Last year this time, late December 2008, I was eager to bid farewell to what was one of the crummiest years I had ever had. Truthfully, I felt robbed of what should have been one of the most joyful years to date. 2008 should have under normal circumstances been a year of many firsts for Oia but little to none of those firsts ever happened as they should have. I found myself still trying to cope with our new normal.
At the beginning of '08, Oia was just barely 4 months old. My new-mommy heart knew that there was something different about Oia but the rest of me was not willing to think about it, let alone accept it. We had already learned of some vision impairments and chalked up all other red flags to just that...her vision. Then shortly after, it was what felt like a downward spiral from there. I felt pummeled by Oia's diagnoses and all of the medical lingo and doctor's appointments and therapies that followed. It was a whirl-wind of emotions and a juggling act all at the same time. In addition, I lost a father-in-law and a grandmother. However, I mention this not for a pity party. Many people go through far worse things than we did but in a nutshell, it still sucked. It was good riddance to 2008 and I KNEW 2009 would bring brighter days and a much stronger, more able Oia. I was determined it would.
And it did.
At the start of this year, 2009, Oia was 16 months old. She could only sit, when placed in the position, with her legs straight out and stiff in front of her. That’s it. 16 month olds are supposed to crawl, walk, run, climb, fall and get back up and do it all over again in a matter of seconds. Oia just sat but I was thankful for that, I really, really was but still dreamed of a stronger, more able Oia.
Today, a year later, Oia has moved mountains. Leaps and bounds ahead of what I thought were possible one year later. It seems like this year has brought progress in some shape or form, in small doses, almost every day. She is a fighter. She is a hard worker. She is the best teacher I have ever had.
Today, she sits. Now, with her legs bent and tucked under her to one side.
She can make a stranger smile.
She can laugh.
She can crawl. Reciprocal crawl even. Using her right arm.
She can push up to sit from lying on her back.
She can roll over.
She can pull up to anything to stand.
She can transition from hands and knees to stand in the middle of the room by walking her hands back.
She can use her right hand spontaneously.
Today, she can walk. By herself. With or without AFO’s. SHE CAN WALK.
She can change directions while walking.
She can step backwards.
She can safely fall backwards onto her bottom and now uses protective reflexes when falling forward.
She can climb/crawl up stairs.
Today, she can step up stairs if handrails are available.
She can say a handful of words.
She can follow simple directions.
She can problem solve.
She can clap.
She can give kisses.
She can give the tightest, two-armed hugs.
Really, she can do anything. And if she isn’t doing it now, I know that one day she will be. It may look different than how others her age may do it, it may take her longer to do it, and it may always be a challenge to do it but she will do it.
A lot happened in a year’s time. We were able to witness some ‘firsts’ this year…more than we ever expected. They didn’t come easy but the victories were sweeter because the battle was harder and we got to cheer a little louder than most. We are thankful and our hearts are full.
So needless to say, 2009 was an amazing and fulfilling year. It’s been a year of acceptance. I have become comfortable enough to educate strangers who ask about Oia. I now enjoy sharing her story and shedding light to those who ask why she is the way she is. This makes me proud and I look forward now to questions; especially questions from curious little ones.
It’s been a year of growth and progress and hard work…countless hours of therapy…countless hours of trying something over and over and over again. The progress that Oia has made has shed some light as to what her future (our future) may have in store. All things can change in a matter of seconds, that I know, but I am beyond thankful for the now, and for the past that has brought us here.
It's been a good year. A very, very good year. But all good things have to come to an end; isn't that what they say? So, good bye 2009 and welcome 2010.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!