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

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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.

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Paisley Grace: 4 months

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

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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.

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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!!
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  • 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.
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  • 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!
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    After only ONE WEEK of casting!

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  • 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!
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  • 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!
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  • 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.
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  • 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!
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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!

 

 

The difficult beginning to our journey

I’m going to be completely transparent and open regarding Paisley’s clubfoot journey. I plan on eventually sharing details on the blog about what it has been like to go through the entire clubfoot journey with our sweet baby. My hope is that this will reach other mommies of clubfoot babies and encourage them! I also want to remember, in detail, everything we went through so that Paisley can one day truly appreciate her ability to walk, run,and live a normal life to the fullest degree. I want her to be able to read about this clubfoot journey one day so that she can look back and rejoice that God chose her to have clubfoot so that He could glorify Himself through her. More than anything, I want God’s name to be made great through Paisley’s clubfoot journey and everything He has brought her through.

We were very hesitant to share with everyone that our little baby was going to be born with clubfoot. We eventually decided to share our story and it personally helped me a lot to share it on the blog. If you want to, you can read that post here. I also have a confession to make… When we shared our story, there was a big part I decided to leave out. I left that portion out for quite a few reasons. A huge reason being that we didn’t have all of the answers yet and I didn’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily. It is still a part of our story. I have met several other moms through clubfoot support groups who have experienced it as well so I wanted to share a portion of the beginning of our clubfoot journey that I originally had left out.

One of the main reasons for my hesitation to share with everyone that Paisley had clubfoot was that for a few weeks, the doctors were not sure if it was an isolated incident of clubfoot or not. Apparently when a baby has clubfoot, it can either be a completely isolated problem or it could occur in combination with other musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, or chromosomal problems. The 26-week level 2 ultrasound with the maternal-fetal medicine specialist was the ultrasound which confirmed Paisley’s clubfoot. We had that ultrasound on April 1st. At that ultrasound, we also were told that they found something called an echogenic foci in her heart. I had never heard of an echogenic foci before. Just the fact that they found a spot in her heart was enough to scare this already nervous first-time-mom. They made it clear to us that this echogenic foci would not, in any way, cause her heart to function abnormally. What a relief! However, they also made it clear that the finding of an echogenic foci is considered to a “soft marker” for chromosomal abnormalities. If they had only found the echogenic foci at this ultrasound, they wouldn’t be alarmed at all. If they had only found the clubfoot at this ultrasound, they also wouldn’t be alarmed at all. However, according to the doctor, the combination of those two findings (or, as they described it, “soft markers”) increased our chances for having a baby who would be born with a chromosomal abnormality. As I was lying on the ultrasound table and the doctor was relaying all of this information to us, he was trying to convince me to get an amniocentesis to know for sure. Here I am, pregnant for the first time, nervous as can be already, and now even more scared that something might be seriously wrong with our precious baby. The doctor was trying to act like the amniocentesis was no big deal at all. “You’re tiny. I will go get the supplies and be right back. It will only take ten minutes or so. It will be quick and easy.” I just felt unsure about it. It was so much to take in at once and I wanted time to register everything before we made any decisions. I knew that no matter what the results of the amniocentesis were, we would still keep our baby. I told him I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have the procedure done or not. He reluctantly gave me his business card and told me to call the office if I changed my mind. Gus and I went home totally unsure and devastated that day. We found out our baby had clubfoot AND that our baby may have a chromosomal abnormality and the only way we could know for sure was if we got the amniocentesis done. We let our families and a couple of close friends know about the echogenic foci and the clubfoot, but we weren’t ready to tell anyone else. We had to go to genetic counseling to discuss the findings.

The unknown was scary, but I finally gave it all up to God and put my trust into him regarding our precious baby girl. On April 3rd, 2014, I wrote a private journal entry on my blog to my unborn daughter. We were waiting for the test results and I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Gus and I had a long discussion that night and I finally began to embrace whatever God might call us to. (Like I said, I am going to be very transparent and open on this blog…so I will share that with you):

Sweet baby girl,
Mommy and daddy love you so much already.
We found out on April 1st, 2014 that you have something called bilateral clubbed feet. We also found out that they found an echogenic foci in your heart. These two findings indicate that you could possibly have a chromosomal abnormality or a neuromuscular disorder. Guess what? We are going to love you no matter what. Want to know why? Because God made you absolutely beautiful and nothing in the world will ever change that. We don’t know exactly what these two findings entail. On one hand, this could mean something major which we will have to deal with as a family OR it could simply mean that you have to be in casts for awhile after you’re born to help your little feet heal. Either way, you will be loved. Either way, we will trust God and know that He has a perfect plan for all of us. Either way, we will pray for you every day. We will do anything and everything for our little girl. I never knew I could love someone so much and I haven’t even met you yet! I know we are just going to absolutely adore you when you do get here.
We love you, Paisley Grace.

After a lot of prayer, research, and discussion, we eventually decided that we were not going to have the amniocentesis done. A little over a month later I let my regular OB doctor know that we had decided against the amniocentesis. He was very understanding and encouraging. He also made it clear to me that because of the two soft markers, they were concerned as far as proper prenatal care and my delivery. The hospital I delivered at did not have a NICU and they also did not see high-risk patients. Having a baby with a chromosome abnormality would require me to switch doctors in order to have proper prenatal care and a NICU available for any complications which may occur during delivery. He encouraged me to think about possibly getting a genetic test done called the maternal T21. T21 stands for trisomy 21, which is otherwise known as down syndrome. This genetic test can be done by taking a sample of my blood and then picking up traces of the baby’s blood cells through specialized testing.This would eliminate any of the risks to the baby that are associated with an amniocentesis.  After more research, prayer, and talking with family members, we decided to have the maternal T21 genetic testing done. We had the test done at the end of May and the results took 2 weeks to come back.

Exactly two weeks after I got the maternal T21 test done, I received a phone call from my doctor’s office. I was so nervous as I answered the phone. The nurse on the other end of the phone must have sensed how anxious I was and she quickly got to the point. In a sweet, energetic voice she informed me that the test results indicated that there was less than a 0.001% chance that our baby girl would be born with any kind of chromosomal abnormality! I instantly began to cry tears of joy. I was so thankful! In all reality, Gus and I had begun to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves to potentially have a baby with serious special needs. I was overwhelmed with joy when we discovered that our baby’s clubfoot was, in fact, simply an isolated incident as far as they could tell, with no additional involvement. I cannot begin to describe to you how we felt.

No matter what the results of that genetic test were, we would have loved our daughter just the same. We prepared ourselves for bad news and hoped for good news. Looking back, we can see the goodness of God even in that trial. We put all of our trust in Him at a time where trusting Him seemed impossible.  No matter what the outcome of the test was, we were thankful for the baby he gave us the privilege to raise.

Being a mother is a special calling and a precious privilege. Having a child with special needs is a very special calling and, dare I say, an even GREATER privilege. Our daughter has a very, very mild deformity which can be treated with castings, corrective shoe wear, and surgeries. I don’t even consider her to have “special needs,” per say, just “special feet.” There are other babies and children out there who have more severe deformities and disabilities and their mommies and daddies have to face a lot more challenges than the everyday parent. I am amazed by those parents. I pray for those parents all the time. I cannot begin to imagine the daily trials they face with extra doctor’s appointments, surgeries, therapies…the list goes on and on. I’m sure they have some really, really rough days. I also know that they have some truly amazing days spent with some of this world’s biggest blessings. Children with special needs have some of the biggest, kindest hearts. God hand-picked each parent to care for those “special blessings.” I admire those parents. Your child is a beautiful part in God’s perfect plan and they are made perfectly — EXACTLY how He created them to be.

If you’re a mom or a mom-to-be who is reading this and you have found yourself in a similar situation regarding clubfoot and the echogenic foci finding, I hope this is an encouragement to you. I have met several moms through clubfoot support group pages whose babies also had the echogenic foci finding in their heart who were born with isolated clubfoot and no associated conditions. Doctors may unintentionally cause you to worry. There are so many clubfoot support groups on Facebook. It’s completely understandable to be scared of the unknown. Reach out to other mommas who are going through the same thing you are! You’re not alone. 

Paisley Grace: 1 month

I can’t believe our little girl is already a month old. Where in the world does the time go?!

At one month old she:

– Loves her tiny hands and is always moving them around
–  Makes the most adorable little squeaking and grunting noises
– Loves to sleep in her MamaRoo and really, really likes to be rocked
– Keeps mommy & daddy awake…a lot
– Stares off into the distance for long periods of time and does these cute, slow blinks
– Has had 4 sets of casts on her little legs
– Wears newborn clothes and diapers (putting the preemie clothes away was hard for this momma)
– Weighs 7 lb 8 oz without her casts (8 lb 4 ounces with her casts on)
– Smiles in her sleep…and smiled once at Gus & I while she was awake!
– Really, really knows how to throw a fit. Including kicking her casts and punching herself in the face
– Has already been to Chick-fil-A with us 7 times
– Always decides to pee while we’re changing her diaper (little stinker!)
– Loves it when we give her a bath. She doesn’t even cry!
– Already tries to suck her thumb
– Makes the cutest, silliest faces

We love our sweet Paisley Grace so much.

Happy one month of life, little one!

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Paisley’s Birth Story

August 9th, 2014 was the best day of our lives. We welcomed our beautiful little baby girl into this world and it was truly a miracle.

Throughout my pregnancy and even before I was pregnant I absolutely loved reading birth stories from other mommas and I couldn’t wait to one day write my own! Well, now we have our own little girl’s miraculous birth story to tell. I’m going to be honest…now that I’m at this point I am also kind of unsure which details to include and which ones should probably be left out – sorry in advanced if anything is a little bit too personal, but here it goes…

I was one of those girls who truly enjoyed being pregnant. I felt really great all throughout my pregnancy…until I got to about 40 weeks. By the time I hit the end of 39 weeks, I was just DONE. My mom and sister were here and we were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of Miss Paisley. I was ready to meet my baby and to be completely honest I was just tired of being pregnant. I couldn’t sleep at night, I had to pee at least 50 times a day (slight exaggeration), I had awful Braxton Hicks contractions, Paisley was turned the wrong way and I was having awful back pain. Those last 2 weeks we took a couple of trips to the hospital thinking it was time to have the baby and ended up getting sent home because it was just early labor. August 3rd was my due date. It came and went – still no Paisley. I’ll tell you something – that was extremely disappointing. We thought for sure that our baby would be here by then and having to wait even longer to meet her (and dealing with even more of the late pregnancy symptoms) was not enjoyable. Someone very wisely told me that I should anticipate going to my due date or later because they didn’t want me to be disappointed if our baby wasn’t here by then. That was some great advice and I will definitely use it for my future children and pass it along to other friends who are pregnant and having little ones! When we went to my 40 week appointment, the doctor seemed surprised to see that I hadn’t had the baby yet. “It could be any day now” was a phrase we became all too familiar with. I was very thankful I had my mom and sister here with me – they made waiting bearable and it was so much fun to spend quality time with both of them.

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After my due date came and went we decided to start trying all of the “natural ways to induce labor” methods. Gus’ cousin Rachel was staying with us and my mom and sister were in town so we all decided to have fun with it! Rachel, Kassidy, my mom, and I all spent tons of time Googling and researching ideas. We tried everything we could. Friends gave us tons of ideas as far as what worked for them and what we should try. We ended up trying just about everything – bouncing on an exercise ball, swinging on swings at the park, taking a warm bath, lots and lots of walking, eating tons of pineapple, pressure points, labor-inducing cupcakes, raspberry leaf tea, raspberry tablets, and even caster oil! By the time we had tried just about everything I came to the realization that this baby would come when SHE was ready and there wasn’t really anything we could do to speed it up.

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On August 6th around midnight, my “Braxton Hicks” contractions started really picking up and they became extremely painful. Gus and I didn’t get any sleep that night. The next day they continued the ENTIRE day but my contractions were about 10-15 minutes apart. They were getting more intense but I knew they weren’t close enough yet to cause progression. After dealing with the pain for over 24 hours, Gus and I decided to go to the hospital around midnight on August 7th. Once again, even though I was overdue and having frequent contractions, we were sent home because I was still in early labor and not in active labor yet. I woke up Friday morning and the doctor called me to tell me that they wanted to schedule us for an induction. I was scheduled to be induced Sunday, August 10th at 6:00 PM. Although I really wanted to go into labor on my own, having an induction date set was such a relief – especially considering the pain I was in and the fact that my contractions had been about 10 minutes apart for so long. I had contractions all day that day as well. As the day went on, they continued getting more intense. Thankfully, I had my mom, Kassidy, Rachel, and Gus to help me breathe through the pain, time the contractions, and help to keep me sane. The contractions became absolutely unbearable at around 1:30 AM on August 9th and we realized they were about 3-5 minutes apart for over an hour. I wasn’t in a rush to head to the hospital because I was so afraid of getting sent home AGAIN. I remember Rachel and my mom telling me I was crazy and that they knew it was time to head to the hospital. Around 3:00 in the morning I decided to give in and head to the hospital and I was really hoping that this time it was the real thing! At that point I remember thinking that if this wasn’t the real deal that I couldn’t possibly imagine how it could be any more painful or intense. These contractions just felt different. My mom, Gus, and I loaded up in the car and drove to the hospital. Well, Gus drove. My mom sat in the back with me for what seemed like the longest car ride of my life. Oh, and he managed to hit every single bump along the way!!

We got to the hospital around 3:30 in the morning on Saturday, August 9th. Gus pulled up to the carport, my mom got a wheelchair, and we went up to the second floor to labor & delivery. I was in so much pain I could hardly function. My poor momma just isn’t very coordinated and couldn’t even push the wheelchair and so she kept running me into walls and it was just a mess. (Looking back, we can laugh about it but at the time I was not a happy camper.) When we got to the floor, the surgical tech who was there the night before when Gus & I were there looked at me and told the other nurse, “She was here last night. This is the real thing – get her a room.” I guess it was my yelling and crying that gave it away. They didn’t even make me fill out the papers OR make me go to triage. They put us directly into the hospital room right across from the nurse’s station. I was so thankful. When the nurse came in to check me I remember thinking to myself that I can’t get my hopes up because this could just be another false alarm. “Well, you’re a generous 3! Well, almost a 4, actually.” I was SO happy. I told the nurse she was my favorite person in the world! She asked me if I planned on getting an epidural. “HECK YES, as soon as possible” I said. She told me that the anesthesia team would quickly become my favorite people instead of her.

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I got my epidural around 5 in the morning. I started getting really nervous right before the procedure and I told the nurses how nervous I was. I was scared that it would hurt or that I wouldn’t be able to be still during the process. Looking back, there was nothing to worry about. The anesthesia team was so wonderful and the nurses did an incredible job coaching me. Gus helped me to stay calm and still. Getting an epidural didn’t hurt A BIT! It didn’t take long at all, either. I started having a contraction AND the blood pressure cuff started filling up right as the anesthesiologist was about to start the procedure. I told him it was happening and asked him if he could wait just a little bit but he just said “Okay, you’re going to feel a little sting.” And within a couple of minutes it was done. I didn’t even feel a little sting. The contraction and the blood pressure cuff were actually more painful than the epidural itself! (Sounds ridiculous, I know!) The relief I felt after the epidural is unexplainable. I was having contractions for so long that I kept expecting to feel another one but I didn’t! The nurse anesthetist sat down and looked at the monitor. She said, “Okay, Kayla, you’re at the peak of a pretty intense contraction…do you feel it?” I didn’t feel a thing. Crazy, right? For the first time in over 2 days I was able to get some peaceful sleep. The nurse came in and checked me after my epidural and I was at a 5. My sister and Rachel got to the hospital a little bit later in the morning and then some friends arrived and thanks to the epidural I was able to relax and enjoy time with everyone.

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The doctor came in around 9:30 in the morning and broke my water. I was still at a 5, and the doctor said that after they broke my water she knew things would start to speed up. I still wasn’t in any pain or even discomfort. Around 11:30 I started feeling really uncomfortable. I started feeling a lot of pressure and I began to feel my contractions again. I had my own button to control the medication in my epidural and until that point I hadn’t given myself any extra. Once I felt my contractions again and that intense pressure I pressed that button and gave myself all I could. Someone went and told the nurse that I was feeling uncomfortable and feeling pressure and she came right in. One nurse checked me and didn’t tell us anything afterwards. She just said, “Well, you’re doing tremendously well.” Obviously, we wanted to know what that meant exactly. Gus looked at her and said, “So, if you don’t mind me asking what number is that, exactly?” That made me laugh. The nurse said she didn’t want to tell us and get our hopes up and that she wanted another nurse to check me. Another nurse quickly came in and checked me and said, “You’re at a 10! You’re going to have a baby!” I was so happy I just broke into tears. We called our friends and family back in and told them the exciting news. Then, the nurses told everyone except for those that were going to stay for the delivery to head to the waiting room because we were going to start pushing. I couldn’t even believe it. It all went so quickly and up until 11:30 I didn’t even feel uncomfortable! (Thank you, epidural!)

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I wanted to have Gus, my mom, and my sister there for Paisley’s delivery. Everyone else left and the nurses came in and began teaching me how to push and we did a couple of “practice pushes.” We really only pushed through 2 or 3 contractions and the next thing I knew, the doctor walked through the door. Now, I’ve seen several deliveries and typically the doctor doesn’t come in the room until RIGHT BEFORE the baby is about to come. I mean, seriously. Sometimes the doctor barely makes it! Part of me thought that I was about to have the baby but nothing was set up yet and the doctor wasn’t scrubbing up so I knew that couldn’t be the case. Dr. Harris sat at the end of my bed and coached me through pushing. She didn’t just stay there for a couple of contractions. That doctor stayed with me for the next hour and a half helping me push! Looking back, I cannot even believe how helpful she was. Come to find out, I was the only laboring patient at the time but still – she did not have to dedicate so much time to me! She was so helpful. I had to push for a while but I didn’t realize how long it was until afterwards. Kassidy was standing on the left side of me up by my head. Gus had one leg and one of my nurses had the other. My mom was texting people updates, videotaping, and taking pictures behind Kassidy. At first, Gus was the person counting me to 10 during each push. However, he would see how hard it was for me and when he got to 5 he would start to speed up! He asked Kassidy to take over and she did an awesome job counting me through the pushes. Everyone was so encouraging. We had a great little team – two nurses, a surgical tech, the doctor, Gus, Kassidy, and my mom. After about an hour and a half of pushing, the doctor started gowning up and they began breaking down the bed and setting up the table for delivery!

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There were times during pushing when I felt like completely giving up. It was exhausting. I kept asking them how the baby’s heart rate was and how the baby was doing. Thankfully, throughout the entire labor and delivery, the baby’s heart rate looked perfect. I had to push for about another half hour. Everyone kept encouraging me to keep going and not give up. Then, by the time they were able to see her head, they kept telling me how much blonde hair she had and that she was almost here! Despite my exhaustion, the fact that they could see Paisley’s head made me want to push that much more and get to finally meet our precious little baby girl. At around 2:15, the doctor told me that when the next contraction came and I pushed through it that I would be having a baby! Gus’ face when the doctor said that was adorable. You could tell he was so excited. Knowing I was so close to having the baby, I gave the next round of pushing absolutely everything I had.

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The next thing I knew, Paisley Grace was placed on my chest. I can’t begin to describe the amount of love I instantly felt for her. It all seemed to happen so fast but at the same time it felt like time stood still. I really can’t explain it. I looked up at Gus and saw tears streaming down his face as he saw Paisley Grace for the first time. It was a precious moment. I looked at my mom and sister and of course, we all cried. It was really an incredible thing to have my mom and my sister there for Paisley’s birth. I was in awe of this little life I just brought into the world. I just kept staring at my little baby and saying, “You’re beautiful, I love you so much.” (I don’t really remember this – but my mom just so happened to capture the exact moment Paisley was born and placed on my chest on video with her iPhone!) I remember thinking she was SO tiny. I had actually never seen a baby that small in person before. She was only 5 pounds, 12 ounces! She was the most beautiful baby in the world to me and just healthy as could be.

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I’m going to spare you the details of what happened afterwards. (Partly because I don’t really remember all of those details and partly because, well, it’s not exactly something I really want to remember.) To sum it up, I had some complications after delivery. I remember holding Paisley and enjoying the “skin to skin” time immediately after delivery. We were supposed to have something called the “Magic Hour,” which is where mommy, daddy, and baby enjoy some bonding time after delivery. However, that didn’t happen. Within a few minutes after delivery, I began to feel very weak and I told the surgical tech that I couldn’t hold the baby anymore. She told me to focus on the baby and not pay attention to anything else that was going on around me. (I could tell at that point that they were concerned about something but I didn’t know what.) I tried to focus on the baby and enjoy that time, but I got to the point that I really couldn’t anymore. I was in so much pain and realized that I was holding Paisley very tightly. I asked someone to take Paisley and the next thing I knew I was completely out of it. My mom had mentioned to me that as soon as the baby was born, everyone’s attention would turn to her and she would be everyone’s main focus. At this point, the exact opposite was true. My blood pressure went down to 60s/30s and my pulse spiked. Doctors came rushing in and told everyone they needed to leave. They thought I would have to get surgery or a blood transfusion but fortunately, I didn’t need either one! Paisley was so tiny because, even though she was overdue, my placenta went bad and she wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed. Thankfully, Paisley Grace was completely healthy and didn’t have any complications whatsoever!!

When I started feeling better we were able to FaceTime with my dad and Paisley Grace got to see her Grandpa! It was precious and something I’ll always remember.

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We brought our sweet baby girl home from the hospital early in the afternoon on Monday, August 11th.

Our hearts are so full of love for our precious Paisley Grace and we are very excited to begin this journey together as parents!

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Thank you to the very talented Sarah Wilbanks (with Lanters and Feathers Photography) for taking the following beautiful pictures of our family! We are so thankful for these precious pictures!

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