Saturday, March 21, 2009

Guess Who Rode a Trike Today?

If that's not worth blogging about . . . I don't know what is. Gavin has come so far since we moved to Canada.

He first got a stander from the physical therapists in September . . . it may seem useless since he is completely bound to a metal frame. But, as both hips are out of socket, it is incredibly important for him to bear weight so that cartilage forms around the ball joints. Since both hips are out, this is not something they will correct. They have discovered after years of attempts, that spina bifida patients do not respond to surgery and hips pop back out of joint because they lack the nerves and muscles to hold them in place. Gavin was thrilled the first time we strapped him in to the stander that allowed him to stand up straight for the first time. And, Jeff and I were amazed that he was so much taller than we thought since we'd never seen him stand. Who knew?

Then, two weeks ago he graduated to a walker. The very first time Jeff propped him up at the walker, he was successful. The therapists could not believe that he was able to hold himself as upright as he does and with no practice. They say it is an indication of great trunk strength. It's a great validation since Jeff spends a lot of time working on strength exercises with our little man. And, the therapists also suggest that Gavin is definitely one of the most active spina bifida patients they have seen. I guess that's a bonus of having an absolutely unstoppable big sister.

On Friday Gavin gained another apparatus from the orthotics unit . . . twister cables. When Gavin stands, he is most comfortable with his toes pointing at each other, a full 90 degrees in from where they should be. The orthopedic surgeons confirmed that the rotation was not from his hips or twisted femurs (which were both possibilities), but from his ankles. The surgery last April helped to correct his clubbed feet, but considering their severity, they still curve sharply in post-operation. The "twister cables" are actually plastic strips that run from a harness around his waist down to his braces (where they screw in). They have joints that allow his knees to bend and they keep his toes pointing straight forward - all the time (which makes it really difficult to crawl, but good for walking).

So, today we attempted his first trike ride. And, we hadn't even finished strapping his shoes to the pedals with velcro before he took off across the kitchen and pedaled all the way to the front door. He was - as he is with every new movement or achievement - absolutely thrilled. We took him outside into the driveway and let him pedal back and forth over and over until we were all too cold. He was super fast pedaling towards the road and made it up the slight incline of the driveway with a lot of focus.

What an amazing kid . . . absolutely unbelievable. We are so proud. Nothing will stop him. And, this is just one more example of why you can never label people or set limits on what you think people are capable of.

The silver lining of our move has been a matter of refreshed expectations. Dr. Tayler, who delivered Gavin, was shocked a year later that he could even sit up on his own. All he had seen was the open cyst on his back and the first few weeks of his life.

Our Heber-based physical therapist, who helped Gavin relax his hips so that he could literally unfold and then helped him bend his knees, saw no possibilities of Gavin ever walking.

And then our Toronto-based physical therapist, who met Gavin when he was 17 months old and had no history or knowledge of the progress he had already made, saw no reason why he couldn't be a candidate for a walker. It was only last week that we showed her pictures of Gavin from birth through his first year. And, she said that had she been the therapist working with Gavin initially, she would never have suggested that he would be where he is today. She was absolutely stunned.

Now . . . all of this said . . . we have no idea of what is in store for our little one . . . or the mental, physical, or emotional battles that are ahead . . . and there will be many. But, our goal is to never put a limit on his potential. We want to push him to the very edge of abilities and not beyond. And, in the end, I think this is what we want for Gavin and Autumn. It's no different really. It's ultimately what every parent wants for their children.

I just feel lucky to be witness to such an amazing life. I am honored to be Gavin's mommy.


  1. I am honored to be Gavin's grandmother. I'm so proud of his incredibly amazing progress! I saw him use his stander, then his walker, & am anxiously waiting to see him riding his trike. He and his parents have done an amazing job. You should all be so justifiably proud. (Grandma Ranson)

  2. Wow, go Gavin! Thanks for sharing your blog with me Karen. It was nice to get a bigger glimpse into your lives.

  3. So amazing! I got chills just reading this! Although we are all sad you are in Canada--it is for good reason and you are being so blessed! I am so excited for Gavin's progress--he is amazing and has so much more in store!

    We hope you are doing well. No one has forgotten you here, in fact, the countdown is on..Jessica Blotter, who is in my primary class just said "Peterson's will be home in almost a year!" Woo hoo! We can't wait, but for now would love to see you this summer--any set plans yet?

  4. That is soooo exciting! He can do anything he sets his mind to, we are so proud of him. The little blue 4-wheeler is waiting for him. :) Can't wait to see you guys, we miss you!

  5. He is so incredible and so are you & Jeff. I am not surprised that he is able to do this because he has such awesome parents to help him along the way. You are a motivation to us all!!

  6. Wow - this is incredible - what an amazing little boy you have. It's so fun to see that he is doing so incredibly well! :o)

  7. Thank you all for leaving comments about our sweet little boy. It is so nice to have such good friends that care about Gavin.

  8. Oh, Karen you are too sweet. I love everything you wrote. And a big WHOOO for Gavin. He has coma a long way and he is just amazing. You both are lucky to have each other.