Stem Cells Update – a Miraculous Yes

This morning as I watched Nathan scooting a little bit on his belly I couldn’t help but catch my breath at the journey we’ve been through in the last 2 years, in the last 3 months. He scooted forward about 1 inch, but you couldn’t have found a prouder mama.

Many people have asked me, so how is Nathan progressing? Have you seen more changes from the stem cells. The answer – a miraculous yes.

Reality exists in the eye of the beholder. To someone else, Nathan may seem dreadfully behind. To me, Nathan has made miraculous progress in the last 3 months. The baby that wasn’t meant to be more than a vegetable is understanding the world around him more and more, beginning to find himself and discover his individuality and wish to improve himself. And this, my friends, is the very foundation of all growth. I attribute this change primarily to the stem cells, as well as the Reach program.

When we went to DR for the stem cells, my firm wish was for the stem cells to grow a new motor cortex in Nathan’s brain so he could gain motor skills. I just wanted him to have improved head and trunk control, I wanted him to be able to move and sit and control his hands.

Yet the stem cells had their own agenda. They wanted to become seeds of intelligence.

Which is the most profound change I’ve noticed in Nathan – cognitive awareness. Since we came back from DR, Nathan is understanding the world around him at a much deeper level. He has gained an awareness of the order of things, first we do this, then we do that. He understands me when I talk to him. He understands words and expressions. He has a newfound wish to try things. He knows what he wants and how to get it. He is finding new, different ways to communicate with us. Before, I knew Nathan understood us, but there were so many things that I didn’t feel he could comprehend. Today, I know he can comprehend when I ask him to wait while I go grab his bottle. He can recognize and distinguish many objects like car and ball and dog and many more. He knows when we say “let’s go to the park” and we’re going to go out to the store. If we don’t have him out of the house by 5pm he lets us know he is displeased.

The stem cells knew there was a natural order. They knew Nathan needed this self awareness, this curiousity for him to have the wish to improve his own motor skills. He has to WANT to hold up his head, he has to WANT to life up and hold his head while on his tummy. Just like I can’t fix Nathan, I can’t force him to want to improve his skills.

And with this foundation, we have seen improvements. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

* Greater head and trunk control
* He can support himself for a while while prop sitting
* When he is motivated, he can hold his head if we pull him from laying on his back to sitting
* He has more control over his hands and is trying to reach for and grab things
* He has learned to let go of objects, which he couldn’t do before
* He is trying really hard in therapy to do all of the exercises
* He can hold his head up while lying on his tummy supported by his arms for 2 minutes
* If placed on quadruped, he has learned to disassociate arms and legs and will move his arms and feet in the crawling motions. He can hold himself up in quadruped for at least 2 minutes with minimal assist and move towards an object
* He is starting to kick when on his belly and to scoot forwards a very minimal distance
* He is making new sounds and experimenting with his mouth
* He has gained greater tongue movements
* He is consistenly sucking from a straw
* He can eat very thick foods now, barely pureed, and is chewing them and moving them around his mouth.
* When his elbow is propped up, he can bring his hand to his mouth
* When his hand is in his mouth, he can open his hand to suck on his thumb
* He is less “stuck” in infant reflexes and doesn’t arch as much and his ATNR is reduced
* He has rolled from belly to back a couple of times, which he hadn’t done in a while
* Before, if his head fell back while he was held upright, he couldn’t bring it back up, now he can
* He is able to swallow thin liquids in greater quantities, which before he couldn’t swallow at all because he would choke
* He is very motivated when he sees other children. In the past he would ignore them. Now, he starts kicking and moving and shrieking to get their attention.
* He laughs at all sorts of things that catch his attention. Children playing. Dogs running around. He’ll be watching something and throw his head back in laughter for no particular reason. In the past we always had to DO stuff specifically to get him to laugh.
* When using a speech program with a switch, he is learning to select “yes” and “no”
* His legs are stronger and he is standing better
* If I have him hold a spoon, he WANTS to feed himself, and tries to move his hand. He hasn’t had much practice becuase he never showed an interest before, so now we’re trying to do it every day so he gets better practice.

It almost feels like those early stem cells were the initial construction workers that were clearing the debris of a site and working on creating a space for a stronger foundation.

In August, we will return to the Dominican Republic for the “foundation” shot – the next one in many for our little guy.

We plan on combining the stem cells with Reach as we feel this is the “winning combination”.

I lost my camera for a while so I don’t have many videos to show, in the meantime, here are a couple showing the changes that I was referring to:

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