Construction Legs – The 4th Set of Prosthetics

I can’t believe this little boy is now in his 4th set of below the knee prosthetics. Today is day one and he is running around like he didn’t just magically grow over an inch and two shoe sizes bigger overnight. There’s been the occasionally tumble today but this little rockstar is doing great! Sweet blessings I’m letting settle over my momma heart.

The team at Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics in Newton, Ma always do a fantastic job and this is no exception. They are timely, invested fully in Cade’s care and give their whole hearts to making this process go well. We could not be more thankful. We started this process about a month ago and 3 appointments later have a new set of bilateral prosthetics. It takes a little bit of time between coordinating the insurance approval (of which insurance covers 80%, we pay 20%), castings of Cade’s legs to the actual completion of the prosthetics.

 

At the first appointment, Arthur measures his legs to make sure we get the appropriately sized liners.

 

 

The right size liner is then rolled onto Cade’s leg, wrapped in saran wrap and then marked at his knee area with a marker.

 

Mr. Arthur then rolls on the casting strips. A cast is made of each leg in order to make the next prosthetic, exactly fitted to the specifications of his unique legs. Cade has gotten very good at sitting still for the casting materials to harden but Mr. Arthur is great at distracting little hands with epic balloon gloves.

 

At the second appointment Cade tries on the “test sockets” to make sure they fit well. This is the first time Cade gets the more advanced foot since he is now big enough. It has a more realistic look, is composed of WAY stronger material and has some flex to it to improve mobility. The only drawback we’ve noticed is hunting for wide enough shoes in the toe area.

 

It is this test socket that is then used to make the final prosthetic. This appointment is filled with lots of fun playing. Both boys love Next Step. They’ve got great toys, a ramp to roll trucks down and all sorts of stuff to climb on and swing from–perfect for spidermen in training.

It is at this appointment we also hand over our fabric choice, usually a pair of pajama bottoms to be adhered to the prosthetics. We ordered a few different pairs and momma was rooting for the navy dinosaurs. No such luck. Cade fell in love with a pair of tractor pajamas. I knew it was a lost cause when he grabbed the pants, hugged them and exclaimed, “I am so in love with my new leggies.” Well fine. Next time maybe.

At the third and final appointment we get to try on the finished prosthetic in all its fresh, unscuffed glory. This time around a giant snow storm meant Mr. Arthur made a house call. Next Step Bionic and Prostetics’ customer service is unbelievable. We love you Next Step!

 

Look how far this little boy has come and the miles he’s already walked! We are thankful for each step. How proud we are of you Cade!

 

Marching Towards Grace

It’s been a long time since we update our sweet Cade’s blog. He is in the same set of legs as the last time we chatted although new ones are in the works. Truth is, we’ve been up to  a whole lot of nothing. No big plans. No changes in our lives. Just growing and learning and giving grace.

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve had a revolutionary week haven’t we, as citizens in the United States and those who are abroad doing great things. We’ve inaugurated a man into office many think is not qualified. Many think is unkind and many think will change our freedoms. I for one can’t believe that we actually got here. But then I hated both candidates and used my freedom to NOT vote for either. But many of you are hurting and fearful and taking to the streets to march. I’m thankful you live in a land where you can express your opinion and peacefully gather. How lucky are we, let’s march to keeping it that way.

From what I can gather, the Women’s March is a gathering of women (and men) who are protesting the new Trump administration. Or women’s rights. Or minority rights. Or world unity. Or breast feeding in public. Or _____. I’m not quite sure actually. It seems at least from Facebook and the news that everyone is marching for something and they aren’t necessarily one in the same. And you’re all passionately devoted to this cause. And I’d have no problem marching along with you all on many of those topics. Women should be treated well, paid well, loved well. It is our obligation, both male and female, to take care of the less fortunate, the hurting, the homeless, the burdened. But I don’t need laws or a government to tell me that. I could march along with you in support of strong women who want their opinions heard. We are not yucky. We are not nasty. We deserve to be loved. Done. Marching right along with you.

 

But if I happened to find myself standing next to a person holding a “I stand with Planned Parenthood” sign, I might start crying and realize, perhaps this isn’t the loving and accepting place I had hoped it would be. But then how could it be? This broken world with all its different beliefs and claims to rights. And it would all just start looking like one big hypocrisy. Perhaps after all, we do not know what we are actually marching for?

You see we’d be at odds immediately. You and me. And I’d try to understand how you could be holding that sign. You’re standing there afraid that your right to killing an unborn baby might be taken away from you and I’d be standing there thinking, “what makes you think you have that right to begin with?” Isn’t that one of the reasons we’re marching here after all? I was led to believe we were marching to protect the lives of ALL humans. Black and white, female and male. To promote equality. Unless of course it’s a baby 3 days away from being born and you still have the protected right to kill that baby who, although human, does not apparently have a RIGHT or a CHOICE. A baby who could live outside your body without you. What if it is only 12 weeks along? Is it then not human? How do we march next to each other so at odds and for such undefined things? Doesn’t it just seem, dare I say, fake? Like a whole lot of nothing? Pretend unity when really, we are so far from being united in our beliefs and therefore ultimately our actions.

It all just makes me ache a little bit. I do not stand here in judgement over you sweet friends. I can not even begin to understand the roads you’ve taken or the heartache some have walked through but oh, how I do know heartache and oh have I been given the opportunity. I have been told that there was something very wrong with my sweet baby. And at 12 weeks pregnant I had to ponder whether or not to abort my “not perfect” fetus. Thank you United States of America for giving me that decision. And I wrestled.

 

I am not looking for a round of applause or pat on the back here. I certainly do not deserve one and I am not writing for popularities’ sake because I know without a doubt I stand AGAINST the current here and many of you are just shaking your heads right now. And I’m sure many of you would have taken the opportunity to end his life. Calling it your right. In reality, if you were honest with yourself, it simply would have been a convenience for you and believe me, the selfish side of me really wanted that convenience for awhile there. I hated the idea of having a baby that I thought wouldn’t be able to live well. Run like the wind. Would be so different from his peers. How thankful I am that the LORD protected me from myself. Protected me from that decision because if anyone has met my son, you know that he is living life well. Running like the wind on bilateral prosthetics. Kind and unhindered, he teaches the world more about love than any words I could every write or any marching I could ever do.

SO, since we’re all about equality here and you have to listen to different view points than you’d probably like to, what makes you think you have a right to kill a baby? You’re passionate about a woman’s rights but not a babies? Your preaching equality and taking to the streets yet withholding it from the most vulnerable. You are passionate about kindness so much so that you are fighting against the unkind words of a leader you didn’t elect but you won’t actually let that baby live because it is an inconvenience for you. And then you march about it when you think your “reproductive rights” could be jeopardized and the convenience taken away. Clearly Planned Parenthood as an organization does other useful things. I’m not hear to argue that. Without a doubt the Trump administration will do something right over the next four years…

If you’ve ever been pregnant you KNOW you have no control over what is happening in your body. If you’ve battled infertility you realize first hand you have no control over the creation of life. You can do everything “right” but not get pregnant. Year after year you try. I know, I’ve been there. But then one day you get pregnant and you realize even more clearly than before that your body is not your own for you do not get to wake up and decide whether or not you get morning sickness or gain weight or have a boy or HAVE A BABY WITH FEET. You see, your body grows that life without your willful involvement. If you have ever been pregnant you realize you DO NOT have control over what your body is doing. In this time your body is not your own. It is growing life whether you like it or not. It is not your right.

Oh my friends. I’m all for strong women. I AM a strong woman. I’ve marched through dark days, deep waters and I don’t need an ill-defined march to prove that. I hope my friends and family see my strength day in and day out. I hope they see me marching through all my days on earth with the same tenacity and hope. Fighting for what is right and refusing to stay silent when what is wrong is evident. I will not stand for hateful rhetoric but I will also not let myself get carried away calling on my strong woman rights to miss the point entirely. I will not let you fight for 90% of what is right and not the other 10%. If you’re going to walk those streets you need to not be turning a blind eye to very evident discrepancy in rights and actions.

Perhaps we have gotten so caught up in defining a “right” that we don’t realize what that is anymore? Perhaps we all define it differently and therefore have no idea what it looks like. Perhaps this points us heavenward. This desiring to be equally loved, this striving to be heard. Maybe…just maybe, there is a bit more to this life than meets the eyes. Dig deep my friends and search. Feel it in the quickened pulse and excitement as you march along.

I don’t need to join you along a parade route to have a voice but I’m proud of you for marching if you feel like you need to. I’m speaking my voice daily into the little lives I’m raising up and into the sweet husband I’m lucky to have equally by my side.

I have a voice when I go to the grocery store, I have a voice when I drive my car kindly along the road. I have a voice when I chose to love. To not respond harshly. To give grace when I’d rather withhold it. I’m marching through my days with the intention to give out grace like smiles. I’m already strong. I already have “rights” but I will march with you all towards grace with strength and fortitude. I choose to fight for EVERYONE’S rights including the most vulnerable and you should to. Don’t settle for empty rhetoric or an ill defined current that carries you along. Ground yourself in what is true and right and there you will find equality for all and the strength you are so hoping is protected.

Six Months Post Surgery

DSC06267It has been 6 months since Cade’s bilateral Symes Amputation at Boston Children’s Hospital and he’s doing great. I wouldn’t choose to go back to those before surgery moments, in spite of how cute he was at that age, because the anxiety leading up to handing your baby over to surgeons is not fun. I WAY prefer to be on this side of the surgery, after the healing and appointments, but am thankful for all these 6 months has taught us.

Each morning, we put on his liners and prosthetics shortly after breakfast and he wears them until bath time after dinner, with the exception of taking off just the hard prostethics while he naps. Cade has tolerated the liners well, he’s never had skin irritation or a rash, thank goodness. NextStep Prosthetics has made minor adjustments to improve his balance along the way but he is still in that cute, initial pair and has grown into them nicely.DSC06345

DSC06266Although still not freely walking, Cade cruises the furniture, the kitchen cabinets, the walls. He’s on his feet all day long and getting stronger. Boy does that boy like to climb stairs…and then fly head first down them (much to his momma’s horror). Two weeks ago Cade pushed his wooden radio flyer push toy across the bedroom and we about screamed for joy. What that showed us was that he was able to balance himself and only push far enough forward until he could take another step. For us that was a big break through. As eager as I am for my little super hero to take off, I also realize he is only 14 months old and has far more obstacles to overcome than the “normal” walking toddler, with the “normal” walking range being 9-18 months. So my sweet kiddo, you can take all the time you need.

DSC05829With this new found balance and furniture cruising, Cade’s favorite activities involve getting into things. Trying to wrangle the baby gates so he can take on the stairs while momma is not looking. Trying to get into the cupboards so he can assist momma / trip her while she is trying to prepare meals. This also means we have a new found love for playgrounds and slides (which he prefers to go down head first). All boy? I sure think so. He’s added to his vocabulary “bubbles”, “poo poo” and “purple” and “ba” (sheep) to his animal sounds. He loves his “da da” and has all but forgotten how to say “ma ma”…unless he wants something really badly, then it sounds like “maaaa maaaa maaaa” in the whinest, most annoying voice ever.DSC06240

We are thankful for each step along Cade’s journey–for what it is teaching us about overcoming the obstacles we each have in our lives and how we view people on our daily encounter. We see Cade thriving and love every day. We are of course, always thankful for those people in our lives who have been our encouragement and sources of light through this FH journey.

“Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day He carries us in His arms.” -Psalm 68:19

 

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Refreshing Honesty

DSC05136It’s been a crazy few weeks here but we’re finally back at the keys. We bought a house, scrambled to sell our house, had a sick baby which coincided with a million people traipsing through our open houses, got a bunch of offers, had a small bidding war, and then fled the country. Well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic but pretty darn close actually.

For our 7th wedding anniversary and my big 3-0, my sweet husband booked a getaway to the lovely island of St. Lucia. A great surprise and a good call on hubby’s behalf to recognize my severe vitamin D deficiency after a stupid Boston winter.DSC05168

Now we’ve traveled a bunch, this was seriously Cade’s 20+ flight in his short almost 13 months and his second international destination, but a one year old? Well that’s a whole different story. And he’s not even walking yet. But wanting to be caged, I assure you he let the whole plane know how he felt about his seat assignment. After delays and running through terminals and absentee Hertz agents, we found our way to our island home and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Our hotel room was bigger than our current home. DSC05238And that is not an exaggeration. It apparently came with the JetBlue getaways package. And although it looked like it was fit for a king it certainly didn’t cost it. DSC05489It was wonderful. A bathroom for each of us. 🙂 Cade had his own room which he refused to sleep in. So in our over-sized room with our over-sized bed, mom and dad got jabbed with his little nubs all night.DSC05379

Day one he hated the beach. Day two he loved it. Phew. I almost thought we had the wrong baby for a moment given my extreme LOVE for said ocean, waves, and sand in my toes. We knew once we arrived, after forgetting the travel torture, that it would be wonderful and it was. What neither of us was prepared for was how refreshing honest curiosity is.DSC05331DSC05284

You see we live in a society, in amazing America where people try to not offend others ALL DAY LONG. People apologize, walk a tight rope of public opinion and if you ever wanted to scare the pants off someone, well, you just say you’re offended. You can’t say certain words because that might offend certain people and you can’t wear certain things because, well that might be construed as offensive. That means you see something different…out of the ordinary, different than your normal and you stare (which is not wrong in and of itself) but you realize your error and QUICKLY, like a cat thrown into a swimming pool, glance away. We’re told to not stare after all, it’s rude. But it’s usually too late right? We see you. We see you recognize a difference, a deficiency and then try to correct your perceived error of perception. What if we turned it into a chance for conversation. How refreshing that would before all the momma’s out there who have little ones who are “different”. I’ve watched in mild amusement as old ladies sweetly try to pinch my sweet boy’s prosthetic legs because he’s wearing pants and you just can’t tell and then they stop, and look horrified. Were they offensive they wonder. There my friend is where it stings. And where refreshing honesty in curiosity blooms into something beautiful.DSC05403DSC05337

Every single local we met at the resort and on the island, got down on Cade’s level, spoke gently, lovingly to him and then turned to us and asked, “what’s wrong with his legs?” WOW. What the heck do you say? Let me tell you. Honest conversations about real life about things that matter and shouldn’t be avoided or perceived as possibly offensive. Let me tell you how amazing my little boy is. Let me tell you his journey, where he’s at in his physical therapy, how we’ve changed with his blessed life’s existence. Let me show you what he can do. Clap for him. Cheer him on. We all have something wrong with us. Something different. It makes us unique humans. And after refreshing conversation after refreshing conversation they look at us, smile and say, “and he’s doing just fine and that’s all that matters.” Ahhh. Breath deeply my soul.DSC05432

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We’ve gotten use to people starring and recognize that it is a part of our innate curiosity as humans. Clearly our baby doesn’t have feet and when his mother usually forgets shoes and there is 3 ft of snow outside, yes, you have every right to take a double take. That in and of itself is not bothersome. But then please don’t look at me, realize your error in horror and avoid me like the plague. Embrace the conversation in the unique. Oh that we would all take a little more time and a little more interest in the unique and beautiful things in our paths. I bet we would learn a lot. I bet we would walk away changed and I bet children who physically look different would have more confidence and be more empowered to run a little further, skip, smile and dash through this earth with their own kind of wonderful.
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Reaching for the Stars…or iPhones

DSC02970Oh boy. Oh boy indeed. Our little Cade is an adventurer, troublemaker, a bonafide reacher-for-the-stars, or iPhones and we just took his 11 month pictures (a hard feat now that he wants to eat the stickers rather than wear them, although we did manage to stick it to his head without him noticing). I can barely believe that we are closing in on his first birthday. This last month he’s learned how to point saying “Oooo”. He now points at everything.  He gives big open mouth kisses and says “mama,” “da da,” and “cah” (while pointing at cars going past the window). Which makes us laugh (and cringe) because it sounds a bit like a Boston accent. DSC03415DSC03764So besides being in the throws of first birthday party planning (which I am loving by the way!) we are also in the throws of winter, a horrible New England winter that the locals will likely be talking about for years. Snow, snow and more of it. I’ve never been able to stay home in snow without incredible guilt from work so being a mostly stay at home mommy now, means that even with all this snow, this winter is way more fun.

We are struggling a bit to figure out how to dress a baby in this weather. He hates snow. He hates being too hot. You can’t put them in their seat in a coat on without it affecting the safety of the straps. So you need to heat the car up first before you leave. We don’t have a garage. Try putting a very active baby down on the floor to go start the car, you come back to cabinets wide opened and rummaging. DSC03590IMG_2864DSC03611DSC03170Baby-proofing is slow going because I HATE not being able to get in my cabinets. Gracious. Grocery shopping, life, everything is slow going at the moment.DSC03715

DSC03075Cade is astounding us. Two weeks ago he pulled himself up to stand. We screamed so loud and with such excitement that we made him cry. Poor babe. But that was a moment we had been waiting for. He was early pulling up to stand at 6 months on his sweet foot and little nub but it took two months post bilateral Symes amputation for him to be comfortable standing now on his cute prosthetic feet. DSC03710And now that he’s figured out how much more he can reach, well, he’s a bit of a terror…trying to climb, take steps and get in to everything. And I mean everything. Mothering gets a whole lot more difficult when they’re climbing in bath tubs head first, trying to break down baby gates at the top of stairs and generally pulling all sorts of stuff down on their head. DSC03690Watching Cade reach all these big milestones makes meDSC03913 day dream about those first unassisted steps. What a sweet little victory that will be. One that I don’t think is too far away given his propensity to blow our minds. A huge milestone for any baby, but for a baby doing it on prosthetic feet, well there will certainly be tears from this momma. Happy 11 months sweet Cade, adventure on little man, we’ll be celebrating your AMAZING first year soon.DSC04042DSC04040DSC04051