and b) physically be able to do so. What I mean is what lies in his mouth and throat. As you may remember, Calvin aspirates, or breaths in his food. Therefore, we have spent a great deal of energy (emotions) formulating a recipe in order for him to drink breast milk. He came home from the NICU on thickened formula. When he was a month old, we consulted with a nutritionist, Karen Hurd, and she recommended psyllium. Psyllium worked okay and Calvin ate it. However, we were not sure about all the bowel movements that occurred and sought another alternative. We then decreased the psyllium and added Guar Gum. This allowed us to use less additives. We have recently been trying to decrease the additives and allow Calvin to "learn" to eat thinner liquids. It is working all right, but I'd much rather have him on purely breast milk now (I am trying to be patient).
"So, how do we get there?" I ask. I am relying on maturation of Calvin's system as well as help from Dr. Laughlin of Health Centered Dentistry. Dr. Laughlin has taught me to perform the Internal Pterygoid Release, described in the newsletter on the website. We have been doing that with Calvin at least twice a day for a month. His feedings have increased in both volume and strength but there is room to improve, yet. Dr. Laughlin also improved a pacifier for Calvin and we really push him to use it. He does pretty well with it and I believe I see a positive correlation between the time he spends sucking on it and his strength with the bottle. Plus, Cal has latched better for nursing on the days he has gone in to see Dr.
I brought Calvin in yesterday morning and he had impressions of his jaw made. Dr. Laughlin is going to consult with Dr. Farrand Robson of Tacoma, Washington. This website will introduce you (as it did me) to Oral Systemic Balance, a technique developed by Dr. Robson. Please take some time perusing that sight - it may be of interest to you and your own health! There is also a "swallow study" video where you can see what Calvin's looked like. It also describes what aspirating is and why some people are more vulnerable to it.
Needless to say, I am very hopeful and excited about working with Dr. Laughlin and Dr. Robson. It is no coincidence that I ended up at Health Centered Dentistry roughly 2 years ago. God knew what He was doing!
Calvin also receives weekly Occupational Therapy. We work on keeping Calvin "mid-line". This is when his head and body line up and his arms and legs are tucked in - we call it fetal position (my favorite way to sleep). This encourages Calvin to come back to the middle and will help him as he physically develops. We are to do usual "things" with Calvin, like have him track people or toys with his eyes, move him around and help him come back to "mid-line", put toys in his hands, interact with him, etc. These are all pretty typical things at this point. The OT also taught me that low muscle tone (common for people with Ds and some other genetic disorders) is not muscle strength, but rather a harder time starting the movement. I'm guessing it has to do with the messages between the brain and muscles. Bouncing helps with this and we will do more of that as he gets older (he will do it himself when he gets older). So, if you see people bouncing and they have a disorder, like Ds, this may be their way of getting going, so to speak.
Up next will be to continue with what we are doing and possibly see Steve Tonsager in River Falls. I'll tell you more about that another time!