Friday, June 26, 2009

Is there a Cranial Band Grad in the Hiz-ouse?

Ella with her diploma. She looks so proud of herself doesn't she?

Today was a big day around here. It was Ella's last appointment for her Cranial Band and after 17 1/2 weeks of wearing it, she finally got it off and is now an official graduate. WOO-HOO!! Proud moment here, proud moment. Cranial Band...check. That's one thing we can check off the list of many things Ella has to overcome and though there is still much more ahead of her, today was a fun day for all of us to celebrate a huge success for her. And don't think I didn't pack a collection of bows in her diaper bag for her to wear on the big day because she definitely had a bow on asap that's fo sho.

We've come a long way and her head looks amazing compared to when we first got the band. Obviously, it's not perfect but it looks SO much better than it did and we all feel that all of this was worth it and something that needed to happen. I wish you could all see the before/after pictures to see what I'm talking about. Huge difference! Not that these pictures show the difference in her head shape but I just thought I would post some "first and last day of school" type pictures. :)

4 1/2 months ago on the first day she got the band.

Today, the last day to wear her band.

No more band, just a beautiful little head!

And what's even more fun, Ella's party favor from this whole shin-dig? That's right, her head on a stick! I'm not even kidding folks, this thing has brought me many a laugh throughout this process. This is a mold of her head that they did at the beginning so they could make her Cranial Band and they use it to measure and compare growth/change at each appointment. You remember Ella the mummy? Yes, it's a mold from that. This might not be funny to anyone else but I always found it quite humorous that at every appointment we had the technician would walk out into the waiting room to meet us with Ella's head on a stick in tow. Seriously, it cracks me up that this is the norm and we go to an appointment where no one thinks it's weird that there are life size molds of children's heads stuck on a big stick and they just carry them from place to place as if it's completely normal and not weird at all. Hilarious.

So, it's been a good day and we are so excited that Ella is done with all of this. She has been amazing through it all and is such a little trooper. We love her so much and are so proud of her. I'm constantly amazed that the Lord chose us to be Ella's family and though things are hard and not at all how we dreamed they would be, we are greatly blessed each and every day.

On a completely different note, thanks to all of you who called and texted me to offer your condolences on the death of Michael Jackson. Much appreciated my friends, much appreciated, even though I could sense a tad bit of sarcasm from all of you. True fans and friends you all are. :) You better believe we'll keep the legend of MJ alive in the Carder house with frequent MJ music education opportunities. I'm not ashamed that Eva and Ella will grow up possibly knowing every word to songs like "P.Y.T." and "Beat It", I mean why should I be? I think I still have some of my Michael Jackson posters from back in the day stashed away somewhere, I better find those bad boys and get the Remembering MJ party started. Peace.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Preliminary MRI results

Just a brief update here about Ella's MRI results. I don't have much but we did hear from the surgeon a couple of days ago with some preliminary information. She said that they got really great pictures from the MRI and CT Scan which was good to hear and an answer to our prayers so that is a praise. On the other hand the hard news to hear was that she said things are much more complicated than she originally thought. We've always known things would be complicated but actually hearing it said from the surgeon was hard to take. She didn't give alot of details yet because she wants to consult with other surgeons before she meets with us so I don't have answers yet to a lot of questions.

So right now the plan is this coming Monday, June 29, Dr. Ezaki who is Ella's primary surgeon at Scottish Rite is having a big meeting with a handful of other surgeons, radiologists, etc. to go over the results and hopefully come up with a plan for surgery. After this meeting she said they would call us sometime next week and come up with a time for us to meet with them to go over the results and what their plan will be for Ella's shoulder. So for now there is more waiting until they have a developed plan and can meet with us to explain it all. We are hoping we will know more next week.

That's about all I have but I would ask that you all be praying for their meeting on Monday and that everything will be very clear and that they will have wisdom and understanding in how best to help Ella. Thank you for your continued support, encouragement and prayers. We feel so blessed by all of you. Hopefully next week we will have a lot of answers and a more definite plan for what is to come. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MRI and CT Scan

First of all, I want to thank everyone for your prayers, phone calls, texts and emails yesterday, it meant so much to us. We felt very blessed by all of your encouragement and prayers for Ella and felt at peace yesterday during her appointment. I want to also say a big thank you to our sweet families for being here this week and taking care of everything for us so that we could focus on getting through Ella's MRI. THANK YOU!! By the way, Suzanne H., the cinnamon rolls and casserole were AMAZING, just the comfort food we were needing. Thank you! :)

Who's excited to be up and at 'em at 6am? Anyone...anyone?

Ella stylin' in her hospital gown.

So here is a brief update about yesterday. The day went very smoothly so we are so thankful that everything went as it should and there were no hang-ups or complications. We got to the hospital around 6:45 am and they got Ella right into her room. We just played and talked while the nurses took blood pressure, hooked up the monitor, filled out paper work etc. Ella was of course in a great mood since she had'nt eaten anything since 10:30 pm the night before. The nurses were commenting on how good she was being and saying how most kids are fussy because they're hungry. Ha! Not little Ella, she just has the time of her life when she's not being fed so she was just as happy as can be. Amazing.

Ella adores her Daddy!

Just reading some books with Mommy before the MRI. Ignore the fact that I have about 4 chins in this picture. Cool.

Anyway, they took her back to start anesthesia around 8:00 so we had to hand her over for the morning. Not a fun thing for me but I did fine and didn't cry. :) I wanted to cheer myself up and go get some freshly popped popcorn in the lobby but Rick looked at me like I was crazy for wanting popcorn at 8:30 in the morning. I mean what's weird about that? So I decided to pace myself and wait until 9:15. Ain't nuthin' wrong with a little popcorn and an ice cold coke at 9 in the morning, know what I'm sayin'? Shoot. My parents and Ann were there to entertain us so that helped pass the time.

Ann and my Mom living it up at the Shadow Wall. Seriously, we're never going to grow up. Love it! I'm telling you Scottish Rite is the coolest hospital, so many fun things to see and do.

Anyway, they added a CT scan after the MRI so the whole thing took between 3-3 1/2 hours. We didn't know they were going to do a CT scan until yesterday morning but we are very glad they added it on because it will give them an even better view of blood flow in her shoulder and better pictures of bones, etc. They called us back around 11:30 and said Ella was in her room so we went back to get her. Poor baby had a little hoarse cry and seemed a little scared but after spending some time with Mommy and Daddy she relaxed and after about an hour we felt like she was doing well enough to go so we packed up and headed out and got home around 1:30. I don't have any pictures post-MRI because Ella was a little sensitive and it was just too hectic to pull out the camera for a photo-op. Ella did well once we got home, just a little groggy but after a few good feedings and naps she started acting like herself again and today she has been back to all-smiles.

It was a long day but it went well and we are just thankful that it's done and the process is started. We didn't get any results or talk with any of the surgeons yesterday so we are hoping that will happen soon. Hopefully by the beginning of next week we will know when we will meet and get the results. We are anxious for that so as soon as we know something we'll give an update. So for now, more waiting.

Again, thank you so much for all the prayers, we definitely felt them. Love you all!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

9 Months Old

Unbelievable. Ella is 9 months old. It doesn't seem real to me that she is creeping up on a year. Crazy! So it seems like a lot has happened this month so I'll try to update on everything. We'll start with Miss Ella. She had her 9 month appt. the other day and weighed close to 12 1/2 pounds so that is good news. Her weight gain is slow but at least she is continuing to gain so we are thankful for that. She is getting stronger and is really moving and active these days. The girl does not want to sit still! She is not crawling but she will roll or kind of slide a few feet to get to a toy if she wants to. We are hoping she will crawl at some point because it will just strengthen her left arm even more and encourage her to use it more if she does but we'll see what happens with that. We're working on ways to encourage her and teach her how to move to get to other places in hopes she will be motivated to start the crawling process. Her Physical Therapist has been great with her and Ella has really responded well to therapy and has made some great progress so that is good.

Feeding is a little better by mouth but not much. Again, baby food is going fairly well, bottles...not so much. This month has been a rough one with the feeding and she is still not taking much by mouth from the bottle. She is however not spitting up as much. She normally will only spit up once a day sometimes twice where it used to be 3-4 large vomiting episodes a day and a least one in the middle of the night. Terrible! That isn't happening anymore so we are VERY thankful that things are better in that arena so that is a praise. Obviously the goal is also for her to eat well by mouth so we are in the process of making some decisions on pursuing some feeding therapy at Our Children's House at Baylor in Grapevine. Baylor has a great feeding therapy program for children like Ella so that is in the works but we are waiting on insurance predetermination and more details about when Ella's shoulder surgery will be before we know if and when we can do it. We are also trying some different options for treating her reflux, digestion, etc. and have made some changes to her feedings and medication so we are kind of in an evaluation period right now with all of that. Please be praying for us in all of this to make the right decisions, for timing, and for Ella to continue to hold down her feedings and to start EATING GREAT BY MOUTH!!

Okay, shoulder surgery. The big, long-awaited MRI of Ella's shoulder is upon us next week on Wednesday, June 17. We have been waiting for this appointment for MONTHS because we believe this is going to give us a lot of answers as far as what we are dealing with with her shoulder and when surgery will be. Hopefully soon after the MRI the doctors will be able to give us details and a concrete timeline for when surgery will be and how involved it will be. Please be praying for this appointment as well. Ella will also have to be put to sleep for the MRI which always makes me a bit nervous so be praying for her. Have you got the message yet? Pray, pray, pray!!
We'll update as soon as we know more after the results come in.

Going from one project to the next, project Cranial Band is about to be OVER people! That's right, we are done at the end of this month. The end of June will be 4 months that Ella's had the band so we are more than ready for her to get it off. That deserves a big HOLLAAAA!!! Speaking of Holla...quick funny story. The other day I saw a middle-aged mom-type lady driving her car which was shoe-polished with hearts and stuff all over it and on the side window it said Holla real big. This was so funny to me because you know that she probably has a teenage daughter who's friends more than likely shoe-polished the family car and then daughter didn't clean it off like she was supposed to which resulted in mom having to drive to work with Holla written real big across the side of her car. Real cool. Love it! I wanted to somehow acknowledge the holla when I passed her but she was focused and was not making eye contact. Way to be a defensive driver mom.

Whatchoo lookin' at?

Anywho, that's the poop on Ella in a nutshell. In other news, we have new neighbors! Not technically right-next-door neighbors but my sister Ann and her family moved here to the metroplex just 15 minutes down the road for the summer. I know, I'm so excited I'm almost hyperventilating as I write. They are moving to Thailand in September to do mission work so they decided to move here for the summer to spend time with us and to help us with Eva and Ella. A lot of things worked perfectly to make this happen and we know it was the Lord's doing and we feel so blessed that they are here. It's like a dream come true to live in the same city with them! We're in for a fun summer. Yippee!

Meg, Eva and Brynn. We've got some neat hair going on in this picture and as usual the no-smile from Eva.

Eva is doing well, just being her crazy, funny self. She is loving having Aunt Ann, Uncle Derran and the cousins here so she is having the time of her life. We love cousin time.

Yo, can I get an upgrade? They have inflatable pools now you know? Pretty sure they do. Poor thing wanted to play outside in the water so at the time we didn't have a pool so this was the next best option. We were out in the front yard so I'm sure the cars driving by thought we were a bit coo-coo and probably just felt sorry for Eva. But hey, she loved it so everybody wins.

And this, ladies and gentlemen is why swim diapers are always a good idea. Junk in the trunk! This thing was massive. I took it inside and weighed it on the scale and it weighed over 2 pounds, not even kidding. Poor Eva, just having an off day, no pool, no swim diaper=awkward fun.

I would like to end on a more serious note and ask you all to be praying for the Sebourn family. I am part of an on-line support group for mothers with babies born with Omphaloceles and I met Alicia who lives here in this area. This weekend she gave birth to their daughter Zoey who was born with an omphalocele. They are in the process of doing testing, scans etc. to determine the best care for Zoey and doing her omphalocele repair surgery this week and they could really use your prayers. My heart has been heavy for this family because they have an amazing little girl who is going to bless them beyond words but there is much to overcome for all of them so when you pray for Ella please remember to pray for Zoey and the Sebourn family. They have a blog where you can keep up with Zoey and you can visit it by clicking here.

Thank you all for your prayers, we love you!