It has been a long time since I've written a post. A lot has happened, I even have a new book out soon!
But nothing compares to the feeling of joy and pride watching my little girl run and play. You see, when she was about 8 months old I was told by doctors that she might never walk.
I was told that she might be relegated to a wheelchair and her motor movement would be severely delayed. At the time, I was flooded with anxiety and fear. "How will my little girl navigate the world? What can I do to help her?" I was terrified. My family was terrified. But my father said something that changed everything. He said "Mari, if Andie has hypotonic cerebral palsy then we will become experts in hypotonic cerebral palsy...we will find her every resource...you guys will never be alone."
His words changed everything because he was telling me that we wouldn't give up or take "no" for an answer when doctors gave us limitations. We knew there were harsh realities, that my daughter was going to struggle and have to work 100 times harder to learn certain movements. In the beginning even sitting up was going to be a huge challenge. But we were going to be experts and do whatever we could to help her.
My husband, Mike, was also bound and determined to do what he could to help our baby girl. He dropped everything, his career, his plans, heck he even sold our house and moved us into a home that would allow for a wheelchair or a walker. He hung webbing from the beams in our living room and kitchen so that we could suspend our daughter in a make shift Jenny Jumper.
When our daughter was a little over a year old her doctors took x-rays of her hips. Her acetabulum was perfectly flat, meaning that her hip sockets wouldn't contain the head of the leg bone, it could subluxate or pop out of the socket. Without bearing weight, there would be no way for her to develop a curvature to this boney structure. So, with a lot of ingenuity, my husband made it so that over time we could lower the webbing ever so slightly and allow our daughter to bear more and more weight on her feet. My husband then built parallel bars and a low railing throughout the main floor of the house so that she could get around with less assistance. Over time, she started to get around a little on her own. She never crawled a day in her life, but she learned to hold herself up on the bars and then graduated to a walker.
My daughter progressed to wearing braces, and now AFO's (little ankle braces). She can walk, run, dance around the room, she can pick on her brothers and she can ambulate stairs! You see, we never really became experts in CP but we became experts in Andie.
This past winter doctors performed another x-ray and you'd never believe it, but her acetabulum is now perfectly normal. The physiologist actually had to call us back to her office because she couldn't believe it and had to double check.
A few weeks ago my sons had their end of the year carnival at school. There was a 1 mile "color run" and Andie did it. The whole thing. With her father by her side. Mike asked her several times if she wanted a piggy-back ride and her response? "NO dad. I DO IT." And she did. When she crossed the finish line under the rainbow of balloons the whole school applauded her. The whole school. It was everything I could do to not cry.
I like to think that maybe a little of my independent spirit has rubbed off on her, but honestly its the other way around. She has taught me about resiliency, humility, strength, and the power of love, every single day.