Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallelujah Carnival 2009

took the boys to our church's annual Hallelujah Carnival. Caleb was Superman this year. We tried to use his wheelchair as part of his costume again this year (here is last year). I think it came out pretty good. I wasn't sure what to do with Benjamin so I figured he would make a good Lex Luthor since he is practically bald. So we used a green glow stick and called it kryptonite. It was a lot of fun. We are exhausted and thankful for the extra hour of sleep we get tonight!

Pumpkin Carving

We carved a pumpkin today, here are some pictures:
The pumpkin before...

Caleb helping daddy cut the top off.

Caleb pulling the top off.

Cleaning the inside of the pumpkin out. Caleb just stuck his hand right in and went to work.

Our masterpiece!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caleb's Story

In the summer of 2004, Glenn and I decided it was time to start a family.  I had actually been ready for a baby for some time but Glenn wasn't quite there yet.  I was thrilled when he said he was finally ready and I immediately made a doctor's appointment, got off the pill, and started taking prenatals.  I was ready!
In December of 2004 I got pregnant!  I remember seeing that faint pink line while standing in my bathroom and I just cried and cried.  Absolute joy.  I took 3 more pregnancy tests just to be sure!  There was no doubt, I was pregnant.

Somewhere around 15 weeks, I went to the doctor to have the blood work done.  I didn't think anything of it, it never occurred to me that something could be wrong.  The blood work came back "concerning" so I was sent to a perinatologist for further testing. I was about 17 weeks pregnant when we found out that Caleb had Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. I remember sitting in this little office with Glenn and the "genetic counselor" came in with this book and she turned to the section on Spina Bifida and read aloud to us. It was such a blur, like everything was happening in slow motion.  The doctor did an ultrasound and showed us the opening in Caleb's spine and how the ventricles in his head were enlarged.  He told us that our son would likely have significant cognitive delays, would not walk, have no quality of life and might not even survive.  And in the next breath, he offered termination.  We were offered termination several times and repeatedly told that we had to make the decision quickly because I was almost halfway through the pregnancy.  Well, that was never an option for us and I quickly switched doctors. I remember that day so well, like it was yesterday. I will never forget March 22, 2005.  I felt like my world was falling apart. I remember sitting on our couch, just sobbing and telling God that I couldn't do this, that is wasn't fair and that I didn't want this for my baby. I was mad at God for about a day and then I realized that I needed Him more than ever and that there was no way I could deal with this without Him. People always say that God never gives us more than we can handle, but I don't think that is true. I think we are often faced with situations or circumstances that we can't deal with, at least not without Him walking beside us and sometimes even carrying us through it.

Caleb was born on August 9th, 2005. I had a scheduled c-section so all the necessary medical professionals 
were ready to meet Caleb's needs. I didn't get to hold him, I only got to see him as they wheeled him by me. There is something so unnatural about that, not getting to touch this life that has been in you for 9 months. Caleb had his back closure and shunt placement when he was only 6 hours old. Poor Glenn had to deal with that pretty much on his own because I was recovering from my c-section and pushing that morphine drip button every chance I could. Caleb was in the NICU for 13 days. Probably the hardest 2 weeks of my life up to that point. Glenn and I would spend 7+ hours a day by his bed, talking to him and holding him. I hated everything about him being in the NICU. I hated feeling like I had to ask permission to hold my own baby. It was a joyous day when we got to bring him home.

This picture was taken right after Caleb was born, this was the very first time I saw him.

This is the opening in Caleb's back. Some babies with Spina Bifida have a sac that covers the opening but Caleb didn't have that. I was so glad that Glenn was there to get this picture, otherwise I never would have known what Caleb's back actually looked like.

This is following Caleb's surgery. You can see how large his head was due to the hydrocephalus so the shunt placement was an absolute necessity.
Caleb's back after surgery.

Caleb's sweet little head after shunt placement. It was amazing how quickly the shunt worked, his head started getting smaller and smaller. Thank God for the man who invented the shunt!

I just think this picture is so sweet.

Finally Home!

So that pretty much sums up the start of Caleb's journey. It is now a 5 year long journey and one that I feel so blessed to be a part of. We have certainly had many ups and downs. Spina Bifida is very complex and it affects so many aspects of Caleb's life, not just his mobility.

Caleb is now 5 years old and he started Kindergarten this fall.  He is doing things we were told he would never do.  He walks with AFO's and a walker.  He also uses a wheelchair because his legs do get tired.  He loves watching NASCAR and Monster Truck videos.  He loves to color and write.  He plays baseball through the Miracle League and he absolutely loves that.  He is a wonderful big brother to Benjamin.

You can't help but smile looking at this boy.  I have days of sadness, times when I feel sad for him.  But then I remind myself that Caleb isn't sad.  He's not unhappy at all.  If he isn't sad, then why in the world should I

 Caleb is absolutely amazing and an inspiration to me. I am in awe of all the things that he has accomplished. He absolutely blows me away and brings me so much joy. I thank God on a daily basis for blessing my life and trusting me and Glenn with Caleb. God must have seen something in me that I didn't see in myself because He knew that I could handle this (with His help of course). God gives me a peace that I wouldn't have otherwise. Our lives would be so different if Caleb didn't have Spina Bifida, I can't even imagine things any other way. I think about all the wonderful people I have met that I wouldn't know if it weren't for Caleb. My life has been touched by so many other moms that share the bond of having a child with SB.  I don't walk this road alone and that makes all the difference.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Patch 2009

We went to the Pumpkin Patch today. This is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. We took about 60 pictures, here are a few of my favorites.

Finally a family picture! I have very few pictures of all of us together so this is a rare treat.

How sweet is this picture? Big brother Caleb giving his little brother a kiss on the head. Precious!

"Hey your my size!" This is baby Andrew (cousin), he is about 6 months old.

Benjamin checking out a mini pumpkin.

Is there anything cuter than this picture? What a great shot of those 2 bottom toothies.

Brothers. I love having 2 boys.

Me and my boys.

So cute. I love Caleb's smile, so genuine.

Caleb would not let go of that little pumpkin, so we had to buy it.

He is so stinkin' cute.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Ribbon Cutting Pictures

Here are some more pictures from the ribbon cutting last week. Would you believe that we haven't been back to this playground since then? Caleb got sick last week and is just now getting better so we haven't seen the light of day in a week and a half. Plus Benjamin got croup earlier this week so it has been good times in the McLelland household! Hopefully we will all be healthy soon so we can enjoy this new playground!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Teething Biscuit

Benjamin has several teeth coming in at one time right now so he constantly has this urge to bite on things. So I gave him his first teething biscuit. He absolutely loved it! I remember Caleb liking them too but I forgot how incredibly messy they are! And these pictures were taken half-way through, he got even messier!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Tonight was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new all-accessible playground. (see these posts: Making a Difference, and Newspaper Article). I was really pleased with how much the city included Caleb and Nathan tonight in the ribbon cutting. They even let Caleb and Nathan cut the ribbon! It was so cute and I was so excited that Caleb got to be a part of this. The new playground is absolutely gorgeous, very bright and colorful. It has ramps that go all the way to the top so that Caleb is able to use his wheelchair all over the play equipment. He and Nathan had more fun just going up and down the ramp, you could here them saying "whee" every time. I am so excited to have such a wonderful playground so close to home. It was such a joy watching Caleb have so much fun, just grinning ear to ear the entire time. I have a feeling that we will be spending a lot of time at this new playground.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Caleb playing

Caleb didn't have school today and Benjamin was taking a long morning nap so it allowed for some one-on-one time with Caleb. Caleb wanted to take his 'little people" for a ride on the train so we set up several locations for them to go to (pumpkin patch, library, planetarium, monster truck show). It was so cute watching him take the train to each location. I don't always get a lot of one-on-one time with him so I enjoyed having some time with him today.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Caleb's first horse show

Caleb "competed" in his first horse show this morning. It was a very relaxed competition, nothing too difficult. Caleb did great and he won 3 trophies! Grandpa Al, Gammy, and Aunt Rachel came to watch him ride. We were so proud of him. He was really excited about the trophies, you could tell that he was proud of himself too. I've already cleared a spot on his dresser so he can proudly display his trophies.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sweet Sleepin' Baby

I just love the way Benjamin sleeps. He sleeps on his hands with his knees up under him. It's so cute, when he wakes up he has red circles on his knees from sleeping on them. He's really snoozing in this pictures, I wish I slept that good!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Spina Bifida Awareness Month

October is Spina Bifida Awareness month and I found a wonderful mom who makes these bracelets. She has a website if any of you are interested in looking at her work, it's really neat.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I'm Crafty!

I made this for a baby shower I went to today. It is a keepsake can with matching photo book. I've made photo books for several years but this was my first time to make the can so I was kinda proud of myself.

Very different babies

Just for fun I thought I would post a picture of Benjamin at 9 months and one of Caleb at the same age. They even have on the same outfit in these pictures (poor Benjamin always gets the hand-me-downs). When Benjamin was an infant I saw a lot of similarities between him and Caleb but I don't see it as much now. It's funny how different they are. Benjamin isn't even 17 pounds yet and Caleb was almost 23 pounds by 9 months! That's a 6 pound difference! Benjamin has 2 bottom teeth with one top tooth barely coming through and Caleb had 6 teeth. Caleb had more hair too. Of course Benjamin is hitting developmental milestones faster than Caleb did. Although they are different boys with different personalities, one thing is certain...they both are cute!
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