a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Saturday, July 30, 2011


10 days ago was when I realized that my baby didn't seem so baby-ish after all, instead so big and grown. So able and independent. So tall. 10 days ago my baby became a big sister and the changes in her in just 10 days leave Rob and I smiling, and shaking our heads with utter amazement. Oia is beside herself, giddy and happy, bouncing all over this house. Giggly. Often stopping mid-play to find and kiss her sister, then squeezing her too hard. No jealously here... just an admiration and a new sisterly love that I always hoped I would one day get to experience in motherhood. What a joy and blessing it will be to watch these two angels grow up together...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Miracle

I had a sense during this pregnancy that I would deliver before my due date. For one, I thought there was no way I would make it all the way to the end of July given how large (and uncomfortable) I had become. And second, I just trusted that the big man upstairs would spare Rob and I the agonizing wait of making it all the way, if even only by a few days ~ the wait to find out more answers of the medical unknowns that were associated with our baby girl. And so just as my heart told me, our second beautiful daughter was in fact born 6 days early and perfectly on time.

Labor and delivery went as smoothly as possible. Just as we were promised, there were countless people waiting on this birth and my delivery room was swarming with students, nurses, and pediatric specialists of all kinds ready to take over and care for our girl should any complications arise. Miraculously, we needed not one of them. Our tiny baby came out lively and pink, all three of us crying together. She never left the room. She layed with me, skin to skin, for about an hour until she had to make her first visit to the nursery.

While I lay in a surreal, blissful state watching them weigh and measure our baby just moments after seeing her for the first time, I heard our doctors say how pretty she was, how beautiful and how perfect she seemed. It's probably something they've said countless times to other mothers in the past, but I didn't care. At that very moment, those words were meant for just me, for just us, and our baby, and that's all that mattered. From then on, I knew Esme' was going to be just fine.

She underwent an EKG, an echo, and an abdominal ultrasound, all in the first few hours of her birth day. Late that evening, our pediatric cardiologist came in to share the echo result with us. She was beaming, had an ear to ear smile, and said there was absolutely nothing to worry about. As we knew, our baby has a heart which is slightly rotated (Dextrocardia) and positioned in the middle of her chest but most importantly it's a heart that has no obstructive abnormalities. It is a heart that is structurally sound and functioning properly. It is a heart that is just as special and unique as the little lady our baby will one day grow to become. In addition, all other organs are present, positioned properly, and functioning as they should be.

There have been so many people, some we know and some we don't, who have lifted us in prayer throughout this entire pregnancy. We have felt embraced by the warmest of wishes and we are deeply appreciative to everyone for caring about our baby and this family as much as we do. Tomorrow is a new day and nothing is a guarantee and so today is what we give thanks for. Today we have two very special, yummy little girls who in every way are perfect to us. God knows what He is doing. He listens too. And He's been all ears this whole time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meet the Littlest Teaster

Our tiny, pink, and HEALTHY Esme' Anne was born on Wednesday, July 20th at 933am. (pronounced Es-may)
6 lbs 11 oz
19 1/2 in

More details and pictures to come once we return home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Appointments, Camp, and Baby

Oia had two extra appointments last week in addition to her regular therapy schedule. The week was packed but now we can check the dentist and ophthalmologist off the list for a while. First up was the dentist. Her last visit to the dentist was fairly successful, meaning she didn't get too scared and she didn't really cry that much - aside from the scary "spit sucker". That was 6 months ago. Last weeks appointment was a whole different story. Maybe we can chalk it up to progress and a more knowledgeable girl these days but she was not in favor of any part of the dental exam whatsoever. She cried nearly the entire cleaning and exam and at one point I ended up in the chair to hold her in hopes of wrapping up the appointment tear-free. The whole experience felt like torture for both of us. Who really likes the dentist anyways?

The report is that Oia's teeth are clean and doing just fine. She does, however, have a molar with a significant ridge due to what the dentist believes is an enamel defect. The ridge will be a problem sooner than later as it is already trapping food and will need to be worked on but for now I have convinced the procedure-hungry dentist to just keep an eye on it and we'll cross this bridge when it's of an obvious bother to Oia. The procedure to eliminate the defect would require a slight sedative and more screaming and tears will ensue. I'm not up for it. Our girl needs a break.

Later in the week, we headed to northern VA for Oia's ophthalmology appointment. They tried to take pictures/measurements of Oia's eyes (again) but no such luck. Only if your 3 year old can remain as still as a statue, not blink, and stare at one tiny hole positioned just in front of her nose for several seconds is this task even possible. Following that, an eye tech flashed an image of a birthday cake on the wall in front of Oia and asked her what it was. Again, another fail. Not the best approach for a girl who struggles to communicate. I told the tech that Oia can't speak what she sees but that asking her a yes or no question would be more reliable. However, in this case, it wasn't. The black and white birthday cake on the wall was far less interesting than all the eye gadgets and fancy machinery in the room so she was too busy pointing around and asking "whass tha?" One day she'll nail those darn eye exams.

Dr. P said all seemed as it should. Eyes are doing as he expected and her cataracts haven't changed in size. Her eyes still will cross from time to time without glasses and Dr. P assured us this will probably always be the case. Her eyes are healthy, but the muscles that control them just have a mind of their own. As long as the crossing is minimal or nonexistent with glasses then we are in good shape. We must continue to patch via Atropine drops 2x/wk to continue to strengthen the right eye. We would use adhesive patches but at this stage of the game, Little Miss will not stand for it. So drops it is.

In 6 months we return to both doctors for another check-up.

And in other news, this morning is Oia's last day of Speech Camp. Camp was held for three consecutive Tuesday's this month for 2 1/2 hours each day. My goal for this camp was to provide Oia with some adult structure (without me) that mimicked the school environment while getting to play with a therapeutic purpose. I found this camp offering in our area via a local publication and the ratio of campers to therapists was 6:2. That fact alone sold me. I called to make sure that the therapists were comfortable dealing with children who had mobility issues before registering and thankfully they were. Each session is themed based and the campers get to participate in making their own snack and lunch. It's been a wonderful and fulfilling experience for Oia. She loves getting her speech bag ready for camp each Tuesday and happily waves bye-bye as we leave her at drop off. It's pretty neat to see her so happy and willing in a new environment. And as it turns out, the therapist in charge of the camp has Apraxic training. It's a win-win all the way around.

And the littlest Teaster is coming sooner than later... I hope. We are so ready. I have had a long night of mild contractions but seems they have stopped for now. Who knows - this could carry on for days. Though I have experienced irregular contractions off and on for the last couple of weeks now, this activity is getting more and more frequent and a little more intense. My due date is just 7 days away so we have to just continue to wait this out. I have a check-up scheduled for Thursday so we shall see what's going on then. Stand by.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happiness is...

found in the last few snuggles as a family of three, while we anxiously wait to become a family of four.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just 4 Words

One afternoon last week, Oia was perched on my legs facing my enormous belly. She loves to rub it, pat it, kiss it and feed it (yes, she tries to offer her sister snacks already, chips and blueberries to be exact). I asked Oia what she would say to the baby when she sees her and she replied by waving to my stomach and said "Hey, Baby!"

I then asked Oia if she was ready to see the baby and she of course, said yes. Then, I asked Oia to try and say "I want to see you baby" and she clearly and effortlessly said in response "I wanna see baby!" Rob, who was in an adjoining room, heard her and we both began cheering and clapping like crazies at a Super Bowl game. Hearing Oia speak her first ever, 4 word sentence is certainly a victory worth celebrating. I repeated the sentence again and so did she, with ease. She squealed with delight and pride as her parents acted like fools. It's a tiny break through, no doubt. We are chippin' away at the Apraxic monster, slowly and one drop at a time.

Photo of our lil' talker from today's hippotherapy session.