Wednesday, March 07, 2007

'Proud' Doesn't Even Cover It

When our precious Laura was just a line on the pregnancy test we had so many dreams for her, so many things we knew she would accomplish, so many fun, creative things we could enjoy with her, so many play dates and projects lay ahead. Little did we know that there would be so many extraordinary challenges, too. So many who would say that she'd never accomplish much. So many who would tell us not to bother but to come to grips with what they deemed her future and so many who would wonder behind our backs when we might begin to face reality. So many who didn't know the power of a determined mother and a merciful God.

Her struggles kept us engrossed in her needs for two years and then the fog began to lift. With the swipe of a surgeons knife freeing her tonsils and adenoids, we began to see tremendous strides in her accomplishments. First she ate food without choking. Then she slept through the night without snoring, breathing evenly from dusk to dawn. Next, we were kicked out of OT and then feeding therapy turned in to speech therapy which then turned in to taking a 'let's wait and see' approach which means we no longer go to ST either. Daily we hear new words come out of her mouth, new adventures in speaking we were told never to expect or that we'd never hear. So it seems our speech therapist had it right. She can take a break and we'll work on things if she needs them when she gets a little older.

PT is our only weekly therapy. Given all of her casting and post surgical issues, it is nice to have PT there and yet even our therapist periodically says that Laura doesn't need to be there as much and we may be going to a part-time schedule soon. Her Pediatrician has said so many times that she's going to do what she's going to do and we'd just have to wait and see what that might be. Secretly I think he thought she wouldn't do much and on her two year check up he admitted as much to me while marveling at all she has accomplished. I can hardly wait to see him today for her three year check. He won't know who she is as she talks constantly, asking him questions, clapping for her own accomplishments and inhaling her 'Princess Snacks' every chance she gets.

All of this is certainly something for us to be proud of. She's accomplished more than anyone thought she would in her lifetime, let alone in three years. But that isn't the proud moment I wanted to share with you today. This proud moment is special. This proud moment came from Laura herself.

For months, probably more than a year now, Laura's therapist Merri Jo has been working with her on walking up steps. She'd almost get it and then a surgery on her feet would set her back a bit and Merri Jo would start all over again. Teaching her to walk, balance and then of course climb the stairs, alternating 'righty' and 'lefty', bending her legs and feet in all the right places at the right times. Entire sessions would be devoted to this as she would put things on the top of the stairs that Laura could get and then walk over to place or play with on the shelf where Merri Jo had put a slanted pad, forcing her to dorsiflex her feet to walk up the 'hill'. Over and over. Practicing again and again. Each time using both hands on the railing to walk up and down those four little steps. Lacking confidence and strength to do it on her own.

Here at home she'd stop at the bottom of the steps, waiting for Don or I to take her hands so she could walk righty and lefty up the steps, knowing our railing and the wall are just too far apart for her to reach both at the same time. Over and over again we'd walk her up the stairs saying 'righty' and 'lefty' as she climbed to the top. Once she reached the last step we'd proudly smile and clap, saying over and over "You did it!" and "You are such a big girl!" And often, we'd watch her slide down the steps so we could do it all over again.

This weekend was different. This weekend I headed upstairs to put something away, telling Laura she had to wait for Mommy or crawl up the steps herself because my hands were full. She said "Otay, Mommy" and I assumed she's be waiting for me when came back downstairs, sitting on the bottom step, humming to herself as she usually did. But no. As I came around the door from my bedroom I met Laura, standing at the top of the stairs. The look on her face was one of total joy. Astonishment. Downright utter pride. And then she looked up at me, started clapping her hands and shouted "I did it, Mommy! I cwimmed the teps by myselt!" I couldn't help myself. I picked her up and swung her around, hugging her little, precious body to my own, shouting right along with her. She'd done it. She'd really done it. All by herself. Standing up, one hand on the wall, the other waving in the air as she took each step. Talking to herself as she went up those stairs. What was once a mountain had become a mere molehill to her. She could do it all on her own. And the pride in her accomplishment was so all encompassing that it radiated from her very soul, warming up all of us in the midst of her achievement.

Since that moment she's conquered those steps time and time again. Always leading with righty, but always doing it 'by myselt'. And her pride still shows. She knows she's done something big and she likes it. I can't wait to see her face as she accomplishes all of those other things she has yet to experience. And I'll be right there, waiting to clap for her at the top of the steps.

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