Between the powerful storms this season brings to our small part of the country, we get these magical weekends full of sunshine, warmth, and tulips! This year not only do we have a new season be thankful for, but we have a new sense of hope with the growing number of vaccinated people surrounding us. I feel an overwhelming sense of hope and healing.
As many of you know, our family has been on an unexpected healing journey with our sweet Baby Ivy after discovering that she had a somewhat rare condition that required surgery to repair. She has been such a trooper over the past month, and has definitely earned her place in the Brave Girls Club. This month’s free download is my way of honoring the strength and resilience we are seeing in our spirited girl and the wings of protection I feel around all of us right now. My hope is that if you are struggling to find your own strength, you can download Ivy’s Spirit Horse to your own device as a reminder that no matter what challenge you are facing, you are stronger than you realize—and you are not alone.
Hearing the news that our very new and precious baby girl had to have surgery brought a rush of shock and trauma. I was the only one with Ivy at the appointment that day, and I knew that I couldn't afford to give in to the flood of emotions that I immediately felt overwhelmed by. I needed to stay calm for Ivy and strong enough to really process the information so I could explain it to my husband, Scott, when I got home. Thankfully, my mommy instincts kicked in and carried us through that appointment and home safely.
The doctor informed me that Ivy had sagittal craniosynostosis, a case where the bones in a baby’s skull join together prematurely. The sagittal suture runs along the top of the head, from the baby’s soft spot near the front of the skull to the back of the head. When this suture closes too early, the baby’s head will grow long and narrow (scaphocephaly). We were informed of our treatment options, and then we were tasked with deciding on which treatment we wanted for our baby.
You cannot imagine the kind of pressure we were feeling to get this right. We did our research, talked to family and friends, and settled on the procedure that we felt was best for Ivy, and ultimately set a date for her surgery. I felt a mix of anxiety, relief, fear, sadness, and gratitude (for the specialist who diagnosed her).
The night before Ivy’s surgery, I felt angels with enormous wings all around her and in her room while she was sleeping. They covered her in protection and took her in for an epic surgery and recovery. I was shocked to see how calm she was the whole morning. With her demeanor and my own confidence in our team at Vanderbilt, I knew she was in good hands, and felt so many people sending healing to her.
Right after surgery, Ivy was swollen. I was scared to hold her the wrong way, or to know if she was in pain. When she heard my voice and started crying for me, I nursed her right away and was reminded in that moment: We’ve got this. I am still her mother, and I know how to comfort her and be right here when she needs me. That night we continued the pain meds and round-the-clock feeding schedules. Around 7:30 a.m. the next morning, we got a smile from Ivy—and things have been moving uphill since then!
Ivy will forever be my champion girl to have overcome something so hard at such a young age. My hope is that this sets the stage for her and builds her character. This is now part of her story that will shape how she handles obstacles for the rest of her life!
When I saw Ivy in her helmet for the first time, I felt immediate sadness. This is our new reality. For the next 12 months, the public will see her in this helmet, and I need to find a way to be okay with that. Of course she looked adorable, but I was afraid other people would feel the sadness I felt rather than seeing how brave and amazing she is. In order to try and find comfort with her new accessory, I did what I always do: I went home to sketch.
I immediately knew that Ivy couldn’t sport just any old pink helmet. It needed to be representative of her personality and make people smile. Before getting too lost in my drawings, I went to the craft store and walked down every aisle looking for inspiration. I found feathers, flowers, gemstones, and Mod Podge for painting her head gear. After buying way too much and sketching a ton, I landed on this brave, vibrant spirit horse. Standing tall and confident, wrapped in wings of protection. I think it’s perfect for her.
This experience has opened my eyes and my heart to mothers of children who struggle with medical issues. I admire the strength and love it takes to stand beside a child and love them so well no matter what obstacles and challenges they are faced with. I find nothing more beautiful than the nurturing spirit and power of a mother.
I also have enormous heart for Cranio Care Bears. Upon diagnosis, they sent Ivy a sweet prayer chain that we hung over her hospital bed. They sent the sweetest package and introduced us to a community of other families going through the same healing process. I’m now part of a new family full of love, prayer, and shared experiences. They have poured love into our family and I want to give back.
This month, I’ll be donating 10% of the proceeds from all Cash Color online orders to this organization. I’m hoping this experience will open up new opportunities for me to be able to share my art in a meaningful way. Whether you download and share this free art or purchase a print from my website, you too are sharing hope and resilience with families who need it. May this art serve as a reminder that we can do hard things.