Jesse’s Club Foot

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The last 4 weeks have been wonderful.  Busy, yes.  Exhausting, yes.  But, as a good friend of mine put it, we’ve been enjoying the Baby Bliss of having a newborn.  We’ve been soaking up every minute of Jesse’s sweetness – his skin … his soft, soft hair … his sweet baby smell … the tiny little sounds that only a newborn can make.

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It has been nice to just enjoy him, and not have to worry about strict feeding schedules, oxygen requirements, heart failure, hospice, or any of the other things that made Matthew’s first months so stressful.  And we have been enjoying him immensely – treasuring the small moments, and thanking God for our healthy, beautiful boy, who just needs a little help to straighten his foot.

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Yes, Jesse was born with a club foot.  We knew this was a possibility from my 20-week ultrasound, but were hoping it would be flexible enough to require minimal intervention.  Matthew was diagnosed with 2 club feet in utero, but when he was born, his feet were very flexible and self-corrected by the time he was 6 months old.  Jesse’s foot, however, is not flexible and will require casting.  As you can see, Jesse’s foot is a classic case:

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We’ll go to the Shriner’s hospital in Portland next week for his first cast.  Then, he will need to be re-casted weekly for several weeks, then wear a brace at night for about 2 years.  It is a more involved process than we were anticipating (we were really hoping to be done with children’s hospitals for awhile, but instead we get to learn our way around a 3rd one!), but we’re thankful that club feet are treatable – it is not a life-threatening or life-long condition, and by the time he is ready to run, his foot will be ready, too.  However, the casting stage is going to be logistically quite difficult for us, since Portland is over 4 hours away.  There isn’t anyone closer who is comfortable casting his foot, so we need to figure out how to make weekly trips across the state.  (I always thought it would be Matthew who would require us to live close to a children’s hospital!)

We’ll make this first trip together as a family, (and hopefully take the boys to the zoo if weather permits), but later trips might have to be just Jesse and me, leaving the older boys with Daddy or grandparents.  We’ll make it work one way or another.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep taking in every special moment.  Whatever it takes – he’s worth it … and he’s already rewarding us with sweet, sleepy smiles:

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Once again, we appreciate your prayers.

About 1 in 1,000 babies is born with a club foot – many times it affects both feet, as it did with Matthew.  We were also once told that our chances of having a baby with Down syndrome was 1 in 1000-1500.  I’m not sure how I feel about hitting those odds twice in a row … my dad says it makes us a 1-in-a-million family!

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Happy, Happy Birthday!

My Matthew,

Happy Birthday – You are two years old today!

While most parents would say, “Wow, how time flies!  It seems like only yesterday …”   Instead, I find myself thinking, “Really?  Has it only been two years since you were born?”  You have been through so much, and have come so far, it’s hard to believe that only 2 years ago, you were my tiny 4-lb baby, too weak to eat or cry, expected to only live a very short time.

Now, look at you!

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Definitely not too weak to eat, now!

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You are so full of life and energy, you are hard to keep up with!  You are always on-the-go, exploring, climbing, and busy discovering the world.  You are learning to communicate, and pick up on new signs quickly.  In the past couple weeks, you have added “dance,” “please,” “outside,” “book,” and “dog,” to your sign language vocabulary.

You are inventive, and are constantly surprising us (and making us laugh!) with what you come up with.  A couple weeks ago, you were trying to “call” Grandpa for most of the morning.  You used a piece of wooden train-track as a phone, and said “aaaa-oo? pa-pa?”  When he didn’t answer, you tried a banana-phone at the breakfast table.  He didn’t answer that, either, so after breakfast, you used your handy-dandy foot-phone!

"Aaaa-ooo?  Pa-pa?"

"Aaaa-ooo? Pa-pa?"

You are asserting yourself, demanding more independence, and testing the limits … all of which challenge us, but are so typical of a 2-year-old that we are happy to see it.  You have a very sweet, gentle side, too, and give the very best snuggle-hugs!  If either of your brothers are crying or fussing, you are very concerned, and are quick to offer a comforting hug or a pat-on-the-back.

You will not tolerate being left out of anything – whatever Micah is doing, you want it on it!  You two love to wrestle and chase each other, dance together, go for “rides” in the laundry basket or spin in the office chair.  You’ve learned that Micah will push you faster than Mommy will! You have started to play with Micah’s animals, too, but you say “ooo-ooo” for every animal.  Micah is patiently teaching you that they are not ALL monkeys!

You have started to be “helpful,” and will take a wash cloth to wipe your little brother’s face, or try to clean the table.  You especially love “helping” with outdoor projects, and have lent a hand with some gardening and landscaping this summer.

Our soil-quality expert!

Our soil-quality expert!

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Yes, you did this all by yourself.

Yes, you did this all by yourself.

Yes, my little Matthew, I still marvel at the gift you are.  I cry when I think about “what could have been,” because I simply can’t imagine my life without you now.

You’ll always be my miracle baby, but you are shaping up to be a pretty cool big-brother, too!

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We love you more than words can say.

Happy, happy birthday, my beautiful boy.

Pictures of baby Jesse

Here he is! Jesse Gabriel Vawter, along with very proud (and gentle!) big brothers Micah and Matthew.

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Jesse joined us after a short (but intense!) labor – we got to the hospital around 4:30 am on Sunday, and he was born at 6:51 am.  Thankfully, I did not have to have another C-section because I have a bicornuate uterus (basically, 2 completely separate “halves”).  My C-section was on the left half of my uterus, and Jesse was on the right side, so there was not any pressure on my uterine incision during labor.  Funny – a “deformity,” one that was supposed to cause me all kinds of problems, actually proved to be beneficial in the end.  Hmmm – the Lord has mysterious ways.

We are all home now, and doing very well.  Jesse is doing a great job nursing, and his big brothers and grandparents are enjoying him very much.  I’m feeling good and recovering well, too!

Thanks for all the prayers, everyone!