Sunday, July 27, 2014

Three Months

Our little Cal turned three months old yesterday!  Time is flying in the Hinton household.  We will be soaking up every last bit of the summer and our "free" time the next couple weeks.

Cal is a dream baby.  I know we said that about Elena, but dare I say that Cal may even be more laid back than she was?  He's so funny, sweet, smiley and easy-going.  He's such a champ when Elena and I drag him everywhere to all of her appointments.  Cal has two big dimples that he loves to show off and Mommy loves to see them.  He's full of smiles these days and my (hilarious) jokes are pretty close to securing his first giggle.  He has discovered his hands this month.  He loves to put them together and stare at them like he's not quite sure that they are his.  He is totally into ceiling fans, mirrors and his "Freddy the Firefly".  All around he's just the most precious little thing that we all adore.

Elena loves her little brother.  She loves when we have him give her kisses and hugs.  It automatically makes her giggle.  We often have them laying down next to one another and ask her to look at which she immediately smiles and looks in his direction.  It warms our hearts to know that she understands he's her brother and that she obviously loves the little guy.  It's a best friendship in the making!

July has brought us everything in three's...Elena turned three, I turned 30, and Calvin turned three months....perhaps we should have played the lottery this month with the number 3!

Our handsome little guy!

Sitting together in their Bumbo seats!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Latest Trip to Pittsburgh

Geez, it's been two weeks since our last trip to Pittsburgh and I'm just now getting around to blogging about.  That should give you an idea how crazy it's been!  In the last two weeks, we took the whole family to Pittsburgh and back, celebrated Elena's birthday, had her birthday party, celebrated my 30th birthday and had my birthday party!  It's been a whirlwind...and quite frankly I'm exhausted!

But as usual, we left Pittsburgh encouraged and excited.  It's the most worthwhile 14 hour round trip car ride!  It helped that both kids did great in the car and in the hotel room.  Having a three year old and two month old sleep in one hotel room is not an easy feat, but amazingly all went pretty smoothly.

It is so easy for Chad and me to get wrapped up in Elena's physical disabilities and become discouraged about her capabilities.  Her little body is so rigid and the simplest of tasks are so incredibly difficult for her.  We've known for a long time that her cognitive abilities are far greater than she can communicate, but it took this little trip to Dr. Roman for Chad and me to get that "aha moment".

Elena faces huge challenges with her vision in addition to her aforementioned physical disabilities.  Because of Elena's vision impairments, it is incredibly difficult for her to learn and take in her surroundings.  If you for one minute think about all the information you take in visually, especially as a young child, you can begin to see that Elena will have to learn about her surroundings in totally different ways.  She not only has that barrier but she can't easily communicate either.  What Dr. Roman was able to conclude from our visit, is that Elena HAS the ability to learn.  And that she IS present-minded and understands probably far more than we give her credit for....she just can't communicate that she does.  She reminded us that Elena was born with a perfectly healthy brain, but when it was damaged by her injury, certain parts sustained more damage than others....clearly her motor abilities.  She called it "splintering".  So certain parts were damaged and others very well may be intact.  She believes that Elena's memory and cognitive areas have great capabilities.

It's all very technical and difficult to explain, so I won't even try to describe our two hour session with her.  But, I do want to give you an example of how Dr. Roman could determine this.  She showed Elena very quickly a red pompom and told her what it was and waited until Elena looked at it.  She then did the same with a green slinky.  She stepped back about four feet.  Chad and I immediately looked at one another, both thinking that Dr. Roman was crazy because there was no way Elena could see that far.  She then asked Elena to look at the red pompom, which Elena quickly did!  And then repeated with the green slinky.  She even switched the objects around to different hands and Elena still looked at the specified object when asked!  Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal, but to us it was nothing short of miraculous.  Not only was Elena able to identify objects that were presented to her in a short amount of time, but she was able to do it from a distance and understand the verbal commands.

Dr. Roman was thrilled with Elena's ability to comprehend and believes she has incredible potential.  Chad and I were so disappointed in ourselves that we get so discouraged with Elena because of her physical disabilities, it hadn't even occurred to us to rejoice in her abilities.  Our hope was renewed.  Elena's little body may continue to let her down, but she has such great potential with her mind.  And in many ways, that's so much more meaningful to us.

Once again, we left Pittsburgh with our jaws on the floor.  Dr. Roman is so brilliant.  We feel so fortunate to have her.  She always provides us with a wealth of knowledge and a plan of action to help focus on what Elena can do, not always what she can't do.  Just like anyone else, Elena has strengths and weaknesses.  Our little girl is in there and it's our job to help her find her voice.  I just know that there's so much in there that she's dying to tell us!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

She's THREE!

Three years ago today Chad and I were introduced to our darling baby girl at 11:57am.  She was beautiful.  She was perfect.  She was our Elena Catherine.

The last three years have gone by in the blink of an eye, yet we have lived so much.  When I think back to the day Elena was born, there is no way I ever could have imagined our lives this way.  I had pictured her saying her first words, taking her first steps, sending her off to kindergarten, getting her drivers license, graduating from high school, college, picking out her wedding dress together.  I never envisioned therapy, leg braces, tube feedings, wheelchairs.  I never could have known that day that this would be our future together.

That's life though.  It isn't always what we imagined.  Bad things happen, even to good people.  Even to innocent people.  But just because it isn't the storybook I had conjured up in my head, it's a beautiful life nonetheless.

Today we are celebrating life.  Something so fragile, so fleeting, so taken for granted.  As I've said in the past, birthdays have a different meaning in our house.  It isn't just about presents, parties and cake.  It's about another year of life.  Elena's life.  A life that was so close to being taken from us.  A heart that had stopped.  Breath that had ceased.  We are blessed to celebrate another year of smiles, laughs, love and happiness with our girl.

Elena has the sweetest spirit.  Her giggle is contagious.  She loves music, though she has poor taste (Pandora Toddler Tunes, anyone?!)!    She loves walks, being read to, silly noises, swimming, swinging, songs from Frozen and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She amazes us every day with her resilience and perseverance.  She fills our hearts with pure joy and reminds us of what is truly important in life.  Happy 3rd birthday to our love, our shining light, our Elena.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Two Months

Before I share the latest with our little Cal, I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for all your sweet messages, prayers and encouragement after my last post.  The purpose of this blog is to be a sort of journal for me, but also to share with all of you an honest portrayal of our family's journey.  It isn't all roses and happiness.  It's real life.  It's our life.  If I only blogged about the good things, the positive things, I would be lying.  So I appreciate you reading the good and the bad!  And for not panicking thinking I'm sinking into a deep, dark depression!  I promise I'm ok!  Life is just tough sometimes, we grieve, then it's business as usual.  Even when I'm sad, my little sweet pea Elena always keeps me smiling!

Phew!  Now that I got that out of the way, I can share how my other little sweet pea, Cal is growing!  It's hard to believe he's been in our family for two months.  I can barely remember life without him.  He's started to chill out a bit, which is good news for everyone.  We're finally getting into a good groove with a *mostly* consistent napping routine and only waking me up once at night, which has greatly improved my brain function!  Sleep deprivation is the devil, seriously.

As I mentioned in my last post, Calvin is really starting to smile.  Though, he is really hesitant to give up his "scowl".  Even his doctor commented on it at his two month appointment yesterday!  He is loving his "gym".  He will smile at himself in the mirror and bat at the rings.  It keeps him pretty entertained.  Every now and then, he and Elena will talk to each other.  He will start cooing, Elena will chime in and they'll go back and forth for a bit.  She still laughs any time he sneezes or burps or passes gas.  She loves when we have Cal give her kisses.  Sometimes he's screaming, but she never seems to mind.

As for me, I'm learning to juggle the two of them.  The stressful moments are becoming less frequent but that's not to say it isn't any busier!  These two will keep me on the go for next, oh, forever!  Chad has been great about getting me out of the house and holding down the fort on his own.  This has been really nice and I'm so thankful I can leave him with both without thinking twice.  He's a pro dad! :)

Our little Cal is a growing boy.  He weighed in at nearly 13lbs yesterday and has grown over two inches in two months.  I can hardly wait for chunky baby thighs!  He's doing great and we're loving watching him grow.