The “Girls’” trip

No boys allowed. Not even Clark

I always question people who say they are not close to their siblings. Like, why? I’ve already shared my love letter to my brother, but I also have two older sisters, and I talk to them all the time. Every summer, my mom, 2 sisters, sometimes my sister-in-law Lakon, our combined 4 daughters, and I go on a beach trip. We first started this tradition when my eldest sister was in high school, and then it was interrupted for a few years while she and my other sister were in college, med school, grad school, etc. Basically they were too busy building their fabulous lives to go on vacation with me. Those bitches 🙄.

The girls’ trip. No boys are allowed. Not even tiny ones. I mean, think about it. Guys always want to do things on beach trips instead of just relax. Also chicken salad and fruit aren’t enough to satisfy them for lunch. So, basically they aren’t allowed to come and poop all over our trip. Seat’s taken, you can’t sit with us, bye Felicia 👋

Anyway, when Katie (#1) was pregnant with her first baby, we started up the tradition again. We stayed in a hotel on that trip, and Katie was all, “I’m cool, no worries. Y’all can watch TV while I sleep. It won’t bother me!” Five minutes later, the room next to us was being a little loud. She shoots up out of bed, grabs her slipper from the floor and begins smacking the wall, “BE QUIET!!!” She promptly lay back down with her eyes closed. Anna (#2) and my mom and I exchanged glances, turned off the TV, and wordlessly went to sleep at 7 pm 🤫. No one wanted that wrath (or slipper) directed at them.

We’ve since mostly stayed in condos, occasionally hotels, and most recently at my parents’ new beach house. We eat chick food, are supremely lazy, and laugh a lot.

One year, we were staying at a condo in Gulf Shores, and my niece chunked her baby doll’s pacifier off the balcony. She then cried and cried for it because toddlers are rational. We looked for ages, but never found that one. Then there was the year that Lakon had to dig a belly hole in the sand to accommodate her very pregnant belly. Then there was the year Katie took a muscle relaxer for her janky neck before playing cards and just got stupid. Probably the only time I’ve been able to beat her because she was literally moving in slow motion. I’ll never beat Anna. She’s a freak and can play a whole deck. Ugh, and last year I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Clark, and Darcy wasn’t walking yet. Toting her and our beach gear while I was miserably ill was awful, so Anna and Mom did the grunt work on that trip. Also Darcy was basically just miserable on that trip. She was demanding (surprise, surprise), and hated the beach after about 30 minutes. We tried to make it more bearable with a baby pool for her to play in. My sister Anna had to blow that bad boy up and ultimately it did nothing to convince Darcy that the sand and water were not the devil. Anna still bitches about that.

This year, we had our first stay in my parent’s new beach house. It is just beautiful, and I swear we had the best time! I should mention that Katie is a gourmet chef. Seriously, she is amazing and everything that we ate was sublime. My favorite was a sea bass dish she made. Also she mixes fabulous cocktails, and I was the only one to benefit because Anna is pregnant and my mom doesn’t drink at all. Katie and I also took the kids crabbing one night, and it was hysterical. Katie’s daughter is a beast at catching things and crabs are no exception. Anna’s kids–not so much (God bless ’em), but seeing all of them chase after those crabs was hilarious. We then took the golf cart off-roading. Not exactly intentionally, but memorable all the same. I really haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Anna has had a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t need to carry anything but herself, so Mavis, Katie and I carried all our gear to and from the beach each day. This wasn’t a problem until one afternoon where Darcy decided she needed to be carried across the sand. I told her, “No.” Cue the full-on meltdown. She screamed from our spot on the beach all the way to the boardwalk. We passed by a tent of people laughing and they pointed to her and said, “Does she happen to be about two?” “Uh, yes. How ever could you guess?” They just laughed and said, “Darcy, what’s wrong?” Darcy cut them an evil look and continued to sob. But guess what? The next day when I told her no, she didn’t cry (as much). So, I’m counting that as a win. 

My mom plans all these precious parties for the girls during the trip. She picks a theme for every night and it was just the cutest thing. The first night was a barn party, the second, a unicorn party, and the final night was a pink pirate party complete with a scavenger hunt. It was so much fun! The adults had just as much fun as the little girls. My mom really is amazing. She cares about all the little details and makes everything so special. She’s always been that way, and I strive to make similar memories with my babies.

Ladies, if you weren’t so fortunate to be born into a girl-tribe, then you’ve gotta make your own. Pick your friends and hold them close. Go on the beach trip. Help your girl out when she is big and pregnant and basically useless, and forgive them when they’re being a bitch (never me). Cook the amazing food and laugh at each others kids when they faceplant during a tantrum. Go off-roading with the golf cart. Make fun of each others hairy arms and talk about everything from Jesus to snissing to sex and all topics that fall in between. You can google snissing if you don’t know what it means, but if you’ve had a child then you’ve experienced it.

If you were born into a girl tribe, then you are lucky. Super lucky. Foster that relationship and love each other hard. Just because you aren’t close now doesn’t mean you can’t build that relationship into something worth having. Look, I love my sisters, but I definitely still argue with them. For instance, two weeks before the beach trip I told Katie she was uncompassionate and sucked at being a sister. Three days later, I apologized and told her that I knew I was actually being crazy, but she still sucked and was old AF. It’s all about balance, you see. I love these women so much. I mean, they’re control freaks and judgmental and not nearly as funny as I am (God bless ’em), but I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am #blessed.

What the hell is craniosynostosis, anyway?

And why I know so freaking much about it

What is with this weather, man? We’ve had snow twice this winter in South Louisiana. It’s cold and weird, but I don’t hate it. School closed for an entire week, and we got to play together as a family. From looking at social media, most parents were complaining that their kids were making them crazy. Maybe Darcy makes me crazy on a daily basis, but I honestly loved having Ben and Darcy and Clark and I home together. It was a continuation of Christmas break, and I think we needed the down time. Ben is in school at LSU for his last semester of engineering, so that’s why we’ve been able to enjoy the breaks together. He does work part-time, but his office was closed during the snow fiasco because the entire state of Louisiana shut down.

Now, some of you remember that Darcy was diagnosed with craniosynostosis at 5 weeks old. What is craniosynostosis? Well, when babies are born, their skulls are not one solid bone. They are actually several separate bones held together by lines of fibrous connective tissue called sutures. This allows the skull to expand and accommodate a rapidly growing brain. With craniosynostosis, one or more of these sutures is fused too early meaning proper skull growth cannot occur. If the skull cannot grow as the brain grows, intracranial pressures can increase and cause brain damage. Also, the child will have an abnormal head shape. There are certain syndromes associated with craniosynostosis, but most cases are non-syndromic and only involve one suture. Darcy’s was non-syndromic sagittal craniosynostosis. She underwent a total cranial vault remodeling surgery at 12 weeks old. It was hard, it was brutal, but she is growing, thriving, and developing perfectly.

I am both a nurse and a mom. A lot of people say, “When it’s your kid, it’s different,” but I seem to be an exception. It’s really hard for me to turn the nurse off. I assess my children critically and clinically. I knew that Darcy was a beautiful child, but I also knew her head shape was different, that her temples were dimpled inward, her head was narrow, she didn’t have posterior fontanelle, and that she had a strange ridge down her head. I remember mentioning it to her pediatrician as he assessed it. We got scans that day, and she was diagnosed. When Clark was born, I noticed immediately he didn’t have a posterior fontanelle and had a small ridge down his head. I specifically asked the neonatologist (who was stupid about a lot of things) if the MRI showed craniosynostosis. He said “No way.” I can’t let things go, and it gets me into trouble sometimes. When something is bothering me, I get total word vomit–I just blurt it out and throw my persistent thought/worry out into the universe, and not always so elegantly. Ben jokes that he never has to wonder what’s bothering me because I’ll just straight up tell him. In my heart, I knew Clark had craniosynostosis despite what others said.

“But the MRI showed he didn’t.” “His head doesn’t look as narrow as Darcy’s.” “He looks just fine.”

I mentioned my concerns to our pediatrician at Clark’s one-month appointment, and he said we could just continue to monitor it. That held me over for like 2 days before my propensity to not let things go led us back to his office requesting imaging studies. We got an X-ray of Clark’s head that was consistent with a craniosynostosis diagnosis. Our pediatrician then referred us to Darcy’s craniofacial surgeon who we love ♥️At that appointment, he told us that he was moving to California in 2 weeks and unfortunately the neurosurgeon on Darcy’s team has retired😭

–This was devastating to hear, but moving on–

He told us that without a CT scan we couldn’t be 100%, but that Clark looked like he had partial sagittal craniosynostosis whereas Darcy had complete sagittal craniosynostosis. This would qualify him for a less invasive surgery using an endoscopic approach. This means they would use a small incision to remove the fused suture, and then use helmets to shape his head over the better part of a year.  Our CT scan the following day confirmed what we knew—Clark has partial sagittal craniosynostosis. I asked our craniofacial surgeon why both of our children had this and what could cause this genetically. He said that the sagittal suture is typically NOT associated with genetic origins. He said that it was “extremely rare” to have 2 children with non-syndromic sagittal cranio. I asked “How rare?” and he said that he had actually never seen it occur twice in a family. We’re SpEcIaL! Ha! Honestly, after the hell we’ve been through, the fear and anxiety, this seems like small(ish) stuff. It’s probably a mark of how bad shit has been when you look at neurosurgery as not a big deal, but we don’t see it as that big of a deal. Not after what we’ve been through. This is fixable, man.

After Darcy was diagnosed with cranio, I swore I would never miss that diagnosis as a future practitioner. I never anticipated having another child with it, but we did, and I didn’t miss it. We’re getting an early jump on it, and we should be meeting with our new neurosurgeon in the next few days to come up with our surgical plan for baby Clark. He should also begin physical therapy in the next couple of weeks as well. His tone IS improving, and he’s pretty much perfect in our book.

Darcy loves “baybee.” In fact, we wish she would love Clark less. She excitedly runs up to him and throws blankets over his face and body so he won’t get cold. She jams his pacifier into his face as he screams in protest. She tries to pick him up and is the opposite of gentle. It’s actually probably a good thing he’s going to be wearing a helmet 23 hours a day after his surgery. Darcy has added so many words to her vocabulary. She got a toy kitchen from Santa Claus and begs us to play in her “kitch” every day. She loves to throw and drop things while yelling, “Oh, no!” She says “okay” after everything, loves to play outside, and yells, “Go Saints!” whenever she sees football on tv. Darcy loves to point to the chair, couch, or floor and tell us to “Sit.” We’ve been going to the grocery store every Sunday just the two of us, and she likes to help put the groceries on the conveyer belt. She’s the best little toddler I know.

I decided to return to grad school this semester because my life is very calm, and it’s a very rational choice. 😑That’s a glimpse into our crazy lives right now. It is legitimately crazy and unfairly blessed. I am thankful to my Jesus for this life. Love to all.

P.S. That picture is from our craniofacial surgeon’s office. We have the same picture of Darcy at the same age. It’s becoming this weird family tradition 😂