Instagram these days is more then a posting site or social media avenue for users, it is a business outlet, shopping platform, artistic demonstrations, but mostly a community. It is a community of bloggers, business owners, mom’s connecting with other moms, makeup artists, and larger companies connecting with their consumer. To see the impact Instagram has on others is huge, and the good that it has brought to others having the support of a complete stranger. I started following Brandi from the explore page simply because she dresses her babes so cute. I loved seeing her day-to-day style and cute posed pictures of Austin and Paisley.
I started watching her journey as a mom and stumbled upon her blog. There, I found her sweet story of Austin and diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. I had no idea he had this traumatic birth story, every picture the boy is smiling or looking like the coolest kid at Disneyland. This family is strong, and courageous, and has a lot of love for their kiddos no matter the setbacks life has thrown them. Austin is a healthy, sweet soul who has so much to teach the world. In honor of March being CP Awareness month I wanted to share a little bit about this sweet boy and some recent pictures we took. I chatted with Brandi on what we should know about this condition, what we can do, and learn a little insight of what life is like. Go follow Brandi on Instagram to follow her journey. (@bleighlovee)
What exactly is Cerebral Palsy in non-medical terms?
Cerebral Palsy to me is a broad term for brain damage. No two cases are the same, and some are a lot more complex than others. Some people can have a mild case, and can still be just independent as you or I. Some need help with minor things, and others need 24/7 care.
What is a little background on Austin and his diagnosis?
Austin was diagnosed with CP, at age 2 due to medical mal practice around age 6 months. It took us loads of persistence and pushing to get the answers we deserved. I have his whole birth story on my blog, http://adventuresofaustin09.blogspot.com
What are some challenges you have faced along the way?
Well first there’s the emotional challenge of knowing Austin will need me to care for him for the rest of his life. Then there’s the physical challenge for not only Austin, but also myself. Having to carry him from room to room, make sure he is constantly getting enough exercise, making sure he has had all his tube feedings for the day, and since Austin is very mobile, making sure he doesn’t hurt himself.
What keeps you going?
How have these challenges changed your everyday routine?
My everyday now consists of having to accommodate my 5-year as if he were a 6-month old baby. I need to find ways for him to stay entertained, and make sure the places I am going will accommodate for his stroller, which we are still using as a “wheelchair”. I have to tube feed him on a strict schedule, and make sure he is getting all the nutrients he needs. While doing everything else I would normally do for a baby, and their sibling while doing the duties of a stay at home mom. We have therapies and specialist appointments on a normal basis and we have incorporated the therapies into our daily life.
As Austin grows older has it become easier or more of a challenge?
The older Austin gets, the harder it becomes physically. He is too big for most things, a baby would enjoy, and those are things that Austin enjoys. Getting of the house takes longer, he doesn’t walk and now having two children, it’s much harder to make quick trips anywhere without using the stroller. It has gotten much easier emotionally. I have accepted what happened, and have chosen to move forward. If anyone has a chance for a good read – check out “Welcome to Holland” it literally describes what each special needs parent had to face when they first got the diagnosis.
How do you stay strong with setbacks and overcome these to make negative situations into positive?
I look at the overall picture, and everything we have already conquered. All that matters is Austin’s health and happiness. My son fought tooth and nail to live his life to the best of his ability. He is a fighter, and he gives me every reason to stay strong.
How can those around help and be aware of CP? (donate, organization, support, etc.)
People can help by being a little more open minded, and understand he is just like an other child. He needs love, and positive attention in order to live his normal life. He is not sick, he is healthy, just has a few more physical limitations than most. If people wanted to help by donating they could do some research and choose their favorite CP Organization, or look out for the few companies that will be doing a couple “shop for a cause” projects in honor of Austin this month!
Raising a new baby without CP, how has it been different or are there similarities?
It’s bittersweet. It shows me everything I missed with Austin, and all the experiences that were taken from us. It’s a whole new ball game, and it’s so exciting to have so many firsts I didn’t get to have. But I am so happy Austin has a new baby sister to love on him the way he deserves.
How has the community (living and Instagram) helped?
The Instagram community has shown so much support and love for my special boy. They have helped keep me strong, and shown me that I am not alone. They have gone above and beyond to spread awareness and I couldn’t thank them enough for the immense support they have given our family.
When will Austin get his own modeling career! 🙂
We are content with brand repping for now ☺️ but who knows what we will get ourselves into in the future!
I am so happy I reached out to Brandi and learn more about Austin and CP. He has a contagious smile and a sweet little soul. It was so rewarding shooting and editing these photos.