Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Inside My Insurance Binder!

Ignore the sad screenshot.... IT'S MY FIRST VLOG! I've been wanting to share my insurance organization tips and I had all the stuff out today so I did a super low budget look inside! It's about 14 minutes and Peter cried through almost the whole thing. But he is happily roaming the house now so don't feel sad :)


1" Binder
Post-it Notes
Sticky Flags
Month Binder Dividers (I recommend these black ones so that they don't throw off your color coding!)

Quick Tips:

1) Scan insurance cards and place copies in the front of your binder. Add important contact info on that sheet!
2) Color code any bills you receive. One unique color for every person in the family, and an addition yellow/orange/red color for bills that require action
3) Highlight important information on your bills and EOBs, like the Date of Service (DOS), Patient Name, and Amount Billed
4) Sort your bills and EOBs by date of service, put corresponding EOBs behind bills so you can keep all the information together in the event of a problem.
5) **not mentioned in video** I keep post its in the binder so when I call on a particular bill, I stick a post it on there with the next steps and any relevant information. It is so beneficial to be able to completely unload your mind in between "office days" when you are working on the insurance.
6) Keep a folder that you add all of the insurance/billing info to when it needs to be sorted. I can't stress this enough. It allows you to just dump any receipts or mail you receive in there to work on later, but it also allows your spouse to help with organization without telling you "We have a new bill" (which is an evil phrase in my house! haha). When we were getting bills every day, this is what kept me going.

Final Thoughts:

Working with insurance is basically my second job. It is really difficult. Not everyone is nice and it's also super emotional for parents because this is our baby we are talking about! But I have found the more organized I am, the less I stress about it. Right now my 2017 year is so chaotic and I've run into problems caused by my own mistakes. I feel so much better when I am organized! I love having a set Office Day that I use for bills and organization. It helps me not feel so guilty on days I ignore it. AND I love keeping clear documentation of who I talked to and the next steps. There is usually about a 30 day period between when I place a phone call to correct a problem and when it gets fixed, so it is helpful to have the reminder of my plan a month later when it is hard to remember. The main takeaway here is that the more organized you are, the less of that residual stress you take on in day to day life. So if you are new to this crazy world of insurance or if you are just ready to get more organized, hopefully this little tutorial will help you out!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Peter's Book Drive: Part I

I mentioned in my last post that we reached one big anniversary in our world-- The anniversary of Peter's fetal diagnosis. Let's be honest. That diagnosis day was terrible...and I think it is possibly the worst day of my whole life, tied with the day after. So many questions, so many unknowns, feeling lonely, betrayed, heartbroken. So much grief and so painful that I remember wondering how it was possible I was still alive. I felt like I had been run over by three semi-trucks. Pleasant.

Our lives went on, we received so much help and support, and we learned tons about Peter and his needs. We have worked hard and made big sacrifices so he could be guaranteed a strong future. I had terse words with nurses and I fired a few doctors. And to my greatest surprise we've made it. While our healing hasn't happened the way I wanted it to, we have seen miracles in Peter's progress and in our own hearts. Part of that miracle is you.

In October, as the December 18th anniversary approached, I began praying that we might find a way to give back to the hospital. I had thought of a few things but nothing that really resonated with me! I wanted something that perfectly paired our love for Peter and gratitude for the doctors that have cared for him, with our desire to uplift other families who are going through a rough time. I had put all this on the back burner when the answer suddenly came. At Peter's six month wellness check, his doctor gave us a small little ABC's board book. She told us that the books are donated to the clinic to give to all their patients to help brighten their day and encourage them to read with their families. YES! YES! My heart was just leaping out of my chest. I began asking millions of questions, how were the books donated, what program was used, how do people contribute, what books are needed, etc. She probably thought I was crazy, but inside me was just this instantaneous knowledge that this is how we needed to give back. 

I put Peter to bed that night and started piecing together the Facebook event page. When would we do it? What were the rules? How would people send them? What would be a good goal? I pondered all of these things while Derek occasionally asked "What are you doing?" or "Are you working on something?"     [... I am always up to something and most the time it seems pretty trivial (like pondering what furniture I am going to paint next). Derek usually has to check on me or everything will be painted white. White is my jam. True story. ]      ANYWAYS. I finally came clean. I told him about the book drive. Taught him how Reach Out and Read works. Showed him the proposed event page. Let him know that I would pretty much handle everything. And then told him that he now needed to take a whole bunch of pictures of Peter reading books to help us publicize. Good times. Derek was seriously so supportive. With that, we got to work!

We officially launched Peter's Book Drive on October 23, 2016. Our goal was 100 books!

Receiving our first books on October 25, 2016. This is happening!

By October 26, 2016, we already had 25 books and were 25% of the way to our 100 book goal.

By October 31, 2016 we had SURPASSED our original goal (in one week!) and had 101 books! At this point we decided to increase our goal to 200 books AND we contacted Derek's work and set up a donation center there.

88 books in ONE WEEK on November 21st. I am pretty sure this is the most books we received in one week (aside from our book drive blitz the last week), thanks to my aunt Ramona and her fabulous book club. This brought our total to 210. At this point, we decided not to set any more book goals. We thought things were tapering off, but we had no idea what was coming....

November 28, 2016- 50 more books, total of 260.

December 5, 2016. One week left of the book drive! Total of 301 books!

December 12, 2016, the end of the book drive! Pictured here was 414 books. We had a few other books trail in and we ended up with 450 books!

Here is a graph of our donations. Pretty amazing, especially when we thought that we might not even get 100!!!

Sorting, organizing, and totaling the value of all of the books. You donated over $1500 worth of new books, and several hundreds worth of used books to Reach Out and Read: Oklahoma!

This was such a big project and it is finally coming to a close. After having hundreds of books piled high in my hallway, TODAY we get to do our official drop off at OU Children's hospital. This project has really healed my heart and offered a joyful celebration of Peter's triumph over that diagnosis we received a year+ ago. Pretty soon these books will be held in little tiny hands, read by other mommies and daddies who love and care for them. We work hard to help Peter achieve physical goals, but it is so important to remember that this is not everything, and that nourishing Peter's mind is just as important, if not moreso, than any of those little things. Reach Out and Read has inspired us to read daily, to inspire good naptime and bedtime routines, and to encourage other friends and family to do the same. We are excited to give you an update with pics from our donation drop off later this week!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our New Year

It's amazing how fast the time goes. Little Peter is now 8 months old and he is doing SO well. Our life has slowed down a lot and updates are easier now. His hip dysplasia has been corrected, although they continue to monitor it, he still wears his AFOs for moving around (he is rolling all over the place and getting in to anything (especially things that are dangerous!), he is working on crawling, he still is on ditropan for the bladder and will be having two surgeries (one exploratory surgery in his abdomen in March, and then his foot surgery to correct the vertical talus in April).

This week is the start of a new year for us, something special the three of us will always share. On December 18th of last year, we received Peter's fetal diagnosis of spina bifida. From that moment on, it really felt like the walls of my life work collapsing. I stopped writing in my personal journal because the quiet reflection time was just too much, I focused on trying to overcome of pray away our trials, we moved from our friends and family, entered a new place and a new world of constant doctors appointments and a lot of hard news and big decisions. When Peter was finally here with us, I struggled to stay present. The lack of sleep, painful recovery, lack of help, and ever-growing to-do list made me feel like a failure. And I was ANGRY! I had done everything "right," yet here everything was going wrong.

I spent a great deal of 2016 angry, I think. Angry and broken. Any time I opened myself up to spiritual feelings, I felt peace. But that peace made me angry! Why should I have to learn to find peace in this situation, I thought, when millions of other moms don't have to go through HALF of this stuff. Why did I choose to bring a child into this world if it would be so hurtful and hard for him? I felt as though peace was a lie. When I felt good about my [horrible] situation, that was just God lying to me... because this is not okay! I was sick of pretending things were okay. Derek was really the only person I ever let in on all of these feelings because they are just bad. No one wants to hear these things. I wasn't even sure that I really believed them....but my body and my mind was just at it's breaking point. I think people tend to think I am a pretty put together person so I just had to expose myself a little here to get the point across- this was a hard, difficult, taxing year.

There was a turning point though, at the end of September. After laying in bed another night, crying of course, all of a sudden it hit me what I was so angry about. It wasn't just the fact that I was going through this whole mess, but that deep down I felt lied to by God. One night, when I was about 12 weeks pregnant, I got an overwhelming feeling like something was wrong with the development of my baby. I felt so upset, I ended up asking for a blessing. In this priesthood blessing, I was told that everything was fine, that the baby was healthy, and that I would have a healthy pregnancy. At the time it gave me so much comfort, but obviously given what ended up happening, this became the source for so much frustration. I would try to push this experience from my mind...I tried praying about it (which did not go well because I had some WORDS.)...but even once I had my happy, beautiful, promising little 5 month old, this was still a point of contention in my heart. I tried researching all sorts of things about priesthood blessings, understanding when things are "wrong" and etc. But those answers (believe it or not, weren't coming from a gospel centered source) only fueled my frustration. When chatting with a very good friend one day, I opened up to her about this problem. I tried to speak calmly as to hide all of this frustration that had been festering, but I truly believe her heart could discern the pain that this had caused me. She said plainly how horrible it would feel to be lied to by Heavenly Father, the most loving person ever, and shared her own experience that felt similar. And THEN she gave me the answer that I wished I had asked her for earlier: 1) God sees things differently than we do. Peter is healthy. I am healthy. That aspect has already come to fruition in a relatively short amount of time since that day of the blessing. 2) Heavenly Father tells us what we need to hear to ensure his plan for us. My friend had supposed that if I had been told of all the struggles Peter would have at that moment in his development, the stress and emotion could have been harmful to his fragile developing body and altered the will of the Father for him to be brought to this earth. I felt each word she said resonate with me. ---I debated sharing this for so long because it is so special to me, but also such an easy experience to misinterpret if you don't have a spiritual mind about these matters. But I think there are a lot of people who feel deprived of their promised blessings. I think my friends two points can help in so many of these situations: firstly, that you really do have your promised blessing, you just may not be seeing it with an eternal perspective, and secondly, that Heavenly Father is all-knowing and is aware of our needs. If He has revealed something to us, it's because He knows we need that in our lives, but not always in the way our mortal minds think we do.

This turning point allowed me to start thinking differently about our situation. I was able to open up to the spirit more through study and prayer because I finally felt free from the quiet anger that had taken over me for so long. I began seeing things differently. Our appointments felt easier. I felt more determined to help Peter be as strong as he could. At this same time, Peter began making tremendous physical strides, which certainly boosted my confidence.

It isn't all upward movement, I definitely have my week points, but revelation is coming easier now. The puzzle I have been working on in my mind all year is starting to come together. I am starting to see how this all fits together in the plan of my life, and I am also looking forward to seeing how this will all come together in Peter's life. Just today I was feeling burdened by so many little things that seem to going wrong-- I'm not kidding people, we are talking about things as simple as dented cardboard (P.S. is 8 month postpartum hormone swings a thing? Because it's feeling like a thing over here)-- and I heard this quote on TV: "Jesus could have healed the prints in his hands, but he didn't, so we would always remember Him. So when you have a scar in your life that just isn't being healed, just think of it as His reminder to always remember Him." This made me feel so much better. This life was meant to be perfect for NONE of us. Even Jesus, who walked a perfect life, dealt with imperfection, trials, pain, Those trials we experience in our life just serve as little notes to remember Christ.

Today was the first day in over a year that I wrote in my journal. It felt so GOOD! Like the start of something new. Last year this diagnosis seemed like terrible timing, coming right before Christmas, but this time around I feel like everything is falling together perfectly. I love the reminder of Christ, as well as his mother Mary who endured so many trials as she watched her son. I feel like I can relate! I am so grateful for Jesus and his atonement that helps repair all of this sorrow we've experienced. This is going to be a great year! I love starting fresh, and I love my awesome family! <3 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Peter's Updates, Birth to 3 Months

Here is that compilation post I referenced in Peter's birth story! Throughout our birth experience, I had a difficult time keeping a journal record of all our experiences...it was just too emotional to sit and ruminate on all of our struggles.  Instead, I started writing Facebook posts to update friends and family. Now that the fog has been lifted and things have started to settle down in the Askham home, it's been really fun to look back on the posts and see how far we've come! Thank you for sharing in our journey!

"Dear Friends and Family,

This week Derek and I got the surprise of a lifetime: Our little baby boy will be born on MONDAY. As in three days from now! Over the past two months, my blood pressures have been consistently higher than normal for me....and even though I tried to rationalize them, the doctors are taking the numbers seriously and they are electing to deliver him at 37 weeks to avoid any further complications in either of us. As you can imagine, this has joyfully turned our whole world upside-down... our "May" baby has plans of his own!

We debated for a few days about how or if to tell all of you, but this morning we really determined that your love and prayers are going to help us get through what is bound to be an emotional and physically taxing time. Any thoughts, prayers, or fasts that you can offer us would be deeply appreciated. Baby Askham will not be able to have visitors for the first few days of his life, so we ask that you send your love from afar until we have a better idea of his progress. We promise to heavily document his cuteness through all-too-frequent facebook photos.

Today I am so grateful for Amazon Prime shipping (two-day shipping on all of our leftover baby needs...YES!), reeses cups, the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost, my cheerful husband who has patiently helped me hang every piece of art in the nursery, and unisom for giving me a (much needed) panic-attack free night of sleep. I can feel the encouraging hand of all of you along with my Heavenly Father helping our family meet these challenges. We can't wait to celebrate the life of this little one with all of you!"

Peter's Update: 4/11/16

"Our little Peter Arie Askham was born today at 1:12pm weighing 6lbs 2oz and 19 1/4 inches long. He has blonde fuzzy curls and the biggest lips you can imagine! He and I have had a very busy day and we are both tired and recovering! Thanks so much for your prayers --they have calmed my heart and I have been able to relax and take some time to heal up. We will have more updates on his condition as the week progresses, but the most important thing is that he is here and happy and already melting our hearts!"

Peter's Update: 4/12/16

"Today I watched my little baby go into surgery. His operation took place at 1:30pm, almost exactly 24 hours after birth. It all seems so unreal-- I feel like he has been a part of our family forever, I can't believe he is only a day old! How does the heart feel this much love?

Our surgeon, Dr. Gross, is an incredible woman. I could tell the love she has for her work as well as well as these kids. I never thought I could trust anyone so completely with my child, but I felt entirely at ease. I know this is because of the prayers of so many that have softened my heart and allowed me to relinquish control. I thought I would be a basket case when this day came, but I have just been grinning from ear to ear! My baby is so well taken care of!

Peter's surgery was very successful and he is now in the recovery room with daddy. His spinal cord is now back where it belongs and the wound has been closed. Dr. Gross believes he may not need a shunt, but the team will continue to closely monitor his brain to determine the best course of action. Until then, we are focusing on working with the physical therapist to strengthen his legs, getting his tummy full, and just giving him lots of loves.

We so deeply appreciate all of the prayers that have been said on our behalf. There is no way to articulate the amount of excitement and peace we feel. Your prayers has transformed this trial into one of complete joy and I feel absolutely spoiled to be this kid's mom! I also cannot adequately express my appreciation for the kindness of all of you. Your little comments and messages have brightened my whole day. I love that I get to go through this experience with all of you! There have been countless angels, both seen and unseen, who have protected my baby. Thank you for being one of them! Love and hugs to you!"

Peter's Update: 4/14/16

"Today was unexpectedly the best day ever! Doctors gave the okay for Peter to be on his side (where as before he had to be on his tummy only) which meant that we now have the okay to hold our little one! I was so spoiled and held him for hours! Grandma got some time feeding him and then when dad got home from work, he got cuddles too! Little Peter was so calm and he loved being held.

Peter's stats are looking good too. He currently weighs 6lbs 15oz and is known as one of the best eaters in the NICU (he gets that from me!). He goes to the bathroom well on his own (I even got to change my first diaper today!) but the plan is still to catheterize him out of precaution until he is big enough to undergo further testing.

Our current goal is to get him moved from his current room in the NICU down to the "NICU Village" where mothers and babies can stay together to learn care before discharge. Today we learned that Peter is a great candidate and is next on the list to move to the village, we just have to wait for an open room. Not that we want to kick any other moms out...but if you could pray that we might be able to get one of these rooms so I don't have to go home without my baby tomorrow, I would appreciate it!

My heart is just bursting with pride! Our little guy is exceeding all expectations and we know that is because God has heard all of your prayers, along with our own. Thank you, friends!"

Peter's Update: 4/15/16

"Well folks, we had a really emotional day! I got discharged today and went up to see Peter. We had been hoping that we could move to the Village together, but Peter's doctor said that we would have to wait until Monday or Tuesday when we had a better idea about him needing a shunt. I was handling it all really well until we got my room all packed up and then I just sat and cried. I have been trying to be brave, but it is so hard leaving my baby and going home from the hospital sore and empty handed!

We went up to see Peter for a few minutes before running some things home...and then Peter's neonatologist let the team know that we WILL be going to the Village! If the neurosurgery team decides he needs a shunt, we may have to go back to the NICU for a day after surgery, but they saw no reason to separate us for the weekend. Peter was just as shocked as I was. I cannot tell you how happy I am! This is mommy bliss."

Peter's Update: 4/17/16

"Enjoying holding my baby boy again! It's my favorite part of every day! #mombun #nosleep#kangaroocare

Little Peter had a busy day today and Grandma, Derek, and I are all very sleepy! Since moving to the Village, Derek and I have become Peter's primary care takers and we are now able to do all of his hands on care without any supervision. During what we call "hands on," Peter is rotated from his tummy to his side, catheterized, given a diaper change, fed a bottle, burped, and then repositioned back on his tummy to allow his back to heal. This process usually takes about 30-45 minutes and must be repeated every three hours, so we get to sleep in two hour shifts. I love taking care of my baby, but I have also been so grateful for Derek's help. He is an amazing dad and serves us both in such a loving way.

Peter has had such good bladder control that his cathing was reduced from 8x daily to 4x daily. In even better news, the last few times I have cathed him, he vacated his own bladder before hand and the cath came up dry! The doctors and nurses believe that this is a very positive sign that he has control of the nerves that go to his bladder (in addition to full bowel control, which we already knew). We are cathing him as a precaution until we know more at his two month scan.

In other news, Peter's jaundice test came back normal (woohoo!), he got his first shot and was braver than mommy 😭, and we haven't had any more acid reflux/choking episodes. Neurosurgery will make their decision as to whether Peter needs a shunt tomorrow morning. If he does, surgery will probably take place on Tuesday and we will likely move back to the NICU for recovery (and then hopefully head home!).

Over the course of my pregnancy, one of my promised blessings was that being a mother would fill me with joy. There are no words that can express how wonderful being a mom already is and it is worth every sacrifice. If I could tell anything to my 20-week self (when I had just found out about Peter's diagnosis), it would be that the love I feel for him would be so all-encompassing, that even the hardest trial seems miniscule. He is my perfect, happy, brave, sweet little boy who just so happens to need a little more help than other babies. I am so glad God let me be his mommy. I can't imagine life without him! So be kind to your 20-week-selves... life is always so much better than you think it can be."

Peter's Update 4/18/16

"Sometimes you need an ice cream sandwich and a snuggle. 

Today was a great day filled with many triumphs! Peter got cuddle time with both mom and dad, I got to feed him for the first time (sayonara bottles!), and we saw plenty of movement in the legs today. 

Despite all of the good news, Derek and I, along with Peter's neurosurgeon, decided to move forward with a shunt to treat the building hydrocephalus in Peter's brain. Right now he seems so perfect and happy it is hard to submit him to another surgery, but ultimately this shunt will allow Peter's brain to function properly in the long run. Without it, pressure in his skull would continue to build and eventually he would suffer brain damage (in addition to headaches, vomiting, lethargy, loss of consciousness, etc.). This is very sad for us because it meant that Peter had to go back to the high intensive NICU to be prepped for tomorrow's surgery. Peter's shunt will also be pretty visible for the first few years of life. Mommy got lots of pictures of Peter's beautiful round head today... when we see him tomorrow he will have a little lump in his skull and the cord that leads to his chest cavity will also be visible as a bump under his skin. 

I am having a hard time leaving my baby in someone else's care again and going home without my baby boy. I am worried about him being scared without mommy, and I feel pretty heartbroken about the shunt being more noticeable than I originally thought. Obviously he will always be my perfect boy, but I am sad that this surgery will be so noticeable to others. Please pray for us to be strong and that the three of us can all be comforted. I could use a little love ."

Peter's Update: 4/21/16

"Another milk coma brought to you by Boppy! 💜💜💜 Thanks so much for my Boppy, Shannon Burton Miller and Cami Burton Heywood! It has been a lifesaver and makes feeding time so comfortable for both of us!

Pediatrics decided that Peter is a perfect baby and they don't need to keep him in the NICU any longer! They have given us an apnea monitor so I don't have any freak outs about his breathing during the night and we have all been happy (tired) campers. We are currently back in the Village awaiting discharge planned for this weekend. I cannot believe we survived this challenge! I didn't think I could bear it. But as Derek said yesterday, things always end up better than we think they will. We are learning to put complete faith in God, even when it comes to that which is most precious to us. 
 Our hearts are full of gratitude for all the help we have received. Every time I look at my miracle baby, my heart just swells with love for all those who prayed and wished us well. You have helped give me the best thing life has to offer. I can't wait to tell Peter about all of you someday. He will know he is loved!"

Peter's Update: 4/25/16

Peter is two weeks old today! He loves eating, sleeping, and being cuddled, and absolutely hates everything else  He had his first check up today and weighs 7 pounds and is 20 inches long, 50th percentile. His head growth was up a bit but he is right in proportion with his other growth, so it seems the shunt is functioning well. Newborn clothes still swamp him, but probably not for long!

Peter seems to be doing all he should be, butDerek and I are still figuring everything out. In the NICU I was feeling so much relief that everything was going well, but now that we are home I have just been so worried about the rest of his future! I wish we could know everything right away, but we have a lifetime of uncertainty ahead of us and that has been a really overwhelming feeling....but that is just how every parent feels, I am sure.

P.S. When we were at the doctor's office, three people asked us if this is our first baby, and another guy remarked (as we were wolfing down some food while Peter slept) "you guys aren't hungry or anything, are you?" Apparently we look as frazzled as we feel. 😱 Heaven help us!

Peter's Update: 4/29/16

Even with footsies in casts, Peter is one good looking baby!

Good news and bad news today...

Bad news: Peter has a vertical talus in both feet that causes the toes to be pointed strongly upwards. He will need casts and surgery to correct the misalignment of his foot bones. Peter also has hip dysplasia in both hips that may need treatment after the series of leg casts if he doesn't grow out of it.

Good news: Peter was kicking so much that it took three of us to hold him down to put on the casts. The doctor said he has the strongest legs of any 17 day old baby he's ever worked on! He gave Peter an extremely positive prognosis and believes that he will be able to walk, run, and play sports after having his feet corrected. Even though he will have to be in various casts and braces for the next year or so, the doctor also believed that Peter should have no problem reaching his physical milestones like crawling and walking.

I also successfully accomplished my first errand without help and I am feeling pretty good about everything today!

Peter's Update:

Our four generation photo with Peter's GrandmaAskham and Great Grandma Warner

Today Peter is four weeks old! He had his follow up appointment with Dr. Gross (his neurosurgeon) and it went really well! His head growth is right on track with no signs of a shunt malfunction. The stitches on his back, tummy, and head are all healing wonderfully and Dr. Gross told us we don't have any more restrictions. Up until now he has only been allowed to be on his back for 30 minutes at a time, but now we can go for longer walks and car trips, and he can also use his baby swing and play on his back as much as he wants! He has had a lot of trouble being on his tummy since getting his legs casted so this is a huge relief to me! I thought this day might never come, but here it is... my arms finally get a break 

Last night, Peter also gave me the best mother's day gift ever and slept in his crib all night! Normally after about five minutes he would just scream and scream until someone held him, but it seems as though he is starting to understand that being in the crib is not a bad thing... and boy, do I feel well rested! We just adore him!


"I'm one month old today!"

Peter is 7 lbs 2 oz, and 22 inches tall! He loves having cuddles with mom and dad, eating, and car rides. He is loving being able to sleep on his back but still is convinced that diaper changes should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Peter has filled our lives with love, laughter, and sleep deprivation, and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Peter's Update:

Today was a really exhausting day. It's been a lot to take in! We went for Peter's casting appointment today and had some bittersweet news: the casting in Peter's left foot has successfully moved the talus into the proper position, but the right has been more stubborn. Instead of casting again and again, Dr. Chong thought that we should all take a break and see what happens as Peter grows and strengthens his muscles. We are thinking we probably will end up doing surgery to pin the talus bone in its proper place, but Peter has healed so far ahead of the curve that he is actually too small to be a good candidate for the procedure now. We are going to go back in three months to assess his foot position and see what needs to be done. My heart hurts thinking about surgery right now, so I am just trying to focus on all of the positive and also pray that somehow Peter might be healed before that day comes.

In the meantime, Peter got his first set of AFOs to help preserve the positioning that the casts achieved until we decide what to do. Aren't they adorable? The orthotics doctor had to custom shape the smallest ones they had to fit Peter's newborn feet. They have little elephants on them but they are so small the pattern doesn't really come through. He just has to wear them at night, and we will go back once a month to get new ones to accommodate his growing. Peter will likely use braces like this for walking when he gets old enough. These will be our best friends 

In other news, Peter smiled at me for the first time today and even gave me a few smiles since! He is just the sweetest thing. 👼👼 I also wanted to thank everyone for checking in on us and sending love! I have been so exhausted going to all these appointments that I feel like I haven't been able to adequately respond to each of you. Hopefully now that we have fewer appointments I will feel more up to socializing with you all  Thank you for your prayers. Have a blessed day!

Peter's Update

Is it okay that my best friend is a baby? He gets me.

"...I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

This scripture came to mind as I've tried to collect my thoughts today. I was reading some past Facebook posts about our pregnancy and Peter and I am just in awe! There were some good moments of faith, but I also remembered how sad and absolutely heartbroken I felt to go through this trial. Tonight I sit here happily cuddling on the couch with my little family and I am full of so much gratitude. I never thought I would make it to this point! Our lives are happy, joyful, full of love, and NORMAL. God has healed my heart in so many ways.

A month ago I remember thinking that the "me" that found out about my son's diagnosis on December 18th was just so little and fragile, and here I am thinking the same thing about that "me" from just four weeks ago. I guess it just proves that God is continuously working on the hearts of those that have faith in him. I had been praying so desperately for healing for my little guy that I had forgotten that I needed some healing too. Heavenly Father has blessed me with what I didn't even know I needed and sent me my little angel to fix all those broken pieces with silly smiles, warm hugs, and a drooly chin. Peter brightens all my days and makes every sacrifice worth it.

We have many Gethsemene moments ahead, I am sure, but just as God has taught me to grow in spiritual strength a little at a time, I believe he will prepare a way for our son to continue to grow in physical strength little by little. And as we press forward line upon line, I know that someday both Peter and I will be together in our Father's kingdom completely perfected in all ways. Until then, I am savoring every moment with my little miracle!

Peter's Update

Peter's a little traumatized from today's visit to the doctor... 

He's actually been a champ today, all things considered! He had a check up with his orthopedist today who found he still had some minor dysplasia (I know, it's been back and forth and back and forth) so we are in this crazy contraption for a long time- an estimated 6 months with check ups every week (heaven help me). I am super bummed and cried at the doctor's office which I do NOT like to do, but I am trying to look at this as just another challenge that we can tackle. The better I am at keeping the brace on him all the time, the faster this dysplasia will be corrected....so we are both getting lots of cuddles tonight and maybe tomorrow we will both feel a little braver!

I feel like I only have enough energy to keep our heads above water and I am having a struggle mustering the daily strength to call various offices for appointments, talk with insurance, meet physical therapists, do our play time, stretch his little legs, bond during cuddles, mail paperwork AND THEN everything that needs to be done just to keep the household fed, organized, and afloat. Even MAKING a to-do list drains my energy-- Oh how I long for the energy of my youth.  Peter and I need a Hawaiian vacation before we can be expected to do any more stupid three hour appointments. I wish spina bifida could wait for a day.

Peter's Update: 6/11/16

Peter is two months old! 👶👶

He loves spending time outside, taking rides in the car, and listening to music! He can smile, babble, and hates sitting still. We love you little man!

Peter's Update 6/15/16

This goofy guy had to get his shots today and has wanted mommy-snuggles ever since! 👼 We also got some great news that the hip dysplasia has already improved greatly (likely only looking at weeks in the brace, not months!) and the small heart murmur he had at birth is no more! I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has magnified the efforts of Peter's doctors to ease our burdens. I love my little boy!

Peter's Update 6/24/16

This new brace certainly doesn't leave anything to the imagination! 😂😂

We met with our new orthopedist today and we just love him. He has such a calm, pleasant demeanor while also really thinking critically about our situation. He gave his opinion about some of the choices our previous doctor made and we both agreed to move forward, treating all these little issues more aggressively to lay the best foundation possible for our man.

Part of our new plan was getting a different dysplasia brace that didn't play into the uneven muscle development Peter already has. I like this one better (even though it costs as much as my first car 😮) and I am excited for the change. We will have a check up in a month to see how treatment is going!

In other news, I've been a little run down this week and Peter has been pretty fussy (so maybe he is fighting a bug too?) but honestly this morning I woke up feeling so much better about our situation. There is nothing that I wouldn't do for this little boy and I am so glad he is ours to keep! 💜💜💜 Thanks for the prayers, love, and reminders to BREATHE. We are doing it!

Peter's Update: 7/11/16

Peter is three months old!!! Approximately 12 pounds and 23.5 inches long. 📏

He has become very social and loves to chat with mom and dad. He smiles, laughs, blows spit bubbles, and loves to suck his fingers or fist. Peter loves his playtime out of the brace and takes advantage with a lot of kicking, punching, rolling (with help) and even some scooting... it's hard to keep up with him all the time! The only thing he doesn't like is when we hold still  We love you, Peter!