It’s Not So Black & White

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In the four and a half years that I’ve been Olivia’s Momma, I’ve had the privilege of viewing life from any entirely new perspective; in which I have experienced great joy, been taught as long as you have love, you have everything you need, and I’ve also been witness to the harsh reality of stigma surrounding special needs in the form of ignorant comments, long uncomfortable stares, and sorrow filled glances.

Olivia having Cerebral Palsy doesn’t define who she is, but unfortunately most see her as a child in a wheelchair with awkward movements, who sits quietly, observing the world around her.

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But life isn’t so black and white….even the life of a special needs child.

Olivia is a four year old who loves watching her favorite show The Wiggles, getting kisses from her puppy…

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Being silly with her Momma…

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And even big giggles when Momma blows raspberries on her cheek!

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She is inquisitive with the world around her..

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She loves spending time playing and having fun…

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She is creative…

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And loves to fish…

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So you can see, my daughter doesn’t need pity. She is full of love, happiness and joy, as every child should be. Never underestimate the ability, strength and perseverance of a person with special needs.

Becoming a parent to a child with special needs is like adding color to life that was in black and white.

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Ramblings Of A Sleep Deprived Momma

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The last two weeks have been challenging to say the least. We said our final goodbyes to our ol’boy Jake, Olivia had surgery #4, serious sleep deprivation set in, started a new job, and oh yes…we got a puppy!

Olivia is one week post op since she had bilateral heel chord releases and roughly two days after her surgery we brought home Molly; a female Australian Shephard/Walker Hound mix, which came about after the loss of our twelve year old beagle mix, Jake.

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I’ve come to accept that we are a family who thrives in the midst of absolute chaos. I mean this must be true, why else would we continue to engulf ourselves with so many new changes? We are either completely crazy or have  complete disregard for the simple way of life. I’ll let you know about that one at a later time; my brain has gone into “Energy Saving Mode” and can’t at the moment decipher through our rationale.

Any how, Olivia has been recovering fairly well, aside from the frequent nightly awakenings brought on by muscle spasms in her legs, in which myself or my husband spend the next hour to several hours, massaging her legs until the spasms subside. This combined with a new puppy who frequently needs to relieve herself umpteen times throughout the same daunting hours, equals my husband and I basically functioning on auto pilot, grunting at each other like a pair of zombies . Oh and did I mention I started a new job in the midst of all of this? Yeah so I’m still being “trained” since I’m a new hire and I’m expected to read through chapters of policies, procedures, etc., etc., etc….well you get the point, and all my eyes want to do is curl up into the back of my head until they see blackness brought on by ever so sweet Rem sleep.

God I’m so tired. I’m so tired, I actually personify sleep and picture myself saying something like, “Sleep? Hi. Remember me? We use to be friends.” Where then I envision Sleep saying to me,”What we had is over. Bitch, you’re dead to me!”

You know if I could, I’d throat punch Sleep. See what happens when you suffer from sleep deprivation?

I know things won’t stay this way forever. I know Olivia’s casts will come off in two weeks and this will somewhat eliminate the muscle spasms.  I know our new pup Molly will eventually be able to make it through the night without the desire to water our lawn at 2:30 a.m. and every hour after that. I also know that we’ll get back to a routine before we decide to submerse ourselves into chaos all over again.

Have I mentioned how much I love our life and wouldn’t change anything?

Jake

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Yesterday we lost a member of our family. Jake was gentle, loving and the best companion any family could ask for. Yes he was our dog, but he was so much more than that.

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We adopted Jake the same year we got married.  He was a small runt of a thing who was afraid of our old orange Tabby.  I remember the ride home from the farm we adopted him from. He sat with me shotgun in the front seat, cuddled in close. I was in love immediately! A few moments into the drive I could feel something warm and wet seeping through my tshirt and jeans.  Jake had become so excited that he couldn’t hold his pee, so naturally he released it all over me. Funny right? Yeah well that wasn’t all. That excitement quickly agitated his tummy and Jake puked all down the front of the already urine soaked tshirt. Man….looking back, it still makes me laugh out loud! For those that knew him, will for sure find this hilarious! Jake was known for his travelling antics.

He was my boy. That same year, after my husband and I were married; I found out two life changing things.  I was pregnant and my husband was being deployed to Afghanistan. I have never felt such fear in my life. Throughout the eight months of my husband’s tour, Jake never left my side. As my belly grew, it became Jake’s favorite place to lay his head. It was almost as if he was standing guard, protecting us until my husband’s return. He was letting me know he would always watch over our baby. And the day my husband returned, well Jake tackled him! I’ve never seen a happier, more excited dog.

As the years went on and our family quickly grew, Jake adopted each child as if they were his own pups. He had a sixth sense when they were sick or injured or feeling sad. When Olivia was born, she spent 14 days in the NICU.  For two weeks, Jake wondered aimlessly throughout our house, searching for this baby that never came home. I once found him asleep on the nursery floor near the empty crib. He amazed me with his loyalty and love he had for us. On the day we brought Olivia home, Jake jumped and ran through the house as if he was celebrating her arrival! The two of them would develop a bond beyond anything I have ever witnessed.

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We tend to forget how quickly the years pass. It seemed like yesterday we brought this beautiful little black and brown pup home. Twelve years and six months later we watched our beautiful boy take his last breath.

On Sunday morning we woke to Jake struggling, panting hard and fast. I knew by the look in his eyes, his time was drawing near. I phoned a friend who is a veterinary assistant to come and take a look at him. After listening to his heart and examining his gums she confirmed our boy was in heart failure and was bleeding internally. We broke the news to our kids and decided to spend the day with him saying our goodbyes, keeping him comfortable and letting him know how deeply we loved him; how throughout these last twelve and a half years, he was the best friend and dog any family could ask for.

That night, after the kids went to sleep; my husband and I made a bed on the floor next to him. We held him close, gently stroking his ears and head. His breaths grew slower and by morning he stopped fighting it. Jake crossed the Rainbow Bridge and never have I felt such loss or have been so heartbroken, as I was that morning.  We lost a deeply loved member of our family that will always be remembered and never forgotten.

“Dogs have way of finding people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we had”~Thorn Jones

Who Knew?

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Milestones for most are defined by a child succeeding in their first step, first word, or first smile. As a special needs parent, milestones are not something I pay much attention too. In fact, I disregard them completely. I have learned to value the successes achieved on a day to day basis with my child.

Tonight though, a “first” was reached for my daughter Olivia. We have always known that sounds, loud ones, were often difficult for Olivia to cope with. Because of this, we often stay away from concerts in the park or even going to the movies. Tonight however, we decided to make an exception. We are Canadian and today is our nation’s birthday. We were invited to attend a celebration with friends, which we knew would entail an evening complete with fireworks. We were upfront and honest in saying we would make the effort to stay, but that didn’t mean Olivia would be so forthcoming. She had never experienced fireworks before, so we weren’t sure how she would react.

As the skies grew dark and everyone hurried into the large open field, anticipating the launch of the first spark; Olivia grew very curious. Then suddenly we heard a whoosh and a whistle and BAM! the fireworks began. Olivia jumped with the noise, but as soon as the sky changed to dazzling colorful wonder, an enormous smile took over her face.

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Olivia got so excited! With each launch of the fireworks, followed by the whistling whoosh, she grew more and more excited, anticipating the burst of color that would fill the sky.

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A wave of emotion came over me. The joy that filled her eyes and the wonder that escaped her face through that big beautiful smile, filled my heart with such happiness. In that moment I seen my child loving the spectacular beauty of fireworks, just like the many other children that sat in that big open field tonight.