A Gift From a Special Needs Boy: Thank You Tommy
Preparing for the Arrival of a Baby
When a family is expecting a child, joy, love, and happiness almost always surrounds the expectant mother and her family members. As the pregnancy evolves, and all is well with the mother and unborn child, a baby shower often takes place, the nursery is set up and decorated, and clothes, toys, and baby equipment are put in place. The family prepares to welcome a beautiful and healthy being into the world and into their home.
The Birth Trauma
Tommy was born February 6,2009. He was just over a month early but aside from the early arrival, there was really no reason to think that he would not be a typically boy who would run and jump, sing and dance, and find himself in a quandary or two just as any boy might. As his mother’s labor progressed, he started to show signs of duress and then the doctor made a decision to use forceps to remove him from the birth canal. It was a decision that would change that family’s life forever.
Shortly after the birth, Tommy started to have seizures. Even a first time mother knows that this was not a good sign. With an identifiable horizontal mark on his forehead, the doctors and nurses whisked him away to the high risk unit so that he could get specialized care. Unfortunately this meant another hospital location. Now his mother was in one hospital and Tommy was in another. Over the next several days, many tests and exams were done. Seizures continued and it was determined that there was a large bleed on his brain.
The Next Two Years: A Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
Over the next two years, Tommy had numerous tests done, went to many specialists, had countless seizures. In addition to the seizures, there were other complications such as severe reflux problems which affected his weight, breathing problems and pain. He was in and out of the hospital and even had some emergency trips in the middle of the night. The doctors told his parents that he had severe Cerebral Palsy and he would not live a long life. How long? They would not say. They could not tell how severely the CP would impact his growth and development. At one point the doctors described his brain as Swiss cheese.
A Family United
In the face of adversity, many families fall apart. This family did just the opposite. They united together and took the challenge head on. Tommy's mom took an extended leave of absence from work to put all of her energy into caring for her son. Tommy's dad continued to go to work and carry on with his obligations in his professional life and come home to care for Tommy and relieve his wife for a while. I do not know many people that would have pulled together in this way and have become a united team. Were there tough times? Definitely. But in the end, they came together to provide Tommy with the best care that they possibly could. I told my dear friend from the start that Tommy was very lucky to have been born into her family. For if anyone would give him the kind of love, care, and dedication to providing the best possible life he could have, it was her. She continues to amaze me with her strength and courage.
Tommy's seizures have minimized due to the long road of finding the right medication and dosages. He attends school and continues to receive physical and occupational therapy. Tommy will never walk or talk the way that a typical child does. We celebrate moments like Tommy turning his head when his name is called, the laughs and big smiles that he gives, along with him lifting his head up for an extended period of time.
Tommy has given my family an amazing gift. The gift to learn about, understand, and accept others as they are. Although I like to believe that my children would have compassion and understanding for others even if Tommy had not come into our lives, that they would be willing to befriend that person. I do know that because of Tommy, my children have been able to learn a lesson very young in life that many people never learn. They play with Tommy as they would with any other child. They read with him, sing songs, even play games with him. The only difference is that they know "his brain doesn't work like ours." They accept him the way that he is and help him to play with them. They know how to make him laugh and smile and ask often when they can play with Tommy. I cannot explain why God chose to allow Tommy to come into the world with the disability that he has, but I can only express my tremendous gratitude. He has brought joy to our lives and special place in our hearts. Last week Tommy celebrated his third birthday. We are so happy to have him as a part of our lives.
Grace and Tommy singing a song with friends.
Additional Hubs About Special Needs Children
- Josie's Gift: How to teach respect for children with special needs
How a very special person taught children about people with special needs. Josie's gift to us was the lesson of acceptance and love.