Friday, October 19, 2012

This Side of Heaven

The last 3 days have been a bit chaotic, and filled with lots of information which has been a bit overwhelming.  I felt talking about today's neurologist visit, would be easier via blog than via Facebook, so here we go.

Yesterday Brady had an MRI at St. Mary's hospital.  He did great during the MRI, and handled his anesthesia like a champion!  Today we headed to Dr. Taylor, Brady's neurologist to have the results read.  I had been pondering how I would react if the news was bad, but deep down... I had a feeling that I was worrying for no reason.  I just knew that we would go in, and he would say "His scan looks great, and there is nothing to worry about".  That however, is not what happened.  I got to the hospital just in time, and a hiccup at the valet station, caused me to stress and all but run to the office.  I made it at 10:46... good, one minute late!  Derik drove separate, and was already there, and had checked us in.  After 20 minutes, I thought... something seems off.  Why is it taking so long??  We had 2 appointments ahead of us, sitting in the waiting room.  So, we asked and found out that everything appointment was running behind at least 45 minutes.  GREAT... Brady, fell asleep, and I sat there thinking of every possible outcome of this appointment, except what we heard.  The doctor finally called us back, and until he started talking... I still thought this trip was going to end well. 

"Well, the MRI showed us 2 completely separate brain abnormalities"... and my heart sank.  If there is one thing that I never wish to hear someone say about my children again... it is the term brain abnormality.  One of the abnormalities is directly linked to one of the red flags we had talked about previously, with our neurologist.  The other abnormality is not linked to any of his issues.  There are 2 white patches that were prevalent on the MRI.  There are not supposed to be there, and while we know that is a problem, we do not know why they are there.  The other abnormality was the one that ripped my heart open.  Most human brains are bumpy on the outside.  When you look at a cross section of an MRI, you will see bumps... and most of Brady's scan appeared that way.  However, the frontal lobe on his right side was smooth.  This simply means that when his brain was developing in utero, the nerves that stretch and span to make those bumps, didn't do this on the right side.  The right side of the brain, controls the left side of your body... and Brady has had trouble using his left hand completely for some time.  Now we know why, and what we learned is that he will most likely never have full use of that arm and hand.  It will be a "helper hand" as the neurologist called it. 

As a mom, I immediately jumped to the bad place.  I was worried that he would never play sports, or live any sort of normal "little boy" life.  The neurologist said that since he has the problem at such a young age, he will learn to work around it, and more than likely be capable of doing anything he wants.  That at least took some of the sting off of it.  We will most likely see an Occupational & Physical Therapists for some time, and the neurologist has high hopes that it will HELP.  However, nothing can fix this problem.  That is part of what bothered me, I think.  Knowing that there is nothing I can do for my son... no medicine, no surgery, no treatment can fix it, HURTS.

We will also see a Genetic Counselor.  There is a genetic disorder which can cause the entire brain to be smooth, and since Brady has only part of a smooth brain, it could be a genetic translocation.  If that is the case, we need to know what that means for any future children, and any children that Brady may have.

The good news is... it is nothing fatal, and it isn't something that will make him suffer for the rest of his life.  However, the bad news is... that it will be a set back that he has to learn to cope with.  As a mom, we want the absolute best for a children.  I am so sad to know that I can't do anything for Brady to help him here.  I can provide therapists, and I will... but I feel helpless.  I know God has a plan, and I will not understand it this side of heaven.  But, that isn't making this any easier to swallow.

Please keep our family in your prayers, as this is not over yet.  If you have any questions about any of this... I will be happy to answer them for you.

Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement...
We love you.

 - Jessica

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fear is a Beast...

Such a sweet boy, Brady is almost 9 months old.  It is crazy to think that it has been 9 months since we met him!  It feels like yesterday, but at the same time... I cant really imagine life without him!  His smile lights up a room, and his laugh is 100% infectious.  His coos would make anyone chuckle, and who can deny how cute all of that "insulation" is!!  I remember being a bit sad when I learned that Brady was a boy... and now I cant image things any other way! 
Most of you know I have been completely consumed by what is going on with my sweet baby.  I am sad, I am stressed, and I am terrified of actually learning the answers.  In 4 days, we will know what is going on, and I am not sure that I am ready for what the neurologist is going to tell us. 
I keep battling with my fear.  I am afraid, but at the same time... I am trying to trust God.  I was told once that fear is present because of Satan, and I am beginning to believe that.  Saying that I am afraid, and saying that I have "Let Go & Let God" is a huge contradiction.  I guess in reality, that is what I am!  I am one gigantic, walking, mess of a contradiction.  When I meet our maker, if I am allowed to ask the Almighty a question, I think it will be... "Why did you not eliminate Satan?  Without his present, evil in all forms would be non existent." 
I haven't actually voiced my fears.  I have danced around the actually words when someone asks me "What is it that you are afraid of?".  No mother ever wants to see their child suffering any type of setback, and that is my greatest fear.  I feel guilty that the issues in my pregnancy could have caused potential life long issues for Brady.  In pregnancy, I am the one who is growing and protecting the baby, and I couldn't even do that right.  Now he is here, and we thought we had knocked it out of the park by avoiding the NICU!  Now I am beginning to feel like I denied him some extra care.  Maybe if I hadn't been so pushy about not wanting him to go unless it was ABSOLUTELY vital, he would have gotten a better chance.  He failed his hearing screen at birth, and while he passed a month later... I am not sure that it was 100% accurate.  I was the only one at the appointment, and I was so afraid that failing it would mean lots of things that I didn't want to deal with.  She performed the test at least 25 times.  I nursed him, changed him, and he went back to sleep.  Finally, even though he was buried in his car sear, she said he passed.  All I was looking for was a green light to pretend like all of our problems were over.  There have been so many red flags in the last 9 months, and I am still looking only for my green light. 
What happens if the results of the MRI show neurological issues.  What if the nystagmus is caused by a mass in his brain?  What happens if he truly has issues with mental development as well as physical development?  What happens if those issues, set him back so far that he can never catch up??

The truth is... I am terrified about what this week holds for us.  My heart breaks and bleeds all over every time I see one of my friend's children of Brady's age hit another huge milestone.  Their babies are crawling, walking, talking, clapping... and mine has reached none of these.  I remember feeling like such a successful mom when Abbie achieved said milestones.  Perhaps, that is why I am feeling like a failure at it now.  I only want the best for my children, and as a mom... knowing there is nothing I can do to fix it... makes me sick.

 - Jessica

This is for my sweet boy...

You arrived very early, it was the middle of the night.
The moment I held you, it was love at first sight.
I didn't know how I would love a another,
But I love your sister, and I love her brother.
You were so tiny, my little tator tot,
And today, well, tiny you are certainly not!
Growing so fast, the months have blown by.
My baby is growing into such a sweet guy.
My prayer is that God spares you from any pain,
And that these issues are something, someone can explain.
I love you so much, you will never even know.
So, I have to Let God, and Let Go...

I love you Brayden... Mom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Me, Myself, & I...

My Mom & I...

My story is one of pain and laughs, as most people's stories usually are.  I've had years of struggle, and years with a lot of fun memories.  My memories from my childhood start around Kindergarten.  I remember a blue house on Mapleway Lane, it had 3 bedrooms, and 1.5 baths.  I remember the laundry area being in the hall, and the kitchen, dining room, and living room all being open to each other.  There was a deck on the back that was pretty high off the ground.  My dad had built my sister and I am kids heaven in the back yard from the piping supply that he sold!  We had a swing set, a sandbox, a slide, and a see saw.  We loved to play out side, and I have many good memories in that house.  With those good memories, I also have a lot of dark memories.  My parents didn't get a long, and I saw some things that children shouldn't see.  I was a Girl Scout and loved troop meetings & camping trips.  I was smart enough to be in the blended class in 2nd grade.  We were blended with 3rd graders, and learning more advanced things.  My younger sister was very allergic to peanuts which we learned by a horrific allergic reaction when she rolled a pine cone in peanut butter.  I shared a room with my sister and slept on the top bunk.  I remember being terrified because my mom would turn the blinds up, and from the top bunk... I felt like I was being watched at night.  My sister and I fought, as siblings tend to do.  
Girl Scouts... I was a brownie!

After a traumatizing afternoon that I will never shake... my mom, sister, and myself moved out.  I was in the 3rd grade.  I remember most everything.  We moved into a friend's house temporarily, and my sister thought it was great, because we got to eat Taco Bell every night!  Eventually, we moved to Elkin, and I think the move came at the end of the school year.  My mom's family lived in Elkin, and we lived with my great grandma for a bit.  Mom found an apartment and we moved not to far from my "Grandma Grandma's" house.  We called her that because she was my great grandma, and that was grandma twice!  I started a new school in the 4th grade, and didn't make many friends.  In fact, I remember very little about that school and the students.  

My mom and dad ended up getting back together, and we moved back to Greensboro.  They had already sold the house on Mapleway Lane, and my dad had purchased a townhouse on Horsepen Creek Road.  We moved in with him, and I have many many memories from our time in that house!  I remember roller skating and riding our bikes up and down the sidewalks there.  I remember convincing my sister to climb a tree.  Not just any tree... a HUGE tree!  I convinced her to climb all the way up to the very tippy top!  My dad was furious!  I remember a groundhog living in our backyard, and a flat area with tons of fruit trees!  I started a new school and this time I remember just about everything!  I could walk through the entire school in my head right now!  I remember where everything was!  Mr Stallard was my teacher, and he was sooooo much fun!  I remember working so hard on my big project that year, My North Carolina Book.  I'm pretty sure my mom still has this book.  I had to come up with something in NC for every letter of the alphabet. I got an A!  I was a Presidential winner for the Physical Fitness Award that year, and in the 5th grade I was runner up for the Dare Essay contest!  I did 2 Science Fair projects that I remember like it was yesterday!  I stained white tiles with coffee and tea and tested various brands of toothpastes, and the next year we tested the absorbancy of various brands of paper towels!

Doing a back hand spring...
My sister & I... celebrating her birthday in 2005!
Life got interesting as I went into middle school.  I got pretty involved with my youth group, I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss, a few "best friends", and I started caring about being cool.  The problem was, while I wanted to wear cool clothes, and have a cool purse like everyone else, my parents just couldn't afford it.  I would never ask my mom to buy a shirt from "The Limited" for me, when she couldn't afford to buy one for herself.  She and my dad did what they could to provide for us, but unfortunately that meant I wasn't very "cool".  I got picked on and made fun of a LOT, and one person in particular went out of her way to pick on me.  Then came 7th grade.  It was one of the hardest years of my life, as a kid.  My best friend from the 6th grade, made a new best friend.  Together they were a force to be reckoned with.  Mix them with all of their other faithful sidekicks and my life literally became a hell.  I didn't want to go to school, because they were horrible to me.  My grades suffered, and so did my self esteem.  Titanic came out that year, and my homeroom teacher would let me spend homeroom in the computer lab so I didnt have to be around these girls.  I would look up and print out tons and tons of pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio!  Those pictures became the wallpaper in my room, and that mixed with making up AWESOME dances to the Spice Girls songs with my little sister's friends, was really the only happy parts of my life that year.  8th grade got a little better as far as the bullying goes.  I was still in class with some of them, but now they ignored me instead of picking on me.  I had a few really good girlfriends, and even a few guy friends.  My boyfriend who I had been with on and off, started dating one of my other friends, and now they are married with an adorable little boy!  One of my guy friends that year, was killed in Iraq a few years ago... that was not easy to deal with.  On a high note though, I did go on 3 mission trips in middle school, all which left a lasting mark on me!!  Especially the trip to Maine.  I remember everything about it, and would love to go back!  I broke my ankle playing basketball with some of the guys, and spent most of the trip on crutches, but watching 4th of July fireworks on the beach cliffs of Maine... amazing!  My parents split for good the summer before I started high school, and it was an UGLY split.  After a few months, I chose to live with my dad, and without my sister.  I didn't realize what that meant for my life.  After my sister and I knowing everything about each other for years and years... I no longer knew her anymore.  There were boyfriends I never met, and friends I never knew, and I hate that I missed so much.  I wanted desperately to be on the cheerleading squad, so I tried out... fail.  I was crushed, and I sought out help from a highly recommended person!  That is when I learned about Cheer Extreme Allstars.

Cheer Extreme Allstars :)
High school was a whole new start.  People who hadn't spoken to me in years, were suddenly my friends!  I was borderline cool, and I had some close friends that made life fun my freshmen year!  My 2 best friends and I spent the majority of our free time learning every dance by Britney Spears that we could!  We had most of them nailed!  I even got to go to her concert with some of my friends for my birthday in March of 2000.  My dad and I went to the coliseum at the butt crack of dawn and waiting forever to get tickets in the nosebleed section!!  It was all that was left when we made it to the window :(.
My dad met someone new, and she rallied for me to start cheerleading, so I did.  I met the coach and owner of CEA and after my try out was placed on the CoEd team!  I loved it, and worked SUPER hard to gain tumbling skills.  After a few months I had a back hand spring and was learning how to do running tumbling!
After another try and fail at the Cheerleading Squad at Northwest High School, I thought I was going to give up.  I decided that cheering Allstars was fun, and I didn't need a school squad!  My dad and his new lady got engaged and I opted to change schools again, and move into town and out of the suburbs!  My mom and dad got remarried and I had a whole new life.  

Scorpion... I loved cheering!
I started Page High School in the 10th grade, and my only friends for a while were really the friends of my step sister.  However, when spring of 2001 rolled around, I tried out for the cheerleading squad, and to my surprise... I made it!  I cried harder than I had in a long time!  Not only was I on the team, but I actually was one of the team's 4 flyers!  I was so proud of myself, and felt like all of my hard work was really paying off.  I cheered as hard as I could for 2 years!  That was all I cared about, and the only reason that I worked on my grades in high school!  My junior year, I developed a bit of an eating disorder.  I never openly admitted that I was anorexic, but I was.  I would drink a Slim Fast before practice, and besides that... I didn't really eat.  Flying in cheerleading means that people catch me, and I was so self conscious about my weight.   I got down to about 78lbs, and my coach threatened to kick me off the squad.  It wasn't much longer before I discovered that I needed emergency surgery to have my tonsils & adnoids taken out.  I was out of cheerleading for a while, and was able to pack on a few pounds before returning.  My senior year, I got senioritis pretty early on!  While I loved cheerleading, I also loved to party.  I was a rebel, and I didn't care what anyone thought about me!  I actually went to my final exam my senior year wearing my bikini and cut off jean shorts.  Thankfully, the teacher let me take the exam... and didn't expel me!  My senior year ended up being pretty dark.  I ran away from home for a while, and did a LOT of things that I wasn't proud of then, and am still not proud of now.  Most people don't know that I even attempted to take my life, but God had other plans.  It took a lot of growing up, and meeting my now husband, for me to actually snap out of my self destruction!

Sarah & I Junior year... she introduced me to Derik!
My best friend from high school, introduced me to Derik, and we started dating in June of 2005.  We were living together August of 2006, and engaged in October.  Our friends at the time weren't too happy about us... growing up.  We lost most of them, and had some hiccups through the week of our wedding because of them.  We were married in September of 2007, and 2 months after our 1 year Anniversary trip to Mexico we found out we were pregnant!  This news came immediately after Derik started a new job, and we bought our first house!!!  Derik owned a townhouse that we lived in prior which we rented out, so a LOT of things changed in a short amount of time!  January of 2009, we miscarried, and were devastated.  However, we were pregnant again by June!  Preparing for Abbie was surreal, but she made her grand entrance Valentine's Day of 2010!  Her first year was amazing, and we loved just about every minute!  In March of 2011, we began preparing for a relocation, and we finally made the move April 30th.  Exactly one month later, we found out we were pregnant with Brady.  Brady arrived after several false labor trips to the hospital in January this year... and here we are!

Derik & I... many many years ago!!
I have chosen to filter a lot in this post.  The mistakes I made, and the pain I suffered... made me the person I am today, however... if I had to do it all over, I'm not sure that I would!  I would make changes, and live life in a better way.  There are a lot of things I like about myself, but my past is not one of them.  I am a mom to 2 great kids, I have a wonderful husband, I have great friends, I created and run a successful home based business, I am pretty creative & crafty, and my love for cheerleading will never die.  I am who I am, and my past led me to this point.  I am thankful that God forgives.  I am thankful that he has forgiven me for the mistakes I made in my past.  He is greater than all of it... and I am so thankful!

I wrote this blog post because I was listening to this song this morning, and it made me think about every time I ever called on God...  The song is called I Am by Nicole Nordeman.

Pencil marks on a wall, I wasn't always this tall
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed.
You watched my team win, you watched my team lose
Watched when my bicycle went down again.
And when I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name
And I said Elbow Healer, Super Hero, come if you can.
And you said, I AM.

Only sixteen, life is so mean
What kind of curfew’s is at 10 PM?
You saw my mistakes, you watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I'd never love again
And when I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name
And I said Heartache Healer, Secret Keeper, be my best Friend
And you said, I AM.

You saw me wear white by pale candle light
I said "forever" to what lies ahead.
Two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
[ From : ]
Too much it might seem when it's 2 am.
And when I am weak, unable to speak still I will call you by name
Oh, Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker, Hold on to my hand.
You say, I AM.

The winds of change and circumstance
Blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar.
And bless the moments that we feel you nearer.
When life had begun, I was woven and spun
You let the angels dance around the throne.
Who can say when, but they'll dance again
When I am free and finally headed home.
I will be weak, unable to speak
Still I will call you by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End
I AM, Yes I AM.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mini Me

I am writing this post specifically to outline how incredible my oldest child really is.  My focus over the last few months has been Brady, and I feel that Abbie has suffered from it.  I watch my little girl grow every day and all too quickly, she is becoming a big girl. 

In true mom fashion, I am going to talk about her birthday!
It was an amazing day, and it seemed to be over before it even began.  After 10 hours of laboring through the night, many many tests, and absolutely no sleep... I was sure the hospital was going to send us home, AGAIN!  To my surprise, the doctor came into the room, and announced "we are going to do the surgery, you are going to have this baby today"!  I was overcome with emotion, and didn't even realize that the situation was actually an emergency surgery!  Being that I had never been in this situation before, I thought that we would have the surgery in a few hours... the doctor meant more like 20 minutes!  It wasn't even 30 minutes later that I was staring at my beautiful baby girl!  She made her grand entrance on Valentine's Day, which for those of you who know our family... was the only day we didn't want her to come!  My husband is a restaurant owner, however... he was only managing at this time.  He was in complete disbelief that he had to take the day off work!  His boss thought we were playing a joke on him... off work on Valentine's Day, that is the busiest day of the year in a restaurant!  However, we weren't joking, and at 8:21am... we met our Abbie!  There were no complications during surgery, and I was in and out of recovery almost immediately.  I got to hold her within an hour of her arrival, and it went from 9:30am to 9:30pm in a flash.  We stayed at the hospital for 4 days, and brought Abbie home on the 17th.
In her first few months, she was sooooo tiny!  That was all anyone could say about her!  "She is so tiny"!!!  Tiny she was, and after about 4 months... she finally started catching up!  She was only 4 weeks early, and we were lucky that she had no significant delays.  She was cutting teeth at 5 months, sitting up at 6 months, self feeding at 9 months, and crawling at 11 months.  Her first birthday was a tough day for me.  I had a hard time dealing with the fact that she was no longer a "baby"!  Perhaps that is why 4 months later we had a positive pregnancy test! 
We moved to Richmond at the beginning of May, and Abbie almost immediately was scheduled for tubes.  She had her tube surgery on Friday, May 27th, and was walking on May 30th!  It was so surreal to see my baby girl teetering all around our new house.  2 weeks later, we learned that she would be a Big Sister, and that was a gut check!  Knowing that she would no longer be our baby, and that we would soon have another baby, made me realize just how big she was! 
The talking kicked in for real at about 18 months, and she never slowed down!  Her vocabulary has gone from saying "More Mo Mo" to "Can I have more water, please, mom".  She has now been a Big Sister for almost 9 months, and loves her job more than one can describe!  She is protective over Brady, and loves to help in any way possible.  Sometimes I can say, "Abbie, can you go talk to your brother", and I will hear them laughing at each other for the next 15 minutes!  She gets excited when he wakes up, and loves to watch him eat.  She wants to climb into his crib with him, and kiss him goodnight.  She rocks and feeds her baby dolls, and says she is "just like mommy", and I just soak it all in!

The reason for this post though is not to talk about her past, but to talk about her today.  Most days I feel like I am looking in a mirror!  It is like watching me, 25 years ago.  Her personality is 100%... me!  Sometimes I get completely annoyed by the fact that she is just like me, but she will now tell me to "just be patient with me mommy, take a deep breath"!!!  She watches everything I do, and repeats everything I say!  I am learning that I have to be very careful... because I have a shadow!  She loves princesses and cheerleading, and going on "mommy dates"!!  I never thought that someone so young could teach me so much, but she has.  Potty training, big girl bed, and eating new foods are some of her latest accomplishments, and she is hard at work on learning her ABCs!!  I cant even begin to write how blessed I am to get to know her!  She makes me laugh every day, and I love her more than I knew was humanly possible!
I look forward to watching her grow... I just hope she does it a little slower!

 - Jessica

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fun With Food

My daughter is absolutely what one may call a PICKY EATER!  She has days where she just doesn't care what she eats, but she has more days where she is very specific about what she wants!  I thought serving her new options in a creative way would be fun for both of us!  Watching her face light up when she climbs into her highchair and discovers the cool concoction, makes me smile every time!  Here are a few of the fun displays I have come up with so far.  I am planning more, but I have to be inspired first!!!

This was my attempt at a Safari Lunch!
Nutella & Strawberry Jelly Elephant Sandwiches, a banana & apple slice tree, and a few sun chips!
HUGE HIT... Abbie left nothing but crumbs on the plate!

This is my Under the Sea Lunch!
Pepperidge Farms makes the Goldfish Bread, and Abbie enjoyed more Nutella & Strawberry Jelly.
This was my attempt at getting her to eat whole wheat bread, and she did!  I used shreds of string cheese and Natural White Chedder Cheetos to make seaweed, and a few grapes for bubbles!
I also gave her a yogurt!
Another winner... she cleared her plate!

My Flower Fun Lunch creation!!
Strawberries, blueberries, string cheese, and a grilled cheese sandwich! 
She loved this as well.  The strawberries could have been sweeter, and that means that she left half of them on the plate, but she ate most everything else!

Well, this was a bit of a flop!
I made a puppy dog from a hot dog!  However the raisins that I attempted to use for eyes and a nose, fell off!  I also was more than scared to leave her with the toothpicks... so we probably wont do this again!
I have a caterpillar idea I will try next time!

I am having so much fun creating these for her, but she is having way more fun eating them!!

 - Jessica