Olivia came into this world fighting…she was the biggest baby in the NICU, weighing 9 lbs 3 oz. During her arrival, Olivia suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy…meaning she lost blood and oxygen to her brain. We would be later told, seven months later, that our daughter had Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.
We were referred to a pediatric treatment centre where we would receive the gravest words ever spoken to us, “your daughter will never walk or talk and it’s likely she will feel like a prisoner in her own body. As she gets older you will have to watch for signs of depression. ” It felt like I had been punched in the gut so hard I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to scream right there, but instead I sat quietly while the doctor continued her speal. I remember my husband and I driving home, not saying a word. Both of us trying desperately to digest this information.
Months went by and we took Olivia back and forth to appointments with physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, pediatricians, feeding specialists, neurologists, and so on. For a while, I felt like a raft a float in the ocean….just drifting. I remember wanting so badly to talk to another family experiencing the same nightmare we were going through….but to no avail. You see, we were stuck. We had not been able to look past our daughter’s disability.
Then we would meet Sarah. She was assigned to us as Olivia’s social worker. Sarah would become our light through this dark time. She helped us to put words on what we were feeling. If I can give any advice to any parents going through this now, it would be to utilize this service. For the first time in months, I could breathe. For the first time in our daughter’s life we would see past her disability and see her!
Olivia is a remarkable little girl with such a loving spirit driven by unspeakable courage and determination. She has taught our family so much through her strength. We don’t get hung up on milestones, we celebrate her daily achievements.
We celebrate the here and now and always have hope for tomorrow.
“A hero is an individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles” ~ Christopher Reeve