Monday, March 16, 2009

Another health update

Ayana is 10 months today! I am so happy that she is here. It still amazing me that we have her. I feel so lucky, I can't even tell you. She is so lovely. I get so much joy from having her as my daughter. She is trying to crawl. She more scoots and twirls on the floor. It is hard for her to crawl because we do not have much carpet on the first floor so it is hard to get leverage. She likes to play on her mat on the floor but within seconds she has moved off it and onto other surfaces. I taped her for you to see. I had to stop the tape when she went under the coffee table so she wouldn't hurt herself. Enjoy!

OK, I could go on and on but I will get to the health update.

We took Ayana back to the doctor again today. She has been running a fever. She also has very bad diapers and is very gassy with the WORST smells. She has been a little fussy as she is cutting two more teeth. The doctor has sent us home with 4 tube to do stool tests. He wants to do a "blanket testing" on her stool to see if they find anything. They will specifically be looking for Giardia in one of the tests.Giardia is a parasite in the small intestine. Quite a few of the kids from Toukoul orphanage have had it. We will take the tubes back tomorrow and then it will take 2-4 days for the results.

She gained another pound in one week! Wow! She is now 17.3 pounds! I am so glad she is catching up. If she keeps gaining a pound a week I will end up on some talk show where they are verbally beating up the mother because their kid is obese. lol, just kidding.

In other health news, we got notice from the American Embassy in Ethiopia, that they are reporting cases where adults coming back from the orphanages have contracted Hep A and to please get vaccinated before traveling. Oops, it's a little late to tell me now. I asked the doctor today if we needed to get vaccinated even though we have already traveled. He said no, it's too late for that. We will wait to see if you got it and to look out for the signs and get it tested and treated right away. The incubation period is usually 2-6 weeks. We have been back 2 weeks.

Her right ear was still red so he wants to give her another antibiotic. Turns out, he made an error in giving her Zithromax because he should have prescribe a different antibiotic because she was on other antibiotics at the orphanage. I guess you are not supposed to have taken antibiotics within 2 months in order to give Zithromax so there is a chance that she had an immunity to it. So after we collect the stool sample tomorrow, she will start another round of different antibiotics. Ughh, more fun diapers! We have a Costco opening in our town next month. I can't wait because I have really been going through the diapers and wipes. Did any of that make sense?

In my last post you may have read that she was up to date on all her vaccinations. Well, I was informed by another blogger than we may want to get a Titer test to verify that the vaccinations were not watered down or expired as they sometimes are in foreign countries. The term titer, (pronounced with a long "i"), refers to the strength or concentration of a substance in a solution. Testing vaccine titers is done through a blood test that can identify the presence of antibodies induced by vaccinations. If the levels are satisfactory, the person is considered to have "protective antibody" and is considered to be "sufficiently immune" to the disease. You can argue that no further vaccination is necessary at this time.
I asked the doctor if we should give a Titer test to Ayana.
Here is was his argument why we should NOT test her. First he said that if we wanted the test, he would do it but he did not feel she needed it. He said that the results could show her immunity was low not just because she would not have had the full series of vaccinations at her age or if they showed low because she really did have bad vaccinations, should would be getting another round at 12 months anyway and the chance of her getting exposed now that she is in the states is very low since most everyone is vaccinated. It made sense to me. Why put her through the tests if she was going to need vaccinated again in 2 months anyway.

Speaking of vaccinations, I am going to open a can of worms. A few members of my family are very against vaccinations. One of them has worked very closely with families of autistic children so I can understand her passion. I can't claim to have done a lot of research but from what I know, there is some risk in having vaccinations but there is also a risk in not getting them.
Does anyone know anything factual about this topic that you would be willing to share? I would love to learn more. Everyone play nice...:)


AliciA said...

Feven's pediatrician decided to give her all the vaccines instead of testing her immunity since more or less it would be as many pokes one option or the other and in this way we are sure she's covered...
I'm very pro vaccines and haven't had a problem with any of the kids so far besides the usual mild side effects. I think the non-vaccinated kids are benefiting from the vaccinated ones since there is less diseases around, but well, parents do what they think it's best for their children.
Sometimes they don't realize how much danger they are exposing their children to, since even mild diseases can kill a child, as you well know from the girl that died from a complication of chicken pox at the orphanage.
On another subject, the Giardia is very hard to get rid of, Feromsa has been through two treatments with two different drugs with no luck, and I know of people who had three or more treatments until they finally got everything right. Nasty bug!
BTW, Ayana is a beauty! What a cute face!

Lisa J. said...

I love the picture of Ayana in your header. She is gorgeous! The video is also so cute. She looks so strong and healthy.

My pediatrician said the same thing as yours regarding titers and vaccinations. We have vaccinated all of our children. However, I do believe there is a danger involved. It is so difficult to think of weighing risks when your children's health is what is in the balance. I know this is a very hot topic and it should be. Although we vaccinated, I am also supportive of other parents who don't.

I wish there could be some real answers! Autism is a terrible, heartbreaking problem.

Oh - and I hope that you and your family stay healthy! I remember the hepatitis CDC warning a couple of years ago when we began the process to adopt. At least the embassy contacted you.

Domestic Goddess said...

What a BIG girl!!! She is growing so fast! And another pound is awesome! That is such great news. I hope that the stool test will give the doctor some guidance as to what is going on and why she is still fighting being sick. We will continue praying and also pray that you and Rick stay healthy and don't have to worry about the Hep issues.

As for the vaccinations topic, I see both sides and think it is the parents choice ideally. Abby had all of her vaccinations as will any other children that we have, I know they say there are risks associated with giving them but I think the preventive means is best in my opinion. Ab's pediatrician did avoid giving her all of what she needed at one time, that meant we had to go back more often and she had more shots instead of combining them but it felt safer to me and because of the time span she didn't suffer any side crankiness, lack of sleep, fever, etc.

PS...Now for my dorky moment...WOO HOO for Costco! We are such Costco addicts, I love that place! ;)

jennifer h. said...

Hi Amber and family! I have never posted before and have been a "lurker" for a while now. (cannot even remember how I found your blog. I guess just through another blog:)) I had to come out of hiding to tell you all congratulations!! Ayana is so beautiful and I wish I could give her a big hug through the computer screen!...I will try to comment more bc I really enjoy reading your blog! By the way, I am from Odessa, Texas, single, about to teach elementary education and would LOVE to adopt if it is meant to be! Thanks!

ashley said...

I am pro vaccinations, however give them to my children over a longer length of time. the ped. like to do several shots in one visit and hate when people want to come back but that is what we decided was best for bennet mainly since his system was new to everything and going through alot. i have heard that high levels of mercury (spelling?) can raise autistic concerns, all doctors will say that this is not proven but my thought are better safe than sorry.

as far as smelly diapers...bennet was checked for everything and didnt have any parasites but man were his diapers bad!!! WOW! it laster for about 4 - 5 months and then got better, i think the stress, food change, etc made them really bad, yuck!

dan and rachel said...

hey amber! lots of info in this post! sorry about A's diapers and i hope they are able to figure it out soon.

my favorite book on vaccinations is "The Vaccine Book" by Dr Sears. He is pro-vax, but seems to recommend only giving 1 or 2 at a time. this has worked for us!

dan and rachel said...

ps love the new blog look!

Cyndi said...

Love her pictures... *love* them. She is precious. I am praying for you during this very real post partum/post adoption phase. I know from experience it is an emotional roller coaster, and you are dealing with alot!

I don't have lots of research to quote to back up my "pro vax" stance, but we have always done them. Minte received 8 shots his first week home. I know plenty of Godly, intelligent people on both sides of this issue, so no matter which side you land on, you're in good company. Just prayerfully follow God's guidance every step of the way and you'll have the grace you need to make the right choice at every turn. He always makes it possible for you to make the right choice.

Hang in there!

Mona said...

Amber - I love the new look of your blog and the photo of Ayana sleeping is just precious. I have already decided to spread out the vaccinations and discussed already with the doctor. I don't want to take any chances. You are all in my prayers and I hope your Sweetpea is 100% better soon.

Jana said...

hey--that's interesting what you Dr. said---makes sense. R. was a little older, so I don't know if that made a difference. WE actually chose to do the titer because if she DID have immunity, we didn't want to give her vax that she didn't need, b'c we feel cautious about them, though we are NOT anti-vax. Does that make sense? I guess our specialist at children's must have seen that she had a complete enough shot record that she might have full immunity, so it was worth testing. Does any of this make sense? :)

R. also had giardia. Aren't stool samples fun?? :)

Rebecca said...

Ayana looks so healthy and strong! She'll be crawling all over the place in no time :)

So...about the vaccinations. Obviously, I am a new parent. But, our cousin is an excellent pediatrician and is very pro-vaccines. My sister is a special ed teacher and an advocate for kids with autism. She is still pro-vaccine but says to only get one shot at a time and to space them out. No harm in that, right? So, that's what we're doing. Obviously, it will take us a while to get through the shots, and I feel sure that Eli will have an automatic screaming reaction as soon as we walk in the doors to the dr's office because he will know what's coming...but I think it will be best for him.

Emily said...

Your new look is great, especially the beautiful picture of Ayana. She is sleeping so peacefully. What a cutie!

Colleen and Jean-Francois Bertrand said...

Hi Amber,

My mother in law is a pediatrician, and she has been looking into this. I also work at a Public Health School. There is no evidence that autism is linked to vaccines. She does recommend that you spread the vaccines out a little, but that is more for the comfort of the child. Hope that helps! Ayana is SO gorgeous!

Jakes said...

Hi Amber,

I'm so glad we found your blog, I'm really enjoying it!

We had a great time meeting you all in Ethiopia. Thanks for the tip about the Hep A, by the way...we hadn't heard that! I will definitely keep an eye out for symptoms.

I read about Ayana being tested for giardia and wanted to let you know that Eyob had it. We took his stool in the first week and had it tested, and he's finished a course of Flagyl. From what I've read this may not do the trick, so I'm taking more samples in for testing tomorrof to see if it's gone. Stool collection is just endless Fun fun fun!! Anyway, it appears to me that the Flagyl did at least *some* good because he seems to be eating better now...AND his diapers are a LOT less stinky!

I also wanted to weigh in quickly on the vaccination issue. There were a couple of huge studies done in the US and in Denmark, where the rates of autism were compared in kids who were vaccinated vs. kids who were not. Long story short, there were no differences between the two groups with regard to autism, which suggests that vaccinations causing autism is less likely than had been hypothesized. With that said, as others have written, there are precautions you can take such as separating out vaccinations. We took Eyob in and already had all the vaccinations re-done because we too had heard that titers from Ethiopian kids showed that the vaccinations that they got while there, for whatever reason, were not effective.

Anyway, I'm so glad to see you guys and the beautiful Ayana again. I hope she is feeling better very soon. Tell Rick hello and give the baby a big hug and kiss!

Jakes said...

Hi Amber,

Oops, I forgot to sign my name! This is Beth from the Ethiopia Guest House.


imacootie said...

Hi Amber, Ayana is so precious! I think going back to diapers and formula will be a shock to our budget. haha! We have a Costco here that wasn't around when my other 3 were little so i'm curious to price out diapers and formula there when the time comes. =) Our pediatrician told me that when our little guy gets here she will start over with all vaccinations and just assume he's had none.

Alisha said...

What a beautiful girl...she looks so sweet. I'm sorry you have to play with poo :( That being said it's a good idea to do your stool collections on three consecutive days--this increases the chances of finding a parasite. I have only read about one confirmed case (don't remember the child's name) where the actually linked autism to immunizations. This is the child who had too many injections in one day.

Allison said...

Hi Amber! I can't remember if I've posted before or not but I've visited your blog for a while and just wanted to finally post and say what a beauty Ayana is. And I love that name. It matches her so well. She really is gorgeous. Like a baby doll. I also wanted to comment on the vaccine situation. We have a special needs son who is 5 and for a couple of years he was being tested for autism so we have looked into it quite a bit. I, like many moms who have posted, am almost afraid to not vaccinate my children from the harmful diseases out there so we did as much research as we possibly could so that we would feel at ease about it. We have learned that if you are afraid of the autism possibility, you should minimize the vaccinations given at one time. We only do one at a time for our kids. Another issue that many people forget is that when vaccinating, your child needs to be healthy. No fevers, colds, bugs, etc. The reason is that the immune system being weak already could react unfavorably to the vaccines. Also, we learned that there is an ingredient in Tylenol (not sure about Motrin) that actually increases the body's chances of mercury reactions...the reaction mother's of autistic children feel might have caused their autism. That said, no one wants their child to be miserable from the vaccines either. What we do is schedule our vaccines for the morning, NOT GIVING TYLENOL BEFOREHAND like we've been advised to do by some other parents. Then before bed, we will give them a little bit of tylenol if they seem to be uncomfortable. Also, remember that a low grade fever is the body's natural response to a virus or infection. It's not something that you want to rush to the Tylenol for. The body needs to do this as part of the process of making itself immune to the virus/disease. Of course we're no experts but it is something that we've tried to pay close attention to. Just wanted to share my experience. God Bless ya'll and congratulations x 100 on that beautiful baby girl.

Anonymous said...

It is always good to get the facts. This last summer the U.S. government admitted the connection between vaccines and autism. I saw the news on local tv. You can go to and search autism. Thank God not every child gets autism, but it needs to be addressed. The levels of mercury in the base of the shots is unheard of and not tollerated by the European countries. It is also in the flu shots.
Maybe a vaccination at a time is the answer to allow our babies to have time to "detox": before the next shot. It makes sense to go slow. I love you, sweetie. And you know that is my favorite picture of sweet pea! She looks like an angel sleeping there!!!!! Love, Mom xoxoxoxo

Farmboy and Buttercup said...

WE went down the giardia road for months. Fun....

No insight about the vaccination debate. I go with my gut on things, and in this case, I got the vaccinations.

Good luck with the can of worms.

BTW - she is gorgeous!