Thursday, December 29, 2016

We're changeable

I know, I said we weren't going to find out, that we were ok with not knowing, blah blah blah. But....we (meaning I) felt like it was a good idea to have an actual sonogram to check everything else on the baby since there's already a VSD just to make sure everything else was ok. So on the 20th, we had an actual sonogram. I know, it wasn't even a week after the echo, but we did talk about it quite a bit, I sought opinions and advice from other people who I trust and it was almost all unanimously "go ahead and get a sonogram to double check everything else."

The baby is perfect (besides the VSD). At that appointment, the weight was estimated between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds, which is right on track. I had a baby check up immediately after and everything there was good, too. I'd gained 7 pounds and 5 cm in the previous 4 weeks because of a baby growth spurt (which explained all the aches and pains and feeling like I was practically exploding). I even got a birth kit to keep at home just in case the midwife doesn't make it to the birth and an updated birth list since we changed midwives. And I have everything on the list already, just a week later. I'm on top of this.

We debated being surprised at the birth on the gender, but Austin said "well, if they're checking everything else, might as well check that too so we can be ready." And I agreed. So....are you ready?

We're having another girl!

We're excited. We would have loved a boy just as much, obviously, but I'm excited for Eden to have a sister. Plus I got rid of a ton of boy stuff after she was born so this works out in the shopping department, too. We have so many adorable girl outfits that Eden either wore only once or not at all because there was just. so. much. I try to curb my shopping but it's all adorable!

I think we have a name, but we're keeping it close to our chests again. It's just easier that way. Most of you will remember posts from Eden's pregnancy about people complaining about our picks for boy names, some actually rude comments about them in fact, being our reasoning for keeping her name a secret. Since hers was announced after it was bestowed, we got nothing negative, and that was really a nice change. So we're going to do the same with this one. So stay tuned for that. Coming to a bedroom in Abilene sometime in mid-February to early March, a new Mullins baby girl!

Chubby cheeks! I can't wait to squish them. 

Again, the only time I will intentionally post pictures of my kids' genitals online. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Medical Updates

I'm doing better at this right now!

Medical/family updates:

Last week, the first full week of December, Austin was gone from Tuesday night until late Saturday evening. The kids and I survived (obviously) but Eden had a really hard time letting Austin leave again for work on Monday morning. She collapsed on the floor and cried for a full half hour. He was doing BEST robotics stuff, as many of you saw from his pictures. It seems like his trip was fairly uneventful, aside from misplacing his keys on Saturday and having to call a locksmith to break him into his car where they were sitting in the cup holder under his hotel coffee cup (this is why I throw my trash away).

We at home hibernated through the cold snap that hit on Thursday, ate food, and prepared cookie dough that I then baked on Sunday for teacher gifts to be distributed on Monday. It was a quiet, relatively calm week.

This week has been nuts. Tuesday, I drove to Dallas for the fetal echocardiogram scheduled for Wednesday morning. I only missed one left exit in downtown Dallas, due partly to construction, due partly to I hate left exits. A nice long hot shower without a little girl peeking inside, a yummy room service dinner, and I went to bed.

Wednesday morning, I realized about halfway through breakfast that I wasn't really sure where I was going. That's problematic because Children's is massive. BUT I have a pretty good memory for directions and locations, so I went to the same parking garage and used the same entrance we'd used for Eden's echo last summer and it turned out I was right. I got a little turned around trying to find the elevators but after that everything went pretty smoothly.

The fetal echocardiogram had to be done in Dallas because they don't have the equipment to do it in Abilene. It's stronger than a regular ultrasound machine because it has to go through two bodies. It was basically an ultrasound focused on the baby's heart, and that's what the tech looked at for the full 45 minutes I was there. We chatted about baby names and some of the more ridiculous ones he's encountered in his 20 years of working with children. I gotta say, Yomajesty is now a contender for this baby's name. ;-)

Dr. S came in to do her own scans and when she heard we don't know this baby's gender and haven't had any other ultrasounds, she attempted to find genitals and make a guess. It wasn't conclusive, so we're still not sure and are still picking out names for both genders. We talked Tuesday night and decided we're ok with having a surprise. It's our (hopefully) last baby, so it's now or never.

The baby's heart looks good for the most part, but it does have a small mid-muscular Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole in the wall between the ventricles. It won't close up on it's own before the baby is born because the baby isn't using their lungs so the pressure is equal. I asked if it would get bigger once the baby was born and breathing and she said no. It'll close up naturally after birth, but we're still going to have an echo done on the baby within a month of birth to check on it. I'm assuming that if it hasn't closed up or showed signs of closing at that point, we'll schedule another one and keep an eye on it until it does close. She was positive this would not require surgery.

She also said there wasn't a reason that this would prevent us from having a home birth, which was a relief. I'll still discuss it with the midwife and make sure she feels comfortable delivering a baby with a heart defect. If she doesn't, we'll reassess. Mom is on board. And of course we'll make sure that the pediatrician knows in advance so she's not caught by surprise when we go in for the baby's newborn shots.

So yay for that! I'm honestly not upset about this. I think if I weren't Eden's mom, I might be. I'm not saying that a VSD isn't scary for a parent, but for us, it's kind of old hat at this point. We've already got that echo scheduled for late April, so we'll get everything checked out and that baby is taken care of.

Eden had her cardiology appointment today here in Abilene. When Dr. S realized how we'd scheduled everything, she apologized and said I could have brought Eden with me yesterday to Dallas. Oh well. She would have had to miss her class party and I would have been worried about her getting into EVERYTHING while I was being scanned. It wasn't the most ideal way to spend my week, running all over the place, but it's not the worst.

Eden is still doing great. The cardiothorasic surgeon at Stamford strongly advises we leave her alone and not do surgery until/unless necessary, and I'm fully on board with that. She hasn't changed, heart wise, since her last appointment in June. She is at risk for heart block (abnormal heart beats) but Dr. S said that it's possible, if not likely, that that won't show up until late adolescence. Signs would be more tiredness or passing out during exercise. (She may be able to get out of PE when she's older because of this...lucky girl.) She's wearing a halter EKG machine to do a 24 hour EKG right now, and we'll take it off and return it tomorrow afternoon. She wasn't super thrilled with the echo she had today, but she was still fairly sweet and pleasant to everyone she encountered. She even tried to steal one of the pillows off the table and one of the techs was willing to send it home with her.

Dr. S does want us to make sure Eden sees the dentist on a regular basis. One of her valves is a bi-cuspid instead of a tri-cuspid, which apparently is great for bacteria growth, so we need to make sure she keeps her teeth clean and healthy. I'm not totally 100% sure I get how that all relates, but ok. Our appointment was at 1, we didn't get to the clinic until 1:30 because of some issues in the check-in, and we didn't leave ARMC until after 3, so I was a little distracted with trying to get my kids all gathered together from their various locations.

Tonight is Milsoft's Christmas party and tomorrow is Asher's last day of school and Saturday we've got a special Christmas gift for the kids to do so the dashing around hasn't stopped yet. Then Sunday morning we've got church where Austin's leading Grace Falls worship and Sunday School and our family is lighting the advent candles in the traditional service.

I may sleep all day on Monday. I'm worn out from the first half of this week and there's still some big stuff coming. It's all good, though. We'll have several days of relaxation before Christmas festivities, then a few more before New Year's and Asher's birthday (which he's looking forward to almost as much as Christmas). Austin will have a couple days off, so I'll probably hibernate and try to rest and let him solo parent a bit on those days.

So that's all for now! Everyone is doing great and there are lots of plans in action, with back up plans for most of them. We're truckin' along here, waiting for March and a new baby to shake things up again....but hopefully not TOO much.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Finally some content!

I actually have something of moderate interest to write about!

Asher is smart. He's really smart. I'm not just biased as his mom, I swear. He reads at around a second grade level and can do beyond-Kindergarten-math in his head. We tried to get him into Kindergarten last year, but they wouldn't take him because of his birthday. We didn't push it too much because we felt like the social aspect of Kindergarten was just as important as the stuff he'd be taught.

We were right.

Asher has struggled a lot with social stuff this year. Standing in line, dealing with loud, chaotic environments like the cafeteria, the gym, and music...all of that has resulted in lots of "intervention" from the staff, mostly just pulling him to the side and taking him out of the chaos. We've gotten two calls within the past few weeks from the principals about his hitting another student. We had the parent-teacher conference after the first call and talked a bit about it but didn't go into a lot of detail. I arranged a time to go and observe him in class to see if I noticed anything, and did that last Wednesday, the 30th.

What I observed is that yes, he is a little lippy with the teacher, but he generally ignores the other students and does his work in a fraction of the time it takes them to do theirs. His lippiness, while not acceptable, I get. She's asking him to do things he already knows how to do. He's bored and frustrated. So after the second call, which came in on Monday, I set up a meeting with the principals to discuss his behavior and possibly advancing him.

All the teachers I've interacted with of his have had lots of positive things to say about him. They all seem to really, genuinely like him. One today told me he's one of her favorite students. He's sweet, intelligent, goofy, and actually has interesting things to say. Everyone is acknowledging how smart he is, and that he's intellectually at LEAST on a 1st grade level. Socially, however, he's not.

The principals felt like if we moved him to 1st next semester, he'd struggle even more. The 1st graders are more mature and are better at behaving than he is, simply because they're older.

They pointed out that he seems to have some sensory issues, mainly in crowded, loud environments. At times he curls up in a ball or hugs himself saying he's cold, even when it's hot outside. He loses his temper more quickly in those situations and lashes out. Apparently these are some symptoms that he may have a sensory processing disorder of some kind, primarily with noises and crowds.

Once they began talking about the different things he does and what seems to trigger them, looking back I realized he's done this for a while. We've found ways of coping with them at home, and since he's our oldest we're just not that aware that this is necessarily anything out of the ordinary.

So we came up with a plan for Asher. We're sending in a written request to have him evaluated for sensory issues. It's too late in the semester to get it done before break, but they'll do it next month. Then they have a meeting and go over the results and decide if he warrants some special education classes or sessions or something to work with him on coping mechanisms and to see what they can do in the classes where he gets most overwhelmed. Then we'll more than likely have another meeting to get that all put into motion. This could take a couple months. I hope its done before the baby is born, but there's a chance it won't be.

In the meanwhile, we're not waiting to get those results back to work on his intellectual stimulation. Starting on the first day of the new semester, he'll go to a 1st grade classroom for some more challenging classes. We're going to start with reading and possibly add math later. I don't think 1st grade reading is going to be that hard for him, but that's where they'd like to start and they're hesitant to put a Kindergartener with social issues in a 2nd grade class, which I agree with.

At the end of the school year, we'll see how he's done with the 1st grade classes during the day and whatever coping we can work out and have him take an advanced placement test to see if he needs to go to 1st next year or just move on to 2nd.

We're looking into the Threshold Program, a program run at HSU for gifted and talented children over the summer. It's by invitation only, and the children have to be nominated and then take a test to see if they qualify. It's a bit of a process but it sounds like it would be a great thing to get Asher into if we can. There's a fee for it, but it's not that much and if it would help him, it's definitely worth it.

It's a little overwhelming but at the same time, a relief to have some kind of plan in place. We've noticed his issues this year more than before simply because he's been around kids a lot more this year and so the issues have been more visible.

Austin and I feel good about this plan of attack, and hope that the evaluation show that yes, he needs this special attention at school to help him cope with his issues. That or that they can point us in the right direction to get him some help outside of school. We're comfortable with him staying in Kindergarten for the rest of the year with the addition of harder classes to help keep him engaged and interested. We love his teacher so I'm relieved that we don't have to get to know a new teacher so soon.

Starting school for the first time is rough and Asher has actually done fairly well, all things considered. He keeps all the adults entertained, though he does have an arch nemesis in his class (that's a whole weird thing....). He doesn't dread school, which is good, so hopefully if we get some things figured out, we can make it something he really enjoys. Fingers crossed.