Everything changed for Mary Ann and her family on December 20, 2017. She got a call that no mom wants to receive – her daughter collapsed on the playground. Mary Ann later found out that her daughter, Claire, has transverse myelitis. Listen in as Mary Ann shares the difficult process of coping with such a serious diagnosis and helping her young daughter manage paralysis.
- “You’re looking for glimmers of hope within different peoples’ stories, but also always comparing yourself, and wondering, you know, how your case is different.” – Mary Ann McCarthy
- “You’re not always getting a lot of answers, but you do find support in it.” – Mary Ann McCarthy
- “We felt like we were trying to put band-aids on symptoms and we weren’t ever getting to the root cause of what the problem was, which is a neurological condition.” – Mary Ann McCarthy
- “It’s sort of heartbreaking for me to think about all the cases out there of kids with various conditions that don’t have someone advocating for them. They don’t have somebody saying, think outside the box, they don’t have somebody taking them a second or third or fourth time. Because there’s hope in a lot of these things and there’s ways to think about conditions maybe in a new way.” – Mary Ann McCarthy
- “If we force her into a world that’s not fit for her all the time, she’s going to be frustrated and she’s going to not feel good about herself. And if we put her in a world where she feels comfortable and accepted and affirmed about the way she is, she’s going to excel.” – Mary Ann McCarthy
- 1:45 – The day Mary’s world changed forever
- 9:28 – What is transverse myelitis?
- 12:12 – How to get answers
- 14:06 – Advocating for surgeries
- 21:00 – A new surgery
- 23:07 – Trying to find a positive light in the midst of a wave of emotions
Mothers of Misfits: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Mothers of Misfits podcast. Join me for conversations about how to advocate for our kids in a one size fits all world. Be sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode.
[00:00:17]Emily Melious: Hey everyone, it’s good to have you back. Before we dive in with our amazing conversation today with our guest Mary Ann, I want to let you know some awesome news. If you would like to be a guest on Mothers of Misfits, if you have a story to tell, and by the way, you don’t have to be an expert, or at least for me, parenting is being an expert , go to the website mothersofmisfits.com and you can apply right on there to be a guest.
[00:00:45] And we are so excited to hear your story, or if you know somebody else that would be a great guest, please send them that way. But today, we are talking with Mary Ann McCarthy. She is an assistant general counsel for Navy federal credit union. And prior to that, she was a judge advocate general in the United States Air Force, serving both on active duty and within the reserves.
[00:01:11] She’s also, and most importantly, a mom of two. So Claire is six and Jack is rounding the corner on three. And we’re going to focus on Claire story today because she has a condition called transverse myelitis. Mary Ann, you are so brave and amazing for coming on and, not just here, I know in all of your communities, you are so open about your personal story, which is really hard.
[00:01:40] So I admire you coming on. Thanks for being here today.
[00:01:44] Mary Ann: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:01:45]Emily Melious: So your world totally changed on December 20th, 2017, just a little bit more than three years ago. Can you tell us what happened on that day?
[00:01:59] Mary Ann: Yes. That day stands out, like I’m sure for anybody that has gone through something like this, as the day that really changed every other day moving forward after that. It was a normal day. I went to work, and I got a call from the nanny while I was at work that Claire had fallen on the playground and then had wet herself. And , I took the call thinking, well this is the first of many times where I’m going to learn that Claire has either sprained or broken something. I assume she had some sort of pain reaction and was the reason why she wet her pants. She had been potty trained for over a year. She potty trained within a day or two, never really had an issue. Never looked back, no accidents. So it was unusual, but to me I thought, well this is just a pain reaction to a sprain on the playground. She was super active. And the nanny was sort of panicking and said she was gonna call 911. And I learned that she actually had gotten back from the playground. Claire was eating lunch, I could hear her in the background of the call singing Christmas carols, it was right around Christmas time. And I thought, the nanny was probably overreacting. So I told her to take Claire to the pediatrician and I would meet her there. And I finished my own work, not thinking that this was anything to be concerned about. And then got in the car and headed towards the pediatrician. And on the way I called my mom and told her , of course, you know, Claire had an accident and here I go again, leaving work and trying to juggle, you know, being a working mom. And I got to the pediatrician’s office and Claire was huddled in the back of the car in the nanny’s arms and she had defecated. And, at that point I knew something different was going on. And I immediately scooped Claire up and took her to the emergency room. Never even went into the pediatrician’s office, though I had called the pediatrician on the way and told them we were coming. They said go to the ER if she’s not walking. And I said, no, I think, I think this is probably just overreacting. But as soon as I saw her, I knew there was something else happening. And it’s sort of like a mother’s intuition like you just know your own child and you know that there’s something were happening there.
[00:04:06] So when we got to the ER, you know, it was just sort of a surreal experience where there was sort of doctor after doctor kept coming in. Claire seemed fine to me , sort of emotionally and mentally, and was just refusing to stand. And , you know they, the doctors would come in and do reflex tests on her feet and they would ask her to lift her legs up and down and she would say, you know, she would do as she was told. And then they’d say, can you wiggle your toes? And she would say, I can’t. And that was sort of the end of her, you know, she’s only three at the time. So that was sort of the end of her description about what was going on. And I called my husband and I told him where we were. He was in the middle of a jury trial himself.
[00:04:48] And, and I said don’t panic, she’s fine, but I just want to let you know where we are. Well, of course he got in the cab and came. And I think , you know, he also sort of sensed something weird was going on. And so when he showed up, he and I both kept asking each other questions, you know, do you think she’s faking it? Can a three-year-old fake something like this?
[00:05:07] We tried to trick her to stand up even to say like, let’s go see Santa. And she sort of buckled at the knees, and that’s where we really realized something weird was happening, but we had no idea what, at that point. And like I said, doctor after doctor came in and they kept saying, you know, we’re going to ask another specialist to come over. They didn’t really say anything to us, which was strange. And then they asked to transfer us to a different hospital , and said that they wanted to rule things out. And so we took her ourselves to the other hospital. They wanted to put her in an ambulance and we thought, you know, there’s no reason why we can’t carry this three-year-old in our car and take her there. She didn’t seem to be in pain. And so when we got to the second hospital, is sort of the same process happened where several doctors came in, did some reflex tests, then left, and then, you know, kept this sort of subtle suggestions that they needed to talk to other people, and then that they needed to rule more stuff out. So ultimately, they started saying things that were very scary, like tumors, multiple sclerosis, we need the rule those sorts of things out. We need to do a spinal tap. We need to do an MRI immediately. And so that’s where, you know, you start to realize sort of the magnitude of what’s happening.
[00:06:16] Emily Melious: Yeah. And this all happened in the span of a couple of hours, right? So you’re going from, she just, you know, kind of spraying something to, oh my gosh, we’re thinking through major life changing diagnoses, right?
[00:06:29] Mary Ann: Right, right. But when you looked at Claire, she seemed happy. And so I didn’t panic immediately at first. And actually, I don’t think I panicked for a few days to tell you the truth , because her attitude about it didn’t seem to be bothering her and so I sorta took her cue . And the doctors weren’t saying enough to really scare me immediately.
[00:06:50]They said they needed to rule things out, and so we did. And so we went through the process of the MRI and the spinal tap and they came back in the middle of the night. It was four in the morning I think when we had been admitted to the hospital, and they had started intravenous steroids to try to get her calm and see if they could get whatever was causing her paralysis to ease up. And they came in and said that she had inflammation in her spinal cord. And they diagnosed it as this thing called transverse myelitis, which apparently is a total random auto-immune reaction that children experience, but also adults.
[00:07:25] So we got the diagnosis that very first night that she ended up admitted to the hospital. They did the MRI and the spinal tap and determined that there was no lingering virus that they could tell that caused this problem. There was just residual inflammation in the spinal cord that showed up on the MRIs. And we noticed throughout the next couple of days, we were in the hospital for four days , four nights doing intravenous high dose steroids to try to reduce that inflammation. She got worse before she got better. She started planking her body , which was terrifying, but they told us that we were going to start to see some results quickly.
[00:07:59]And we did. And within those first couple of days, she started to stand and then slowly walk with a little baby walker and we saw good progress. And, of course it was Christmas time and we were anxious to get out of the hospital, and they decided to discharge us on Christmas Eve. And so we were excited. And when we got home on Christmas Eve , she seemed okay. And then the next morning started to regress. And we ended up back in the emergency room on Christmas day when she was complaining of a headache. Now this is a three-year-old mind you, complaining of a headache and actually started vomiting. And at that point I was concerned that the diagnosis was wrong.
[00:08:38] And I think that’s when I first started to panic. We ended up going through more MRIs, sedated again and doing a brain MRI. And that was the most terrifying moment throughout this whole time. But they came back with the same diagnosis again on Christmas day and we did four more days in the hospital with intravenous drugs and again, saw some good improvement.
[00:09:00] And so I think we were just sent home too early unfortunately, and you know, of course they want to get kids home and out of the hospital for Christmas, but it wasn’t the right decision for her at that time. I think their heart was in the right place, but we, we were all too quick to move her out of there. And so, you know, in some ways I think we got more clarity of what her condition was and, confirmation of that with the second MRI. But gosh, that was a scary moment.
[00:09:26] Emily Melious: Oh, I can only imagine. So in layman’s terms, what is transverse myelitis for those who have never heard of that term before? And who does it affect? Is it always with kids?
[00:09:38] Mary Ann: Yeah, transverse myelitis is an autoimmune disorder. It affects children and adults alike, but it’s totally random from what we can tell. It is the body’s way of trying to react to some sort of virus or , you know, some sort of complication and instead attacks itself, essentially, attacks its own spinal cord. And it creates inflammation in the spinal cord, and for Claire, it has caused long-term permanent nerve damage that now affects her mobility and her feet movement. For a lot of people, it can be even worse. It can cause paralysis all the way up to the neck.
[00:10:17] Emily Melious: Do you have any idea what brought it on for her?
[00:10:21] Mary Ann: No, we don’t. They’re trying to identify if there are certain types of viruses or immune system reactions that are being triggered, but we have not identified anything in Claire. We’ve never been able to identify any type of virus that she had or antibodies that she now has that created this problem.
[00:10:38] Emily Melious: Is she at risk for this happening to her again? Or could she have further damage from this?
[00:10:46]Mary Ann: Thank God no. They don’t think so. They think this is just a one-time random response. And, you know, from what we’ve heard from other people that that’s the case as well.
[00:10:56] Emily Melious: Are there any warning signals? Could you have seen this coming? I’m sure you just rack your brain and this has to haunt you, it haunts any parents, you know, woulda coulda shoulda’s, but is there, you know, for those listening, is there something to be on the lookout for?
[00:11:12]Mary Ann: I wish I could say yes, but, unfortunately no. I think it comes on fairly quickly. And you wouldn’t recognize, so she may have had a cold or a fever, something minor though, a runny nose, things that you wouldn’t recognize as being a major problem like this. And it wasn’t until, literally she was running and grabbed her legs and sort of collapsed. So the doctors think that she may have sensed some level of paralysis earlier, three-year-old’s not going to be able to describe anything for you as being unusual or different, maybe an adult would start to sense it, but from all the cases I’ve read about it, it comes on fairly quickly. The paralysis will start low, but increase pretty dramatically pretty quickly, like within a couple hours or a day. So it’s scary. It’s scary stuff.
[00:12:01] Emily Melious: How common is transverse myelitis?
[00:12:04] Mary Ann: So, this is incredibly rare. It happens completely randomly and they don’t know why, but it is a very rare disorder.
[00:12:12]Emily Melious: And I’m thinking, putting myself in your shoes, your child is just diagnosed with this very scary, rare disorder, and probably you had way more questions than answers. How did you get answers? Are there communities out there, were you able to connect with other parents or families? I mean, I know we’re doing this podcast so that this can be a resource to other families, but where did you go to learn more?
[00:12:40]Mary Ann: Yeah. Of course, my husband and I both get on the internet right away. We did a lot of research ourselves in that fashion, we talked to a number of doctors . And as far as resources, there aren’t a ton, to be honest. There are a couple sort of Facebook groups , moms and dads of kids with transverse myelitis, and just the transverse myelitis, sort of, association. And I’ve found those to be both helpful and frustrating because no two stories are alike. And so you’re looking for glimmers of hope within different peoples’ stories , but also always comparing yourself, and wondering, you know, how your case is different.
[00:13:22]And so you’re not always getting a lot of answers, but you do find support in it. And yet, I’ve found myself starting to post things about Claire and her diagnosis, sort of the things that we saw ahead of time, things that we’ve seen since, different things that we’ve tried over the last three years to gain some relief, because there’s a number of different drugs and surgeries and types of medicine that we’ve gone to.
[00:13:44] And some have worked and some have been incredibly frustrating. And so I think it can be a really good resource for people, but you feel like you’re on an island sometimes , despite having those types of resources, because again, your case is unique and you want to find the answer that’s right for your child. And there wasn’t immediate answers out there.
[00:14:06] Emily Melious: On that note, you have overseen Claire through two surgeries now in the last three years. And from what I’ve gathered from your writings on this, those surgeries were not easy, obvious answers either. And I think you had to do a lot of digging and advocating to make those surgeries happen. Can you talk us through what those surgeries were and what they were accomplishing for Claire?
[00:14:34]Mary Ann: Yeah, so initially, we thought that Claire would make a full recovery. And the neurologist was very disappointed when we went back about six months later. And she actually had seemed to us to have gotten a little bit worse in that time. She, like I said, she had started to walk with a baby walker and then she was walking on her own, but with a hitch and a club foot . And we saw over time spasticity set in. It’s basically the nerve response going from her spine to her brain wasn’t correct. And as a result, the muscles were clenching inward. And with additional time, you’d see atrophy set in and the muscles that are responding start to give way. And so she seemed to be weaker to us, and they said, well, nothing actually changed. It’s not that her condition got worse or the inflammation got worse, it’s that the muscles now that should be responding to nerve, responses aren’t working. And they haven’t been working for awhile, and so you start to see deterioration. And so we tried a number of things to try to get her to be more mobile. We tried muscle relaxers. We tried orthotics. We tried what’s called botox injections and serial casting, where they literally cast her feet into position to try to stretch them back out. And it worked for a short time and then the spasticity would come back and she would be walking on the sides of her feet. Which then of course causes all sorts of collateral damage to, hips and ankles and knees. And so, we felt like we were pulling our hair out. There was a lot of doctor’s appointments , talking to different specialists, talking to orthopedics, talking to physical medicine, lots of physical therapy.
[00:16:12]And we felt like we were trying to put band-aids on symptoms and we weren’t ever getting to the root cause of what the problem was, which is a neurological condition. She had a problem in her spinal cord. And so neurology said, we wish you would’ve made a recovery, but she didn’t, and unfortunately, this is where you are. And we didn’t really like that response. That didn’t seem like, good enough, for Claire. You know, it’s very frustrating, they would say, well, it could be a lot worse. And we would go to clinics like Kennedy Krieger in Johns Hopkins, which is the best of the best, right? And you would realize when you walked in there, how severe some kids’ conditions are, and you would see the glass as half full for us.
[00:16:56]And we would say, gosh, we’re so blessed that it’s not worse. But we didn’t feel like we got a response from them in the way that we hoped for Claire, because she would see a benefit from even a marginal improvement because she was so active in a lot of ways. And, you know, saying, well, it could be worse, isn’t good enough for her life , which required us to do the best for her. And so we continued to push, and it was frustrating and I would say my marriage went through challenges as a result because I think my husband and I always sort of, asked ourselves what we could do differently, what we didn’t do enough. Should we do be doing more physical therapy? We would blame ourselves for not focusing more on this problem that we had in our lives now , because of course you’re still trying to juggle work and life and trying to have fun and normalcy, but also dealing with a significant medical issue.
[00:17:53] Emily Melious: And a newborn. You had, you had Jack in all of it.
[00:17:57] Mary Ann: Yeah. It all happened when I was eight months pregnant. So that was, yeah, you add that to the mix. But, I think in the end we went back to neurology, and I on a whim said, we were going through our first surgery with Claire which was a tendon transfer. It was a recommendation by the orthopedist to pull the tendons in the other direction and tried to get her feet flat. And I just had this feeling that we were once again putting a band-aid on a symptom, and I went back to neurology yet again. And I said to them, I just want to make sure that there’s a holistic approach here. That this is a neurological condition that we’re treating with orthopedics. Is that right? I want you to know about that. I want you to have some sort of input. Tell me if you’re okay with that, because I don’t want to limit down the road, our ability to do something else for her that we didn’t know about right now. And he said, no, I think you’re doing the right thing. And, literally as he’s walking out the door, he had his hand on the door knob and he said, but because you asked the question, I’m trying to think outside the box for you. And there’s this other thing that they do for cerebral palsy, which is a very different condition than what Claire has, but has a lot of the same symptoms. The spasticity, the clenching of the feet or the hands, that inward reaction of the muscles. And he said, you know, I actually think she might be a really good candidate for this. You could see the light bulb go off in him. He got very excited about this idea and it was called selective dorsal rhizotomy. It’s a spinal cord surgery where they literally go into the spine and try to identify what nerves are not working correctly.
[00:19:33] They do like electrical stimulation of those nerves and cut off the ones that don’t work. It’s permanent, so once you make that decision to cut them, they’re never coming back, but if they’re not working correctly, why do you need them? They’re actually the ones that are causing these problems. And the light bulb went off. He called me later that night having done some research on it. The orthopedist got super excited about this idea and it was a big deal that we then started going to various specialty clinics around the country to ask them about whether Claire would be a good candidate for this. And, it’s sort of heartbreaking for me to think about all the cases out there of kids with various conditions that don’t have someone advocating for them. That don’t have somebody saying, think outside the box, that don’t have somebody taking them a second or third or fourth time. Because there’s hope in a lot of these things and there’s ways to think about conditions maybe in a new way.
[00:20:28] Emily Melious: And that’s what we hear so many times on Mothers of Misfits is, you know your child best, you are your child’s best advocate, and don’t let up, don’t feel intimidated. You know, don’t take no for an answer, right? You’ve got this. And I’m hearing that in your story too. It took a lot of pushing. It took a lot of closed doors before you got an open one, and thankfully you got to the surgery. This just took place. You got home, again, Christmas Eve, so a lot of happenings for your family around Christmas time. And she had the surgery. You just shared with me, she’s in casts all the way up, well, almost close to her hip, right?
[00:21:05] Mary Ann: That’s right. Yep. So the surgery went well. The surgery is just the attempt to take away the bad signal. It doesn’t fix the feet, but it will give us a fighting chance of being able to fix the feet now, because the problem in the past has been, we’re fixing the feet, but not source of the problem and so the problem keeps coming back. This time we’re hoping that , which is still a long process, this is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. We now need to fix the feet because we’ve taken away the spasticity, the bad signal that’s been happening. So she had the surgery, there’s a small incision in her back. And within a couple of days they had her standing, but it didn’t look good still. And you want, you know, the feet to just spring back into position and that’s not what’s going to happen. This again is a process and that’s why she has these long leg casts right now. She can’t walk at all. It’s a process to slowly move those feet back in position in the same way when you put braces on your teeth, you’re slowly wrenching them. It’s been extremely uncomfortable for her. More so than the surgery itself, this has been tougher, cause she can’t walk, so she has no mobility, but she also is very uncomfortable and she wakes up in the night.
[00:22:17]You know, she has various medicines to try to deal with some of the pain that is associated with this. And then we think once we’re done with this casting, there will be a series of surgeries that will still need to take place. But the hope, and we, you know, the verdict is still out on this, but the hope is that the spasticity won’t return and those feet will stay. And, my husband and I think even if we can just get a straighter platform for her feet, that would fit better in an orthotic, that would give her whatever assist she needs. She might not have the strength that all the other kids have, but that would be a huge win.
[00:22:48] Emily Melious: Oh, that would be huge.
[00:22:50] Mary Ann: Because of course we worry about, you know, if she continues to move in this poor way, that there will be long-term consequences for her beyond what we even know right now. You know, she’s only six years old, but, you know, our fear was that she was going to be in a wheelchair by the time she was in high school. And maybe we’ve reversed that.
[00:23:07]Emily Melious: You wrote something very beautiful but difficult on Facebook a few weeks back. And I’d like to read an excerpt from that because I really feel like a lot of folks listening can identify with you in this, even if their child’s not going through what Claire’s going through. We have all faced those circumstances as parents where we faced a tough time and there’s all the emotions around that and all of the self-talk.
[00:23:35] So I want to read this and then get your reaction again, to your own words. So you said, the last three years has been colored by waves of different emotions. Sometimes there’s still disbelief that this happened, other times there’s frustration that we can’t fix it. And certainly we are plagued by questions and doubts, wondering what if we did something different earlier or faster. We’re still trying to accept a new normal and have learned to temper our optimism. There have been some truly ragged, exhausted moments, and other times that Mike and I kick ourselves for easing up the search for answers, or more, better, different rehab.
[00:24:13] But I think we both started to find some solace in focusing more and more on trying to first, give Claire happiness, in a way that’s tailored to her. Her interests and her abilities, capitalizing on her many gifts and talents in the same way that we’re trying to get her body to adapt to the dysfunction that was thrust upon it. We’re trying to adapt our minds and how we feel about it. I thought that was so beautiful. Can you just speak to that wave of emotions? I bet it comes out of nowhere and all of a sudden you’re just on your butt with it.
[00:24:52] Mary Ann: Absolutely, yeah. So, Claire changed. She’s changed, not just physically, she’s changed emotionally. We know that her interests are very different now from what they would have been, but so have we . It wasn’t just a condition that she has, it’s a condition that we all have, and it has just taken my husband and I a lot of searching not just for answers to medicine, but answers to what’s important, and where our priorities are. And, as I said in there like the frustration over time has been, you know, we’re type A personalities. We think we can fix things and we’re going to do our darnedest to figure it out.
[00:25:34] And we’ve come to realize that this is our life. Like this is the way it’s going to be. We can make it better, but part of it is in our attitude, and part of it is an understanding that Claire is different now and it’s okay. She has so many strengths and talents. She is an awesome bike rider and one of the things my husband did immediately after this happened, like within months was teach her how to ride a bike.
[00:26:00] And we’ve realized that that has given her mobility when she otherwise wouldn’t have it. You know, when we throw her bike in the back of the car anywhere we go, and so she’s not in a wheelchair and she’s also not being carried by her parents, she’s riding her bike, and she’s happy when she does that.
[00:26:17] And that makes us happy, obviously. It has truly been tough . There have been many, many times where we’ve said the glass is half full. We go through these hospitals and we see kids in much worse conditions and parents struggling with much harder things. And I truly wonder where they gain their strength.
[00:26:37]But you know, there’s other times where the glass has really been half empty. And you think, gosh, you know, she used to love to run. She still does. She’s not going to be an all-star track team member, but she can be something else. We’ve had several people suggest to us things like special Olympics. And at first I think my husband and I had sort of a visceral reaction to that. It meant that she was, there was something wrong with her, that she was not capable of regular sports. Over time, we’ve become more comfortable with that idea because she will be able to excel and you’ll be able to see her feel good about herself , which really means a lot now.
[00:27:15]I listened to a different podcast actually with a couple of mothers that had children with cerebral palsy. And they said that when they go to the camps with other kids with cerebral palsy or, in the hospital, they can see that they’re among their people. And that kind of stuck with me thinking about Claire. Because if we force her into a world that’s not fit for her all the time, she’s going to be frustrated and she’s going to not feel good about herself. And if we put her in a world where she feels comfortable and accepted and affirmed about the way she is, she’s going to excel. And, so it’s finding new things. It’s piano, it’s bike riding, we’re thinking about other sports. She could do crew for instance . Things that can still use her body and her strength that she has and not focus on, you know, what she doesn’t. And I think Mike and I have had to do that too.
[00:28:14]Emily Melious: Claire and Jack are so fortunate to have you both. And I know you will never let up the pressure. You will always be fighting and advocating. And that’s true of Mike too. I mean, she’s got all star parents who are behind her a million percent. Mary Ann, I just want to reiterate how much I admire you and respect you and your bravery and your honesty in the messiness of this all. Both the high points and the lows. And I know this is going to make a huge impact in the world, just by you sharing your story here and elsewhere. So thank you, thank you for coming on and being a resource to the mom community.
[00:28:57] Mary Ann: Well, if I could add one more thing, cause you said we’ll never let up and that’s true. But as I mentioned in that quote , it is about also finding happiness. And we have to balance the doctor’s appointments, and the, you have to wear orthotics Claire, you have to straighten your feet, walk straight. That nagging , that constant attention on the problem with, let’s be happy.
[00:29:21]Emily Melious: What a beautiful way to end a really important conversation. Thanks again.
[00:29:28] Mothers of Misfits: Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Mothers of Misfits podcast. Make sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. We also invite you to visit us at MothersOfMisfits.com.