Annika and Jadyn had a wonderful half birthday celebration on May 21st. They were surrounded by so many friends and family, and the Lord showed us His favor by not letting it rain so we could have the party at the park as originally planned. We ended up having WAY too much pizza leftover and our kids ate it for nearly a week straight (without complaint, surprisingly). This was Annika's first birthday party and she soaked it up. The girls got a TON of birthday gifts! I'll admit that I couldn't make it through singing "Happy Birthday" to them as I was all choked up and crying from being in amazement that Annika was here in our presence, an orphan no more, and having the time of her life! And thinking about Jadyn, who so selflessly gave up having a party when her birthday came last November so we could finish the adoption process and get her sister home.... here she was...finally getting that much-deserved party and she was all smiles and laughs! My heart was bursting with gratitude and pride!
The end of school was a whirlwind of activities and doctor appointments for our household!
Jadyn finished 3rd grade, Eli and Annika finished 2nd grade and Asher is an official PreK graduate!
Bring on 4th grade, 3rd grade and Kindergarten!
The first day of school is going to be real hard for this momma. Jadyn's last year in elementary and Asher's first year.... no more babies in the nest! If you need me on Aug 15th, you'll find me definitely in the BooHoo/WooHoo room!
AsherA couple weeks ago, we had Asher evaluated for Occupational Therapy. Our zealous Asher has always been that... zealous and full of life... and more. He's also been the one who is quick to become bouncing off the walls and feeding the chaos of small children in a room :), head-butting teachers or soccer coaches (playfully), playfully throwing himself on the ground or draping himself over people of objects, or blurting out noises randomly for fun when he's been quietly engaged in an activity alone. He even got his own personal teacher for his PreK graduation that stood by his side to help him stay on task during the graduation ceremony (Jay and I had a good chuckle about that, but it IS what he needed to get through the ceremony without causing major distraction!) My momma gut has told me for years that there was more going on in his brain besides just being a boy, but I wondered if he'd grow out of it or if we just needed to parent better. Finally, over the last few months, I began exploring different avenues to help us figure out what makes Asher tick. We did bloodwork to make sure it wasn't allergies or ANYTHING the bloodwork would tell us. (That came back normal.) We recently sent off hair samples to have them analyzed to make sure Asher isn't deficient in anything that could be playing a part in his overstimulation and hyperactivity. (We are awaiting the results). And we had him evaluated for Sensory-related Occupational Therapy. Last week, we learned that Asher has Sensory Processing Disorder and has some mild delays in certain areas. I can't tell you what a relief it is to FINALLY put a name to it and to have him in weekly Occupational Therapy (OT), helping him at his level and what he needs to be successful in life. And thankfully, it's only mild. (He won't have to be in OT forever!) He likes going to his weekly sessions and getting to do 'fun' things... all geared to helping his sensory needs! We've also invested in a small trampoline and are learning to do some small things at home, like providing him with a weighted lap blanket to help. Jay and I are still learning what it means to have SPD and what it means for helping Asher, but one thing is for sure, this kiddo is smart and has a bright and successful future ahead of him!
And the medical journey continues with Annika...Heart
We learned a few weeks ago after a routine echocardiogram that Annika has an anomalous origin of her right coronary artery (it's not where it should be). That means that as she gets older, there's a big chance she's going to need open-heart surgery to correct it. (Praise God it is correctable!) After another round of testing and meeting with the cardiologist, Annika was deemed healthy enough to keep being a kid and doing with kids like to do. Our cardiologist said to go ahead and move forward with the ear reconstruction and then we will check on Annika's heart in about a year.
After meeting with several doctors/otolaryngologists about her ear canals, and them meeting with their peers regarding Annika's case, it has been decided that the best and least-risky route would be to leave her ear canals as they are and move forward with ear reconstruction. Annika will continue to go into the doctor's office for routine ear cleanings and routine CTs to monitor her canals over the years. Jay and I both have peace about this after our last otolaryngologist fully examined Annika and reviewed her CTs and MRIs. Annika's case is very unique and Jay and I appreciate that each doctor has been very honest with us with their professional opinion and expertise. We have sought the leading doctors in the United States in this field, so we feel comfortable with moving forward with ears. So, I called our plastic surgeon's office this past Thursday and left a message that we are ready to proceed with the planning of ear reconstruction.
Which brings us to the next complicated step.....based on Annika's anatomy around her ear locations, our plastic surgeon (one of THE leading and top doctors in the microtia reconstruction world) wants to be very careful and thorough with the examining/planning for Annika's new ears. Dr. Lewin wants a special study done of Annika's vascular makeup around where her new ears will be along with an in-office exam. That means we may be making a "quick" trip to California soon to get that office exam in so that we can hopefully move forward with scheduling the first ear surgery. It never occurred to me that it may not even be possible to have ear reconstruction..... if the vascular makeup is not there on either side of her head, no ear reconstruction (whether medpor or rib-grafting) would be able to 'take' if there isn't blood flow to the new ears. We are still learning what exactly Annika needs to have already existing for the ear reconstruction. Please pray that when she does have the study, EVERYTHING she needs to have will be there. As parents, we want the best for our children and our dreams for them and their dreams for themselves... we desire it to be a reality. Will you please pray that Annika will have EVERYTHING she needs to be able to have ear reconstruction? That she'll have the veins for blood flow, the cartilage for building ear lobes, and that her current ear canals will be able to be successfully 'camouflaged' behind her new ears? I broke down today with the thought of WHAT IF Annika isn't able to have ear reconstruction? WHAT IF she has to have a life of prosthetic ears (removed every night)? I dream of her having two beautiful ears on her head... just like you and me.... ears with pretty little earrings in them that she can change out to whatever she wishes to wear that day. Ears that hold her glasses up. Ears that don't come off at night like her glasses do. Ears that she is not self-conscious to show each day when she pulls her hair back into a ponytail.
So much weighing on my mind and heart... so much going on in our family of 6....
Summer school for Annika, swim lessons for Annika and Asher, tutoring for Annika after summer school ends, OT for Asher, VBS fun for all 4 whenever we have the opportunity, and a summer schedule with academic-enriched opportunities for all 4 along with lots of fun adventures in between.
In the midst of it all... I am indescribably thankful that we serve a BIG BIG God Who loves us and His ways are not our ways. We are praying for Annika's ears to become a reality (and hopefully this year when we've already met our deductible), for the finances to be there to pay for those ears and all that it entails (traveling, medical appts, etc), and for the Lord's direction and favor every step of the way.
To God be the glory.....