Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Saturday, November 14, 2020

New Adventures - A Big Move and Foster Care Certification

Two Wild Boys! 

I don't regularly post on my blog anymore, but I really want to start doing it again. I always have so much to say and so little time to say it. So, I wanted to try to sit down this evening and write out a little bit about what has been happening in the Buchanan House recently! It's way too much for a Facebook post, so blog it is! 

First, after 12 years in our first home, our family is moving!! We will be staying close to my parents and in the same county, but we are moving outside of the city, to a quieter area. We will also have a little bit of land! (Meaning, more animals! Yay!) I had to get rid of my chickens about a year ago, because I live in the city, so once we move, we will be able to get them back! I am also wanting to raise some other sort of livestock, but I haven't settled yet on what that will be. We have plenty of time to decide on that! 

The house is much bigger than our house now. We outgrew this house a long time ago but because I was in school, moving wasn't an option then. Chris and I bought it before we married in 2007, and it was perfect for us then. Although it only has one tiny bathroom, we made it work. Now that I share that tiny bathroom with three boys instead of one, it's a bit more challenging. lol! 

Our new home is much bigger and we will have plenty of space now. However, my favorite thing about our new home is the entire acre of yard that is fenced in! That means the boys can run around outside and do what kids were made to do without me worrying about them getting to the road, or someone from the road getting to them! 

Taking Selfies

The house we live in now sits about 20 feet from one of the busiest roads in our town. The speed limit is 45 but realistically, most people go 50 to 60 by our house, all day and all night. We have had a car come through our yard and almost hit Chris. We have replaced our mailbox 7 times because people keep hitting it. Worst of all, we had a neighbor get hit and killed in front of our house a few years ago. So, I don't feel safe leaving the boys to play outside alone or even let them play in our front yard really. Last week, we watched the police capture a fugitive on the loose from our front yard. Needless to say, we are more than eager to get away from the busy road and have space for the kids to run! 

The house has two stories, so it will take Christian some practice (and some child safety gates installed by us) to get him used to it. The stairs do make me a bit nervous, but we will practice all we can and take all precautions. Something that people have asked me a lot over the years about Christian is if I have to keep my furniture the same all the time or if I am able to rearrange it. Their concern is if Christian will know his way around with the furniture in different spots. So, as you can imagine, moving house is a whole other level of that. With Christian, I actually can rearrange furniture easily. He may bump into it a few times, but he learns quickly where the furniture is moved to and he adjusts. So, he will do the same at our new house. He will eventually learn where everything is and how to get around just like he did at our old house. :)

The boys are so very excited about moving. They're also a bit nervous because this is the only house they've ever known. I have to say, I'm a bit melancholy myself. The home we're in now is the first home I bought as an adult. It's the only home I've lived in since leaving my parent's home. It's the home I brought both my babies home to from the hospital, where they learned to walk and run, where they have grown up. So, while I am very excited, I am also going to be a little sad to leave. 

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives though, and we are all excited to have a second bathroom and real closets! lol! 

Because we are moving and will have more room, that means the opportunity to do something else that we have been wanting to do for a while, foster care! Our tiny home just could not hold another person, so we always put off foster care until "one day." ( We also needed our own kids to get a big bigger too.) Now that we will have the space and because the boys are getting older, we decided to take the leap of faith and began working on our foster care certification. Another thing that pushed us to go ahead and start was the fact that because of COVID, all the classes were virtual. While they were still rigorous, being able to do them from the comfort of home and not having to secure child care for them was a huge plus for us! 

So, we completed the classes around September and are working on the home study now. However, since we are moving soon, (we think in the next 4 weeks or so, just depending on how long closing takes) we won't be doing the home study on our current home, but on our new one! This pushes back our timeline a bit, but all things in His perfect timing! 

So, there are just so many things happening all at once. I don't feel overwhelmed by it. I feel energized and excited to be honest. We have been packing for a while now and I think by the time we move, we will be pretty much set and ready to just load up and go. I am so excited, also, to open our home to children who need us. It's just exciting! 

The boys are excited about moving too, but they're also excited about foster care. We explained it to them recently to let them know that we may be welcoming some children into our home who need lots of love and understanding. We realize that some foster children come with behavior issues, trauma, etc, and we want the boys to understand why and how to react in love. They are so empathetic as it is, that it didn't take much for them to be on board. They jumped at the chance to offer love to a child who was going through something so difficult as being taken from their parents. 

Chandler's Toys for Sale 
Chandler had an idea a few nights ago to sell some of this toys to help make some money for our future foster children. He gathered some of his toys, laid them out on the table, and made price tags for everything. He even drew a picture of him in his little shop selling toys. He was ready to set up shop and take action to help and I absolutely LOVE that about him! 

Chandler's Picture of His Toy Sale

So, as we continue through this process, I want to keep you guys updated on this journey! I know you guys have been a part of this journey for many years and I so appreciate and love all of you! Check back for more updates soon!   

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Dynamic Duo - Raising Typical and Non-Typical Children Together

It has been SO long since I've updated my blog. In case you haven't followed along on Facebook, the past 4 years have been so incredibly busy and insane in the best of ways. I graduated law school, passed the bar, and started my law career. Talk about BUSY! I still homeschool my boys. Also, crazy busy! We have switched Christian's care back to our local children's hospital from Indianapolis, under the care of an amazing and compassionate surgeon and Christian had a HUGE surgery last year. Coronavirus hit and threw the entire world for a loop. Life has continued on and we have been living it for sure! Now that things are starting to finally find a normal pace again, actually a bit slower than what we're used to, thankfully, I want to try to get back to writing. It's been my intention for about a year now, and here I am finally putting fingers to keyboard once again! 

So thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy! As always, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube for more fun adventures in the life of Christian! 

Christian and Chandler play a video game together
Having a typical child and a non-typical child has always created some different dynamics. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in difficult ways. Having a typical child along side Christian has always made me check myself and make sure that I am not limited Christian because of his disability. If I am allowing Chandler to do something, I better have a really, really good reason if I am not going to allow Christian to do it, too. Christian will demand a good reason because I have raised him to demand he be treated equally to others. He will also insist that he can do whatever Chandler does, because I have always made it a point to let him so he will know he can do anything. 

But sometimes, the dynamic is difficult and I can't always just fix it. Sometimes, Chandler is playing a game on his tablet that there is just no way Christian can access and actually play. I let him play, of course, but he will die quickly or not be able to complete the tasks. It's frustrating for him at times. Chandler always offers to step in and help, but Christian is so independent and dead set that he will do whatever anyone does, that he gets frustrated with needing help. Explaining out loud to Christian why he fails at a game and Chandler does not is a bit awkward on my end. How do I tell my child that he can't see like everyone and never will and therefore this is something he will never be able to do like everyone else? I despise having to put limits on him, but sometimes I struggle to find a way around it. It's also a bit painful for me. Most of the time, Christian is so adapted to his environment that I don't even have to think about his blindness, but occasionally it comes up in ways like this, and that tinge is pain returns. 

It's always there, to be honest. Deep down in a place I try to keep a secret from others. It's not like I can tell people. It makes them feel pity, and I don't want pity. Or it makes them feel uncomfortable, and I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they have to share the burden of what I carry. What I really want is for Christian to see, but second best since I can't have that, would be to just be heard and have people be understanding of and non-judgmental of his limitations. Nine years into motherhood, I can tell you that I will more certainly carry that pain to my grave. The pain of knowing that Christian doesn't know what my face looks like and that society may never consider him its equal. But I try hard to never, ever put that on Christian. It is not for him to carry. Only a mama's heart will be able to really understand it, and so I don't plan to ever allow him that burden.

In learning as we go about how to do these things I mentioned above, adapt, make sure Christian isn't carrying an undue burden, and that he is strong and resilient in the face of his adversity, it has been an interesting and beautiful challenge to accomplish.

We haven't had just one day where we sat down with Christian and said "Ok buddy. We need to tell you something. You're disabled." I decided a LONG time ago that this would not be how that went down. I decided that as Christian grew up and learned about his differences, I would interject appropriately within the context of our lives. There would never be one day where we just laid it on his shoulders to carry like a burden. It would be an open and on going and HONEST conversation about his differences, framed in a light that reflects his value and worth as a human, his perfectly created self who is loved by his Creator, and framed in light of his abilities and strengths rather than his disabilities. 

What this has ended up looking like is sometimes short and sometimes long conversations that start when Christian discovers something and asks a question. He started realizing several years ago that strangers in public asked "Why does he look different" a lot. He heard it, and then heard my response, and then asked me about it. He asked why he looked different and what that meant. He was pretty young the first time he asked so I don't think there was some automatic grasping of the concept. I think now as he's gotten older, if you ask, he will tell you he has a facial difference, but he couldn't possibly tell you exactly what it means. He knows that it means he's had to have surgeries on his face. He knows it means he has scares. He knows he is beautiful and amazing. His facial difference is not a sore spot for him. He does not know that some of society sees him as lesser-than because of it. I have purposefully crafted my responses to his questions to shape it that way. His facial difference shouldn't be a sore spot for him. It's just who he is. He will matter-of-factly and boldly proclaim that he is different and that he loves himself. There is nothing in Christian's head that says being different equals bad. Having a facial difference is just part of who he is just as if I told you I have blonde hair or that I'm 5'3''. Recently, when he was about to have a surgery on a place on his skull that is missing, he told me that he wished everyone had a missing piece of skull like him so that there wouldn't be a need for surgery. He didn't wish that he was like everyone else. He wished that everyone else was like him. 

The adaptations that come from this realization are the fun part to watch though. Christian is so stubborn and hard headed (most of the time in a good way). He will not be told he can't do something. He always finds a way. He will climb, crawl, jump, or ride anything to do what his peers are doing. Chandler has really been instrumental in helping with that, and I'm sure he doesn't even know. Christian has followed Chandler's example since before he could say his brother's name. I remember a time when they were both toddlers and Chandler showed Christian how to climb on the stool in the bathroom to reach the sink so they could play in the water. 

Besides being his partner in crime, Chandler has always been his brother's keeper. I have been so careful to try to make sure Chandler never feels like he has to care for his brother or that his brother's disability is a burden for him to shoulder; or that the extra attention Christian has required at times is a favoritism thing.  But from a young age, Chandler, the ever empathetic one, has just picked up on the queues. He has seen Christian's need and has stepped in in ways that I can not. He would see one of my hands full of medical supplies and snacks and diapers for my 6 year old and the other hand holding Christian and would just know that he needed to hold open doors for me. He wasn't taught or modeled it. He just picked up on it. And he's done the same for Christian. When Christian would drop something in the floor and not be able to find it, he would go and pick it up and place it in Christian's hand before I could get there. When Christian wanted to go to another room and play, even though he could totally walk their himself, Chandler would hold his hand and guide him there. When Christian needed help, Chandler would step in and try to help. 

Now that they are older, he continues to develop this attitude of understanding about Christian's needs. When we are out in a busy area, he will check to make sure I have Christian's hand and if I have to let go for a second to adjust my bag or pick something up, Chandler will say "Mommy, do you have Christian?" or he will hold Christian's hand himself to keep him safe. He makes sure his brother is safe.

Recently, he and Christian have developed a method to playing on the tablet that they enjoy. They will sit together, choose a game, and Chandler will play while Christian listens. While they do this, Chandler will narrate what is happening to his brother. Christian will ask questions and Chandler will explain what certain sounds mean. It's just one of the small ways that they have adapted to their environment. The giggles that ensue are priceless to this mama's ears and heart. 

I have never sat Chandler down and had a conversation with him about his brother's needs or how he needs to interact with Christian. I have never told Chandler that he has to place things in Christian's hands rather than hold them out, or explained to him that Christian has to hold my hand in public for his safety. It has come in small, informal days of just living our lives. It has come slowly through every small interaction. It has not been flawless or smooth at all times. Some days it's beautiful and others it's a total disaster of trial and error. 

I am always thankful to get to be their mama. They make me proud and drive me crazy and I wouldn't trade that crazy for all the money in the world. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Surgery As Christian Gets Older

For your enjoyment, I have scattered some photos throughout this blog of a stop the boys and I made on Wednesday. These icicles were hanging all over the rocks lining the road on our drive home from therapy. It's been arctic cold temps here so these have formed from the water expanded as it freezes and being forced out of the rocks.
Chandler kept asking me about them as we drove, and Christian was curious as to what we were talking about, so we just stopped and explored them. The boys loved it but it was COLD! :)

Surgery number 8 is coming up (Tomorrow as I write this, and today as you are reading this) and since it's been a while since we've had a surgery, I have found that we are dealing with something a little different this time around that we haven't had to deal with before.

Christian understands what is about to happen. When he was younger, I tried talking to him about what was going on, but I knew that it didn't really register with him. I mean, he was three. But now, although he doesn't fully comprehend what surgery is, he does understand on some level what it means.

On Tuesday evening he was playing in the floor when he said "My ear hurts!!! I can't hear anyfing!" (I love how he says fing instead of thing lol). This has been happening on and off for months now. He's been on two rounds of antibiotics since early November and the ear infections still persist. It all started when he broke his nose. Maybe it knocked some drainage into places it wasn't before and that is causing it, but I suspect mostly that it's because of the time of year it is and the fact that our whole family has had two colds pass though the house this winter. When we get colds, we pump up our vitamin C and kick them. When Christian gets a cold, he has sinus drainage that just won't go away without way more antibiotics than I'm comfortable giving him.

So, when he broke his nose and got a concussion in early November (he fell on our steps, click here if you'd like to read about it) and had a CAT scan to make sure there was no brain bleeding to go along with the concussion and double fracture of his nose. There was so much mucus in Christian's sinuses that the radiologist noted it when he read the scans. The attending doctor even laughed when he read that the radiologist diagnosed otitis media of the right ear via CAT scan. But the radiologist was right. When we followed up with ENT a couple of days later, sure enough, Christian had an ear infection. This has been the ear infection that keeps on giving because it still hasn't gone away two months later.

So now, tomorrow is surgery number eight, which will include his 4th ear tube placement and this time, adenoid removal. We are hopeful that removing Christian's adenoids will give him some relief from the sinus issues he constantly has to deal with. Because the procedure will involve more than just ear tubes, Christian has to have IV anesthesia this time, which always make me more nervous.

So last night, when Christian said his ears were hurting, I saw my chance. I told him that I was going to have to call his ENT and talk to him about getting Christian some ear tubes. Christian remembers his last set, so he immediately had lots of questions. I explained to him that the tubes would help him to hear better and help his ears to stop hurting. Christian was actually excited to be able to hear again. I am excited for him. He has been telling me for a month now that he can't hear words when I talk, and asks me constantly now, "What did you said?" (heehee) because he can't hear me due to all the fluid behind his ear drums.

Then he asked me to explain the procedure to him. Since I knew it was coming, I had read up a little on how to talk to kids about surgery, so I was able to explain the procedure to him without scaring him. The part that makes him most nervous is the mask he has to have to go to sleep. He has never liked masks on his face. Can't say I blame him.

I didn't tell him when the procedure would be, because I don't want him to stress too much about it, but I told him it would be soon. So, he woke up this morning and asked me if the surgery would be today (Wednesday). I said no but told him "soon." He asked questions the entire drive to therapy. He asked me about the mask and how it would feel. He asked me if it would hurt. He wanted to know again exactly what his doctor would be doing. I reassured him that I would be right there when he woke up and that we could then go home.

He seems much calmer than I expected about the whole situation, but I sometimes have to remind myself that he has come a really long way with all his anxiety and sensory issues in the last year and a half. His sensory issues are really almost non existent at this point except with eating, and even there he is making great progress. He does still have some anxiety about doctors, but it is more of an expected or normal fear for his age. He's pretty amazing to have gone through all he's gone through and still have such a positive outlook.

So on the drive to therapy this morning when he was talking about his surgery, when we were coming to the natural end of the conversation and had said enough to satisfy him, Christian says to me, "Mommy, I am going to try to be brave for my surgery." Talk about heart melting, right? I told him that I thought he could be brave and that everything was going to be okay.

Tonight before bed I am going to tell him that tomorrow is surgery day since we have to get up early and be at the hospital at 7:15. I want him to have time to process everything before we are actually at the hospital. That will leave room tomorrow for questions at the hospital as they come, about what noises he hears and what people he meets.

It's a whole different set of circumstances to deal with this time around now that Christian knows what's going on and can understand what's about to happen to him. It's scary for an adult to have to go through, so I can only imagine his fear. I've never had to calm him from the fears he's dealing with this time around, or explain step by step what a doctor will do to him while he sleeps. Before it was just waking up in pain and not knowing what was happening. Now that he knows, it adds a layer to the situation that is brand new to me. It breaks my heart to know that he is sad and scared, and has a
legitimate reason to be, and that I can't take it away.

I know Christian can be brave, now I just need to be brave with him! I can't wait to have this surgery done and Christian hearing well again! By the time you guys read this, surgery will be over and we will be home and resting.

Thank you for being a part of our journey and lifting us up in prayer during the more difficult days!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Our First Semester of Homeschool

First day of Homeschool Co-op
Look how much they've both grown!

We wrapped up our last day of our home school co-op for the semester this week, and so I wanted to write an update on how our homeschooling was going. I get asked often about it, so I wanted to take the time to write out a little more detailed update everyone!

First and foremost, I am extremely pleased with how our first semester of homeschool has gone. It all started out a little rough, and has ended up looking nothing like what I expected, but I think the beauty of homeschool is that it has ended up looking like exactly what my kids have needed. 

I started the year with a plan in mind, (I would hope any teacher would lol) and that plan included lots of working through a reading curriculum with Christian. I have a great reading curriculum for braille, and I just knew that if we could get through that, Christian would be set. 

Well, that didn't work out, exactly. Christian was inattentive and not progressing with it. It was a struggle to get him to pay attention, to answer questions, and really, to get anything out of the lesson. I knew we were just struggling through it with little return, wasting our time really. So, I turned to my home school co-op moms and asked for advice. They were full of great suggestions and helped me refocus my goals. When I did that, everything shifted.

I began focusing less on the 'book work" and more on experiences. If I had to describe my style of teaching, I would describe it as learning through play. We have taken a ton of field trips, to airports and fire stations and the like, which the boys have loved. We visited Indiana and went fishing. We visited the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. We visited Orlando, Florida and played on the beach. We have visited Little Rock, Arkansas. We watched a total solar eclipse right in our own home town! We have taken friends to explore Nashville. We have done radio and tv interviews (job skills anyone!?) We have swam, taken soccer lessons, played at the park, gone on hikes and found waterfalls, played in the creek and The boys have had TONS of experiences!

We have done lots of reading and some pre-writing, but instead of making it book work, I took a different approach and made it play. We have attended our home school co-op every week as well, where Chandler has learned about letters, done math and sensory games, read books, sang songs, played, and learned how to socialize. Christian has taken a creative writing class where he has learned about sentence structure and developed ideas about how to write. He has also done a US geography class and knows most of the states and capitols at this point. His lego class helped him work on team work skills, listening, fine motor skills, and engineering skills as he has had to figure out how to solve problems by building things. They have both also done a praise and worship class, learned several verses of the bible by memory, the books of the new testament, and are singing lots of songs praising Jesus.

Christian continues to take karate every week and we also added violin lessons last month. We visit the library often and chose books to read. We have read several dozen books this semester, as well. We have created art, sang songs, and learned so much!

As far as what specific gains have been made, I thought I'd list a few. I will be excited to look back on this in a few years and see how much further the boys have some! Christian is almost reading the entire braille alphabet now with proficiency! He actually loves reading braille! Chandler is starting to write letters and can sight read a few words!

Chandler is building with legos now and is able to set up and build scenes from his favorite movies and shows, and loves to pretend with them. Christian is really into technology right now, and we have read a few books on different technology and how it works. I hope to begin working with him on accessibility with his iPad next semester.

Beach bums!
I have spent a lot of time this semester on independence and responsibility with both boys as well. Both boys are now able to completely undress and help about 50% with dressing. That's a huge improvement from the summer. Christian can put his shoes on by himself, and both boys can put dirty clothes in the hamper, put shoes, hats, and jackets where they go when we return home from a trip, and help me clean up like pros. They also help me feed the animals at home each evening, and sometimes help me cook meals. There are so many tiny gains that I couldn't possibly name them all! Chandler has learned to order for himself at a restaurant. Christian is blowing through goals at his therapies. In speech, I just got a progress note today that he met 3 or his 6 current goals, which she said is amazing, and that she is now adding new goals, which just means progress! In occupational therapy, he has learned how to button and snap clothing, and is doing amazing with sorting objects and learning same and different. These are things he struggled with not long ago, and now he is doing them with ease. In feeding therapy, Christian is now tasting any food we offer, taking bites of yogurt any time, and holding foods in his lips and teeth. We are now working on helping him learn to hold foods in his cheek, and I truly believe he will be eating foods in 2018!!!

As for science, we did a big unit study on the solar system, and both boys can tell you just about anything you would need to know about it! I hope to do a study on the human body and on bees next semester! They literally know more about it than some adults. That is mostly because they were so interested in it. They were just hungry for the knowledge and I fed it to them!

With math, Christian can add and subtract easily, sort, and is doing well with patterns, getting more

complex as we go. He can count as high as I will let him with little help, and can count objects up to at least a 100, but I haven't tried to see if he can count objects any higher lol. Chandler is doing well with simple patterns and can read all his numbers 1-10. He can count well and can count items at least up to 20. Concepts like large small, big little, more less, greater fewer, etc are all mastered concepts for both boys!

Socially, Christian has really come out of his shell this year. He can now hold conversations and enjoys doing it! We were sitting at the car wash this week and he said hi to every person who came in and asked how they were doing. He loves meeting new people, greeting others, and telling them about himself. You should have seen him at our book signing last weekend! He was greeting everyone and having a blast talking to others. As for other kids, he loves having friends, and he couldn't ask for better ones in our co-op. These friends love Christian and treat him like another kid in their co-op, but also know that he needs some special help! A few weeks ago, a group of his friends were actually arguing over who was going to help walk Christian to his class! They love helping Christian. They understand his needs on a factual level, and know him on a personal one. Christian has come to understand, in the best way possible, I believe, that he has some differences, but that he is not different. It's a beautiful thing, really, to watch him coming into this understanding, because his confidence still shines through, and I think, even brighter. I was so scared of that, of how it would come about, of the pain that could be attached to it. But there isn't any pain attached, and in fact, if you ask Christian, he will tell you his eyes are special, and he is just like everyone else. I am so proud!

Chandler has really grown up this semester. He really is a little boy now and not my baby. He is also my helper. He helps me mama Christian, even when I don't want him to. haha! He helps me around the house a lot and just helps me keep an eye on that cheeky brother of his, while still remaining mischievous himself. He loves helping.

One thing that I LOVE about this semester is that both boys are really starting to understand some character traits that I hope to instill in them. They are beginning to understand caring about one another, empathy, compassion, generosity. They are beginning to understand more about who God is and who Jesus is! We have learned a mantra this year "Do not fear, God is near" to help the boys when they are scared or nervous, and Christian told his daddy the other night to not fear because God was near. These are things we have really focused on this year. If my boys never do anything else in life, I want them to know Jesus and love others. I think that is our highest human calling, so that is where I am really trying to drive it home. I have slacked in the past with the excuse that they were just too little.

The boys are just doing fantastic, really. They absolutely LOVE learning. While I was folding laundry this evening, Christian wanted to talk about the states and their capitals! We spent about half an hour playing a quiz game where I told him a state and he tried to remember its capital. He did really well! (He knew more than his daddy did heehee!) We just play all. the. time! Everything is play, and all play is useful for learning!

I could probably write for the next hour about all the gains we have made this semester, but I won't keep you here all day. :) I hope this does give you a good idea of how successful this school year has been so far and how happy I am with everything! I am so glad we made the choice to homeschool. Not only have the boys done amazing, but I have learned and grown so much myself! <3
Lake Life
Captain Chan

I will treasure these days with my boys forever! <3

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Surgery Number 8 - Coming Up

Yep! You read that title correctly. We have surgery number eight scheduled. I wanted to go ahead and let everyone know what is going on and ask y'all to begin praying for my C.

We are having a minor procedure, thankfully, on January 4th to place Christian's fourth set of ear tubes. This time, we will also be having Christian's adenoids removed.

This all sort of started when he fell and broke his nose. A blessing in disguise maybe? Christian was obviously concussed from his injury, along with the broken nose, as evidenced by the fact that he began vomiting once we reached the emergency room that evening. That warranted a CAT Scan to make sure there was no bleeding on his brain or anything else of concern. Thankfully, the scan showed no signs of serious injury except for the fractures on his nose. However, the fluid build up in his sinus cavity was so notable that the radiologist who read his scans made note of it. I wasn't aware that there was so  much build up. All I can go by is how much drainage there is, and I have honestly probably become a little too accustom to seeing some amount of drainage that either there was no evidence or I just missed how much sinus issue was actually going on with Christian.

So, at the ER, the attending physician read the radiology report to us and noted "otitis media of the right ear." He sort of laughed, as if to brush it off, saying "I've never seen anyone diagnose an ear infection by cat scan." I bet he hadn't. Most of the time, it's so obvious that a cat scan isn't needed, I suppose. The scan also noted fluid in Christian's mastoids, which are pockets behind the ear that are not supposed to have fluid in them. That is not something that can be detected with a visual exam, and no doctor in their right mind is going to expose a child to radiation to check for an ear infection. Christians ears actually checked out clear by visual exam that evening. There was no sign of an ear infection to those of us looking at Christian. The only way any of us could realize there was an issue would have been that scan or Christian telling us. Bless his heart, I suppose that he is so used to living with just...snot... all the time, that he didn't think anything of it. He is certainly one to tell me if he isn't feeling well, and he hadn't said a word. This is just life for him, unfortunately.

Christian has dealt with chronic ear infections, sinus infections, and rhinitis for most of his life. He has been on allergy medications since he was old enough to be on them, I do every homeopathic treatment I can do for him, and still, the sinuses never really go away. They are better at times, but in the winter, it's pretty much constant sinus drainage and a few infections thrown in that require antibiotics. Besides two allergy medications, Christian also gets local honey, a probiotic, vitamin C, D, and magnesium, and extra water in his tube daily. He gets an extremely healthy diet full of fruits and veggies, low in carbs and red meat. I also run a cool mist humidifier by his bed every night and use essential oils on him like they're going out of style. We have done allergy testing which provided no helpful information except that he isn't allergic to anything, and we have trialed ever allergy medication that he can try to see if any would be helpful. And yet, the sinuses persist.

Being on antibiotics often is just not a productive way to do things. Christian has had c diff before and we do NOT want to relive that. Christian just can't go back and forth to antibiotics every few months. It stops the issues temporarily but never truly gets to the root of the issue to solve it.

We've had three sets of tubes already, so I know from experience that ear tubes provide a lot of relief from ear infections for Christian. Allowing the fluid to just drain instead of build up means that Christian rarely ever gets an ear infection when he as tubes in. They pretty much become non existent, which means antibiotics become non existent in his system.

Right now, he has been without tubes for about a year, purposefully. There is always a balance to be had. Prolonged use of ear tubes ca cause damage to the ear drum. Christian's hearing is his link to the world, so it's vitally important that we protect it aggressively. So, we have to balance the damage that can be done by having ear tubes with the damage that can be done by having constant fluid build up behind his ear drums. His ENT and I agreed to remove Christian's tubes last year and see how he did. He'd had t tubes, which are a longer lasting tube than the typical one year expectancy, and done extremely well with them. He had went over a year without a an ear infections and his sinuses were fairly under control. So, we removed the tubes in hopes that his chronic ear infections would be done now that he was older, as is the case sometimes with kids. And he did great! Until he didn't.

Christian's sinuses have flared back up recently, for reasons we can't figure out, and we are on ear infection number two in a matter of a little over a month. *sigh*

So here we are scheduling another ear tube placement. His ENT also recommended that we remove Christian's adenoids this time around as well. He said that in 80% of patients, it helps with sinuses and allergy type stuff. The reasoning is because bacteria can get trapped in the adenoids and just hang out there, causing reoccurring problems.

The ENT assures me that this is a fairly simple procedure and that Christian should be back up and bouncing quickly. However, I know that no procedure is ever routine when it's my child involved.

The ENT and I definitely discussed Christian's unusual anatomy. We think it's mostly to blame for his chronic sinus issues, and there is little to be done about that. But also, being the helicopter mom that I am (lol) I did discuss with the ENT the prospect that he would get inside Christian's mouth to remove his adenoids and find that his anatomy made it too challenging or risky. I made sure he knew that I would not be okay with him continuing ahead and taking any risks that were not feasible for the end result, which we hope is less sinuses. However nice dealing with less sinus issues would be, it's certainly not worth taking risks on harming Christian's internal anatomy or causing more surgery to be needed. That's honestly my biggest concern, and it's a concern of the ENT, as well. That, and the fact that Christian will have to have IV anesthesia.

There just aren't too many routine things that are routine when it comes to Christian. I am confident in our ENT's abilities and care for Christian (otherwise we wouldn't be seeing him), but I am always nervous about surgery.

I am not planning on telling Christian until after Christmas. I decided that his probably reaction to learning that he has to have surgery will be to be stressed and anxious about it until it's over. So rather than having him stressed and anxious for the next month, I am going to let him enjoy Christmas and begin preparing him, maybe a week, or less, in advance.

So, between now and then, please be in prayer for Christian, his doctors, and this procedure. Please specifically pray that the adenoid removal procedure will be easy and smooth and without complication for Christian.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Am A Self Proclaimed Helicopter Mom

Spend about three seconds on the internet and you will find someone who is offended about the way you raise your kids. They will probably be strangers who don't know you, your situation, or your kids, but they will surprisingly have all the answers to your life. 😒

I've read a few articles about helicopter moms and how this is such a terrible thing. It creates fragile kids who are dependent on others, etc. etc. I've pretty much heard it all in that respect, and while I don't take it personally because hey, I realize these folks don't know me or my situation so they really can't say what is the best way to raise my kids, I will be the first one to admit that I am a helicopter mom. I'm not ashamed of that fact, nor do I think it's making my kids into terrible people. I don't think that parents who are the opposite are doing anything wrong either, by not raising their kids how I raise mine. I think they are probably just doing what they think is best to raise their kids, just like me.

I have always been protective of Christian. Him being my first born, I don't have any other experience to reference. I have no idea what it's like to be a mom to only a "typical" child. I learned how to be a parent with Christian. So, maybe my perception is a little skewed, or at least, not what most people experience. We are all shaped by our experiences and use those experiences to shape our decisions about the world. And these are mine. 

My first moments as a parent were spent sending my child off to a NICU where I wouldn't see him
again for about eight hours. My first week as a mother was spend making trips to a NICU room where my baby was being monitored 24/7 by medical professionals, many of whom were trying to figure out what to do with him, while I was simultaneously trying to figure out what do to with him. 

The next three months of my first parenting experience were spent in that NICU and then back and forth to that hospital three to six times a week, every single week, watching my child go through procedures and surgeries at an alarming rate. When Christian was three months old, I watched him come out of a surgery and I wasn't sure he was going to make it through. I sat in a hospital and prepared myself for him die, however prepared one can be for something like that.

Things have definitely calmed down since then, but you can't just walk away from that the same as when you started. I didn't walk away from it unscathed. I have scars left from healed wounds, and while the wounds are healed, the scars will always be there. 

From those first few months as a parent to now, I have fought for Christian against insurance companies, doctors, and SSI. We have spent, rough estimate here, around 1000 hours in therapies in Christian's life helping him make gains and grow in ways that he might not otherwise be able to grow. 

For Christian's entire life, I have dealt with push back from people who have no issue telling me point blank that Christian should've been aborted, that he's a monster, or that he doesn't deserve the same rights and privileges as other kids who aren't disabled. I have had to hear people say disgusting and awful things about him, for no other reason than that he doesn't look like them. 

For Christian's entire life, I have needed to protect him, to fight for him. I have been forced to be on high alert at all times. You just never know when the next hit will happen or where it will come from. There is an extra layer to special needs parenting that I struggle to even describe. Parenting is basically the most stressful job in the world, except for maybe a shark wrestler. 😂 When you become a special needs parent, you take on this weight and responsibility to the extreme. It is extremely heavy, ever shifting, and always worth it. 

Imagine this. You sign up to play on a soccer league. Soccer looks fun. You might make some new friends, learn some new skills. It's gonna be great! Then you show up to the first practice, and while the coach is telling you this is soccer, all you can see are footballs and baseball bats. Confused, you wonder how you are going to play soccer with footballs and baseball bats, but you try anyways because, hey, you signed up. The coach never clearly or directly answers a single question you have. Everything in this game is relative and up to interpretation. Suddenly, the coach throws in all these crazy rules that you've never heard. On Tuesdays you have to be blind folded when you play. When it's sunny outside, you have to guess the score correctly ahead of time or you automatically lose. Every fifth game is played in reverse. You are confused because nothing makes much sense, none of this is like you expected, and you wonder if you will ever get the hang of this game. 

Meanwhile, all your teammates are playing soccer, the soccer you thought you were signing up for, and they are totally oblivious to the fact that you aren't playing the same game they are. They are enjoying the game and playing by the rules you thought you knew. Finally, though, you figure out how to play this strange game. You learn the rules and you actually get good at it. Occasionally, a rule changes, just to keep you on your toes, and you have to learn to adjust, but you always manage. You actually begin to learn to enjoy the game you get to play. You might even become an expert at the game and teach others play, too. It's never not stressful, trying to play this game, because the game is hard, but you learn how to manage that, too. 

Being a helicopter mom isn't something I chose lightly or decided on a whim. It is something that has
been developed in me over years of stressful situations that were out of my control. It developed through trial and error, realizing that anything else created results that were not good for my boys. Being a helicopter mom doesn't mean that I never allow my kids to learn by trial and error. My kids insist on learning by trial and error a lot. They refuse to listen to me on some things, and just won't stop until they figure out, sometimes painfully. Being a helicopter mom doesn't mean I never let them get dirty. We smear cupcakes in my kitchen every Christmas just for fun. We love dirt. I encourage mud puddles and messes with my kids. It doesn't mean that I don't allow my boys to experience life and protect them from every little scenario. 

In the ER with a freshly broken nose
But I hover. I totally hover. I have to. And I make no apologies for it. Christian's safety just won't allow any different. Shall we even recall the broken nose he just got two and a half weeks ago when I left him alone in the kitchen for three minutes and he managed to fell down our steps in our bedroom? The same steps we have practiced navigating multiple times. The same steps I have asked him not to go up and down unless I'm with him. When you can't see the steps in front of you or the ditch up ahead, every step is dangerous. I have to hover so that Christian can walk safely. I choose to hover so that we have fewer injuries and accidents, although I still can't prevent all. I wish I could! 
 I hover so that when someone approaches us in public and says something about Christian, I can intervene quickly and help Christian deal with it in a way that won't leave him damaged. When a child runs up and says "What's wrong with his eyes?!" I can turn it into something positive and help Christian walk away from the situation happy and confident in who he is. To some, I'm sure I look crazy, keeping such a close grip, if you will, on Christian, but until they have lived what I live and raise the child I am raising, I just don't let that bother me. 

I'm just going to keep looking crazy, I guess, because I am going to continue doing what's best for Christian. So, call me crazy! I'm THAT mom. I am the helicopter mom and I am not afraid to admit it. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why Having A Special Needs Child Changes Your Outlook on Having More Children

I posted this week on Facebook about how I have seen soooooo many pregnancy announcements recently. I joked that my uterus was crying, but that I knew it wasn't happening for me, at least not any time soon. That post got lots of comments. For some reason, you guys get all excited at the thought of my having more kids. lol! I guess it's because you love the ones I already have so much! 😍

I had a few people ask why I said it was not in the cards for me to have more kids and it really got me thinking. I know in my heart of hearts that another child is just not a good fit for our family right now, and I also know in my heart of hearts that I long for more children. It's a weird feeling.

Having a child with special needs complicates a lot of things. I wouldn't trade all the uncomplicated-ness in the world for my C, and y'all know that, but the fact is, disabilities can and most often do throw a wrench in our best laid plans. We have adapted and made new paths and kept moving forward, but there is an aspect of letting go of the "what-if's" and "could've been's" that I'm just not very good at.

The most obvious consideration in having more children is the glaring probability that another child would have special needs. When I found out I was pregnant with Chandler, I was immediately excited, but almost as quickly came the realization that this child could have Christian's condition, or something entirely different but equally complicated.  "And then what will I do?" are the exact words I asked myself.

I never answered that question. I still haven't. I've been too afraid to answer it. Maybe I'm afraid of  what the answer would be, as well. When I got pregnant with Chandler, I set that question to the back of my mind, tried to forget it, but knew I had to hang on until we knew. I wasn't going to even attempt to answer the question unless I knew I had to. Imagine my relief when we saw Chandler's beautiful lenses of his eyes on ultrasound for the first time. I remember it specifically. We had the same ultrasound tech for both my boys, so she was extra kind to show us extra images on the screen and do much reassuring for us. She was so awesome that I wrote about her in Through the Eyes of Hope. I will never forget that moment. That moment of truth. I held my breath. Holding in my panic and relief until I knew which one to let go and which one would be appropriate to feel.

My fear of having another child with a special need didn't come from being scared of a disability. I'm
not scared of that at all. It came from a second consideration I have to make when thinking about the prospect of more children. "Am I going to be enough?"

I'm a good mom. I'm not a perfect mom. I'm certainly not the best mom there is and I'm sure I have plenty of room for improvement. But, I would call myself a good mom. My kids are well loved, have all their needs met and some of their wants, and I would lay down my life for either of them without a second thought. But, I still, and probably always will, struggle with wondering if I am doing enough, being enough, for them.

My kids are high maintenance. They ask a lot from me. I know that's what kids do, but I have found that among my friends and acquaintances, my kids seem to require more and for longer than most kids do. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just a fact. While everyone else at the cookout is socializing while their kids run around and play together in the back yard, I'm off alone with my kids keeping them from running out into the road or off into the woods by themselves. I'm keeping them from opening the pool gate and jumping in. I'm giving tube feeds and guiding Christian to the restroom every 30 minutes. I'm showing Chandler the boundaries of how far he is allowed to wander and explaining why he can't chase the strange dog and grab it's face. I'm telling Christian about everything he hears, because he always wants to know what he is hearing, and I am his eyes. I am helping him touch things in a safe way so that he can learn about them, because his little six year old curiosity causes him to be interested in everything and afraid of nothing.

I joke that my kids are in this phase where they constantly and relentlessly just try to kill themselves. Need I mention the broken nose escapade that went down less than two weeks ago from yours truly, Mr. Christian? Swinging on our baby gate, fell down the steps, double fracture, hugely swollen nose, and so much bruising I thought someone was going to call CPS on me. I joke, but the reality is, it is kind of true, and it's really not a phase, but rather a way of life for them. I have saved them both from certain death more times than I could even guess in their short lives. While I will, of course, continue to keep them from harm, it is an exhausting job. I don't get to rest or relax often. Maybe an hour a week, and my sleep is never sound. I am up a minimum of 3 or 4 times a night still, and that's a good night.

Christian is also very dependent still. I know it sounds crazy that I notice things like this, but I can't help it. I have friends who have said to their 4 year old "Go put your pajamas on." I was taken by surprise and noticed this because that is certainly not something I am able to do with my boys, either of them. Neither of them can dress themselves without a lot of help, let alone open a draw and choose pajamas. Yes, we work on it. Christian is in therapy every week learning to dress himself. He's had goals of dressing himself for years now. It just takes him longer to do things. So, when someone is able to allow their four year old such independence that my six year old still doesn't have, I take notice. I am in no hurry to get to that point with my boys. I certainly don't want to rush their childhood, because I know one day will be the last time they need me to dress them, and I am not quite ready for that. But, it does beg the question: How much more capable would I be of handling another child if my children were more independent? The answer is "much."

So, the reality that I have to look at is, if I added another child to the mix, would Christian and Chandler continue to get the care they need? I don't mean that I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep them fed. I think I can handle that part. lol! But their emotional, social and cognitive/developmental needs.

Right now, there isn't enough time in the day to sit them in my lap and read all the stories they want me to read. There isn't enough time to get in the floor and play with them as much as they want. There isn't enough time to talk to them as much as they want or answer all their little questions about the world. Christian has 5 appointments every week right now between therapies and karate, and we are about to add violin lessons to the mix. Chandler is not far off from being at an age where he will want to do activities of his own as well.

Throw homeschooling in the mix, which is sort of forced on us (the other option is having a less than appropriate and adequate education, and that isn't happening), and I'm just not sure how much more I stretch 24 hours, or how much less sleep I can go on. I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water most days as it is, and I always end my day feeling like I didn't accomplish enough.

Finances is another big issue to consider. Because of Christian's needs, and because we have to home school, the best choice for our family has been for me to stay home with the boys. Knowing that Christian is being properly cared for (and Chandler, too) trumps any amount of money I could make. While I am so, so thankful that we are able to be a single income family, living paycheck to paycheck has it's drawbacks. Surprising, I know. lol! It's difficult for me, also, knowing that I have a law degree and that I can't really put it to much use right now. I would love to start a full time legal career right now, but the reality is, I want more to be with my boys and raise them. One day they will be grown, but my law degree will still be around. I can work until I die, but I only get a few years of being their mama while they are little. So, I am thankful that I am the one who gets to be with them all day, and I never get tired of them or feel like I just need to get away really. (Although I do feel like I wish they'd go to sleep before 10pm lol.) Even though it makes finances more of a challenge and it causes me to have to be creative in making it stretch, I don't mind. But it is a factor to consider, and really, a big one. Could our finances stretch even further to accommodate another child? I'm not sure they could.

I'm not ruling out the possibility of more kids completely, but as of right now, it's just not feasible. My plate is full, although so is my heart, and I don't want to drop that plate because I've piled too much on it. My boys are my life, my reason for living and breathing. The thought of adding another sweet baby to the mix to love and nurture makes my heart fill full, but then reality is always close behind reminding me that another child is just incomprehensible right now.

Maybe one day, or maybe not. But for now, I am thankful that God saw fit to give me the two boys I have. He knew
what he was doing when he chose Christian and Chandler for me. <3