Friday, January 24, 2014

the dreaded helmet

it was at salsa's 1 week appointment with the pediatrician that it was first brought to my attention. "have you noticed his head is a little misshapen?"

um, no, my baby is perfect! ha, ha. but in actuality, once he pointed it out, i did notice that his head was a little funny.  and we also noticed that salsa always turned his head to his left and hardly ever to the right.

well the plan was to do some neck exercises to stretch that muscle.  the pediatrician felt that his head was flatter on one side because of how he was positioned in my pelvis, which would also explain his weakened neck muscle and tendency to look one way over the other.  we thought that the exercises coupled with his brain growth would naturally help the flattened part to correct itself.

well, that would have been nice if it had worked.  his neck muscle is much better and he looks both ways now without favoring one side over the other but his little head is still misshapen.

we were referred to a place in dallas that specializes in cranial bands.  it is called a doc band and looks like a little helmet. (you can google doc band and see what it looks like) we went for a free evaluation and no surprise to us, he is a perfect candidate.  they put a stocking over his head to get an accurate image from this huge imaging machine.  he was not a fan of the stocking.  he doesn't like anything on his head, which could be quite an issue!

here are his funny little pictures from the imaging machine.

you can see how the left side of his head (his left) is higher than the right and then when looking down on the top of his head you can see how it is flatter on his left than on his right.  his is a moderate case so i am hoping that translates into a shorter treatment time.

on a side note: don't you just want to squish those cheeks?

after much deliberation and conversation, (this will be the single most expensive accessory we have EVER purchased), we decided to move forward in the process.  we go back this monday to have official measurements taken, and then his custom band will be fabricated in arizona and then shipped back here.  we are scheduled to get the band on february 5.  we have to go back to the dallas office for the measurements, but the good news is they have a satellite office in fort worth that we can go to after that for the fitting and all the adjustments.

the big brothers were initially disappointed that salsa will have to wear this (well we all felt that way actually) and were concerned that he would look "dorky."  after talking about it for a few days, noodle said in the car on the way to school one morning, "salsa is so cute that he is going to make everyone want a helmet like him."  sweetness.  and i couldn't agree more.  he is quite delicious!

the band itself is just a plain white, 6-ounce device, consisting of an outer plastic shell with a foam lining. sounds boring, right?  well just wait till you see what people do to decorate these things!  there are facebook pages and pinterest boards full of ideas, and there is even a company in dallas that will wrap the band with a custom graphic for FREE!  this company does the vehicle wraps but as a way of giving back to the community they have a party once a month to decorate these bands.  isn't that cool?  their next opening was in march (the february one was already booked) so we signed up for that with the hopes that maybe an opening will become available in february.  otherwise, we will just do our own decorating with stickers until we can get the professional custom wrap.

so just when i thought all the medical appointments were going to slow down, we will have appointments EVERY week with this thing.  and i have email reminders to schedule his next cardiology appointment and his 6 month well check appointment.  and i won't even tell you what's going on with me!  i need a secretary!

so if you think about it, would you please pray for salsa?  pray that this would be an easy and smooth transition for him and that it would not interrupt the sleeping patterns we have worked so hard to attain? he and his parents thank you! :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 months!

salsa today you are 5 months old!  that is almost half a year!  time with you has been so sweet and i can hardly remember life without you.

you finally figured out how to roll from your back to tummy after several days of frustration and trying.  i was in the kitchen and walked back into the living room, and there you were on your play mat, on your belly and looking at me like, "what just happened."  i plopped myself down next to you to make sure i didn't miss your new trick again, and you rewarded me by rolling over again.  funny though, it seems like you go day to day either remembering or forgetting how to do this all over again.  i think your problem is your big head.  your big head is so big that the pediatrician was a little worried and sent us for an ultrasound to make sure no brain fluid was leaking.  i was never worried about it though because all my boys have big heads!  and of course, your head checked out just fine.

you are now enjoying your exersaucer and bumbo seat.  it is so fun to see you sitting up and playing with toys.  i think you like your new vantage point too.  you still love to suck on your fingers (and sometimes whole fist!).  you love your big brothers and think they are the funniest and most fascinating.  i can't remember the last time you have cried in the car.  you almost seem to enjoy playing or sleeping there now and we are all so grateful!

you now seem to "know" your people and you don't care too much for strangers.  i noticed this first at your 4 month checkup with the pediatrician.  when he walked in the room you looked at him, then at me, then started crying!  

you also threw a curve ball at us when you decided that you no longer like bottles.  you've always taken a bottle at bedtime from dad but one day, you decided that they were no longer needed and you only want your mama now.  i won't was a little tough on me and i enjoyed a tiny break in the evenings, but i am so thankful that you are exclusively nursing now and seem content and happy.  the nights transitioning to that were long as you would wake up every 2-3 hours, but now we've settled back in to our sleeping mostly through the night.  what a difference that makes!

i was gifted an awesome baby food maker for christmas and i plan on investigating the best methods for making baby food so that we will be ready to go when we introduce solid foods to you in a month.  you are showing interest in what we are eating and drinking, but i have a feeling this will be a slow process for you.  you are still a tiny little guy though so i am hoping that you will enjoy these new foods and fatten up a bit.

salsa i love how you have changed our family.  you have forced us to slow down a bit and marvel at the simple things in life.  your big brothers are still over the moon about you, and it is sweet to see them appreciate and comment on every noise and move you make.  burrito told me the other day how he thought all babies look a little weird when they are first born so i asked him if that was what he thought about you.  with great indignation in his voice he replied, "umm, no. he was adorable!"  i've been working on your baby book and looking back at the pictures of your birth make me so happy and satisfied.  i am so thankful that God made me the mother of 3 boys.  with His help, i hope to teach you and your brothers how to be Godly men that love and honor and serve Him and others.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

happy 11th anniversary to us!

because i need a little happiness and i can't write a blog post without a picture, i give you this:

today is our 11th wedding anniversary.  we said "i do" on january 11, 2003 and this scripture was in our wedding:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakuk 3:17-18

i first heard john piper preach on this verse and if i remember correctly, it was in his wedding too.  piper changed my life forever when i heard him preach on suffering and the biblical view on suffering and i knew that if i should ever get married, i wanted this verse in the service.

i feel like we are living these verses a bit in our house right now and they have been a great encouragement to my soul.

i share what has been going on mostly because it is cathartic. 

it started on tuesday at silas' 4 month well check appointment.  he is a little guy in every department except for his head.  he has a big head. all my boys have a big head probably because my husband has a big head.  it's never been alarming to me but the pediatrician was concerned with it's size in relative comparison to silas' weight and height. he suggested we have an ultrasound done on his head to make sure that he did not have any brain fluid leaking.  that sounds alarming but i had a peace that all was well.  in fact, i pulled out burrito's stats from his 4 month well check and his head was exactly the same size as salsa's, but he did weigh more.  so we had the ultrasound on thursday morning and heard from the doctor yesterday and everything is normal. i say he has a big head because he is a genius like his dad. :)

this was the appointment i had to keep on thursday (as mentioned on facebook) when i pulled a muscle in my back. i was trying to lift the infant carrier out of the car very carefully because salsa was asleep and i did not want to wake him.

i did not want to wake him because i was trying to time his eating around the ultrasound appointment and because he had been awake every 2 hours the previous night, which i will explain momentarily.  the second that muscle popped i knew i was in trouble.  it's happened a few times before and it is so intense that it is hard to breathe.  this is coming from someone who delivered a baby with no drugs.  somehow by the grace of God i was able to get him out of the car and into the house.  he stayed asleep long enough for me to pop several pain killers (the not so great kind that you have to take while breastfeeding) and eat a piece of toast.  i could barely lift the phone to call john at work, in tears.  he quickly arranged for a substitute and headed home to help me lift salsa and make that ever important appointment at 10:30.

all this happened on the heels of not sleeping the night before because salsa has suddenly decided to refuse a bottle.  i've always nursed him but my supply has always been lower in the evening so he has always had a bottle of either pumped milk or formula at bedtime after i nursed him first.  we started doing this initially when he was 4 days old to try and fatten him up a little in case he needed surgery.  i've never before been successful breastfeeding for very long and with all of salsa's medical issues i was bound and determined to do whatever it took to make it work.  i'm extremely proud to have succeeded but i am definitely not one of those "formula is evil" believers either.  everyone and every baby is different and i think we all do our best as moms who love our children.  i have loved nursing him but it was nice to get a little break at bedtime to, you know, take a shower or wash my face!   

so now that he's not taking those extra ounces at bedtime, he is getting them throughout the night by wanting to nurse every 2.5-3 hours.  it is so hard going backwards!   

so a little recap: tuesday we had the doctor's appointment that led to the ultrasound, wednesday night salsa decides he no longer likes bottles and does not sleep, thursday morning i pull the muscle in my back and john comes home to help me make the appointment for salsa, and friday afternoon we find out that salsa is fine. 

so i start thinking wow, it's been rough around here and the lack of sleep makes things seem worse than they really are, but things are looking up.  until john calls to say that they are on their way home from school and both boys are in tears saying they have headaches and feel achy and chilled.  yay us!

well, if you've turned on your television in the last few weeks, you will be inundated with countless stories of the evil flu, and their symptoms sounded just like the flu.  so i called the pediatrician's office lightning quick, you know, because it is friday afternoon of course and they won't be open over the weekend.  we manage to get an appointment and they get tested and sure enough, they both have the flu! we rush to the pharmacy to get the miracle drug tamiflu and guess what, they think it is a miracle drug too because it costs an ungodly amount.  i had no idea.  so much so that our sweet pharmacist figured out that between both boys, we really could make 3 boxes of tamiflu work instead of the 4 prescribed so that we could shave almost $100 off the total bill.

wow. so i have a bad back, we have a baby that won't sleep, and now both of the big boys have the flu.  happy anniversary to us!

but back to those verses.
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

so, so thankful to have Jesus because that really is all i need.
thankful that the boys have the flu at the same time, instead of it being passed around over days and weeks.
thankful that they are sick together and can keep each other company.
thankful that i don't have to waste time worrying about them getting the flu now that they have it.
thankful to have a husband who wants to take care of the sickies so salsa and i won't get it.
thankful it is the weekend so my husband is home to help.
thankful it is sunny and warm outside instead of rainy and dreary like it has been. 
thankful for my parents who made a late night run up here to bring us food, medicine and everything else we might need to take care of the sickies.
thankful for friends who have prayed for us this week and offered to help in tangible ways as well.
thankful that even though they have the flu, they seem like they feel okay and are generally happy. 

whew. what a week. what better way to celebrate a wedding anniversary than by doing real life with the man i love.  now if we can just stay healthy and keep baby salsa healthy too! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

the new year

happy new year!

the past few slow days around our house have given me the opportunity to reflect a bit on 2013.  there have been a handful of years in my lifetime that i will always hold dear to my heart.  1993 was the year Jesus made me His.  in 2003, i became a wife. in 2004, i became a mother. in 2005, i became a mother of two sons.

2013 in my mind is mostly characterized by the joyous and unexpected news that we would be parents again.  in fact, it was on january 2 of 2013 that we saw this:

in many ways, having this third baby felt like our first time to have a baby.  it had been 8 years since our last experience with a newborn.  and God blessed us with so many new and different experiences this third time around.  we chose a midwife. we found out the sex of our baby at 16 weeks (on good friday...and it was a good friday!).  i gave birth naturally in the water at a birth center.  i was home about 4 hours after giving birth.  i have successfully breastfed.  i've witnessed our older boys love in new and different ways.  we've been blessed beyond measure.

we also received some of the scariest news a parent can hear in 2013..."there is something wrong with your baby."  hearing those words made me appreciate my healthy children in deeper ways than ever before.  our mantra was to not worry until we had something to worry about...easier said than done but my sweet husband modeled this so well for me.  we prayed every day and night that the Lord would protect the life of our son.  and every visit to a doctor confirmed that God was doing just that.

the first and second super duper ultrasounds showed that while salsa's abdominal organs were flipped, the other issues you typically see with his particular presentation of situs inversus were absent.  95% of babies with situs inversus with levocardia (abdominal organs are flipped but the heart is on the left which is not flipped) have one or multiple heart defects.  salsa did not and was cleared for a birth outside of the hospital.  did you get that....he was in the 5% of babies that do not have a heart defect. five percent!!!

his birth was perfect and amazing and after a quick exam by the pediatrician on the day of his birth, we were able to be home and love on this new little miracle.

the ultrasound on salsa on his 1 week old birthday showed that he did have a spleen, another common issue with situs inversus.  there is a chance of no spleen or multiple spleens but he had one perfect spleen!

the cardiologist appointment at 12 days old confirmed with certainty that the tiny holes in his heart are relatively normal and likely to close but if not, they are so tiny they will not cause a problem.  the inferior vena cava did not form but his body compensated and the blood still gets to the right place, just in a different way. he was put on a regular recall and will be evaluated again at 6 months old.

the surgeon appointment led to an upper GI test on salsa's 3 week old birthday.  not a fun experience but the results proved that his bowels were perfectly flipped with no malrotation.  no surgery needed!

admittedly those first few weeks were challenging and a bit of a blur, but we were constantly reminded of God's faithfulness to salsa and to us as his parents.

having a baby in the house at christmas this year gave me a glimpse into what mary must have felt as she gave birth and cared for her newborn son, Jesus.  having a baby with potential issues made me wonder and appreciate the difficulty knowing that your baby was born to die (though salsa's issues were never life-threatening it sure gave john and i empathy towards those who have seriously ill children).

i am reminded once again of the great sacrifice God made to give us eternal life.  he gave up His only Son so that you and i could have eternal life.  if you don't know Jesus my prayer for you this new year would be that you at least investigate the truths of the Bible.  ask the questions, investigate the answers.  His love is sweet and perfect and the only consolation that can soothe your heart and save your soul.

there is much to be thankful for as we start this new year.  we are blessed!