Thursday, May 27, 2010


Books have become a new favorite of Calvin's lately. He has been bringing us books and excitedly jabbering to us making the "more" and "please" signs to asks us to read. When we say yes, he climbs onto our laps for the story. Sometimes he listens to the whole book (turning the pages quickly, of course), but he usually averages about 4 pages before heading off to find a different book to repeat the whole process with. The best part is Cal's enthusiastic climbing onto my lap, so I'm happy with the short attention span.

Last night and this morning, Calvin has been using books for the inevitable....building towers. The picture above is his tower from last night after dinner. This morning there was another book tower that cropped up on the bathroom rug as I was taking a shower. Cal carries one book at a time from the book shelf to the building site, and each trip back and forth could be described as a on-the-verge-of-tripping run/walk. Sometimes he holds the book with two hands at his chest, and about as much of time time, Cal carries the books over his head like a holy text. Though the focus changes when I turn on the camera, you can get an idea of how proud he is of his work in this video.

Calvin is just as happy about reshelving the books, one-by-one again, when I ask him to put the books back on the shelf. This whole building/deconstructing process takes quite awhile. Cal's attention span for building seems to be longer than his focus for reading books. Little busy-body.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Surgery Update

Today was Calvin's eye muscle surgery, and it went really well. I believe God filled Calvin, Dan, and me with peace and strength during this intense day. Here is the play-by-play:

5:30 am -I woke Calvin up to go to the hospital. Within 5 seconds of opening his eyes, he was asking for milk in sign language. Though Cal continued to ask (with sign language, anyway) periodically over the next 2 hours, he did amazingly well with not having breakfast.

6:00-6:30 am- Dan met us at the hospital in the pre-op area after getting off of work for the night. Calvin greeted his daddy by immediately showing Dan his yellow truck, rolling it on the ground, and making the appropriate noises. So sweet. Then he jumped into Dan's arms. Cal was a pretty happy guy just hanging out with his daddy for awhile.

6:30-7:00 The nurses started taking Calvin's temperature, oxygen saturation, etc. There was much breath-holding and screaming during this process. A tired and hungry guy doesn't have much reserve. Putting on the cute little tiger hospital gown was the final straw. Calvin just whimpered on verge of crying while cuddling with Daddy after that.

7:00-7:30 The nurse designated which eye was to be operated on with a marker, and Calvin was given a little sedative. The little cranky buddy perked up and was loopy! He smiled at everyone, throwing his head back and around like his head was spinning. Then he started pointing at all the lights like they looked funny. We just laughed! Having Calvin happy made it easier for Dan to take him away from me to the operating room.

7:30-9:30 Dan took Calvin back to have anesthesia (I couldn't go since I am pregnant). After putting the mask on Cal, he was out immediately. Dan went home to sleep (much needed!) and I waited with my friend, Amanda. Dr. Wallace came out after about an hour and said all went well. We will know the status of the eye alignment after about 6 weeks.

9:30-10:30 Calvin finally woke up, so I got to go see Cal in the recovery area. He was so sweet! Still half-asleep, he drank pedialyte and milk, and ate graham crackers like crazy (though slowly as he was still very sleepy) while resting the full weight of his head on my chest. Thankfully, he didn't have any problems with nausea. After waking up a bit more, getting the IV out, and getting dressed Cal was discharged.

10:45-12:00 I expected to come home with Cal, read a couple books, and put him to bed. He had other ideas. He immediately started pointing to his blue ball and squirmed out of my arms to play. He was a happy little guy for about 30 mintues or so before he started to want more food and sleep. By noon he was asleep for 3 hours.

Upon waking up from his nap, Cal was his normal self for a little while! He played like crazy.
Here is the proof (the signing at the end is Calvin asking Dan to push him around the house):

Here is what Calvin's eye looks like now. The white of his eye is pretty red irritated. It is supposed to feel like there is sand in the eye for a couple of days, but Tylenol and Ibuprofin are supposed to take care of the pain.

We don't have to worry about patching the eye for a few weeks, so for now, we'll just do drops twice a day to help the eye heal.

This has been quite a day! Thank you for your prayers and support!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Home Stretch

At our last ophthalmologist visit, the doctor told Dan and me that Calvin's visual life will be normal. 13 months ago, I was crying thinking of how Calvin would never get to ride a bike, drive a car, see the beautiful trees and flowers, or appreciate how much his appearance resembles his handsome daddy. On the brink of Cal's eye muscle surgery (and hopefully final surgery) tomorrow, I can't help remembering God's goodness and provision.

At about three months old, we knew that something was not right. We noticed that Calvin loved being around bright lights and always focused his gaze upon windows and bulbs. We also realized that he never really looked at us. He touched our faces while "looking" in another direction, and though he would smile in response to our voices, he would not look us in the eye. Upon a first visit to the ophthalmologist, our fears were confirmed. Calvin could not see. Thankfully, this was only the beginning of the journey.

Calvin at 3 months
This picture was taken shortly after we realized he couldn't see.

We went to a more specialized pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Archer, a few days later who gave us the words we were longing to hear. He said that Calvin could not see, but that his vision would start to develop in the next month or two. He had a condition called delayed visual maturation where his vision just hadn't fully developed by the time he was born. A few weeks later, we noticed Calvin looking at us and smiling. We were so thankful and bought a crib mobile for Calvin in celebration. What a gift!

In addition and completely separate from Cal's delayed visual maturation, Calvin had something called persistent fetal vasculature in his left eye. This condition damaged the structure of the lens and retina in Cal's left eye. Surgery was needed to repair the retina to make it as functional as possible.

As a five month old, Calvin had this retina surgery with Dr. Capone, one of the best retina surgeons in the world, practicing just minutes away from us Michigan. God has put us in exactly the right places for Cal's eye needs since the beginning. What a blessing to not have to drive all over the country for these appointments and surgeries.

Calvin at 5 months
After retina surgery in his left eye.
Dr. Capone predicted that he was able to repair the retina enough that we could hope for as good as 20/200 vision (not correctable with glasses) in Calvin's left eye. We were just rejoicing that our little guy had vision at all, and we were so glad to hear that he may have limited vision in his left eye, too.

That was still not the end of the road! After moving down to Durham, Calvin met his ophthalmologist at Duke, Dr. Wallace. Upon his observation, he decided that Calvin's retina was in such good shape after the surgery that it was no longer the limiting factor for the vision in his left eye. It was now the lens that was cloudy from the original condition. Dr. Wallace took out this cloudy lens and gave Cal a contact that he has had for the last year.

Calvin at 6 months
After surgery to remove his left lens.

Since then, we have been patching Calvin's right eye (good eye) to help his brain use his left eye that is now structurally functional. The gains have been incredible! From not seeing at all out of his left eye a year ago, his vision is considered on the low end of the normal range. Wow, vision out of 2 eyes!

Now that Calvin has made significant gains in his left eye vision, Dr. Wallace is going to straighten the left eye in order to give his eyes a chance to work together. This surgery is tomorrow, and if all goes well, it should be Calvin's last eye surgery!

After this, we will continue to patch to maintain the strength of Calvin's left eye, but much less than the 5 hours a day we have been doing. Calvin will need to wear sports googles while playing "dangerous" sports to make sure his right eye is not damaged because it is the stronger eye.

We believe that in every way, God has perfectly knit Calvin together exactly as he is. God has a purpose for his life that is better than anything we could ask or imagine. This did not change based on Calvin having "normal" vision or not, but we are thankful that he gets to experience life with sight. God has proven again to us that in all things, He is able. We pray that just as God has developed Cal's physical vision, He would open Calvin's spiritual eyes to see, that Calvin would know this God who knit him together and loves him so immensely.

Please pray that tomorrow God would guide the hands of Dr. and Wallace, and that before the surgery, Calvin's hunger would be taken away since he is not able to eat after midnight tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Of course it is a toy:

The bottles are very good for taking off the shelf...

Transporting (sliding and carrying seem to be equally enjoyable)....

Reorganizing on the floor, and returning to the shelf (sort of anyway).

But it also serves a greater purpose:

We have been supplementing Calvin's diet for the last few months with Pediasure...or the generic equivalent. He has remained below the growth curve compared to his peers (1st %ile at 20 pounds by 16 months) , so we are always looking for ways to sneak in more calories. He doesn't seem to mind his whole milk mixed with Pediasure, though I think it tastes sickeningly sweet.

The nutritionist at Duke gave us a whole case of chocolate Pediasure. This was financially great, but it was quite a mess in terms of staining Cal's clothes! I also had to swallow my pride a bit when I was in public serving my son a bottle of chocolate milk. I'm sure there will be many more times when I have to decide not to care what others are thinking about my parenting =).

Because of this weight issue, we continue to give Calvin a bottle of milk before every meal. He enjoys a cup and sippy cup these days, but he does not eat the same quantity of milk when given those as he is willing to drink with a bottle. Because Calvin is Mr. Independent these days, he insists on holding the bottle himself, though. Baby steps.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cold Water

The sun has been fierce the last week or so as the temperatures have been in the 90's. We're becoming well-acquainted with the swimming pool in the neighborhood. This is Calvin's swim suit for the year (so far, anyway, since the floating suit I found at a garage sale was a dud).
The water is still very cold by my standards, and I think Calvin's face suggests he thinks so, too!

We've been spending a lot of time in the baby pool where Calvin stands against the side and plays with his bath cups, inflated animals, and a bucket. Occasionally, he decides to walk across the pool into the "deep end" which is about 1 1/2 feet. While doing this a couple days ago, Cal slipped a fell. His body flipped up so that I could see his face as his stunned wide-open eyes looked at me while his head sank towards the bottom of the pool. I expected quite a display following this scary experience, but he was just fine. Just when I think I have the little guy figured out, he surprises me!

It is fun to take Calvin into the big pool to pull him through the water. He's pretty cuddly while it takes a minute to acclimate to having his chest in the water.
Then, it is time for the real fun! While Calvin is not yet kicking like he did as a little guy last summer, he still loves to feel the water moving against his body while we pull him through the water. Maybe as the water warms up a bit Calvin will get a little more adventurous. We've only been able to stay in the deeper water for about 10 minutes before he's had enough. It takes me about 2 minutes, so I think he's doing pretty well. =)

The stroller is usually our chariot to and from the pool since it is only a 10 minute walk or so. The ball in Cal's hands here has been like a new "blankie." He used to throw it and chase it all the time. Now, he just wants to hold it like a security blanket! He wants to be held with the ball in his hands, and he wants to drink his milk with the ball his his hands. Holding the ball in the stroller requires Cal to only look out a small window to the side of the ball, but apparently it is worth it!