Count Your Blessings

When we were on vacation, we received some news that isn’t great.

Don’t worry: Solly is healthy and happy and nothing about that has changed. I’ll write more specifics later, but, in short, we were notified by a specialist that Solly might not be a candidate for SDR, a potentially life-changing surgery that would permanently eliminate his muscle tightness. We have to do some legwork – a sedated MRI and a consultation in St. Louis – before we know the answer.

But, this post isn’t about SDR. It’s about how I deal with potentially bad news.

img_1821When you parent a medically complex child, you quickly learn that this life is an emotional roller coaster. One day your child does something amazing, something that doctors predicted he would never be able to do, and then the next day, his journey takes a step backwards – or, on some days, many steps backwards. As easy as it is to wallow in bad news and feel down about whatever that backwards step is, I’ve found that allowing those negative feelings to stick around is not only not productive, it also tends to rub off on Solly and Bea. If I choose this route, no one is happy and we remain at a standstill until I’m able to dust myself off and move forward. Continue reading

Acceptance

This Fall, we’ll spend an extended period of time in Roanoke, Virginia for an intensive therapy at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. The intensive will be 4 weeks long and includes therapy for up to 6 hours per day. Talk about an intense intensive! A part of the intensive therapy program will include Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) where Solly’s stronger side (the left side) will be constrained to force the weaker side to take over.

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Solly during our first round of CIMT in Nashville

We previously had 4 weeks of CIMT in Nashville at Vanderbilt Pediatric Rehabilitation right after Solly turned two. While we saw some gains (i.e. more movement in the right shoulder), because Vanderbilt’s approach was to cast the child and send them home without intensive therapy, aside from an extra hour-long appointment or two during the week, we did not experience a ton of progress with our first round of CIMT. While this approach may work for children with mild cerebral palsy, we found that it isn’t as effective for moderate to severe cases, like Solly’s.

With CIMT, the more therapy you can do while the stronger side is casted, the more effective the therapy will be. Given the intensive model available at Virginia Tech, I am eager to see how much awareness Solly will gain of the weaker side. Continue reading

A Nanny for Two Adorable Children

Why don’t you guys take a break tonight from poopy butts and sick kids and go have some dinner and drinks. I can stay till 9 so you’ll have plenty of time for dessert too!

Mike and I received the text above from one of our nannies while I was en route to Solly’s first-ever dentist appointment, after a sleepless night thanks to a teething and diaper-rashed Bea. Texts and conversations like this are fairly normal from her and our other nanny: “Camie, go for a run! I’ve got the kids. Go ride your horse. Go take a nap! TAKE A BREAK!”

To them, nannying is a job, yes, but in the 15 months and 8 months that we’ve employed Nanny Jen and Catherine, respectively, each woman has become an extension of our family. They love our babies, go above and beyond to learn handling methods, feeding techniques, equipment, doctors’ and therapists’ names, and help me with research and brainstorming ideas for just about everything. They get what both of our babies need and also act as a continuation of me around the house, doing laundry, wiping the counters, letting the dog out, basically doing whatever needs to be done to keep our household running smoothly.

I feel so incredibly comfortable leaving my babies in their care. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

When we moved to Nashville, we largely chose to move so we’d be closer to family for some much-needed support. What we didn’t realize was how much support we needed.

Continue reading

Living in the Past

I try not to be a dweller. I like to live life looking forward, basking in positivity and finding the good in any situation. Anything that has happened occurred simply to mold me into the person I am today, so there’s no reason to have regrets and worries about the past.

This tends to be my attitude towards any event, except for the day of Solly’s birth. Even three years later, thinking back on that day and the following month in the NICU puts a wrench in my stomach and tears at my heart. It’s hard to revisit that time. I can’t even look at the blog posts I wrote while we were in the NICU. I just can’t. Not yet.

SollySmileHowever, when my sweet friend, Laura, asked me to share Solly’s story as an Inspirational Kid for her website Paisley’s Purpose, I knew I had to man up and revisit that time. Even if it could give solace to just one other Mama following a similar path, it would be worth it. So, in just over 1,000 words, I revisited those hard first days in our journey with Solly. The post goes into a little more depth than I’ve ever written about that day, so for those who are newer to our story, it might be worth a read. Read it here.

The Right Kind of Support

Before I had Solly in my life, social media was a place to simply share photos, articles, humblebrag, and occasionally whine. Back then, even though I was working in digital marketing, I felt myself growing increasingly annoyed with all the oversharing on all platforms and was particularly ready to pull the plug on Facebook (hello, addiction!).

Then, I had a special needs child. Because of HIPPA, our doctors and therapists couldn’t connect me with other parents going through a similar journey. I connected with a few parents while in waiting rooms, but their child’s diagnosis wasn’t always the same, so I still had questions and craved advice from parents who had been there, done that. So, I started googling and realized how many special needs parents were making those kinds of connections on social media – mostly, Facebook, but also Instagram and Twitter. Over the past three years, I’ve started one support group and have followed and participated in several others. These groups not only help me discover new therapies, new medical treatments, and doctors that can help Solly, but they also give me a place to vent and share wins with people who go through similar ups and downs every day. Plus, I’ve even gotten to meet several local parents who I’ve since met up with in person! (These meet ups are refreshing – it’s always like reconnecting with a long-lost friend.)

A daily walk in the shoes of a special needs parent is certainly not an easy one. But I’ve found that with the right support group, life has gotten a little less scary and, in most cases, I’ve even felt empowered when making decisions for Solly.

If you’re new to a cerebral palsy or stroke diagnosis, or you’re simply looking for help with some of the alternative therapies, here’s a list of my go-to support groups on Facebook:

General

KISS Pediatric Stroke Support (I started this support group with two other stroke Mamas so we could not only connect parents with one another and share experiences, but so we could also follow what non-profits were doing to advance pediatric stroke awareness. We’ve grown to over 1,000 members and have parents from all over the world.)
Mom’s of Pediatric Stroke Survivors (If you’re local to the middle Tennessee area, be sure to join this one. It’s based in Nashville and gives lots of good resources on local therapies and doctors, plus the Mama who started it puts together a meet up every few months.)
CP Warriors, Mommies, Daddies, Grandparents, and Caregivers
2014 Cerebral Palsy Babies Support

Medical & Alternative Procedures

SPML – Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening
HBOT for Pediatric Neurological Conditions
Parents for HBOT
Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy and Brain Injury (Parents Information)
Pediatric Cannabis for CP & Other NeuroMuscular Disorders
Pediatric Cannabis Therapy
Anat Baniel Method Parents/Caregivers

Know of any others I should add to the list? Feel free to send them my way!

As I mentioned above, I’ve also met some parents and gotten great info on other social media platforms. I’ll do my best to put together a post with my favorites, so if Facebook isn’t your thing, stay tuned!

Solly and Bea

Another type of support often seen in our house: sister helping brother!