Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Shelby was the baby Jesus at our church's Christmas Eve service last night. All the children that come get to choose whether they want to be a shepherd, magi, or angel and take part in the service. Harding made a pretty cute king with the crown falling down onto his neck. He couldn't stand to be so far away from the "holy family" when we walked in with Shelby, so he inched his way over when everyone was singing "Away In a Manger" and stood on the stage with us. It was perfect and we made a great holiday memory. More pictures to come soon. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shelby's Vision

First I want to say that yesterday during PT, Shelby tracked Beth's face with just her eyes for the first time!! This is a really big deal for two reasons. 1) The face is very complicated to look at and Shelby usually tracks solid, shiny or light-up things, and 2) This is the first time she has tracked while moving her eyes only and not her head. Beth and I actually teared was so exciting!

Our ophthalmologist appointment was this morning with Dr. Bashinsky. First, they did a functional visual assessment to get an estimate of Shelby's vision. The ortho-optist held up different cards with a black and white pattern on them that got smaller with each card. She determined that Shelby's vision is roughly 20/360 (which is better than we expected). This is only an estimate because Shelby obviously can't talk and tell us what she is seeing and how she sees things (but, oh how I wish she could). Anyway, to give everyone a reference, legally blind is 20/200 vision or worse. But we have already seen significant improvement with Shelby's vision and are expecting that to continue. Hopefully one day, she won't be considered legally blind.

Dr. Bashinsky then dilated Shelby's eyes to look at her optic nerves. The optic nerves looked the same as it did 3 months ago and Dr. Bashinsky doesn't expect there to be any more damage. A couple other things: Shelby is still far-sighted, has a nystagmus (the eyes sometimes dance around), and strabismus (slightly crossed eyes). At around a year of age, we may look at some patching of Shelby's right eye to strengthen the left. Also, if she is still measuring far-sighted at that time, she'll get glasses to help with that. And the doctor may consider surgery to correct the strabismus when Shelby is two years old if she thinks that will help her vision at that time.

Overall, we're pretty happy about the results of this appointment. We know she is seeing things and that her vision will keep getting better!

Shelby and Beth doing some PT!

Shelby tracking Beth's face

Shelby and Daddy at the Ophthalmologist's

Monday, December 21, 2009

Neurologist appt. and EEG

We went to see Shelby's neurologist on December 14th and he scheduled a routine EEG for last Thursday. Dr. Poplawski's nurse called us this afternoon with the results. The EEG showed intermittent slowing of Shelby's brain waves in the area of her shunt. This is different from the epilipti-form discharges that he noticed in the EEG she had back in August. Dr. Poplawski thinks this means Shelby is having subclinical seizures and is putting her back on Keppra (not real sure why we stopped in the first place).  After we get her dose up and she is on the medication for a month or so, we will do another EEG. As usual, we're not really sure what all this means, but we're thinking that the fact that these seizures are localized in the area of the shunt makes them not as bad as others. We go to the ophthalmologist on Wednesday, then I think we'll be finished with doctor appointments till next year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The "Blizzard" of '09

We're snowed in started yesterday morning and kept coming all day. We lost electricity, but are lucky to have wonderful next-door neighbors with a wood stove in their basement who put us up for the night. I think we got about 15 inches--the most that Trip and I have seen since we moved to Asheville and certainly the most snow that Harding has ever seen. It has been really fun to play outside in it with the kids and all of our neighbors. We built a huge snowman. Trip and I just watched people out walking pose for pictures with him. Harding said that he wanted it to come to life. Our power is back on now, the kids finally fell asleep, the house is slowly warming up and I'm about to start baking banana bread. Life is good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I finally got a good picture of Shelby's brand new chompers and can personally attest to the fact that she has been putting them to good use!

And to Aunt Chris (who shamelessly spoils my children): Thanks for the festive pajamas!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sibling Play

I have been looking forward to the time when Shelby and Harding would really start interacting with each other. Lately, I am seeing glimpses of this interaction and it is exciting! Yesterday, Shelby was having some tummy time with one of her favorite toys. This is one of the only positions we can put her in with the dreaded hip brace and luckily she will tolerate it for small periods of time if she has an interesting toy in front of her.

Harding was running around playing with his trains and noticed that I was taking pictures of Shelby. I think he wanted some attention, so he got down on his belly too and started pushing buttons on the toy with his sister. She loved it.

And here is the really neat thing. Shelby has trouble doing things with her left hand. She struggles with grasping objects and supporting herself using the left side. Shelby realizes this and just prefers to use the more efficient right hand. We are constantly trying to find creative ways to isolate Shelby's right hand and force her to use the left so that she'll get better at it. Either Harding has observed this, or just happened to be lying on her left side, but look what he did:

They played like this for several minutes. Shelby seemed to be soaking up the attention from Harding. I think she is lucky to have such a great big brother!

Then after a good 7 minutes, Harding got up and went back to his truck....and took the toy with him. I had to laugh, because it was such typical sibling behavior. At some point, I know she'll be able to return the favor and take away his stuff. In the meantime, Shelby has plenty  of other toys.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy brain!

I don't think we could have asked for a better trip to Durham. First of all, we arrived last night at Fran Carruthers' house (Tiff's 2nd cousin) and were treated like royalty. Fran made us a fabulous meal, washed the clothes that Shelby had vomited on, and basically took care of our every need while we relaxed. It was very nice--and good to catch up with her. We reluctantly left her place very early this morning so that we could get to Shelby's CT scan appointment early. That certainly paid off...we barely had to wait and Shelby did not need any sedation. Here Shelby is going into the machine:

We left radiology and headed upstairs to the neurosurgery clinic about 2 hours early for our appointment with Dr. Grant--and we got to see him right away!

Dr. Grant gave us some wonderful news. He said Shelby has a "happy brain". As you can see in the picture below, her CT scans look amazing! For those who remember her last scans, there is a huge difference in these. The left of her brain (right side in the image) has pretty much no cerebral spinal fluid, and the right has a lot less! The thin area of her brain that we were concerned about looks like it's easily three times thicker now. Dr. Grant was actually suprised to see this much of a rebound in her brain, and said this is really good for her developmental prognosis. We weren't expecting any bad news, because Shelby has been doing well, but this great news blew us away!

All smiles, we headed down the road for Shelby's orthopedic appointment with Dr. Patel three hours early. They took us back pretty quickly for Shelby's hip x-rays and then we got to see the doctor.

As you can see, we were told Shelby needs to wear a brace for a few years because the x-rays showed that Shelby has hip dysplasia. She has to wear it all the time and then once she starts to cruise (or walk while holding on to coffee tables, etc), she'll only have to wear it during naps and at night. The brace may delay Shelby's development to some extent. It is hard for me to picture her being able to learn to roll over, sit-up unassisted, crawl, cruise or even walk while wearing the contraption--but Dr. Patel assured us that kids deal with it all the time and I know we'll figure it out somehow (with the help of Shelby's therapists). Plus, Dr. Patel said we can take it off while we're working on PT.

If this was the only problem that Shelby was facing, I think that we would be pretty upset about the bracing and hip dysplasia. But I feel like Shelby has already overcome some very significant obstacles and this one is nothing compared to her brain stuff. Wearing this brace all the time will certainly be awkward and inconvenient for Shelby (and us), but we are up for the challenge, and hopefully it will correct the displasia and prevent hip surgery down the road. We should know by the time she is 4 years old whether or not it has worked.

We left Dr. Patel and stopped at our favorite restaraunt near the hospital, Noodles and Co. to get some food. Then we were on our way back to the mountains at 1:00 - a half hour before our last appointment was even scheduled to start! We got to collect our dog (thanks Matt and Ash) and Harding (thanks John and Barb) and eat dinner together tonight. Now let's hope Shelby sleeps well in that brace.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

6 Months...

Our sweet, beautiful Shelby Frances is 6 months old today. I can't believe it!

We love you, Shelby girl!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adios Paci

Harding has known it was coming for a while now......the day that he had to say goodbye to a faithful companion--his pacifier. In fact, a couple weeks ago, he told a lady in the grocery check-out line, "I'm 2 years old. When I turn 3, no more paci!". Trip and I have been reminding him of this big step for some time. We told him that when he turned 3, we would have a birthday party and chocolate cake, and that he would have to give his pacifiers to other babies that need them since he isn't a baby anymore. I am not sure that knowing this was coming has made it actually happening easier for any of us. You see, Harding has absolutely loved his paci since he was a couple days old--check out the pictures below for proof. He usually slept with one in his mouth and one in each hand. For the past couple nights, Harding has not gone to sleep as easily as before. He has come up with multiple reasons for us to stay in the room with him. He even cried himself to sleep the first night, saying "I'm not 3, I'm still little" and "I don't want to give my paci to the babies, I need it"--we almost caved right then. I must confess that Trip and I will miss the pacifier as well. It was wonderful to have something that immediately calmed (and quieted) Harding whenever we needed it. Plus, this milestone is just one more bittersweet reminder that our little boy is not a baby anymore. I know I went a bit crazy with the multiple paci pictures below, but I'm feeling somewhat nostalgic that my son is growing up so fast. Plus, babies and their pacifiers are just precious!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Recap

We had such a busy and fun Thanksgiving holiday. Here is a brief recap:

I ran the Asheville Turkey Trot with my cousin Jessica. Then we had Thanksgiving dinner in Mars Hill with Trip's family. On Friday afternoon, we went to see Nemo on Ice (thanks so much for the tickets, Leslie) and then went to my parents' house to hang with my family. Trip drove down to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech vs. Georgia football game yesterday. I watched it on t.v. with my parents and Chris and Grant (unfortunately the wrong team won). Then, tonight we had family and a couple friends over for Harding's birthday party (he turns 3 tomorrow). Anyway, it has definitely been a whirlwind. And we have so much to be thankful for! I hope everyone else had a happy Thanksgiving.

Jess and I (pre-race):

Here we are waiting for Nemo to start:

Shelby bouncing--her new favorite activity!

Harding getting ready to eat cake:

Harding and his best-bud Derek playing with birthday toys:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OT, etc...

An occupational therapist from the Early Intervention Program came out today at my request to do an informal evaluation on Shelby at the same time that she had PT with Beth. Beth and I have been slightly concerned that Shelby often fists her left hand and isn't able to use it as adeptly as her right hand. Since OT deals with fine motor skills, we wanted to make sure we weren't missing anything important. The OT visit today went really well. Garnett (the OT) confirmed the fact that there is some asymmetry between Shelby's two sides, but only slight. She told us to basically keep doing what we have been doing, which is to massage her left hand and thumb and to try and figure out ways to encourage her to engage that hand and arm. She also suggested that we do a formal OT assessment towards the end of January and look at picking up OT on a regular basis then.

Today's evaluation marks the beginning of a very busy month for Shelby. We go back to Duke on December 7th to follow-up with Shelby's neurosurgeon and orthopedist. Then we have her 6-month pediatrician check-up and Shelby's neurologist the following week. Finally, we have an appointment with Shelby's ophthalmologist on December 23rd. I look toward all these appointments with a mixture of anticipation and dread. I love finding out more about Shelby and her brain because it helps us to understand her and care for her better. At the same time, I am absolutely terrified of getting bad news. Anyway, please keep us in your prayers with all these upcoming appointments.

In the meantime, Shelby continues to progress developmentally and is interacting with us more and more. She constantly reaches out to touch our faces and smiles and "talks" to us in baby gibberish. All of these are very good signs. We have also noticed in the past week that her vision is improving, which is so great! She continues to amaze us and we are certainly blessed to have her in our family!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The Prayer Shawl Committee knit hats for every child at our church and gave them out today. What a wonderful gift....and don't Harding and Shelby look adorable in them?

Friday, November 20, 2009

1st tooth!

Yesterday I noticed that Shelby has gotten her first tooth!! She had been fussy for the last few days and now we know why. Anyway, in honor of her being 5.5 months old and getting a tooth, we're going to start rice cereal this weekend. Also, my friend Julie took these beautiful pictures of her this morning. Thanks so much Julie!! Babies sure do grow fast....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

GCPC Women's Retreat

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Montreat, NC with 15 amazing women from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. Since Shelby is still nursing, she came along and got to hang out with baby Avery (the only boy on the trip). Avery has such a happy disposition and the sweetest chubby cheeks I have ever seen on a baby (next to Harding's, of course). This women's retreat gave me some much-needed time for fellowship and spiritual reflection, which I am very thankful for. Plus, I think Shelby had fun too!