Dear Family and Friends,
When your child is born on the cusp of viability, as parents, you don’t dare to dream about the possibility of normalcy. At times it feels like such an unattainable goal anyway, a tease of sorts, that you just push it out of your mind. In the beginning, all your attention is focused on keeping your child alive, making life and death decisions for them, in hopes that they will have the best chance at a quality life. Then, your child comes home and your day-to-day work with them begins; not only are you responsible for meeting their basic needs as an infant but you are also participating in daily therapy aimed at correcting problems and catching them up to their peers. As time goes on, your child progresses and you are SO thankful for that. You develop a profound appreciation for milestones, as if you are witnessing a miracle with each roll, crawl forward, word said and letter learned. But as your child progresses, so do their peers, and sometimes watching kids born after your child hit milestones well in advance of yours can knock the wind out of you. You learn to smile and applaud and gush while hiding your own anxiety and fears that your child may never accomplish the same things. It isn’t that you go through life all doom-and-gloom, but you do often find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop, because experience tells you that it often does. Then one day, when you least expect it, the dreams that you never dared to entertain come true, and your miracle child enters the realm of normalcy.
Everett graduated from his final interventional therapy, speech therapy, program on Monday. YAY YAY YAY!!! After four years of therapy aimed at catching him up to his peers, he has finally arrived. We are so excited and proud and grateful. He has worked so hard. We have worked so hard. And to see all that effort pay off is the stuff of our dreams. I attended his final IEP (Individualized Education Plan) on Monday and found myself extremely emotional as I recounted all the interventions he’s endured. For the past four years, we have participated in weekly therapies (PT, OT, Speech). There were days that were easy and days that were hard. There were days that he didn’t want to do it, days when he didn’t want to be messed with, days when I was so fatigued with the whole process too. Then there were days when he did something AMAZING, when he hit a new milestone, and it all seemed worth it. And then there were days like Monday, when our dreams came true!
As I sat with his therapists, signing the graduation papers, I found myself trying to tell them what a big deal this is for us. I suddenly had tears streaming down my face as I told them that I was in awe of this little boy who has defied every odd that was given to him. They teared up too as I thanked them for helping him become the best version of himself and for putting up with a mom who has learned to advocate (sometimes loudly) for her son. While I know the road ahead could still be paved with difficulty (he’s still at risk for learning disabilities), in this moment, our little man is our hero and we couldn’t be happier with the life we are so blessed to be living.
With Abundant Pride,
The Bollinger Family