Part of being a trailblazer often means doing something unique, and strange. But, that is where I find myself. Trailblazing as a dad who openly discusses what it is like when you have a child with cranio. Also, talking about how it has changed your view on fatherhood, and enhanced your skill set for your other kiddos. Trailblazing is not for the weak of heart. When it comes to cranio, trailblazing is all I know.
Google News, various medical journal subscriptions, and scholarly articles often fill my inbox letting me know that out there, somewhere, cranio was mentioned. Many times, these are the things that I read first thing in the morning. Let me tell you, there is not much of a better way to start your day then by kicking back and reading a medical journal where they talk about the statistical skull geometry in pediatrics for the basis of development of anthropomorphic test devises to aid in recovery. But, then again, I could just be weird.
This article came across my feed this morning, and something about it struck me. After reading it a few times, I realized, that there is a glaring subtitle that MANY in the cranio community have grown far too accustomed to.
“Doctors had previously told eighteen-month-old Finley’s mom that his condition was nothing to worry about.”
Let that sink in.
A mother, goes into the doctors, worried about her little one, and is told that there is nothing to worry about. This happens, not just for cranio, many times. The idea of parental intuition is a WHOLE different topic, for another day.
In many ways our family was extremely lucky when it came to Zoey being born with Bicoronal Craniosynostosis.
The midwife on duty just happened to be the only one on staff that had just happened to have delivered a child with cranio a few months prior in Australia.
We just happened to be at a hospital where one of the top rated craniofacial doctors just happened to be working.
Oh, and just happened to be at the hospital that day, just a few floors up from the NICU, and just happened to be free when the midwife contacted her.
The same midwife who just happened to know of this doctor in the hospital based on a conversation about the baby that she delivered in Australia.
This doctor just happened to be able to get to the NICU (even before I could) to see Zoey, and instantly was able to diagnose her cranio, have it charted, and begin all the things that were needed to get us where we are today.
We also just happen to be followed by a team that has rigorous open communication, briefings, and a lack of rotation. This means things like for the first five surgeries that Zoey had, we had the SAME anesthesiologist, the SAME nurse, and many of the SAME people in the room. This means that a phone call and an email were sent to our selected (by chance) pediatrician (we love this guy, really) so he had answers to his questions from another doctor before we even saw him. Just so he could focus on her care, and our questions as well.
We have been blessed. Very blessed.
Many are not granted this scenario.
They spend months looking for answers. Saying the same things to countless people wearing scrubs and white coats, all with the same look in their eyes. Until, it just so happens, that they come across the one person who knows. There is a large sigh of relief as they begin to take the steps that many knew were coming, but were just waiting for someone to show them the way.
Regardless of how we started down the path that surrounds Craniosynostosis, and not paying mind to the fact that all of our paths are different (hey, we are all in the same forest at least); there is often a battle cry that arises from our lungs.
We want more people to know about cranio, so countless others do not have to spend months (or years) in the briars blocking the path. Granted, none of us would choose to be on this path. However, there are some of us out there trailblazing so others have a clearer path.
And then, there is a stark and enraging thing that happens.
For many, they are able to have a single surgery, and they are on the other side. Their lives go on as though nothing is wrong, and their voices grow silent. I have seen countless mom-blogs go radio silent within months of their single surgery. Many accounts are deleted or completely re-purposed within 18 months. I am not saying that the mother in the article will cease on her mission. In fact, I hope that she carries on the banner and makes great strides in raising awareness. I see having her story told in an article in Cosmopolitan as a huge step in that mission.
However, I have been trailblazing for awhile now. As much as I hope otherwise, I will, instead, suggest that it is far more common for her voice to grow silent over time. Honestly, I get it. If we were in the position where we only needed a single surgery to repair Zoey’s cranio, we too may have been able to move on with only memories. We may have been able to move significantly past every tense moment, the times in surgery, the times in recovery, the endless research. For us, and for Zoey, this is not the case. Perhaps that makes us special. Perhaps that is what makes us the trailblazing family that we are.
Too often crowded social spaces are full of the battle cry, only to have the resounding voice grow dimmer and dimmer. Frequently there are those that find these groups when they need them. They find comfort, they find peace, they find direction. The speak of doing great things to raise awareness, only to grow silent over time. There are a few, like us, that stick around, and answer call after call for help. But the fact remains, that many have left.
This is why I am trailblazing.
Yes, I am still here. My deep, resonant voice has been echoing in a room often not occupied by other men for almost five years. Trust me, I am constantly on the lookout for other dad bloggers openly discussing craniosynostosis. I have yet to grow weary in my attempt to carry the banner of awareness. For me this means helping professionals understand what cranio is, and what it looks like. This is so that when they see it, they know what to do.
This also means exposing what life is like for us, as a family. Showing what my daughter has been through, and what she continues to go through. Just so others out there looking for answers can find them here. I have yet to falter in speaking. I have yet to lose my desire for teaching all those that I come across. Watching countless others wax and wane in these woods has been, interesting.
But I am not finished.
Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.