A Trip to Chili’s

How do you explain to a two-year-old about special needs? How do you explain to her that a little girl her own age cannot do the things you can do because her legs don’t work quite right? We came face to face with this situation this weekend, and I have been pondering these things myself.

My mother-in-law and her husband took Abigail and me out to dinner Saturday night just so we could get out of the house for a bit. We had been home for over two days and I was going a little stir crazy, so we all packed up and went to Chili’s down the road from our house. Well apparently everyone in town was stir crazy or didn’t want to cook (or couldn’t because they didn’t have power) because everyone was at Chili’s. So we sat with another family that came in before us in the waiting area for about 15 minutes. What a 15-minute wait that was!

The family consisted of a young mother, her two children (a little girl we soon discovered was only two months older than Abigail and her little brother who was about 6 months I am guessing), and the mother’s parents. They were a sweet family and we instantly started talking about the snow and road conditions and power outages. My mother-in-law was holding Abigail, and I was across from them in the other seat. They were sitting right beside the little girl and her mother.

The little girl and Abigail were having a staring contest. You see Abigail loves watching children. I think they fascinate her. The little girl finally got brave enough to ask Susan (my mother-in-law) what Abigail’s name was, so Susan told her and asked her name. She was the cutest little girl with light up rain galoshes on. Susan asked her how old she was and she said three, so the mother had to chime in and say she was only two. We couldn’t believe that she was Abigail’s age. Her mother said she was in the 97th percentile. Abigail is in the 10th, so you can only imagine what the size difference between them was. I explained to the adults that Abigail had special needs, so that might be one reason she seemed so tiny. Well the little girl couldn’t comprehend Abigail was two just like her. She kept saying she was only one, and Susan kept telling her, ‘no she’s two just like you.’

Well everything was going peachy until the little girl asked if Abigail could get down and play with her. Susan told the little girl that Abigail couldn’t leave her lap. Her mother tried to tell her that Abigail’s legs don’t work like hers and of course the why question kept coming. You could tell everyone was getting a little tense with not knowing what to say. Then the little girl asked if Abigail could sit beside her. Of course another round of ‘no’s’ and ‘why not’s’ commenced. So Susan finally told her she could play with her but Abigail would have to sit in her lap. I knew this was going to go poorly the moment that little girl stepped towards Abigail. Abigail loves looking at kids, but she does not like kids in her bubble much less touching her. Well that sweet little girl so lovingly held Abigail’s hands. It truly was the cutest thing, and I wished I could have taken a picture. But all the touching was way too much for Abigail.

I calmly got up from my seat anticipating Abigail’s freak out, and it came quickly. Her bottom lip quivered (a sure sign tears were coming). I scooped Abigail up, and the mother was like did my daughter do anything? “No, not a thing. She was the sweetest to Abigail, but Abigail cannot tolerate children. I am so sorry.” The little girl’s face crumbled. I told her she did nothing wrong and that Abigail was going to be okay. I had to walk away to calm Abigail down and when I got back the family had been seated. I told my mother-in-law everything was good. Abigail was back to laughing and dancing to the holiday music in no time. And when we left we stopped by the family’s table and wished them a goodnight. The little girl waved good-bye, so I knew she was okay too.

But goodness, what a situation! It really was not a big deal probably to anyone else, but those 10 minutes rocked my world. This is my life. No one knows how to react when you say special needs. I felt so awful for that little girl and her family. I know they had no idea what to say or do to explain Abigail. I was no help either. Looking back I should have taken Abigail and showed the girl how Abigail’s legs don’t work right. I should have held her and had a ‘dance’ party in my lap while the little girl stood beside us. There are 15 different things I could have done now looking back. But I sat there and watched this family meet a special needs little girl for the first time with no explanation.

I know it’s not a big deal. They probably won’t even remember us tomorrow, but I will never forget this. I know situations like this will come again. Children will ask questions, and I will have to answer to them and their families. I will have to explain why at two a little girl cannot walk or talk or even sit. I don’t know if I will have all the answers, but I hope to help and encourage as we go. Explaining special needs to a two-year-old is tough, but I hope that little girl stays as loving and sweet as she was that night. And I pray that one day Abigail will accept a sweet handhold from a fellow pier. That little girl’s hand in my child’s hand tonight meant the world to me. I know it was brief, but it shows bridges can be gapped and my daughter can be accepted. Such a simple thing, but such a huge Christmas blessing – a simple hand hold from a sweet little two-year-old girl at a Chili’s restaurant.

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You Would Too

Do you remember that oldies song “It’s my Party”? The lyrics go, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. You would cry to if it happened to you.” I know it’s a weird connection but that’s the song I thought of as I began to write this blog last night. So many people say how I’m a great mom or how Abigail’s blessed to have me. Maybe I am. Maybe she is. There’s a ton of special needs parents and care givers that are amazing!! I’ve met only a small handful and their stories need to be heard by everyone. Special needs parents are some of the most amazing people I’ve found out. But like the song goes, if you had a special needs kid you’d be pretty amazing too.

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Just a few days after we got home from the hospital before we found out about this journey we were about to be on.

Let’s face it. If you’re a parent you are amazing. The responsibility God has given you to raise your child or children is one of the biggest under takings you’ll ever have. You are raising the future in your home right now. It’s huge!! It’s scary!! And often it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. Parenting does not come with rule books and how-to guides. And as soon as you kind of think you have one kid figured out another child comes along who is completely different. Parenting is a privilege and a blessing, but one that should not be taken lightly. So every parent who loves their child unconditionally is amazing in my book!!

But as a special needs parent you just have a few extra responsibilities. You often have a list of doctors to call. Often you have to deal with insurance companies and other financial assistance companies and organizations. You grow to realize there are not a lot of helpful people out there to assist you, so you learn as you go and learn to be assertive and to be your child’s biggest advocate. You are your child’s voice in a medical field, which is often full of people who are just after the next dollar or who think your child isn’t as high a priority. If you had a special needs child you would learn all about the ends and outs of the medical field too.

 

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Then at two months old we got the news about how our perfect little baby may have some vision issues, and our special needs journey began.

A special needs parent often has to be more accommodating and a quick problem solver. A lot of special needs children have physical and social limitations that you have to work around. I know a lot of children with sensory issues who cannot handle loud places, even crowded restaurants. Parents bring noise canceling headphones to help them in those situations. For us, Abigail cannot sit up. For the longest time we carried our own chair for her to sit in when we went out. Now she is stable enough to sit in high chairs at restaurants. But often the hostess will not ask us what we need, so she will get a booster seat for the booth. Abigail cannot sit in a booster seat because she would slide right out. So then I have to go chase down someone to replace the seat with a high chair. It’s a mess. But if your were a special needs parent you would learn to accommodate in a world that is not often accommodating to people with special needs.

Often a special needs parent has to deal with medical issues with their child. Whether it is seizures, a g-tube, or a host of other symptoms, parents have to walk through these scary things with their child. Not to mention the surgeries that often come with these medical issues. We have been blessed not to experience any medical issues with Abigail, but I have talked to many a mother who has and it is always an awful part of their story. One mom even said they feel as if they are going through it with their child. As moms we are often more scared and hurt and worried about our children than they are. But if you were a special needs parent you would do all this too if you knew it was best for your child.

 

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While we don’t have any medical issues, Abigail has done a lot of testing. This was taken at the lab while we waited for her blood to be drawn for about the fourth time. I was over it – she was as happy as ever.

Often as a special needs parent you have to help your child in ways you don’t expect or teach them things that should come naturally. They are much more dependent on you. Special needs children need help doing even simple things like getting dressed and using the bathroom. I still have to feed Abigail all her meals and give her every sip of water or juice she drinks. We aren’t even considering potty training, and diapers may be forever in our future. We still carry Abigail everywhere she goes. I have to teach her how to play with new toys and how her hand can make a fist. But if you were a special needs parent you would do all this too.

Lastly, often our dreams and expectations of our children crumble before our eyes. No one plans to have a child born with autism or Downs or a genetic disorder. Often parents do not know anything is the matter with their child until they are months, if not years old. So by that time you have planned for them to be your older child’s best friend, or a star athletic or a well-known doctor. Every parent dreams about their child’s future. And often as a special needs parent these dreams are broken as diagnoses come along. But that doesn’t mean we don’t dream. It is just that our dreams and goals are very different. My dreams for Abigail has changed dramatically in the last few years. Now I want her to be able to walk, to have accepting friends and amazing teachers and doctors. Things I would just take for granted when I was pregnant with her. But if you were a special needs parent your would adapt your dreams and expectations too.

The fact is that I am not anything special. God didn’t gift me with any extra abilities to care for my daughter. I am not amazing in any way. In fact I mess up a lot. I am lazy and don’t do everything I should. I don’t want to deal with doctors so I don’t call all the time when I should. I want to do my thing sometimes and not spend every waking moment helping Abigail. I am selfish. But I am a mother of a special needs daughter, and I will do anything I can to help her achieve her very best. Yes, we have to do things a little differently, but this is my normal. Abigail is my normal because I have no other typical child to compare her to. I would be scared to be around typical toddlers because I don’t know what they do. Around here we just take one day at a time and enjoy the small victories. I am thankful for my daughter and for being allowed to be her mom. Abigail teaches me more than I ever thought she could. Her joy and determination are contagious!! I am thankful to be on this journey with her and if you were a parent of a special needs child you would be blessed in ways you couldn’t imagine too!!

 

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Toddlerhood

I love this stage with Abigail. She is learning so much, and she wants to learn. I often feel inadequate to teach her because I don’t know what she is capable of, and I often don’t know how to teach her. But I am glad she is willing to learn with me and be patient as I learn with her. She picks up things so quickly whether it’s a new sign for communication or how to make her body move the way she wants it to. Her therapists are so pleased with her progress, and they are working just as hard to get her to sit and grow too! I mean just look at her sitting on the steps. She looks like such a big girl now, and I love it. My little baby is growing up slowly but surely.

As much as this is an exciting time for us all, it is also a frustrating time. We are at a weird stage right now. Abigail wants to be a toddler so bad. She wants independence and freedom. She is smart and growing everyday. From the outside she looks like a big girl. But physically she is only at about a 8 month old level (well an 8 month old who can’t sit or stand yet). It’s tough. It’s frustrating. Do you know how hard it is to play with toys when you can’t sit yet? We are limited by what we can do. Even as I took the picture of her sitting on the steps, looking so big, she fell over before I could catch her and hit her head pretty hard against the wall. That’s our life. A mix of wanting to be a big girl, but being limited by what she can do. I am just glad she has been a champ so far and is taking things so well.

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Yes, that is my toddler lifting a 2 pound weight. No, I do not let her play with weights. She just happened to find them during one of my workouts. But she can lift 2 pounds!!

I think the worst thing for us right now is not the lack of physical ability, but the lack of communication. Because we have no way of communication we get frustrated at each other. She’s beginning to want certain things or not want certain things but I’m not sure what she needs all the time. She is becoming more and more aware of her environment which is exciting, but that means she is almost waking up cognitively. She can get sassy sometimes with what she wants or does not want, and I am struggling to keep up with all her new awareness. Since I’m with her all day I can usually keep up with her needs, but there are times I have no idea what she is thinking. Thankfully we are slowly learning signs, and I pray her speech continues to improve so I can help her. I do not want her physical handicaps to slow down her cognitive development.

Bed time is another frustration for us right now. She seems to never be tired, so at 9 we make our way up to her bedroom. We read a book or two and sing a song then it’s to bed. I have to lay beside her because she scream cries if I leave her side. And I swear she has no idea how to cry because she never does, so she then gets all chocked up and it’s just a big mess. So I lay beside her and she wiggles and tossed and turns. It takes about an hour for her to finally go to sleep. So now it’s about 10:30 and I’m tired and frustrated. I miss time with Jordan in the evening. It’s just a big mess. So we are attempting some changes this week to see if they help us all. I hope they help!!

But even with all this newness and learning going on Abigail is so happy all the time. Sometimes I wish she was not. I know that sentence is weird, but sometimes her constant good moods are a detriment for her. For example this past week was r-o-u-g-h. But she seemed like a champ the whole time. Unless you know her super well you would have no idea anything was wrong with her. We started the week off constipated. It’s a struggle we often have since Abigail doesn’t move a lot. But she hadn’t gone to the bathroom for a week and the pediatrician put us on Miralax. So now I’m a worried mama about that, but of course Abigail just continues to eat like normal and not cry. I could tell she was a bit off because she was clingy and not as talkative but no one else would see that. Then this weekend we had a wedding in our family and her whole schedule was thrown off! She did not sleep much. She did not eat like normal. She was cooped up a lot. Nothing was normal on top of being constipated. What a weekend for us all!! But through it all she just laughed and was her normal self. Only at the wedding reception did she start showing the wear and tear from the long week. And then she simply just wasn’t smiley. She’s a mess!

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Her sleeping off her hard weekend. She slept so much after the wedding, and I am so thankful!

But that’s toddlerhood in our house. It’s a weird mixture of growth, excitiment and frustration. I have a two year old who has a lot of struggles other two year olds have, but they cannot be treated the same way. I have a two year old who wants to learn and be independent, yet is highly dependent on me. I have a two year old who wants to be social, but cannot express her needs. I have a two year old who often is tired or hungry, yet is laughing and smiling so most people have no idea that she really needs a nap. This is our life in toddlerhood for now. I hope Abigail continues to progress and grow. I love seeing her personality bloom. I love seeing her explore and learn. And I love that she is becoming a big girl day by day. But I also hope her limited communication and physical ability does not slow her down. I think every parent of toddlers would tell you every day is a rollercoaster, but to see that tiny little one grow into a little person is something I would not miss for the world!

Our Simple Life

I thought I would share what a day in our lives look like. Of course each day changes and you cannot schedule a toddler every second, but on average this is what we do. I love my little buddy, and we are both going to miss each other when she goes to preschool next year. I think my mama’s heart is not going to be able to handle it. But I know Abigail needs to see more people than just me everyday, and I know that I need to be away from her too. But for now I treasure each day I have to spend with my little sidekick.

I wake up around 8 and wait for someone to start stirring. Abigail is normally up around 8:30 or 9. We are late raisers and I am okay with that. I know one day we will have to change our sleeping patterns but for now it works for us. Abigail is happy in the mornings, and we usually snuggle. She never pees at night so we have a very wet diaper when we go in morning. My mom has always said this will make it easier to potty train and I hope that is the case. We have a long ways to go before potty training can start, but maybe one day that will make it easier.

We go downstairs and fix breakfast for us both. She plays with her toys while I get everything together. I eat yogurt and granola. She eats a scrambled egg and cereal and maybe yogurt if she feels like it. She is usually pretty hungry, so she eats well. From there we snuggle and open the blinds in the front room. I have been trying to get her to learn to pull the cords to give her a job to do each morning. And then we get dressed and ready for the day. I lay her down in her bedroom with toys and music while I get ready and straighten up or put a load of laundry on. Then we get her dressed and that crazy blonde hair brushed the best we can.

Then depending on the day we try to go somewhere each morning. Mornings are Abigail’s best times. On Mondays we have physical therapy. On Tuesday’s is Music Class. On Wednesday’s is speech and occupational therapy. On Thursday’s she stays with grandma while I go to Bible Study. And Friday’s we normally have free so we go to the park or to the grocery store. One way or another we get out of the house for a bit, mostly for mama’s sanity. I like having somewhere to go each day.

We return for lunch and we usually watch TLC while we eat our sandwiches and fruit and goldfish. Then the afternoon fussiness begins. We try to have wiggle time and snuggle time. But at 2 it is nap time. We settle down with a good book or two and then it is off to Mommie and Daddy’s bed for a nap. We have to hold her down still so she does not fall of the bed, but it usually only takes her about 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. Some days I nap with her. Some days I use the hour and a half to clean or blog or just do nothing. It just depends on how motivated I am that day.

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I usually have to wake Abigail up because she would sleep the day away and never go to bed at night if we let her. She is out of it when she gets up. It takes her a good 20-30 minutes of snuggles to finally wake up. Those are some of my favorite minutes of the day. By then, if Daddy has been working all morning, he is home. So it is his turn with Abigail while I get dinner ready and the house straightened again.

We eat together at the table and Daddy normally gets her all fed while I clean up afterwards. She is the slowest little eater but she eats well! In the evenings we try to take a walk whether in the neighborhood or at the local outdoor mall 5 minutes from our house. We do some exercises and just are together as a family, watching TV, tickling, playing, and wiggling.

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Wrestling with Daddy before bath time.

Then before you know it it is bath time and snack time and snuggle time. Around 9:45 or 10 we head to bed. I know that is late but we honestly still are not close to going to sleep yet. This is why we sleep in. I hate the late bedtime but for now this is where we are. If anyone has suggestions about how to get a toddler to sleep faster please let me know! Her therapist and pediatrician have both said this may be a result of her finally gaining freedom and mobility. If you just learned to move you would want to wiggle all the time too. But we are trying to teach her that bedtime is bedtime, and give her tons of time to wiggle during the day. So, at 10 I read her a story or two and then lay down and hold her again. Bedtime takes longer to go to sleep. It normally takes between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. She is usually asleep by 11 or 11:30 and then it is my turn to sleep.

There is not anything exciting about our days. We like the simple life. Of course, days change and we do other things in between the usually stuff. Whether Grandma comes for a new adventure or we go to a doctors appointment that day. Or on days we miss therapy because our therapist cancel, we go to the store or just explore around town. Abigail is pretty chill, so it is easy to take her places. These next few months have lots of new adventures in store as fall festivals approach and then we have a big family wedding coming up. But all in all it is just the three of us living life with each other one day at a time. I love my simple life and I am glad I get to share it with my family!!

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Dealing with Doctors

I was a very healthy child growing up. My whole family is. We rarely go to the doctor for anything, and if we do it is our family doctor running his own tiny practice in our tiny town. Needless to say I had no idea about the medical field until Abigail came along. And I still only know one tiny piece of the whole puzzle.

We have seen at least 10 different doctors in different fields for one thing or another the last 2 years. We have seen multiple neurologists because our first one gave up on us, and sent us to one at Children’s. We have been to countless eye doctors who have told us everything under the sun. We have been to the geneticist, an othropedic doctor, and even an eyes, ears and throat doctor once to do a hearing test. I am an expert form filler outer!

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One of the early doctor’s appointments. See how she was looking up all the time!

There are two things that all these doctors have in common though. One is that they have all said in one way or another that Abigail is a puzzle. They say it differently, but it all means the same thing. They have no idea what is wrong with our child, and they have no idea what to do for her. She is a square peg in their round holes. Most children like her also have other ailments, so even though Abigail checks some boxes she does not check the ones they want her to. I am sure doctors are not excited to see us when they look at Abigail’s charts. And secondly, everything they have tested or looked at has come back normal. On paper Abigail looks like a typical two year old. But in real life she is anything but normal.

Right now we have a geneticist appointment in February, which we scheduled back in June because that is how awful it is to try to get appointments made. There are only a handful of pediatric doctors that serve in these areas, so getting into see them is a nightmare. Our neurologist does not quite know what to do so she is simply running all the tests we have already ran over again. Our eye doctor keeps giving us little fixes like patches and glasses to help Abigail’s vision, but our neurologist says it is not her eyes it is the connections in her brain giving us issues. But the eye doctor knows these things will help and if not there is always surgery.

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Our little pirate. Just one more thing this poor baby has to go through!

On top of all this and keeping up with all the appointments, we attend three separate therapy sessions each week and go to music class. It is a mess. I want the doctors to talk to each other. I want them to care about Abigail and actually read her chart before they enter the room. I want them to know we have already seen 10 doctors before them and each one tells us something different, yet none of them have given us a single answer as to what is wrong. I want them to see Abigail’s progress instead of a two year old who cannot sit, stand, walk or talk. I see a two year old who has conquered mountains instead of one who needs to be tested and documented like an animal.

Just today we saw a new eye doctor and he was explaining what he saw wrong with Abigail’s eyes. He asked me if I saw her vision as being off any. I simply looked at him and said, “Sir, I see a child who literally looked up at the ceiling her first year of life. She wasn’t interested in anything and today she tracks objects and looks into your eyes. That’s huge! So no, I don’t notice her eyes being a little crooked or shaking here or there occasionally.” His reply, “Well from what I see her eyes do seem to be a little off still.” Oh if he could only know from where we have come!

It has been a long journey, and we are only at the beginning of it. I know so many other parents who would tell me I have it easy or that they have been through worse. And I am thankful we do not have to see cardiologists or other doctors for Abigail’s health. I just pray we find a doctor along our journey who we love and who cares about where we have been and how far this little fighter of mine has come.

Second Round

We have not been through as much with Abigail as a typical special needs family would have been, medically speaking. Abigail is healthy and happy, and there is not a single thing wrong with her except she is behind developmentally. We have not had to go to the hospital with her. But in December 2015, when Abigail was just barely 7 months old, we went to Children’s hospital to get an MRI done. The doctors were concerned that the connections from the back of her brain were not functioning as they ought. Her vision was awful back then as she could only look up and not track objects.

I still remember that day well. Abigail had to fast, so we woke her up early to get one last feeding in thinking she may nap in the two plus hour trip to the hospital. Well she did not nap. We were in Atlanta traffic with a tired, hungry baby and two stressed out, worried parents. We arrived and somehow got directed through the parking deck and down to the radiology department with enough bags to spend four nights at the hospital (I tend to over prepare for things).

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Abigail getting ready to get her IV in. Yes, they give them tiny hospital robes to wear!

Abigail was still pretty happy for all she had already been through so that made us feel better. But then they came to put her IV in, and it quickly went downhill. Because she had not ate or drank her already tiny veins had shrunk even more and the experienced nurse tried and failed about three times before finding her vein. By the first poke, my drained nerves could not handle my crying infant. There was already too many people in the crowded room, so I just stepped outside before I yelled at the nurse and tried to pull her off my screaming child. I boo-hooed like a baby by myself in that hallway. I remember a sweet nurse walking by and handing me a tissue.

The nurses left the room and said we could tell her bye before they sedated her. By this time I was already ready to leave. But I put my big girl panties on and hugged Abigail goodbye, telling her it would all be okay. Jordan and I stood on either side of her as they put the sedation medicine in her IV. It took about 30 seconds for her to go under, and they wheeled her out saying they would not leave her side. We were left in an empty room, while our unconscious infant was wheeled into the screening room without us. Oh we both cried like babies!!

It took over an hour for them to do the test, so Jordan and I got out of there and went and had lunch to help us calm down. Then we came back and waited for them to bring her back. She came back on the gurney half asleep, but doing great. They let me pick her up and nurse her and I was the happiest mom to have my baby back in my arms. We soon left and returned home. The results came a few days later saying everything looked great and we had nothing to worry about.

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How they brought her back to us. It looks much worse than what it was, but she looked so small and pathetic as she was still under.

Then today our neurologist told us that she wants to schedule another MRI at Children’s within the next two months. She wants to see how Abigail’s brain is developing and make sure nothing new has shown up. But all I could think about is how awful that day almost two years ago was and I do not want to go back. We were naive then and did not realize how emotional the process would be, but now we know.

We know we could be going through a lot worse. We know Abigail will be fine. We know it is just general sedation and a quick MRI. We know the Children’s staff will be great with her. But we also know it will be a hard day. It will be a day full of tears for everyone. And we know we do not want to see a two year old experiencing two MRIs in her lifetime. But this is what is best for her, and the only way the doctor knows the proceed. So reluctantly we will take out tired, hungry toddler to radiology whenever the date is set and we will see if they can hopefully find us some much wanted answers! But even if this test yet again reveals nothing, we will be thankful for Abigail’s health, progress and that she is apart of our little family!!

Building a Community

What an adorable girl you have.

She is just beautiful.

What a happy girl.

Her smile is the cutest.

That hair!

These are just some comments we receive from strangers while we are out and about with Abigail. She is too cute for her own good. I tell Jordan all the time that I do not know how we made such a cutie. Her blonde hair, blue eyes, contagious smile, and now her little pink glasses make an adorable combination. You see, Abigail looks completely normal. Nobody with would think twice that she has a developmental delay. Often people are shocked, or they just do not understand, that she is not able to sit or stand on her own.

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Our beautiful girl!!

I guess most people consider special needs children to look or act a certain way. But special needs covers a wide variety of conditions from speech delays to the autism spectrum to severe cases of cerebral palsy. And that does not even cover the other thousands of syndromes and genetic disorders that are known today. People are so quick to judge the little boy in the wheelchair or the little girl with Down’s syndrome, but they do not realize that children like Abigail have some of the exact same issues.

I have to watch myself when we are out and about because I catch myself staring at families that have disabled or special needs children. Not in judgment, but simply because I can relate with them and I want to encourage them. But they take one look at Abigail and they would never guess that we were the same in any way. The other day we were in the check out line of Wal-Mart, and a mom and her two daughters got behind us. The one daughter was in a wheelchair, so I immediately wanted to talk to her and make a connection. Thankfully, she commented on how cute Abigail was and I was able to talk about how we just recently received her glasses and found my lead in to say, “Yes, we are alike!” Turns out her daughter’s and Abigail’s stories were quite similar in the beginning. Her daughter did not walk until she was four, she has no diagnoses, and they go to therapy too. It was wonderful to make that small connection, and I wish we could have kept talking, but it is hard to do that in a check out line.

I live for these connections with other special needs parents. They are people who can relate because we have all journeyed down similar paths. My passions are slowly being molded to start a special needs ministry for parents in some way. I have always wanted to be in ministry since God called me in 2010. I always figured I would be apart of a women’s ministry of some kind, but know I feel more and more led to special needs. It is where I am in life as a mother of a special needs child myself. And yes, while our children may all be experiencing their own struggles and triumphs, all special needs parents share a common bond. We are all struggling to find our way through emotions, bills, insurance companies, appointments, and still raising our kids to thrive in their environment. It is a lot, and we need each other. So my daughter may be the cutest thing in the world, and look like she has is all together but her mama needs those other parents to understand that I need them and we need each other. So today I am praying that God works in and through myself, my community, and that He can use me to bless other special needs parents in some way great or small.

special needs