The Journey Began 9 Years Ago Today

Sporty turned 9 on the 12th. Missed a birthday post in the midst of our chaos but I did write her a birthday letter in a journal we keep together. But 9 years ago today, Sporty started her casting process to correct her clubfeet, the process that would turn her into the Girl who was made to run. I always like sharing pictures of her feet pre-treatment to her so she knows how far she’s come. I marvel at the skills of Dr Fluffy Unicorn (look he has his own emoji-🦄!!!)that he was able to manipulate those tiny twisted feet into athletic masters made to run. Obviously Sporty has no recollection of her feet and all of that seems like a bad dream many years ago but I like her to see she overcame all of that to be who she is. And I think in many ways, her struggles have made her the kind, accepting, caring girl that she is today.

So 9 years ago today is when the magic all started.

Sporty’s feet pre-treatmentSporty’s feet in her first set of casts. And she’s crying cause she was hungry. She was so incredibly little!

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Things Are A Changing

It seems like life has shifted off of its axis lately. So much has been going on, I barely have time to sit down or clean let alone type up a blog post but we’re en route from a week at Disneyland (and life is so chaotic that this was written 2 weeks ago and just now published!) and heading home to get back into our routine. Sigh. It’s going to be a whole different routine going forward.

I mentioned a whole lot is changing, well that whole lot is a move to the Phoenix area. Papa Bear accepted a new job in Phoenix which will have him starting in January. Sporty, Young Jedi and I will stay back and finish out the school year and then we’ll move this summer when it’s a nice 120 in Arizona. Let’s hear it for corporate movers!

Young Jedi has been struggling lately. He was diagnosed about a month ago with anxiety and PTSD. We’ve had an unfortunate situation in our neighborhood with a mentally ill neighbor whom has created some severe anxiety in Young Jedi. It also brought about some PTSD from 3 years ago when there was an attempted home invasion on our house. We’ve had lots of sleepless nights. I haven’t had a solid night sleep in months and with Papa Bear heading to Arizona during the week soon, I’m afraid I don’t have much sleep in my future. It’s been a really awful time in our family. Watching your child tormented with severe anxiety is one of the most awful things in the world. There was a point where he was afraid to leave the house.

We decided on a Disney trip as our last hurrah before life as we know it changes. What a trip it was. First, this was our first stroller free trip! Seriously amazing! Both kids rallied and walked the whole day. Not a peep from Sporty on sore feet either, my dogs were seriously barking at the end of each day! Second, both kids are finally tall enough for all rides (except for California Screamin’ which Young Jedi was an inch too short for, that was a slight meltdown but we got over it quickly). We did all of the crazy rides, Guardians of the Galaxy, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, these kids love roller coasters and the faster the better! Young Jedi even rode Big Thunder with his hands in the air! Third, Young Jedi realized his lifelong dream and became a student in Jedi Training Academy. And he was awesome. He battled Kylo Ren and was amazing up there! Finally, we saw his anxiety melt away. He’s a kid that lives in a Star Wars fantasy and at Disneyland it all came to real life for him (except the time that we walked out of meeting Kylo Ren and we saw Kylo Ren out in the park battling some other young Jedis. Can we say Disney fail!?! I had to think quick on that one 😬). But overall it was a fantastic trip full of fun, leaving our anxiety behind us, and he did an amazing job dealing with the crowds and commotion despite his Sensory Processing issues.

Sporty is still killing it. We’re taking a break from sports right now until softball starts up. We’ve hit the batting cages a few times over the past month. She tried out to play 10U recreation softball this year and did really well. She was scored in the top 30 out of over 100 girls but because of their strict guidelines for playing up, I’m not sure she’ll get drafted which is a bummer but we’re so proud of her. She’ll play for her summer coach if she doesn’t make the draft which will be great also. Now I have the job of finding her some softball and soccer teams in Arizona. She’s most upset about the move since she’s older and has a pretty strong friend base but I know she’ll come home with 20 new friends her first week of school.

So much going on, hoping to do a better job in posting as 2018 progresses!

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Thankful

Today I am thankful.

Today I am thankful that a year ago we were about a week out from Sporty’s tendon transfer and here we are with two magical feet. Feet that recovered from major surgery quickly enough to allow her to play competitive softball over the summer and feet that allowed her to participate in this year’s All Star Game for soccer. Every year I marvel at her will to keep on running despite set backs and every year I am thankful for Dr Fluffy Unicorn who has given Sporty the best chance at an active life.

I’m thankful for Young Jedi who has struggled for so long. Who was frustrated and down on himself. I’m thankful for a doctor who has helped bring our boy back. Young Jedi has gone from erratic and explosive to sweet and inquisitive and eager to learn all in the past month. A boy who hated learning so intensely has created a desk from himself out of a Lego table and he wakes up each morning eager to write and color and learn as much as he can. 4 months ago I didn’t think we’d be here. I’m thankful for his amazing teacher and school staff who support him and us and challenge and encourage him to be the best version of himself. I’m thankful to see his smile and hear his big belly laughs again. (I’ll be even more thankful when he sleeps through the night!)

I’m thankful for these two and those rare moments where they love each other and are best friends. I’m thankful they realize the support they can give each other which will become increasingly important as we embark on our new adventure in a new city (more on that at another time!). I am thankful for a hard working husband that allows me to stay home and manage the house, advocate for our children and invest in myself.

I am thankful for these ladies. My village. There aren’t enough words to express how lucky I am to have a bunch of real, down to earth, supportive, strong women in my life. My life is truly better because of them.

I am thankful for the 40 minutes I had while my apple pie baked to sit down and blog! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Cheetah Speed Under Construction

#tbt to when Sporty was developing her cheetah speed ​

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Switch Hitter

Sporty checked a softball book out of her school library a few weeks ago. She asked Papa Bear what it meant to be a switch hitter because she was reading about it so he explained it means you can hit lefty or righty. Of course Sporty wanted to become a switch hitter so for fun Papa Bear took Sporty and Young Jedi down to the park for some batting practice on both sides. And by George, she can smack the ball from both sides of the plate!
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Back at It

Sporty signed up for a fall skills clinic. It ended like 2 weeks ago but I’m super behind on life. I was super mom-fail and didn’t get pictures until her last session. To my defense, I forgot my phone during one of them. Seriously, 3 hours phone free…it was both liberating and terrifying at the same time. 

It was a really good clinic, the first hour and a half was skills training, fielding and batting, base running, followed by an hour and a half of scrimmage.   A couple of Sporty’s summer teammates also participated and she made some new softball friends and reconnected with a former teammate from kindergarten.  They split the 3rd and 4th graders into two teams and they scrimmaged each other and the coaches coached them on the plays they made as they were in the scenarios, it was a great way for them to learn how to play strategically.  I love watching these girls in the dugout.  They go from not knowing one another, to cheering for each other and being friends in a matter of weeks.  Softball truly unites them.  (And in case you are wondering, yes, she will be wearing that jersey next time we hit up Disneyland)
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Controversial

Last week we made a controversial and very hard decision.  We decided to start medicating Young Jedi.  I know a lot of people are completely against medicating for ADHD, especially in someone as young as Young Jedi, and we’ll likely be judged, but after Young Jedi gave me a fat lip, plus 2 weeks of struggling at school, and 2 hour temper tantrums almost everyday for weeks (many times multiple times a day), our family couldn’t take much more.  Young Jedi has repeatedly told me that he can’t make friends easily, that he tries so hard to be good and he just can’t.  As a parent, that just breaks your heart.

Last week I happened to have my annual exam with my Dr a few days before Young Jedi was scheduled to see Dr Fix It.  She mistakenly asked me how the kids were doing.  I just let it all out about Young Jedi and his ADHD and we’ve tried everything naturally but I think we needed to start meds and I didn’t want to start meds.  And she looked at me and she said “Momma Bear, why wouldn’t you want to start meds?  He has a neurological disorder, don’t you want to allow him to be himself?”  Soul Sister has been saying the same thing to me for months now, but somehow hearing my Dr say it, it clicked.  There is such a strong stigma about medicating ADHD in children.  I needed to get over that stigma because  I want my son to be the very best version of himself.

I met with Dr Fix It last week at Young Jedi’s appointment for over an hour and we went through all of the buckets that he considers when offering medications to his patients.  Then we built of matrix of Young Jedi’s major symptoms, each of the classifications of medications and picked a non-stimulant medication based on that.

I very nervously and pessimistically started meds last Saturday.  Things haven’t been perfect, he’s had some bad days, we’ve had to adjust dosages, but guess what?  They did work and I fell in love with my son again.  He was the sweet, caring little boy I know he is, all of his best qualities that get overshadowed by his ADHD behavior blossomed and came out again.  He still dresses up, he still pretends to be in Star Wars, he still acts out Power Rangers and he still belts out The Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, and Hard Knock Life at the top of his lungs.  But he’s toned down.  He still punches Sporty for no reason and he has the occasional smartaleck comment, he still got overstimulated on his field trip day but everything was toned down and manageable.  He’s a kid I want to be around again and a kid that I hope will be able to make friends easier, struggle less in school and be able to learn with a clearer mind.

I drove across town with a normal conversation with him, we went food shopping without incident (he forgot his water but didn’t lose his cool when I told him we’d get him a drink at the store, and when I got inline and forgot to grab him a drink he calmly reminded me I promised him a drink), we drove home with him calmly sitting in the back of the car drinking his drink, no incessant talking.  He fell riding a scooter in the cul-de-sac and calmly told me he was ready to go inside because his knee stung.  At Sporty’s softball practice, he sat and practiced writing his letters with little frustration.  He shared his bat at baseball with his teammates, he cheered them on and was positive.  Then when I asked him to put Uno away for bed he replied “Ok Momma, we’ll play another time.”  Later in the week he tripped and fell over Sporty’s softball bag. A week ago this would have sent him into a tailspin of slamming doors, punching Sporty, storming to his room and slamming the door and packing his bag to leave our family. This week he calmly stated “Sporty, maybe you should find a different place for your bag.”  All of these are things that would have been full blown battles and negotiations a week ago.  Things that could have sent him into def-con 10 which leads to 2 hour meltdowns.   Things that for 3 years we’ve tried to tip-toe around and walk on eggshells to avoid.  But this week, he (mostly) handled them rationally and calmly.  At night he’s told me that he can finally behave, that his brain is less crazy, that he can think better.  Such self awareness for a 5 year old.

I’ve had to make hard decisions as a parent; operate on Sporty’s feet, medicate Young Jedi’s ADHD.  Hard, hard decisions.  Decisions I don’t want to make.  Decisions I never thought going into parenthood that I would have to consider.  Decisions I can almost will away.  Decisions, I wish I could climb back into bed and quit my adulting duties until they went away.  But I can’t because I am the voice for my children, because if I don’t fight for them, who will?  I can only hope that I’m doing the right thing by him.  I lay awake at night wishing I had a crystal ball to tell me what the future holds, for both kids’ special needs.  All I know is that his sparkle is back.  Instead of correcting him, I have spent the last week complimenting him, seeing him feel proud again, to build his confidence back.  He’s lovable, he’s rationale, he’s kind again.  And for right now, that’s enough.  That’s a decision that I can live with because I just want him to be the very best version of himself.

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Nailed It!

I don’t know why but I was super worked up about Sporty’s orthopedic surgeon appointment today.  It’s been a while since we’ve been there, we’ve melted an AFO on the softball field and started soccer since we’ve seen him and things change so quickly with her feet that I was a bit nervous.  Plus she’s been having some limb fatigue (especially in her right foot which is the recently operated foot) when running hills at soccer practice so I was concerned there was something going on.  So here’s what we learned:

A) When your favorite office administrator is off but she sees you’re on the schedule and she writes a note to Sporty in her chart to say hi and to instruct her to get a lollipop, you know these are more than just Drs.

B) When the nurse and Dr Fluffy Unicorn walk in and cheer “Yay!  The Sporty family is here!” you know you’ve found a place that truly cares about your child’s well being, beyond charts and patient numbers, they truly care about your child.

C) When the Dr laughs and cheers because your kid melted her AFO WHILE on the softball field and tells her to keep it up (toss the AFO because who needs it anyway) and never quit, to get that softball scholarship and then go on to become an orthopedic surgeon, you know he sees her big dreams and builds her up to achieve them.  You realize the village stretches farther than you can ever imagine

D) When the Dr talks to the child about what’s going on, not you, the parent, about the pain she’s feeling when running hills and tells her to try to push herself to try to work through the pain but without injury and she responds back and they have an adult conversation, you know there is mutual respect.  You feel grateful that the adult is allowing the child to have a voice in their own care.  You know that 9 years ago when you chose a Dr, you chose right.

E)  When the Dr asks Sporty about her “cheetah speed” you realize again that she’s not just another patient but that he gets what makes Sporty tick.

F)  When the Dr tells mom to not worry about the tightness because that’s what gives her the cheetah speed and it’s not inhibiting her and in fact one of his old patients just got a scholarship for UCLA and one is going to med school at UCSD, you try to set the worry aside and enjoy the moment.

G) When the Dr tells you not to come back until the summer you don’t know whether to jump for joy, cry tears of joy that we’re past our last hump, or be nervous because we’ve never, ever, in the history of Sporty, gone that long (10 months) between appointments!

Today was a very good appointment.  We haven’t had one of these in a long, long time.  Today I breath a really big sigh of relief.  It could all change very quickly because that’s what these clubfeet do, but today we’re celebrating and we’re optimistic for the first time in a really long time!  Today we feel like we’re truly beating clubfeet.

We were so wrapped up in the viewing of Despicable Me in the waiting room and the good news that we forgot a picture at Dr Fluffy Unicorn’s office!  But here’s Sporty and her two awesome feet, complete with Giant’s orange nail polish.

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And here’s hopefully our last AFO, I won’t be throwing it away, because I’m too sentimental for that but I won’t mind pushing it to the back of the closet cause we’ve got soccer and softball (and running club starts tomorrow) to focus on these days!

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About This Time 9 Years Ago…

9 years ago this month we found out via ultrasound that Sporty would be born with clubfeet. I can’t look at pictures like this, of Sporty completely in her element and not think about those tense moments 9 years ago when we found out our girl would be born “less than perfect.” I clearly remember hearing the Dr tell us she would have birth defects (a word I still have trouble accepting) that had them concerned, I remember the amino needle pulling amniotic fluid to test for other possible birth defects, I remember being told that she would barely walk let alone compete, and yet here we are, 9 years later, with Sporty thriving on whatever field she runs onto.

I’ve learned in the 9 years since her diagnosis that “perfect” has different meanings, that life hands you hardship sometimes but the most beautiful lessons lay in those hardships; that nothing can ever predict the power of the human spirit; that where there’s passion and drive, there is success; and that the most valuable lessons about heroism, bravery and persistence can be packed into 50lbs of 8 year old girl.

I look at photos like these and I can’t help but marvel at how far she’s come and how far she’ll continue to go. I look at photos like this and can’t help but feel gratitude not only for Dr Fluffy Unicorn but for Sporty’s spirit and persistence. I can’t help but feel thankful for a girl who was made to run.

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Runs in the Family

Young Jedi was NOT a fan of soccer last year but we told him he had to do an activity so he chose baseball. Fortunately our city Little League runs a fall ball program for his age so we signed him up and he had his first practice last night. He had some anxiety heading to practice. I’ve learned with him that when he says he doesn’t want to do something or go somewhere and it’s stupid it’s because he has anxiety about it. We talked it over how it’s normal to be nervous since it was a new team and we didn’t know anyone but it’s ok because it’s supposed to be fun and Sporty and I were there. Well he stepped up and did great. He threw well, batted well, LISTENED to his coach well. I had sent his coach an email with a heads up about Young Jedi’s ADHD and his response was very positive. Sporty gave Young Jedi’s baseball performance two thumbs up!

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