Celebrations, Development

Our Asheville (Un)Vacation

FullSizeRender 2A few weeks ago we took our first “solo” family vacation- just the three of us. We decided to take a road trip to Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore, America’s largest privately owned home, put the town on the map- but its food and art scene have recently made it a vacation hot spot for many.

Nate and I have been talking about going for a while, and it seemed like a great option for us this summer. It had everything we were looking for:

Reasonable drive time? 

Restaurants? √√

Shopping? √√√

To this point Maddie has been a fairly easy traveler. We frequently do a five hour road trip to visit our family in Michigan, so six hours to Asheville didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. Typically, as long as we keep the car moving, have a warm bottle readily available, and a comfortable place for her to sleep, we’re good to go.

That was not the case this trip.

It seems that our 19-month-old Miss Maddie takes on more and more toddler characteristics every day. I’m laughing to myself as I write this blog- sometimes I focus on topics that are more unique to our family as one with special needs. But I’m happy to report that our adventures in traveling with a toddler were no different than that of a ‘typical’ family (i.e.- a little messy and not super relaxing).

Continue reading “Our Asheville (Un)Vacation”

1p36 Deletion Syndrome, Coping, Faith

The Call

Monday, July 25, 2016

I was driving back to the office after running errands over lunch. I’d just hung up the phone with a nurse from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, who had called to discuss details of Maddie’s upcoming heart surgery. I laughed to myself as I looked down at my phone, and saw the familiar Children’s phone number pop up once again. “She must’ve forgotten something,” I thought.

“Hello, again,” I answered.

But it wasn’t the same nurse who I’d just spoken with moments earlier. Instead, it was the genetic counselor who had been assigned to our family’s case. Maddie was diagnosed with Epilepsy in March, and since that time we’d been awaiting complete results of genetic testing to determine the cause of the seizures. We’d gone through two rounds of testing thus far, and no genetic “matches” had been found (a match would indicate a cause). Based on what they knew about Maddie, they’d explored the most likely causes first. The last time we’d spoken with the counselor she was doubtful that we’d find a cause. Sometimes seizures just happen. In some ways, I was hopeful for an answer. But in other ways, no cause was a relief- we could hope that these seizures were an isolated incident that she would outgrow.

Continue reading “The Call”

Celebrations, Favorite Things

More Sun/Less Stress: The Top Five Travel Products that Keep this Mama Sane

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Summer is just about here, and that means family vacation time is upon us! We’ve done a fair amount of traveling since Maddie was born- mostly by car, and some by air. I don’t claim to be an expert, but through trial and error, we’ve found a few products that are key to making our trips a little bit less stressful. So whether you’re a new parents, or a parents with a LO with special needs, here are a few of our favorite thing.

Continue reading “More Sun/Less Stress: The Top Five Travel Products that Keep this Mama Sane”

Coping, Development, Faith, Therapy

Why I can’t achieve for my child (and neither can you)

Like many women I know, I’m on the type A spectrum. I’m extremely focused and very goal oriented. I like to make lists and to have a game plan. My thinking is very linear and I’m all about finding efficiencies and developing a process to make things happen.

Most of the time in life these characteristics have served me well. I worked hard through high school and college, and graduated on time with (fairly) decent grades. I’ve worked hard in my career, and have progressed accordingly. I’ve even worked hard at relationships, and have found that when I put time and effort in, for the most part, they succeed.

Overall, in my life I have found that Knowledge + Hard work + Time = Achievement

But what happens when you’ve educated yourself, put in the work, have performed all tasks correctly, and things don’t go as planned? What if you work even harder and still don’t see progress? Does that make you a failure?

Continue reading “Why I can’t achieve for my child (and neither can you)”

Celebrations, Heart Defects, Hospital Stays

Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak

rsz_riebel-52_copyMother’s Day is all about honoring mothers for the love and time they pour into their children. For me, it’s also a time to reflect on how I’ve done as a mother over the past year. Let’s be honest; we all have our good days, and our not so good days. After giving some thought to the last 12 months, I thought I’d share my deepest low (my “Pit”) and my highest high (My “Peak”). I find sharing experiences is really therapeutic and also helps other parents know they’re not alone. So I would love to hear from you in the comment section: What’s your parenting Pit and/or Peak?

My Pit

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Maddie had been struggling with bronchiolitis since February. When she was diagnosed, they warned us that it may take several months for it to clear up. And they weren’t lying. Over the next three months the illness continued to plague her.

On this particular weekend she seemed to be feeling worse than usual. On Friday evening I decided that a nice long walk in her stroller might help to relax her and give her a comfortable sleep. She slept all through the ride, ate a little something, and then slept another 12 hours- very atypical for her.

Continue reading “Year in review: My Motherhood Pit and Peak”

Coping, Development, Faith

Lessons in Faith from Maddie

If you spend any time around church or studying the Bible, you’re familiar with the idea that God is our “heavenly Father.” There are many parallels that can be drawn between our heavenly Father and our earthly fathers, but the basic principles are that He loves us and calls us His children. And just like our earthly fathers, He provides for us and guides us.

Since I became a parent I have a much greater understanding of this comparison. The immediate and unconditional love that you feel for your child is like no other. Their needs come first. You want the best of everything for them, and you’ll do everything in your power to make it happen.

I recently had an interaction with Maddie that illustrated another parallel in these relationships that I’d never considered before…

Maddie is a picky eater. Sometimes she’s hesitant to try new foods, and even when we find foods that she likes, sometimes she refuses them. In addition, children with 1p36 often have a tough time gaining weight. We’re working with a nutritionist, and I’m ever-conscious of her daily calorie intake.

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“Why would you try to make me eat that, Mama?”-Maddie

Even though we try to make meal times a pleasant activity, we find ourselves sneaking food in, and from time-to-time, forcing it. Maddie has a way of refusing the food by buttoning her lips shut, turning her head to the side, and giving me a look that says “Why would you try to make me eat that, Mama? Why are you trying to hurt me?” Continue reading “Lessons in Faith from Maddie”

Coping, Heart Defects, Hospital Stays

Six Truths of a Long-Term Hospital Stay with your Little One

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During the first year of Maddie’s life we spent close to two months in the hospital. At different times, we were in the NICU, the cardiac ICU, on the neurology and cardiac inpatient floors, and we did an inpatient and outpatient stent for two different surgeries. Those days were some of the most challenging, confusing, exhausting days of my life. But we made it through, and we even managed to find moments of levity between the moments of stress and terror.

You learn the routine

We spent most our time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). Like most hospitals, the doctors begin rounding early in the morning. CCHMC takes a multidisciplinary approach to care, and depending on your child’s condition, the team that rounds may have up to six clinicians or more. For instance, in the NICU each morning there was an attending physician, a nutritionist, a cardiologist, etc. Most days we would know what time the team started rounding, but we would never know exactly when they were coming to see us. Although we were always eager to speak with the doctors, we quickly learned that the later in the morning the team stopped by (and the smaller the team), the less serious the patient’s condition. For instance, on our first day on the neurology floor after
Maddie’s seizures began, we had a huge team of doctors who showed up around 7:30 a.m. On the day we were discharged we only saw one physician, and he did not stop by until close to noon.

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Rounding on the Neuro unit. Maddie had bronchiolitis, so every clinician who entered the room had to garb up to reduce the risk of infection in other patients. 
Continue reading “Six Truths of a Long-Term Hospital Stay with your Little One”

Celebrations, Coping, Development

Comparison is a four letter word

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Next to the actual diagnosis, comparing Maddie to other children is perhaps my biggest struggle. And I know this struggle is not isolated to parents of children with special needs. Many a mom friend has mentioned to me that they’re constantly comparing their children to others their age. Are they achieving at the same level? Are they growing, walking, talking, eating as much as the neighbor child? In fact, years before I became pregnant, one of my best friends described to me that, as a parent, you always want your kids to be the best: best dressed, best looking, best in the class. Continue reading “Comparison is a four letter word”

Celebrations

Babies need vacations, too!

17457481_10104888937756462_1530028310908054299_n.jpgI had another blog that I was planning to post this week. But it’s a pretty heavy and challenging topic. And it just didn’t seem right to post it when Maddie is having such a PHENOMENAL week!

We took a much needed eight-day vacation to the southern Caribbean last week, and it seemed to do wonders for her. For the first time she’s babbling with some definite consonant sounds. And she’s moving more- lots of side sitting and lifting high when she’s on her belly! Even the teachers at daycare have noticed a big difference! Yesterday one of them said that it was “like a whole new Maddie” came back from the cruise. She noted that maybe even babies need a vacation.

The funny thing is that we didn’t do any therapies while we were gone. We normally spend time each day stretching and focusing on new skills as instructed by our therapists: sitting on her knees, being on all fours, transitioning, etc. Needless to say, she does not look forward to these exercises. In fact, she’s actively learning ways to avoid doing them. I can’t lie; I don’t look forward to them either. I feel guilty day in and day out because it never seems that we’re doing enough (but that’s a whole other blog post…) Continue reading “Babies need vacations, too!”