Thursday, February 22, 2018

Square one

This afternoon marks the end of Sonzee's first week of school.  I am so happy and excited for her, she appears to love it, but still, I have had this achy feeling in my chest each day she has gone.  It is the same but different than when each of her older siblings began preschool.  I know she is in the best place for her and I know everyone there cares about her and absolutely loves working with children who have special needs.  It is comforting beyond measure that her two amazing nurses get to spend their shifts there with her as well, but it has been really hard to relinquish control of her for 11 hours and 15 minutes this week.

Beyond the typical concerns of leaving a three year old at school I wonder if they will forget to turn her feed on if they turn it off to change her diaper, if they will miss her having a seizure, or if she will present with a new seizure type that they aren't aware is actually a seizure.  I wonder if they will know what her whimpers are indicating, will they recognize if she is pain vs just wanting to be left alone, or if she is hot or cold?  I wonder what they will do when she has her very first seizure at school, thankfully so far she has been amazing with having them before and after school.

I know her going to preschool is a way for her to develop her independence, but the truth is, she has limitations that prevent her from expressing what she wants or needs and I do not know how to trust that someone else will know her as well as Sam or I do.  I know eventually she will get her teachers and others to understand her and they will learn her language, and eventually for me each day will get easier for me to loosen my grip just as I did with her older siblings.  But for now I am just excited today is a shorter day and she is home the next three days before we start back a little past square one on Monday.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Doing alright

Once I find myself at the bottom of the dark holes CDKL5 places in front of me, it is really challenging for me to pull myself up and out.  It is almost too easy to just keep falling further and losing all of my ability to see the light from above.  Every day that Sonzee seizes, whimpers in pain, is unable to communicate her wants and needs is another day I feel suffocated and a failure as her mother.  Then there are these fleeting moments where I am able to see that she really is truly content with the life she has been given and that she really doesn't know any differently and I realize that I should not be discouraged.

I had one of those mommy moments during Sonzee's swim class this week where the world around us did not exist and we were in a dream.  It was one of those great moments that caught me off guard and brought some tears to my eyes, a ridiculous smile to my face, and for a split second I forgot about her troubles.   For a good half an hour I watched her in her element; not in any pain, smiling on and off, looks of content across her face, just pure happiness exuded from her as she kicked her feet, went under water, and worked on back floating.  Lately I feel as if these situations are rare and I wanted time to stand still so we could be frozen in the moment for a little longer.  I live for these moments, they are what make hallmark movies and P&G Olympic commercials. 

The other day one of my special needs mommy friends mentioned she keeps her daughter on palliative care because it is "care-ative" medicine vs "curative" medicine, the line resonated with me immediately, but it was not until today watching Sonzee play in the water that I felt its true meaning.  We will never cure Sonzee of seizures or the lack of CDKL5 protein that is present in her body, we won't ever be able to cure her GI issues or make her able to function like a typical person does in our society.  We are only able to care for her in a way that shows her we get her, we understand her essence, we only want her comfortable and happy and during her swim class I felt it was her way of giving me a pat on the back and telling me "Ema, thank you, you are doing alright". 

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It is not the same

Sunday marked the official beginning of "Birthday Week".  To be honest I still have not decorated the chalk board wall in the playroom, and I have yet to hang the birthday cupcake door sign.  Birthdays are a source of excitement in our house, it is one of those things I pride myself on.  The joy that comes from the birthday child is easy to feed off of and something that helps hold me accountable for "birthday week" follow through.  Besides me saying that it is "birthday week" Sonzee is not showing any source of excitement.  She doesn't run to the playroom to see that the wall is ready for her to pose for pictures.  She doesn't ask who the presents on the shelf in the garage are for.  She is not able to show if she is even fully aware that it is her birthday this weekend.

I have no idea why, but the weight of all these events and milestones have been much more challenging for me to accept recently.  Maybe it is because 3 is typically that age where a lot of things just click for a child.  It is the age that represents so much change, so much more "maturity" than the first years of life.  It is the year that all those amazing personality traits develop, and that individual personality becomes more known.  Sure, we have a glimpse of Sonzee, but sometimes I feel like I am completely off the mark.  I often wonder if her eye rolls and head turns are not sass, but rather just her oculomotor apraxia and muscle weakness?  

I have been watching videos of her first years of life, she was so happy her first year, so full of smiles and life.  If she could be stuck in a Groundhog Day for a year I would choose that first year of her life.  The year before her EEG background turned to hypsarrhythmia, before her seizures became so much longer and so much more often, before we really dealt with her GI issues, before feeding tubes and the ketogenic diet, before her ridiculously high 2-month steroid treatment, before multiple medication changes, before we started to really gamble, before she lost her true Sonzee happiness.  I think my heart hurts worse now than it did then, and I remember thinking that was not possible.  

I am going to get her wall decorated, and before this post is published the cupcake birthday sign will be hanging on the front door.  The final items for her birthday dinner will be delivered tomorrow and by Friday night the tables will be set, and the house will look like a party city.  Sonzee's siblings will be my source of birthday week motivation and Sonzee will have no choice but to embrace this celebration and know it is completely for her.  However, for tonight, I am going to take a brief pity party time out and cry over all the things she and therefore I miss out on all due to CDKL5.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Dear Sonzee Bear (2)

Dear Sonzee,

The last letter I wrote to you was the day before you turned one.  I can remember so many if not all of the feelings I had that day as I reflected on your first year of life.  The joys and sorrows that filled each and every moment of your first year are etched into my mind.  To be honest little girl, the years have continued to pass by and the same types of feelings fill my heart and mind as your third birthday inches closer.  I feel I have grown as a mom and as a person in more ways than I could have ever imagined, but I also feel I have lost portions of myself I fear I won't ever be able to recover.  It is purely due to the situations that I have been faced with while on this journey with you, but it is due to no fault of your own.

I sit here tonight with a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I think about all you have gone through over the past almost three years of your life.  I honestly wonder about what the next three have in store for you, and I pray no matter where we are in all of this, you will have been given some reprieve to the suffering you are constantly forced to endure.  I do not want this to become about me, because this is your journey, this is all in the name of your soul's special purpose, but g-d do I wish your purpose was not at the expense that you are currently paying.  I wish I could have an ounce of your grace and ability to cope in the manner that you do with everything that has been thrown your way, because you my little bear live up to and beyond the spirit of the fighting bear you represent.

My heart aches for all that you are required to deal with, my mind is pained for the inability we all have at understanding your methods of communication, I feel suffocated as i watch your daily struggles to make the smallest movements, and my body is physically tired from watching you take part in the seizures you are constantly enduring.  I wish you didn't have to experience any of the hardships or limitations you have been given, but I must commend you on your absolute strength and determination not to let any of these things take you down.  I wish with every ounce of who I am that you did not have to live the life of a child missing such an important genetic protein.  There are so many times I feel so selfish for wanting you to keep pushing on despite all that you go through, but I also hope you understand that I would never want you to keep pushing on if you ever felt it is just too much to do.

You continue to bring out such joy and happiness to so many people.  You, yourself, all 20 pounds of you have made me an inspiration to others.  Do you know how many people have been able to make that sort of impact by the time they are three years old?   I will let you in on a little secret, very few.  You are a beautiful, strong, endearing, fierce little girl.  You amaze everyone who truly gets to know you, and you have influenced so many more people than you will ever know.  As painful as this journey has been so far, I cannot imagine where I would be, where our family would be without you.  I am so excited to be in the final planning stages of celebrating these past three years and am eagerly awaiting birthday week to begin in two days.

As always I am fervently praying that the next chapter of your story will be one filled with more ease and less days of hardships; but if it is not, I know you will be up for whatever challenge is sent your way and I hope you know I will be right there holding your hand, stroking your face, and kissing your forehead along the way.

Happy almost third birthday Sonzee Bear.

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