Something strange happened today; as I was looking through my diary I came across a specialist appointment that we had coming up and I felt a sense of excitement. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself – we had to travel for the appointment, it would go on for a few hours, I still needed to figure out if someone could look after my other two children, and who knows how my daughter would react and whether she would behave for it, but somehow I still felt a sense of excitement.
It got me thinking about how I would have felt about this type of appointment back when our daughter was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Most likely scared, nervous, anxious and I doubt I would have slept leading up to it. But this is our new normal and sometimes these bigger appointments are exciting as you get to learn more about your child and feel the comfort the comes with speaking to professionals.
If someone had told the pre-children me that I would fall pregnant unexpectedly and would go into early labour at 29 weeks gestation, that my baby would be diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 7 months old, have an intense seizure at 3 years old and need to be on epilepsy medication daily, indefinitely. That she would then also be diagnosed with autism at 3.5 and that we would travel overseas for an invasive life-changing surgery for her when she was 4, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m pretty sure that I would have gone into a panic and with 100% certainty say ‘I wouldn’t be able to handle that’.
But how do we know what we can handle? This journey has well and truly taught me that I am much stronger then I ever gave myself credit for.
When life throws us unexpected challenges we really need to learn to change our point of view and trust the journey.
I remember in the early days when we were going to endless appointments, it would all seem stressful and unfair. While other mums were taking their children for play dates or to the park I was watching my daughter being forced to work hard at appointments and do things that she found frustrating and upsetting.
The reality is that this is very much a part of our world now and I am in complete control of how I feel about it. I learnt to change my perspective and see her appointments as an opportunity to allow us to learn, grow and become stronger.
Everyone faces their own challenges but we all have the power to choose how we respond to them. This journey has taught me so much and has challenged me daily to become the person I was always meant to be.
The diagnosis stages have taught me to accept and to embrace.
The specialist appointments have taught me to trust and understand.
The weekly appointments have given me knowledge and awareness.
The regressions have taught me resilience and strength.
The milestones have taught me gratitude and appreciation.
The hard times have given me perspective and growth.
The barriers have taught me to advocate and speak up.
The home therapy has taught me discipline and persistence.
The daily struggles have taught me patience and commitment.
My daughter has taught me to embrace hope, to see the positivity in situations, to count my blessings, to practice gratitude and to celebrate all of the milestones and achievements along the way.
Yes there are hard times and I would be lying if I said that I felt strength and optimism all of the time, but I do perceive things so much differently now. The difficult moments perhaps aren’t as difficult as they used to be and the upsetting, overwhelming times are a little easier to manage.
So, the next time you think to yourself you wouldn’t be able to do something, I challenge you to trust the journey.
We are all much stronger then we think.
By Tara Thompson