Discovering My Son Has Pectus Carinatum

standard January 5, 2017 2 responses

I had never heard the term Pectus Carinatum before until the doctor told us our son Jake had it. It was a complete shock to us. He was maybe 12 at time. And at the time, we as parents had no idea what it meant for our child having Pectus Carinatum or how it would affect his health. 

I remember the day clearly. Jake came downstairs around 10:30 pm and said he couldn’t sleep. He said his chest was hurting. I immediately excused this as growing pains because well, you know boys at this age. Their bones feel like rubber some days and like rocks the next. Pain and aches are a part of puberty. Then, I noticed a lump on my son’s chest. It wasn’t a large lump, but it kind of stuck out, almost making his chest look like that of a pigeon. I asked him if he got hurt or fell and thought perhaps he’d injured himself somehow. 

The next day, I scheduled an appointment with our doctor. She ordered a CT scan for Jake. That’s when I saw the word Pectus Excavatum which later after looking it up online is a Latin word meaning (hollow chest).

Pectus Excavatum when the chest turns inwards

Pectus Excavatum: When the chest curves inwards due to the sternum being pushed back toward the spine creating a hollow effect. Many stars have Pectus Excavatum such as, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Evans and even Paula Abdul. 

You can imagine as a parent, I felt frustrated. My son did not have this. His chest was protruding out not going in. So, I had no idea what was really going on and had to wait for the test results. That’s when I came across another chest deformity called Pectus Carinatum, also known as (pigeon chest) caused by a protrusion of the sternum and ribs. 

This is a photo of how Pectus Carinatum looks

It turned out that my doctor was wrong and the CT scan did indeed show my son having Pectus Carinatum. How did he get it? He was born with it, although no signs were present at his birth. Pectus Carinatum is genetic, and it was later confirmed by my mom that her brother had it growing up as a teen. 

So what does it mean for your child to have Pectus Carinatum? Well for Jake it meant keeping an eye on his chest growth through puberty. Getting him checked once a year as those with Pectus Carinatum can develop trouble with their spine, and monitoring his breathing. 

Other than that. Pectus Carinatum is more cosmetic than anything, and your child should be made to feel to embrace their imperfections and that their body is just what it should be. Jake still played hockey and football. He was careful and wore protective gear, and he works out a lot, as this helps improve the appearance of his chest and lessen the severity of the bone sticking out. 

Jake is almost eighteen now. Having Pectus Carinatum isn’t something that has affected his confidence because he didn’t let it. When people ask about the bone on his left side sticking out a little from his chest. He tells them. He’s not afraid to show anyone or talk about it. He knows who he is. What kind of person he is, and that having a physical deformity doesn’t make or break who you become in life.  
We are blessed with the bodies that God gave to us. I am what I am. Nothing more. Nothing less. If someone doesn’t like that. That’s too bad. I’m just me. – Jake 
He’s right. I have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. My husband has a brain injury. Jake’s brother has mild cerebral palsy and sensory processing disorder and bipolar disorder. We all have imperfections and challenges to deal with day to day, but they don’t define us. 

What is something you deal with on a day to day basis? Share it with me below. I’m always here to listen. 

What Do You Love the Most About Being a Mom?

standard March 30, 2016 6 responses

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I always think each year what I want from my boys. Not that I’m overly commercial, and I don’t extend my wants and needs to the floral or chocolate factories. I usually ask for the typical breakfast in bed and no chores for the day as my yearly reward. 

Well, this year I thought about a different set of wants and needs and decided to ask myself one question. What do I love the most about being a mom? My answers were pretty simple.

#1.) Watching My Children Grow and Explore!

Both my boys are unique in their own way. My youngest has Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. I’ve always prided myself in teaching them disabilities or not — to strive for what they want and always try new things. I love watching them branch out, make new decisions, take chances and discover who they are emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s not easy letting go and letting them fly, but as a spectator watching them spread their wings is the greatest gift a mom can have.

#2.) Dabbles of Art

Here is a paper painting Trace did in school he calls Wandering. It's a bear in the woods. I love how imaginative he is.

Here is a paper painting Trace did in school he calls Wandering. It’s a bear in the woods. I love how imaginative he is.

My youngest is still young enough that I get to indulge in his creativeness. He goes to a Fine Arts School and it has really opened him up in so many ways, helping him grow. I love that he’s trying new things such as: guitar, dance, drama, singing and painting. His photos and painting adorn my walls with pride. And each year I get to share in homemade goodies like Christmas ornaments, Easter cards and Mother’s day gifts made from the heart. Memories I will cherish forever. 

#3.) Messages of Love 

I love you Mom, thank you for all that you do for me. I love you, Jake and Harley and Dad. I love you all.

I love you Mom, thank you for all that you do for me. I love you, Jake and Harley and Dad. I love you all.

As a mom it’s always nice to hear the words ‘I love you’ but even nicer to see them in print. Both my boys through the years have given me a collection of stories, notes, journal entries and even cards to showcase how they feel about me. Seeing the words written bursts my heart open. It makes me feel loved knowing I’m special in their hearts and that they think of me even when I might feel forgotten or lonely as they discover life without me. 

#4.) Conversations About Life

My oldest is almost seventeen. He’s been in a relationship for almost three years now. He just wrote his entrance exam for Carpentry and wants to join the Fire Academy. There are days as a mom I feel my journey with him is done. He is so responsible, amazingly good-hearted and knows what he wants. Yet, there are moments where we have conversations about life, love, work and his dreams and aspirations. I love those moments where we can sit, chat and talk about anything. Laugh about the past and share the future. A mother’s journey is never done. It’s never-ending.

#5.) The Greatest Gift Ever

You don’t know how it feels until the moment you hold that baby in your arms. You kiss their toes, hold their hand, bath them and feed them, cherish that baby smell that never goes away, even as they get older as it just becomes more distinct. You watch them take their first steps, smile and laugh and your heart swells. 

Being a mother is the greatest gift ever. My children have not only brightened my days, kept me going when I fell down, picked me up when I needed it. But they have taught me patience, kindness, love, forgiveness, how to be silly, to laugh, let go, self-happiness, in a world where I couldn’t imagine not having them in my life.

I saw this video on FB and had to share it. This mom gets the most amazing Mother’s Day surprise. My son watched this with me and we were both in tears. Truly incredible!

This mom can't hold back tears when she receives the Mother's Day surprise of a lifetime. See what happens in this unforgettable Teleflora delivery. http://bit.ly/1GynXDk

Posted by Teleflora on Monday, April 27, 2015

What do you love about being a mom?

Disclosure: This is not a paid post. This is a personal post shared by me. All opinions are 100% my own. The FB video you see in this post is one I found online and just had to share. It made me cry.

My Son fears Cerebral Palsy Makes Him Different

standard February 27, 2016 Leave a response

This week was a big week for Trace. He had POD presentations at school, and all week I had to listen to the contant droning of how he didn’t want to do it. How he didn’t want to go. He was afraid he’d mess up. Afraid the kids would laugh at him. Afraid he’d forget his steps. 

Fear is a funny thing when it’s not yours to deal with…

As a mom, of course, I kept the positive vibes going for him. I told him he’d be okay. It’s normal to be afraid. It’s okay if he messes up. And that nobody is going to laugh because if they do they’ll be some ass-kicking going on from mama bear. 

It’s hard watching my son struggle through things because the reality is – he is different. His legs don’t work as well as others. His knees get sore. He forgets things easily and let’s not even talk about his sensory issues. I’m amazed he lets the teacher put anything remotely resembling a costume on him because that surely wigs him out.

Trace was very nervous during his presentation, however, he kept his calm. I wasn’t thrilled the teacher put him right out front knowing his fears of messing up. But I’m proud of him for how he handled the situation. He kept his focus, trying hard to remember the steps. And he sang amazing during the final song. I was so happy for him.

You know as a mom of a child with special needs that aren't always seen, one of the most difficult things is making…

Posted by Jodi Shaw on Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Trace is a true inspiration to me. It’s funny how people who have known him forever, phoned me up and said I had no idea his legs were that bad, as they could see in the video he had a hard time keeping up. When you have disabilities that don’t show regularly, it can be difficult for others to understand.

Top 5 Things I Never Let Trace Forget

  1. Having disabilities doesn’t make you inferior or give you a reason not to try things. You have to believe in yourself and realize all your disabilities are is just a stepping stone to bridge the gap to where you are going.
  2. Nobody can make you feel bad for who you are except you.
  3. If you try and fail that’s better than not trying at all. Just think of the adventures you’d miss.
  4. Sometimes we take two steps forward and three steps back, but that’s only to give us a clear understand as to which direction we’re going.
  5. Loving yourself means accepting everything that’s wrong with you that you don’t like and trying to change those things, and accepting the things you can’t change. 

I’m so proud of my son as I said. He did a great job at his dancing and we are looking forward to the next presentation he puts on. I know he struggles, but we take things one day at a time. That’s all we can do. I just hope he can start believing in himself and know that no matter what journey he goes on… I’m here for him.

Being A Bipolar Mother with a Bipolar Child

standard January 24, 2016 2 responses

There is this moment in motherhood where you know you’ve screwed up. You know it the moment it happens. The words leave your mouth.

Listen to me you little brat, stop acting this way! I swear to god I’ll ground you for life!” 

“You don’t love me!”

“You’re right…” voice dripping with sarcasm no ten-year old can understand. “I guess I don’t.”

You see the tears, but don’t care for some reason at that moment. Trapped in a void of nothingness. Just anger seeping from places you least expect. And although you hear him crying from his room, hurt by your words beyond repair. You feel no guilt. No shame.

All you feel is… tired.

Mood swings up. Mood swings down. How do you explain that to a child who is trying to find their own emotional stability and from a parent whose less than stable? It’s impossible.

He wipes my tears. Tells me he loves me one moment. The next, he’s screaming the hatred he feels consuming him from past the walls where I sit.

This is life with a bipolar child.

Two constants and yet different parallel worlds. One aging and one just embarking on their future destination.

Can I help him?

Of course, I can. I know the routine. I know the signs. That twitch on the back of my neck that comes screaming with irritation that develops so swiftly you almost don’t recognize it, but because you’ve seen this demon before rear its ugly head, you immediately know the coming crunch ready to fall on you.

Sometimes you’re able to brace yourself, breathe in slowly and gather your strength to push through the darkness that threatens to swallow you whole.

Other times no amount of light can persuade the demon to run and hide. It shows itself whether you want it to or not, hurting those around you without limitation. Whether you mean to doesn’t matter.

What follows is the regret and pain you’ve caused.

The medication is a mask. A prolific tow rope to help swing you through the highs and lows. It is not a cure. It never was. There is no cure. Only the will to try to make it through each day, and teach him the same.

I pray he sees through the destruction, the love so deep and fraught with emotional boundaries that break open and sweep me away. I pray he understands my loves intention to guide and not hurt, to give strength, not promote weakness, but that goodness dwells in my heart despite the ugly shadows that surround it. 

“I’m sorry baby, mommy shouldn’t said those things.” Heart swells with pain. 

“It’s okay, mommy. I love you!” His smile breaks open wide and the darkness settles away. Replaced with the fear and insecurity that this job, this blessing I’ve been given along with the damages I’ve been wrought with will overcome me that I’m alone. 

Maybe you haven’t had screwed up moments like this as a mother. Maybe you are the perfect parent — God Bless You. I don’t know. All I know is that for me, living medicated day in and out as a bipolar parent. Life is full of surprises. Some that are so great you want to bottle them and hold on to them forever.

And some… you wish you could erase like an etch n’ sketch!

Have you ever said something to your child you wished you hadn’t said?

A Post Dedicated to Single Moms

standard January 12, 2016 Leave a response

As I look back fondly on Christmas, spending time with my wonderful husband and boys, now enjoying the New Year upon us. I feel very blessed. But as everything in life has another side to the coin. The holidays enhance loneliness for those who do not have a significant other or better half to spend time with during the seasons. But with a new year comes life changes for many people looking for love.

I have several friends who are single moms and whom have lost all hope at finding a good partner or father-figure for their children. They’ve simply given up for that dream of a wonderful family consisting of mother and step-father. Being a single mom of a newborn or toddler is even harder when it comes to finding someone. Some of my friends are moms raising toddlers or even newborns full time, leaving them no time for traditional dating. Nevertheless, they have managed to find quality men by visiting dating sites.

I was successful finding my soul mate with the help of a dating site before my son turned five. The Internet offers an array of sites geared for single dads and moms. But it is important to exercise precaution and prudence to secure against a bad ending to your date. It’s often easy to forget your safety when under the influence of your emotions!

Do not keep your date in secret

love-316640_640

When dating you don’t usually share your plans with anyone. But when dating online, you should share what you are doing. Tell your friends, mother or family member whom you are meeting. Write down the dating site you are using, your password and the name of the man you are going out with, plus his screen name. Give us as much information as you can and all you know about him, such as his height, weight, age, phone number, place of work and the time of your date, along with where you are going. 

Think of transportation

estonia-958567_640

Keep your car parked near the restaurant or café where you and your date will meet. This is so if the date ends badly, you can leave quickly. You won’t need to call a taxi or wait for any stretch of time. Taking your own car and meeting your date ensures you have absolute independence, plus it won’t reveal where you live by having him pick you up.

Choose a safe place for the first date

restaurant-690975_640 (1)

It’s important you choose a safe place for your date, a public place preferably where there is lots of people. Try to meet during the day for coffee or lunch, instead of at night for dinner and movie. Save those for later dates if you choose to continue dating. If you choose a place, make it a cinema, a restaurant that’s busy, a park with lots of people or an event of some kind. Do not agree to have dinner at the man’s place or invite him to yours. It’s not a good idea when you first begin dating. Remember safety is important.

Dating sites will not guarantee you a family or partner for life. They are just one of many instruments helping you to build your own happiness. In the long run we are responsible for what happens in our lives, whom we let in and which direction we choose to take. 

The Importance of Never Giving Up On Your Child

standard June 16, 2015 Leave a response

One of the biggest fears we have as parents is watching our children get hurt. Whether it’s physically or emotionally. It’s difficult to see our children push boundaries when we know it will directly affect them. 

Trace is nine years old. Born with disabilities that include: Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder, it’s been a long road of medical visits, physio-therapy, speech and language and more through the past nine years. Watching him grow and flourish has been one of the greatest joys of my life. He’s come so far.

This past week Trace was outside when he saw several of his friends rollerblading. When one of his friends offered for him to try his blades, Trace instantly wanted to do it (of course). 

My immediate reaction was “No!” he can’t do it. His legs don’t work properly. He’s going to fall and hurt himself. He’s going to feel bad when he can’t meet his goals. I need to protect him. I mean that’s my job as his mother. Isn’t it?

I quieted the fearful voices in my head basically ignoring them, and instead helped my son put on a pair of shoes with wheels for a kid that has no balance, and encouraged him to give it a try. Despite my fears, I know as a special needs mom the importance of pushing your child’s boundaries.

So there we were – me holding Trace upright because his legs beneath him were on spinning circles. He had no grip, no balance, and immediately he fell. I waited for his reaction. He didn’t cry. He got angry, but got back up and tried it again.

After a few days of blading, holding on to the walls around the complex and friends helping. Trace seemed to be doing okay. He was  having fun. The look on his face enjoying this new skill he had learned was beyond priceless. My heart swelled watching him as his legs pushed outside their comfort zone. And sure he fell a few times, but that didn’t stop him. I never expected it too. 

Yesterday while working online, I heard a loud scream. I knew it was Trace. He was hurt and I immediately ran outside to see what happened. There he was on the ground surrounded by friends who said he took a big tumble while on his blades. Yes, HIS blades because during the week I had gotten him a pair, buying them from our neighbor next door.  

Trace was lying on the ground screaming and my heart sank. “Mommy I hurt myself bad,” he told me holding his knees. It took a few minutes to calm him down enough so I could take a look. He finally moved his fingers and all I saw was blood.  

Trace had scabbed up his knee pretty good. He’d taken the skin right off, and it was painful. I managed to get him back to the house and upstairs where I grabbed our first aid kit and sat him on the bed so I could assess the damage. With tears in his eyes, dirt-smudged cheeks, Trace looked at me. 

“You aren’t going to let me roller blade anymore are you?” He asked quietly.  

“Why do you say that?” I responded. Though I was thinking it in my head. He got hurt. I wanted to protect him. He’d been through so much in his life. I couldn’t understand why when he knew his legs didn’t work right he wanted to pursue something like this only to hurt himself further.  

“I see it on your face,” Trace said. “You got that look.” 

That look? I raised my eyebrows at him. Both my boys know I’m not good at hiding my feelings. Always wearing them on my sleeve, it’s easy for them to tell what I’m thinking. I also saw the look in Trace’s eyes. He looked sad, but not because he got hurt. He looked sad because he thought I was going to stop him from doing something he loved.  

“No,” I said. “I’m not going to stop you from rollerblading,” I told him. Sheer joy punctured his cheeks. We cleaned up his knee and Trace went back outside to blade with his other friends. 

I sat at the kitchen window watching my darling son smile and laugh as he whizzed passed people on his wheels. The joy and elation on his face more than my heart could stand. I realized the importance of teaching our children not to give up when things go wrong. The importance of failing but trying again, and having a parent who understands that concept to give the confidence a child needs to keep going.

I won’t lie to you. I’m scared every day he gets on his blades. Scared he will fall. Scared he will hit his head. Scared a car will smack  him because he’s not paying attention. But I also realize that no matter how scared I am — this is his life to live. Not mine. This is  his time to explore and experiment and push himself so he can discover all that he is truly capable of. And it’s my job to sit back, watch, clean up the cuts and bruises while I hold my breath and smile always telling him to keep going because he can do anything he puts his mind to.

Nobody said parenting was easy…