I won’t forget you, 22

Twenty-two is definitely going down in the books as my favorite age (well..so far, anyway).

On my birthday last year (which, by the way, was spent in the hospital on our vacation in Florida due to a bad stomach bug + pregnancy) I had no idea what the year would bring. Looking back at everything that has happened this past year, I am completely overwhelmed by the goodness of God and His grace in my life and the lives of others.

At the age of 22 I became a mother, a college graduate and a nurse. It was the year so many of the dreams I had for my life came true. I grew a lot as a wife as my husband and I started adjusting to our new roles as parents together. I had the privilege of watching my loving husband become a daddy (I still find myself watching him in awe sometimes as he fits the “daddy” role so unbelievably well). I developed a faith in God like I’ve never had before. I realized how fortunate we are to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family members.

It definitely wasn’t a perfect year. It was filled with plenty of ups and downs, its own set of trials, lots of tears and some heartache. There were times I was discouraged, completely sleep deprived, running away from God, and even miserable at some points in the year. But… It was a year I will never forget and God used those hard times to teach me lessons I never would have learned otherwise. The ups were great and the downs were bad, but God saw us through it all. Even when I lacked trust for my faithful God, He took care of us. He taught me so much about Himself this year. He showed me that even when we lack faith, He is still in control and He is still God. He gave me grace for every day – even when I wasn’t necessarily looking to Him for it. I learned that His plan is far better than my own, even when I think I know it all (which, let me tell you, I definitely don’t). He is good regardless of our circumstances and He will continue to be good despite our failures and human imperfections.

22 was a year full of a lot of milestones & life lessons.
I am so excited to see what God has planned for 23!

IMG_8169 IMG_8224

Paisley Grace: 6 months

Happy half birthday to our sweet baby girl. Half a year. 6 months. I still remember when Paisley Grace was 6 hours old, 6 days old, 6 weeks old. Now she’s 6 months old and I cannot even wrap my mind around it. (I shared some of my thoughts about that here)

These past 6 months have been the best.IMG_0547At 6 months old she…
– Has TWO teeth. They are both on the bottom and they are just cute as can be.
– Laughs constantly. It seems like she’s always laughing or smiling (well…except when she’s overtired). She especially likes to laugh when we are at any kind of store. Her little giggles just fills the room and brings a smile the face of everyone who hears it. She also laughs at mommy & daddy all the time.
– Does this really cute thing where she puts the back of both of her hands over her eyes when she gets really tired. She’s a drama queen, already.
– Has started trying to copy us when we make funny noises and faces.
– Is a really cute sleeper. BUT she doesn’t sleep very well during the day. She’s getting better at sleeping through the night, but during the day she wants to be awake and interacting with everyone for the most part.
– Started sitting up on her own on Saturday, February 7th (2 days before she turned 6 months old)! She looks like such a big girl when she sits up and reaches for her toys!
-Is a little cuddle bug and really really loves when she gets to snuggle up in mommy and daddy’s bed.
– Has her ears pierced! She got them pierced on January 17th while her Aunt Kassidy was visiting us in South Carolina. She handled it like such a champ.
– Loves animals. Stuffed animals, real animals, pictures of animals, everything. She just LOVES them! She smiles and giggles when she sees them. She has a plush frog toy she loves to hold whenever we’re home. She’s also met several dogs who love to give her kisses and she just pets them (AKA pulls their hair) and laughs.
– Is a morning person! She doesn’t wake up in the morning crying. Instead, we usually hear her cooing and babbling in her crib and when we walk in to get her she gives us the biggest smile. Mornings with Paisley are the sweetest!
– Wears 0-3 month clothes and can fit into some 3-6 months (they’re just too long on her still, but I’m sure she’ll be wearing them in no time).
– Has some cute nicknames. Mommy calls her monkey moo moo, Grandma Deb and Pokey call her Paigie, daddy calls her monster and little one. She’s bound to have lots of nicknames as the years go by.
– Has lost a lot of her hair. She was born with a full head of strawberry blonde hair and now the majority of her hair is found only on the top of her head! Still cute as a button but I’m really excited for her hair to eventually grow back.
– Is doing so well eating her baby food. She loves bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, apples, and pears. The only thing she has tried that she didn’t care for were peaches.

Our photoshoot this month was filled with lots of giggles, smiles, silly faces, and big belly laughs. (Even more so than usual – Enjoy!)IMG_0552IMG_0546IMG_0541IMG_0536IMG_0534IMG_0455IMG_0528IMG_0530IMG_0526
IMG_0483IMG_0481-2 IMG_0475 IMG_0474

IMG_0471IMG_0467IMG_0470
IMG_0465 IMG_0461IMG_0459IMG_0524IMG_0510IMG_0508
IMG_0505 IMG_0512IMG_0454IMG_0451Happy half birthday, little one. We love you so much!!

Now I Get It

You know those moms who always refer to their children’s ages in months? I’m not talking about that mom who tells you she has a 3 month-old baby. I’m referring to the moms who say they have a “34 month-old” or a “28 month-old.” I used to get so annoyed when I heard moms say comments like that. I would always think to myself “Oh, so you mean they’re 2 and a half years old? Or…almost 3 years old?!” No, those kids’ ages are still in MONTHS. Now that I’m a mom, I totally get it.

When Paisley was born I kept track of how many hours old she was. Call me crazy, but I did. Naturally, those “hours old” then became “days old” and then before we knew it, “weeks old.” Oh man, when I had to make the transition from “weeks old” to “months old” I almost lost it. I remember talking to my husband about how I was never going to stop telling everyone Paisley’s age in weeks. I would start a new trend if I had to, but I wasn’t going to say the word “month” after her age. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. All of a sudden those moms who tell you their toddlers ages in months don’t seem so bad, right!? (Don’t worry – that trend didn’t last too long!)

This month, on February 9th, our “little” baby will be 6 months old. 26 weeks old. 184 days old. 4,416 hours old. Even if I didn’t realize it at the time, I truly am thankful to God for every single one of those hours.
Every hour spent soothing a crying baby who was wide awake in the middle of the night.
Every hour spent trying to work on homework or study only to be distracted by a cute little baby staring back at me.
Every hour spent at various doctors’ appointments and casting appointments.
Every hour spent crying because I was an overwhelmed new mom who felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.
Every hour spent cuddling with this precious miracle God gave to me.
Every hour spent watching my husband be the best dad he can possibly be to our little girl.
Every hour spent ignoring everyone’s advice to “sleep when she sleeps” so we could just stare at her in admiration and love on her.
Every hour spent praying for Paisley and about the responsibility of being a mommy to this precious girl.
Every hour spent wondering how my baby was doing at daycare when I should have been paying attention in class.
Every hour spent with sweet family and friends who helped us immensely when Paisley was first born.
Every hour spent on the phone with my mom asking 1,000 questions about newborns and milestones and everything else you can think of.
Every hour spent just trying to figure out how to function during the day when we were only getting 2 hours of sleep each night.
Every hour spent ultimately loving being a mommy to this amazing gift from God.

Forgive me if I refer to her age in months for the rest of her life. Yup, I’m going to be THAT mom. (Okay, okay… I won’t do that. Well, at least not out loud)

In all seriousness, I can’t believe she is going to be six months old soon. Wow.

Time really does fly by.
Now I get it.

10403799_819613291412611_8341961380141864893_o

Paisley Grace: 5 months

We are so blessed to be the parents of this beautiful baby girl.

IMG_0207Paisley Grace is 5 months old!!
At 5 months old she…
– Has a TOOTH. What?! It came in on December 29th when we were on vacation in Florida! And…it’s pretty adorable.
– Started rolling over from back to belly with her boots and bar on. This also happened while we were in Florida!
– Has started eating some fruits and veggies! The first vegetable she tried was carrots. She loved them right away
– Loves the Johnny Jumper her Aunt Holley let us borrow. Right now, it’s probably her favorite thing to do!
– Has started to use her hands purposefully (reaching for things, picking up her paci and toys, etc)
– She watches EVERYTHING and is very in-tune with her environment
– Is almost always smiling and laughing. Except for when she’s extremely hungry or tired…then she sure can throw a fit!
– Enjoys going to any kind of store where we can put her carseat in the shopping cart and she can look around. She just laughs and laughs!
– Weighs 13 pounds, 10 ounces and is 24 inches long
– Doesn’t quite sleep through the night…yet. But we’re hopeful!! We have a good bedtime routine and some nights she gets a full night of sleep, but most of the time she decides to wake up to eat around 3:00-4:00 AM.
– Is such a goofball. She’s constantly making funny faces and hilarious noises.
– Tries to put everything in her mouth
– Is wearing 0-3 month clothes and is starting to fit into some 3-6 month clothes (but we have to roll up the sleeves and pants cause they are still quite a bit long on her)
– Definitely knows who mommy & daddy are. We love it.
– Makes every day an adventure.

Our monthly photoshoots have become quite the task now that Paisley Grace constantly wants to be moving around and making silly faces. Enjoy!

IMG_0206 IMG_0223 IMG_0226 IMG_0224IMG_0234 IMG_0230IMG_0266-2 IMG_0270 IMG_0298IMG_0315 IMG_0306 IMG_0317 IMG_0328 IMG_0333 IMG_0336 IMG_0355
Mommy & Daddy love you so much, Paisley Grace

Happy 5 months of life, little one!

Paisley Grace: 4 months

We absolutely LOVE this age. For real. It’s so much fun!

IMG_9500

At 4 months old she:
– Started eating oatmeal cereal on December 10th. Right now we are just giving it to her before bedtime so that she will (hopefully) sleep through the night.
– Has slept completely through the night for 4 nights in a row. That’s her longest record so far. Here’s to hoping it will be a routine soon!
– Can roll onto her side. She doesn’t quite know how to roll over yet but she’s working on it.
– Interacts with all of her little toys and loves to play in her activity jumper.
– Giggles a lot! She will laugh for a little while and then abruptly decide that whatever was making her laugh is no longer funny at all. At that point…good luck trying to get a giggle out of her!
– Can put weight on her feet when she stands with help (this is a HUGE deal)!
– Weighs 12 pounds, 7 ounces! She’s getting so big!
– Chews on her hands and fingers constantly.
– Kicks out of her boots and bar on a daily basis…sometimes multiple times a day.
– Wears 0-3 month clothes
– Loves listening to the Baby Einstein Pandora station and singing along with mommy in the car.
– Is intrigued by the lights and ornaments on the Christmas tree
– Cannot sleep unless she is tightly swaddled. if she breaks out of her swaddle at night she cries until we re-swaddle her!
– Still really, really loves that paci. You won’t see Paisley without a pacifier clipped to her.
– Proved herself to be an incredibly well-behaved baby in the car for a long trip to Missouri and back. She handled it even better than I did.
– Still loves bathtime
– Has started to scream-laugh all the time. It’s adorable and slightly confusing. She will scream as loud as she can while smiling. We think she just likes to make noises!
– Interacts with her environment so much.
– Has really started developing her own little personality.
– Seems to recognize voices and people. As soon as I walk into her classroom to pick her up from daycare, she just lights up and starts smiling when she sees me. I love it.
– Has some of the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen. This baby girl is very animated.

IMG_9511IMG_9491IMG_9484 IMG_9492 IMG_9503IMG_9500IMG_9550 IMG_9552 IMG_9555IMG_9554

Paisley Grace: 3 months

Our sweet baby girl is 3 months old already! Somebody just stop time for a little while, please!!!IMG_9307

At 3 months old she:

– Smiles. A LOT. We absolutely love it!
– Really, really loves to be swaddled when she sleeps. BUT…because of her boots and bar we are only able to swaddle the top half of her and her little arms. It’s kind of adorable.
– Is a paci baby. This momma is definitely thankful for that! (For now, anyway)
– Wakes up smiling in the morning. Some mornings we even have to wake her up to get her to daycare and she is all smiles even after we wake her up! I only wish I could be so friendly first thing in the morning.
– Is a WIGGLE WORM. Always. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
– Finally has her nighttime/sleep routine down and is currently at the point where she only wakes up once (or not at all) during the night!! We could not be more thankful!!
– Had her first Halloween – she was Snow White! We are very excited for next year when she’ll be able to go trick-or-treating!
– Is wearing 0-3 month clothing and is in size 1 diapers. It’s unreal how fast babies grow!!
– Has the cutest crying face. How is that even possible? Sometimes, Gus will just watch her when she starts to cry because it’s that cute!
– Is completely enthralled by anything that moves, makes noise, and/or has lights. Ceiling fans, the TV, her mobile, lights…you name it! It’s so cute to watch her “interact” with her environment.
– Has adjusted unbelievably well to daycare. I’m telling you – our little girl has the ability to adjust exceptionally well to different situations.
– Coos and babbles. This is one of my favorite things about this age. She’s so interactive! She makes the cutest little noises and faces as she tries to “talk” to us!
– Doesn’t like it when mommy has to focus on homework. She also doesn’t like it when we’re at a restaurant and the food arrives at the table. Both of those scenarios result in her loudly requesting our full attention. Maybe it’s just a phase?
– Is finally used to her boots and bar! This is a huge accomplishment for all of us!
– Laughs in her sleep AND cries in her sleep sometimes. Do babies dream? Either way, it’s entertaining.
– Is overall a very, very happy baby. She is exceptionally content! Obviously, there are exceptions…but overall we have been very impressed with how well-behaved she usually is.

IMG_9352 IMG_9320 IMG_9318 IMG_9305 IMG_9313IMG_9312  IMG_9301 IMG_9296 IMG_9290 IMG_9287

I never knew that a 3 month-old little baby could teach me so much. So much about myself, about life, and about God’s grace.

We love you very much, Paisley Grace.
Happy 3 months of life, little one!

Raising a newborn with casts

“What happened to her legs?”
“Why is your baby wearing casts?”
“Aw, poor baby. What’s wrong with her legs?”

These and other questions similar to these are ones we became very accustomed to during the first 8 weeks of Paisley Grace’s life. I fully anticipated these questions and I prepared myself accordingly. To my surprise, we actually never got annoyed with people asking questions about our daughter’s feet. In fact, we learned to embrace them. Now don’t get me wrong, the first few times it was super weird and I was a little hesitant to answer. However, as time went on we welcomed questions about our baby’s casts and loved spreading awareness and education about clubfoot!

To be completely honest, when we first found out that Paisley was going to be born with clubfoot I was very scared about what other people would think about our daughter. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t have the “picture perfect” family because our baby would have to wear casts and special braces/shoes. I remember crying to my mom on the phone about how all anyone was ever going to see when they looked at our baby would be her casts. I was even very hesitant to tell other people that our little girl would be born with a deformity. When we first found out, I constantly just wished she didn’t even have clubfoot. Looking back, I am pretty disappointed in myself for even feeling that way. It was proud and selfish of me. I wonder if any other moms of babies with clubfoot felt that way? I guess you just always have this image that you will have this perfect baby and nothing will be wrong with them and when you find out something is wrong… it just kind of rocks your world.

I am very thankful we found out about our baby’s clubfoot well in advanced. This gave us time to research, prepare, and embrace the facts rather than wishing they weren’t true. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this…but I did not even know what clubfoot was until the day we found out Paisley had them. Now, I’m constantly reading articles, websites, and stories about clubfoot. Through this, God has given me  a passion for clubfoot education and spreading awareness! (Sidenote, sorry!) Anyway, here’s what it was like going through the casting phase of Paisley’s clubfoot journey:

  • I’ll start from when Paisley was born on August 9th. I remember that even during labor I was thinking about how excited I was to see Paisley’s little feet after she was born. The moment Paisley was born and they put her right onto my chest. I remember very distinctly that after about 45 seconds I looked down at her feet and said “your feet are so beautiful!” There’s something so strange about it but maybe other moms of babies with clubfoot will understand. I instantly LOVED Paisley Grace and I instantly loved her adorable feet!!
    1073997_10204514623089863_4439883624004526159_o (1)
  • August 15th: Paisley was only 6 days old and we went to Shriners Hospital for Children to get her first set of casts put on. For this first casting me, my mom, Gus, Becky, and Kassidy were all able to be there. I was pretty much a nervous wreck. It was pretty early in the morning and they warned us that the first appointment could take up to 4 hours. Well, it did. But it didn’t even seem that long! The hardest part of that first casting wasn’t watching Paisley get the casts put on her legs. Instead, the hardest part for me was when they told me I could pick her up after the casts were on. I instantly broke into tears and said, “I don’t even know how to hold my baby anymore!” It was a really rough day, honestly. I thought it was going to be difficult for a long time after that, but I was wrong. Day one was rough, night one was rough, and the beginning of day 2 was rough. During those rough times we just spent extra time cuddling our baby and loving on her. We held her A LOT. Pretty much constantly just to help her feel comfortable. After about a day and a half in her casts, Paisley had already started to adjust. I think it is just difficult for any baby to get used to something completely new.
    10506715_10204539729757514_7820581688894071991_o
  • August 22nd: Paisley got her first set of casts taken off, and the second set put on! For the second casting, me, Gus, both of my parents, Gus’ mom, and my sister were all able to be there. At this appointment, I was extremely apprehensive about the cast removal. Once they got it started – I realized I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The cast tech, Stephanie did an incredible job and Paisley didn’t even cry! The casts came off and we all just admired the progress of Paisley’s feet. It was completely unbelievable how far her feet had come in only ONE WEEK! This is something I want to encourage other moms of babies with clubfoot about: the treatment is truly incredible! There’s no other word to describe it. You will be in awe at the progress of your baby’s feet in such a short amount of time. After Paisley’s second set of casts, we all had a rough time again for about a day and a half. Then, she got used to her new set of casts and we were back in business!
    10635986_10204602395564120_1233566271549739724_n

    After only ONE WEEK of casting!

    15239_10204602398004181_5000078307044836826_n (1)

  • August 29th: Paisley got her second set of casts taken off and her third set of casts put on. This occurred every week, if you notice the pattern! That’s part of what makes the Ponseti method so effective. It’s serial castings every week for 5-7 weeks of slowly, gently manipulating the feet to the desired position. If you are going to be having a baby with clubfoot  or if you know anyone who is looking for a clubfoot doctor – I would recommend ONLY seeing a doctor who is skilled in the Ponseti method to treat the child’s condition. Anyway…Gus and I went to this casting appointment together. Paisley did great again when they took her casts off. She did not even cry! Putting them on was another story, but would you expect anything different? It was difficult to see her screaming and crying as they manipulated her feet into the position they needed them in and as they put the casts on. At the same time, I stayed strong because I knew that it was for her own good. I kept reminding myself that as hard as it was to watch her be so upset, this treatment was going to help her and make it possible for her to run around and play someday!
    10628083_10204655811379482_3950181570902452638_n
  • September 9th: Paisley got her third set of casts taken off and her fourth set put on! Gus and I went to this casting appointment together. This was a happy, happy day for us! The serial casting stage was supposed to take at least 5-7. However, the day she got her 4th set of casts put on we got some GREAT news! Dr. Gibson informed us that this would be Paisley Grace’s last serial cast because her feet were progressing so well. It was only number 4!!!  At this appointment we were told that she would be getting surgery (a tenotomy) the following week and then right after surgery they would put one more cast on which she would have for 3 consecutive weeks.  The doctor and cast team said that she has “the perfect clubfeet.” It made me so happy!
    994482_10204779935722513_5317364671581649691_n 10609731_10204779936762539_8387375690074552769_n
  • September 16th: Paisley got her 4th set of casts taken off, had her tenotomy surgery (which is where they cut the Achilles tendon to allow it to lengthen), and then got her 5th set of casts put on! I was really anxious about this appointment because of the surgery. At Shriner’s, Dr. Gibson let us decide whether we were going to get Paisley put under general anesthesia for the surgery OR if we were going to chose to have them put EMLA cream on her heels and give her a shot of lidocaine in each heel. Every parent is different, but we , personally, decided that we did not want our baby to go under general anesthesia at a month old. Dr. Gibson said that he leaves the choice completely up to the parents. I was a little bit nervous about our decision but looking back, I’m very glad we did what we did. My friend Heidi came with us to this appointment. We were all in there as they took off her 4th set of casts. Then, we got to hold her and love on her little feet while they applied EMLA cream to her heels and then put plastic tape over it to let the cream absorb and take effect. When they were ready for the procedure, they had us leave the room. We went up to the cafeteria and had breakfast together. After the tenotomy was complete, we walked back into the room and Paisley was happily lying on the table with her new set of casts already on! She wasn’t acting any different than she normally did after castings. I was very relieved. They gave us some special instructions and let us know that after the numbing agents wore off, she would probably be uncomfortable. The next few days were full of more rough adjustments but we made it through! We used Tylenol, propped up her little casts with blankets, and gave her lots of extra cuddle time during those first couple of days. It didn’t take her long before she was used to her casts again and she was kicking those things all over the place! That’s another thing about babies with clubfeet – they do not let ANYTHING slow them down!! Paisley was still moving her little casts like crazy even though they seemed like they would be too heavy for her to move! Paisley stayed in her 5th set of casts for 3 weeks. That stretch of time was a lot easier than I thought. It’s nice because it allowed her to really get used to the casts and she didn’t have to make a new weekly adjustment like she had been doing since she was born! Out of all the casts, the 3-week long cast was the one she did the best with.
    10582931_10204829761208119_1870890609593807417_o
  • October 7th: Paisley got her last set of casts off and moved into 23/7 boots and bar wear. This was the end of the casting stage of her clubfoot journey. We are looking forward to eventually sharing details of Paisley’s clubfoot journey as she continues in the boots and bar phase of her treatment!

Here are some more tips for clubfoot moms in the casting stage:

1) Allow your baby time to adjust the first couple of days after a new cast is applied. The doctors who treat clubfoot according to the Ponseti method use gentle massage and manipulation at each cast change to get your baby’s foot to form to the proper positioning. We learned to anticipate at least a rough day and a half to two days after each cast change. Every baby is different, but we learned that it’s helpful if you just prepare yourselves accordingly!
2) Try to not go to the casting appointments alone. It was very helpful to have other people there as a support system during the cast changes. Watching your newborn baby go through something like that pulls on your heartstrings and if you can have other people there to encourage you and support you, it helps a lot!
3) Don’t get offended when people ask about the casts. If I read that tip somewhere before I had Paisley I would probably get mad. But…hear me out! I know it’s none of their business and they really should be asking but people are curious. And I’m going to be honest, I would probably want to ask “why” if I saw a baby with casts, too! (I just wouldn’t have the guts to do it!) It’s pretty neat when you can teach someone about clubfoot who maybe has never heard of it before! Try to view each encounter with a curious onlooker as an opportunity for you to spread awareness of a condition which has greatly affected your own family!
4) Join clubfoot support pages!! I can’t say it enough. I don’t know what I would do without having the other clubfoot moms as a support system. Even through the casting phase, it was great to have a place where we all had so much in common and you knew you were not alone.
5) No footsie pajamas. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. I know they’re cute…and it’s kind of disappointing that our sweet babies can’t wear them…but just think of how exciting it will be when they can wear pants and shoes and be running around playing and dancing because they have corrected feet!! If you’re really desperate and you absolutely are NOT okay with the fact that your baby can’t wear pants or footsie pajamas then you can probably buy them a few sizes too big and slip them over the casts. It’s up to you!
6) Enjoy this stage of life with your baby. As clubfoot moms, we are literally raising a newborn with casts. It’s hard work. Newborn babies are hard enough as it is and when you add the element of casts on their legs it makes for an interesting, and sometimes difficult, situation. Just try to enjoy it as much as you can. I know that sounds kind of crazy at first. The truth is…time really does fly and you don’t want to look back on this stage of your baby’s life and realize that you just constantly wished it away.
7) Two words: BABY LEGGINGS. Paisley LIVED in baby leggings for the first 8 weeks of her life. I mean seriously. We put those leggings on her everyday! They were so helpful for several reasons. First of all, I was pretty worried at first about her getting yucky things in her cast during diaper changes. With the baby leggings, you can pull them up and over the casts so that it creates a little barrier and you don’t have to worry about “stuff” getting inside the cast and making a mess! Also, the leggings made the casts look inconspicuous! And, they’re just plain cute. We had fun with them and loved “dressing up” her casts. Between baby leggings and coband wrap, (yes, the coband wrap you can get at tractor supply) Paisley Grace always had some stylin’ looking casts!
7072_10204803725477242_6854020044388125385_n 10635915_10204839286646249_4336629993020100816_n

I hope this helps someone out there. If you’re a mom of a baby with clubfoot and you have any questions about the casting stage of the clubfoot journey, please feel free to contact me! I would love to talk to you!