Strike a Pose

Finn Joseph Armstrong…voted world’s cutest baby (by his parents).

Our extremely talented friend, Laura, came by yesterday to take some pics of Finn. We’ve selected just a few for your viewing pleasure. Happy weekend!

Back to Children’s

Finn’s Wednesday: Pee Day

10:00am Ultrasound. Checking out the health of his kidneys. They look awesome…Praise God! Spina Bifida children often have kidney issues due to bladder dysfunction. So weird to watch your baby get an ultrasound OUTSIDE of your body, warm jelly and all. Kind of comical, actually. I wanted to ask the tech if it was a boy or a girl, but I don’t think she’d think that was funny.

11:30am Urodynamics testing. Basically a personable, yet verbose urologist stuck tubes and catheters in places no one would want them. Finn was hooked up to several machines, cameras, fluids, etc., all monitoring his bladder function. He was a rock star the first twenty minutes of the test…just looked around the room, fascinated by all the lights and the lullabies Joey played on his phone. Then he’d had enough. I can imagine his inner dialogue: “Stop it! My privates are now off limits. Get these tubes out of me! AHHHH!” Here’s what we learned: his bladder control is just okay (but better than most SB kids). He can drain his bladder on his own throughout the day, making catheterizing a bit superfluous. He has some “control,” but the nerves that connect the brain to the bladder are damaged so he has involuntary bladder contractions that worsen when he is under stress (crying, grunting). This isn’t a problem as an infant, since he’s in diapers. But to keep his tush dry as he gets older, he’ll need medication and possible catheterizing or surgery. We’ll obviously know more about his “control” once he can tell us if he feels like he has “to go” or not. Some kids never feel the urge. He has a “safe bladder” in that it doesn’t present harm to the kidneys: our number one concern. Side note: can you imagine doing these tests for a living? I mean, Finn projectile pooped as soon as the tube came out…the doc and I had dijon mustard feces all over our arms. Yuk. Special people!

Finn’s Thursday: Feet Day

7:45am  Orthopedic exam. Early morning appointments are tough due to fatigue and Norman-OKC traffic, but awesome in that the doctors haven’t had the chance to get behind…thus, we were seen right away. A blessing with an infant. Our incredible orthopod checked out the health of Finn’s hips (looks like no hip dysplasia), quads and feet. As I’ve said before, everything is pliable at this point and capable of being stretched. What we thought was quad movement before was more likely hip flexion, so we’ll wait to see if he can control his quads. Quad strength is essential to stand/walk. We learned some new stretches to get Finn’s little feeties going the right direction and we’ll check back in with orthopedics in several months. No casting or surgery necessary at this point. This aspect of Spina Bifida (mobility) scares me the most. I feel like a whiny baby, but I want my child to be mobile! I want him to be independent of apparatus; to move on his own.

We’ll continue to take it one day at a time.



“Who does baby look like?” Of course everyone puts their two cents in, examining each facial feature of the newborn and the parents. The consensus with Finn is that he looks a lot like me as a baby, but we see Joey in his expressions. I’m still holding out for Joey’s huge dimples and curly black hair. Several ounces heavier than last week (love that double chin!), his looks are already beginning to evolve. I’m certain this will continue.

Good news: Finn’s spinal scar was looking swollen and agitated…turns out a stitch was a little infected and abscessed. We’re ordered to watch and wait, as the naughty stitch will push its way out on its own and in its own time. Patience, Ashley.

Enjoy these few pics of Joey and I’s stages as babies/kids. Don’t laugh.

Time Bomb

So yesterday I plopped down to type in between Finn’s feedings, fussings and diaper changes. All I could think to say was that I just wanted to go to Mexico. Joey’s mom is here to help (and doing such a fabulous job), so why couldn’t we just fly down to Riviera Maya for the weekend? That’s absurd. So I chose to post today instead, hoping I’d have more sense. Still want to go to Mexico.

Finn is doing well. At this point, he’s just a normal newborn baby doing normal newborn things. We, of course, aren’t normal newborn parents, as we are aware that Finn is different. We will not allow Spina Bifida to define Finn; it will be a part of his life, but it will not be his life. However, in these early months and years as we’re learning how to care for a baby with “special needs,” it’s tough not to worry. Is his insistent crying normal or is his shunt infected? Exposure to infection is something any new parent fears, but for Finn it could be fatal. Is his scar supposed to be a little red or is this cause for concern? Please pray for us regarding this…we’re taking him to the doctor tomorrow to check out his spinal scar. It looks a little different.

It’s difficult not to view Finn as a time bomb. Just waiting for something to go wrong. Though I feel myself wavering, I will choose not to live in fear. Fear is a much worse disease. It cripples me and steals my joy. It prevents me from living now.

Here are some truths:

He holds my hand.

Isaiah 41:13  “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

He frees me from my prisons. He tells me to yell to him, “Daddy!”

Romans 8:15  “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, Abba, Father!”

He gives me courage and doesn’t leave me.

Dueteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The Digs

Finn’s been sleeping in a bassinet of sorts at the foot of our bed. To soothe him to sleep, we bought this sound machine that’s supposed to simulate the womb; you know, to make him feel at home. Joey says it sounds more like scenes from a WWII film.  We couldn’t take it anymore. Last night the sound machine was OFF. This meant, however, that throughout the night we heard each of Finn’s grunts and giggles and squirms and whimpers. We did not sleep.

So today my mom experimented by allowing him to nap in his “big boy crib” in the nursery. He’s slept soundly for hours! I’ll try not to freak out too much and let him sleep in there tonight, using our fancy video monitor to keep tabs during the wee hours. Check out the pics of his sweet little room.

God Said No

Through blurry eyes, I decided to glance at my phone this morning after an early feeding. Since there were several texts and two missed calls, I decided I’d better check them. Glad I did, as one of my best friends was in labor. Thankful that mom was here to watch Finn, I rushed to the hospital to join her and the other troopers who sat with her throughout the night. Her husband was in CO, parents in MO, and baby was coming six weeks early.

I was reminded again of our lack of control.

Sometimes life is deceptive in that things go my way; plans sail on smoothly. I think I’m in control. Then the unexpected happens and I’m reminded that each day is a gift. Each minute is susceptible to God’s creative chaos. He is mysterious. He does things I don’t understand. He does things I don’t always like. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus also asked God to change his plans. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begged, “with a loud cry and tears” (I can relate to that) “to the One who could rescue him from death” Hebrews 5:7.

He pleads,

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.

Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39

God said no. God had bigger plans for Jesus and it seemed dying a criminal’s death was part of it. Jesus doesn’t dismiss sorrow and suffering by saying it shouldn’t hurt or that we shouldn’t question God. He did, and he is our example. However, he also submitted to the Father’s will. I don’t quite have that part down.

Please pray for a healthy and smooth delivery for the Whites and baby girl. She’ll head up to the NICU for a time of transition, as she’ll be a bit premature. Had Finn been on time, they might have been roommates like their mommies were.  🙂

Side note: I’m reading a great book from a great friend called, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow. Thoughts on God saying “no” inspired by Chapter 2. Thanks, Matty!