our little blessing

Our son Teak Joseph Head was born on October 28th, 2010. He has been a blessing in our lives even before he was born. We truly feel honored that the Lord chose both of us to be the parents of this special boy. Teak was born with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele and a minor hearing loss in both ears. Both un-related to each other. These are the curve balls of life. You never know when they are coming, you just keep your head up, step up and hit back with prayer, strength and love.
Welcome to our lives. Teak will one day change the world for the better just the way he has changed us.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday - 10/28/11

Wow, what a year and how fast it has flown by! Teak turned a year old last Friday, Oct 28th. Can't believe that he is such a big boy now...we are entering into toddler years and we are feeling it. He has been walking for a couple weeks now and everyday he gets better. A year ago, we had no idea what the Lord had planned but He is good and we are so blessed yet so undeserving!

Smiling away, playing in his Original 1st Birthday shirt!

It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for a birthday party in the park.  We had Thundercloud subs, fruit and cupcakes along with great family and friends. Our neighborhood, Brentwood, has a great park with a shaded playground area.  We found a nice shaded picnic area to set up and still have a view of the ongoings.

Our son, with Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele does not have a shunt, doesn't need to be cathed and is walking! He, like every other SB kid out there, is going to do great things in this world. The people of the SB world are so giving and caring. They really want to share their experiences and hear your own experiences.

We are so excited for the next year of Teak's life and getting to know our beautiful blessing even better.

Picture of friends hanging out under the Happy Birthday sign I made for my little boy!

Teak walking, walking, walking!

Teak hanging out on the ground with one of his future girlfriends, Georgia Ramsey

Teak hanging out with his cousins, Eva and Simone

Step By Step - Oct 16th

Teak has started WALKING! He started walking while holding our hands and also while pushing a push walker toy when he was around 10 months, maybe a little before. He always loved standing, I have said that time and again. Then he started traveling a little after crawling. But the issue was that we were told time and again by our personal PT (physical therapist) as well as the PT at the SB clinic that we shouldn't encourage standing because we wanted to encourage crawling. Well, this was in the back of our heads all the time so once he started crawling then we were still hesitant to "allow" him to stand...I know sounds silly but when you have a SB kid who seems to not really have any residual effects of the fact that his spinal chord and nerves were once outside of his body in a lesion then you get a little weirded out in the fact that your child is progressing "normally" in his physical development.

I know, I know...we should just shut up and let the good Lord show his ways in our son and we are very positive people, well, at least when it comes to our son from day one of finding out about his SB but it is just hard to face reality rather good or bad sometimes.
With that being said, he just loved to push that push toy around our little 800 sqft house. One day our PT was here and showed him how to walk backward, backing the toy up out of a corner in order to keep going and then the next day he was doing it all by himself! We have friends that said their kids didn't learn how to do that backing up with a push toy until they were way over 2 and already walking on their own.

So, the time goes by and it is about 3 weeks before he is going to turn 1 and Chad just got home from work and I am sitting on the floor with Teak, where I usually am all day, and Teak is standing at our little round table, holding on when I coax him to walk toward me. Chad turns around and voila, Teak took 3 independent steps then fell into my arms. It was so amazing! I started crying just out of pure joy, Chad saw it and came running over as we all embraced. It was a great family moment for the movies! Poor Teak got a little scared though because he didn't want to do it again. I think he thought it was bad because I was crying!

Then about 2 weeks before he turned 1, we were at our friend's house, the Welches, and we kept pushing him to walk on his own...he took a few more independent steps maybe 5 or so together then fell or grabbed onto something. Then we went to our friends, the Ramseys, the next day and Chad became a soccer dad...he was just pushing Teak outside in their lush green lawn to walk from him to me constantly. Teak was getting up to about 19 steps from start to finish. It was pretty exciting. After that it was just encouraging walking where ever we were. There was still a lot of crawling going which is great because that is sooooo good for development, physically and mentally, so that was all good.

Our PT said that she didn't see anything abnormal with his walking. He definitely started out walking like a German soldier but that went down after time. He doesn't seem to drag either leg even though his right leg is still a bit stiffer then the left. Time will only tell but we will continue to do stretch out those muscles and encourage walking.

Now, we are working on kicking and running...the next obstacles.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Traveling and Talking

Teak started pulling up and traveling along furniture not long after he started crawling! He has always loved to stand up so once he knew how to do this then he was all over the place. It is so neat to see how he is progressing along the lines of an average baby not that my little man is anything close to average.
He just impresses us everyday and we are so grateful for all that God has given us and blessed us with. Teak is so strong and very heavy tempered which I think is what has gotten him far in his development. He growls when he can't pull himself up but just keeps trying. He is starting to push a walking toy. We would get mad when he couldn't move it out from a corner or the wall then we showed him how to back up and push it another way...well, he got it immediately. He started to walk backwards and pull the push toy towards him then kept moving forward. He will walk by our large mirror in the bedroom and watch himself walking. It is so cute. You have to walk in front of him, backwards, or he will just stop if you are behind him.
He is amazing!

So now for the talking. As you know, he wears hearing aides. Or actually is supposed to wear hearing aides. He constantly takes them out. It has not gotten much better then when we started. He wears them about half the time...well, some days it is even less than that. Now, he pulls them out and throws them at me. Some days, he will wear them without touching them for hours! I have had to learn when and wear are the places that he can or can't wear them. For example, the park, not a good place because even though I am following him, watching him closely, I am afraid he will take them out and bury them in the gravel. Hopefully, one day soon, he will be able to wear them at the park no problem.
One a partial side note, he is already talking. His first word was BALL and then CAT then WHOA. He is talking a lot now, babbling to his toys and as he sits in his car seat. It is pretty amazing for a my little boy with a minor hearing loss. It doesn't seem to be stopping him from talking at all. We are just very aware that he needs to be able to hear things clearly so that his speech is developed correctly. His hearing teacher tells us how incredibly bright that he is and that he will most likely not be delayed but we want him to be ahead of others so he is never behind. Sounds good to me...I will continue to read to him everyday and work on his words.
Keep it up my smart boy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Oh yes, that is right, Teak Joseph is crawling and it happened before he was even 9 months old. Take that Spina Bifida!!! He is still pretty cautious but working his way into full blown. He knows hot to do it and does it beautifully on all fours. I was so excited to show his physical therapist, she was excited to see it.
He started off doing these bounces around the floor. He would keep both knees in or one knee in and one leg out and then bounce or actually hop around the room with his arms flailing through the air. It was quite funny to watch especially when he was after a dog or a the cat.
Goodness, people were right about them getting into everything, but again, I am so thankful that we have this problem. This is not a bad problem to have when your little one has SB.
Teak loves to chase the cat. I want to get him on video going after Stella. It is hilarious. He smiles at her and talks to her and then starts after her. She is scared of him for the most part. She only lets him get to a certain closeness then she is done and gets the heck out of dodge.
He first started out towards the dog's water bowl. He had already poured it on himself a couple times so he knew the fun times it brought and the amount of crazy it did to his mother. This child is very motivated by everything that he isn't supposed to have. All of a sudden the toys that he was playing with were so juvenile to him...at least that is how his face looked when I offered them to him to coax him away from the water bowl or dad's playstation or our cell phone charger cords.
In any sense, he is crawling. Check out the video, it took us pulling along a charger cord for him to move but hey it worked. No judgments please. It wasn't plugged in and he only played with it for a bit then it was politely taken away.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Be Aware

It is weird talking to other moms, young and old, who don't have a child with Spina Bifida. When you talk about not being able to wait for your child to crawl and move around they are fast to warn you that is not something you are looking forward to because they are into everything. Well, for us who have children with SB, you can't wait for them to be mobile. That is a big deal when they move on their own, crawl to get a toy or in Teak's case, anything that he is not supposed to be getting into. We want this normality to occur. Why is that we seem to knock down a development of a human child? What is so "uh-oh" about these milestones that we tell parents to beware and not wish and want?
Teak became pretty mobile once he turned 8 months. He had started to move around more rather than just sit stiffly on a mat to play. He began reaching for toys more and working on moving his body to reach for toys. He understood that you could pull the toy basket closer to him to get what he wanted. (Sigh, it is crazy to watch a human being grow...think about it...crazy!)
Back when Teak was only 2 months old we started getting physical therapy through Easter Seals which is a division of ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). You have to make a 6 month goal with them so we made our goal to be rolling from back to belly and belly to back. Well, my child didn't like rolling. He was pretty sure that he didn't want to roll ever. He very well knew that we could get him the toy we just placed out of his reach and darnit he was going to fuss until we gave it back to him. Rolling didn't seem to be an option for him. Well, then we realized that he hated to be on his belly which a lot of babies do and so he would have such a fit and arch his little back to the point where he would make himself roll to his back. After a while he definitely got that one down and as soon as you would place him on his belly he would reach his arm up and roll to his back and then he was fine. He would completely shut off the tears and be happy again.
As the months went on we would work with the physical therapist ,and work by ourselves when she wasn't there, on rolling back to belly. He just wasn't having it. Then around 4.5 months, I realized that he had enough back strength to sit up on his own. Now, he would start to fall over sideways after a minute or so but then around 5 months he could sit pretty well unassisted. He had such a belly on him by now that that helped to keep him up right plus he kept his legs out so straight. I would work on bending them constantly and making him side sit and he would just plop those legs back to straight ahead and he liked them nice and stiff.
Back to the rolling, well, we finally got it down when he was about 8.5 months. He would fuss and throw a fit then finally flip from back to belly. Only after he had figured out how to push up from belly to sitting was motivated to roll from back to belly because the end result would be is favorite position of sitting. Except now that he was moving around he would actually go directly to a side sit or with bent knees! Thank God, literally, I was afraid that would never happen! Just shows you not to have fear, things happen in their own time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Before Teak was 6 months old he was sized for the molds for his hearing aids. It was a little mentally annoying because they do another visual hearing test. Chad and I agree with the audiologists findings from the hearing test because it is scientific but it is so hard to really grasp that he has a hearing loss. The boy hears, darnit! He reacts to his name, the dogs barking, items falling, me talking to him. Ugh, I honestly think that the hearing loss is harder to deal with then the Spina Bifida and I hate to admit that. The issue is that we have to agree to get him the hearing aids and of course we agree because we don't want our son to have a speech problem when he is older.
With the Spina Bifida it is more of a waiting game for us because he hasn't had a lot of "issues" yet even though we know that things can come in the future especially with walking, etc. Anyway, with the hearing aids are so right in your face, smack! We know that Teak doesn't understand what exactly we are doing putting these things in his ears. They are just fun chewing toys.
We had been in Houston the first part of May because Chad's grandfather was sick and in the hospital. He has had bone cancer and then came down with pneumonia. It was an emotional weekend but we are thankful that we were there. Chad's grandfather, aka Buster, passed away. He did get a glimpse of Teak which was the biggest goal of the weekend. Chad really wanted him to meet Teak. Buster played a big role in Chad's childhood. He will forever be missed. Okay, okay, back to my point of this post! So the molds take a couple weeks to come in, they end up coming in the week after we had an emotional weekend. I explain to our director and audiologist about the weekend and they told us that if we want to wait to start using the aids until after the funeral, etc, that was fine so of course, we choose to wait. It is just a lot to take in.
So the first full day that Teak wore the hearing aids was one emotional day. It was just hard to get used to him wearing the hearing aids. First of all, they make his ears stick out a little bit. I know, I know, not a big deal but the point is that they make him look different... When you hug on him, they feedback or ring a bit which is normal yet so incredibly annoying. The ringing in the ears is no fun for us or Teak. Could you imagine having ringing in your ears! Well, I end up emotionally breaking down for about a minute and feeling sorry for myself. Really feeling sorry for myself. I decide that I need to let myself have a little breakdown over this because I really hadn't yet but then I feel guilty. It is another issue with feeling like you can't protect your child from something. Kids are mean to other kids that are "different." The "What Ifs" start dancing around in my head again. I tell myself to let it out for a few more seconds and then compose, get it together and hug my Teak. I tell him I love him and decide to take a walk to the park.
So we are at our neighborhood park swinging and a little girl walks up with her mother. She is maybe 2 years old and wants to swing. She is focusing on Teak saying baby, etc., which is all fine until she says booboo and is pointing and looking at Teak. Her mother sweetly says to her that she doesn't think the baby has a booboo and they continue to swing.
Well, I just smile over at them and keep swinging myself all the while thinking how wonderful it is that a 2 yr old even noticed the damn hearing aids. I get why she said booboo, yes, it would seem that he has a booboo because he has something in his ears to help him hear better. I am not sure where I am going with this but just wanted to get it off my chest because even though I am not mad at the little girl or her mother, I am was just annoyed with the hearing aids that day and admittedly a little annoyed at God as well.
So back to the ringing...my little boy is so not little anymore. He is growing up so fast and getting big, not just around the belly but his ears as well. His molds are already too small and won't fit in his ears so all they do all day is RING! And when they ring all day, he really wants to pull the things out and chew on them. Heck, I would love to chew those things up as well. Our hearing specialist hounds me about keeping the hearing aids in his ears but if all he does is take them out then my sanity is going to disappear sooner rather than later.
We finally got new molds sized so we will see once those come in...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

6 Months Down

Check your calendars, it has been 6 months since Teak was born. I can hardly believe it. Wow, how a life can change in so little time. It was a good day at start, a beautiful Spring day in Austin. The weather was great. Teak on the other hand was not so great. He was a bit fussy and drooling a LOT so I can only think that he must be getting some more teeth coming in. He had 2 teeth that came in just a few days before he turned 4 months old. They were the 2 bottom teeth. Now, his gums on the top are all puffy and pushing through. Teak has been such a different baby since he learned to sit up on his own around 5 months. He is so much calmer and happier. He just loves to sit up straight with his legs out straight. He doesn't like to fold his legs in at all but has great posture! What a baby boy. We are so thankful that he has stayed so healthy through these 6 months of his life. He is rolling from belly to back only because he hates to be on his belly. We are still working on back to belly but we will get there. He is still seeing a physical therapist once a week and we love her. Simone is wonderful with Teak and truly a joy to work with as well. She is not too opinionated but looks out for Teak and his best interest. Sorry, when you are around a lot of doctors and nurses and therapists you have to learn to weed through their words....remembering that you are the parent of your child and you know them better than anyone. So physical therapy is going great. We do a lot of floor time during the day. It is hard though since all he wants to do is sit, sit, sit.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Teak was in the NICU at Dell Children's Hospital for 12 days. We left on Monday, Nov. 8th. The last two days and nights we were in a "sleep in" room where there is a full size bed and bathroom similar to a hospital room. It was nice. We had Teak in there with us. Got our first little taste of what is was like to be parents of a newborn. Yikes. Especially nursing. Goodness, they weren't kidding about eating every 2 hours.
His little white crib, bed monitors and all. He still had to be hooked up to the monitors but it was for his own safety. It was frustrating though because it was a travel monitor so it sat under his crib and kept going off with every little movement. So it made you think something was wrong with him but nothing was wrong. We figured out which button to push to make the sound go off. I know it sounds bad but I promise we knew he was okay first. Plus, the nurses see it on screens outside. They don't need the sound. It was very sensitive to minor movement and he was moving a lot.

Alright, so we had a little scare just after Teak's surgery. The 2nd night he was in the NICU, Chad got a call early in the morning around 5ish from the on call doctor there stating that Teak had some episodes. They weren't sure if they were seizures or what. He would clentch up with his arms up but still bent and arch his back and essentially hold his breath or stop breathing. The first time the nurses had to give him air through a baby sized air bag press thing (not sure what this is called). They had a neurologist come and take a look at him. He had maybe a couple more, not as severe. So they scheduled an EEG.

Chad and I actually witnessed one together. Our nurse had gone to lunch and we had just gotten back from eating. He tensed up just as they had stated he was doing and his monitors start beeping and sounding off. His skin got really pale and his lips starting to turn blue, literally blue. I can still see the image in my min and forever will. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I immediately thought to touch him but can't even remember if I did or not because no one was coming in the room. I thought surely the nurses hear this and know that our nurse is out right now. Why in the world would they not respond?! Chad runs out of the room as I follow. He yells "HEY" down the hallway. At this point, it feels like a scene from a movie or an episode in Grey's Anatomy. I just see blue scrubs coming running down the hallway, maybe 4 or 5 but it seems like 15 nurses. He is coming out of this episode by now but they all start checking it out. Where am I...hovered in a corner of the hallway shaking, crying. Chad comes to embrace me. One of the nurses comes out of Teak's room saying, "Where's mom, where's mom?" I turn to her and she gives me a big hug and says its going to be alright. She understands its scary...

So now that we have witnessed it, it really puts a perspective on things. The EEG that they do doesn't really show any signs of seizure activity but it isn't exactly clear. So as a precaution they decide to start him on seizure meds, phenobarbital.
Little side note: He is already doped up on fentanyl for pain from the surgery. When we speak to the neurologist, he states that these episodes could be seizures or they could be a reaction to the pain from the surgery or even from the pain meds. This is not uncommon for newborns to react this way and then never have any more episodes. He says that starting him on the phenobarbital wouldn't hurt anything, however, it can make him very drowsy for quite some time.
Ugh, seriously. Fine, just do it. The first dose of it they have to give him in two different doses. And it does knock him out. He is so tired and drowsy. I have never seen a human being sleep that rock hard. Poor thing, it is kind of heart breaking. Then after a day or so they do another EEG. They are about to give him a 3rd dose. Literally, the nurse has it in her hands, and the neurologist's nurse practitioner runs in the room and says to stop don't give him anymore because the EEG was clear. The nurse asked for it on paper and they go and sort it out. He never had another episode after the 3rd day he was in the NICU.

The doctors in the NICU do rounds everyday. If you are in the room then they will open up the door so that you can hear them discuss your child. So the main NICU doctor is a young guy. I don't catch his name until the end of our stay so always call him the young doctor to Chad. He is pretty straight forward but I have to say that I wasn't very nice to him the first time we spoke because of some questions that were being answered with doctor talk instead of laymen terms.
So, one day at rounds, he is commenting on one of the other doctors notes about the episodes and states that he thought it was all because of a reaction to the fentanyl, the pain meds they had Teak doped up on. Sounded like the other doctors didn't want to say this for sure but that was his opinion. My thinking, he sees babies all day almost everyday, I liked his reasoning. If only babies could talk...

When you have spina bifida myelomeningocele you can also develop hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain. It is basically spinal fluid that is building up and not draining correctly for certain reasons. Teak has yet to develop this to this day, praise the Lord. However, a few days after the surgery, his back starts to swell up a bit around the incision. Our neurosurgeon and one of his nurse practitioners comes in and take a look at it and explains what is happening. They stated it is just building up and this is basically normal but they have to watch it. A couple things, it could be absorbed back into the body, it could stay this way then he would have to have shunts placed to drain it or it could cause fluid to build up in the brain and he would have to have shunts in his head. So they calmly state they will just watch it for the next few days and schedule another EKG. This stresses me out a bit.
I will tell you this though, that night when Chad came to pick me up he could tell I was a bit stressed. You have good and bad days as anyone would if your child is in the intensive care unit especially if you just had him and your hormones are whacked out. So, I told him about the fluid and what Dr. George stated. I told him that we needed to pray about it together. He said, well then lets do it. So we placed our hands on Teak's back and I prayed out loud. All I remember saying was that I knew we had asked a lot of the Lord in the last few months and that he had delivered on everything and more, we were so thankful, but that we were asking him to please remove the fluid from Teak's back, etc.
I tell you what, that fluid started going down and never re-appeared...now, you can say that could have happened if we had prayed or not but I know what I know and I know that God removed it.
Teak has yet to develop hydrocephalus. I say yet because they state that they can develop it up to even adulthood. However, spina bifida babies tend to develop it within the first 2 weeks of closure then up to 1 year. This is the most common time frame. It doesn't mean you are in the clear after a year but the percentages are lower. I have seen a couple different ratios but I believe that 98% of people with spina bifida myelomeningocele develop hydrocephalus and have to have shunts. Correct me if I am wrong, it varies in my notes.

Our time in the NICU was shorter than a lot of other SB families but we had our trials and tribulations. Every SB baby, child, adult is different. There truly is not a standard or an index on what will happen and when and how extreme the SB will be but they are all very special children, people and we are all blessed to be a part of their lives.

Teak now has physical therapy once a week. Simone, our PT, is wonderful. We love her. She is great with Teak. Teak moves his legs like a "normal" baby. He starting sitting up around 5 months old. He has had great neck strength since he was 1 month old. He is continuing to meet all the "normal" developmental milestones of a baby. He is full of life. If you could only hear this boy's laugh, you would melt like butter on hot corn on the cob. He is also very serious and has been scowling his eyebrows since he was in the womb. I promise, we have the 3D pics to prove it. He is just taking it all in, very smart boy, watching, learning, strong minded, strong willed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Finally, mother and baby together!!! I was released from St. David's on October 30th. Two and half days longer than I wanted but knew it was necessary. Since I had to have a scheduled c-section and knew I would several months prior to the delivery, I told my OB/GYN and her nurse practitioner that I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible. They kept telling me oh, a c-section will keep you in there at least 2 - 4 days and typically the latter is more common. Well, I didn't care and didn't want to hear it. I warned them that 2 days was going to be long enough...

By the middle of the 2nd day I was up and walking around the room and hospital. Slowly walking but walking. Walking is actually good for recovery. I am serious. It is. It helps your body to recover and start to mend itself back. I am not saying walk a mile but get off your butt and take a little stroll.

My mother-in-law had a c-section over 20 years ago and kept telling me how HORRIBLE it was and how painful, etc. But I think I have a different level of pain tolerance than she does because it hurt but didn't hurt that bad. Yes, I know they had me doped up a little but I didn't even take all my pain meds. Plus, in all honestly, everyone is entitled to their own experience. You can't compare your experience to anyone else because we are all different human beings. Plus, I had other things on my mind...my son who was undergoing major back surgery at less than 24 hours old.

Alright, so my doctor, Dr. Merritt, is wonderful. I have been going to her for 18 years. She definitely made a note in my file that I wanted to get out of there. I made sure all my nurses knew as well. So Saturday roles around, it is past 10 which means that I have been there over 2 days now because we had arrived around 7am on Thursday so I am getting ansy. I have already showered by myself, walked down the hall a couple times getting ice and water. Pumped a few times and ready to go. I couldn't concentrate on the TV, magazine or book that I had in my room. I packed my bags, waiting. The on call doctor finally came in around 1pm after I asked my nurse to check up on the delay. He checked me out and said I was good to go. I called Chad as fast as I could and he said he was on his way from Dell. Thank God it was so close.

Gee, just walking from the parking lot to the NICU was a trek but a good one for me. It just took longer because you put put along because of the soreness. Seriously, walking from the parking lot into the front door, over the bridge inside, to the elevators to the 4th floor, then out of the elevators, down the hall of windows, into the NICU doors, wash your hands, dry them, use the de-germing jell, down the hall of all the rooms to the last one on the right. Number 19. My baby boy was in there, number 19, they had already placed his name on the door in big letters cut from stationary. The T was formed in the shape of a celtic looking cross. I loved it.

I honestly can't even remember if he was awake or asleep because I was son overwhelmed with emotion of finally seeing my baby boy. We had spent 9 months together, just the 2 of us and now had to spend 2 1/2 days apart. I leaned over and started talking to him and then the tears started. It was funny because Chad's reaction was to tell me it was okay and to not cry (he said it sweetly) but our bold red-headed nurse snapped back at him and said it was okay for me to cry that it was normal and good for me to cry.
You see, they wouldn't let anyone hold him, not even Chad, until I got there to hold him for the first time.

After Teak's surgery, Chad would put the phone up to Teak's ear several times so that I could talk to him. It was so hard to talk to my boy and be so far away. I felt angry with Chad and his mother for being there even though I knew it was good that they were there with Teak. But now I could be here with him. I had been pumping so I brought some of my milk with me, it wasn't much but what can you do. My milk took a few days to come in. I just kept on pumping.
The day nurse on Tuesday said that I could go ahead and try to get him latched on and she would help. Ouch, he seems to latch pretty good so she let me nurse him. It hurt but sometimes things in life hurt to get to the good part. I was just happy to be there all day with my baby boy. Doctors coming and going. Nurses on their little schedules.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

October 28 & 29, 2010 - Delivery & Surgery Day

A scheduled c-section is so weird to be honest with you. You feel odd walking into a hospital getting all done up for surgery to have a baby. Just seems so un-natural to me. I told Chad that I still don't feel like I birthed my child, you know, that I actually gave birth to Teak. No, I don't have issues with it but feel that it is odd that my doctor cut me open and pulled my child out of me. Just stop and think about it. It is weird. Enough about that...

So we get ready for the c-section and I go into the operating room. The anesthesiologist gives me a spinal for the surgery. I lay down and start to not feel my legs, etc. Then I start to not feel my middle then I get tingly in my hands and my throat...at this point, I start to realize this is not okay and mention to the doctor that I am about to pass out. She explains to me that it meant that my spinal was really good and was moving up my body. She did something to stop it and it felt a lot better after that. This was the worst part of having a c-section for me.

Delivery went well besides the spinal scare. They pull and tug and here comes Teak. Redheaded and 8 lbs 8 oz, 20.5 inches long. The St. David's NICU doctors and nurses take him and start to wipe him down. They check out his back but still seem rough with him. Ugh.

I finally get to see my little boy and give him a kiss. I can't believe he is actually here. This is really happening. The day we had been waiting for months.

Anyone who has ever had a baby that needs special care as soon as they are born knows what it it like to have their baby taken from them as soon as they were born. The issue here was that he was going to be transported from St. Davids to Dell Children's within 24 hours to undergo major back surgery. We were prepared for this. You honestly have to mentally be prepared that your child will not be with you. You have to morn the fact that this was NOT your birth plan and you will not have the same old stories like your friends/family. But then you realize that is okay. Why would you want your story to be like theirs anyway? Ours is different and different is good. Honestly, you just let your self get mad, sad but you stay strong in the midst of it.

Chad runs off with the baby. All of our family is waiting to hear about Teak and if he is as healthy as he could be, etc. Of course family drama is going on in the lobby but that seems to be normal in our lives these days. Baby brings out the worst and best in people. :)

Chad grabs his mother to see Teak in the NICU, then takes my mother, then my father and then his father. Except me, Teak's mother, the one who nurtured him in her body for 9 months and just underwent major surgery for him. So I am in recovery and finally get wheeled back to my room. All family members are there and we gather in my room. Talking, etc. I tell them about my experience with the spinal. Fun times. They told Chad that Dell was already sending a transport for Teak today. Wow, so fast. I thought they might keep him at St. David's another day but no biggy. The faster they get his repair surgery done the better in my mind. They did promise to bring him by the room before he was rushed off. Fancy guy, already going on his first car ride before he is even a few hours old.

They finally bring him by around 1:30pm. Yes, I started worrying because they originally stated noon. He is in the see through incubator. This plump baby in the incubator. For some reason, they placed his IV in his head! What the heck, can't imagine that feels good. I get to reach my hand in and rub his arm but that is about it. I of course tear up, it is so sad to see him in there all by himself. Ugh, I knew this day would come and they would have to transport him to another away from me and I knew it would be hard. I was prepared for it but you can prepare for things but it doesn't mean that it isn't going to be hard or hurt. Just like a marathon that you train for, you prepare not just physically but mentally but while you are running those long distances it is still hard on your mind and body.

Chad and his mother follow the transport to Dell while I stay at St. Davids. I have great nurses at St. Davids that really take care of me. They wonder where my baby is and I explain that he has Spina Bifida, etc. They are sympathetic and understand that I am ready to go and see no reason for me to be there any longer than I need to. My doctor had originally stated 2 to 4 days but I kept telling her that 2 days was as long as I needed to be in the hospital because I was needed somewhere else.

So Teak had surgery before he was even 24 hours old. I wanted to know everything. I didn't want to be left out of anything. This was my son who I have spent 9 months with and didn't want anyone else except my husband to know everything going on with the surgery and the NICU, etc. This presented some problems because my mother in law was in the midst of things to be supportive. It was hard for me though because she had such a hard time when Teak was diagnosed with SB months before. She was very helpful and ended up taking over the night shift at the NICU so that Teak was hardly ever alone.

We had met the neurosurgeon a couple times before so that we became comfortable with him and the surgery. We had also spoken to a few other SB families about him and they were always so complimentary. He seemed to be a legend. Dr. Timothy George. He was very personable yet very intelligent which you don't always find as a mix in a good doctor. We knew he was the right man to repair our son's back. I asked Chad to call me when he was talking to Dr. George before the surgery so that I could hear what was said, etc. Instead, Dr. George got on the phone and explained things to him. I asked a couple questions as well. He is very mater of fact but nice about it. We like him...

Sitting in my hospital room by myself that morning was surprisingly peaceful. Again, so many emotions are running rampant through your mind, body and soul during these times. It is so indescribable. I can only imagine that parents who have gone through something similar can relate. Prayer is the only thing that can help you through it, honestly. Pray for your husband to continue being strong and patient and loving through it all. Pray for the doctor who is cutting open your baby boy and handling precious parts of his insides that most people don't even think about or realize they have and use everyday. Parts that are necessary to walk and pee. Things that we do everyday and take for granted.

So from there, Chad waiting in the waiting room downstairs at Dell until the surgery was over. He said that Dr. George told him that it went really well. The spinal cord was still intact and there wasn't a lot of tethering of the cord as well. He also stated that there wasn't a lot of nerve damage. This all sounded so wonderful. He got to go see Teak who was now going to be placed in his own NICU room. Now it was just recovery and waiting to see what happens and how he develops.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

October 28, 2010

Today's the day, the inevitable. Our scheduled c-section. I was walking into St. David's pregnant, baby inside me and will walk out in 2 days without baby.

We had prepared ourselves for this day for a few months now and were so excited that the day was finally here. We knew it wouldn't be easy but we had each other and we couldn't wait to add one more to our family. We knew there would be tears; tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of worry, tears of relief. Tears that would come when we didn't expect them. We couldn't wait to meet the love of our lives and smile and kiss him.

All these tears and smiles were for one precious person, Teak Joseph Head born October 28th, 2010, at 9:46am. Weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces, 20.5 inches. Beautiful red-headed boy, nice and plump and strong.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ear oh ear...

Oh ear, oh ear! A lot of people don't know the facts about Teak's ears so here goes.

Teak failed his infant hearing screened when he was in the NICU. They did it 3 times! The third time before we left the hospital, his left ear passed but his right ear still didn't. They kept stating that it could be just because he had fluid in his ears from birth (c-section baby) so not to worry but that we would need to have an audiologist do a hearing test on him at Dell.

So in December we went into Dell Children's Hospital and met with Liz, the audiologist there, and she tried to test his ears. They told me to keep him hungry and tired. Let me tell you, that was a fun morning. I kept him as hungry as I could and he fell asleep in the car. Thank goodness, Dell is only 10 minutes away. Liz is actually happy that he is asleep so that she can start testing. She keeps him in his carrier, starts to attach electrode things to his head and begins the testing.

Side note: She asks why we are there, I explain that he basically failed his infant hearing screen except the left ear. We know he hears because he startles at sounds, etc. I also tell her that I must mention that my grandfather (mother's side) had to get hearing aids when he was around 20 years old and supposedly his mother had to get them around the same age. Also, grandpa had a sister who was born deaf. She nods her head. Then she ends up asking why he was in the NICU and I explain that he has Spina Bifida, etc.

Alright, so she is testing him and has her computer screen up with all these little graphs moving. I just kind of sit back and watch. He starts to stir and then eventually wakes up before she can finish. I am breastfeeding so brought a bottle of breastmilk to try to feed him and try to get him back to sleep. They have to be asleep in order to finish the because the stirring and even eating is too loud and makes the test inconsistent. He falls back to sleep in my arms so she decides to try the other ear and begins testing, he wakes up again before she can finish.

The results are inconclusive at this time and he is going to have to go back in for testing and they will have to sedate him the next time. Ugh, not so happy about that but it seems to be something they do all the time when necessary and I trust the people at Dell.
She does mention that our son hears but that there was a potential delay at lower levels on the left side and right side. She stated it could still be fluid in the ears so we had to go see a pediatric ENT doctor to have his ears checked.

We were talking while she was doing some of the tests and kept saying that she really loved how I was with Teak. She thought that I must have other children the way that I handled him and spoke to him. She said that I didn't act like a new mom but like an experienced mother. That meant a lot to me. I didn't know how else I would act but it felt good to hear that especially after the past month had been for me. She really felt impressed at my reaction to his SB diagnosis. He was doing so well and we were so thankful to the Lord. Ah-ha, she said. That is why you are this way. You have faith. No wonder.
How else can you be, I think.

So we go to the ENT doctor and she stated that Teak does not have fluid in his ears.

So back at Dell again for another hearing test in the beginning of March. This morning all I am doing is having little discussions with God. Yes, I have faith and believe that Teak is the most special little being in the world but he already has Spina Bifida, please Lord, don't give him hearing loss. He is special but people on this earth are mean and I don't want him to have to deal with anything else...
The most nerving about this test was that they had to sedate him. It was so sad, he had to drink this orange stuff then fussed a little and fell asleep. It was just sad and unnerving but I trusted the nurse who watched over him and trusted Liz. I couldn't stay in the room with him so I had to go to the waiting room. They give you a pager so you can walk around. I decided to walk around for a bit b/c she said it could take up to an hour and a half.

The diagnosis: Well, God had another plan. Teak was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss. His left ear is better than his right ear. The audiologist explained it to us that he hears but he doesn't hear certain sounds very well unless they are louder. She recommended he get hearing aids before he was 6 months. She stated that we don't have to listen to her recommendation but that it could effect his speech. Then later on when he is not speaking correctly we will think we need to correct his speech but that wasn't the initial problem, it was because he was not hearing the words correctly. So in order for him to learn to speak words correctly the hearing aids would help. We may say THROW to him but he only hears ROW...

My initial thought was that it was crazy to think he needed hearing aids. What in the world was she talking about. He could hear so what was the use. He reacted to the sounds when they were louder so I could just speak louder or keep him by my side. He was already right next to me most of the day while I was holding him. While speaking with her I couldn't hold back the tears. I just hated that we were adding another disability to this beautiful perfect boy. Lord, he already had Spina Bifida, why did we need to tack this on? I truly believe it was not a result of his SB, that it was genetically from me. I must carry a passive gene from my grandfather. Those thoughts are scary as well because this could also happen to another child if we chose to have one. They could even be deaf like my great aunt.

I was angry with God for a couple days, yelling at him and just purely angry. Honestly, I have to say that I was felt a little more upset about this diagnosis than the SB. Maybe because I knew it was my fault where the SB we had no idea where it came from. I did get over it after a couple days. I apologized to God and felt comfort in the diagnosis.
I know that He specifically made Teak to be a special boy. More special than any of our friends' and families' babies. (Sorry guys!) But we were chosen and Teak was chosen and he is only going to be a better person because of it all.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What 's in a Name?

My wonderful grandfather, Kenneth Daniel Bourgeois, died April, 2010. I was about 2 months pregnant. It wasn't a big surprise when he passed away because he had been in the ICU 3 weeks prior but it still broke my heart. All I could think about was how my grandfather wasn't going to meet his 1st great grandson.
My grandfather and I shared a birthday and I always loved it. I was born on his birthday and named his favorite name which happened to be his grandmother's name, Abigail. We always had a great bond.
While we were in Slidell LA for the funeral, I pulled out Mimi and Papa's picture albums from her guest room closet. I loved looking through them. All the pictures of my sister, brother and I growing up and hanging out at their house in Slidell, our old house in Houston and our house on Allston. It is so weird looking at old pictures. They bring back memories or just remind you that you used to be younger. I also pulled down an album of Papa's family, you know where the pictures look sterile, black and white and they don't smile. They showed a family tree going way back and I saw the last name Keaton and thought it was a good strong name. This was also the lineage of my great great grandmother Abigail who I was named after.
Before I even got pregnant, I had always liked Mimi's maiden name Turner. It would be unique as a first name. My thoughts were that it could honor Mimi as well as her brother, my great uncle Johnny.
On our long drive back to Austin from Slidell, names were running through my head, girl and boy. I combined the names Turner Keaton. I kept thinking we could officially name him that then nickname him something like TK or Teke. Well, once we got home, I sad down and wrote out some names that I thought about including the above and left it alone.
Then the fateful day came and went when we found out about our baby boy's Spina Bifida and we decided that we needed to go ahead and name him. So I pulled out the list (it was on my computer and I had been adding to it) and started reading off the names I had. There were all kinds on there. I come to the name Teke and read it out. Chad stops and smiles and says he likes that. You can tell he is thinking about it. I rush to explain that it came out of the full name Turner Keaton and was intended to be a nickname.
After trying to persuade him towards my family names, we come to a decision. He isn't a fan of Keaton and we realize that Turner Head doesn't sound the best so we settle on Teak and decide to spell it like the wood. We look up the meaning of Teak and read about the tree that Teak wood comes from and are truly convinced this is our son's name.
The trees that Teak wood comes from grow very tall and are very strong durable trees similar to the wood. They make sap that helps fight off diseases. Teak wood is used to make outdoor furniture as well as fancy boats. It seems to be able to withstand all weather. What a great name to use for a strong boy. His middle name Joseph is Chad's middle name which came from his biological grandfather's name. Joseph in the book of Genesis also overcame great obstacles.
Now, looking at Teak I couldn't imagine his name being anything else. He is Teak Joseph Head and one day he will change the world.

Jeremiah 30:17

Ever since we found out about our unborn son having Spina Bifida our doctors had us scheduled to have a sonogram every month to check on him and his growth. Making sure nothing else is going on with him.
So from month 4 to month 9 we had the privilege of seeing our unborn baby boy in his living quarters. We get to make sure that he is staying as healthy as he can be.
Waiting for those ultrasound days were stressful and exciting. Our hopeful thoughts were always focused on praying for the health of our child. Jeremiah 30:17 helped tremendously. I kept it in my car and would hold my hand on my pregnant belly and repeat these words while driving to and from work everyday: "I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, Declares the Lord." (Thanks to my Aunt Susan in N.C. for the great passages!)
Every month we would wait patiently while they viewed our son and stated that his brain is still fluid free, feet still look good, brain still forming great and good in size.
We just can't believe that our son is staying as healthy as he possibly could while he is growing in the womb. The power of prayer is amazing. Chad and I learn to truly look up for all our needs.
We were married 2.5 years before in the same church that we were baptized in together but it sometimes takes a life changing moment to help you focus. We continued to ask God for a miracle - heal our son, heal our son, only you can heal our son.
Month after month our son was staying strong, kicking, even showing off one time by touching his toes to his mouth. The ultrasound techs would comment on how he was a squirmer when they were trying to check him out. Our Spina Bifida son was showing off how he could move his feet, the feet that people were telling us he may or may not be able to use once he hits this earth.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life Changing

So I remember when we found out I was pregnant - March 10, 2010. Yes, I was 10 days late and I was just fine ignoring its tardiness as well as the horrid tenderness in my breasts. Two things that should not be ignored. Decided to finally tell my husband about 7 days into this denial stage so once it hit day 10 he offered to go to HEB and grab a pee stick. I told him we need to be double sure no matter what the result was so grab the value pack, two for one.
As we were making dinner and cleaning house, I did the inevitable and placed the stick on the side of the sink and went on with cooking dinner.
Only a few minutes later, Chad ran into the bathroom. As I was sheepishly walking in the same direction, he yelled out "Its Positive!" My body swung back up against the hallway wall in shock and my loving husband reached out and hugged me tight. I couldn't believe it. Positive, how in the heck did that happen?!? He can't believe it. The smile on this man's face is from ear to ear. Now remember, we got the value pack so I started downing great amounts of any liquid possible in order to take another run at it. Obviously, the sticks weren't lying to me. I felt so young and so old all in the same moment. Standing there in my bright lime green Victoria Secret sweatpants that said PINK on the butt - I loved them but they seemed so juvenile all of a sudden. I was a 30 year old women, married and now pregnant.
Okay, okay, don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad thing by any means. God only knows how much I couldn't wait to have a little rugrat running around with Chad's smile and reddish blond hair. However, I had patience to wait another year to get more settled, more money in the bank, maybe even a bigger house.
There were a few things to figure out between this important date and the next one. First of all, we didn't have insurance. Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition. It was looking hopeless. We decided to apply for a couple different government insurance plans but just my income alone was over the amount they allowed. The middle class is forgotten when it comes to certain areas of the government...we weren't looking for a hand out but this was our last hope for insurance because having a baby is pricey these days.
Since we didn't have insurance still then we looked into ways to keep the costs down.
I come from a family of "natural birthers" so I figured I would just jump on the band wagon and take it even further by having the baby at a birthing center. Hey, why not. It was to save on expenses and I could use a mid-wife. Our OB-GYN allowed us to pay on a payment plan and get a discount for paying cash so we went that route as well.
Then it was a day we had been waiting for...our 1st sonogram...we were going to find out what sex our healthy baby was going to be. Another life change.
Don't try to make plans because you aren't in control of your own life. God is in control and he had other plans for us.