Weighted Blanket Miracle

So many times I have thought to myself, "Oh I need to write about X" or "I can't wait to post about Y and Z." I have many posts I would like to write but just haven't had the time lately. However, tonight we had a HUGE breakthrough, and I am dying to share all about it. 

Tyson's surgery and specifically his recovery was extremely traumatic for him. I will share more details later, but for now, just know that he has been TERRIFIED to be apart from me. His anxiety and hyper-vigilence during the day has been in overdrive. You can imagine the terror he has felt when taking naps and going to bed at night. We tried co-sleeping and sleeping in his room, and neither option worked for him. The poor little guy just could not relax and get into deep sleep. He ended up screaming and crying all throughout the night. The idea behind co-sleeping and sleeping in his room was that every time he woke up, he would see us/me there beside him and feel more secure. The hope would be that his security at night would transfer to security during the day, too. 

When those ideas did not pan out, I reached out to an adoptive momma for whom I have great respect, and she suggested that I try a weighted blanket. I looked into purchasing one, and they can be crazy expensive. I decided to jump on Pinterest to see how to make one. After getting a good idea of how to put one together, I thought about what materials I could use. I remembered that I have 3 blankets that are silky on one side and various textures of fleece on the other. We received them as gifts when we were pregnant with Noah. I also had rice on hand. Rather than spending a lot of money buying material and poly pellets when I didn't even know if he would like it, I decided to give it a try today!

When you make a weighted blanket, you need to sew columns first in order to put the rice in each "square" and then sew that row closed. I knew this blanket would be perfect because I could just follow the lines already present. 

In order to figure out how heavy to make it, most guidelines suggest 10% of the child's body weight and add 1 pound. All disclaimers say to consult your occupational therapist or pediatrician. So, do that. :) I used my kitchen scale to measure out the appropriate amount of rice.

Rather than get all fancy, I decided to keep things super simple and just cut the silk side of the blanket away from the silk binding around the outside (see below).

Then I pinned the first column and sewed it from one end to the other. After that I pinned the second column and sewed it...and so on...until all columns were sewn.

I used a paper towel tube and inserted it into the first column, pushing it all the way to the bottom square. I had read that rice or other materials often get stuck in the blanket on the way to the right place, so in order to avoid that, I came up with this idea. I took my overall ounces of rice needed, divided it by the number of squares in my blanket, and measured out that amount of rice. I poured it into the first column/square and repeated until all of the first squares were finished in each column.

I pinned that row of squares and then sewed the row closed. The picture below shows the first row complete, and you can see the rice in each individual square.

This picture shows the first 3 rows completed, again, with each square containing the appropriate amount of rice.

When I got to the top, I folded down the silk binding (where I had originally cut the silk layer), pinned it down, and sewed across in order to close the top of the columns. Below is Noah holding the final product.

And here is the back side of the blanket!

The entire project took just 2 hours to complete, and honestly, it would have been less had I not helped Liam after he spilled rice from our sensory bin all over the kitchen floor while he played. :) It was SUPER easy. I am no seamstress, and even I was able to pull this off.

When it came time for bed, we got busy with the normal routine of undressing, using the restroom, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc. I could feel Tyson wrapping his legs around my waist for dear life getting clingy, and worry was written all over his face. I doused him with some essential oils, as I've been doing the past several days and then went to say goodnight to each of the other boys. They each reminded Tyson in their Daniel Tiger sing song voice that "Mommy, comes back." We went into his room and turned on the sound machine. He started to whimper a bit, and we sat down to rock. I put his Curious George (that Ryan bought for him at the hospital) under his arm and the new weighted blanket over his body. He started to cry but quickly stopped. I rocked him and sang to him, bumped the rocker into the wall, which I discovered at nap time makes him laugh. We sat there for 10 minutes laughing and making sounds at each other. It was precious time! This was the first time in WEEKS that I have been able to rock Ty without him screaming in terror (i.e., the nap time separation anxiety happened before surgery).

When I stood up to make the transition to his crib, I was prepared for the crying to start, as that was when it usually went to screaming...but it never came. I kissed his face a dozen times and told him I loved him. He still didn't cry with anticipation. I laid him down in the crib and braced myself. He laid there with his arms spread wide, completely relaxed. I couldn't believe my eyes! I just watched him for a bit and reminded him that "Mommy, comes back." When I walked away, he fussed for maybe 3 seconds but never cried...never screamed...and he remained completely quiet.

I almost cried. Seriously. I marched downstairs and wrote this post because I know there are others out there fighting this same battle, trying to build security in the hearts of your children. My heart breaks for the loss Tyson has experienced, and the fear it puts in his heart that I might leave him, too. I am so thankful that I am his mommy forever and that I get to earn his trust and love. Eventually, I am hopeful that he will feel safe and secure in our family. Praise Jesus for the peace that Tyson felt tonight! What an incredible step forward.


Tyson's Smile

I cannot believe that an entire month has passed since I last posted in my blog! After writing nearly everyday throughout our trip to China, a month long hiatus was much needed. I have put off writing this post, because I am addicted to watching Flip or Flop on Netflix I am in denial about what is taking place tomorrow - Tyson's first surgery.

As I looked back at previous posts, I realized that Liam's surgery took place on November 16, 2011, and Tyson's is taking place July 16, 2015. This is no coincidence, friends! God is always, always in the details if you are willing to look. Three years and eight months after Liam had his cleft lip repaired (you can read about it here), Tyson will have his cleft palate repaired. If you click the previous link I mentioned, you will actually see a photo of Tyson's surgeon, Dr. Tholpady at Riley Hospital for Children. Dr. Havlik was Liam's surgeon, and we really loved him, but he moved to Wisconsin. Dr. Tholpady was Dr. Havlik's fellow and actually assisted in Liam's surgery in 2011. I met with Dr. Tholpady a month ago and was very pleased with his level of compassion and confidence, as well as his calm and cautious nature with respect to Tyson being recently adopted. We feel very confident moving forward with him as our lead surgeon for TyTy's care.

Tyson has been in our arms for 7 weeks. We spent the our first 4 weeks home strictly cocooning and focusing on our family of six. Since that time, Tyson has spent a small amount of time with each set of grandparents, attended one 4th of July party, joined friends at one pool party, and had dinner at two different friends' houses. It has been SO nice seeing our friends and family again, though I think Tyson has become more clingy and less secure again as a result of doing so. If I am not sitting still 2 feet from him, you will find us holding hands walking throughout the house together. He panics if I walk to a new area, so you can imagine his response when I leave the house. People have often asked, "Do you think he transitioned so easy to you because he is so young?" I always say no because his initial transition is only a testament to the Lord's mercy, as he really answered our prayers in that way! Because Tyson has lost EVERYTHING he knows, he is understandably very fearful of being losing everything he knows again. Some of you had a parent walk away from you when you were growing up. Others have lost people who meant everything to them, and because of that pain, you may often wonder if and when the people closest to you will walk away, too. Imagine how little TyTy must feel, wondering and worrying that when I walk out of the room, he will never see me again. So so sad.

I am hopeful that this recovery period will help Ty continue forming those deep roots of felt safety and security in our family. I cannot imagine how scary this transition has been for him. To go from living in one place, with certain people, particular food, a certain crib, and a certain language at 20 months old to living in a totally new place with new people, new food, a new crib, and a new language - it's truly unimaginable. Now we are going to rock his entire world again when he undergoes a very painful surgery and recovery I am so sorry, TyTy!

Tyson with my sweet Dad

Just like with Liam, we truly and absolutely LOVE Tyson's smile just the way it is. His lip and nose repair will not take place until November or December, and honestly, I am grateful because it gives me more time to enjoy him with the smile I love so much. Although the lip and palate can be repaired together at times, we have decided to do them separately. When repairing the palate, a device is used to keep the mouth open. As the procedure takes place, the surrounding tissue can become quite swollen. In order to give Tyson the best possible repair on his lip and nose, we have opted to have a second procedure later so that the surgeon is not working with swollen tissue.

I love this picture, but it is a mirror image! His cleft is on the left side.

When we are out in public, I usually do not even think about Tyson's smile until I notice a child staring at him, eyes wide and mouth gaping open. Depending on the circumstances, I will often say something like, "Oh, did you notice his lip? It doesn't hurt at all (kids are often worried that it does). That is just the way God made him. When he grew in his first mommy's belly, his lip did not close all the way. The doctor is going to make it look just like yours." And usually with that, they relax, smile, and say, "Ok!" I am thankful that Ty is so young in these situations, as I know that children with visible differences can become quite frustrated and sad by these situations (and rightly so!). When Liam was a baby, I worried about how people might treat him in the future or if they would hurt his feelings in relation to his scar, but honestly, that has never, ever happened. And when I tell children my Tyson spiel, Liam will sometimes show them his lip with great confidence and pride. This is just the beginning of why I am grateful that my sons share this special bond!

Liam smooching Tyson - brothers for life! 

With that said, I'm going to share something with you. After Liam was born, Ryan and I had such peace that we were done having biological children. I was honestly relieved, too, because I later learned that since we had one child with a cleft lip, our chances of having another child with cleft issues were increased. I remember telling people that I didn't want to go through surgery and recovery again - that it had been so hard. I didn't want to see another baby go through what Liam went through after surgery. Seeing him in pain was difficult, don't get me wrong! But my goodness, what a selfish and short-sided thing to say. What a privilege it will be to hold my new son after his palate repair is complete and meet his every need as he recovers from this procedure!

TyTy signing Mommy in his own special way! 

As I rock Tyson at night, especially in the past few days, I can't help but cry thinking about his biological mother. I am broken hearted that she doesn't get to hold this little boy's hand...that she doesn't get to tickle him and hear his beautiful laugh...that she has to live every day of her life without slobbery wet kisses from this adorable little guy. This surgery has made me think about her a lot. I wonder if a lack of money to address his medical needs was the cause of her relinquishment. I am so honored to be TyTy's mommy, but how I wish I could hold her hand during his surgery and pray together for his healing. I cry for her because she cannot be with him tomorrow as he recovers.

Being a mom is hard stuff. Days like today when I am anticipating Ty's palate repair, I want to pack up my family and run for the hills! My flesh tells me to stick my fingers in my ears and hum until the scary parts are over. But my faith...my faith keeps my eyes looking up to our Father who loves Tyson more than I ever could. I know that once again God has gone before us, and He will supply us with everything we need to get through this surgery and recovery together.

Tomorrow, when we go to the hospital for surgery, I want Ryan to hold Tyson and have them take me back to surgery instead. I want to take the pain that my son will experience. I want to suffer in his place. This is love. And this is exactly what Jesus did for us. The desire to prevent our children's pain and suffering is born from the same place that led Jesus to the cross. Oh how he love us! My desire to suffer in Tyson's place is keeping me at the foot of the cross this week. I feel Jesus' deep love for me, and for you, so strongly today.

This is a view I never want to forget

Will you join us in praying for Tyson as we move into this next part of our journey? Here are my focused prayers:

1. Successful surgery that results in complete closure to Tyson's entire palate - that no fistulas form.

2. Tyson's pain is well-managed with medication to prevent unnecessary discomfort or trauma.

3. Tyson will continue to make progress in attachment and bonding while he recovers from surgery.

4. We are all able to get restful sleep in the weeks following surgery.

Thank you for your prayers today, tomorrow, and throughout the weeks that follow. I am very ready to have this surgery behind us. This is an extremely important milestone so that Ty can begin developing expressive language! Our little guy wants to communicate so badly. Although I am super sad for the pain that he will experience, it is such an honor to be his mom and take care of him until he reaches complete healing. We don't have to do this - we get to! I love you, TyTy. I hope your little heart will feel even more secure once this part of your journey is behind you.

Thank you to Michi and Ashley who each saw how much Tyson loved this toy in China and surprised him with one for when we got home. He is spoiled having one upstairs and one downstairs!

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