Grieving is interesting. It comes so unexpected.
We had another meeting for Elise today. I didn't realize this meeting was to determine eligibility for Elise to enter special education in the school system. Of course I have always known this was what would happen and it was no surprise when yes she did qualify. What I didn't expect was how I felt when I signed my name declaring that I had a child in special education.
Like I've said, I know it and am fine but when it came to it in the moment my heart stung a little. This was not what I had ever expected or planned on. Children in special education have to be below the 7th percentile. Elise is in the first percentile and below. She is now on the same level of communication that Cal is on according to tests.
I know I am getting stronger though because that moment of grief came and went fairly fast. Bring on special ed!
Elise's OT came into the waiting room asking what all the cheering and laughing was for. I told her Elise said her version of "hi" to everyone there.
She did it 4 times!!!!
After every time she said it, I could tell she was super proud of herself because she had the biggest smile on her face and she just giggled like crazy. It was one of the cutest, sweetest, most proud moments I have had. We all cheered for her. I love how even all the people in the waiting room didn't even know her but their attention was only on her and watching her succeed.
Today is Elise's last day of gymnastics since she is turning 3 this week. It was a class just for kids under 3 with sensory processing disorders and disabilities. It has been so wonderful for her.
She started beginning of May and couldn't sit still during circle time. A lot of the things were very difficult for her. Bars were especially difficult and she wouldn't even touch them. Now she can walk on the beam very quickly holding my hand, she gets into the ball and foam pit and loves it, and can sit in circle time.
As excited as I am for what awaits Elise when she turns 3, I am also a little sad. It is the end to a few things that I have grown to love and care for. I have made so many friendships with the women in this class. We have a special bond and understand each other on a different level. We have all told our story of why we are there and what is going on with our child. One mom almost died delivering her 26 week old daughter and her daughter still has on-going complications. Another is divorced, recently discovered a brain tumor, and has kids in therapy. The stories go on and on.
Elise has maybe had 4 sessions the whole time where she hasn't had a meltdown. These women cheer her on though. When she's happy and doing what she is supposed to do, they say over and over, "Yay Elise, good job!" I've never once gotten a judgmental stare or comment.
Everyone there only cheers.
It has been a real eye-opening experience to me. This group would have frightened me a year ago; kids that aren't neurotypical ("different") or who struggle developmentally. The unknown of something is always a little intimidating but I've learned deep down that all these kids need is love and a sense of belonging. That basic and fundamental need that all of us need is no different with these kids even though it may not be reciprocated back as we expect. I'm going to miss this place and these people!
Elise is doing a fabulous job at greeting people! She's approaching the person with smiles and eye contact and is just starting to say, "Haaaaaaa." This is her way of saying, "hi." I LOVE LOVE it!
She did it for the first time to Ez yesterday. After church meetings he came home and Elise greeted him with her "hi." He was so excited he was able to see something I've told him she does. I forget sometimes that he needs these moments just as much as me. They are so precious!
A pro for waiting at therapy for Elise is that it forces me to have one-on-one with Brock every day for an hour.
There's no laundry, no cleaning, no bills waiting to be paid, and no other distractions. It's just him and me. Lately we've been playing Dora Candyland which is a little nice twist to the original. He usually beats me though :) He's getting good at Guess Who, we read a lot and play kitchen and trains. We might have to start bringing some other games because I'm not sure how much longer I can play Candyland.
Yesterday with Elise was very discouraging. Ez and I couldn't figure out what to do with her and her increasing meltdowns. We sat on the couch crying, feeling so helpless. Ez gave me a blessing and my prayer that night was a little more sincere.
I woke up this morning and realized I was back to reality of my routine. Cal had a doctor appointment right after I got Bryn on the bus. After his appointment, we went to speech therapy, then gymnastics, then home. We ate lunch then had speech therapy in our home.
Therapy went great today though, which is why I am posting this. Elise said "Mom" in speech! I couldn't believe it when the therapist told me. My heart lifted a little, then during gymnastics she purposefully chose to go down the slide 6 times in a row, then at her other speech therapy the therapist commented how alive she seemed today. I had noticed the difference as well. Eye contact was there, her smiles were back, and she even giggled for her. I can't say this enough-I love these tender mercies! They bring me so much joy!
I mentioned to the therapist how Elise has been crying for hours lately trying to go to sleep but she can't. She asked if I had a bedtime routine, which I said I did but it didn't consist of much. She told me how to do a very structured routine to help her transition.
Bedtime came tonight and before I took her up she was screaming uncontrollably. I brushed her, did joint compressions, then put her in jammies. At that point she had calmed down. I've never seen brushing and compressions work so well before but they did! I sang to her and her smiles came. After we walked into her room and I picked a couple books for her to choose from. She chose a book and I read to her.
I read to her.
I've never done that before. It's always been reading or pointing at pictures on the go or her sitting for a few seconds then leaving, or she's not engaged at all.
I was snuggling my little girl and reading to her! I can't express how wonderful that moment was. She was so still and calm. I read 2 more books that way. I put her in bed with her music and she laid right down and fell asleep! I know Heavenly Father answered a specific plea of mine today. He knows her perfectly and knows what she needs, even if it's just learning to fall asleep. :)
I've thought a lot about what I would write on this post.
How do you sum up a year like 2013? We had our 4th baby, moved, Ez was called as Bishop of our church, Ez was in the doctorate program and graduated, and Elise was diagnosed with autism. Words like joy, relief, stress, love, overwhelmed, grief, sadness, and more stress stand out.
The one word that stands out the most though is:
Gratitude for my loving Heavenly Father who is so kind and good to us.
Gratitude for the Atonement! Because of it there is hope and hope is the anchor that keeps me grounded. Because of it there is an indescribable comfort that our Savior gives because He has been there.
Gratitude for the resurrection. Elder Holland's closing words in Oct 2013 conference sum up my feelings. "I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.”
Gratitude for trials. It's a long, hard process to get to the point of being grateful for trials. Months ago I couldn't say this. I've learned so much that I can't help but not feel grateful. God's tender mercies and blessings are all around. He is there and so mindful of us.
So many people ask me how I do it.
How I live being a Bishop's wife, with 4 kids-one being disabled? Lots of time I ask myself the same question. I think for the most part I've been just trying to survive the year but I know God's grace is real.
This blog has been the biggest blessing and I know it's mostly been for me. It has helped me "see" with clearer eyes the good around me. It has helped me reflect on my blessings. I have been taught by the Spirit during the quiet hours at night as I reflect on the day.
There is a balm of Gilead. I know that amid any circumstance we can find gratitude. By writing I have been blessed to feel this overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
I am grateful for my blog :)
I LOVE being a mom to my 5 kids; one with special needs. There is no greater joy than being a parent! I love each one individually but this blog will mostly focus on our daughter with special needs and our journey with her. Thanks for reading!