I have done a poor job of documenting your growth and milestones on this blog, and for that I am deeply sorry. Today I want to tell you about the strongest, most tenacious, stubborn, persistent and wonderful girl I’ve ever known; you.
I’ve often sat in wonderment of all the things I thought I knew, before you and your brother came along to teach me that I basically know nothing. I am humbled and grateful for all you two have taught me. In the 21 months of your life, and the 9 months of your gestation, you have taught me what a true fighter is. I am in awe of you and honored to get to be your mother.
We just came home from the neurologist, and you are nursing while I type this, with my lips pressed into your hair, inhaling your sweet scent, listening to you hum to yourself. You’ve been fighting a nap all day, even when you were exhausted from physical therapy this morning.
I haven’t written to you about the myriad of doctors and specialists you’ve seen in the past 21 months, so I’m going to tell you about them today. Some day, when you’re much older and frustrated about something, big or small, I want you to read this so that you will know just how much of a fighter you are.
I knew you were a tough cookie when you held on, rooting into my uterus when I had placenta previa. You held on through hemorrhages and taught me that you were stronger than I could know. Then once we were out of danger from the placenta previa, we were in a car accident that lead to prodormal labor, and you held on for six weeks, while my body actively tried to expedite your arrival with insanely painful contractions, you held in there. I prayed to make it to 37 weeks, and you arrived at 37 weeks one day. You were born 5.5 hours after my water broke, with 3 pushes, you were here, screaming and raging your fists. The most beautiful sight to behold.
And then it was the earliest days of your life, and I watched in admiration as your personality emerged. At the one month wellness appointment, I mentioned to your pediatrician that you often choked while nursing. At the time I thought my milk letdown was too strong, but the doctor examined your mouth and throat (which I should tell you you DID NOT appreciate in the least) and suggested we see an ear, nose and thrust (ENT) specialist. And so we did, and that doctor told us that you have a submucous cleft palate (meaning the bones and muscles in the roof of your mouth didn’t form completely leaving space between them, and the soft tissue formed over that space). Then we were referred to a different specialist.
This is the part I should tell you, you loathe doctors, probably because they poke and prod you and you’re not into that at all. But, you impress them all with your strength and fight. You are nothing if not determined to make them work for their examinations of you, and no amount of cajoling or sweet talk gets you to just follow instructions. You push every ounce of your 20 pound body into resisting the tests they put you through. Every doctor and nurse says the same thing, “she’s a fighter, this one.”
At 14 months, you started speech therapy to help you form the words that the different shape of your mouth had challenges with. At your very first appointment you said “bubble,” and I cried. In that moment, you proved that even when the odds are against you, you give everything that you have to prove that you are so much greater than those odds.
We first noticed you didn’t want to walk at 12 months, when you started walking on your knees. It was comical to see you shuffle across a room on your knees, increasing with speed every week. Your pediatrician said that we shouldn’t be concerned until you reached 15 months. And as if you knew what that meant, you didn’t take unassisted steps until 3 days into your 15 month. But then, you would go back to walking on your knees. By 18 months, you still weren’t walking independently, no matter what we tried to do to encourage you, and your pediatrician recommended physical therapy, and so it took another month and a half to get you started. But at the evaluation, the therapist said that our biggest hurdle would be your stubbornness, but I can’t say that I expected anything different, and I can also say it’s your stubborn streak that propels you forward.
In the five weeks of weekly PT you have shown incredible improvement in walking independently, you have become quite the expert at strolling the halls of the children’s hospital offices, poking your head into see who is sitting at their desks and you brightly greet them with the squeakiest little “hi!” before moving on down the halls. You give everything you have at each appointment and are exhausted each time we’re through. Your persistence is a constant source of pride for me. The physical therapist noticed a tremor in your legs, that resulted in the visit to the neurologist today.
I’m not sure what the future holds for us in the next few weeks. Right now I know that we have new tests that are needed to rule out any serious issues, and I know that you’ll keep pushing yourself and fighting to show us how incredibly strong you are. And your dad and I, and our families will be right there in your corner.
And so by the grace of God, we go. Keep persisting, sweet Talia. Keep proving to us that you are our tiny Wonder Woman. We love you more than you’ll ever know and believe in you beyond measure.