Anniston's progress, that is...it has been a little bit heavy on me lately...maybe having to do with pregnancy and what not, but it is pretty typical for me to have "moments" about every 6 months or so. It's okay, though, because those "moments" always bring me back to reality that we have such a healthy, precious little girl who is such a miracle and gift from God.
Let's see...I think I will just focus on PT and OT for this post because speech is probably heavier on my heart and might take a separate post :).
I never thought I would have a 28 month old who is still struggling to walk. It kind of breaks my heart sometimes. I know it is not the most important thing, but I'm just ready for that to be her primary mode of mobility. It's hard work. For all of us but especially for her. You might remember that Anniston took her first steps at 21 months when we were at IMOT. Well, she has pretty much been taking steps since then, and her walking and endurance have improved, but she still has some fear and weakness that we battle. But, we KNOW God is working in her and that the fear is subsiding while her strength is increasing. So thankful!
I told her PT the other day that it's just hard sometimes seeing that yes, there is progress, but my goodness, it just feels so slow. She was sweet to say that with a child NOT in her shoes who just has a delay with walking, it seems so fast when they start walking and things just escalate from there, but for a child like Anniston who has some paralysis on one side, ANY progress is SO huge, even if it seems slow. I am trying to be thankful :). She really is doing so very well, and this is not a "health" thing, so wow, what a blessing in itself!
She just got this new brace. Now she has an AFO instead of the SMO that we started out with a year ago. (Still wearing an SMO on her left foot though.) Basically, an SMO is more for ankle support, correcting the turning-in of the foot, and an AFO will do the same but will also keep her heel on the ground (she has had pretty tight heel cords that we have really had to work at stretching since she began walking, which is due to more tone on her right side because of the stroke; thus she walks flat on her left/good foot and up on her right toes...this makes her more unsteady and more likely to fall...which praise the Lord, He is watching over her and protecting her.) Imagine walking flat on your left foot and up on your right toes at the same time...you would be off balance, most likely, and you might be a little afraid you were going to fall. Now, imagine you are two :). She is pretty careful, which I am grateful for, but this can also be a struggle.
Stan and I were talking the other night about how any little setback with her sometimes means months before she is back where she needs to be. Let me clarify. For example, the braces: Anniston had just started pulling up to standing last year right before we got her first set of braces. Immediately after receiving her new orthotics, she stopped pulling up, and it took MONTHS before we could get her to do it again. Her feet were bigger with them on, and everything was just clunky...maybe that was why, I don't know. We would try to go back barefoot to get her to pull up, but it just wasn't happening. Now, we just had her casted for AFO's. I called the end of July to set up the appointment. They could not see her until the end of August. Once we got in, she had to get her foot casted so that the brace is made especially for her. We made an appointment for "2 weeks later" which turned into a month later because insurance had not approved and the brace cannot be made until then. And, now that we have the braces, they were hurting her, so we had to get them adjusted, which set us back another few weeks, and we go back on November 7th to hopefully do one last adjustment and then cast her LEFT foot for her other brace (doing it at a separate time because we needed to make sure she needs another SMO instead of switching to AFO with left foot too) which would probably take another month to get...much less the adjusting part.
I'm sorry....that sounded like I was really upset and complaining, but I truly am not...I just wanted to show how some of these things (which will in the end be good things) wind up seemingly prolonging her progress...and can be frustrating. Oh, and the AFO hurts her foot at times to where she is laying down on the ground because she cannot bear to put weight on it. I know this is because the brace is doing what it is supposed to be doing (helping to flatten her foot), but it still feels like: where is my little girl who was taking so many steps just a few weeks ago?? Okay, I'm done with the vent, and I kind of wish I wouldn't have written all of that ha.
I have had my moments of feeling guilty, but God is teaching me that those thoughts are not of Him. I felt like maybe we were doing something wrong or not working with her enough. I have felt guilty going to the grocery store after picking her up from MDO because I really needed to be at home with her and her feet on the ground. I have felt guilty not getting my shower before she is awake because I could be using that time to work with her. I have even felt guilty pulling her in her wagon outside of all things, not to mention the opposite end of the spectrum: feeling guilty for not letting her just be a kid more. ...I'm really in a VERY good place right now, but I just wanted to share some of the feelings that I have had over the last couple of years from time to time...
I am in a Bible study right now called "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. I went into it thinking that I didn't really have another god or that maybe it was technology or something?, but on the first night of our study, it hit me: my god was Anniston's success. I think many parents can relate. I want Anniston to do so well, and the fact that we have to work harder than some (not all by any means) makes it almost consume me that much more sometimes, I think. It is hard not to compare milestones at times or want your child to be "the best". I have pushed her so hard at times to achieve certain things, and then it hits me: why am I doing this? Really, why? In eternity, what does this matter? Don't get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in giving everything your best for the glory of the Lord, but I just think in light of eternity, whether or not my child could stack a certain number of blocks at so many months or could clap or sing or say her ABC's by a certain point does NOT matter! It finally hit me (sometimes it takes me a while:)) that I would so much rather her love the Lord and be loving and kind to others than to achieve anything that this world merits. I am not saying that I still don't struggle with these worldly feelings, but I am just saying that I am trying to make HIM number one instead of Anniston's success.
"But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." Luke 12:31 God spoke this verse to my heart a couple of months ago, and it has changed everything for me. None of the above milestones are bad. It is okay for me to desire those things for Anniston, but when they become bigger to me than HIM, and when those thoughts consume me, it is completely wrong. I cannot tell you how much this scripture has meant to me and how much I have seen God do in Anniston as I focus on Him. I am so not perfect, and I still have my moments, but I do see that as I look at Him more, she is taken care of and progressing more and more, even at a quicker rate. He is her Heavenly Father. She is His child foremost, and it is not all on me or Stan. What a relief.
She is seriously the most precious little girl ever, and I do not know what we did to deserve having her as our child...I am just so in love.
Okay, OT might have to be a separate post, too :).
Wow, just realized that it was two years ago today that we brought Anniston home from the hospital after her stroke...my mind just hasn't acknowledged what day it is lately, ha. He has brought her SO far since then. She couldn't even look to the right, much less straight ahead on October 14, 2009, but now she gives me the sweetest love with those same blue eyes. SO thankful.