When I gaze lovingly at my sweet newborn baby girl, it's difficult not to go back to the first time I had a baby, and the hopes and dreams I once had for her. Back when I was a brand new parent, I was naive with optimism, and held the same assumption that most new parents maintain... that my precious baby girl would be smart, happy, and.... normal. Her dad and I both hold post graduate degrees, we come from educated families, athletic backgrounds and in many ways, sheltered and "charmed" upbringings. Why wouldn't our new daughter be anything but perfect? I had dreams of playdates, dance classes, soccer and basketball games, gymnastics, honor roll, school plays and so on. I had already picked out her preschool, and chosen carefully where we would live so the public school system would be optimal for her certain niche for academics. What a jackass I was.
As my beloved first born began meeting her developmental milestones, I was charting them one by one, videotaping with pride and documenting dates and skills. I can honestly say with 100 percent certainly that for the first blissful 12 months of her life I had NO worries about cognitive skills, neurological impairment, autism, apraxia and so on. Given my profession working with these kiddos and families, I was sure that since I had no indication of anything wrong by 12 months, that surely we were out of the woods... so my dreams for her continued, and I think Bryan and I even discussed opening a college savings fund account.
Even now, when I look back at pictures of Avery's first year, I can't help but be nostalgic about how "happy" we were, and how her diagnosis and subsequent developmental nose-dive have forever changed us... in every way. And how even now, how having a child with a disability colors the way I perceive almost everything, including my relationship with my two other daughters... and everyone else for that matter.
Then as time marched on, and I became slightly more aware of what was really happening to my precious golden child, I thought... ok, so maybe she will need an extra glass of wine to get through social events when she get's older... or, maybe it's just a matter of time before her understanding and language "takes off." Afterall, I had seen other kids with Autism tread beautifully through their toddler years becoming quite verbal and capable of many skills. Then a little later, when we were still waiting for the ever illusive "progress" I remember seeing a young woman of few words bagging groceries at our local supermarket... and I began to hope and dream that one day Avery might be able to do that. More time has passed, still waiting for the big leap in "progress" and my dreams are even more simple. I dream for one or two words. I dream that maybe she will understand, even if just for a fraction of a moment how much I love her, that she may be able to dress and feed herself, that she may one day brush her own teeth, or stay with us without wandering off, or understand to be afraid of pools, traffic, lakes and so on.
Slowly and steadily my dreams for her have drastically evolved into something I NEVER imagined. But I still have hope... it just takes a different turn every now and then. And believe it or not, my two other girls, especially my 2 and a half year old who has exceeded all expectations, and developed beautifully into a neurotypical preschooler... make me feel whole again, and better about myself as a mother, and a dreamer. They have renewed my sense of peace in a manner of speaking, and helped me realize that despite disability and differences, Avery is amazing, special, beautiful, and gifted in her own way... just as all children are.
So, the important lesson is that I haven't given up. Maybe I have "given in" to truth and acceptance, but I still have to believe that Avery is here for a purpose, and that I can handle the challenging life that lies ahead of us. I will still look into my precious newborns eyes as a dreamer, but it's a little different now. How couldn't it be? But with her birth, I have yet another renewed sense of hope... hence her middle name, and I can't wait to be a part of her journey as well... no matter where it leads.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Presley Hope Beeson blessed our crew with her early arrival on August 30, 2010 at 9:43 am, joining her loving sisters Avery Grace and Kaylin Joy. The three weeks since her delivery have flown by, and the dust is just now beginning to settle. After a routine c-section, Presley had some respiratory issues and spent a couple of days in the NICU, which was harder than I expected, but she was where she needed to be.
Having one already medically fragile and disabled child puts moments like that into perspective, but also lets in a little more worry and anxiety than the average optimistic new parent likely experiences. As I did with my second daughter, I am sure I will have more than a few sleepless hours pawning over every tiny rash, fever, developmental milestone and so on.... but in the end, I feel extraordinarily blessed and happy to be the mother of three precious girls.
It's funny because growing up I always imagined I would have boys... since I have three older brothers and lots of nephews it seemed the norm. But I think we get what we are supposed to have, and I for one couldn't be more at peace knowing that Avery will have two sisters by her side as she grows up, and that they will learn tolerance, patience, acceptance and unconditional love first hand as they experience life with a disabled sister. I am certain we will face more than our fair share of challenges... but I remain pleased and euphoric about our little family and it's journey and purpose.
6 days after Presley's arrival, we were able to gather with some loving family and close friends to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. It was a surprise party he didn't expect, and seeing his face as we shared in his special moment ranks at the top of my favorite family memories. It's hard for me to talk about my wise and loving dad without getting a little teary eyed. He is quite the force in my life and his critique, unwavering support, constantly evolving self awareness and world view inspire and amaze me. I feel so lucky to be his daughter and to get to learn from his words and more importantly his example. So celebrating his 70th brought lots of joy to my soul.
In these BIG life moments, it never ceases to amaze me how friends really can and do come through for us. In many ways it is like we have three kids ages 2 and under, so adjusting will be a bit challenging. The calls, notes, emails, meals and gifts are all so overwhelming and appreciated. We feel showered with love, and your support and friendship mean the world to us.
Finally, I can't close this post without a big shout out to our biggest supporter and helper... my mom. My sweet and helpful mom took a MONTH, yes folks, a month off of work to come be here and take care of my big girls. I can't just leave Avery with anybody, and my adoring mom burned the midnight oil with us, made lunches, meals, endured carpools, therapy, doctor visits, and so much more. We may never be able to repay her for all of her hard work and love, and we are forever grateful and humbled.
So now here we are, the five of us, getting adjusted to our new lives. All I know for sure is that it is now and will be chaotic... but I love it, and I am surrounded by generosity and support, which is such a gift.
You may have noticed our BLOG ADDRESS changed and is now: www.gracejoyandhope.com
Please check back from time to time if you get the chance... I'm sure I will have plenty to share when I get the chance!