Category Archives: developmental delay

It’s not all sunshine and unicorn butts

I am usually an optimistic person. It drives my husband crazy that I always look for the silver lining. The truth is, life with Bridget isn’t always easy. Beyond doctor, therapy, school and paperwork there is also just life with a child who cannot express her frustrations.

Recently I was taken aback when I was told that I am doing parents a disservice because I am promoting that having a child with special needs is all sunshine and none of the darkness.  I asked if they read more than one of my blog posts, because I tend to vent quite a bit on our struggles.  Continue reading

Wanting normal

Although the pain fades, it never goes away.  I will never forget the fear I had, the moment I realized something was different with Bridget.  Having to take her to the ER on her fourth day of life and bargaining for her life.  I just wanted her to live.

Now “I just want her to be normal” Continue reading

Thankful to be 1 of 20

Today is the very first PACS1 awareness day. A day created by the parents of just 20 children, with the help of fellow bloggers. PACS1 is a rare genetic syndrome. So rare that there are only 20 children in the world that have been diagnosed.

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There could be more children. So much more. Sadly there are countless parents out there with children who have unknown syndromes. Unless physicians are aware of the PACS1 malformation they will not know to test for it. Unless parents know that PACS1 exist they will not be able to ask their physician to test for it.

What I am so very thankful for, today, is finding the PACS1 parent community. Together we have discovered that common therapies help our children succeed. We have discussed what has worked, what hasn’t and how our various countries create special education advances. While small, we are making a difference. Not just in our families, but in others.

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To be able to send a quick message, and be told YES we have that same issue. To be able to not feel alone.

I know, in truth, our family was never alone. We are so beyond lucky in our village. Those who are there (day/night, text/call, whatever we need). We have been surrounded by support each step of Bridget’s life.

Other are not so lucky. They do not have the resources, or the reach, to know where to look for the answers. To know that no matter what that answer is they have friends and family who will be there.

Here is why PACS1 Awareness is so important. The parents know that there are more families out there searching. When we were diagnosed in October we were told Bridget was just the third child and only girl. Based on the research from 2011 published just 3 years prior to our diagnosis.

In the three years since the original paper was published 17 other children had been diagnosed. (Research papers are not typically updated) If I hadn’t contacted the originators of the paper we might never have found our PACS1 families. We would not have known that while still considered an “orphan disease” (what they call syndromes with less than 200,000 people) we were more than 1 of 3. We are now 1 of 20. Maybe tomorrow we will be 1 of 100. I never give up hope.

Bridget’s doctor didn’t know to test for PACS1 because the research was not widely promoted. If doctors are unaware of a syndrome they cannot test for it, without performing full gene or Exome genetic testing. Without that testing we would not have found the PACS1 gene.

Sadly, most parents do not know to ask for it or how to go about getting the testing done.

If parents do not know about the possibility and if doctors do not know to test for the PACS1 malformation, more children will struggle with being undiagnosed. Undiagnosed is a difficult life for a family. We worry about early death, question what therapies to use and feel isolated.

With more awareness of PACS1 more research may be undertaken so parents will know how best to nurture their children. Please, I ask you…no beg you, share the PACS1 information with others. Join the PACS1 Awareness Day on Facebook (not a fundraiser, I promise!). Invite your friends to join you in spreading the news about this very rare syndrome.

You might just be someone’s Dr. House.

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I want to personally thank my blogging friends who are writing about PACS1 today:
Abracabadra
Considerings
Finding Ninee
Mardra Siorka
Transceding CP
Another Clean Slate
Red Boots
Tamara (like) Camera
Anna Fitfunner
Cape Cod Scrapper
Club Scrap

If you would like to add your post please click this link:



For more information on PACS1 please visit our PACS1 Families Site

Name change

At the beginning of the summer we took Bridget to see a Specialist 20 hours away from our home in the hopes to find an answer to Bridgetitis. We had gone on a search for our own Dr. House. We allowed them to perform Exome sequencing, where Bridget’s DNA would be (in layman’s terms since I really am not a scientist) broken down and reviewed by computer strand by strand allows the scientist to discover where the gene may have gone awry.

We got the results. Finally. Continue reading

TBT–Dear Ann

It’s Throw-back Thursday. A day to revisit an older blog post. This one is from when I a was a tad, um, infuriated with a celebrity.



Originally posted 23-OCT-2012

Dear Ann,

May I call you Ann? I feel we can be informal since you feel so comfortable insulting my child. I mean, really, only family should be able to make us think that we are not good enough. On the other hand….

You, MS. COULTER, are not my family. You are not of my world, my life, my heart.

Because you, Ms. Coulter, from your bully pulpit are comfortable enough behind the camera. But have you ever had to face the affect of your insults and disparaging remarks? When you attack public figures, I usually give you some leeway. After all, they are grown-ups who have had to develop a thick skin in order to navigate life in the public eye.

But my child? My child, Ms. Coulter, does not and should not ever be the brunt of your pitiful attacks. Neither has her sister. A sister who knows that calling some one a retard is wrong but not why. You, Ms. Coulter, do not have to explain to your 9-year old that her sister is not retarded but intellectually disabled.

You see, Ms. Coulter, in your complete and utter ignorance, do not realize that when you call our President a retard (which by the way, should be treasonous no matter what your political leanings) you are not insulting him. You are, in fact, insulting the estimated 2.5 million US citizens you do not even acknowledge.

That is the sad truth, isn’t it Ms. Coulter? You do not SEE those who are intellectually disabled. You only see your own agenda and how to get your name in the headlines. Doing it by insulting my daughter and others like her, that is heinous.   

I know the arguments for using the word retard. I have this discussion with friends and family members. I am from the generation where you could call some one “gay” but not mean homosexual. I am from the generation where retard was an insult you called your friends in a lighthearted manner.

But, unlike you, Ms. Coulter, I grew up. And unlike you, I am lucky to have an intellectually disabled child who only knows love. But some day, unfortunately she and her sister will come into contact with some one like you. I fear that day. I fear the day when some one looks at my daughter and sees a RETARD and not a beautiful girl. 

I ask you, Ms. Coulter to look at this face:



and tell her sister that her beloved sister is retard. Because that is what you did when you thought you were insulting the President of the United States of America. 

From a mom who knows better,
Kerri

The most amazing thing my body has done is….

When you think about your body, I bet you see the flaws. Okay I see the flaws (of my body, not yours). I avoid the mirror after a shower better than a deer avoids hunting season. I would rather talk or write about anything other than my body.


So with the first Finish that Sentence in over a month I almost skipped. I truly could not think of one amazing thing my body has done. Let alone the most amazing thing my body has done. 

I know, you are thinking: CHILD BIRTH. But well, I didn’t do that too well. Pregnancy, sure. That was easy. Heck it wasn’t until month 7 with Abby that I even thought of maternity clothes (don’t hate me). Yet, I don’t really think that is the most amazing thing my body has done. Every mother, after all, has done it. 

So to be amazing, it has to be unique. Right? 

I was stumped. Truly stumped by this week’s prompt. What is the most amazing thing my body has done? 

Crickets.

How’s that for self-confidence? 

Then I realized it was simple, really. The most amazing thing my body has done is provide whatever Boo needs. I have held Boo down (physically) during a truly invasive, painful procedure yet she willingly runs into my arms. I have comforted Boo during moments of epic meltdowns and moments of a Hallmark-commercial sweetness.

This body is the one Boo clings to more than any other. This body, my body, is the one most likely to soothe, to make secure, to always be there when needed. At 3 in the morning or at 3 in the afternoon. 

It amazes me, with every test I have held her down through, she prefers my body over all others. 

My cheek is the one that rests against hers for a kiss.

My ear lobe is the one she rubs for sensory comfort.

My mouth the one that advocates for her. 

My shoulder is where she rests her head when tired, when sad, when happy and when content.

My lap is the most comfortable seat in any restaurant.



My hips are the one she rests her head against as I do dishes, just wanting to be close to my side. 

My legs are the ones carry her when she wants to walk but is too tired. 

My hand is the one that held as she slides down the ‘big’ slide. 

My arms are the ones that picks her up when she falls and lets her go when she flies.



The most amazing thing my body has done is something not for me, but for my beautiful Boo. 


Finish the Sentence Friday

A letter to myself

I’m semi-participating in a Summer Blog Hop Challenge meant to show others how the life with a disability, or with a child who has a disability, is a journey. A never ending one, for sure. But a journey filled with triumphs and some tears. Of course per my usual stickto-break-the-rules reputation instead of starting in week 1 it is now week 3. So today we are starting the journey half-way through with a letter to myself. Even though that was week 2’s prompt


Dear Younger Me,

I was going to write to the much younger us. The one who is upset because our first love left us. Or the one who just met David and thought um….not my type but sure let’s go to dinner. To the younger us who on the eve of her wedding and asked David to elope instead. Or to the new mom to Abby who was scared out of her mind at this thing that wouldn’t stop crying and tell you eventually she would no longer seem breakable. 

Instead I am writing this for you to receive after Boo’s birth. She is now four months old and you are thinking Holy Crap not only did I just get puked on from my neck to my toes I am getting a letter from the future. You are also thinking I’m writing to give you good news except you know us by now and realize maybe not.

First I want to tell you that Boo will survive. You can cry and breathe and rejoice. Now the other shoe dropping on your head is me telling you she will survive but it will not be easy. I am not writing to tell you what will happen. Because no matter what I write it either won’t change things or worse give you the magic answer you are looking form. Rather I write this to the mom of four-month old Boo to give you some advice.


Now you know it is really me, right?

Well here it is:

Never listen to a doctor, a nurse, therapist or school teacher that Boo cannot do something. There will be a doctor or two you will want to punch in the nose, but you will refrain from harming them.  

Pay no attention to someone who says that Boo is just like their daughter/son/grandchild and “will grow out of it”.

Never give up hope. In yourself or in Boo.

Do not ever, for one minute, stop searching for an answer. Do not listen to the doctor who says just accept Boo for who she is. It is too important. You and she need the answers and being an unknown neurological syndrome is not an answer.

Keep Early Intervention. As awful as it is you will need them when she is three. But do not listen to them when they say she does not need Spaulding Center for Children. You are right they are wrong and they will deal with being offended. 

As much as you have to fight to make Boo all she can be, you will spend more time loving her than fighting for her. She will impact not just your life but those around her. Boo is making a difference in this world one smile at a time.  You just have to get through the what seems to be unending puke phase. But I promise it does end.

You know all the friends that say “let me know if I can help”? Here’s the thing they WANT to help. You have to TELL them how. Instead of waiting for them to call you, call them. Say I just need someone to come over and sit with me. Call them and say David’s home do you want to go to the canal with me. Call them and say I’m drowning and just need a friend. Cry and laugh with them. You will be amazed at the support just waiting for you. Your future self knows she waited way too long to reach out. Once you do life will become so much easier and less lonely.

Remember that David is there and he is your partner in this unexpected life. Don’t wait so long to include him in Boo’s therapies (yes, there is more than one). You will be amazed at how well he does.

Lastly, give yourself a break. You are allowed to feel tired and overwhelmed. You are entitled to feel like this just isn’t fair. I promise you that this life becomes easier. You will one day brush your teeth before dinner time. You will one day wear a shirt without Boo’s remains on it. You will be amazed at her journey.

I won’t spoil the good parts for you. Be prepared to be amazed.

Love,
Older (but less tired) Me

PS–oh and don’t worry you will not cave and buy Abby a pony.







Being okay doesn’t mean being satisfied

A few months ago I wrote a post titled Paging Dr. House. One of the most fantastic benefits of blogging is when a reader might not comment but instead send you a lifeline. To protect her privacy, “T” wrote to me shortly after that post and encouraged me not to give up. Not to despair. But more than a pat on the shoulder “T” gave me the  name of a doctor who might be willing to review Boo’s history. She may have found our Dr. House.


So last week we took a little 20 hour road trip hoping to find an answer to what is Boo.
We were worried, to be honest. David was nervous of walking into a Justina Pelletier issue. I was excited, we might have an answer. A little nervous that we were making a huge monetary investment in a hoax. Then I got excited again. Until the day we left and I realized that answer might be that Boo has only five years left of life. I wasn’t quite ready for that news. I sent a panicked text to Tia who replied: BREATHE.

Thankfully our fears never came true. Instead we were given a new hope: finding an answer. We might not, the doctor was very honest with us. However just looking at Boo she said she was confident that not only did Boo have a syndrome but that the answer was out there. Not five years from now, but as near as six months. 

For the first time in too long a Doctor got it. A Doctor looked at Boo from her beautiful hair, to her teeth, to her fingers and toes. A Doctor didn’t talk with just me, but looked at Boo and spent time (almost 2 hours) with her. She noticed that Boo grinds her teeth, that her hands/feet are slightly webbed, that she is the best hugger and has bowed legs. She took out her medical books, laid them on the desk and said, “I’ve seen this characteristic before….” and “wait let me think about this…”

She was also honest and said we might not find the answer today but that it was important to never stop searching. She understood the why of it all. That to get Boo the best life possible we cannot be in the dark. We need to be aware of what she has so we give her the best chance at living her life that is this beautiful miracle. 

This Doctor was clear: While Boo’s tremendous advances may have “ruled her out” for certain syndromes that might not be true. Without her therapies and schooling she would not be where she is today. Her advances might be in spite of a syndrome rather than because of one. She was also honest: She might not find the answer but that didn’t mean the answer isn’t out there somewhere. 

She solidified for us that we have to continue to be warrior parents. That the hole in her heart may be “trivial” but it is important, that her temperature issues might be manageable but they are important, that Boo has dysmorphic features and they are important. In her terms, Boo has “structural issues” and these are due to a genetic syndrome and not by chance. That we need the answers because one day these “trivial” issues might prove to be catastrophic. That it is our job as parents to continue to be the thorn in the medical establishment’s side. She understood on an intimate level that this is our child, the most important child in the universe. 

Boo will have to undergo more laboratory testing. The tests take about six months to result. The six months will be worth the wait, even if the answer is we don’t know. At least we found someone who won’t stop looking with us. We will know we have exhausted every option, for now. 

Maybe, just maybe I will have to change the name of this blog from Undiagnosed but Okay to something more appropriate.

Won’t that be a cool problem to have?

Thank you, “T”. You know who you are. Thank you for reaching out and “stalking” until you found me on Facebook to offer us a lifeline. When I was in despair and worried you were willing to take time out of your life to offer me hope. I won’t forget it and hope to pay it forward someday.

Bear with me…

This is kind of a Jen Kehl type of post but I hope everyone bears with me. I listen to Pandora at work. This means music goes from Eminem to the Drop Kick Murphys to the Glee Soundtrack.  The other day right after I heard a song by Eminem the music transitioned to Christina Perry’s A Thousand Years (theme from Twilight). 

It was the instrumental version so I did not have the singer’s voice, just the one in my head. It occurred to me that the song while about true love, to me is about parenthood. 



“The day we met, Frozen I held my breath. Right from the start I knew I had found a place for my heart…”

With each girl I literally held my breath when I first held them. I was so afraid I would break them. But I knew in that instant I had found my home. One where I would always be warm and loved.

“Time stands still. Beauty in all she (he) is…I will not let anything take away what’s standing in front of me…”

Time does stand still. It also goes faster than a heartbeat. But there are moments of parenthood where you are lucky to see for the rest of your life. Their first step, their first smile (for real, not the gassy one). The day they drive the car for the first time. The moment they find their true love. No matter how many times you hear “MOOOOMMMMM” and wish they had a mute button. It will erase the moment you heard them say momma the first time. 

“And all along I believed I would find you. Time has brought your heart to me. I have loved you a thousand years. I will love you a thousand more”

Children don’t understand. I know I did not understand the depths of my parent’s love until I had my own. Time might march on. We are only “here” for a short time. But love transcends time. It transcends distance. You can have a child half-way around the world and yet your love reaches them. 

Your child might be non-verbal. They might be in the midst of an epileptic seizure. They might just be being a pain in the butt teenager. Yet they feel your love.

For a thousand years you get to feel theirs right back at you.

And that is how deep I got into A Thousand Years until Men in Hats came on. So everyone grab your child and do the Safety Dance!


Actions matter

It happens, a lot. A child will see a person/child different from them and in the loudest outdoor voice possible they will ask:

“Why is that person black”

“Why are those two girls kissing” 

“Where are his legs”

“What is that thing in that boy’s throat”

As parents we think we are doing the right thing by saying “don’t look” or distracting the child. But it’s wrong. When you redirect the child, when you do not answer their questions instead of teaching empathy you are teaching them that there is something wrong with the other person.

You are teaching them that person is not to be looked at, to be approached and most hurtful to be friends with.


A child will befriend anyone. Heck, Abby will befriend a squirrel if they make eye contact. Before Boo I might have been that parent who tried to redirect her attention. My actions could be justified, I might have been hoping to spare the other mother embarrassment.

But why should she be embarrassed by her child? 

Is she not supposed to leave home with her child who happens to be in a wheelchair? Is her child to be locked away like he is something to be ashamed? Should the father of a child who is deaf not use ASL because another person might stare? 

I thought we moved so far from the time when children were put in sanitariums. Instead parents are made to feel they should not go grocery shopping or to dinner with their child not to spare themselves but to spare others. We begin making our home their institution.

I hope you remember my friend Julia from the What’s Your Challenge Series. This past weekend her mom took her grocery shopping. Julia loves being out in the car. She and her mom endured stares while shopping. As Lisa said, “you get used to it”. It was such a beautiful day they decided to stop at Starbucks. A young girl approached Julia, Julia lit up. Her mom, Lisa said hello to the little girl. Then sadly the girl’s caregiver rushed over. Took the girl by the arm and told her to “not to look” at Julia.

Like Julia is a freak and should not be looked upon. That is how I am sure her mom felt. I know it is how I would have felt. Instead of enjoying her coffee in the beautiful day, she took her daughter to the car and cried the whole way home.

In the interest of fairness I want to give the caregiver the benefit of the doubt. Even professionals that work with people who have special needs wonder if they can do it, can they take on this care. I am sure this woman thought she was sparing Lisa and Julia hurt by any questions the younger girl might ask. She might not understand that Julia understood a potential friend was whisked away. That her mom was made to feel unworthy. That her sister, had she been there, would have asked why the caregiver was so rude.

There is the rub. So many of the uninitiated don’t know what to do. Do you let your child approach and ask questions?

Here is the answer: YES! A resounding YES!

Because here is what makes children awesome: the question they ask might not be the one you would. But they open the door for you to approach the parent. We are approached all the time with Boo. Abby tends to take the questions from the kids. I am consistently amazed at how few questions are asked before acceptance is born. (My favorite answer of Abby’s: Her brain just works differently than yours).

Kids just want to ask the questions. It’s the parents who want the details. That is okay too. 

Ask away. Do it with respect but ask. If you are not comfortable asking, how about just saying hello? You will be teaching your child an important lesson. That we are not all the same but it is our differences that make our community. You can teach your child what empathy and acceptance means without ever having to say a word. Or you can teach them the opposite, it’s your choice.

Your actions will show that Julia is not a freak. She is not something to be locked in her parent’s home. Julia is the miracle of her parents.  She is the younger sister of K who adores her. She is her daddy’s princess, her mom’s warrior. She adores her two German Shepherds. She loves swimming, horseback riding and driving in the car. Julia has inspired a runner in the I RUN 4 organization. She is the reason why her runner gets up and runs every morning. 


You should get to know her and others like her if given the chance.  It just might inspire you to teach your child acceptance rather than avoidance. You just must learn something more about yourself.