Monday, September 1, 2014

Mommy Guilt

(A little bit of a venting post as I'm processing our soon to be new reality)


As I'd heard even before Evan came along, Mommy guilt is an unavoidable part of becoming a mother. You want what's best for your child, for things to be perfect, which is, of course, impossible. And so far, I've been able to keep the guilt at a reasonable level, popping up every now and then, but easily able to keep under wraps. 

That is, until all this new stuff came up with Evan. Being told there is something wrong with your child makes it impossible not to send you racing back through your mind, looking for something you could have done to make things different. If only we'd used the stroller less, put him in a crib from day one, instead of the rock n play, didn't let him play on his back. Maybe we could have prevented his plagio. Guilt is incredibly common among parents with plagio babies, mostly because there's this feeling that it could have been prevented. And the wonder of why your baby got it when others didn't, and if that meant you did something wrong. 

The only place Evan would sleep when he was itty bitty.

Of course, I know that we did better than average with keeping Evan out of "containers" (as our physical therapist refers to swings/bouncers/car seats/etc.) - in part because he never particularly liked his bouncer or swing, and in part because I knew carrying or wearing Evan in wraps was good for him. And it doesn't make us bad parents to have let Evan play on his playmat or sleep in his cozy rocker. We've been reassured by both the orthotist and the physical therapist that Evan's condition began in utero and we did everything right to try to keep it from getting worse. But it's still hard not to look back and wish we could have done some things differently. 

Could we have done even more tummy time?

And of course, the guilt only gets worse when we think about treatment. I'm so worried that we'll be judged for putting our sweet little boy in a helmet. Even though I've read nothing but positives about helmet experiences, I worry people will think we just didn't hold Evan enough. I worry about people judging Evan and thinking something is wrong with him when they see him. I worry people will think the helmet is unnecessary. And I worry people will come up to us when we're out and about with negative comments, as I have heard is only too common. But most of all, I feel guilty that Evan will have to spend however many months with this hot, tight thing on his head. That he won't be able to feel the same cuddles anymore. 


But, the guilt of not doing anything would be worse. While there are no definite knowns, some research suggests that risks of untreated plagio include: migraines, TMJ and other jaw issues, ear infections, hearing problems, sight problems and other less scary but still real issues like being unable to fit into sports helmets or wear glasses comfortably. And, of course, teasing for looking different - a bigger issue with boys, since they are more likely to wear their hair shorter. There's a chance his plagio could self correct, but I would feel horrible if we decided not to act and then he was one of those whose plagio never got better. 

Not that we haven't dressed Evan in some funny looking things before, in the name of what's best for him...

Still, it's hard to commit our sweet, little boy to the helmet, even though everyone says it bothers parents so much more than it ever bothers babies. I already feel guilty going through Evan's physical therapy exercises every day and hearing his unhappy cries as I help stretch his neck or get him to do just one more minute of tummy time or side lying. Evan has always been such a happy baby, and I'm worried that in the process of fixing his little head, he won't be quite as happy anymore.

But, I think this is all just part of being a parent. Worrying that you're making the best choice by your child and sometimes, doing what's right even when it isn't easiest or what makes everyone happiest in the short term. Our job is to think about Evan's future and make the right choices now. 


For now, I think I just have to try to rise above the guilt and focus on the many, many positives. And hope that the guilt will start losing its power some day soon. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Next Steps...

We saw our new physical therapist today, which was fantastic. She specializes in plagiocephaly and torticollis, and we knew she would be able to give us unbiased information about Evan's condition and make recommendations for our next steps. She'd also be able to tell us whether Evan had more going on than just a flat spot.

We can definitely say that she delivered on all counts. She confirmed everything we were told at Cranial Tech, the company that we visited earlier this week for his evaluation. That made us feel even better about the service we received at Cranial Tech, though not exactly happy that our little boy has a definite issue.

Evan's cute little head at 3 months. Compared to the scan, it looks like the flat spot has stayed pretty much the same, which is sort of good news

Evan's plagiocephaly is too severe to be fixed with physical therapy alone, so we'll be moving forward with the helmet - his scan is next week and he'll get it on the 10th! Evan also has very tight neck and back muscles, which is where the physical therapy comes in. The good news is he still has full range of motion on his "bad" side, which is really unusual, but it's really important to treat everything, as this side favoring could lead to developmental issues and visual processing problems on his weak side. However, the physical therapist was incredibly optimistic that with regular visits and practice at home, we can make excellent progress. He also needs to go get his hips checked out, as he has some asymmetry there, but hopefully that's nothing.

Now the question is, how will we decorate it :). There are so many cute designs out there, but many of them need skilled artists, and alas, my abilities are lacking (and funds aren't quite there to ship it to one of the few great artists out there! Doesn't mean a girl can't dream, though. Here are a few of my favorites (by lazardo, and artist out of Washington):

  

In reality, we'll probably be buying some decals off of a website specializing in helmet decorations. I've actually been emailing with one to help design one for "A Very Hungry Caterpillar". The biggest concern, beyond things working well for Evan, is that I hear there can be a lot of bad reactions to kids in helmets, from thinking that you did something to mess up your child, to awkward staring. However, if the helmet is cute/fun, people usually focus on that instead. Fingers crossed I can make it really fun!

I won't lie - it isn't easy to have the list of things "wrong" with Evan growing, but we're just focusing on the fact that all of them are fixable and that we've started the process at the ideal time to make excellent progress.

We appreciate everyone's good thoughts for our sweet little boy. Fingers crossed that between the helmet and physical therapy, Evan will be in tip top shape in no time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Plagio - what?

                            


Every mom thinks that their little boy is perfect. So when the pediatrician points out that your little boy's head isn't quite shaped right, it can be a bit of a hit. At Evan's 2 month appointment, we were told that he had developed a bit of a flat spot on the left side, but that we should just keep an eye on it. The next two months, we worked hard to keep him off his back and to get better at tummy time. We held him when we could, and repositioned his head when he was flat. And every time I saw his flat spot, I felt anxious. 

So, at his 4 month appointment, we brought it up, and the pediatrician confirmed that it was still there, and severe enough to warrant a referral to an orthotist. He has what's called plagiocephaly, which means that he has a flat spot on his head. 
This has become much more common now that babies sleep on their backs. We had these photos taken by a cranial orthotic company to evaluate him.

Have you ever seen a cuter little stocking capped baby?

From the sides, I don't think you can really notice too much, though you can see the left is a bit flatter than the right. You can also see from the front that his head slopes a bit more on his left. However, the real issue is best seen from the top and the bottom. 
   
                                     from the top                                                 from the bottom

Evan's plagiocephaly falls right on the border of moderate and severe, with a 12 millimeter difference between the sides. You can also see that his forehead sticks out just a little. The woman we spoke with said that this was likely because, since he was such a big baby, he was probably very compressed in utero. This probably caused some initial misshaping and could have also cause his neck muscles to be abnormally tight on one side, and condition called torticollis. We always wondered why he favored his left so much, and this is probably why.

Looking back at pictures from when he was very young show a definite tendency towards that left side

So, that begs the question - what do we do about this? We have three general options. Option one is just wait and see - keep repositioning and hope he grows out of it. Option two is physical therapy to treat the side favoring and hope that as his head grows and he learns to put less pressure on his favored side the flat spot will be less noticeable. Option three is to get Evan a "band", or helmet as most people call them, that he would wear for 2 - 4+ months. They look something like this:
(plain on the right and decorated on the left)

Right now we're just trying to gather information and figure out our next steps, which will probably be a combination of the second and third options. We have an appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in plagiocephaly later this week, and we are hoping she can give us guidance in terms of whether or not to do the band/helmet, and if so, when and where. From what we here, the "golden age" to start the band is between 4 and 6 months, so we probably will want to start soon. However, they are incredibly expensive (the place we visited yesterday's costs $3,800) and insurance usually doesn't cover them. Plus, some babies will need two bands, and Evan is a probably candidate for that. So, we definitely can't rush into this until we are positive it's necessary. There are also a few more orthotist companies to check out that are a bit less expensive so we'll be making evaluations with those soon, too.

Overall, even though we feel badly that our little boy has this problem, we are so thankful that it's treatable and that the treatment is painless and non-invasive. He'll get to remain our happy, healthy little boy :). 




Friday, August 22, 2014

Four Months!

(Technically, two days ago, but with the little one, it's hard to get these up on time!)


Weight - 18 lbs 13 oz (+ 9 lbs ll oz from his lowest). 90%ile
Height - 26 (+ 6 in from lowest; 90 %ile )
Head circumference - 17.25 in (+ 2.75 in from birth 85%ile)

Baby boy has started listening and has finally slowed down with his crazy growth. I'm more torn about this than I thought I'd be, though. On the one hand, I'm happy that he's proportional with his weight and height now, and that his weight is back on the charts (not that there's anything wrong with being super big, but a little bit of me worried that he was maybe overeating). Of course, on the other hand, seeing much slower growth over the last two months plants those seeds of worry that he isn't getting enough. At the end of the day, though, he's a happy, healthy baby, so I know all is well :). 

Likes:



Everything from last month is still a favorite. Tummy time has actually entered the somewhat okay category! We started using the boppy more to prop him up, and that actually made regular tummy time better. Hanging toys during it also helped :). He's started to enjoy watching us eat, which is maybe the first sign of interest in food? Giggles began this month. They aren't all that often yet, but we can usually get some at least once a day. 


Evan continued to enjoy lots of time outside, and made a few more beach trips before we left California, as well as a few trips into my parents' "spool" (big spa/pool). He even got to go on a huge outdoor adventure to Disneyland, which he loved much more than I'd predicted. 

(enthralled on "It's a Small World")

Everything now goes in his mouth. His hands have always been a favorite, but now all his toys get the same treatment. On that note, he holds things now! He's much more purposeful with his hand movements, and loves rattles and other similar toys. Standing is still, in his opinion, the best way to be, though the playmat is a close second, as he loves the mirror. Our five weeks in California have made the swing and rock n play officially old school (though he has occasionally used the swing since we got back, it's no longer a good place for sleeping for him). He's still very observant and seems to be even more into people watching when we are out and about. He's really found his voice, and can be quite loud when he wants to be :). 

Dislikes:

Haha, look how clever I am getting out of my swaddle...

This category is actually shrinking! Evan is such an easy going baby. He's still not wild about going down for his naps, and being swaddled, though that's been getting progressively better. He's becoming a Houdini with his swaddles and is managing to get out of them with increasing frequency, so we'll *hopefully* be phasing them out this month. 

Probably his biggest dislike is getting hungry at a time when food isn't easily accessible. This happened during a few car trips, towards the end, and it was not pretty. At one point, we ended up stopping in the middle of a corn field for an emergency feed. 

Sitting up with my Aunt Lynn and Robert

A sign sign of him growing up has been that he isn't wild about curling up in your arms any more. If he's nestled into your shoulder, he wants to be looking around, not settled down. I miss those sweet cuddles. He also doesn't like sitting at all in a reclined position on someone - only good posture for this boy!

Important Events:



Travels continued this month! The biggest event was probably visiting Sonoma, the place we will be living in less than a year! Ed got a job at Sonoma State starting in 2015, so we will be moving soon, and we cannot wait. We loved exploring the area, which made us even more excited to move. 

Having fun with Oma

Another huge event was Evan getting to meet his Aunt Noemi, Uncle Keven, and cousins Matthew and Meagan for the first time. Seeing all the babies together was so much fun. Evan also got to visit with his Oma (Ed's mom) again, at her home in Cambria, which was lovely. 

Milestone wise, he's rolled over from his tummy to his back a number of times and once, randomly, from his back to his tummy. As I mentioned earlier, he also giggled for the first time. And, a huge one (that sadly hasn't been replicated), he slept for 9 hours straight! We got a number of 8 our stretches as well, but now are sadly back to the 5-6 first stretch. We're hoping he'll climb back up to those long stretches soon. At least he has been doing almost all his sleeping now in his pack n play, if we're home, which is great. I remember how stressed we were about that when he was little, and now it's our new normal. 

Successes:

Out to dinner at one of my favorites restaurants in Orange County

Having finished our big 5 week adventure, I can honestly say that our biggest success is just the confidence we gained as parents from this trip. I no longer worry so much about what others think or if I'm doing a bad job (most of the time). I have a lot more trust in myself, and a lot more trust that Evan will be okay. Now that we're back home, I'm much more comfortable taking Evan on errands and getting out of the house. 

Challenges:
Taking baths (minus the wine) has been a great way for me to "escape" for twenty or so minutes in the evenings, and de-stress from the sometimes very long days (and nights)

Continuing to adjust to new places, and finally, adjusting to being back home. Evan was pretty fussy once he arrived back in Arizona (maybe he is really a California baby at heart?). He sleep tanked a bit this past week, which has made for some tired parents. 

The biggest challenge though, was probably last week. It was the first week since Evan was born that Ed worked a regular work day. He left around 9am and came home between 4 and 5. The first few days were the roughest, as I tried to get our house back in order from our trip while also dealing with a little baby who wasn't napping all that well. Ed and I had to figure out what the expectations were for me staying home - i.e. what exactly was my "job description." We had some good discussions and were much better set to start our week two in a good place. 

Mommy Successes:
With my handsome little man

My biggest success has been choosing healthy habits since we've gotten back. I'm back to paleo eating (i.e. no processed food, sugar (even natural ones like honey), alcohol, beans, dairy, etc.). I am allowing yogurt occasionally and did have a little cheese at our happy hour, but otherwise have been faithful. The goal is 30 days - sort of a detox if you will. I'm not going to lie, I could really have used a glass of wine a few nights, and a few sleep deprived days would have been a lot sweeter with a chai latte and a cookie, but I am feeling very positive overall that I'm eating better. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on our trip, but now it's time to be healthy. In a similar vein, I've also decided to limit screen time for myself while Evan is awake. That means no TV until he goes to bed and computer time only when he is napping or asleep. As a result, I am reading a whole lot more and am generally more productive with my time. 

We'll see how long these last, but hopefully for quite a while. 

Daddy Successes:

Ed's biggest success this month is making Evan giggle. There is no sweeter sound in the world...

Best Moments:
Family at the fair

Giggling for the first time is definitely way, way up there! As was introducing Evan to the rest of his extended family and getting to spend at least a little time with every member of family on both sides. It was another fantastic month for our special little boy. 




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

California Adventures: Santa Cruz Day 2

Our first full day began with a very cute and smiley pajama clad baby.


He really enjoyed getting some quality time with his grandma.


After breakfast, I had lots of fun dressing Evan for cool weather. This beautiful blanket made by my sister was a lovely and very useful source of warmth for Evan throughout our trip. 


His little bunny hat was from my parents when he was born (in honor of his Easter birthdate). It was huge when he was born but fits perfectly now. I was also so excited for him to get to wear the little hoodie I got for him and the jeggings from his grandma.


We decided to spend our morning going for a walk around the lagoon. We also decided to try Evan in the "big boy" part of the stroller for the first time. He did great!


We walked on the pathway across the lagoon, taking a stop when we saw our rental. 


After we finished the trail, we wound our way through the neighborhood until we reached the ocean. 


It was a beautiful foggy morning at Pleasure Point - a popular surfing destination. 


There were lots in the water, including a 5 year old boy surfing his first wave! His family (?) was cheering him on from the sidelines. 


Poppies always make my heart happy. As does the sun breaking through and transforming the ocean from grey to blue. 


That afternoon/evening, we had the pleasure of getting together with some good friends, who we hadn't seen in a year. They had a little girl 3 months before we had Evan, and it was to fun to see the babies together. 

A lovely end to our day. 



Monday, August 18, 2014

California Adventures: Santa Cruz Day 1

After 7 1/2 hours of traveling, my parents, Evan, and I arrived in Santa Cruz! After stopping by UCSC campus to say "hi" to Ed and introduce Evan to his coworkers, we headed to our rental. We rented a very sweet home near East Cliff, a few blocks from the ocean. Besides some very unfortunate issues (messed up electricity, no hot water for almost 3 days, no internet for 2, and ants), it was a very cute place to stay. Without the issues, it would have been perfect :). 

We immediately settled on what would be our main hang out spot in the home - the couch with the lagoon and ocean views. 




Evan was happy to be finished with his longest day of traveling so far, and very glad to be out of the carseat and in his Papa's arms. 


After getting settled, my parents headed out to the store, while Evan and I played around out back. 


The views from the deck were lovely, and it was so nice to be spending time out in the cool air. While we were out there, I had fun playing around with the camera, and Evan thankfully played along. 


It was nice just to sit and enjoy our little slice of ocean view. 


Soon, both my parents and Ed returned to the home. So, funny story. We ordered takeout for dinner and had Ed pick it up. Of course, in my travel tired brain, I really didn't think things through and didn't remember to order Ed any dinner. Oops. Luckily, the burgers were huge, so between my mom and I, Ed still got a full meal. Evan enjoyed being part of the group, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. 


Afterwards, we went for a walk down to the beach that was oh so close. 



The pathway went through a beautiful grove of eucalyptus trees on its way to the ocean.


Plus, it gave some lovely lagoon views.


The beach was beautiful, especially basking in the early evening light. 


It was, though, perhaps a little past Evan's bedtime...


Our little home also looked beautiful as day turned to night.


When we got back, we started Evan's bedtime routine, which included a bath in his new tub, purchased just for this trip. While it was a bit trickier than his regular tub, its portability couldn't be beat, making it perfect for our trip. 


After bath, it was time for bed. We all needed lots of rest to be ready for our first full vacation day!