Saturday, May 19, 2012

All done!

We had our final appointment on Thursday and Kingston is now a Doc Band graduate!  They took his after pictures and we got to see the difference from the beginning and now.  We are very pleased with the results and we are so happy that his head shape looks great!  From the naked eye, the changes might not look like much but to us they are big changes- we have been looking at his head for the last six months in detail, so we are able to notice the little changes.  We got to take home his concrete mold of his head, which is neat because he'll always have his infant shaped/sized head to look at (ok...kind of weird too, but neat).

Waiting for the last time, we never had to wait long!

The left side is the day he first got the helmet and the right side is his last day with the helmet.

Had to get down to his diaper for all his pictures!

He always loved the red car!

Getting the 3D images taken.

Our little bank robber.  (joke)

I have a feeling he'll really dislike these pictures when he's older!!!

His "graduation" certificate!

Waiting one more time for a few more after pictures.

Getting his hair tamed down!  

I have to say that the staff at Cranial Technologies was amazing!  They were always friendly and very accommodating! They always had a cheerful attitude and were willing to help.  This made the trips a lot better for us.  I think other offices need to take some notes from them!

Here are the before and after pictures.  The computer generated pictures were snapped with my camera since we weren't able to get print outs.  The arrows are to help show the shape change.  As I said before, it might not look like a big change but to us it is!

His neck has grown (naturally) and the helmet has transitioned the main width of the head to a more normal appearance.

Before, the main width of the head was too forward.  The helmet helped to transition the main width to the back end of the head.  

This is where you can see good change.  Before, the back of the head had very little curve and was high up.  After, there is now a nice curve and roundness and his forehead is not as forward as it was.

These are the other set of before and after pictures (love my little goofy goober face!):

The biggest visible change is the back view, his right ear was transitioned up and now is more even with the left ear.

More views, these don't show much visible change- but we were trained to see where it did change.

Change!  As you can see, before, the head was high up and flat.  After, there is a beautiful curve and the right ear is placed nicely.

I'd like to note that there is NO such thing as a perfectly shaped head.  There will always be something not quite perfect, but we are so pleased with the end result and would recommend this process to anyone (baby) who might need it.  Wearing the helmet was super easy, he took to it quickly and it never bothered him.  He wore the helmet for three months, only taking it off during bath time or if he had a fever (and changing clothes of course!).  This is the end of Kingston's Crown journey and we are thankful for the experience.  

Here is a picture of Geetha, she worked with Kingston during the process and it was always a joy to see her.  Madden called her "MissGeet-ah" which when he said it is sounded like mosquito, it was cute.  We weren't able to see her for the last appointment, but we made sure to get a picture with her before we said good-bye!

Stay tuned, I have really been contemplating returning to blogging again.  It's a hard decision and I'm not completely sure if I will.  I love sharing things with others, but not everyone!  So...we'll see.  Thank you for coming along this process with us.  Blessings!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life is Beautiful

This is somewhat off-topic, but since I don't have another blog to put it on at the moment I thought I'd just share it here.  When I first heard the song "Life is Beautiful" by The Afters, my mind started running and I immediately felt the need to use it for a montage.  My brain sort-of works like that.  I am constantly seeing beautiful things in my head swirling around and my outlet is usually photography or videography.  I'm by no means any sort of professional, I just love sharing what's inside.  So, without further ado- here is our latest family video collaboration.

Song: Life is Beautiful
Artist: The Afters

(Note: If you like the clarity of HD, click the HD button and it will lead you to Vimeo where you can see the HD version there.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wrapped Up!

There hasn't been much to post about since last time, except for the great change Kingston's head is making.  We can see a lot of good progress and movement, which is exciting!  We got his crown decorated!  We decided to go with something that the older boys would love, since they are Kingston's best buddies and it would add some excitement around the place.  We went to a place called Evolution Graphics in Austin.  It was really hard trying to figure out exactly what we wanted the end result to be, since the possibilities are endless!  I came across this idea (<--click) and really thought it looked great, so I decided we would get something similar.
We had another appointment today and again everything is looking great.  We really love going to the appointments because the staff is just so KIND!  I wish every office had people so friendly and welcoming!  This morning Kingston was greeted by THREE excited ladies who just had nothing but smiles and cuddles for him.  Kingston, of course, just gave back his sweet smiles!  We are on a two-week schedule now, which is great because gas prices just keep rising!  We have about a month and a half left to go!  He's still doing well with the helmet.  He's not phased at all by it, it's become a normal part of life.  I even forget that there's a reason people are looking at him longer than normal, until occasionally a little child says something- in which it's always sweet and innocent and cute.  I've actually come across a few other people that have or are going through the same situation, which is kind of neat.  I found an adorable little girl through Instagram who just got her helmet and it's perfectly pink!

Kingston (standing!) at his appointment with his bank robber attire.  They use the stocking to keep the hair down so they can see the skull shape.

The left is Kingston's head mold, made out of concrete.  It's not the best picture (from phone) but if you could see the change in person you would be impressed!

Seriously?  This face kills me!  Ahhh!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Doing great!

I just thought I would do a quick post about how Kingston is doing with his DOC Band.  He is doing great!  He doesn't complain or even really notice it is there.  He is pretty cute when he takes it off, he scratches his head with his hand wondering, "Hmm, what is this thing? (his head)"  He sleeps well with the crown on, so no change there.  When his crown is off, I am constantly rubbing his fuzzy head and giving as many kisses as I can!
I have contacted a business that does vinyl wraps on DOC Bands in Austin and have emailed them design ideas for his helmet.  We have plans to have it decorated in two weeks and I am very much looking forward to the finished result.  The company is working up a custom design for us.  We are going to make it something that is fun for the bigger boys to enjoy and something that when Kingston is older he'll appreciate.  If he has to have some crazy looking contraption on his head, we might as well make it look cool!
I haven't taken many pictures lately because of how hectic things are lately, but here are a few pictures from Kingston's six month "photo shoot" which I am not liking how quickly things are going!  He'll be seven months in two days!!  Nooo!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A King is crowned...

I got a call last week letting us know that Kingston's DOC Band had arrived early and so we scheduled for Monday (yesterday) to go to Austin to "crown" our little King.

The office is very inviting and the staff are great- so friendly and cheerful.  (FYI, Kingston's Nana was close by in this picture to be sure he wouldn't topple over!)

His specialist is such a kind lady, he loves smiling for her.  She has such a great way she handles the things she has to do to achieve what she needs done with him.  This is Kingston putting the crown on for the first time.  This is how she would know if she needed to trim any parts.

Then we waited a little bit while she trimmed up the DOC Band.  Kingston is definitely like his brothers!  I actually have a picture of Madden in a car like this and it's so incredible how much they favor each other!

We tried the DOC Band on once more and it needed a little bit more trimming, so we waited again.

We gave it another go and it fit great.  This is Kingston seeing his "friend" with his crown for the first time.

He really didn't mind much at first, but then again this little guy is one peaceful baby.  He's pretty much happy and smiley all the time.

My mother-in-law accompanied me on this trip, which was much appreciated.  We didn't have time for lunch, so in between the first appointment and the second we went to Chez Zee for some scrumptious food.  Kingston had a combination of new odd contraption on his head, hungry, teething, and tired- which led to a little fussiness.

It was our first time in public with the DOC Band on his head and I could already see the awkward glances and stares.  It was honestly a little hard to take at first, but I know that people are just curious (as I would be too.)  I was strong and kept a friendly smile on my face.  We know that he's ok and this is just temporary, so we will endure.

We had to go back to a "skin check" appointment after a couple of hours to make sure the crown wasn't applying too much pressure in certain areas and that the fit was ok.  The crown does cause his head to sweat, so we have to make sure to keep him cool.  We scheduled our next appointment and then headed to the mall! (Hey- we're from a small town, we jump at the chance for some shopping!)  We were instructed to do two days of "skin checks"- wearing the helmet for three to four hours at a time and then removing it to check for any red spots from pressure.  If we see anything, we leave the helmet off for an hour and if they go away we put the DOC Band back on and if they don't then we call the office.  After the first two days, if everything looks good, we then start the 23 hour a day wear.  During the hour that the crown is off we are to wash Kingston and also clean the crown.  We've done two skin checks already and everything is looking great.  He doesn't seem to mind very much.  I think I am having the harder time because there's hard plastic on the outside of his sweet fuzzy little head and I can't kiss his little head like I used to.  That makes me sad!! Thankfully it's only temporary, because not being able to do that is VERY hard for me.  I love that sweet little head!  

Hey, look!  I'm ready to ride!  Vrooom vrooooom!

Now we still are left to decide how we want to decorate his crown!  Do you have any ideas!!!???  Please feel free to comment if you do!  Again, thank you for following our journey and for the prayers.  Sweet Kingston is already on the road to a great shaped head (haha) and we're hoping time will just fly from here on....and then slow down once it's off!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Almost there!

Well, it's been awhile since my last post!  I honestly do not have the time to sit down and blog at all these days!  I wanted to update since there finally has been progress on Kingston's Crown.  We  had to wait six weeks after the last time we went to check his head to get the DOC Band because if we got it in 2012 then our insurance would apply the amount to our deductible, which would be better for us in the long run.  We pay for it no matter what but since we had already met our deductible in 2011, we decided waiting just a little bit would be for the best.
We had his last appointment on February 9th and this was the appointment that they took the pictures of his head.  They put a panty hose-type thing on his head that made him look like a little bank robber.  He never even made a fuss!  He was happy and smiling, with a little flirting with the ladies, the whole time.  Pretty good for having something covering your entire face!  They took the pictures which will allow them the information to make his DOC Band.  We go back in two weeks and get his helmet fitted, they will show us how to put it on and off, how to clean it, and do a skin check to make sure it doesn't irritate his skin.  Then we will be on a three month journey of weekly trips to Austin and wearing the helmet 23 hours a day!
He will have to wear the crown for just a couple weeks longer since he is a little older than he was when we first began the process, only because the growth of a six month old is usually slower than the growth of a four month old.  We think he will do just fine wearing his crown and look forward to the end of this journey!
Here are the pictures they took at his first appointment, at four months old:

These aren't the most flattering of photos but they allow you to see the shape of his head.  You can see from the back view that his right ear is lower than his left and from the top view you can see how the head shape comes out toward the left and is flatter on the right side.  If he were to ever need glasses, which he most likely will (I'm almost blind!), the right ear being lower would affect the way the glasses fit.  The DOC Band will allow the ear to move up and cause the back of the head to have a more "normal" rounded shape.  So not only is DOC Band for cosmetic purpose, it will also serve a functional purpose as well.

Here are a few photos from Kingston's last visit.  I totally forgot my real camera, so thankfully I was able to capture a few moments with the iPhone!

Kingston getting ready to get his pictures taken!! So smiley!

The little bank robber!  This hose-thing allows the cameras to take accurate measurements.

The kind ladies taking the pictures.  He smiled the whole time!

I'd also like to let anyone know who comes across this blog that you are free to share it!  I am writing it in hopes that anyone who might be going through the same thing can have some kind of information from a parent's perspective.  Thank you for reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A crown for Kingston

I'd like to welcome you to this blog, it's going to be about our youngest son, Kingston, and his journey with the DOC Band.  What is a DOC Band?  First of all, the DOC in DOC Band stands for Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty...yeah...big words!  What exactly is going on?  Well, here goes!

Kingston, at three months

Kingston is our third son, a very adorable, peaceful, and joyful little guy.  He came into this world perfectly healthy and as cute as can be!  We soon realized that after we brought him home his swing was his favorite place to be (besides being in our arms).  He slept great in the swing, so great that it became his nightly sleeping place.  When you have three kids I think you sometimes get in survival mode and if you find something that works and enables you to get some more shut-eye you are going to do what works!  Kingston began sleeping full nights in the swing and it was very nice!  So fast forward two months to his two-month check-up and he's still as good as can be.  The doctor made mention of his head being slightly flat, but said that at the moment it was nothing to worry about.  Another two months of swing sleeping and being cradled in our arms on our left side for right hand feeding went by and last week I took him for his four-month check-up (at a new doctor) and had concerns about his head shape.  We had started to notice that one ear was slightly lower than the other and that his head was really flat in the back.  I asked the doctor what his opinion was and he said that Kingston's head was definitely not normally shaped and that in most circumstances he wouldn't recommend any treatment, but for Kingston he thought he would need to see the specialist.  So we left the appointment with a referral to a place called Cranial Technologies located in Austin.  We scheduled the appointment for the consultation and did some research into what exactly we were getting into.  We then went to the appointment and were very pleased with the staff and the way we were treated and informed about the steps we should take to correct his head shape.
Kingston has Brachycephaly with Plagiocephaly.  Whoa, some more big words!  Basically, it just means the poor kid has a really funny shaped head.  What caused it?  The doctor said that she could tell it most likely started with his position in the womb.  The shape of his right ear and shoulder look as if they were crammed together while he was squished in the small space of my belly!  She also said that his right side neck muscles were tight, also known as Torticollis, which can contribute to his preference to turn his head to a certain direction causing part of the flatness.  The other cause is most likely the swing and the way we hold him.  I am not very ambidextrous when it comes to feeding my babies, I have to hold them in my left arm to feed with my right, it's just naturally comfortable.  So therefore another reason his flat spot worsened.  The combination of all these things led to the flatness to worsen and now here we are, on a journey to correct his sweet little head!
We are so thankful that this is his only problem!  He is a very healthy little boy and the shape of his head is not harmful (unless it became extreme) to him.  No brain problems, no sickness!  The journey we are about to embark on will really only be hard on us, the parents!  They say the babies adjust very well to the DOC Band, so that is good.  The band isn't painful for them, which is great.  What will be painful is the price, time, and (most likely) the odd looks from others when he'll be wearing the DOC Band.   I am choosing the positive route.  The cost of the DOC Band is not covered by insurance and the price tag is about $3,800!  Yikes!  We will also be having to travel to Austin at least once a week for six to nine weeks to have the band adjusted, which will be extra gas money.  But in the long run, the cost is nothing compared to being able make sure he has a nice little head.  The time part won't be too hard, but having to make arrangements for trips to Austin each week while having one in school and another in pre-school and working grandparents, it might cause a little stress.  And as far as the odd looks from people, well...I can handle that part!  Thankfully, it's winter time and we can put a winter hat over the band when we go out in public.  Even if we don't, he still has the cutest little face and we don't have to worry about anything.
Our next step is the DSi appointment.  This is where they will get a scan of his head shape so that they can make the DOC Band to fit his head and so that it allows the shape to change.  15 strategically-placed cameras will capture an image that is accurate within a fraction of a millimeter! I had read the older process they used to make the helmets was a plaster mold of the child's head, which seems like it could be difficult (especially with an infant) so the digital process seems like a great development!  It's completely safe because it's just cameras.  Kingston should have to wear the helmet anywhere between six to nine weeks.  They say the average treatment time is three months, but since we caught it before it got severe and since he is a younger baby the treatment time is shorter.  They don't treat children past 18 months because the skull finally hardens and becomes permanent.
We were given stretches to do with Kingston to help loosen his neck muscles, which will also help the position he sleeps in.  We have started putting him to sleep in his crib and he is doing great.  He spends more time upright as he gets older, we have a Bumbo and a Jeep Walker that he likes to wheel around in with the help of his silly older brothers.  I am glad to know that there was/is a reason he did not enjoy tummy time like his brothers did.  The doctor said that because of his head shape it made it a lot harder for him to actually try to lift his head up while on his belly.  We are to continue tummy time as normal, so that he can work on those muscles.
Now, it's on my mind as to how we will decorate his DOC Band.  They actually have a calendar with pictures of DOC Band babies, and it's pretty cute! many ideas!  So stick along with us to see our journey.  I think that we will refer to the band as Kingston's crown, because Wesley likes to call him King and every king needs a crown!  :)  We would love your encouragement and prayers during this time.  We are so glad that this is not anything worse and that he is still a healthy, sweet baby.

Oh, and I forgot the part that he will be having to wear the band for 23 hours a day!  Sheesh!

Here are some links that give some great information on what exactly is going on:

About Plagiocephaly

Before and After pictures

A business that donates decoration for the Doc Band

**Stay tuned for the next blog:  I will post pictures of Kingston's Photo Study (his head shape pictures) so you can see exactly what we are talking about.**