Six Weeks Post-Op!

Today marks six weeks since Caleb’s spinal surgery (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) in St. Louis at the end of August. Since that time, Caleb has had physical therapy 3 times a week and also works with a physical therapist during preschool. He is definitely fully recovered now and there isn’t anything that he was able to do before the surgery that he can’t do now. He used to use his spasticity to his advantage and use it to stay upright, but now that the underlying muscles (or lack thereof) are responsible for his mobility, he tends to get tired more easily. Although, just this week Shane and I were remarking that he’s been able to walk in his walker for longer periods of time without getting tired, so we think he’s just getting stronger and stronger everyday.

We’re currently working primarily on proper heel-strike gait patterns when using his walker, transitioning from kneeling to standing, side-stepping, standing unassisted while wearing ski boots (they provide foot/ankle/leg stability), riding a tricycle and walking on the treadmill. Our fantastic therapist is able to use an assortment of toys, puzzles and technology to work on these skills while making it seem like a game to Caleb.

Caleb’s scar on his back has healed perfectly and isn’t very big at all, I’d guess maybe 3 inches long? I’m not sure he’s totally aware that he has a scar back there, but knows that we used special lotion to get rid of a rash he got from being in his hospital bed for several days. The only limitation he had until now was NO WRESTLING so now we no longer have to break up he and Wyatt when they choose to play tackling games which cause me to age at an exponential rate. We give him a good stretch morning and night and encourage extra PT activities like walking on the treadmill at home and practicing side-stepping at a local playground on the weekends. Some days are better than others in regards to his cooperation level, but that’s to be expected… he’s three, afterall.

Overall, I’d say we are happy with the progress we’re seeing thus far and we don’t have any regrets. His flexibility and range of motion have improved so much, it’s like it’s a whole different kid! And with everything he’s gone through these past 6 weeks, he is still our smiley Caleb a vast majority of the time.

Here’s a video of him learning to use a tricycle in a recent therapy session.

Posted in Cerebral Palsy, Physical Therapy, Caleb, SDR

Back in the Swing of Things

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This week, I returned to work after being out on maternity leave for 3 months. All summer, I’ve been telling myself that returning to work wouldn’t be as hard this time around since I’ve been through it before, but there is this instinctual tug at your heartstrings when you drive away from your kids; enough to question what is the point of going to work, anyway? I have the benefit of knowing that it’ll get easier, but it still just sucks to be away from my boys all day.

This summer has been anything but relaxing and rejuvenating. Three hours after the end of my last shift, my water broke and I went into labor… less than a day later, we had a new member of the family. Parker has been a dream, and now that he’s three months old (!!), it’s safe to say he’s solidified his role as a happy, chill baby, who loves to sleep almost as much as he loves to eat. Our nighttime routine has gotten more chaotic when you add another mouth to feed and body to bathe before bed, but Parker didn’t keep us up all night like a couple twins I happen to know. He slept for long stretches between feedings from his first weeks home and now has slept a full 12 hours a few nights these past few weeks. After eating, he loves to smile and coo and laugh and squeal. It’s a lot of fun to watch him explore his surroundings and he’s getting better at reaching for toys. He’s become a thumb-sucker just like his big brother Caleb, and they even share a left thumb preference. Parker likes a lot of things, and riding in the car is not one of them. His hatred for the car was really bad about a month ago when I couldn’t go anywhere without him screaming bloody murder the entire ride. Luckily, he seems to be growing out of this weird phase but I’m still always careful to ensure that he’s not too hungry, too full, too tired or too wet for a quick trip in the car. Parker also doesn’t really like tummy time and that puts him in the same camp as about 99% of all infants. He is soooo close to rolling over from back to tummy but not quite there yet. Our little guy can barely get away with being called little at this point. He’s in the 99th percentile for length and 87th for weight! He couldn’t be more different than his preemie brothers who weren’t even on the growth chart for a little while after birth. All in all, Parkey is doing great and is on the receiving end of lots of hugs, kisses and cuddles from all members of the family.

Caleb and Wyatt are doing well and really enjoying their time at preschool. I’ve been handling the drop-offs and pick-ups from school and I have to say, there is NOTHING cuter than your kids smiling and calling out Mommy! while running into your open arms after a long (er, 2.5 hours) day at school. The time not spent in preschool was typically spent at daycare but this is their last week of daycare. Because of our unique work schedules, preschool and therapy appointments, we realized we needed someone who was able to not only watch our kids but also transport them to where they need to be. Shane and I will still be taking Caleb to his therapy appointments, but now we’re able to have Parker and Wyatt cared for by a nanny, while Caleb can focus on his therapy. I plan on writing a separate post about Caleb’s progress, now that he’s almost 6 weeks post-op.

Caleb and Wyatt are liking their roles as big brothers. Caleb is very very affectionate towards Parker and loves to make him laugh and give him hugs & kisses. Wyatt helps out by fetching things that we need for the baby or letting us know if he’s awake or crying (even though we can always tell when he’s crying!). They’ve both been great and a lot of the jealousy that I worried about just isn’t there. I know their relationship will only get stronger once Parker becomes more of a play mate to the two of them.

As for Shane and I, well, nothing really to report. Our work and family obligations keep us pretty busy, so we’re just keeping our heads down and taking it day by day for the next eighteen years foreseeable future.

Here’s some pictures from our summer!

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Posted in Family

Dear Caleb

Dear Caleb,

I don’t know if you’ll ever remember this time in your life. We’ve been talking to you about what’s going to happen when we travel to St. Louis for your Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery. We’ve glossed over a lot of what is going to happen (you’re only 3, afterall) but you know that we’re going to St. Louis so Dr. Park can fix your legs and help you learn to walk without your walker. When we prompt you, you let us know that sure,  you’re excited to learn to walk, but most of all, you’re excited about staying in the hotel and wondering whether the TV remote will work or not (during our last trip, the remote didn’t work in our room).

It feels surreal to know that we are hours away from a procedure that will totally change the course of your life. I can’t wait for you to have an improved quality of life and to free your legs from the tightness they feel day in and day out. I wonder if there will come a time that you don’t remember what it felt like to have these tight legs? I can’t wait to see you sit comfortably with your legs straight in front of you. I can’t wait for you to be able to take control of your body and wiggle your toes if you want. And yes, those first independent steps are what all parents dream of, except the anticipation has been building for years in my case. Most of all, I’m anxious for you to not have to work so damn hard at what comes so easily to most of us. There isn’t a worse feeling than when I watch you collapse to your knees after an extended period in your walker. It’s like your legs physically can’t move another inch and it can be so heartbreaking. I’ve been wanting to take this hardship from you since the moment you were diagnosed and now, I feel like we have a shot at making your life a heck of a lot better. You deserve it, kiddo.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but I can’t think of a better kid for the task. You are hardworking and attentive but also silly and very affectionate. Barely a day goes by when you aren’t complimented on that huge smile of yours and as cliché as it might sound…. you really do light up a room with that face.  You are so much more than your cerebral palsy and I hope this procedure allows you to be your very best self at  age3 and 93 and all the years in between. We love you so much Caleb and we’ll be by your side every step of the way.

Love you forever,

Mommy, Daddy, Wyatt and Baby Parker

 

P.S.  GO CALEB GO!

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Posted in Caleb, Cerebral Palsy, SDR

Parker at One Month!

Our little guy turned one month old last Friday. The weeks are flying by and we’re loving getting to know him and watching the dynamic between all our boys. Parker is only the “little” brother because he’s the youngest… there’s not much else that’s very “little” about him! He’s such a tall baby and it shocks me how fast he’s growing out of clothes!  We’ve long outgrown newborn and size 0-3months, so now, at five weeks old, he’s wearing size 3 month clothing and even those are getting difficult to snap! My favorite time of the day is when I get to rock Parker and count the rolls on his legs, arms and neck and marvel at the adorableness of his knuckle dimples! Fat babies are awesome! (Little peanut babies are pretty cute too, I’ve had a couple of those).

On a very much related note… Parker eats… a lot. He’s a milkaholic and I’m his open bar so it’s not uncommon for me to be feeding him every 2.5 hours during the day. Luckily for us, he’ll stretch it a bit more at night… between 3-4 hours. Shane handles one of the feedings in the middle of the night so I get a long stretch of sleep and have woken up relatively well rested lately! I struggled in my attempts to nurse the twins when they were newborns, which led me to exclusively pump milk for months until they sort of got the hang of it. By the time they were six months old, however, they were getting formula only because I couldn’t keep up. Feeding Parker has been much easier and I’m enjoying the experience so much more because I’m not constantly stressing about his weight gain. If he’s sleepy during a feeding, I just let him go back to bed, rather than try to keep him awake like I had to do with Caleb & Wyatt. My goal is to nurse Parker for as long as I can.

Parker has just begun giving us some big gummy smiles and somewhere buried in those chipmunk cheeks are possibly two little dimples. It’s a little too early to tell for sure though. He’s also started making sweet cooing noises, as if he’s trying to tell us lots of stories. He’s starting to spend more of the day awake, which is a lot of fun, except he’d prefer to be held rather than in a seat, swing or carrier. Carrying Parker around totally tanks my productivity, but my primary responsibility during maternity leave is to bond with him, so I’m ok with the fact that I won’t be winning any awards for my cooking (or lack of) and cleaning (or lack of).

Current nicknames: Parkey, Park, Park-ma-nark, Master P and P.D.  Oh, and Caleb randomly called him Bon-Bon the other day. Huh?!?

Parker, we love you! Happy one month birthday, baby!

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Posted in Parker

Baby Parker is Here!

I’ve been wanting to sit down and write this post for three weeks now but it’s been difficult to find the time to sit and write! Anyways, I have a few minutes now so here it goes…

Baby Parker is here! Caleb and Wyatt’s birthday was on a Monday and I went to work that evening. I noticed I was having some contractions, but they weren’t getting closer together, so I finished my shift and was home by about 11:30pm. At 2:00am, my water broke! It wasn’t as dramatic an experience as when I went into labor with the boys, so I wasn’t totally sure that my water had broken at all! Needless to say, when I called the doctor, he wanted me to go to Labor & Delivery to get checked out. We had some friends on standby to take care of Caleb & Wyatt, but didn’t want to wake them up until I knew I was going to be admitted. My suspicions were confirmed in triage and I was admitted. I wasn’t having too many contractions, so I was able to walk around as much as possible to try and get labor started. Our friends came to pick up the boys and entertain them for the day, while Shane’s parents were on a flight from Colorado to come help us out!

The day passed by slowly, I was too excited to sleep and wasn’t supposed to eat anything, so I was getting a little cranky. At some point in the afternoon (Shane meticulously kept the times of all the major events of the day) I was given pitocin to start to speed things up. I also got an epidural when things started to get uncomfortable. I had a scary (to me, anyway) low blood pressure incident where I was sure I was going to faint, but luckily didn’t and once I was given more fluids and my meds were adjusted I felt fine. Well, as fine as someone who is in labor could feel I guess. Some unknown amount of time passed and it was finally time to push. In my previous pregnancy I only pushed for like 30 minutes total, so I was naive in thinking I was almost done. An hour and forty-five minutes of the most difficult pushing ever, Parker was finally born! Our little chunker weighed 8lb9oz and was 22 inches long! His weight was only 1lb1oz less than the combined weight of his brothers when they were born! At the very end of my labor I spiked a fever and because it had been a long time since my water broke, precautions were taken and Parker received antibiotics in the NICU in case of an infection. Everything worked out fine and we were both discharged when Parker was almost 48 hours old!

Since being home, we’ve enjoyed the help of Shane’s parents, as well as my parents and an adjustment for our new family of five. Caleb and Wyatt have been really sweet with their baby brother. They are gentle and love to help with diapers and bath time. They have also been enjoying the extra attention from their grandparents! We are so in love with our new addition! Parker is a sweet boy, who (knock on wood) is such an easy baby. He’s on a great schedule and sleeps the entire time between feedings at night, so we don’t feel like zombies this time around! I’ve had very few instances where I was responsible for all three kids for an extended period of time, but that changes tomorrow. Our visitors are gone and Shane will be back at work. The older boys will be going to daycare part time and they’re excited to see their friends again. I’m looking forward to spending some quality one-on-one time with Little P! The next month will be spend “relaxing” and gearing up for our big trip to St. Louis for Caleb’s surgery! Exciting times ahead!

Here’s some pictures from the past few weeks!

 

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First family (of five) picture!

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Meeting their “baby brudder”

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Parker’s first outing – Fourth of July Parade!

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First visit to the Pediatrician!

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Danielson Men

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Demonstrating “tummy time” for Parker

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Caleb showing off his incredible upper body strength

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Parker’s first trip to outer space – 2.5 weeks old

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First bath!

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Posted in Caleb, Family, Parker, Wyatt

3rd Birthday!

I realize that it’s so cliche, but really… where does the time go? Three years ago we met our baby boys for the first time and while they most certainly are little kids now, I still see those hints of baby every now and again. Our boys turned 3 today and this was the first year that they really understood it was their special day. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Shane and I both have birthdays a few weeks before theirs, so there was lots of anticipation of their birthday. We had a small party at our house yesterday with some friends and their playmates from daycare and it was a picture perfect day. I kept it as easy as I possibly could (purchased platters from Costco, ordered pizzas and had the grocery store take care of the cake) because at 39 weeks pregnant, anything can happen! We let the kids loose in the backyard and the adults got to sit and relax (at least I did!) in the sunshine. I asked Wyatt if he would mind if his little brother came today, on his birthday and he said that “Yes, I would mind.” So I only have a few hours left, but it’s looking like this will officially be the only Danielson with a July birthday! Did I just jinx myself?

This years theme (aside from low-maintenance) was Yo Gabba Gabba, since it’s their favorite TV show and pretty much the only thing they watch.

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The boys are certainly going to miss their friend Lily and her family when they move away.

 

The big presents from us to the boys this year are their very first bikes! They were very excited to take a ride down to the stop sign at the end of our street. I especially like the parent handle since both boys are still learning how to pedal. The boys can still cover great distances and we don’t break our backs pushing the back of their seats. Shane also swapped out the swings on our swing set for the big kid ones today and the boys did great! Now if only they can learn to pump their legs!

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In addition to trying out their new bikes and swings, today marked the first day where we completed a “birthday questionnaire.” Every year we’ll ask the boys the same set of questions and when they turn 16 or 18, we’ll gift them with the binder full of their answers over the years. Or maybe, I’ll just keep the binder for posterity! Some of our favorite responses:

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Wyatt: Alien

Q: Where do you wish you could go on vacation?

Wyatt: To the library

Q: What would you buy if you had $1000?

Wyatt: Toys. Like every toy I saw in the whole wide world.

 

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Caleb: Six

Q: What are you really good at?

Caleb: Spitting in the sink in my bathroom (Note: he doesn’t yet know how to do this regularly)

Q: Where do you wish you could go on vacation?

Caleb: To the library

Q: What would you buy if you had $1000?

Caleb: Bananas

Q: Which vegetable do you hate the most?

Caleb: The orange vegetables

 

Happy 3rd birthday Caleb & Wyatt! We’re so lucky to have you in our lives and look forward to another exciting and laughter-filled year! We love you!

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Posted in Caleb, Wyatt

Camping at Little Bennett!

Our first foray into camping was a total success! It actually went far better than either Shane or I could have anticipated. It’s like all the stars aligned and we had this perfect weekend with our boys. I think a weekend “away” (about 15 minutes from our house) was just what we all needed. The camping trip was actually my idea as a way to celebrate Shane’s birthday and Father’s Day. I didn’t know how I would be feeling at this point in my pregnancy so I booked it for the earliest weekend we had totally free. We arrived on Friday night and Shane pretty much set up the entire site by himself while I entertained the boys. We made a fire, cooked steaks (for us) and macaroni ‘n cheese for the boys and sat down to a late dinner. After dinner, we introduced the boys to roasting marshmallows and making s’mores for the first time. They weren’t obsessed with them like their mom and preferred to just eat the graham crackers… their loss, more for me! They did pretty well in their sleeping bags, but there were a couple middle of the night wake ups. The pressure is definitely on when the entire campground is dead silent and the wailing sounds of a toddler seem to travel for miles in the middle of the night.

The next day we had pancakes and made our way to a very short little trail hike to point out cool stuff to the boys. They loved it and Wyatt actually was our trail guide. I see a lot more hiking in our future (you know, when I can walk for more than 20 minutes at a time) since the whole family loved it. The campground also has a large playground with swings so we were entertained there for another hour or so before returning to our site for lunch and naps. We basically hung out at our campsite the rest of the day; playing with dirt (Caleb), gathering sticks for the fire (Shane), collecting rocks (C&W), avoiding bugs (Mommy&Wyatt), mastering peeing outside (Wyatt) and trying to avoid swollen ankles (me).  Our boys were superstars all weekend and I’m so grateful they were open to this new experience that was very different than their normal routine. They went to bed between 9:30-10 both nights which is probably the latest they’ve ever stayed up in their whole lives. Neither were cranky but rather went to bed willingly when it was time. On top of everything, we had picture perfect weather and no issues with equipment, food or supplies. My heart is just so full after having this fantastic weekend with my family. I’m not sure if the boys will remember their first camping trip, but I always will and after our first experience, I know this certainly won’t be our last! Now, all that’s left is to wait for Baby D to make his arrival in less than a month!

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Collecting rocks!

Collecting rocks!

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Posted in Family, Weekend

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