Frequently Asked Questions

Did you and Mr. Andi know that Nathan would be born with Down syndrome?

No, we didn’t. I had multiple ultrasounds during my pregnancy, due to my high-risk classification, but none of the soft markers for Down syndrome were present. We declined additional prenatal testing, because we knew that we would not abort and our experience with Sarah Kate had already taught us that you can’t prepare for everything. We have never regretted our decision not to test.

Do you know what caused Sarah Kate’s cerebral palsy?

Yes and no. Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain that occurs either before, during, or shortly after birth, and it is very common in preemies. Sarah Kate was born 10 weeks early due to a placental abruption, when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall. The cause of the abruption itself is unknown. Following her birth, she was diagnosed with a Grade 1 intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in her brain), which is not typically considered serious.

I read on the blog that Sarah Kate had a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). Who was her surgeon and what else can you tell me about SDR?

Dr. Oakes at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama did the procedure. Although Dr. Park at St. Louis Children’s is a well-known SDR surgeon, we were confident in Dr. Oakes’ ability because at the time of Sarah Kate’s procedure (early 2006) he had been performing SDRs for almost two decades. Additionally, we felt that because the after care (i.e., the year of physical therapy) is such an important piece of the SDR puzzle, we wanted her to have the procedure at a facility that offered a comprehensive approach to SDR, which Children’s of Alabama did. We were fortunate that we lived close enough to Birmingham to be able to take advantage of their program. You can read about our experience with SDR here or (if you’re really bored or desperate for some SDR reading material) the original play-by-play here.

What kind of photography equipment do you use?

Most of the time, I use a Canon Rebel T1i with the basic 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Occasionally I will switch out my lens to either a “nifty fifty” 50mm fixed lens or a 100-300mm zoom (all are made by Canon). I have a few other lenses leftover from my days as a 35mm photographer that rarely make it out of my closet, much less into the camera bag. I rarely use a flash or tripod, although I own multiple varieties of both, because I hate flash and it’s pointless to chase a kid with a tripod. For post-processing, I use Adobe Lightroom about 90% of the time, Adobe Photoshop Elements for the other 10%, and use a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch tablet with both.

Who does your blog design work?

Me, myself, and I. Although I would love to have a really great web designer handle my site, designers cost money. Because my blog is first and foremost about the message, not money, I do everything on a shoestring budget, which means doing it myself. I’m fortunate that I have some basic Photoshop skills, as that has allowed me to create my own graphics, and I know enough about coding to be dangerous. Everything else has been a matter of trial and error and studying the designs of other blogs that I like.

You should write a book! Have you ever considered it?

Although I’ve listed this question near the bottom in the FAQ, it’s probably the one I hear most often. I am writing a book, but I’m not pursuing publication of a book. I’m writing a book (in bits and pieces) so that I can create a permanent record of my family’s story for my children. If, at some point in the future, an opportunity to be published presents itself, I’ll pursue it. In the meantime, I recently launched a new ebook, There’s Sunshine Behind the Clouds, for parents of special needs children. It is available free for download by clicking “FREE EBOOK” in the menu bar or the book title above.

How can I help keep the lights on here?

Honestly, this question isn’t really asked all that frequently, but I’d like to think that there might be a few people out there thinking it who haven’t asked yet. :) Here are a few ways you can help keep Bringing the Sunshine going strong:

  • Share the blog with your friends. Social networking and bookmarking links are provided below every post.
  • Click to shop. Everything I talk about on the blog is something I believe in, and occasionally those things are products (like my photography equipment listed above). By visiting the sponsors in my sidebar or clicking through my product links and making a purchase on Amazon, you can drop a few (and I do mean a FEW) coins in the therapy fund jar.

Want the answers to more reader questions?

Check out the Ask Me Anything series from 2012.


  1. Holly Prothero says

    I stumbled upon this blog some how and I am glad I did. Your life is truly inspiring. It has shown me that anything can happen in life and you can’t be prepared for everything that comes your way.

  2. says

    I read this post a long time ago, and I probably noticed it then, but it is sticking out now – Julia had a Level 1 bleed too. I think the reason it jumped out now, is that on a loss mom forum, somebody told another mom not to worry about the Level 1, that it’s not bad at all (in the grand scheme of brain bleeds, anyway). And I had to jump in then and say well, our NICU doctors told us it was essentially nothing to worry about, and it turns out Julia has CP. So seeing this now kind of makes me feel better, in at least yeah, I’m not the only whose daughter got screwed by a supposedly “harmless” brain bleed.